About a year ago, my wife and I had dinner at Alto in Manhattan. Wine director Eric Zillier poured a glass of red Burgundy for her middle course. It was elegant, light- to medium-bodied and displayed bright cherry flavor.
It was the Beaune 1er Cru du Château 2004 from Bouchard Père & Fils. I liked this Pinot Noir so much that I bought a case for drinking over the next two to five years. It cost $30 a bottle.
For this label, Bouchard's winemaker, Philippe Prost, blends several premier cru vineyards that are too small to bottle on their own. This is a tradition that has continued since 1907. The 2004 consists of 17 different parcels, including Bressandes, Cent Vignes, Clos du Roi and Grèves. Hail destroyed about 50 percent of the crop of this cuvée in 2004.
I opened a bottle the other night. The nose was reticent, with flavors of herbs, sour cherry and a hint of rose. The wine had moderate fruit, but it seemed firmer and tighter than it showed six months to a year ago. I rated it 87 points, non-blind. In two previous tastings for which I took notes, I rated it 87 and 88 points.