Sunday, June 15, 2008

Burgundy's So-called “Off-Years”

Like a lot of wine enthusiasts these days I and my friends at the BNO (boys’ night out) have been troubled by the escalating prices of our favorite beverage. Call it the euro strengthening, the failing dollar, the Chinese and Russian buying spree, the sub-prime collapse, etc. etc. as factors for the price inflation. But one thing is clear we’re not gonna take it lying down. Solution? Buy “off-years”.

If nothing else it's clear that the BNO has contributed immensely in us becoming experts on finding gems overlooked by the score pimps (to quote Matt) allowing us to buy even more wine even in these inflated times. This night of the Burgundy Off-Years is Exhibit A.

Kudos and thank you to Steve for the hospitality and the great food. I swear you can't eat better beef in the Peninsula than at Steve's. It was simplicity itself—prime rib from Pape’s grilled in the outdoor rotisserie for about an hour—yet brilliant. With the crunchy salad, his signature potato fritters, and the slow-cooked croutons Steve yet again proves he's the master of the yummy, no foo foo kinda food that Kevin always clamors for.

As for the wines, there were 6 of us vs. 9 bottles opened. An equitable and democratic ratio. A couple of bottles barely escaped sentencing. The 69 Chambolle and the 97 Clinet Pomerol.

So here are my impressions. Another refreshing Prosseco starter, with the Drusian Prosecco NV, on another warm evening. Nice call. Its fruitiness went well with salty Marcona almonds.

The 1989 Jadot Corton-Charlemagne was the color of young Sauternes, and started out with marzipan, fino sherry, and roasted nuts; then exploded with citrus and pear, buttered corn and minerals. Wow! Comments: "great with the sushi" (I totally agree) "regal" (Kevin) "opulent and sporty" (Steve) We score it 4

2000 Groffier Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru Les Hautes-Doix. Loads of ripe cherries, earthy spice, cola nut. Great energy. Seductive as one might expect from Chambolle. And though deceptively soft-flavored I expect it to evolve for many more years. My only knock is it lacks a bit of grace for a premier cru. Comments: "just beginning to enter peak" "big surprise upside" "expecting green (for 2000) but very approachable" "won't get any better". (Kevin). “I felt the 2000 Groffier is that fine blond 18-year-old lass by Steve's river (a creek actually) who will be giving us her tender side for the next 15 years.” (Matt) We score it 3+

2003 Clos des Lambrays Morey St. Denis Les Loups. Fleshy, meaty, lush concentrated stewed fruits with noticeable oak and seems to lack enough grip. But way too young and may yet surprise. Comments: "California wine" (Lenny)". Group score 2+

1982 Henri Jayer Echezeaux. Super elegant and amazing focus and length. Well-evolved mature flavors of tart cherries, mushroom, game, soil, and beets. Fantastic sustained flavors, freshness and grip that never let up or faded throughout the evening. It may lack flesh but not intensity and spirit. "Wine of the night" (Lenny) and I concur. And this is an off year for Jayer 4+

1972 Bernard Grivelet Chambertin Clos de Beze. Impressive concentration and power for a wine approaching 40 years from an off year! Its why Chambertin gets the big bucks. Fleshy, flavorful, and great with the beef. Comments: "Mister Ed horse draft going on" (Matt, who else?) 3

1973 Louis Latour Corton Grancy. For bouquet this was hands down the most pleasurable. A combination of cherries, balsamic, cedar, peppercorn. The fruit is drying somewhat and the tartness is starting to dominate. "Better 10 years ago" (Kevin), but there is still ample flavors and the elegance is nice. 3

1983 Santenay Leroy. Darkly colored, muscular, lean, sinewy, and firm. What it lacks in charm is made up for by its energy and graceful flavors. I score it 3

1978 Martin Ray California Pinot Noir. This was darkly colored and still appeared strong but it was showing hints of TCA and the VA was starting to take over.

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