Domaine Arlaud wines were a stunning success at my third birthday party. Now I cannot deny I may have formed this opinion because I drank an awful lot of the two Grand Cru magnums going around, but I’m told by people who had the best Premier Cru (Ruchots) from a top village (Morey-Saint-Denis) that it was engorged with pleasure as well. I’m vexed I totally missed out on that mag, I suspect people of hoarding!
For the record Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2007 is a hedonistic delight of class and well-greased nipples. Clos-Saint-Denis Grand Cru 2008, on the other hand, is the kind of thing that makes you want to ensure you have lubricated the slip-hole before any grip-jigging – it is one of the finest wines I have tried in my life. It delivered extraordinary finesse and elegance allied to the power of fruit from old vines located in the heart of probably my favourite vineyard in Burgundy. It blew a blinking great handful of delicately-scented cocaine right up your hooter and went on to incapacitate other mere mortals whilst leaving you both reeling and giggling.
Sadly I am not drinking any of those three today. However, the warm reception received by the Ruchots 08 made me think it about time I drank the only other bottle of Domaine Arlaud I have knocking about the flat: Morey-St-Denis Premier Cru Millandes 2006. As 2006 is now considered a tough vintage we decided to have it with an unbound-protein-rich, hearty, slow-cooked beef pie. Without wishing to prematurely spill the goods of my note, it was a rather good match. Let’s go!
Morey-St-Denis Premier Cru Millandes 2006, Domaine Arlaud
Now this nose is very different to the fleshly fruit of 2007 Arlaud’s or the sculpted poise of their 2008s. It is powerfully earthy. “Is this strange for a Morey?” you may ask. Morey is usually earthy but this has an extra edge of soil to it that makes it really expressive of where it came from. This earthiness, together with the dark blackberry and blackcurrant fruit that broods maleficently in the background of the nose, gives it a slightly meaty character. This is not what I usually seek in Morey, but it was not without attraction.
It was well-seasoned meat, too, with a sprinkling of herbal aromas to add to the fruit and earth. It seemed quite lively and energetic on the nose; the fruit was fresh enough, as were the herbs, and the earth was earth not dirt.
Now, it was a good job we had plenty of unbound tannins in our meal as the palate leaned toward the vigorous side of a foot’s rub with a pumice stone. The tannins denatured beef like an industrial farmer and it’s status as a 2006 was confirmed by quite high acid levels. It was a 2006 toughie alright!
But it wasn’t as bad as any picture, or even any wall, I’ve ever painted in my life. This toughness was a good match for hearty food and there was, admittedly secondary in terms of presence to the tannin and acidity, some rather nice blackcurrant and blackberry fruit which was perfectly ripe and as one ate a large lump of slow cooked beef the effect was almost one of charm. A palate for the burly men, though.
Where I am at a loss is what is going to happen to this wine. With the lower levels of fruit it might dry out entirely, and it’s never good to run dry. However, those tannins may act as anti-oxidants (which is what they are) and provide the more restrained fruit with a bit of protection allowing it to age improve, and hopefully soften a touch, into the medium term at least. But I must admit I’m using chicken entrails to make these predictions – I don’t really know.
What I do know is that right now, this wine provides solid, dependable drinking to have with a steak or stew. Stand the blighter up for 24 hours before serving, as it has a reasonable amount of sediment, then give it ten minutes in a decanter and enjoy with your water buffalo brisket stew.
I slept for one hour last night before I woke up screaming in terror at unseen horrors. The same happened after two hours sleep the previous two nights. This has been going on now for about seven or eight weeks. It used to be that I could be sure of about four hours sleep a night, but I must admit to stupidity and say I stopped myself from sleeping one night in three because the terrors in the morning at so petrifying I didn’t want to experience them if I could avoid them by staying awake. There was the occasional afternoon kip, but when this started I was managing on three hours sleep a night. That as decreased, as I’ve said above. I’m not really sure what to do, and my psychiatrist didn’t say anything useful three weeks ago. So, the solution for this afternoon is to go down to Onion Rings (as we affectionately term our cracking local branch of J. D. Wetherspoon) for lunch, have a couple of academic halves of their most heroic, and engaging, real ale from their always excellent array of finely stored, skilfully maintained brews. Well, enough academic halves so that I sleep until dinner but not so many that getting back up the hill is too much of a challenge and I start sleeping on the benches put half-way up (presumably precisely for this purpose). The Editor can take my phone, keys and wallet if I’m about to have an extended sit-down, complete with low, relaxed breathing, on the benches half way home.