To combat the heat-wave, white wine was indicated and the choice fell this time upon Chardonnay. However in an evening temperature of close to 30°C (over 80°F), it was difficult to keep the wines at the right temperature; either initially too cold for expression or becoming warmer than ideal. Luckily fine subtle chardonnay from Burgundy stands up than most whites to warming temperatures.
- Champagne Terre de Vertus 1er cru – blanc de blancs non dosé – from Larmandier-Bernier . As the glasses were being poured, I could already smell that this was a good one. Refreshingly crisp and biscuity with good flesh (“gras”) and elegance. Much more velvety than most “non dosé” which can be too austere for some palates, e.g. Laurent-Perrier’s ultra brut. 16/20.
- Bourgogne Côtes d’Auxerre Corps de Garde 2001 from Ghislaine et Jean-Hugues Goisot. Quite a surprise. Crisply fruity and mineral with good flesh. Very enjoyable. 15.5/20.
- Val de Sil – Godello sobre lias Valdeorras- 2004 from Bodegas Valdesil. A ringer served blind. Could be mistaken for a warm climate chardonnay. Creamy and easy to dink but a bit bland. 14.5/20.
- Chablis 1er cru Butteaux 1998 from Domaine François Raveneau. Moving right into the top league! A bit shy at first but opening up into a beautifully classy wine with a measure of austerity but with complex nutty and mineral notes on a full body. 18/20.
- Chablis 1er cru Fouchaume 1996 from Domaine Chantemerle (Boudin). Oxidized.
- Chassagne-Montrachet 1er cru Les Vergers 1990 from René Lequin-Colin. Over the hill. Would have been richly burnished a couple or so years ago but now showing signs of breaking up with rotting fruit hints (much more marked 24 hours later). Probably was 16/20 but now 13.5/20.
- Meursault-Perrières 1er cru 1992 from Domaine des Comtes Lafon. Colour quite brown like the Forchaume caused misgivings as it was poured but happily they were not warranted. Luscious and richly burnished with reasonable acid balance but still marked by its “élevage” in new oak. Maybe 17.5/20 for those who like that style but for me 15/20.
- Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles 1er cru 1995 from Domaine Leflaive. There was a tiny trace of off flavour at first but for all but one of us this was lost in the greatness of what was there. Beautifully minerality and fleshy fruit allied with great elegance, good length and great class. No trace of exaggeration of creaminess like perhaps the previous and next. 18/20 (turning a bind eye to the off trace).
- Chassagne-Montrachet 1er cru Clos de la Maltroie 2000 from Domaine Michel Niellon. A liitle shy at first but opening up into a hedonistic wine. Richly creamy and fleshy but quite exhilarating and, for me, several notches above the Lafon Perrières because the wood was far less marked and the impression was more suave and elegant. 16.5/20.
All in all and interesting evening with some fine wines but, with apologies to Raveneau and Leflaive, I was left with a slightly heavy and cloying impression and I think that a Riesling or Chenin evening would have been more refreshing and would have shown more wines with real finesse and distinction.
Where were the New World and other “foreign” chardonnays? Well, first, Belgium tends to be francophile wine-wise and, therefore, there are not many dealers with a good choice from other origins. Second, warm climate chardonnays tend to be heavier, buttery and, for me, too alcoholic, whereas in most years in Burgundy there is the saving grace of good acidity and minerality. However, at tastings, I have come across some nice Chardonnays from New Zealand. And the Leeuwin Art Series is a good ringer for Lafon.