Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Good Beef, Villages Wine, and Buying Strategy

My TGV high speed train arrived in Dijon at noon. Peter and Tista picked me up at the station immediately after their visit to the Domaine de la Romanée Conti. I don't really know what else to say - I arrived too late for the DRC visit and there was no way to do anything about it. I've made it 37 years without tastsing the wines, I guess I can wait a few more.

We had a 3:00 PM appointment with Frédéric (people seem to call him Freddy, but I barely know the guy) Mugnier's, and a 5:00 PM with Christophe Roumier. I was operating on about 3 hours of airplane sleep and a magnum of 2008 Adrenalin by Brooklynguy. Lunch was definitely in order, and so we went to La Toute Petite Auberge in Vosne-Romanée where I ate a wonderful entrecôte of Charolais beef. I've had Charolais maybe four times now, only in Burgundy, and I love how deeply beefy it is without feeling heavy. Salt and pepper - that's really all it needs, and that's all it got at La Toute Petite Auberge. People - I hereby encourage you to order the Charolais beef, if you have the opportunity.

Peter graciously handed me the wine list and told me to select a bottle. Uh-uh, no way. I had just arrived, I was totally wired and wigged out, and even under normal circumstances it would be scary to select wine for lunch with him. I demurred, and he chose a bottle of 2004 Mugneret-Gibourg Vosne-Romanée.

Peter turned to me, swirling the wine in his glass, and said "Burgundy Dilettantes would turn their noses at this wine, but I think it's really good." And it was. It was sweet and earthy, elegant and delicious. "Not a great vintage and only a village-level wine," Peter continued, "but it's drinking really well right now."


If I only had vines outside my backdoor...

This got me thinking. If money were no object, I would buy that 04 we had with out lunch for my own cellar. But I have to be selective about what I buy. If your Burgundy buying budget is moderate, as is mine, what's the best way to buy? Imagine, for example, that you have $400 to spend each year on Burgundy wine. Do you focus on quality, and buy only 3 or 4 bottles of things like Chandon de Briailles Corton Bressandes, Michel Lafarge Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chênes, Hudelot-Noellat Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Aux Malconsorts, and Domaine Dujac Morey St. Denis 1er Cru? Use up you whole wad every year on only a few bottles of phenomenal wine that will blow you and your guests away when you eventually drink them?

Or, do you buy at least twice as many wines, also of very high quality, but not at the same level? I'm talking about Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin, Chandon de Briailles Pernand Vergelesses 1er Cru Ile des Vergelesses, Simon Bize Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru Aux Fournaux, Lafarge Volnay Villages, things like that?

It would be extreme, but you could buy a bottle of Dujac Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Aux Malconsorts and a bottle of Rousseau Charmes Chambertin and call it a year. I know, only two bottles. But imagine how good they'll be in 12 years.

I'm happy with the little Burgundy cellar I've amassed, but I'm way over-represented by $50 wines. This trip made me realize that I want to spend my Burgundy dollars next year, maybe the year after too, on fewer wines of higher caliber. Maybe I can say that only because I've already got some mid-level beauties to look forward to. In any case, I'm already imagining how much fun it will be in 25 years to open my 2006 Chandon de Briailles Grand Cru Corton Clos de Roi. And my 2006 Mugneret-Gibourg Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Les Chaignots. That's what I'm talking about.

Burgundy Dilittantes - nothing to snub your nose at over here. At least regarding my 2006's and next year my 2007's. If you feel the need to snub my 3 bottles of $28 2005 Lafouge Auxey-Duresses1er Cru La Chapelle, so be it.

10 comments:

TWG said...

What I read on the variability encountered when aging Burgundy (esp. white) makes me nervous about the QPR for my limited budget. I can't afford many duds that's for sure.
Other areas, the Rhone and Piedmont, seem to offer a safer choice.

Vinogirl said...

I do have vines outside my backdoor...and the little devils just won't go away...they stay there and demand to be pruned and fed...just like my Vinodogs.

Cliff said...

Unless the "correction" hits with a vengeance, I'm not sure how much of the good stuff, from the serious 1er level up, I can keep following. On your budget (not out of line with mine), that would mean drinking Burgundy only maybe 5-6 times a year, maybe less often, at the rate things are going. I like Burgundy more than that. I'm glad Fourrier and Angerville are finally getting the respect they deserve, as an example of two favorites, but I will miss them when I go through my stash. I guess with $400, I'd splurge with a third to half, and then spend in the $30-$50 range with the rest. I'm getting happier and happier with the Lafouges, Proudhons, and their like.

Great posts, by the way. Glad to see you had such a wonderful time.

Jose Luiz said...

That's exactly what I'm thinking right now, as my cellar is full with mid-level wines. Life is too short to drink bad wine, someone said, or at least to drink that much of mid-level.

Brooklynguy said...

TWG - i hear that. I have way way more reds than whites, although I love the whites too. I know it's expensive, but maybe it's worth tasting a bottle young of whatever Burg you're thinking of cellaring...

hey vinogirl - you're lucky.

thanks Cliff, and I do exactly what you said you'd do. But I think my splurging needs to be more of a splurge now to round out the cellar a bit. I mean 2 bottles for $100 each, and then the rest in the 30-50 range.

Hi Jose - I'm actually super-excited about the $50-ish Burgundies I have in the cellar. They're going to be wonderful wines, for the most part. But They will not be as good, for the most part, as the top class wines of Burgundy, and I want one bottle of that each year, if I can afford it.

Deetrane said...

I suppose no response from me is needed on this one.

Joe said...

Thanks for the posts, Neil, I'm green with envy. Don't sweat being overweight the $50 stuff - you know what you are doing, and careful shopping at that price should bring in a load of gems - you don't have to impress anyone but your palate.

cpappe said...

Brooklyn Guy--Dilettantes be damned. I have visited the Mugneret sisters every year for the past 5 years and the wines at all levels are stellar. They do not subscribe to oenologists advice on harvest times or pigeage regimens and trust their 70 plus year old "village" Vosne-Romanee vines. I would suggest it is better for "Peter" to describe the 2004 vintage in Vosne-Romanee as "a Burgundy lover's vintage" (underated, great acidity, focused fruit and with the right vineyard practices can render very balanced wines.)rather than "not a great vintage"...just my two cents. Glad you are having a great time.

Peter Liem said...

Sigh. Now you're just getting nitpicky, "cpappe". We weren't trying to critically analyze the vintage. We were trying to eat lunch. What I meant was that most people, especially foreigners, would pass over that wine on the list because it hasn't got enough sex appeal, and I was trying to do it in a verbally economic manner so that we could get on with other things. (Like Charolais beef.) Clearly I have admiration for both the Mugnerets and the vintage, or I wouldn't have ordered that wine.

Brunello Guy said...

Peter, Guilty as charged. My gut said at the time that you surely must have liked the wine and therefore chose is at lunch. Between you and Brooklyn Guy, I am really enjoying the blogging. cpappe a.k.a. Brunello Guy