Thursday, December 07, 2006

Burgundy Trip Continued: Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet

David Lillie at Chamber Street Wines put us in touch with Jeanne Marie de Champs, an exporter who represents about 60 Burgundian grape growers. She got us tickets to the Hospices de Beaune auction, and she made appointments for us to visit a few of her growers, and we didn't discuss our tastes before she made the appointments.

You know how when a friend is at your house and they pick out music from your CD book, they tend to pick something that you don't listen to very often, and it is usually a pleasant surprise? For some reason, it didn't occur to me that our appointments might be with producers who focus on making white wine - BrooklynLady and I are Pinot lovers, and are basically ignorant about Burgundy whites. When we learned that we would be visiting Domaines famous for white wine, we were excited. We would probably have focused entirely on Pinot Noir if left to our own devices.

We drove with Jeanne Marie to Meursault on a Tuesday morning to visit Domaine Fichet. I forgot to bring the camera, which explains why I cannot post photos of the lovely buildings in the village. Jean-Philippe Fichet's house was quite large, and the winery even more so. We walked into an absolutely spotless room that receives the picked grapes, with a circular drain in the middle of the floor. The 2006 grapes were apparently pressed there only weeks ago, but you could never tell - it was clean like a hospital room. We walked through a cellar where the 2006 wines were adjusting to new life in barrels, and into a larger cellar with both barrels and big red steel tanks.

We tasted 9 wines and I just couldn't keep tasting notes if I was going to fully enjoy the experience. I will instead share some of what I learned from this tasting. Here are the wines, tasted in this order:

2005 Aligote
2005 Bourgogne
2005 Bourgogne Vieille Vignes
2005 Haut Cotes de Beaune
2005 Auxey Duresses
2005 Meursault
2005 Meursault Les Meix
2005 Meursault Les Chevalieres
2005 Meursault Les Tessons

The Aligote was, as Jeanne Marie only half jokingly said "to get your mouth rid of coffee or whatever you had before you taste the wine." I'm not so sure that the winemaker appreciated that comment. The most obvious thing I learned in this tasting was the way that the wines increased in complexity, and what complexity actually means, to my thinking.

Some of the characteristics of Chardonnay from Burgundy; freshness and vibrancy of fruit, specific fruit flavors, the nature of the acids (structurally, and in flavor - lemony, apple peel), vanilla and other oaky flavors, minerality, texture...all of these characteristics were present to some degree in each wine. And I believe that I could have opened any one of the wines on its own and enjoyed it, smelling and tasting some of those characteristics. But tasting them in succession allowed me to understand what I think is meant by "complexity," the way that the characteristics harmonize with each other yet are still individually identifiable in a complex wine. Wines that are not as complex featured instead one or two of the characteristics prominently, and the others were not accessible.

The Meursault wines were much more focused in their flavors. The Auxey Duresses, for example, was very tasty, but in a flabby way. Compared to the Meursault Les Chevalieres, it was fat sweet fruit all over the place. The Chevalieres had clear lines of lemony acidity, a clear backbone of minerality, and young and tightly wound but delicious fruit with a nutty character.

The Meursault wines were lighter than the others in texture and color, but they packed much more power. And within the Meursaults, Les Chevalieres and Les Tessons had more grip and potential energy than the Village Meursault. They clearly had a lot of developing to do, while the Mersault was more approachable now, its flowers, lemons, nuts, and stones already on display.

This was for both of us the most profound tasting experience with white Burgundy and Chardonnay in general up until this point. We followed this with visits to Domaine Paul Pernot and Maison Olivier Leflaive, and I will describe those soon.


Anonymous said...

It's actually spelled "Meursault", but I love that you are diggin' white Burgundies, my man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Brooklynguy said...

So now I have to spell everything correctly too?!?

Anonymous said...

It's actually actually spelled "Mersault". But ok :)