Not much left in the cellar from the last millennium, now there’s one less. Opened a little red brick coloured but gained a deeper garnet as it aired and rid itself of some still residual sulphur. Still fresh and fragrant. Wild strawberry, perfumed geranium, clove, aniseed and freshly dug sweet loam. Cherry liqueur and chocolate. Weirdly reminiscent of a Bass Phillip when on form in smell and an unfiltered cloudiness. A little smoky reduction still drifts in and out after twenty years of age. Delicious tang of blood orange juice acidity and those so cultured Côte d’Or tannins, now soft and mellow. Les Champeaux is up on the Combe in Gevrey and should be a bit cooler in theory than the lower burly crus. Well, true enough if the wine’s so beautifully fresh and supports the idea as it does here. What is undeniable is the lingering fragrance of a superbly decadent old Burgundy. Another of those hand luggage bottles before the world changed in 2001. Now the idea of any luggage at all seems exotic.
13% alcohol. Long squishy cork just doing the job. Was about €40 from old Caves Augé.
A weekend treat for this Chablis lover. Opened a little bit yeasty and wild but soon calmed down as it took a breath of air. Oh yes, this has all those Chablis smells and flavours of ripe citrus, maybe quince, creamy yeast lees, a yoghurt sourness and that ocean spray. Natural and relaxed. The concentration of flavour ramps up as it glides on flinty rails through the mouth, flaunting it’s premier cru caste. The flavours swell and linger, carried along on a cool watery stream of chalk and pebbles. Oddly this may be a real memory of smell and taste. Growing up in Wessex, my early summer holidays were often spent splashing in a gravelly chalk river. So immersed on a rare hot day that I probably swallowed a fair drink. Delicious Chablis will do these days.
Older bottles of Burgundy can certainly be a test of your patience, even after they’ve been carefully left somewhere cool and dark for over a decade, waiting. First the cork was a dreadful piece of tree bark. Carefully turning a good quality corkscrew only led to the middle of the cork collapsing into fine particles and dust. Fifteen minutes of patient digging got most bits out, leaving a small plug that dropped into the neck. Good thing it was so reductive it needed a double decant through a strainer to get the last bits. The first sniff and sip after leaving it to air was, as Billy Connolly once said, like a fart in a space suit, a particularly sulphurous one too. Quite a bit of spritz as well from dissolved CO2. Oh well, not tonight then. Twenty four hours of more breathing and then muttered expletives. Still a little smoky but an incredible density of warm ripe Pinot Noir heaven. Intense, fresh wild strawberries, cherries, liquorice, and chalky earth that bounce around the olfactory bits for what seems a very long time. Like a stairway to heaven, it made me wonder. The sheer concentration coats the mouth with flavour and what flavour. It’s as if the best summer fruit at its most perfectly ripe has been preserved with precision until now. The tannin and acidity were, of course, the perfect foil to carry and then freshen. Once in a while a bottle makes you remember how Burgundy can touch the sublime. Even if it means even more patience.
13% alcohol. Cork, foul but did its job, just. The cost forgotten.
96 points, could have gone 97 if less recalcitrant, the wine not I.
Goodness, maybe that’s the first long French name I’ve carefully typed without a single accent or circumflex. It’s red wine too despite the deluxe Chardy address. Seems Chassagne was prime Pinot soil before vine eating bugs arrived and the world’s infatuation with white Burgundy took hold. This is deeply coloured, just starting to lose some saturation. Good fruit density with smells and tastes of wild strawberry, kirsch cherries and quality chocolate earth. Builds well as it rests in the palate before ending with fine and still fresh acidity and cocoa tannin. The only unwelcome guest in the flavour party is some oak which grates as if it’s been badly seasoned perhaps and tastes a bit of old nuts and stale spice. Delicious grapes though, les gars Bachelet.
13% alcohol. Cork. Was about $45 pre arrival direct import.
A very polished and finessed version of Gevrey, perhaps a bit Rousseau like if I’d drunk enough of that hallowed producer to really say. Sweet essence of blood orange, dark wild strawberry, wet potter’s clay and slightly cardboard yeasty lees. Glides well on a chiselled, very fine acid base and a rustle of tannin aristocracy. It’s that density of ripe fruit built on a filigree of the finest carving that marks the posh middle of the Côte d’Or’s slope. Feels like you have to dress up for it.
13% alcohol. Cork. Very nice birthday present some years ago.
Côte d’Or aristocracy in a glass, something to lose one’s head over. My one and only bottle from this famous estate. It opened a bit off puttingly smelly like any twenty year old who’s just awake after the party that was vintage 1999. Lurking in the middle of the first mouthfuls was a core of deep, intense liquorice flavour that suggested a good bit of ventilation might improve things. A brave double decant and the perfume got sweeter, a little caramel and autumnal but some faded wild strawberry with a ferrous, bloody lip edge was visible through the mist. As the evening wore on and food in the form of a potato and truffle flavoured pizza arrived, the smells freshened and a deep, fine, and well, downright elegant purity of fruit emerged. The cut of perfect acid and iron filing tannin leaving a mouth just watering for more. In no way large scaled but lithe, the fruit a complex of that wild strawberry perfume, kirsch, a fine cocoa sprinkle and that earthy iron. A later reference to Remington Norman’s bourgeoisly informed “Great Domaines of Burgundy” notes that Champans does contain a lot of ironstone amongst the clay and limestone rubble. Well, there’s a coincidence. One of those bottles of Burgundy, well out of reach these days, that shows what caused the infatuation in the first place. Oh well, back to earth.
13.50% alcohol. Cork. Was about €50 in Paris some years ago.
Back in 2000, a simple call from a Paris station public phone in bad, halting Français was all it took to arrange an appointment with this wonderful Chambolle address. In the days when a Burgundy obsession was at least extravagantly affordable rather than a ludicrous billionaire’s foible. Lucky for me it was a rainy afternoon on the Côte d’Or and Madame Barthod was happy to stay in the cellar and pour tastes rather than be amongst les vignes. An unforgettable tour of Chambolle’s Premier Cru from barrel showed that Pinot can be even more tasty before it’s bottled. Anyway, the sight of a Bourgogne for 30 euros in that tempting basement of Lavinia was a chance to revisit good times. As meticulously clean and made as ever, gentle scents of wild strawberries, cherry and the smoothest limestone and clay swirl into a precise mouthful of just ripe fruit, a tingle of bright acidity and a trail of silky tannin. No huge weight or bombastic extract despite a bit of cold soak perhaps, just a well pitched melody. As good as many producers’ village level efforts. Some trophy bottles of late 90s and early 2000’s Burgundies have gone off to auction for jaw dropping prices to help fund other indulgences but there’s one, and only one sadly, 99 Barthod Charmes that’s going nowhere but my glass.
13% alcohol. Cork. What price great Burg these days?
Australia’s two dominant supermarket leviathans both dabble in direct imports with Coles’ attempts even less well organised than their competitor’s hit and miss attempts. Coles’ fine wine arm, Vintage Cellars, somehow still manage to import La Chablisienne’s lovely wines without much obvious promotion which leads to some occasional irresistible discounts. The last was a “cellar frenzy” sale with this Chablis reduced to $21.50 a bottle in a six pack purchase. Don’t think credit card details have ever been so quickly entered. There’s always an anxious wait to see which vintage turns up as something as simple as stock rotation and customer service seem just too difficult. Worry turned to glee as four 2014s under Diam and two 2017s under screwcap turned up, as unlikely and as fist pumping as a Southampton home win. The Diam’s done a proper job as there’s a touch of lanolin reduction and a pale colour as things open up in the glass. Gentle Chardonnay smells and a soft palate that seems a bit dilute, oh well, it’s a cooperative wine. How wrong first impressions can be. Second day the airing had swept away the reduction and the colour deepened. Real Chablis perfume and flavour bite. Ripe citrus, quince, stony sweet green herbals, salinity and that sour lactic yoghurt twang. Delicious basic Chablis! Next one’s going to get double decanted and patience will be a virtue waiting a day for a sip. Six bottles doesn’t seem nearly enough now.
12.50% alcohol. Diam. $21.50, Coles’ shareholders may not be happy.
Carefully carried all the way back from Paris to Melbourne surviving inept packing, baggage handling and a few years in cool storage. Research at the time suggested Perrot Minot had backed away from the mid nineties fashion of too much extraction and new oak in favour of more perfume and transparency. The helpful staff in the basement of delights at Lavinia in Paris encouraged the opinion in much better English than my French. Compared to current premier cru prices this looked a reasonable buy too. Fast forward fifteen years to Xmas eve 2019, all looks good, good fill level still, cork barely stained and removed in one piece. First sniff and a joyfully rich wild strawberry and spice fragrance, then….a musty, old hessian sack waft of, oh no, TCA. Foul language but a resigned shrug too. Life has a way of dealing with great expectations but, really, why are we still wedded to mid nineteenth century technology for our most precious drinks? Down the sink and head in the sand along with much larger issues like a warming planet perhaps?
No points just a grumpy old man who’s a bit worried at the moment.
From the Qantas Wine on line shop, 15,000 frequent flier points a bottle seemed like a good use for one who flies less frequently these days. That’s a lot of short flights to Adelaide and back. You can only wonder how such a small production, sought after bottle ended up amongst the usual commercial stuff on Qantas’ site? Probably should have waited a few years to open this as it’s a surly adolescent at the moment. Smells a little of oak spice and cedar with a fleeting waft of green citrus, sour lactics and chalk. Same sort of thing in terms of taste. The second day there’s some rich dry extract but still little fruit sweetness. A powerful event horizon of recent bottling and shipping half way around the world that seems to have swallowed any light of flavour. Happy there’s another bottle that’s gone to rest in a dark cool place for as long as both palate and patience may last. Think it’ll be worth the wait. Tree bark willing, of course.
12.50% alcohol. Cork. Good use of points.
93++ points. Experience with older good vintages from Moreau Naudet suggest a treat awaits.