In the world of professional winos I will be the first to admit that I was a lightweight this summer. I went to the dentist recently and when he told me to spit, I actually dribbled a little. Sure, I could blame it on the anesthesia, but my skills are slipping, ya’ll!
Nevertheless, I managed to enjoy several impressive bottles in my personal life. Here are the superstars of my summer libations:
Domaine Bernard Moreau et Fils, Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge Vielles Vignes, 2012 (<€40)
Two years ago when I saw this pinot noir at my local wine shop I geeked out. I wanted to hold it another two, but I cracked. I couldn’t wait to test out this semi-rare selection from a top rated vintage. So I brought it over to a friend’s house for dinner.
The Burgundian region of Chassagne-Montrachet is typically known for their whites; lovely, oak-aged, mineral driven chardonnays. Only one-third of the cru vineyards (fewer than 360 acres to begin with) are designated to pinot noir production. To put it another way, I never saw one stateside.
When I pulled the cork, there wasn’t much to smell, so we let it breathe in the bottle -the decanter was already being used – while Nico barbequed the duck magrets. (I love eating at his place).
By the time we were ready for the repa, the bouquet smelled of candied violettes and strawberry juice on toast. On the pinot scale the body was medium with delicate tannins and flavors of earth, morello cherries and black plums. The finish was about five seconds – I shoulda kept it the extra two years. If this is the “entry level” Chassagne-Montrechet for Domaine Bernard Moreau et Fils, I understand why their 1ere crus start hitting triple digit prices.
Domaine Les Creisses Vin de Pays d’Oc 2014 (<€20)
Apparently, I’m the last wine geek in France to find out about Les Creisses. The viticultrual region this comes from is sometimes (unjustly) put into a “…and Others” section in wine shops because they can’t be put into any one category except being “non traditonal.” This Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon is juicy, rich, full bodied and clean with aromas of grilled meat, mixed berries, stewed plums, and vanilla. It went great with the my bacon wrapped, chicken cordon bleu à la mexicaine. I went out and bought another bottle to see how it ages.
Château La Grave à Pomerol Trigant de Boisset, Pomerol, 1998 (>€450)
This right here, folks, is why we age wine. In my opinion, this 18 year old wine was at its peak. One of the benefits of living in the Bordeaux region – you get invited to dinner at a friend’s house and, on a whim, he pulls out un petit tresor from the cave.
I drive past this vineyard everyday. It’s on the western side of the Pomerol plateau and in contrast to the mostly clay driven soil of the region, the merlot and cabernet franc vines push up from the gravel terrior that is reflected in the chateau’s name. For that reason, it’s considered one of the lighter styled Pomerol wines.
A highly perfumed nose of sweet blackberries and cocoa. En bouche there were notes of ripe cherry, licorice, fine leather, and mineral. The mouthfeel offered ripe tannins that felt like silk. The balance and elegance this wine showed was outstanding. It had another 10-12 years to go, easy. It was served poolside with grilled pork sausages! I pretty much ignored the rest of the guests and made out with my glass!
Vignerons de Buxy Montagny 1er Cru “Les Chaniots” 2013 (<€25)
Let me explain something about Burgundy real quick: ancient heritage laws (I won’t bore you) resulted in vineyard properties being broken up amonst family members evenly instead of an entire estate passing to a first born. It’s common that Cousin Jean-Pierre owns one and a half rows and Tante Marie-Claude controls three rows. Since it’s not financially interesting to produce and sell a wine from such a little parcel, Burgundy uses a co-operative system. They are allowed to grow chardonnay or pinot noir. This is why the concept of terrior is vital. In exceptional cases, where the terrior is so pronounced it merits being set apart, a wine will come from a single vineyard plot, or climat.
Such was the case with this premiere cru from Montagny, in the Cote Chalonnaise. Chardonnay vines push up out of brittle limestone and clay with a gravel subsoil base; and I could taste it. There was a strong mineral edge to accompany the honeysuckle and green apple notes. The slight sensation of oak on my gums was in perfect balance with the acidity. This is a wine that, while enjoyable now, will be amazing in about 5 years.
Yes, white wines can be aged – especially in Burgundy, and – gasp – be paired with red meat! However, pairing this guy with our habitual marche rotisserie chicken was a lovely way to cap off the summer!