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Burgundy and Loire Stickies


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So friend Roy Hersh was coming up to visit Vancouver for the wine festival and it seemed an excellent idea to have a get together (it ALWAYS seems a good idea to get together and have some wine, but Roy’s attendance allowed us a better excuse than, say, because it was Friday.

I got to arrange a restaurant that I thought would be of interest, but my other friend got to choose theme. What would you choose for the Master of Port? Well Burgundy doesn’t immediately spring to mind (maybe he looked at Roy and diagnosed that he might be down a quart on subtlety, having to put up with all those big manly wines all the time?) but it worked out very, very well.

1997 Ch. de Maligny Chablis 1r Cru Fourchaume – a great way to kick off an event like this and it had us thinking it was a white Burg. The nose was more lemony than mineral per se and it was buttery in feel and crisp in the fine dge given it by the acidity. The onlky criticism would be that the fruit tailed off a bit before everything else which gave it a slightly lean profile at the end.

1995 Drouhin Charmes Chambertain – I like Drouhins wines and had been eying both the Beaune Clos des Mouches and the Chambolle Musigny Les Charmes as possible wines to bring, so I can’t fault Blair for pulling this one in full expectation of it being a good bottle. The nose, however, was decidedly odd, skirting corkiness by a fine breadth. The wine was lean and ungenerous, having far more acidity than fruit. The restaurateur opined that he had a couple of cases of this in the cellar and that they all showed similarly (I think he planned to sell it in sangria…). If nothing else, this bottle provided us with endless fun over the evening (OK, so we ARE easily amused) as we kept saying what an almost unalloyed pleasure the evening to that point had been, well except for one bottle of course.. This subtle psychological approach was to pay off big time later in the evening.

1978 Hanzell Sonoma Pinot Noir – this is probably the best Californian Pinot I have tasted. I should make this clear – we were tasting blind and we all thought this was a rather nice Burgundy. A nose of dark fruit and vanilla with a hint of rubber, smooth balanced and with very good length on palate, and enough tannin to have us guessing in the mid 80s. Super bottle.

1985 Faiveley Latricieres Chambertin – nice only slightly animal nose, smooth on palate with decent up front fruit, no tannin and good acidity. I’d have been worried about this possibly being on the aged side but it showed very decently.

1989 Rene Engel Clos Vougeot Grand Cru – mildly funky, with good red fruit and a hint of spice in the nose, good balance (less acidity than the previous 1985) and smooth with good length. Sadly, the proprietor of this producer died last year and the effect on production is unknown.

1990 Louis Latour Corton Grancey – a sweet fruit sort of pudding nose, very pleasant on palate with good depth, medium body and slightly lower acidity, and decent length.

2001 DRC Echezeaux – the person that brought this was no doubt wondering if he was committing infanticide, but that turned out not to be the case. The nose was both fresh and sweet with lots of fruit, but also with earth and mushroom notes, and there was lots of acidity, the effect being a freshness to the wine, which drank beautifully right now. We discussed it and thought that it would drink best over the medium term and wouldn’t be a long hold sort of wine.

1995 Leroy Nuits St. Georges ‘Les Boudots’ – the nose on this was a stand out with sweet berry fruit and something elese behind it I had trouble finding a descriptor for. It is still a bit tight and although the tannins are not hard, it needs time and should prove a very good wine indeed.

We then wound up with a horizontal tasting of 1997 Coteaux du Layon from three producers.

Ch. Pierre Bise Beaulieu les Rouannieres – the nose was quite jammy and it was also very sweet in the mouth, if anything a bit overdone.

Ch. Soucherie Cve. de la Tour – this nose was waxy, butin a good way, and the wine was lighter, less sweet and with better acidity.

Dom. Jo Pithon Clos les Bois – darker colour, excellent complex sweet nose with all sorts of fruit notes intermingled, and although this was also very sweet, it seemed to finish on a drier note and it was my favourite of the three. Interesting wines.

Then, just in case out sugar levels were too low, a final hit:

Seppelt GR113 Rare Muscat – made from fruit from 1981 (mostly) this is stored in old barrels and not topped up, and becomes, with time, the sort of delightful dark brown treacle we saw here. The nose on these is always a treat and this featured Muscat, of course, but under that floral notes (roses?), dates and spice, sherry-like and oxidised, and a bit hot. Very smooth on palate with exceptional length. A rare treat indeed.

We then repaired to the apartment of the person that had perpetrated that less than stellar Drouhin on us, wending our way through a bevy of rather scantily dressed ladies that Blair said were street vendors of a sort, although I didn’t quite catch what their product might be.

We first popped a cork on another Burg to readjust our palates:

1985 Phillipe Leclerc Gevrey Chambertin ‘Les Platieres’ - this one was long in the tooth, but offered some pleasure. Getting pale and lean, it has lost fruit and accentuated the acidity. It did, however put us in form for the next wine.

Blair has a wine unit in his apartment, which is apparently too small, resulting in the revelation of a plethora of bottles and little else when you open his refrigerator, bottles of Beaucastel sharing space with mustard and mayo. Interesting.

He did find the following gem in all of the vinous clutter, however.

1976 Domaine Romanee Conti Grands Echezeaux – this was a pale garnet colour that many rosės would emulate. The nose was very good, with a fair bit of coffee underlying the fruit and it was surprisingly fresh on palate, elegant with long lingering finish. Delighted to be able to experience this elegant mature wine.

As I had prefaced this event with a full day (staring tasting at 10 AM) at the Vancouver wine festival, I felt justified in retiring from battle at this point – the others may have gone on yarning and drinking into the wee hours. What a fun evening!!


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