Burgundy is a nice place to be. Food, wine, friendship, it really seems to all come together in Pinot harmony. It is even nicer when the friends at the dinner table are some of the great winemakers and representatives in all of Burgundy. They all brought their own wines, of course, and we brought a few others from both inside and outside the region, as we figured they could use a change of pace. We served the wines we brought blind, to add a bit of fun and test the experienced palates of our guests and their spouses.
There were a couple of whites, and neither was a Chardonnay. After some discussion, Sylvain, aka ‘The Scholar,’ deduced that this was a white from Didier Dageneau. Impressive! It was, indeed, a 2009 Dageneau Pouilly Fume Silex. This was full-bodied and heavy for a Sauvignon Blanc, reminding me of a Montrachet in its unique way. The flavors of the grape were not pungent or overstated in this big and classy white (93).
The next white was easily identifiable as a Riesling; it was a surprisingly good 1994 Fritz Haag Braunburger Juffer Riesling Spatlese. Why surprisingly? Well, it was 1994, a vintage I don’t remember meaning much, and it wasn’t destructively sweet. Time had mellowed its sugar. I love Riesling, but dry Riesling, so I tend to shy away from Spatleses and Ausleses, preferring the younger ‘GG’s aiming for a drier style. However, with age, the Spats and Ausleses start to dry. Perhaps twenty years for a Spat, and 30+ for an Aus? I don’t confess to know 100%, I should do an older Riesling tasting soon. Back to the wine, which had aromas of wool, sweet petrol and peach. Its palate was full with sweet flesh but a dry finish. There were nice flavors to this ‘still young’ wine (93).
On to the reds, where we enjoyed our first Burgundy, a 2007 La Forge du Tart. This is a premier cru wine, made from the younger vines (less than 25 years) of the Grand Cru Clos du Tart. Under the guide of Sylvain Pithiot, the storied and important vineyard of Clos du Tart has become a resurgent star in Burgundy, taking its rightful place amongst its elite Grand Crus. Anyone who has spoken to me about younger vintages in Burgundy will know that I am a big lover of 2007. The whites are top-notch, and while the reds may not be elite, they are extraordinarily delicious at a young age. There was a lot of structure here for an ’07, and its tight and big finish was a testament to its dirt. There was still an open quality to its fruit, and its full and long personality bristled with minerals. This was another shiningly good 2007 that rounded out well in the glass (92).
A New Tart
A 2002 Rousseau Clos de la Roche was a nice re-introduction to one of Rousseau’s forgotten Grand Crus. Some cereal and celery aromas weaved their way through its roasted nose. There was some classic Burgundy fruit on its palate, intense with its backside and bright with that signature 2002 acid, all in balance. 2002 remains the forgotten great vintage between 1999 and 2005. Thanks to Eric for reminding us all with his bottle (93).
There was another 2002 thanks to Jean-Luc, a 2002 Vogue Bonnes Mares. There was a touch of game to its nose, along with cereal, wheat and honey. This was a big-boned, full-bodied and rich red, ‘intense and luscious.’ Its only flaw was a touch of squareness on its finish, but sometimes it’s hip to be square. Time would round things out, as well (94).
You Know Who
We were back to mystery territory, which happened to be the same terroir. This wine was clearly more mature, also gamy but similar with its wheaty nose. Eric found it ‘very elegant,’ and everyone was loving the extra age and resulting blossoming. This 1989 Drouhin Bonnes Mares was rich, creamy and long, but in the end, the Vogue surged past it ever so slightly (93).
A 2006 DRC La Tache made everyone stand up and take notice. This was a deep wine showing lots of skin, with that cedary goodness on top of fruit that smelled addictively good. There was almost a drug-like euphoria to the La Tache. This was a full and long wine, with a finish that was fine and polished despite lingering on and on. There was forest in the house, or this was a house made out of an entire forest, as its breadth and depth impressed us all. Spicy and sexy, La Tache is always special (96).
A Stranger in a Not So Strange Land
Thar She Blows
We ended with a pair of ambassadors from some of those ‘other’ regions in France. Sylvain admired the first wine’s ‘Burgundy nose’ and continued ‘old yet fresh.’ There was a lot of chocolate to its creamy nose. The palate was rich and heavy but a touch clumsy. There were flavors of wheat, earth and mushrooms in this 1947 Rouget, a Pomerol. It had fairly nice acidity still for the hot vintage of 1947 (93).
The last wine on this beautiful night was a kinky 1991 Chateau de Fonsalette Cotes du Rhone, a wine made by Chateau Rayas that is Cotes du Rhone in name only and far from the usual $10-15 red. Its nose was full of sweet, red strawberry, Grenache fruit. Its palate was lush and honeyed, but it still felt young. This was absolutely delicious, and some cereal and wheat rounded out its palate, although some found it in the ‘brett’ direction, but not in a bad way (93+).
In the end, the 2002s were still bottle strong and showing even better, just a small addendum to this wonderful evening. It will always be a good night when in Burgundy with friends.
In Vino Veritas,