By: Ryan Tedder
We had a splendid educational tasting of White Burgundies at Graileys in the back room before the Fourth of July. We have launched a summer educational tasting program of Whites to pair excellently with the Texas Summer. We decided to start with White Burgs because they are our favorite whites in the world. Next we will go to Champagne and finish with skinny bottles from the EU. Good stuff-especially if you want to drink a bunch of great vino under the guise of “education”
As a tour of White Burgundy goes we decided to go from North to South starting in the chalky soils of Chablis. The Chardonnay grape does funny things up here that are hard to replicate but easy to love. The 2012 William Fevre Fourchaume 1er Cru was a great place to start. The 2012 was loaded with power, dry extract, a briny, salty power, green apples, limes, green plums, and musty white flowers. There was a signature cheesy note to go with the tart tropical flavors and the expansive thoroughly dry finish. This wine really makes me believe in 2012 Chablis-wow!
Next we transported ourselves to the top of the hill of Corton Charlemagne at the most northern part of the Cote de Beaune in Burgundy fabled Cote d’Or. We chose a bottle of 2011 Bonneau du Martray Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru. Martray is the largest landowner of Corton Charlemagne and they craft a benchmark wine that I prefer to drink in it’s first 7-8 years of life. The baked apple pie, caramelized bosc pears, honey, roasted nuts, marzipan, caramel, cinnamon, and raw power of the wine made it an instant hit! It got better as it stayed open and it was in my opinion the best wine of the night. I like oak, extract and power in White Burgs-esp Grand Crus-so this was right in my sweet spot. Buttered popcorn, toffee, and even salt…Wow
We traversed just south to the large white village of Meursault-home to no Grand Crus (for no good reason) and a sea of superlative Premier Crus and prestigious producers. We chose to go with a rising star in the world of White Burg, 2008 Arnaud Ente Meursault from Magnum. Mark my words, this domaine is THE Meursault producer to watch for precise wines of multifaceted depth and extreme ageworthiness. Arnaud Ente learned his winemaking prowess at Coche-Dury and his signature is extreme cellar cleanliness, a fanatical aversion to oxygen in his wine, and an ability to coax alluring flavors without overly manipulating the excellent grapes that he procures. This wine was laser-like and powerful as well. These 2008 whites (and reds) are extremely open and drinking like champs! Some how this wine showed almost a combination of the first two-there were green plums, tart apples, green pears, and a fascinating wet stone, mineral, limestone framework. The finish was extremely long as well. I have a feeling this wine will just fill out and take on weight and secondary richness as it ages. A wine to stockpile for the price!
Next we went to the more minerally noticeable village of Puligny-Montrachet. We opened a bottle of 2007 Moret Nomine Puligny Montrachet. Of the three main white villages in the Cote de Beaune, Puligny Montrachet is the smallest producing and finding it in the summer in Texas proved quite difficult! Leflaive, Sauzet and Carillon are some of my favorites. This was the least fruity wine of the tasting. It was all minerals, oak, spices and flowers. There was also some lemon and the 2007 vintage has a really nice textural complexity that is hard to describe. My least favorite of the tasting but the quality was still high and several people enjoyed the juice. A good introduction to the village.
We followed with a remarkable bottle of Chassagne-Montrachet from another young gun of White Burg-Benjamin Leroux. For many people white Burgundy means Chassagne-Montrachet. These wines fetch the highest prices and they represent the “classic” rich, dry style of the area with plump tree and stone fruit, French oak, full malo and high amounts of dry extract and power. The 2011 Benjamin Leroux Chassagne-Montrachet Abbaye de Morgeot 1er Cru was a strong second in my opinion for best of the tasting. The nose had a touch of tell-tale match stick but than did not taint this classy bottle of wine. Leroux crafts the Comte Armand Clos de Epeneaux Premier Cru in Pommard for his day job. Many would say this is the best bottle of Pommard made today and is easily of Grand Cru status. We tried through a number of his wines and the quality was hard to ignore. This was our favorite white of his and it showed today. There was an umami savory richness and the nose had a sea breeze, limes, lillies, salt, green tree fruit and exotic musty aromas almost like dried elderflower. On the palate the firmness of the chalky mineral power was noticeable and confident, the fruit was more yellow in color and plumper than the nose. The oak was not apparent and the finish was extremely long. This wine kept you coming back saying what is that and why does it taste so good. Really impressive wine-looking forward to tasting the 2012′s.
To complete our maiden voyage through White Burgundy we dropped way down south to the Maconnais and Pouilly Fuisse. Every time I say this village name to my friend he reminds me of the Cheech and Chong reference from Up in Smoke. Youtube it if you haven’t seen it-good for a midday laugh. The Maconnais and specifically the Pouilly area is dynamic and diverse today. With the prices up North in the Cote d’Or at record prices, smart winemakers and entrepenuers are identifying the best single vineyards (Climats) in the area. They are buying or leasing the land and grapes and making rich wine of very high quality for great prices. This area is slightly warmer than the Cote d’Or and the fruit and texture of the wine is fatter. We chose an excellent operation to represent the region. The 2010 Bret Brothers Pouilly Fuisse Terres de Vergisson showed itself well but lacked the distinct minerality of the previous wines. A great bottle of Chardonnay that would give most New World expressions a run for their money. The ripe orchard fruit and citrus fruits were delightful and there was a light note of wet stone. Light butter, vanilla, and oak spice notes created nice balance. A really great bottle of drinking juice.
Great times had by all!! Don’t miss the Champagne and Skinny Bottles later this summer. Cheers