Robert Millman’s “My Year in Review”

by Robert Millman

So many wonderful wines, tastings and dinners this past year. (It is hard to believe that it is over.)  I will start with the easy part: My top wines. This is not a best to least order. I dislike the implications of the top 100. Is wine number 98 really that much less good than number 2? So here is my list of favourite wines I tasted this year—all were wonderful: 1870 Mouton Rothschild (more later); 2010 Fenocchio Barolo Bussia (from Magnum); 2017 Perrot Minot Mazoyères-Chambertin;1961 Chateau L’Evangile; 2019 Comte Lafon Meursault Clos de la Barre; 2006 Guigal Condrieu La Doraine; 2017 Herman Ludes Thornricher Ritsch Riesling Spatlese Fineherb; 2020 Piere Duroche Gevrey Chambertin en Vosne; 2018 El Enemigo Malbec; and the 2017 Trimbach Riesling Geisberg Grand Cru.

My best trip of the year was a brief visit to Burgundy in early June, and the best winery visit was to a fine estate in Gevrey Chambertin: Humbert. We tasted all the 2022s from barrel. What a delicious vintage on the basis of this sample of six-seven wines. Best of all, each was different. Terroir imprint was unmistakable. The Charmes Chambertin was tasted last of course. If there was ever a question of the difference between Premier and Grand Cru terroirs it was settled once and for all. We then took a trip into the Premier Crus so we could see for ourselves the differences. A memorable hour.

My Best Meals of 2023 must start with Ma Cuisine in Beaune—A venerable establishment with an amazing wine list presided over by the inimitable Pierre Escoffier. Delicious traditional French food which I might add is very hard to find in New York.  But Naro—one of a half dozen nouvelle Haut Korean restaurants which I believe to be the best in Manhattan, was another stunner. The occasion was a special lunch/tasting with Jean Trimbach, an old friend. Exquisitely refined food with textures and flavors ideally suited to a full range of Trimbach wines. A magnum of the 2013 Frederic Emile was fabulous.

My Best Wine Moment with Friends had to be the one spent with my old friends Harry Snady and Laurel Kiefer who invited me to visit and to taste the remaining three ounces of a coravined bottle of 1870 (!) Mouton they had drunk at the Enoteca Pinchiorri 3 weeks before. I wrote about this amazing bottle for Terroir Sense Wine Review and it will be featured in one of our upcoming, every Mondays column of the Wines of the Week, but as you can tell, this for me is literally the Wine of the Year, though I’m not compiling a top 100 or similar thing. We cooked duck breasts and truffled pasta with chanterelles and cream. The wine was still bright, spicy and quite vigorous on the palate– At 153 years old. This experience will never again be equaled.


Robert Millman

Robert Millman’s wine career began in the early 1980s, when he began working from Morrell & Company, one of the USA’s top wine retailers. During that time, he co-founded Executive Wine Seminars (EWS) with Howard Kaplan, which over the years became one of NYC’s most highly regarded wine events companies. EWS organized and conducted over 1000 wine events during its prestigious thirty-three year history. High points included Robert Parker being a regular guest presenter at the tastings, and through 2011, the results of the tastings were published on the Wine Advocate website. Having reached an age where taking a step back from the wear and tear of life in the wine fast lane made sense, Millman currently enjoys being a taster and wine writer for Grapes the Wine Company, an excellent, leading e-retailer based in Westchester (NY). 

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  • The venerable Ma Cuisine in Beaune has long ago been eclipsed by dozens of restaurants in Cote D’Or. Solid bistro food priced at 2-star Michelin rates. The wine list is one of the most expensive in Burgundy and lacks any surprises. The Singapore outpost of Ma Cuisine is much better. Perhaps it’s the milieu.

    • There’s no accounting for tastes, and Robert obviously enjoyed his time there. Myself, I was just at there in Beaune recently and found food prices acceptable, not cheap but not absurd. The wine is however very expensive,agreed! At least, very expensive by other euro restoration standards. I couldn’t find any decent premier cru, from young vintages, for less than 200 or so and that’s steep price to pay out there. Thanx for the Singapire suggestion!

    • I cannot agree about the food prices which are average. The food was better than I remembered. Yes at Le Soufflot for example the wine prices are 20-25% better. Ma Cuisine takes advantage of its location and reputation to be sure. Fortunately we had a glorious white Burgundy from Lafon at what I considered a fair if not especially good price.The evening was a successful one. Pierre was his usual mixture of amusing and annoying which has been true forevert. The wine made the evening. Robert Millman

      • Yes, I was at Ma Cuisine recently and saw Pierre in “fine form”. I was seated next to a man and his wife. By his questions to Pierre on wine selection, the man made it clear he purchased a case yearly of DRC RC, and expected Pierre to respect him for that. After several questions, it was clear the man was a label drinker. Pierre abruptly ended the conversation and completely ignored the man until every other table had ordered their wine and food, despite the couple repeatedly trying to get Pierre’s attention. When he finally returned to that table, the person asked specific questions about the menu, as if he were in a Michelin starred restaurant rather than in a quality “rustic” French restaurant, and Pierre walked away again. When Pierre returned, the man just ordered his meal and wine choice. Later on, the man offered me a taste from his bottle, while highly praising how good the wine was. And guess what? The wine was badly corked. One can’t make up a story like this

  • As for best wines of 2023, a couple minor corrections, but I feel I must since great German wine seldom gets proper respect. I just visited Julian Ludes. The wine is “Thornicher”, no extra r, and it’s feinherb. For those not well versed in German wine, Feinherb is a general, not legal, term similar to Halbtrocken, or off dry. Often, Feinherb wines are sweeter than Halbtrocken, though less than Pradikat Kabinett level of sweetness.

Robert Millman