Thursday, November 02, 2006

Three from Burgundy

I always enjoy tasting wines side by side, learning by comparing them. Last night I had the distinct pleasure of tasting three Burgundies, one white and two red. I had to rely on my "tasting memory" to try to understand the white wine, but comparing the reds offered me some clear insights about red wine in Burgundy.

The 2001 JM Boillot Puligny Montrachet is the white that Deetrane served at his wedding. He still has a few bottles tucked away and he brought one by last night. He opened it the day before, and he felt it was better when he first opened it. I was amazed by spicy and heady aromas of pineapple and banana. The pleasure of the smells compares favorably to the various Montrachets I sampled at the Sotheby's tasting, and those were more mature wines. This wine had a rich and full bodied texture, very luxurious. Flavors were not as bright as the aromas suggested, but I got clean apples and pears with a little bit of citrus on the finish. The wine opened up some more in the glass - maybe it needs more time.

I had opened a bottle of 2004 Joseph Voillot Bourgogne Vieille Vignes, $21, the night before with dinner. So we had half of that bottle to compare with a 1999 J Confuron-Cotetiedot Vosne-Romanee, $38. I love the Voillot wine. Its fresh and light with raspberry flavors and some dustiness. A great value , and really food friendly. I have enjoyed this wine several times this summer and fall with meals and it always delivers. Deetrane liked this wine, saying that it was young and full of raspberries.

Tasting it next to the Vosne-Romanee gave me a much better sense of the depth that can be achieved in red Burgundies. The Vosne-Romanee was a little darker in color with smells of caramel, cooked fruit, and prunes with some alcohol heat underneath. I was not crazy about the nose actually, and I began to wonder if the wine was past its prime. But the palate was an entirely different story. Juicy and bursting with fresh cherries resting on a bed of pine needles. Nice acidity, no alcohol heat whatsoever, and some minerality on the finish. This wine was much more complex than the Bourgogne, more interesting.

I highly recommend the 2004 Voillot Bourgogne, and suggest leaving it open for 45 minutes to an hour before drinking. It's bright red berry flavors are sure to please, and it almost doesn't matter what you eat with it. But if you're in a more contemplative mood, maybe eating venison, lamb, or some other fall gamey food, the complexity of the village level wine makes sense.

Now if I just had a premier cru and a grand cru to compare...

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