Burgundy, part 2.

In Uncategorized on January 15, 2011 at 4:04 pm

While the drive from Vouvray to Beaune was plenty long, the distance between the easternmost parts of the Loire and the westernmost parts of Burgundy isn’t that great. You can drive from Chablis to Sancerre in less than two hours. Indeed, there is even an overlap in the varietals planted: Sancerre is best known for Sauvignon Blanc, but also makes Pinot Noir. And Burgundy is most well known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but there is some Sauvignon Blanc planted in the area of Saint Bris. As a result, there is often an overlap in vintage style and quality between the two, which is just what I got when interviewing several of the Sancerre producers and the Burgundian producers. There was a general consensus amongst the Burgundian producers from late 2009 and early 2010 that it was a very good vintage. They were hesitant at first to compare it to the 2005 vintage, but they knew they had something good. The 2010 wines are good as well, but they are lighter and more elegant in style. 2010 was a late harvest, with some concern over cold temperatures inhibiting maturity of the grapes, but maturity was eventually reached, and the wines have classic style and great finesse, although it was a fairly light harvest, with most farmers bringing in 25-30% less fruit than average. I noticed similar difference between the two vintages in the eastern Loire whites, with the 09’s showing much more richness, and the ‘10’s being much more elegant and high-toned. The difference between 09 and 10 is somewhat comparable to the difference between 05 and 06, but with a few important differences. The 2005 vintage is nothing short of legendary, with some producers calling them their best wines ever, the trade-off there is that the wines are often unapproachable in their youth. On the other hand, the 09’s should drink beautifully from release, and should last quite a while, although they will almost certainly not last as long as the 05’s will. 06 was a relatively poorly received vintage upon release, however this had more to do with the market at the time than the quality of the wines. Owing to the advice of certain members of the wine press, many people scrambled to get their hands on as much 05 as possible. And to make matters worse, the 06’s were released right about the time the economy began to go downhill. As a result, 06’s became hard to sell, and importers sold a lot of them at closeout prices. Now, if you’re an individual consumer looking to buy something that is elegant and ready to drink now, that’s good news for you, because many 06 reds can be found at drastically discounted retail prices. 2010 ten is also a more elegant vintage, though the wines do seem to have a bit more stuffing to them than a lot of the 06’s I’ve had.

Our first tasting in Burgundy was at Claude Dugat, a small family domaine (only 6 Hectares) in Gevrey Chambertin, producing excellent quality Bourgogne Rouge, Gevrey AOC, 1er cru Gevrey, and Charmes and Chapelle Chambertin Grand Cru. All of their wines are very impressive, my favorite that we tasted was the 2009 Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru (because I have expensive taste, right?)

Later we went to Maison Ambroise in Nuits St Georges. Winemaker Bertrand Ambroise makes a slew of wines, both red and white, from Bourgogne all the way up to Grand Cru. They are undergoing a transition to organic farming, though they are not yet certified. Their attiude, like that of many other producers, is that they want their grapes to speak for themselves, and they want each of their individual parcels to truly speak of the terroir from which they come, and the best way to do that is by farming with as little intervention as possible. His Nuits Saint Georges is always one of my favorites, and this continued to be the case. I won’t put all my notes here, there are too many, but one thing that was interesting was tasting the 3 different Grand Cru wines. We’re lucky enough to have a Master Sommelier on this trip with us, and he and I were standing together when we both tasted the Corton Grand Cru “Le Rognet”, the Echezeaux, and the Clos Vougeot. My notes on the Corton emphasized a bit of reduction that I tasted, nice structure from front to back, and relatively rustic. Conversely, the other two were very floral and perfumed in the nose, very soft and approachable. What our MS pointed out to me was the fact that, at least in terms of being correct and typical of their Grand Cru status, the two that were more fruity were less correct.

We also tasted Champagne from Pascal Doquet, Chauvenet-Chopin, Domaine Lecheneaut, and Domaine Joblot. As I am already 3 days behind on blogging for this trip, I will simply say that I particularly enjoyed the Doquet Extra Brut, and the entire line from Chauvenet Chopin.

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