There’s a moment in the recent Woody Allan film Midnight in Paris where the Owen Wilson character goes back in time to the age he adores, 1930’s Paris. Whilst there, he falls in love with a woman, only to find out that for her, the Belle Epoque was the time she wanted to be alive in. She didn’t like the 1930’s. She wanted to go back too. The point you take out of this is that you never think you’re living in the best time, or even a good one sometimes, but you are.
This is more true for wine then ever we were talking about this over a few bottles last night, particularly in reference to Burgundy. We are incredibly fortunate that the wines are still more or less affordable, if you know where to look. But with every visit to Burgundy, the Modern Age looms larger. There is more money, more sophistication and more internationalism. The parochialism that allows crusty old domaines like Camus to carry on making terrible wine from some of the most hallowed terroir in Burgundy will soon be over. They, and others will probably have to sell their holdings to pay for inheritance tax (in Camus case we worked it out to be over 45 Million Euros) and the people moving in will be the same sorts who have long brought up the UK’s national treasures. It will be a shame and as much as the wine might be better, Burgundy will be a poorer place without producers like Camus. (whose wine is actually quite good value)
We had a mixed bag of bottles, which all showed really well, I wasn’t super-impressed by the Savigny, but only because I have such high expectations of their wine.
2003 Riesling Urziger Wurzgarten Auslese JJ Christoffell
A nice gift from James at Howard Ripley, this was lovely with a real spiky vein of acidity running through that kept it really feeling quite dry. Lots of grapefruit and a nice floral quality. Perhaps a touch short but loaded on the front end like many 2003s
2013 Lioco Chardonnay
A well-priced, well focused cool climated style. It’s not Burgundy and it’s not the highest expression of Californian Chardonnay. But nor is it probably trying to be.
1996 Domaine Peyre Rose ‘Oro’
I couldn’t believe I’d see another bottle of this. This was given to my old colleague when we visited Marlene Soria at her impossible to find winery in the South of France. I was dressed up like I was visiting a Bordeaux estate and I managed to get our car (and my expensive shoes) stuck in the deep clay. Luckily for us, we got a tow from Marlene’s husband and we got to the tasting room in the end. We loved this wine when we were there so she generously gave us some bottles to take home. This 1996 doesn’t seem to have shifted that much since I last had it a few years ago. Which is not hugely surprising as it is a very oak dominated wine, but not in that new, toasty style, more that integrated character I get in Coche-Dury’s wines. Reminds me of the character you get a bit from aged Bourbon.
1999 Savigny-Les-Beaune 1er Jarrons Domaine Guillemot
Somewhere on my phone I’ve got some photo’s and tasting notes from the Domaine from a visit four years ago. The young Jean-Pierre showed us some older vintages from the mid-ninteies and they were wonderful. Built to last but also with lovely definition and freshness. This lacked a little finesse for me and had a coarse character that I rarely find in these wines. Others liked it very much though. On a side note, one of the best tales I heard about Jean-Pierres father was this note from Kermit Lynch: “Everyone loved having him, because he wowed them with comparisons of certain wines with various characteristics of the male and female genders. Kermit noticed at some point in the morning that Pierre had quieted down. He looked over and saw that, as Pierre tasted, he did not avail himself of a spit bucket. Suddenly there was an “Alors, au revoir, à bientôt j’espère,” and up the stairs he went. Kermit followed and watched Pierre walk away, awfully close to a Charlie Chaplin pantomime of a drunken French vigneron weaving down the street, barely able to stand up.” Chapeau Pierre!
1999 Cote Rotie ‘Les Rochains’ Bonnefond
I loved this, still enveloped in oak but not in an unattractive way, smokey and dense, well extracted but not OTT and certainly not with that hot, Washington State style that I get from some growers who seem keen on getting every inch of punch from their terrroir.
2013 Syrah Luke Lambert
Lots of black pepper, still quite fruit-forward and dare I say it, Australian but very good. Not sure how much it costs but I’m not sure I’d pay more the £25 for it though.
1998 Fontalloro Felsina
A lot of people really liked this. I enjoyed the high-toned acidity and nice complexity but it seemed like a wine not entirely in balance with itself.
1990 Villars Fronsac
From my own stock, I wanted to try this for a while. Loved it. Loved it so much I probably told everyone how much I loved it for way to long. Just sublime, still really vital and a reminder that Bordeaux can just do mature reds, even at cheaper prices better then almost anywhere in the world.
Lovely substance and full-bodied fruit. No need to wait.