Wednesday, April 04, 2007

It's been a long, strange trip...

OK, I just realized I've been quite remiss in posting. I've been travelling through France doing research on a new project, but I thought I'd relate a few fun evenings tasting wine and eating great food with wonderful people. After travelling through the Rhone Valley, I met up with friends in Beaune, capital of Burgundy, and the moment I arrived it was a non-stop party.

First up was a bottle I picked up in Lyon for a steal, a 2001 Mugnier Chambolle Musigny. Say what you will that it was the village wine, this was glorious from the get-go. It defined crunchy freshness, with smooth bright cherries and mushrooms on the nose and a gorgeous, silky texture that brings the fruit to the front, the funk to the middle, and leaves you with a lovely, long finish. As it breathed, dark cherries and smoke began to appear, but in a very balanced and harmonious way.

Then it was off to Le Gourmandin, where a true steal was found on the list: 2002 DRC Vosne Romanee 1er Cru Cuvee Duvault-Blochet. This is where we realized we had stepped it up a bit, now we were in a new world of flavors. Oooh, lovely flowery, peppery and dark fruit notes emerged, with hints of soy sauce and a lovely perfume. Soft yet precise on the palate, with similar notes ending in a long, fruiy finish. Amazingly open and ready for business. It was a ringing success with both the escargots and the ris de veau aux morilles (sweetbreads with morel mushrooms... YUM!).

Back to L'Hotel de Beaune, where we began acting like the wine pirates we were turning into. The wines were coming fast and furious, but I managed to pay attention to most of them. 1972 Clair Dau Chambolle Musigny Les Amoureuses was waiting for us, so I poured a glass and sniffed. Essence of morels, with some soft dark cherries adding a fruity note to the funky aromas. The palate was light and almost tea-like, with a softness on the palate that didn’t bring the lovely nose to the mouth. Dying fast. Aaah well...

My friend was in the mood for white, and wanted to do a vertical of Niellon, so who was I to argue? Out came two bottles, one the 2004 Niellon Chassagne Montrachet Clos de la Maltroie, the other one the 2005 Niellon Chassagne Montrachet Clos de la Maltroie. Both were poured and we began sniffing and swirling. Amazing, how one year of separation makes a world of difference. The 2004 was crunchy and precise, with tons of soft lemons, pears and almonds, backed up by solid minerals and some hints of white truffle and popcorn. The palate was intense and focused, like an I-beam supporting the weight of the fruit and stones. Long finish, with intense acidity yet very nicely balanced. The 2005 was the younger, bigger, brawnier brother. Compared to the '04, the '05 offered ripe lemons and lime, with relatively larger amounts of popcorn and nuts. On the palate, however, this was nothing but structure, with only the foundations showing the fruit. Imagine seeing a building with nothing but the first floor built, scaffolding rising to the heavens offering hints of things to come. One day, that 2005 will be glorious.

Still thirsty, we brought up a bottle of 2004 Roulot Meursault Tessons Clos de mon Plaisir. Rich and powerful, this was full of pears and apple notes and flavors carried on a surprisingly light frame that ended with a crunchy finish. "I want something bigger!" my friend called out, and someone offered the 2004 Coche Dury Puligny Montrachet Enseignieres. Compared to the Roulot, we weren't even in a different world, we were in a completely different universe. Ooooh, HUGE nose offers funky lemons, pears, apples and almonds, with a spicy richness and flowery perfume that I couldn’t turn my nose from. The palate was big, with a soft opulence that carried the fruit and the acidity on a well-balanced structure that ended with a long, mouth-filling and mouth-coating finish.

By now it was 4am and we pondered the wisdom of visiting the Pickwick Arms for some beers, but saner heads than mine prevailed and I stumbled back to my room.

God, I love Burgundy!!!!

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