2001 Corton-Charlemagne and 1964 Echezeaux – two breathtaking bottles of Burgundy

Fortunate fellow that I am I have been taken out to dinner twice in the past few days; I’m terribly grateful to Luke, Dan and Rob for their extreme generousity. It was a treat to drink fine wine and eat quality food in the company of enlightened fellows. Hawksmoor (London’s best steak restaurant) never fail to deliver quality beef action, eh?

On both occasions we drank Burgundy of distinctly fine character but, thanks to photographic and memory failures coupled with my stinking cold imbuing me with a desire to be brief, I’ll limit myself to reviewing the two that really blew my flowery pants off. I usually find Corton-Charlemagne to lack charm, but not this bottle. With the 1964 Echezeaux we joked about how much of it was Algerian Cinsaut, but it was very clearly mostly made from top bunny-grade Pinot Noir. Two memorable wine experiences, here are the notes:

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Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2001, Morey-Blanc

As this is being opened the auditory hallucination voice I hear is shouting at me that the wine will be undrinkably oxidised and I’ll just get laughed at and hated. Such experiences do raise my anxiety levels, alas. Hooray, as it is being poured the colour looks fresh and bright, so the voice can get stuffed. Oh it smells quite fresh too, with a highly focussed array of ripe lemon and stunningly intense mineral aromas. There is a degree of maturation-derived buttery weight, but it is really bursting with great vigour and energy – quite thrilling to smell. Wow, really thrilling to taste as well. Its focus is laser precise with a direct backbone of acidity and minerality making for an engagingly animated palate. Even with this riveting nerviness it is still a jouissance-charged drink There is more than enough body and weight to it to keep the harmony perfect and stimulating in its undoubted sophistication. It has been claimed that Corton Charlie can be somewhat like Chablis, and I can see that similarity here only of a slightly larger, more confident personality than even Grand Cru Chablis can manage. This is a bottle of white Burgundy that does it for me both in terms of its intellectually-demanding complexity but it is also its visceral pleasures so pronounced I’m finding this to be a rather concupiscent drink – good thing too! If you have a good cellar this will certainly keep, but why would you want to? Decant it half an hour before you plan to drink, make sure it is not too cold then wallow in its intricate, intriguing, if a tad indecorous, beauteousness.

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Echezeaux ‘Cote de Nuits’ 1964, Henekeys Limited

With older London bottlings of wine you have to wonder exactly what went in to them but, whilst this has a hint of spicy warmth I might associate with warmer climes than Flagey-Echezeaux, I’m really taken with its character of decidedly mature, but drop-dead gorgeous, Pinot Noir. I love the rich, heady character of the fruit which is throbbingly entrancing; it is the most sensuous 46 year old I’ve had a good sniff of. There are the kind of scented, exotic aromas that make me not entirely doubt the provenance on the label, but if I am totally honest the defining feature of the nose is that it smells like old Burgundy of spectacularly high quality. Unsurprisingly, that is the main character of the palate as well. Lots of fully developed fruit and earth flavours that have a winning degree of elaborate class and prepossessing style to them. It is a rare treat to enjoy wines of this age and an even rarer experience to find them so infused with extremely drinkable charm; when I am 46 I thoroughly intend to be a lot more crapulent than this seductress. Many thanks, Rob, for this inordinately pleasing bottle, it now lives in pride of place in the manager’s office at Hawksmoor.