Monday, January 15, 2007

More Exploring Burgundy: 2004 for Beginners

The following quote regarding the 2004 vintage in Burgundy is from Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book 2007:

In Burgundy it looks like a more mixed year than the merchants are saying. The whites are seductive; the reds looked equally so in the barrel, but as their early fruit drew back to reveal the underlying structure, it turned out that there was a vast difference between those reds with ripe tannins and those with hard, green tannins. As one grower said, the difference is between those where the tannin is inside the wine, and those where the wine is inside the tannin.

I read that last week and it really resonated with me - ripe versus unripe tannins, wine inside the tannin. Resonated in that I think I understand what he means, especially by unripe tannins. Not that I have extensive experience with the 2004 vintage - far from it. But I think I understand the flavor and mouthfeel of ripeness/green-ness in tannins.

Part of my Burgundy exploration includes drinking wine, and part includes purchasing wine for cellaring. Nowadays you can find 2003's in stores, which on the whole, I found to be a bit heavy, and of course 2004's. I tasted a regional 2004 that I liked a lot (Voillot Bourgogne Vieille Vignes), and a few village wines while in Burgundy, and a slew of Domaine Daniel Rion wines that I will write about soon, but I am still just beginning my exploration of 2004.

On Saturday I opened a 2004 Sylvie Esmonin Bourgogne Cuvee Sylvie, $16. Why this wine? A) Imported by Dressner, and I tend to like the Loire Valley wines imported by Dressner...maybe their one Burgundy import is good...B) The store has 2004 village and 1er Cru Esmonin wines too. If I were to enjoy this wine enough, I could grab a bottle or two of "better" wine for the cellar...C) I just wanted it, and so what?

2004 Sylvie Esmonin Bourgogne Cuvee Sylvie, $16
Dark violet color with gamey smells upon opening, some herbal smells too. Some dark fruit and sap smells that I can only describe as Dymatap (that grape flavored cough medicine for kids). Pretty closed in the mouth, but some dried leaves/underbrush character. An hour later the wine was completely different, and quite unpleasant. Dominated by cedary green aromas, and woody, almost cardboard flavors. I thought it might be corked. I tried to drink it, could not, and left it alone until tht evening when I went back to it to ask BrooklynLady if it was corked. Presto-change-o! Different wine again. Much better too, thankfully. Still some green-ness, but pleasant dark fruit and underbrush flavors. Drinkable, but I would not buy this again.

I remembered Hugh Johnson's writing and re-read it, thinking that I had just experienced "wine inside the tannin." Then I read this post, and the subsequent comments on Bill Nanson's website (fantastic - I cannot believe it took me this long to delve into it) Burgundy Report:

Some people say green, some people say herbal, but I will define it as a type of cedar smell. At low levels it gives a pleasant cedar, or almost menthol edge; as it becomes more pronounced, it is more resinous, eventually resembling the well-known (in the UK) ‘coal-tar’ soap. What is really surprising, is that it is often quite pronounced on the palate too - though perhaps this is what burghound would better describe as ‘inner mouth perfume’.

I felt better - I'm not a total dope, the wine really does have a cedar smell and taste, and it's kind of unpleasant.

But what of Domaine Esmonin? I would clearly not think of delving further into their higher priced 2004's, but then I read this post highly praising them, also on Burgundy report. So what's a Brooklynguy to do? This guy Bill is most clearly an expert, and I bet the wine is great. I could grab a bottle or two and stick them in the cellar. But I trust myself too and I just did not care for the wine I tasted. I need a few more days to think about it...


Dr. Debs said...

Another great post for my Burgundy education file. Thanks, Neil. Oh, and is a social bookmarking tool. I use it to flag things in blogs and other websites that I don't want to lose track of. Accounts are super easy and free, and a little button goes on your browser bar. Very fun. That's what the buttong also do after all my blog posts. They go on automatically, and if you are a user you can just hit that button and it gets saved to your bookmarks. Here's their website:

Brooklynguy said...

I get it - thanks! And Sorry for the late replies - I am still not being notified via email when you post a comment. I will have to email bogger folk about that...thanks for stopping by.