I’m back in New York now and a few days behind in my postings, but that’s what traveling does to one’s schedule. I arrived in Paris Tuesday and planned to meet some friends in the center of the city; however, the RER train from Charles de Gaulle to the city wasn’t running. Oddly, it coincided with France’s first match in the World Cup of soccer. Allez les Bleus!
Day 10, June 12: I spent Monday morning at the new facility of Bouchard Père & Fils in Savigny-lès-Beaune. The spacious winery and new equipment allow winemaker Philippe Prost to handle the incoming harvest efficiently; 2005 was the first vintage made there. We were joined by Bouchard’s new managing director, Stéphane Follin-Arbelet, for a tasting of a range of reds and whites. Prost had approximated the blends of several regional and viilage wines as well as the Beaune du Château red and white. Others were tasted directly from barrel. The malolactic fermentations were completed.
“For us, 2005 was the greatest maturity level since 1989,” stated Prost. “It was ripe in sugar, but also seeds and skins. There was no rain in ’05, so deep roots brought water to the vines, therefore the wines have a very interesting expression of terroir.”
The house’s flagship Beaune Grèves Vigne de l'Enfant Jésus appears set for a promising future, offering a violet aroma, pure cherry flavor and a firm structure. The Volnay Caillerets Ancienne Cuvée Carnot was open and smoky, with ripe, rich strawberry and cherry notes. The Pommard Pezerolles was deep and concentrated, revealing violet and black cherry flavors.
From the Côte de Nuits, I liked the sweet, licorice-tinged Vosne-Romanée Les Malconsorts, a masculine red, that was only overshadowed by the complex, powerful Bonnes Mares. It’s a mélange of black cherry, mineral and bitter chocolate at this stage.
Among the whites, I liked the elegant, minerally Meursault Genevrières, creamy, peach-flavored Chevalier-Montrachet and vibrant, stony Corton-Charlemagne.
At lunch, Follin-Arbelet and Prost served a structured Chevalier-Montrachet 1998 that initially had a lot of caramel aroma, opening with air to reveal dense, ripe citrus and mineral notes. This seems to be changing from the primary fruit to secondary flavors and needs a 3-5 more years to hit its peak.
By contrast, the Beaune Grèves Vigne de l'Enfant Jésus 2000 was drinking beautifully, all soft silk and mellow cherry with a firm underpinning of tannins. It was followed by Le Corton 1961, a very complex, powerful red with spice (sandalwood), roasted coffee and autumn leaves notes. At once sweet and elegant, it had fine length. It was a pity we couldn’t linger with a glass for another hour or so.
But it was on to see Alex Gambal, who has settled into his new cellar on Beaune’s péripherique, and 2005 was his first harvest there from vinification to bottling. He now owns a little more than 4 acres of Bourgogne vineyards. The wines were in various stages of malolactic and some had finished.
The Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes was rich, dense and full of black fruits. Gambal has one barrel of Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses in 2005, which was less expressive than the Charmes now, but fine, harmonious and long. The Clos Vougeot hints at red fruits and spice, but was firm, dense and locked up tight now.
Chassagne-Montrachet was affected by hail, resulting in lower yields and wines of greater concentration than usual. “With hail, you get extra concentration at the expense of definition,” explained Gambal. The Chassagne-Montrachet Clos St.-Jean, normally a flashy white, was certainly opulent and exotic, yet there seems to be more structure in the 2005 compared to the 2002. The Chassagne-Montrachet La Maltroie, by contrast, was tight, lean and minerally. The Corton-Charlemagne exhibited apple, honey and mineral notes matched to a big, rich frame.
Danapat Promphan — Bangkok, Thailand — June 15, 2006 9:35pm ET
Bruce Sanderson — New York — June 21, 2006 2:50pm ET
A M Gomez — Dallas, TX — June 25, 2006 2:06pm ET
Bruce Sanderson — New York — June 26, 2006 9:54am ET
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