Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Domaine Albert Grivault - Precision, Elegance and Respect

Last evening we had an excellent dinner at the Pluckemin Inn with a menu created by the uber talented Juan Jose Cuevas to match the stunningly pure Burgundies of Domaine Albert Grivault. More than just a wine dinner, this was a study in all the things that make Burgundy so intriguing and so complex at the same time. There was plenty of discussion around M. Bardets presentation, some great questions, and of course a phenomenal sensory illustration of the influence and importance of terroir. While to me this is the driving element here, there is no doubt that its impact can be tempered by the effects of bottle age, vintage variations, and grape growing and wine making philosophy. Give ten chefs the same ingredients and they will make 10 different dishes, but they will all agree that great ingredients are a key, much as grapes grown in great terroirs have inimitable qualities that are an intrinsic component of so many great wines. This dinner, created from excellent ingredients respectfully prepared, matched with the wines made with the same humble approach, was truly a special event.

The Pluckemin Inn provided a cozy setting, fire glowing warmly on a cold fall night, and we began with a selection of delicious passed appetizers  (loved the chestnut soup hand warmers!) accompanied by the Bourgogne Blanc 2007, and continued with that wine as we sat at the table with a tuna tartare amuse. A perfect way to start, the wine is showing the unmistakable Grivault style of elegance and purity. It is from a small parcel behind the Domaine at the foot of the hill and another behind the Perrieres. Understated and classy, it opened an improved as it swirled in the glass, showing hazelnuts, soft fruits and persistent minerality and balance all the way through to the long finish. No new oak here, only barrels in sixth year or older. One of the best buys in white Burgundy on the market - Merci M. Bardet!

1st Course was a Catskill Brook Trout Confit in "Beurre Noissette", Uni, Local Apples with the  2007 & 2008 Albert Grivault Meursault VIllages. These two wines, while both expressing the Grivault elegance, could not have been more different - both also showing true to vintage. The 2007 was more reserved, focused, its mineral tones and lively cool acidity pairing perfectly with the delicious trout, delicate and nicely matched with the savory earthy uni and balanced by the crisp zip of the apples. The 2008, also typical of its vintage, is a bigger boned wine, with more depth of fruit and weight, yet still with lovely underlying acidity. It is a wine that is still youthfully opulent and a bit powerful with this particular dish, but bodes extremely well for bottle development over the next 4-10 years. With another dish this could easily have been the preferred wine, its weight and concentration really only showing so dramatically as a result of its contrast with the dish and the focused intensity of the 2007.
2nd Course - Wild Alaska halibut, Comte Viennoise, Braised Organic Mushrooms, Jus of Herbs with the 2007 Albert Grivault Meursault Perrieres 1er Cru. A big shift of gears here - more depth, more complexity, still brilliant underlying acidity, minerals and elegance. According to Henri Marc, Michel Bardets son, the soils here are a bit finer, more friable, whereas the Clos Perreres is a bit darker and more dense, evident when after a rain the Perrieres remains crumbly and friable (its not sand but fine with a similar texture) while the Clos soils clump together, in part resulting in the stylistic differences in the two parcels. This dish was spectacular from the minute it arrived: perfectly prepared cut of Halibut, seared and tan on the top, and meaty flakey and perfectly cooked, set in a vibrant herb sauce with little mushrooms. The aromas of the dish were mouthwatering, and the taste only confirmed it - more than one of us was sopping it up with bread! Wine was a perfect match, enough richness and layered flavors to match the fish, enough acidity to set up the next bite. Bravo!
3rd Course - Poularde, Breast Poached in Buttermilk, Roasted Leg, Potato Butter, Roasted Shallot, Liver Toast with both the 2003 & 2007 Albert Grivault Meursault Clos des Perrieres 1er cru (Monopole) - What a dish! Amazingly tender Poulard, rich and decadently creamy potatoes, the shallot, sweet and caramelized, the gamey dark leg meat and the liver toast adding intense bursts of liver-y and chicken-y flavor - sensational! The wines were another incredible duo, both again showing a familial resemblance but also their own very unique expressions of vintage. I gave the nod tonight to the 2003, an amazing wine from a tough, hot vintage. How one coaxes such elegance and balance from this year, still showing fresh and rich and lovely when many an '03 is fading into ignominy, is a testament to the ability of the Bardets. It was a perfect match. The 2007 to me is a solid, youthful wine with a tremendous future. A beautiful core of mineral laden concentrated stony fruit, excellent acidity - one I would like to have a case of in the cellar to drink in 15-20 years.  
4th Course - Artisanal American Cheeses similar to Comte, Epoisses, Cantal & Reblochon with 2007 Albert Grivault Pommard Clos Blanc 1er Cru. Loved this wine, always good to be the lone red at the end of a great meal, but this showed extraordinarily well. Spice, dark fruit and a gamey note, it is never the less quite elegant for Pommard showing breed and class and elegance along with its slightly Pommard-esque edge that has definately softend since I last tasted. A lovey finish to a beautiful night!

I want to extend a sincere thank you to everyone who put this together: Joe and the team at 56, Brian Hider, Chef Cuevas and the entire staff at the Pluckemin Inn, and Olivier Daubresse for sharing his expertise and stable of great growers with us. Most of all, a warm and heartfelt thank you to Michel and Henri Marc Bardet for their dedication and passion to their lovely parcel of vines, and for taking the time to travel all the way here to share that passion with us! Nous vous remercier!

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