Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wild Boar, Barrels and the Spectacular Wines of Didier Larue

The third day of our January visit dawned dark, damp and foggy (surprise!) and I bagged the walk I had promised myself late at night over Stella A's in the pub in Puligny. After our petite dejuener, the sky broke to a low, misty gauzy sun with patches of brilliant blue sky, the vineyards still with a layer of grey snow. Off to Larue in St. Aubin where we ran into Didier and some winemaker buddies butchering a freshly bagged wild boar - an awesome site, especially for those of us who slightly over indulged the night before. I have to say that any day that starts with butchering a wild boar shot in the vineyards of Burgundy that very morning is probably going to be ok, and from here it only got better. On the agenda, a visit to barrel maker Seguin Moreau's Burgundy facility for a look at how the wood gets in the wine, followed by a phenomenal tasting, lunch, and more tasting with Didier LaRue. 

More about the Barrel making will follow, but the experience with LaRue's over-achieving wines was once again a palate-opening experience. He has vineyards in St. Aubin and Puligny, but it is the wines grown in the former that command my attention. You expect brilliance from Puligny, but when St. Aubin rises to the occasion, I sit up and take note. Saint Aubin is tucked into a little valley which is apparently loaded with wild boar who are sort of like deer are to us in the suburbs of New Jersey, a pest. The valley opens up between Puligny Montrachet to the north and Chassagne to the south, and winds back to the west and south through the villages of Gamay and St. Aubin, with vineyards clinging to the fairly steep south and southeast facing hillsides.  The wines here have traditionally been seen as a bit more rustic and coarse than their more refined neighbors on the Cote, but the top wines from 1er Cru sites like Murgers Dents de Chene and En Remilly can truly be great, age worthy, complex and delicious. Not only from Larue, but from other top growers too (Colin, Lamy come to mind). Could be a string of pretty good vintages, could be that there is a market for the wines that has resulted in higher prices and allowing better viti/vini practices, but end result is that these days they are some of the best buys in white Burgundy you can find, and they seem to get better and better all the time.

A visit with Dider takes this even a step further, as not only are the current releases brilliant, but he amazes us with older wines from the cellar that are simply mind blowing. His generosity and love of sharing is only surpassed by his open attitude. He is always asking, probing, listening to what we sense and taste and think, making our visits with him not only hedonistically superb, but even more appreciated for the insight and educational side of it all. We have had the pleasure of having him visit us in the store, shared many great meals, and been able to offer some select releases of older wines with our clients. Look for great things from this producer this year and next with the lush fullish 2009's, reds look very promising, whites full and rich  and plush; and the delicious 2008 whites with their classic fruit and acids that seem to fall somewhere between the mineral and crisp 2007's and the fullish 2009's.

Wines tasted (notes are reserved until we receive them and we can taste the final product.)

Saint Aubin Les Combes  
Saint Aubin Vielles Vignes 
Saint Aubin En Montceau
Saint Aubin Les Cortons
Saint Aubin En Remilly
Saint Aubin Murgers dents des Chien 
Puligny Montrachet
Puligny Montrachet Sous Puits
Puligny Montrachet La Garenne
Puligny Montrachet Trezan
Saint Aubin Rouge
Saint Aubin Rouge Sentieres du Clou
Chassagne Boudriottes too?

And the magnificent lunch: Saint Aubin Murgers Dents de Chiene 2006 - Beautiful full bouquet, stony solid. Drinking great. Long and rich and delish! With a soup of creme of root vegetables, Boudin noir underneath, with puréed chives and drizzle of olive oil and and earthy warm sweet onion. Then reconstructed eggs en murette with bacon,  red wine sauce, escargots and caramelized onion confit - crazy presentation! Next the 2002 Murgers Dents de Chien - medium gold. Lovely aromas of clover honey, acacia, linden, corn silk and butter - silky, mature, mouth filling. Next course Sandre (mildish meaty fish) with creme du ciboulet. Red Cabbage and a smokey foamy sauce. Crisped skin, sweet sour cabbage with a hint of vinegar, chive, and a mousse of smoked garlic that sealed the deal!!! Saint Aubin Sentieres du Clou 2003 - full, lush and ripe -not burnt or over the top, just a bit chubby, perfectly suited to the braised beef cheeks, sauce reduction, and puree of pumpkin. 1999 grands Epenots Michel Gaunaux - good but not great, a bit muddled and murky. Cheese course was a creme d'Epiosses, a rich and frothy mousse on top like good cappuccino, cheesier and thicker deeper down, and a hint of truffle, all bubbling away in a little ceramic pot, with a crusty bread spread with, you guessed it, MORE Epoisses. How did they make this decadent cheese this much more so! Dip the bread and die and go to heaven!!! And when you get to the bottom and you haven't had a coronary, there is a crispy sweet graham-like spice and sweet bread crumb, saturated in Epoisses, to revive you. And finally, Sabayon gratin poached pear in wine - good, but would love to do this with apple! Great traditional Burgundian fare, with a little modern twist. And later, on day five at dinner, the lovely 1992 Blagny 1er Cru Sous les Puitssweet leather and spice. Amazingly fresh acidity, detailed and lacy, forest floor and autumn leaves, with dried cherry and asian spice. Great wine from an unsung vintage (but it was my wedding year!) Beautiful - Merci Didier!


  1. Good Lord, let me taste that Epoisse dish once more before I die! Great post, MW!

  2. coming face to face with a wild boar will ruin your whole day.