Time can have an extraordinary effect on a bottle of wine. Not all wines are meant to age, and indeed the world’s style continues to shift towards early maturity. But for wines that are designed to be cellared, the transformation by bottle aging is nothing short of magic.
The July Fourth weekend is just nine days away. A local beer might seem the patriotic choice, but we’ll throw our hat into the ring in case you’re moved to support your enterprising local importers. It was the struggle against import tariffs, after all, that helped kick off this whole experiment.
For winemakers in Burgundy, finding enough sun is a perennial concern, and an unusually rainy year like 2016 can make life difficult. In the Languedoc, France’s southernmost region, the concern is just the opposite: how to harvest grapes with enough acidity to preserve freshness.
We spent some fine days with winemaker Michel Gros this weekend. On Friday afternoon we toured his vines with some friends from Boston, then returned to his cellar for a vertical tasting of his family’s monopole. Then last night he and his wife joined us (and 600 others) for a grand dinner in the cave of the Chateau de Clos de Vougeot.
No new tastings today, but a full day of events. We spent the morning with the visiting Boston Chapter of the Chevaliers du Tastevin -- we visited domaine in Beaune whose vines are in Pommard, and did a fascinating 10 year vertical of the Pommard, stretching back to 2005.
The French have a long tradition of eating outdoors. From harvest tables in Burgundy to breezy rooftops in Paris, a French meal en plein air is full of beguiling aromas, clinking glasses, and hearty laughter. We’ve enjoyed more than half of our meals this trip sur terrace, and we find that wine (and really food in general) tastes better outside, with room to breathe and open.
We started the morning in Chassagne-Montrachet, home to rich, beautiful, elegant wines with silky golden texture and balancing freshness. As it has often this week, the conversation centered around the dismal outlook for 2016. With warm sun and cool rain going punch for punch all day long this week, the specter of mildew is ever present. Happily, the 2014s in the bottle and 2015s in the barrel are as good as ever.
The sun was out before breakfast this morning, an odd sight of late. We drove north to our first appointment in Morey-St-Denis, as clusters of sunlight chased each other among the rows of vines. Our producer in Morey-St-Denis made excellent wine this year -- the 2014s are juicy and croquant, with attractive mouthfeels and great refinement. We caught up on the news of the day, nearly all of which concerns the catastrophic damage from the late April fros
Yesterday morning Vincent Ravaut began our tasting at the domaine with a simple glass of white from an unmarked bottle -- “just to arrange the palate,” he explained. The wine was a very pretty chardonnay, with a lovely nose of white flowers and almonds and a rich but lively mouthfeel. Noting our interest, Vincent explained it was the domaine’s entry-level Bourgogne blanc from 2013; he then smiled and broke the news that it was “épuisé” (sold out) for some time.
We dodged large raindrops this morning running from our car to the domaine in Gevrey-Chambertin. Situated in a majestic mansion dating to 1700, this domaine makes fine, elegant red Burgundies that are delicate and finessed. Tasted some beautiful 2014s, which should both require and reward some patience.