Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Evolution, or a Burgundy in Three Acts

Sunday night we had dinner with friends, and I decided to take along one of my bottles of Burgundy bought back in January from Chronicle Wine Cellar. These are Burgundies labeled "Baron de la Charriere" which Allen Meadows and others tell me is Vincent Girardin's pre-2003 European label. I know this was a special opportunity to taste some really excellent, well-made Burgundies. Not a highly-regarded vintage, it seems, but I'm enjoying them enormously.

We popped the cork on a wine from the Cote de Nuits, the 2000 Baron de la Charriere Nuits St. Georges "Les Damodes". (map of Burgundy showing the Cotes de Nuits and Nuits St. Georges from Justerini & Brooks, a merchant specializing in Burgundy wines) This was a premier cru wine, and it cost $22.95 at Chronicle, slightly more than the 2000 Baron de la Charriere Volnay "Les Santenots" that I had last month.

With the Volnay "Les Santenots" I was most struck by its balance. This wine was also balanced, but what struck me about the Nuits St. Georges "Les Damodes" was its evolution. The Nuits St. Georges was much more complex and intriguing, and it kept changing and developing in the glass as you drank it over the course of a meal. Act I opened to simple aromas of cherry, strawberry, a bit of alcohol and a bit of earth. These were echoed on the palate, along with a good grip of tannins suggesting it still could handle a bit more age in the bottle. Ten minutes later, Act II: the wine the wine had opened up a bit, and now had aromas and flavors of cherry with chocolate and roasted coffee. I thought the play was over at this point, but once the second glass was poured we got Act III: the wine had become silky with totally integrated tannins, flavors and aromas of fresh red fruits, and just a dusting of cocoa at the end. This wine had less upfront, ingenue appeal than the 2000 Santenot. But (like watching a movie with Meryl Streep) it had much more complexity and interest all the way to the end.

This is only my second bottle of burgundy that I've spent any time with, and just like last month I feel I am progresing towards a complete understanding of why folks get utterly addicted and consumed with this marvelous wine. I drink few wines from any region that are as entertaining as this one was. Worth every penny of its admission price, this was a wine to savor, to talk about, and to enjoy over several happy hours with friends.

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