Tuesday, June 23, 2009

France Trip Day Four - Nuits Saint-Georges, Chassagne-Montrachet

This was a big tasting day...notes follow...

Thibault Liger-Belair - Nuits Saint-Georges
Thibault is a young man (34) and proprietor of a young estate (2002), who owns 19 hectares in some of the greatest vineyards in Burgundy. Biodynamic since 2005. The ’08 vintage was extremely short in quantity (Thibault produced an average of 22hl/hectare, or less than half the legal maximum), but seems very high in quality. We tasted the following ‘08s out of barrel:
• Nuits-St-Georges Les Charmottes – after lots of swirling to eliminate reduction, deeply spicy, vivid fresh, mineral/fruit – dazzling start.
• Gevrey-Chambertin Croix de Champ – flatter, extremely mineral and closed.
• Aloxe-Corton Cape aux Vert – pure, penetrating fruit – almost sweet, Wow.
• Vosne-Romanée Aux Reas – big, rocky mouth, with spicy fat fruit – yikes! Malolactic is not finished yet on this one.
• Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru – located just below Bonnes Mares – floral, fresh, juicy, beautiful.
• Corton Les Rognets – bing cherry – ripe and full and long.
• Corton-Renardes – spicy/floral/kirsch, ripe palate
• Clos Vougeot – Cherry/raspberry liqueur/mineral/floral/spic – vibrant, really beautiful.
• Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les Saint-Georges – Thibault owns 2 hectare (the biggest single parcel) here, and is actively campaigning to have Les Saint-Georges elevated to Grand Cru. Floral/black cherry/mineral; dazzling, penetrating dark fruit/mineral flavors; v. rich and balanced.
• Richebourg Grand Cru – hasn’t even started malolactic; wild, almost cranberry-like fruit/mineral/floral – compact, but long and intense. Shorter than LSG.

Then we tasted the following bottles “blind”:
• Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Saint-Georges ’06 – I guessed Corton Rognets because I smelled bing cherries. Wrong. It was gorgeous though.
• Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Saint-Georges ’04 – this time I guessed Vosne-Romanée Aux Reas ’05 or ’06. Wrong again. This was big and spicy and concentrated.
• Vosne-Romanée Aux Reas ’05 – and this time I guessed Richebourg ’07, or LSG? Wrong twice more, but geez was this terrific young wine, dark, sizzling, intense and powerfully tannic.

Domaine Henri Gouges – Nuits-Saint-Georges
We met and tasted with Gregory Gouges, son of Pierre, nephew of Christian. Gregory took over winemaking duties with the ’08 vintage. He is the great-grandson of Henri – generation number four. Henri established the domaine in 1919; was one of the principal architects of the AOCs introduction to Burgundy in 1936; and agreed with the local vignerons at the time that Les Saint-Georges should not be declared a Grand Cru because they feared that higher taxes levied against Grand Crus would drive out traditional owners in the vineyard. We tasted the following 2007s out of bottle (the ‘08s are in the middle of their malolactic fermentations, and Gregory did not want us to taste them):
• Nuits Saint-Georges – a bit murky (not filtered); fresh, penetrating cherry/mineral smells – beautiful, soft, creamy textured, very drinkable.
• Nuits Saint-Georges 1er Cru Clos de Porrets – Les Saint-Georges (Monopole) – floral/mineral – firmer, more structure here.
• Nuits Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Pruliers – spice/meat/mineral – totally different, even though this vineyard is only 200 meters from Clos de Porrets – more closed.
• Nuits Saint-Georges 1er Cru Vaucrains – floral/raspberry/mineral bag ‘o rocks, but so promising – average yield here is 20hl/ha, but only 18hl/ha in 2008.
• Nuits Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Saint-Georges – Dark; different level of extraction; black cherry/framboise liqueur/mineral/floral; leaner than Vaucrains but more extracted.

Thomas Morey, Chassagne-Montrachet
Thomas had only one hour to spend with us, but he made the most of it. His father, Bernard, split all of his own vineyards between Thomas and his brother, leaving only a small negociant business to himself. We tasted the following ‘08s from barrel – malolactic finished about two months ago:
• Bourgogne Blanc – fresh lime/mineral – lively acidity, compact structure. Neat
• Beaune-Greves Blanc – lemon curd/floral – wow! – delicious, like a lemon drop; wonderfully distinctive.
• Saint Aubin 1er Cru Le Puits – almost opposite to Beaune-Greves, all mineral/lemony, concentrated, with great structure.
• Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Embrazees – class lemon/mineral; pure and compact, but very long.

Then we tasted the following ’07s from bottle:
• Bourgogne Blanc – mineral/smoke/lime; seamless, dry; wow.
• Saint Aubin – mineral, then blossoms/lemon/hazelnut; sort of more mineral, leaner version of Meursault.
• Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Baudines – mineral/lemon custard/floral.
• Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Embrazees – a touch more candy here, as expected.
• Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot – floral/mineral – closed but complete feel in mouth; persistent, long, brilliant young wine.
• Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Vide Bourse – tiny amount of this wine; some wood/lemon candy/mineral; long.
• Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru – lemon custard/blossom/mineral smells, seamless, rich, long. This is fun; lacy and elegant smells, intense, balanced, long flavors. Great.

..and then three reds:
• Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge Vieille Vignes – expansive, spicy red fruit.
• Maranges 1er Cru Fussieres – classis Maranges: game, and lavishly fruity, ripe, neat.
• Santenay 1er Cru Gran Clos Rousseau – exotically fruity/Asian spice/almost jammy/framboise – wildly yummy.

After lots of tasting, and a truly terrible lunch in Nuits-Saint-Georges accompanied by a virtually undrinkable wine labeled “Nuits Saint-Georges Les Charmottes ’04,” it was time to eat and drink, so we returned to Ma Cuisine. Here are some highlights:
Food – Crème de Petits Pois (that awesome fresh pea soup a couple of us had yesterday); filets of fresh sardine mariniere; lapin aux herbes served cold; terine de foie gras; entrecote de boeuf; more perfectly ripe epoisses.
Wine –
Bernard Morey Chassagne-Montrachet Blanc 1er Cru Les Caillerets 2000
Comte Lafon (again!!!) Volnay 1er Cru Santenots-du-Milieu 2005
Christophe Perrot-Minot Nuits Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Richemones Vieilles Vignes 2000

And that’s all for today, folks!


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