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Food & Dining // Vino Sense
Roberto Viernes

An Evening Of Passion For Burgundy

Have I ever mentioned that I love Burgundy? It is the wine region closest to my heart and my palate. And every once in a while I get together with some of my friends who have the same passion for Burgundy to drink and learn more about the wines we love most.

We recently shared a terrific meal along with some lovely wines worth writing about on this page. The theme for the evening was Domaines Leflaive and Dujac, two of our favorite producers and two of Burgundy’s finest domaines.

Here are the highlights. Domaine Leflaive is led by Anne-Claude Leflaive, who is one of the leading lights of Burgundy and Chardonnay production worldwide. Their holdings include sites in four of the five Grand Crus of the Cote de Beaune: Bienvenue-Batard-Montrachet, Batard-Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet and Le Montrachet. They also own a litany of top premier cru sites. Practicing biodynamics in the vineyard and the cellar also has brought their wine to another level.

The first wine of the night and one of the prettiest was the 2006 Puligny Montrachet “Les Combettes” 1er Cru. This wine is showing really sexy fruit right now, very ripe and quite delicious. I actually called it “slutty” because it just wants to be drunk. It is quite ripe, maybe not lacking in acidity, but certainly leading more with fruit. I think it is deceptively drinkable already but should last another five-seven years.

The 2003 Bienvenue-Batard-Montrachet was quite fine. It had a very airy, floral nose to it. Plenty of fruit in the nose and on the palate, and not showing a lot of age at this stage either. On the palate it also was a touch fatty, but it exhibits flavors that seem to float over the palate rather than staining it. It has a very elegant expression, more lace than leather.

The 2001 Batard-Montrachet is still vibrant and truly “grand.” It was beautifully intense with a penetrating sense of place and mineral. Lovely fruit abounds, but is starting to gather more secondary flavors and aromas of hazelnuts and honey. It is drinking so well now, but should still hold for another seven to 10 years with ease.

The 2000 Chevalier-Montrachet was voted “White of the Night” by popular vote (although I actually voted for the Batard). This showed more nuttiness with a distinct note of poached apple and pear. There was more generosity in the wine, which everyone enjoyed as well. It also perhaps is approaching its peak, which is truly saying something for a wine such as Chevalier-Montrachet – simply delicious.

Domaine Dujac in Morey-St-Denis has been one of my favorite producers ever since I began in the industry. The use of stems in their winemaking and precise vineyard expressions resulting in sultry, sexy, spicy wines has excited me for many years. Out of the eight bottles that we drank, three really stood out. One was a really stunning and exuberant bottle of 2003 Clos de la Roche. It held nothing back in the nose with super-ripe (but not overripe) fruit aromas along with that telltale Dujac cardamom tea-like spice. The wine is voluptuous, curvaceous even on the palate with really sexy flavors. This may be out of the ordinary and extreme for Burgundy, but it was really quite tasty. Give it another seven-10 years to blossom even more. It will be very long-lived.

Then there were the two Grand Cru vineyards from 1996: Clos Saint Denis and Bonnes Mares. The Bonnes Mares had a beguiling nose filled with sweet, red aromas along with herbs and spices. In the mouth, it showed more age, with the tannin being quite silky with loads of complexity. The beautiful mid-palate fruit is still singing! This bottle would have lasted another five to 10 years, no problem, but was drinking beautifully this day.

The Clos St Denis had similar reference marks with the spice, but the fruit was darker, more black cherry than red, and the earthiness was a harder rockiness. It seemed to show a bit younger than the Bonnes Mares, but with no less volume or weight. In fact, it was even silkier in the mouth. This is really sexy wine! On top of that, it would easily welcome another eight to 12 years in a cold and dark cellar without losing itself. It was “Wine of the Night.”

I was particularly happy this night, not only to be able to gather with friends over such great wines, but also because it was my wine that was “Wine of the Night” (by a narrow margin). But when you are drinking the finest Burgundy, you are always in for a truly special night.

Recommendations: 2012 Reverdy Sancerre Rose ($23) Made entirely of Pinot Noir, this dry rose simply envelopes your palate with dimensions of red and citrus fruit, utterly refreshing and delightful. 2012 Esk Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($19) The aromas are explosive in this Marlborough “Savy,” as the Kiwis call them. It screams with passion fruit and citrus notes but has a lively acidity that keeps you coming back for more.

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier. Email rviernes@southernwine.com or follow him on Twitter @Pinotpusher.

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