Sunday, November 20, 2011

Recent drinking round-up

I commented to G the other day that we'd been slacking on the Premier Cru Project, and when he next went to Rutland he brought back a couple of 2004 premier crus we'd stashed away a couple of years ago. Note the charming back label, to deter his marauding relatives.

Sadly, in this case, the warning turned out to be prescient. This was a 2004 Volnay Les Brouillards from Domaine Louis Boillot. It came from the Wine Society and cost about £27. I assume I bought it two years ago and it doesn't seem to be available as a separate bottle any more.

We decanted it for just over an hour and it had a dark plummy colour. On the nose it was big and sweet and when we came to taste it, there was more than a hint of the sugar bag, masking an underlying tartness in the fruit. It wasn't very well-integrated and the finish was actively unpleasant. I ended up not drinking all of mine, which doesn't happen often, so after some dithering about whether it could be a 7, that was the deciding factor and we gave it a mere 6. Disappointing. We've had wine from Louis Boillot before, a 1999 which we gave an 8, but on this showing I shan't be rushing back to buy any more.

We drank this with a remarkably large steak from the East London Steak Company who are my butcher of choice when I can't be bothered to walk to Marylebone - they deliver! At least the steak didn't let us down.

Fortunately the other bottle was a good deal better. This was a 2004 Pommard Clos des Epeneaux Monopole from Domaine Comte Armande. G decanted it 3 hours before we came to drink it and this turned out to be a good move. It was a beautiful dark pinot colour with great legs. On the nose G got hot car tyres (!) while on the palate it was big, powerful yet elegant, serious and accomplished. I thought there was a slight graininess which reminded me of cocoa. We had it with steak, which was a good combination - it would have been too big for less robust food.

All in all it tasted expensive and consulting my trusty spreadsheet I see that it cost 62 euros from Mon Millesime two years ago. The bottle was unusually big and heavy and this is a domaine that takes itself seriously. It gets two stars from Clive Coates (= "a fine domaine") and I see from their website that they recommend drinking this between 10 and 15 years of age so arguably we should have left it longer, but we felt it was drinking well now.

And now some non premier crus. This 1998 Marsannay from Domaine Louis Jadot came in a mixed bag I got at auction. Expectations weren't high, but it turned out to be decent, and not over the hill, which was what I'd feared.

On this one, by contast, expectations certainly were high - a 1999 Bourgogne Rouge from Domaine Roulot. I'm a big fan of this domaine, and even though this is only a humble Bourgogne Rouge, it's much better than plenty of premier crus I've tasted. This is the sort of burgundy I love, very Cote de Beaune, packed with fruit and flavour but with a smooth delicacy about it too. The kind of wine that slips down until suddenly the bottle's empty and you wonder where the hell it went and start accusing the person sitting across the table of helping themselves behind your back.

The other night we were in need of a half of red to go with the cheese, and G remembered he had these halves of 2005 Nuits-St-Georges Les Petits Plets from Domaine De L'Arlot. He bought these four years ago if memory serves, and I always found it hard-going. It's now developed and become much more enjoyable to drink.

Another old friend - 2005 Beaune Longbois from Yves Darviot. I didn't make notes but this supported the conclusion that in good years, the Longbois is lovely.

Claret shocker! G got a case of 1969 Chateau Brane-Cantenac at a recent auction and this was the first bottle we tried. We opened it just before drinking, and it was a tawny colour. On the palate it was soft, well-integrated and complex with a distinct hint of fig. It went down an absolute treat. We had it with my signature duck and prune terrine (just for a change from steak) and it worked well with that - it wasn't the sort of wine that needed heavy red meat. "Really very pleasant" said G while my response was "Mmmm". It seems that 1969 is yet another overshadowed year, with all the attention going to 1970. Tchah.

And finally, I'm delighted to see that the website of the Burgundy Portfolio is now up and running. I know where I'll be getting my 2010s from! The famous ACC supplies at least 75% of the wines I drink and his ability to track down small producers making wonderful wine is unparalleled. It's lovely to see pictures of them and read about ACC's vinous and sartorial adventures.

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