Started the first day in Burgundy with an early visit at Domaine Castagnier in Morey Saint Denis at 09:00 am. I found myself ringing the bell for couple of minutes without an answer and I was joined by a group of 3 Swiss guys that were scheduled for the same 9:00 am visit. Visit started shortly when the host arrived by car and invited all of us for a tour in the winery. It seems that Saint Moritz is a strong market for expensive Burgundy thanks to a large number of Russian tourists that come to ski. No surprise there.
There are 2 separate labels here: one for wines produced from the vineyards owned labelled as Domaine Castagnier and another for the negoce business started only a few years ago labelled as SARL Jerome Castagnier produced from rented vineyards located in some of the most sought after appellations: Chevalier Montrachet, Corton-Charlemagne, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureueses, Echezeaux, Chambertin Clos de Beze, Bonnes Mares. We tasted only the 2015 vintage from barrels that shows impressive potential.
2015 is looking to be an excellent vintage for Burgundy, most of the wines just starting to finish the malolactic fermentation in barrels. They show structure, flesh and acidity in the right amounts to promise a long aging potential and complex aromatics.
Tasted about 10 wines during the 2 h visit here but sadly lost my tasting notes for the properties visited on Day 1. From memory the wines tasted: Bourgogne, Morey Saint Denis 1er cru aux Cheseaux, Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, Clos Saint Denis Grand Cru, Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru, Gevrey Chambertin 1er cru Les Cazetiers, Mazy Chambertin Grand Cru.
Second producer to visit after lunch was Domaine Chicotot in Nuits Saint Georges. Tasted some 2013’s and 2014’s here with high points for Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Les Vaucrains and Les Saint Georges 1er Cru. There is a big thing happening now in Burgundy as the vineyard Les Saint Georges is pushed to become the first Grand Cru of Nuits Saint George. It won’t happen over night but it is on everyone’s lips.
Third producer was Bernard Rion in Vosne-Romanee where some of the highlights were the 1er Cru from Nuits Saint Georges and the Grand Cru’s.
Last visit of the day and a highlight for this week in Burgundy was Domaine Meo-Camuzet. There are 2 labels here just like for Castagnier: one labelled as Domaine Meo-Camuzet that includes the wines from the owned vineyards, and one for negoce labelled as Meo-Camuzet Frere&Soeurs with rented holdings in many appellations.
Tasted many 2014’s that show incredible consistency, purity and clarity, with lavish texture and silky smooth tannin, very well balanced by generous and complex fruit flavors. Starting from Hautes Cotes de Nuits, Saint Romain and going to Fixin Clos de Chapitre, Marsannay, Nuits Saint Georges Les Perrieres, Nuits Saint Georges Murges, Vosne Romanee Les Chaumes, Clos Vougeot and Echezeaux. These are all amazing wines that I would love to hold in my cellar.
Finished the day with dinner at La Maison du Colombier in Beaune where I ordered a bottle of 2012 Meo Camuzet Hautes Cotes de Nuits just to keep lingering the memory of the wines tasted during the last visit.
I took a short vacation and traveled to Beaune in Burgundy with the family from 18th to 22nd April. We had a lovely time together and I also had the chance to visit some top tier producers that I will expand more on the next following posts. There are a few words to say if you, dear reader and wine lover, consider visiting this city and wine region as a family with small children.
My daughter is almost 3 so you would think she is fairly easy to integrate into a regular meal plan from any restaurant but the reality is completely different. Restaurants in Beaune are not child friendly and they usually have different service time then, at least, my daughter’s eating habits. For good restaurants the service time is 12:00 – 14:30 and 19:15 – 23:00. It’s like everybody is on vacation there, and I am not referring to tourists. The menu is usually strict and based on the day’s picks from the market according to what they say, which is fine. If it happens – as it almost always did for us – that their dishes and the kid’s taste fell in totally opposite directions, you might find yourself (I did) into a bit of a situation. So if your kid does not eat almost everything you should consider again a trip together in Beaune.
There are some things to do while traveling with kids in Beaune: there is a beautiful park (Parc de la Bouzaise) that’s great to explore, the Center has many small streets to discover and plenty of houses with stairs. Stairs seems to be the new hit for us, each stair needs to be climbed over and over again. So what appears to be a short street, might take sometimes 30-40 minutes of walking, climbing and jumping from every stair.
We stayed at Najeti Hotel De La Poste which sits on a great location, walking distance from the center where most of the restaurants are, fairly big rooms, very cozy and quiet. It is a very nice location to stay in Beaune.
Food is most of the times very good as long as you make reservations in advance and book your table. It’s funny how restaurants that are empty at 12:00 get completely full within 15 minutes. From the restaurants we dinned I would recommend:
- Ma Cuisine in Beaune. Tasty food and menu changes everyday. A good selection of wines by the glass and an extensive wine list. I had an impressive 2009 Domaine de Comtes Lafon Meursault by the glass (15 Eur) that surprised me with its perfect balance between stony and oyster shell minerality, honey and abundant sweet fruit, staying fresh, detailed and vibrant (94/100).
- La Maison du Colombier. This restaurant opens at 19:00 everyday and is closed on WED and SUN. The owner is a former chef from a 2 Michelin star restaurant and runs this place together with his wife. There is an impressive wine list here and there are plenty of gems at affordable prices to drink. Menu was the same for 2 days in a row and quite limited, but tasty. There is a good selection of tapas. Had a great wine there that I discovered the same day visiting the producer: Meo Camuzet Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Nuits Blanc 2012. This was such a lovely Chardonnay that shows plenty of tropical and stone fruits, with stony minerality, a ripe and fat palate with beautiful vibrant acidity and a finish that lingers (92/100). 55 Eur per bottle on the restaurant list and great discovery for me.
- if you have a car – which you should have if you want to visit wineries, I would recommend to dine at Au Clos Napoleon in Fixin. Book a table in advance on the terrace because the place gets crowded quickly. When the weather is sunny outside, the view over the vines makes it for a very enjoyable lunch. Food is also good.
- Another good location for food is in Morey Saint Denis, the restaurant from Castel de Tres Girard. There is a long and interesting wine list, filled with plenty of great wines and grower’s Champagne at good prices. I had a 2011 Clos des Lambrays from Magnum and a 2012 Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Domaine des Lambrays that were stunning.
It was also my daughter’s first visit to a winery and I believe she starts on a good ground.
I will have a few separate posts the following days about the wineries I visited and the wines I tasted – mostly 2014’s, with some unexpected surprises, as my schedule was pretty full with about 3-4 wineries a day. It was nevertheless a great time visiting this beautiful and calm region with the family.
Other highlights of this trip were meeting Mr Steven Spurrier 2 times over 2 days at the same wineries I was visiting – what were the odds, and practicing my modest French during these visits as English is not such an international language in many cases here as one might believe.
If you want to discover and order some wines from Burgundy I would suggest visiting real-wineboutique page.
A friend from abroad was in town this week so we ended up having dinner at a favorite for me now: La Brasserie Bistro&Lounge. As we both fancy wine, there was a good line-up prepared and as usual there were initially planned 3 bottles, but eventually we ended up having more between our small group of 4.
Started the night with this 2003 Bouchard Vigne de l’Enfant Jesus that was popped and poured and barely had time to breath over the 1 h it lasted. This is a most unusual Pinot Noir in the sense that it has the mark of the hot 2003 vintage with ripe fruit and medium to low acidity. The color is deep ruby red. Nose is already expressive and developed well into a complex mix of sweet blue and red fruit, Asian spices and some discreet shades of undergrowth, keeping fresh. It has a denser than you might expect mouth feel, with a fleshy texture where velvety and smooth tannin mixes well with lavish layers of ripe red fruit and tea leaves, preserving balance and freshness. Long finish, aromatic tea leaves and red fruit jam. Really enjoyed it. (94/100)
A bottle of 2010 Domaine du Pegau Cuvee Reservee Chateauneuf du pape was opened and left to breath since lunch time so it had about 8 h to aerate. Nose was interesting as usual but the mouth feel was bad. There was just too much VA in it to be able to enjoy it. Certainly not the wine that I had several months ago. (Not rated)
Decided to shift palates to more tension and bubbles so a 1999 Champagne Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Nicolas Francois Billecart was served. This is a wine that I had several times already this year and I like it more and more. It feels the wine is in the right spot today and should be holding well for several more years, but why wait when it is so good. It’s got a rich mousse with plenty of tiny bubbles and a nose that sports intense aromas of smoky citrus fruit, caramel and biscuit. Very tense and razor sharp acidity after the reds, with smoky seashell and bright grapefruit palate. Long. (93-94/100)
Decided to stay on a similar note with high acidity and citrus fruit so a 2013 Christian Moreau Chablis Grand Cru Valmur was opened and decanted. Yes decanted. This has lots of chalky minerality, citrus fruit and Granny smith apple aromas. Mouth watering acidity, it combines very well ripe citrus fruit, wet stone minerals with riper flavors of grapefruit and chamomile. Medium plus long finish, lively citrus fruit. (92/100)
When in doubt and want some tenser and riper refreshment go for a rose sparkling, preferably a Vintage. Champagne Bollinger La Grande Annee Rose 2004 is a Champagne for the long run and mostly a keeper. Some Champagne should be decanted. We did not do it, but I would recommend it. Light coppery color with small and rich bubble. Complex from the beginning it just got better in the glass in time. Intense and fresh nose filled with pink grapefruit skin, small red berries, citrus fruit and minerals. Very tense on the palate, it feels it has a Baroque type of structure of tannin and acidity that still hides its aromatic layers. Good potential here. (94/100)
Last wine of the night was Champagne Cristal 2007. This punches the nose with smoky aromas of seashell, dried meat and citrus fruit. Razor sharp acidity at this stage, it needs time in the glass to get softer to reveal lively lemons, slate minerals and smoke, with a clean and sharp focus. Medium plus long finish, very fresh and a weightless mouth feel that makes it so easy to drink. (94/100)
Ended the evening quite late and had a hard time finding a cab to get home. That was a first and very unpleasant to stand up in the cold street waiting for a taxi to take my order.
Had dinner at home over a weekend and wanted to spice up the meal with a comparison of 2 wines made of the famous and celebrated Grand Cru from Chablis: Les Clos. 2 different vintages and certainly different style of wines. However both share the quality factor.
2013 Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos is a wine I Coravined since December 29th 2015 and tasted it at least 3-4 times prior and had the last 2 glasses only now. The wine has a pronounced citric fruit and wet stone nose, with fresh and vibrant lemon and grapefruit palate, mouth watering acidity and gun powder like minerality. Medium plus finish with a saline, oyster shell lemon aftertaste. (92/100)
2010 Christian Moreau Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos is slightly different. There is a riper profile, with more exotic yellow fruit here, color is medium yellow gold. Nose is richer and dominated by white peach, grapefruit and chamomile, with slate and gun powder minerality. Richer on the palate, it mirrors very well the same flavors as the nose with lavish yellow fruit and a more settled acidity that makes it round and appealing. Medium to long finish, with yellow flowers and lemons. (93/100)
Both wines have a long life ahead and in my opinion would both benefit from a short decant to open up properly. I actually enjoyed the Moreau so much I bought all the very few bottles left of 2010 Les Clos from real-wineboutique as it seemed to be the only one with any bottles available.
Had a lovely dinner on WED evening at La Brasserie restaurant in Herastrau with some beautiful wines. Started earlier with a stunning Puligny Montrachet by Olivier Leflaive.
2012 Olivier Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru ‘Les Pucelles’ needs at least 45 minutes in a decanter to open up and when it does it is simply kaleidoscopic. Color is medium yellow gold. Nose is profound and luxuriant, stone fruit, papaya, toast and butterscotch center the stage. Rich and vibrant yellow fruit pours lavishly on the lively palate, with intense and long rich citrus fruit and chamomile finish. Simply gorgeous. (95/100)
I was invited to blind taste this wine at the beginning of our dinner and I managed to spot there is an older Sauvignon Blanc from Austria. Tement as far as I read is the best producer of Austrian Sauvignon Blanc. Perhaps I am wrong here.
2007 Tement Zieregg Rezerve IZ is indeed a Sauvignon Blanc that spent 30 months in oak barrels. The wine has amazing richness both on the nose and the palate. Nose is filled with generous aromas of slate minerality, cut hay, white melon and passion fruit. Very rich on the palate with medium acidity, it shows abundant yellow fruit and flowers. Quiet long and ripe. (92/100)
1999 Champagne Billecart-Salmon Nicolas Francois Billecart comes with a razor sharp acidity after Tement. This has a classy nose of smoked citrus fruit, baked apples and biscuit, tense and precise, with a citrus infused long finish. (94/100)
2005 Thierry Allemand Cornas Chaillot needs to be properly decanted of its sediment and to breath for at least 45 minutes. This has a mineral, gamey and red fruit generous nose that just keeps on getting better. Supple on the palate, it has a Burgundian character written all over it. Syrah for Pinot lovers. (94/100)
More wines followed but did not manage to pay the proper attention to take notes on: 2007 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino, 2009 Davino Rezerva Rosu, 2006 Vinarte Aniversare Merlot Rezerva, 2012 Davino Rezerva Blanc. Night ended with a second bottle of 2012 Olivier Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru ‘Les Pucelles’. Sometimes you can just have it all.
Siting quietly at the end of the week and analyzing all the wines I enjoyed on MON I have to give big credit to my liver for taking it all so bravely. Week started on a high note on MON evening with a great dinner well planned in advance. It was initially planed to be for 7, but then it ended up with 10-11 participants. It was initially planned for 5-6 bottles and it turned up to be over 12 bottles.
Started with two Pinot Noir’s from 2 great producers:
2009 Clos des Lambrays has a surprisingly developed profile and just by sniffing it you would give it more age that it actually has. Nevertheless, the wine is drinking superbly by now and it has quite a ripe and black fruit dominated nose for a Pinot, where sour cherry and small berry fruits mix with spices and undergrowth. Very smooth and silky tannin, lots of fruits and aromatic black tea in the mouth. Medium plus long finish. (93/100)
2012 Clos de la Roche by Armand Rousseau is a beauty even as young as it is. There is freshness and elegance in this wine. Freshly picked red cherries, strawberries, cedar and potpourri on the nose, it has layers. Supple but well structured mouth, with assertive smooth tannin, plenty of red fruit and spices. Long finish, very much like an English black tea. Enjoyed more the Rousseau and finished the bottle almost alone. (94-95/100)
Our crowd was not a Pinot aficionado so next flight brought some smiles at the table. Two highly praised wines from St-Emilion, both classified in the top Class A category.
2007 Chateau Pavie is was more restrained than I expected and needed more time in the decanter to barely express itself. Dark color, aromas developed interestingly in time and showed plums, black cherry, cedar and spices, and oak still seems to be there. It has ample body and layers, velvety and fresh tannin. (92-93/100)
2007 Chateau Angelus was just better for me. It had a more clearly defined profile, sweet fruity tannin and overall more freshness. (94/100)
As night progressed and outside it became darker, so did the wines. The two crowned producers of Amarone: Quintarelli and Dal Forno have completely different styles yet both aim for the highest quality.
2003 Quintarelli Amarone shows superb freshness at 13 years old. It has a red fruit profile, with plenty of dried currants, red cherry, rum and chocolate, very smooth on the palate, while its thick texture gets freshness from the tannin structure. Long finish. (95/100)
2008 Dal Forno Amarone is all about black fruit, like a Dark Knight. Everything is more pronounced here: deep black cherry fruit, prunes, dark chocolate. Mouth is full, profound and richly layered, rich and abundant velvety tannin, heady, with lavish amounts of fruit. Long finish. (95/100)
I am a bit puzzled here because I enjoyed Quintarelli more for its red fruit and freshness, but somehow got myself attracted to the dark side of Dal Forno. I am really not a fan of Amarone style wines simply because there is too much sweetness and ripeness for my taste. Also, these are heady wines where alcohol is usually around 15-16% and 1 or 2 glasses feels just too much. However, I simply cannot deny the craftsmanship and quality of these 2 wines.
2010 Palazzi from Tenuta Trinoro is a 100% Merlot and there are plenty of similarities to an Amarone. Deep opaque dark red color. Nose is rich and intense with prunes, chocolate, spices and meat. Velvety tannin, lavish black fruit and chocolate palate, it is long. (93/100)
Patrick Piuze is a rising star in Chablis and it was a first time for me to try one of its wines. 2012 Patrick Piuze Chablis Terroir Decouverte shows a riper yellow fruit profile that you would not expect from such a young Chablis. There is white melon, peach and toast on the nose, while it explodes on the palate with rich layers of stone fruit, butterscotch and citrus, with a distinct stone like minerality. Medium long and very surprising. If there is something missing here I would say a certain precision. (92/100)
2011 Olivier Leflaive Corton-Charlemagne seems to have it all: precision, depth, freshness and balance. Nose is all about citrus fruit and gun powder, with slight amounts of butter and toast, mouth is all about precision, freshness and elegance. There is richness of fruit, a lively and vibrant acidity and a fairly long finish. Wine was open at lunch and properly aerated. (93/100)
A Dom Perignon Magnum 2000 started the flight of Champagne’s. Very mineral, almost like a Riesling from Mosel, but very intense both on the nose as on the palate. This is starting to drink very well now. (93/100)
Champagne Krug Rose Brut was the first rose of the night. This is a Rose for the day. It has a light coppery color, fresh and intense nose of small berries, slate like minerality and grapefruit. Amazing weightless texture, layered and rich, you can drink a lot. A second bottle was opened, that well it drinks. (94/100)
Champagne Dom Perignon Vintage Rose 2003 is a rose for the night and it is not for its more intense darker coppery color. This is fuller and heavier in the mouth, but also with a vinous character. Rich, layered and decadent palate, it makes an impression on you. (94-95/100)
We already passed midnight, but there was more wine. 2008 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion was opened and briefly decanted before being poured in glasses. The wine is classic textbook Bordeaux, but from the high class: rich but tempered and elegant. Lots of cassis, pencil shavings and typical Pessac-Leognan character. Red cherry, cassis and gravely tannin, very fulfilling on the palate. Long. (94/100)
Not to mention that by this time everybody was full and when Batman came to fancily deliver a bottle of Champagne Krug Clos du Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Vintage 2000, everybody foolishly (retrospectively) refused to open it. At that moment it felt like it was enough. Today I believe big things can happen in the spur of the moment.
If you’re a man then you know that February-March is a harsh time. You have: Valentine’s Day, Dragobete, March 1st and March 8th. If you’re a woman it’s probably the merriest time of the year.
We are offering both of you a great escape. A relaxing evening in the middle of the hurricane when women could show their sympathy and support for all the nice moments offered and effort men put. And what is better than wine ? Perhaps more wine.
Burgundy is one of France’s most complicated and hard to understand regions. You only have two grapes: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, yes there is little Aligote also, so you might think how hard and different can it be ? Well, the reality is every small appellation has its own characteristics, and there are usually a bunch of producers sharing it. As many producers, as many styles of wines. Add the classification of Village, Premier Cru and Grand Cru wines and things really start to get complicated. What is the difference between these classifications and why is the price gap so wide ?
We will try to explain as many things as possible during the Burgundy wine tasting we prepared for you on THU, February 25th, 2016.
Here is the line-up of wines we prepared, our intention was to take you through as many appellations as possible in order to understand differences. Yes, there is order in chaos and it can be understood.
NV Bailly Lapierre Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Réserve
2011 Olivier Leflaive Chablis Premier Cru ‘Montee de Tonnerre’
1996 Hospices de Beaune, Beaune Premier Cru ‘Cuvee Brunet’
1998 Chicotot Nuits St-Georges 1er Cru “Les Vaucrains”
2006 L & A Lignier Morey Saint-Denis “Clos des Sionnieres” (91 points)
2007 L & A Lignier Morey Saint-Denis “Clos des Sionnieres”
2008 Philipe & Vincent Lecheneaut Gevrey-Chambertin (92 points)
2011 Jean Fery Vosne Romanee 1er Cru “‘aux Reas”
Again, we will meet on Thursday, Feb 25th, 19:30. NaaN Restaurant (Strada C. A. Rosetti 26, București) is the meeting point. We loved the place for the Roses tasting.
The cost is 269 lei pp (wine, entree and water). The main course can be ordered a la carte from the restaurant menu, if you want. Confirmation is required, as well as advanced payment.
Please book your seats by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at +40723 240 102 .