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Not a Wedding Crasher in Brussels

Posted: Sep 5, 2006 4:29am ET

Went to a Jewish wedding in Brussels over the weekend. I felt like an actor in Wedding Crashers! From the moment the bride and groom arrived at the reception from the synagogue, it was a non-stop party. As soon as they arrived at the ballroom of the Conrad Hotel, they were hoisted above the crowd on chairs and paraded around the room with everyone dancing and clapping to music. The party only ended at about 4 a.m.

What was also amazing was the quality of the food and wine. The chef was one of the best in Brussels, Yves Mattagne of the Sea Grill. Everything from a carpaccio of tuna to roasted sea bass with an herb crust was fresh, delicate and refined – and for 260 people! The wines were 2004 Domaine de la Genillotte Chablis, 2001 Domaine Jean Grivot Nuits-St.-Georges Les Lavières, and 2000 Badia a Coltibuono Vin Santo del Chianti. Non-vintage Champers from Billecart-Salmon was free-flowing.

The red Burgundy was clearly the best wine with the various fish dishes. It was ready to drink, with delicate strawberry, tobacco and cedar aromas and flavors. Medium body, with fresh acidity. Delicate finish. It was the delicacy and the sweet fruit that made the wine work so well with the fish. The young Chablis by comparison was a little too harsh, with a tangy acidity.

What’s your experience with 2001 red Burgundies at the moment? Are they ready to drink like the Grivot? Do you find the vintage a minefield?

As a side note, the wines all came from Jacques Thienpont, the Belgian wine merchant who also owns Bordeaux’s Château Le Pin. Belgium has a long tradition of buying fine Burgundy and aging it for decades in cool cellars. Thienpont was at the dinner at my table and said that he had invited the groom to taste various wines at his house a few weeks before the wedding to make a selection for the party. “That’s what a traditional wine merchant does in Belgium,” he said.

If only all wine merchants were so generous!

Guus Hateboer
Netherlands —  September 5, 2006 9:59am ET
No experiences yet with any top 2001 Burgundies, although I have that version of the Jean Grivot NstG Les Lavieres from 1990 still waiting in the cellar. Should drink that. James, you didn't say anything about the Vin Santo del Chianti Classico 2000 from Badia a Coltibuono. You have not rated it for the magazine. What did you think of it?
James Suckling
 —  September 5, 2006 10:23am ET
Gus. The Vin Santo is outstanding quality. I have tasted it for the magazine but the notes have not been published yet. It went really well with a warm coffee chocolate mousse sort of thing. It was fresh, very sweet with lots of dried apricot character and a tangy, clean acidity.
Francesco Santini
AREZZO —  September 6, 2006 4:17am ET
Well.. Actually I'm a (young) wine merchant and through five years me and my buddy selected more than 120 wines from Italy travelling and tasting all over the country. We made a non famous selection based (not only) on our personal taste. We bring wines to taste to our customers but only a few seem to enjoy and appreciate this effort...As you ask for good wine merchant I'm asking for good wine customers.We are based in Castiglion Fibocchi (I think you know were it is!), if you want we'll be honored to taste something with a wine guru like you.Francesco Santini
Robert Mathews
September 6, 2006 10:05pm ET
I have had only one 2001 Burgundy so far, Domaine Henri Felettig Chambolle-Musigny Les Carrieres 1er Cru. I must say it was very impressive. I didn't take any formal notes at the time so I can't give specifics. So, at least there are two good ones we know about. ;-)

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