Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Burgundy Confusion: Episode 94

I drank two of the best whites Burgundies that I've ever had last week, and neither of them seems to fit into a conventional mold. One of them was a 1994 from the Mâconnais. A 14 year old white wine from what is probably the least distinguished part of Burgundy. The other was a 2004 from the more expensive real estate of Puligny-Montrachet.

A couple weeks ago when I was bugging Joe Dressner about helping me find a specific wine for a dinner, he out of the blue and very generously gave me this bottle, the 1994 Domaine de Roally Mâcon-Montbellet. A very intriguing bottle. 1994 was not a particularly good year in Burgundy - how much can you really expect from a 1994 white from the Mâconnais? Depends on the grower and the specific plot of land, I guess, and in this case, you can expect a lot, as it turns out. This was absolutely fantastic wine, truly memorable. 14 years old and fresh as a daisy with crystalline purity. There are generous aromas of honeycomb, orange peel, and wet rocky minerals. Slightly off dry on the palate and very rich, this wine is all about fresh fruit up front, then there is a honeyed mid-palate with a nice herbal character, and a mineral finish with lovely minty notes and great acidity.

Henri Goyard made this wine although Jean-Claude Thevenet is now the wine maker at Domaine de Roally. Although you will not be able to find this wine in retail stores, the 2005 is currently available, it's under $30, and it should age at least as well, if not better.

Now what about this Puligny-Montrachet? The wines are all so expensive, and high quality at the village level is not easy to find. So please explain to me how it is that this village wine by Louis Carillon was so great. Is it because 40% of the grapes from from the 1er Cru vineyard Enseigneres? Is it because the Carillons make practice so carefully in the vineyards, using minimal if any chemical treatments? Who knows. But this village wine (at literally half the cost of the wines in Carillon's lineup of 1er Crus) was honestly fantastic.

The 2004 Louis Carillon Puligny-Montrachet, $40, Rosenthal Wine Merchants, had a beautiful scallop in brown butter, mushroomy earth nose upon opening. Very delicate, very intense. It changed a lot in the glass - after an hour it was bright citrus fruit that dominated the nose. Light and energetic through the mid-palate with a delicate mineral finish, this was just lovely. The next day the wine was perfectly integrated, the earthy notes and the bright citrus notes mingling together harmoniously. And the finish was the epitome of Puligny mineral-ness. I can see why people throw it all away chasing beauty in Montrachet. I can't and won't do that, but I will buy more Carillon village Puligny if I see it.


Michael D. said...

Very cool the Macon Blanc was still singing 14 years later!!! A wonderful surprise indeed...

Vinotas said...

Carillon ROCKS. End of story.

Brooklynguy said...

mike - surprising, but maybe it shouldn't have been. dressner always says those wines age well.

michel - i remember you loved this wine on your florida trip last summer. got me thinking about when to open mine.