It has been a bumper period of time as far as meeting my readers goes; first Guy, then Dan and last night it was my distinct pleasure to encounter Richard Brooks. There is something about these fellows which I didn’t expect considering they read this vastly opinionated spume of drivel. It is not that they have an evident enthusiasm, passion indeed, for wine, nor is it that they like Burgundy; no, what is surprisingly odd to me is that they are distinctly reasonable people. I just didn’t expect my incredibly polarised rants to be of much interest to level-headed, solid chaps who seem to lack the unhinged, deranged character that typifies my posts. Perhaps I am less twisted than I give myself credit for.
Anyway, last night the Elitistreview team (Daniel and me) trekked into the City to meet Richard for sushi. We were all very much of the opinion that Burgundy would suit sushi best of all and so the three of us slurped, swilled and swallowed our way through five bottles of the ambrosial nectar. I say ‘ambrosial’ but there were downs as well as ups, most notably a shocking bottle of Groffier that so failed to live up to its exulted provenance that we all agreed it would be hard to spot as Burgundy if served blind. Fortunately there was very good stuff as well.
[image image_id=”3980″ size=”medium” align=”left”]
Chablis Premier Cru Butteaux 2000, Domaine Raveneau
I brought this along in a hopeful mindset, not only was there the very real risk that it was prematurely oxidised but also Raveneau wines can often be distinctly, and not entirely pleasantly, weird. As soon as I bring this to my nose I know we have done well. This does not smell like a typical Chablis nose. Sure, there is some lemon fruit, a gunflint character (and quite a lot of sulphur if you want the unvarnished truth) but there is one hell of a lot more than that. It has a slightly damp character which is more than a tad reminiscent of Savennieres but I’m also getting a broad white fruit aroma which I could easily mistake for white Hermitage. It is incredibly complex and has a real nervous energy to it, this nose is asking as many questions of me as I am asking of it. The palate is stunning with a star-bright intensity that is blazing its personality across my palate. Its acute concentration may be totally arresting but it is also strikes me as being completely elegant and refined. There are fascinating tensions between the different facets of this wine, and I’m getting one hell of a lot of different facets, but they ultimately work together in a totally convincing style. It may not be the cleanest bottle of Chablis I’ve ever tried but I utterly adore it; it throbs with dimension and clearly has the ability to age and improve even further. Not this bottle, though, we are inhaling its dazzling sophistication and getting through the bottle rather quickly. I bet it would have been even better if I’d have decanted it an hour or so before drinking.
[image image_id=”3982″ size=”medium” align=”right”]
Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru les Gruenchers 2002, Domaine Fourrier
Pretty pretty, the fruit here is indicative of ravishingly ripe Pinot. There is a hint of buxom character to this nose; well-titted out it might be but there is no denying it is stacked full of screamingly obvious charms. It is not just a fruit bomb, though, there is an elaborate earthiness to it. Yes, I like sniffing this very much. My first taste shows that I am going to like drinking it too. There is a lot of that delicious fruit which is elegantly framed by a silky tannic structure and kept quite vivacious by a reasonable acid level. The earthiness also shows on the palate and it has decent length. This is not the most complex bottle I’ve had from this vineyard, it seems more themed on ripe Pinot fruit than vineyard character, but there is more than enough here to enjoy. How can I fail to enchanted by this little charmer?
Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru les Amoureuses 1999, Robert Groffier
Bloody hell, does this even smell of Burgundy let alone Chambolle? In my book (The Bumper Book of Dissolute Larks is my book) Chambolle should not smell like an inky, thick Syrah and Chambolle Amoureuses should be distinctly more captivating and gorgeous than this rather severe nose which is utterly devoid of the allure. It is a pretty sad day when people make Chambolle Amoureuses that smells so uninviting; the village and vineyard should be imbuing it with lewdly enjoyable passion. Oh by arse it tastes bloody awful, tough, raw and spiky with nothing to engage the louche lover of happy experiences. This is a travesty of a wine that singularly fails to speak of either its origins or anything of lewd enjoyment value. I find it just to be a tough, unyielding wine of distinct tedium that could be from anywhere. Should you run into M. Groffier do feel free to have a go at him for wasting his plot of this amazing vineyard. I’m going to try and get him sectioned for making this severe, unyielding wine from Amoureuses. Fabulously sub-interest.
[image image_id=”3983″ size=”medium” align=”left”]
Volnay Premier Cru Champans 1996, Comte Lafon
This doesn’t smell short on Volnay elegance and fruit-refinement, not very mature either, it is a rather pretty teenager. There is more refinement in its minerality, but I am not really thinking of this as an amazingly complex wine. It certainly smells pleasing, but my toes remain uncurled due to its sedate personality and my socks not blown off by its slightly shallow character. Lafon reds can often be more than a shade on the burly side, but this seems a smaller-scale wine than most of his offerings I’ve tried. That is not a bad thing, small-scale prettiness can be satisfying but I would really like more sophistication. The best thing about it is that it doesn’t suffer terribly much from 1996 syndrome (acid levels so high the wines are unbalanced) which bodes well for the next wine.
Volnay Premier Cru Santenots-du-Milieu 1996, Comte Lafon
This nose has serious personality, a bold and muscular Volnay which announces it is going to give your tasting apparatus a decent workout when it comes to sniffing and tasting. It is good, though, real concentration and powerful presence which you cannot help but take terribly seriously. That being said, I feel there are limits to how masculine I want my Volnay to be and this smells like it is beginning to push those boundaries. The palate is definitely masculine with a seriously structural whack of tannin. Again this only slightly suffers from 1996 syndrome, the acid is high enough to make this seems lively but just under the level where it would be unharmonious. It tastes satisfyingly complex and, as with the Champans, there is not much in the way of tertiary characters here; it has plenty of ability to keep on ageing. I do like this, quite a lot actually, but I’d prefer it a hint less butch and slightly more pronounced in sex-tastic character.