Notes from a small group dinner, focussed on Burgundy.
Launois Pere et Fils Champagne Cuvée Reserve Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru –buttery lemon nose, with nice fruit, bright in the mouth and very pleasant.
Served with a tarte flamande.
We moved on to a trio of Chablis with a Tower of Seafood! This is a three tiered rotating tray assembly stacked with, in this case, oysters, prawns and a couple of 3-4 lb. lobsters.2004 Vincent Dauvissat Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses
– a ripe lemon based nose with apparent oak and some apple. Very well balanced and with good length. I tucked into the oysters over a glass of this (so nice that there are always those in any group who are not oyster fans, leaving yours truly to gamely step up and help with the oyster surplus thus created).2005 Dom. Laroche Chablis Grand Cru Les Blanchots
– another ripe lemon nose, but this wine really featured mineral, and had a long dry, clean finish.2004 Jean Marc Brocard Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos
– yet another variation on the theme, with some sulphur in the nose, and a bit of vanilla, also with a fair bit of richness on palate, thought not as much as the Dauvissat, an endearing complexity and good length.
There ensued a discussion about what constitutes an adulterant in wine and whether such additives detract, add to, or are neutral as far as the tasting experience goes. I notice just about ay sulphur content immediately, but have a reasonable tolerance for it, but I tend to view myself as tasting past it, or in spite of it, when I go looking for the real nature of the wine itself. Others are so used to it that they either ignore it, expect it, or actually like it as an additive. We ended up agreeing to differ, and I suppose there is no one answer anyway. There are some additives that most would agree were deleterious. The pine resin in Retsina renders it unpalatable for many (if you chill it, that helps – I think it reaches my threshold of being able to drink it right about the time I’d have to reach for an ice pick to serve it). Similarly, the Woodruff added to inoffensive German white win to create May Wine, renders it undrinkable to many, myself included.
OTOH, there are widely accepted ‘adulterants’ like oak that have become positive virtues in the eyes of wine fans, so it is hard to draw any conclusions. I’ll leave it at the fact that for me, as far as Chablis goes, I much prefer a wine that doesn’t reek of sulfiting to one that does, given equivalent quality.
We moved on to a French onion soup, with which was served:1993 Remoissenet Volnay
– a slightly funky nose settled down to one that featured some decent mature Pinot aromas, and it had a nice sweet entry, but I thought it lacked fruit in mid palate, which left a slightly hollow impression, not surprising given the vintage for this wine. It finished more strongly with some pleasant orange rind notes. On the whole, not a bad showing.
Next up was the main course of braised pork belly, with:1996 Arnaud Chopin & Fils Chambolle-Musigny
– another village wine, and one that had been resting in my cellar since release (well, truth be told, I’d probably forgotten about it and as a result this was the first bottle I’d opened of a half case, so I was a bit worried about it). No need to have worried – it had an excellent nose of sweet raspberry, and after airing, showed an enticing sweetness on entry, good balance (not surprisingly this would show better in that regard than the somewhat lean 93) and decently long finish. Quite an attractive wine, all things considered.1995 Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune 1er Cru Grèves Vigne de L'Enfant Jesus
– expectations were high for this. Darker in colour with some deeper, darker fruit notes in the nose, but while it had reasonable concentration on palate, it also exhibited a slight astringency. It finished reasonably well, but on the whole, I’d cede the contest to the much more modest but also much brighter 96 Chopin. The Bouchard may simply be getting on in life?
With cheese:2003 Ch. Coutet
– this Barsac is always a pleasure. Now showing a fair bit of colour, it had a lovely honeyed botrytis nose, and perhaps not quite the levels of acidity you’d look for, but that’s the ripe vintage. Some very nice dried apricot, marmalade and pineapple notes near the end.