About this Blog

The blog focuses on the essence of wine and food, not how many points or stars it receives. The opinions are mine and should be taken only as that, an opinion not gospel.

Like many collectors, initially I was very much influenced by wine ratings. I purchased wines based on points, even if I had never tasted the wine. And it was much worse than that. I would drink a wine with a high rating, not like it, yet since it was highly rated I’d rationalize that I did not yet appreciate the wine, or that my palate was not sophisticated enough to understand the wine. How’s that for lunacy? As a result my cellar grew in all directions while my palate narrowed. By the time I realized the style of wine that I enjoyed, my cellar abounded with wines whose styles I did not enjoy. All of these wines were very highly rated, just not my cup of tea, or glass of wine to be more accurate. Fortunately I was able to sell many of these wines to those who either enjoyed them or wanted highly rated wines. Don’t misunderstand, I am not against wines with high ratings, in fact I own many. It is just that I now purchase wines based on the producer, the style and my palate, not the rating. Nor do I shun reading reviews. I very much respect Antonio Galloni, Alan Meadows, Eric Asimov and John Gilman and read their reviews routinely. I pay attention to what they write, not the points they award.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Burgundy Bug

This month’s wine group dinner once again took place at the Pluckemin Inn, Bedminster, NJ. Yes we do go here a lot, and for good reason.  In addition to the excellent cuisine prepared by executive chef Andrew Lattanzio, wine director Brian Hider keeps the restaurant and wine shop well stocked with excellent wines from Burgundy. Emil, who was in the wine queue this month, has been bitten by the “Burgundy Bug” (as we all have) and consulted with Brian in purchasing 5 outstanding red Burgundies from the Pluckemin Inn Wine Shop for our dinner. They were all terrific.

My wine palate prefers wines that are feminine and elegant in style.  Big, over-extracted, in your face macho wines are not for me.  The Nebbiolo grapes from Piedmont, Italy and the Pinot Noir grapes from Burgundy, France fill the bill for me, especially when those entrusted with turning the grapes to wine do so with old-world craftsmanship.  Tonight’s wines filled that bill in spades.

2006 Denis Bachelet Bourgogne.  This very small, less than three hectares, estate produces some of the finest and reasonably priced wines in all of Burgundy.  While his Grand Cru Charmes Chambertin has achieved cult status (with prices to match) his Villages level wines are simply gorgeous and very affordable.  A sniff of the wine filled the nose with ripe and earthy fruit, while on the palate it was soft, nicely balanced and had a lengthy finish.  At $35, this is a terrific entry level Burgundy.

2006 Chandon de Briailles Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru ”les Vergelesses”. I adore this estate.  Owner/winemaker Claude de Nicolay crafts stunning and very affordable high quality Burgundy at her estate in Savigny-les-Beaune.  This vintage is just entering it’s peak drinking window in my opinion.  The wine  had a gorgeous transparent red hue, enticing earthy and fruity bouquet with a elegant and pure palate with just impeccable balance.  It finished with considerable length.  A wine with soul!  $35.

When one speaks of the great winemakers and estates of Burgundy, Armand Rousseau is high up on the list.  His wines are gorgeous and expensive.  Meticulous attention is paid to grape selection and all grapes are picked by hand.  HIs wines are amongst the finest expressions of how good old-world Burgundy can be.

Tonight we drank a 2000 Armand Rousseau Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru, that was an absolute knock-out, especially for a wine from a difficult vintage.  .  It was the consensus wine of the night for the group.  The earthy bouquet flowed from the glass with a seductive invitation to lift the glass to your lips.  And when you did the fruit danced on the tongue like a choreographed Twyla Tharp dance number.  It was superb.  This wine also reinforced my strong feelings for the absurdity of point scores.  Not only did two of the industry’s top wine critics score the wine in the 80’s, they also recommended the wine be consumed by 2010.  The vibrancy of this wine indicated that it still as a number of years ahead of it.   It is important to note that they made these notes in 2002.  There is a message here if you care to listen to it.  $150.

2004 Rene Engel Vosne Romanee 1er Cru les Brulees.  This was a new producer for me and I enjoyed the wine very much.  While 60% new oak was used to make the wine, it was very well integrated into the wine.  There was good spice and balance on the palate with a long finish.  $?

Domaine Dujac is another of the great wine making estates of Burgundy, crafting wines of elegance and finesse. The wines always demonstrate balance, harmony, length and complexity. The grapes are vinifed with little or no destemming.  Owner/winemaker Jacques Seysses that while this results in a bit of a loss of color, it gives the wines greater complexity.  The 2000 Domaine Dujac Gevrey Chambertin Aux Combottes 1er Cru, from the difficult 2000 vintage showed very well.  While complexity and finish of the wine left a bit to be desired, the fruit was soft and elegant and made for a very nice glass of wine.  $125.

As for the food, as I mentioned in the first paragraph, it is always excellent.  The one new dish I had this time was Octopus Carpaccio with Daikon Radish and mixed greens.  Sublime!!!

Once again it was a terrific evening of food, wine and comraderie.  Thanks Emil and Brian for your selections.


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