Friday, June 13, 2008

A Tantalizing Taste of Some Grand Crus of Burgundy

Ok, so I teased everyone with a photo of some pretty amazing wines last week. And yes, it has been a few days since my last post, but I have a very good excuse - some major changes in my life (all good) are eating up a huge chunk of time. But the real delay in writing this post has been a nagging doubt: How do I write up what was probably the best evening of wine I have ever experienced?

Once again our tasting group raised the ante, bringing a terrific selection of wine to our first ever Burgundy-only tasting, but the late arrival of a DRC Richebourg the icing on the cake...

The top wine in the blinded part of our tasting was the 1999 Taupenot-Merme Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru, so it was fortunate that we had two bottles (Chris and Pramod). An absolutely terrific nose - musty and barnyardy, wet fur, damp undergrowth, adding delightful notes of truffley fruit as it aired out. On the palate it was extremely elegant - flavourful, but not overpowering, with acid, fruit and tannin in perfect harmony and a long finish that hints of many more years of joy. Note the prices, one bottle was purchased for $89 in 2003, while the second was fresh from the SAQ – C$161! It pays to have a cellar.
cork. 13.5% alcohol
Score: 18.5/20
Price: C$89 (SAQ), or C$161

Following very closely behind was Lloyd's terrific 2002 Bouchard Pere et Fils Le Corton Grand Cru, a wine that showed similarly well in December. Cola notes at first, fresh berries, leafy, earthy and tobacco aromas as well, nearly perfect on the palate with fresh, not overripe, fruit in perfect harmony with the acid and minerality. If the bottle had lasted another half an hour it could have been the best of the evening. Apparently this is US$61 on line - a tremendous value for a Burgundy of this quality.
cork. 13.5% alcohol
Score: 18/20
Price: C$80 (SAQ)

Cam braved the wrath of his partners by not bringing a Grand Cru, but his 2005 Denis Mortet Gevrey-Chambertin "Mes Cinq Terroirs" was not a lightweight. Sweeter and fruitier on the nose (dare I say "jammy"), smokey cocoa – a rather atypical, modern-styled wine. Softer and juicier than any of the others, but with decent acidity that held it together. It evolved and gained complexity over the evening, but it was so different from the others...
cork. 13% alcohol
Score: 17.5/20
Price: C$108 (SAQ)

Once again I find myself in last place with a 2002 Prince Florent de Merode Corton Les Bressandes Grand Cru. Flinty, green and weedy on the nose, with a curious scent of ginger (much prettier than that sounds). A touch awkward on the palate, with hints of Bouchard Corton above, but not as well integrated as that Corton. Lloyd opined that in five years this could be the best bottle of the night, and there is some underlying power that hints to that effect –I have one more bottle of both 2002 Cortons, with a rematch scheduled for 2013.
cork. 13% alcohol
Score: 16.5/20
Price: C$85 (LCBO)

So, how does one taste, evaluate, score and enjoy a tantalizing 3 oz pour of a Burgundian legend? While worthy of a separate post (I may yet do that), tasting a Domaine Romanee-Conti in the context of so many great Burgundy wines is an even better story. Served unblinded, I approached Cosme's 1996 Domaine Romanée-Conti Richebourg with some trepidation, as a number of the world's greats have disappointed when paired with my lofty expectations. No need to worry tonight: a precious nose of earth and mushrooms, nutty and very green, it was coy at first, but some air (it had a very short decant) teased out pretty white flowers, black pepper and subtle raspberry fruit. Surprisingly viscous, with soft silky tannins and tremendous length (minutes), the soft and pleasing palate is toying with you – the wine is not ready yet, and despite the pleasure it gives you today you will be rewarded by another decade or more in the cellar (if you ever get a hold of one...)
Score: 19/20
Price: $$$ (Lavinia)

So there it is - thanks to my good friend Cosme I have tasted a DRC. Was it impressive? Yes, very. But in the presence of so many great wines you get that nagging doubt about price...unfortunately, those precious 3 ounces will have to do. 

And many thanks to the entire wine group for another great event, and to my wife for some killer grilled mushrooms, jambon de canard, and a selection of cheeses and pate that worked extremely well with the wines. 

American Cabs and steaks on the grill, a patio party for our next tasting...Cheers!


Edward said...


Excellent notes and a lovely sounding menu. I'm glad you spared me the heart attack, by not publishing the price of the DRC. . .

PS. I bought a bottle of Whalebone today, on your prompting!

Joe said...

You cannot price just is. I like your idea of a synchronized Whalebone tasting - I only have one bottle so I will put it aside.

Shea said...

An exciting lineup. When is your Petrus vertical tasting?

Joe said...

Hi Shea - the Petrus vertical? More of a Chateau Margaux kind of guy...

Shea said...

Ha - picky with your super high priced wines I see :).

Joe said...

I am never picky at those prices because it means someone else is buying.. :)