Monday, August 8, 2011

I Get It Now. Burgundy is Sexy.

Ok, ok, I get it now. Burgundy is sexy as hell.

All the wine nerds love Burgundy. ALL of them. But until recently, I didn’t. It had just never really done it for me. But in trying to follow my own advice from Things A Wine Newbie Should Do, I went to a Burgundy tasting the other day with my buddy Jonathan (wine tastings are no fun solo). The wines were all Becky Wasserman (the legend) selections, and it turns out there IS IN FACT a difference between New World Pinot Noir (had it...not that exciting...even the expensive stuff), and (even more expensive) Grand Cru Burgundy (hadn’t had it...turns out, it's pretty fantastic).

Overall, my impressions were really positive. Some really fantastic wines, though very few values. Interestingly, a lot of them were sort of “late finishing” wines. Like they don’t have much or any power on the attack, and then they would explode on the midpalate and finish. I’m not sure what causes this, but it’s an interesting phenomenon I’ve only recently put my finger on, and if know anything else about it let me know. In any case, I find that I prefer wines that grab me at the beginning rather than the end. Perhaps it’s because I don’t like surprises. My winemaker uncle has described wines of this sort (up front wines, that hit you right away) as “slutty” (though, probably what he also means is that they lack depth and complexity post-attack...and these wines didn’t lack for complexity). So that's kinda fun.

Anyway, to the wines. We tasted 7 whites first. All white Burgundy is made from the Chardonnay grape, for the uninitiated. Good wines all, ranging in price from about $30 to $120. But because we all know price and quality (especially as a subjective thing) do not correlate very strictly, the most expensive (‘09 Jean-Noel Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru ‘Les Caillerets’) was definitely not my favorite. Instead, the second most expensive was. The $110 ‘09 JP Fichet Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru ‘Referts.’ I actually didn't like the Jean-Noel much at all, or at least, it was not what I was expecting, because it was much lighter than the surrounding wines. But it’s obviously fallacious to equate quality with high viscosity, and I wonder if the sort of “Parker effect” is in part or whole the cause of that link in my mind...that “better” (higher scored) wines are the thicker ones. It usually seems to be the case.* Had some other good learning experiences - most importantly, I put a name to a particular flavor that I get in fruity, acidic Chardonnay. Gummi Bear! It's totally yellow or white gummi bear! Go get some gummi bears, you'll see. Actually, knowing the flavors of a bunch of different candies (yes, with artificial fruit flavoring) is a great way to prepare yourself for tasting wine, since those aromas and tastes often show up in wine. For example.

But I knew that I liked white Burgundy. It was the reds that were the real eye-opening experience. Good overall, and the barnyard was under control (not a fan of the poop). My favorites were the 2008 Digioia-Royer Chambolle-Musigny VV ($65) and the 2008 Camille Giroud Corton ‘Le Rognet’ Grand Cru ($95). The two really expensive wines ($198 and $180) were both good, especially the 2008 Cecile Tremblay Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru. Pity they’re so expensive, because unless someone else is buying, I'll never get to drink them at home. And that’s really in essence my problem with Burgundy. It’s hard for me to get really excited about these wines, because most of them I simply cannot afford. In fact, most of them I would not purchase if they were HALF their listed prices, and at their current way. There were maybe two wines at the tasting that I would buy, out of 20, and both were under 30 bucks.

But all in all a great learning experience, and fun to get to taste $1300 worth of wine for a small fraction of the cost.

Ok, wrapping up, OH YES. ATTENTION SINGLE LADIES! Wine tastings are a GREAT place to meet men! Not only is the crowd 75% male, but they’re automatically men of (at least some) taste, (at least some) sophistication, and (very likely) vocation (i.e. they have jobs...cause wine (esp. Burgundy) costs some serious cash money bling bling).

Finally, I learned something from Jonathan, that Teetoalism was actually named like "Tea total-er" in, the total stimulants we consume are tea and only tea. Apparently the pledge of the first teetotal society was "We agree to abstain from all liquors of an intoxicating quality whether ale, porter, wine or ardent spirits, except as medicine." I actually think I can get on board with that, allowing a someone loose definition of "medicine." Also, you should check out that Wikipedia link because it contains a list of famous teetotalers, like Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Billy Connolly(!), Natalie Portman, and Bruce Willis. Some real surprises. Poor lambs...don’t know what they’re missing**

*There are several cases of the Robert Mondavi chard (a big, oaky monster of a wine) beating out the world-renouned Raveneau Chablis (a delicate, elegant, and apparently quite enchanting wine) in blind tastings with both American and French tasters who would be quicker to praise the Raveneau if they had known what the glasses contained.

**Obviously, abstaining from alcohol if you’re an alcoholic is different, and very possibly the cause of the teetotalism of some of the people on this list. It goes without saying (but this is for the public, so I’m saying it) that they have my full support.

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