I hosted a small wine tasting for the neighbours last night. My aim was to demonstrate how easy blind tasting is, and I was pleased that everybody got everything right. OK, I provided a little prompting, but not everyone has my epic experience of wine.
Chavignol “Les Culs de Beaujeu” 2004, Francois Cotat
Very mineral on the nose, with a hint of dirtiness; does he ferment in old barrels? Fresh grassiness, too. The palate was very light with good minerality and high acidity which hurt my poor, knackered stomach a bit, ouch! It was reasonably long and the minerality provided a pleasing degree of complexity. I think this would age reasonably well and make an interesting middle-aged wine. Sauvignon Blanc for ageing, who’d have thought it?
Riesling “Clos Hauserer” 2004, Domaine Zind-Humbrecht
This was also very mineral on the nose, and displayed some characters of slightly oxidative wine-making. Good baked-apple and some citrus fruit. Sweet with alcohol, but not up to the normally excessive standards of Z-H. The palate was rich with ripe fruit, had some alcohol warmth on the finish and was reasonably long. Not amazingly complex, though. It was pretty dry, but there was obviously a bit of sugar knocking about in it. A reasonable wine, but nothing spectacular.
Pinot Noir “Stermer Vineyard” 2003, Lemelson
A hot, heady nose of alcohol and ripe fruit, which was moving slightly into jamminess. There was plenty of oak present, but in a wine of this scale it didn’t seem unbalanced. The palate had moderate tannin, some acidity and plenty of fruit, a veritable fruit-bomb, indeed. The general impression I got of it was of a big, smooth mouthful of fruit and alcohol. It was quite nice, but not for ageing.
Corton-Bressandes Grand Cru 2002, Domaine Chandon de Briailles
Very pale colour. A nose bursting with fresh strawberry fruit and minerality. It smelled lovely, but the palate was missing this loveliness. It had fruit and one hell of a lot of minerality, but lacked charm. The minerality was quite like white Corton and, whilst I like minerality, it dominated the palate and made it quite hard; the high acidity levels didn’t help with the overall impression of toughness. Maybe this would age into something nicer, but I suspect it would always be a linear and direct wine, strong on acidity and minerality but lacking a bit of fat and charm that it would really need to give it the dimension to make it a great wine. It was also quite short, which is not a good sign for a supposedly fine wine.
If I may digress momentarily into a general rant about red Corton: I feel they are always marked by strong minerality, acid and often tough tannins. They may have complexity, but I want more than that from Burgundy, I want to be charmed. Even the venerable bottles of great vintages I have tried are generally a bit angular, spiky and lacking essential niceness. Intellectual pleasures are all very well and good, but Pinot is a lovely grape and making wines stripped of that loveliness seems to miss the point. If I want hard red wines (and I usually don’t) I’ll drink Claret, but making Pinot into a mineral, rapier-like weapon of austerity seems just plain bonkers to me. I love Burgundy, but I might not be buying that much Corton in the future.