Monday, September 28, 2009

Burgundy: La Tour de Cote!

I spent the afternoon yesterday at the home of a great friend, golf partner and fellow food aficionado's in scenic Bucks County Pennsylvania for a grand tour of the wines of the Cote D'Or. Nearly every village was represented with at least one wine (we skipped a few for sobriety's sake!), all arranged on a long farmhouse table, with each bottle appropriately stationed on a coaster in its terroir on a huge map of Burgundy that stretched the entire length of the table. Along with the following wines, we enjoyed perfect petite croque monsieurs, toasted bread with melted gruyere cheese, an appetizer of deliciously garlicy muscles, decadent macaroni and cheese with lobster chunks and dusted with crunchy bread crumbs, savory and tender Bouef Bourguignon, a delicious cheese course and Crepes Suzette, flaming and festive, for dessert. The wines came from a mutual friend/wine importers cellar: a terrific, diverse and eclectic selection. Here's the lineup, with a few thoughts on each of the wines:

Savigny les Beaune 1er cru Les Haute Jarrons 2002, Maurice Ecard - med straw gold, orange peel nose, secondary notes, bottle aged and very nice. Mineral, tightish. Good.

Auxey Duresses Les Hauts 2002 - Jean et Michel Lafouge - creamy, lovely nose, balanced, mid weight, drinking great, drinking well above its pedigree, would love to have this around the house!

St. Aubin Marc Colin, "en Montceau" 2001 - advanced, slightly oxidized - Judy and Carmen drink this a lot and said this was an off bottle rather than indicative of the wine. Also had 1996 Meursault, forgot the producer, that was a bit beyond its prime.

Chassagne Montrachet Les Caillerets 2000 - Marc Colin - creamy, still fresh, beautiful, with a stony minerality underneath. Lacks a little stuffing but balanced and very nice - drink now - 2012.

Chevallier Montrachet Grand Cru 2003, Marc Colin - What a treat! Lovely, creamy, stony, rich, and layered. A little fat, but relatively balanced and fresh for 2003, out of its shell but not showing any real secondary development yet. Don't think it's one for the ages but will be terrific with a few more years in the bottle and at least thru 2015.

Corton Charlemagne 1998, Maurice et Anne-Marie Chapuis - Slightly reductive and closed at first, fuller and richer with time, with lemon-butter-creme- nose, with 10 minutes in the glass this opened and expanded revealing pain grille notes, with complex non tropical fruit - hawthorne, linden, acacia. On the palate, full and plush with good acidity and cut, and a long finish. White wine of the night, even better than the Chevalier at the moment, just got better and better as it opened up!

Chorey les Beaune 2002, Chateau de Chorey - med ruby - good earthy cherry notes, firmish, old school, slightly rustic in a nice way - drinking great, perfect workday Burg!

Volnay "Carelles" 1998, Paul Pernot - Wish I spent a few more moments with this wine, as it is still tight, has classic '98 character with high-ish acids and structure, fine grained tannins and pure flavors, still a bit wound up, but with dark silken fruit underneath. Drink 2011-2015 would be my guess.

Pommard 1999, Gabrielle Billard - Lovely aromatics of dark plum and cherry, on the palate it is balanced with ripe smooth tannins, dark dried cherry fruits, sanftig and plush for Pomerol, very enjoyable now, drink now - 2015.

Fixin 2003, Meo Camuzet - Feral and a little dirty or reduced at first, fresh turned earth notes, ripe-ish, raw and young. Mod tannins, touch scorched fruit and a touch hot, vintage shows. With a little time this fleshed out and showed some more dark fruits. A little awkward - needs 3-4 to come together - then what? Could work out the kinks, maybe not?

Marsannay 2003 Meo Camuzet - Fresher, tighter, more tightly knit than the Fixin, less 2003 - like. Fruit and tannins silkier, ripe-ish, raw bing cherry, better integration all around than the Fixin. Needs 3-4 years at least, drink 2013-2016 -/+.

Savigny Les Beaune les Narbantons 1999, Maurice Ecard - I have always loved Ecards Savignys, well made, affordably priced classic Burgundy - alas the Domaine is no more, sold out of the family. I will miss them! This wine is no exception showing lovely just barely mature cherry fruit, earth and spice-box nose, ready to drink, fine, balanced and elegant. Mid weight. "Bring on the coq au vin" was the refrain around the table, and I would put it forth as the best red wine value of the night. Again, too bad the domaine is no more, was one of my favorites! Beautiful wine - wish I had a case in the cellar.

Chambolle - Musigny 2000 - Thierry Mortet - Perfumed, lacy dark and red cherry, and a whiff of subtle darker earth notes underneath. Mid weight, true Chambolle style: lithesome and elegant. Shows a little 2000 character, balanced but without the density or core concentration to be long lived, but a perfectly lovely wine to drink now and through 2015+.

Beaune 1er cru cent-vignes 1999 Chateau de Chorey - dried cherry, med weight, good, but not inspiring. Pommard and Ecard showing better in class to my taste. Very enjoyable never the less, and without the competition of tonight's lineup I would be happy to imbibe anytime!

Charmes Chambertin 1998, Dominique Gallois - sweet, earthy, with hints of tobacco, sice and trffe, good and proper Gevery, but to me just not showing its Grand Cru caliber. Still a bit youthful and closed, this needs a few years or so, when perhaps it will reveal a bit more of its pedigree, but not sure. Very good wine, just not quite living up to its terroir in my opinion.

Vosne Romanee Les Suchot 1996 - Francois Lamarche - No notes - must have gotten lazy here, or more likely the next wine just stole my attention! I do recall us mentioning that it was a bit tight and closed at the moment, and in need of a little more time to open. One of the perils of doing so many wines is that we really didn't spend enough time on each, as this might have been a big beneficiary of a little time before the next two wines.

Clos Vougeot "Musigni" 1999, Ann Gros - Wow! Perfumed and aromatic, with cherry and spice nose, it is polished, elegant and fine, feminine even, with a core of sweet fruits underneath. Just barley out of its youthful stage, it is still primary but hinting at much more to come with cellaring. This is a seamless, silky, perfectly harmonious wine that will most likely drink great on any given day for the next 10+ years. Excellent!

Clos Vougeot 1998, Meo Camuzet - This couldn't be more different than the Gros: more earth, wild, raw and sauvage, especially when first opened. Bigger boned wine, plenty of muscle on a sturdy frame. Meaty for '98, with grippy structure and good acidity. With time began to reveal dark fruits, earth, spice and a core of locked up potential. Still youthful and a bit awkward, this needs 5-8+ years to really come into its own. Another terrific wine!

Last wine of the night was a Chambertin trapet 1990 from magnum - this had a bit of seepage evident, and unfortunately I clearly sensed tell-tale baked fruit notes, potentially heat damaged, sadly off, and a reminder of the fragile, living nature of these great wines - cellar them well!

With the two Clos Vougeot wines, we had truly arrived at a perfect illustration of the essence of Burgundy, not only because of the sheer unmatchable Grand Cru quality of each of them, but also because of their stark differences in style. They are both Pinot Noir, both Grand Cru, both Clos Vougeot, but there the similarities end. Different vintages, different winemakers and different parcels within the Clos have created a familial resemblance, but the two twins are much more fraternal than identical. These magical, magnificent variations, frustrating at times and sublimely rewarding at others, are what makes Burgundy so unique, the very essence of what keeps you coming back for more - kind of like a great golf shot! These two wines, and all of the wines we tasted this afternoon on our trip through the Cote D'Or, make the case that with Burgundy, getting there is half the fun. You have to love the trip and the sights and experiences along the way, be able to travel with an open mind (and palate), with a sense of adventure and learning, and be willing to go along for the ride, valleys, peaks and all.

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