An overview of the wines for July 26 tasting
July 18, 2001
The past week or so I've been sampling French burgundy wines in preparation for the tasting of July 26. Sure, it's been a difficult task but somebody has to do it.
Night after night, some of the finest wines in the world. Sip and evaluate. Sip and evaluate. And again and again and again.
Making the list
And no, I'm not going to turn the job over to you or anybody else so don't ask. It's my duty and, needless to say, my pleasure.
When the work was done six burgundies made the final list. Three are white. Three are red. All are from France, of course. We start with the white.
Those attending the tasting will sample a Mersault, a Chablis and a Puligny Montrachet. All these are recognized as among the world's finest white wines.
The meursault are from the Cote de Beaune in Burgundy. They are produced from the Pinot Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc grapes. These are big wines but with a subtlety of flavor that has made them world wide favorites. Our choice was a Girardin Meursault Narvaux 98. The famous Wine Spectator magazine described this wine as "Gorgeous. Powerful, full bodied white Burgundy, bursting with intense yet refined smoke, toast and ripe fruit aromas. The flavors follow in a densely packed texture and the seductive finish is exciting."
We narrowed the chablis down to two from the same producer, the Brochard Chablis Les Clos or the Brochard Chablis Fourcharm. Both are 97s. These wines are the proof that price isn't always the yardstick by which a wine should be chosen. The Les Clos retails for about $55 per bottle. The Fourcharm is in the neighborhood of $35. Yet to my taste, the Fourcharm was the better bottle and that was my selection for the tasting.
As for the final white wine, we selected the Drouhin Puligny Montrachet. This style of wine is made entirely from Chardonnay grapes. Many reviewers call it the finest white Burgundy in France. Puligny Montrachets are a complex, rich wine that happens to be my personal favorite. It sells at retail for a bit more than $50 and the bottle several of us tasted last week was well worth it.
I am equally proud of our red selections with one note of warning. For burgundies, these are very young wines and will be much more closed-in than a mature wine. It takes 10 years or more for wines of this caliber to reach their peak. We'll attempt to compensate by opening them at least several hours in advance, giving them a chance to breath, and we'll ask our tasters to help bring out their flavor by swishing them around in the glass before drinking. But even in their youth their quality will be apparent.
We bought the last case of Girardin Volnay Clos d Chenes 98 in the state warehouse and had to scramble to get it. Volnay is a village in the Cote de Beaune south of Pommard. Most people rank the Volnay ahead of its neighboring big brother. This is a red wine made with the Pinot Noir grape. The wine is soft, well balanced with a lovely bouquet and a deep finish.
Less for the best
One of our discoveries for this tasting is the least expensive wine of the night, the M. Leroy Bourgogne Rouge. This wine was recommended by a fellow wine lover and close friend and I could not believe his evaluation until I tried it myself. It retails at about $25 per bottle but you would never guess it from the taste. Discovering this wine reminds me of the Hill of Content from the Australian wine tasting. It was the least expensive wine on the table, the crowd loved it and Edna's wine store in Broadmoor says it is now one of their best sellers. We predict a similar response to Domaine Leroy's Burgogne Rouge.
The final wine of the evening will be a Tallot Beaut&Fils Aloxe Corton Les Vercots 96. I'll let the Wine Spectator's review speak for itself. "What a joy to taste. Beautiful, spicy Pinot fruit, rasberries and cherries and hints of earth and mineral are in this elegant, refined 96. The structure is so integrated and fine that you almost don't notice the silky tannins." There were only 415 cases of this wine produced. We have one.
Reservations are a must. Send your check to Wines Unlimited, P.O. Box 5223, Meridian, MS. 39302 to secure guaranteed place. Or call 482-0930 to make a reservation.
The price is $25 a place setting. Seating will be limited. The date is July 26th at 6:30 p.m. It will be held at Northwood Country Club and you do not have to be a member of the club to attend. Dinner is available afterwards but non-members must pay cash for their meal since the club cannot accept credit cards.