Tuesday, May 12, 2009

From Chablis To Meursault

Last Friday night we hosted an evening class devoted to Chardonnay from its birthplace….Burgundy. We had a small crowd, only 19 people but as I have said before, white wine seems to bring out fewer people for whatever reason. There was the usual suspects, (group of passionate regulars) a few new faces and even a couple that just “loved Rombauer Chardonnay” but were interested in trying something new. Because we weren’t featuring one estate I got to pour a nice range of wines, everything from Chablis to the Maconnais.

I adore doing classes like this, one region, in some cases, one winemaker and one grape…tends to show what terroir means without me having to go on and on about it, sounding like some crazed soil fanatic. Truth be told, the geography stuff just sends my blonde head spinning, but being able to detect differences in wines that are literally grown just yards apart…that shit just floats my boat to no end! Even better is when I can make others understand it, and watch as their light bulbs go off…..many an “Ah Ha” moment has been had at The Wine Country over glasses of Burgundy, both red and white.

Due to the budget, just $40.00 per person and time constraints, that was all me, wanted to catch some of the Laker game, I went with only 9 wines. Many of our classes can have up to 15 wines featured, although I will admit, when they are my events I tend to pour fewer…better, but fewer so 9 was not all that unusual. For the first flight I wanted to show people just how both climate and soil can make a massive difference, so the wine on the left, a Chablis the wine of the right, Macon. The first wine was nervy, steely even with a fierce acidity and the second was plump, soft, almost tropical and just seemed to have a warmer, “Come on in and drink me” feel to it. From that first flight we made our way to the middle and Burgundy’s Cote d’Or, or “Golden Slope” where the wines were fleshier, deeper, sexier and definitely more expensive.

Most in attendance said it was the best white Burgundy event they had ever attended and the wines sold exceptionally well, especially when you consider the size of the group. I have to say I was shocked at how well the wines performed, they were all quite young and we didn’t decant them, (well, we did with one) but they were all just singing, with each wine building atop the last to the grand finale. A really remarkable evening of alarmingly beautiful wines. As for the Rombauer couple….well they still “really love Rombauer”, I thought I was getting through to them but once the husband asked if it was possible to scoop up a bunch of the soil in Meursault and bring it back here and makes wines that tasted like these, well I pretty much knew then that I wasn’t reaching them, and truth be told…..I don’t think they were really all that interested in listening. Alright by me, they tasted 9 wines they had never before tasted and learned that they are just not that into white Burgundy, so not a complete loss I guess.

2006 Pommier Chablis, ($26.99) This was the first wine of the night and while I thought it might be a bit shocking to the palate to start with the driest, most mineral driven wine I could not quite figure out where else to put it and it turned out being a favorite of many. Bone dry, uncooked bread dough and loaded with limestone the wine had a nice mouth feel and a clean not too severe finish.

2006 Heritiers du Comte lafon Macon-Bussieres, ($38.99) We had two wines from Dominique Lafon at the tasting and the focus with this wine was VALUE! Lafon’s wines from his property in Meursault retail for anywhere from around $100 to over $1,000 so the dude is no slacker in the Chardonnay department, this wine comes not from that estate nor from the Cote d’Or but from the southern region of Macon. Still highly sought after wines that we only get once a year in 1 case drops, this wine is tropical, full in the mouth, seasoned nicely with just a hint of oak and the finish is long and textured. The 2007’s are here as well…going very fast but in right now.

2005 A et P. De Villaine Rully Les Saint-Jacques, ($34.99) I’ve always been a big fan of this estate, but I think the 2005’s are beginning to go through a really weird period, that being said I found a lot of almost roasted Seville orange, white stones and a faint nutty quality..seems like the wine needs to just chill, (as in relax) for a bit, it would be worth tucking it away for a year or two.

2006 Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet Puligny-Montrachet, ($63.99) I’m writing these notes from the little glass I had after the class because it had completely changed in the hour after we had initially poured it. Pears poached in brown butter with just a hint of cinnamon, lemon zest and a rich unsalted buttery finish. Showing stunningly after being opened for about 3 hours.

2006 Philippe Colin Puligny-Montrachet, (54.99) Such purity….clean, nervy, fleshy fruit, bright green apple with just a bit of toast. Hands-down one of my favorite wines of the night.

2006 Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet Chassagne-Montrachet, ($54.99) Deeply nutty, full in the mouth, roasted fruit and loaded with stones and spice. Big wine that would be a freaking knock-out with butter poached seafood or chicken.

2006 Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet Meursault, ($53.99) Probably one of my least favorites of the night, not a bad wine in any shape or form but just seemed the most disjointed and clunky. Roasted nuts, minerals, super ripe apple and pears with a long, somewhat oaky finish.

2005 Francois Jobard Meursault En la Barre, ($74.99) Stunning, freaking stunning….this was the wine that needed the decant, as it was almost climbing in on itself. Once opened though…Oh My God, I could not stop smelling it! So floral and vibrating with minerals, wet stones and more white flowers, each swipe around the glass offering something even more intoxicating. I think this wine got lost in the line up being second to last but to me….I bought a bottle that night and I will be thinking of it until I get to taste it again.

2006 Domaine des Comte Lafon Meursault Clos de la Barre, ($126.99) Without-a-doubt the star of the night and even though it was the most expensive we sold more if this wine than any other. I think its beauty just stole the focus away from the more intellectual Jobard, but I can’t blame anyone for falling in love….statuesque, regal and doing the dance of the seven veils beneath your nose and on your palate. Haunt you this wine will and once you give in you will never forget the way it smells, feels as it curls around your palate and leaves your mouth vibrating and tasting of salted caramel….sigh


Benito said...

Chardonnay gets such a bum rap from being the "generic house white wine". So many wine novices only associate it with that thick, oaky, acidic swill that is apparently pumped directly out of the California soil*.

But introduce someone to a proper Montrachet, at the right temperature, under the right circumstances, and you've got a convert for life. Even a decent Pouilly-Fuissé can do it.
Sounds like an awesome tasting. In addition to graphic design, I'm also good at electrical work, plumbing, and carpentry. In exchange for handyman work, could I live in the back of your shop? ;)


*There are dozens of wonderful, restrained, balanced California chards. But you know the ones I'm talking about.

vickibarkley said...

To Benito,
Living in the back of Sam's shop would be a wonderful thing indeed!

And Sam, thanks so much for the notes! I was so sorry to miss this one, but have looked at and fondled many of those bottles. I think my shopping list just expanded.

Your notes were so descriptive, I feel like I was (almost) there. Thank you. (And Andy will be torturing me with the wonders of it all.)

Samantha Dugan said...

Let me think, which Chardonnays might you be speaking about...hmmm, Rombauer maybe?! Ewe, just ewe, if that were the only wine left on the planet I would be a dry county.
It was a great evening, the wines we were able to taste were some that people only read about...felt very lucky to be a part of it!
You can't sleep in The Wine Country! It is like so cold in there dude...but I'm guessing the port rack might be able to keep you warm (grin)

You were missed, the boys were well behaved but they lacked a softness, I'm thinking that was you. One of them even told me how sexy I looked...HUH?! They never do that! You would have lost your mind on the Jobard and Lafon, (I'm sure you will be hearing about it) and I very much had you in mind when I was writing my notes.

Oh and it is not MY shop, it's Randy's....I only point that out because after 13 years of hearing people say things like, "I love Randy's newsletter" or "I am looking for those Champagnes and Loire wines that Randy wrote up in his last newsletter"...um, I wrote that...just want credit to go where credit is due.

Thanks for posting guys, wish you both had been there