Friday, April 4, 2008

They really do say Ducster

I was invited to dinner with a friend in the wine business, his partner in the company, and two of their good customers. What I’ve found out abou the SoCal Burgundy scene is that really do say things like Ducster, and Bozo, and Corton-Chuck, but with these guys at least, it really isn’t obnoxious the way it might seem on the internet sometimes, it seems very…well…Californian. Folks have been very welcoming and generous towards me since I’ve moved out here and, frankly, I’ll be sorry to be leaving. I’ll try to have many more nights like this one before I go.

1996 Ployez-Jacquemart Champagne Liesse d'Harbonville

Tight and leesy, but with sharp, spicey pear-ish fruits. Good grip and length, but not particularly refined or subtle. Good food Champagne, maybe a bit more on the Sherry side than I like these days. Should age pretty well.

2000 Dauvissat La Fôret

This is where things get interesting. I’ve only recently heard of premature oxidation issues with Chablis, and Dauvissat and Ravenneau to boot. This wine was definitely more mature than it should be and a bit maderized. Around the table there were calls of pre-mox, but I insisted that I thought it was cooked (it was grey market, not that the mere fact proves anything, but it can be a leading indicator IMO). At the end of dinner, we tried it again and could see the underlying wine trying to sneak through in a way that showed me it was heat damaged and not oxidized. This is a very important distinction that I think is lost on a lot of folks. I believe that there was general agreement on this point.

2000 Fèvre Chablis Bougros

Good wine. Interesting enough as chardonnay, but grand cru Chablis? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it just fine, but I really don’t see the there there with these Fevre wines.

1996 Lafon Mersault Charmes

Without a doubt, the single best bottle of Lafon I’ve ever had. I sold my bottles of this years ago after several lackluster performances of this and the Perrières in multiple vintages. I just didn’t see what all the hype was about. I’m not going to recant on my view of Lafon, they are worth way more to others than to me, but this bottle was complex, deep, long and very Charmes in character. I'd happily drink it any time, but I'm not sure, at $200+ that I'm a buyer.

2000 Ponsot Clos de la Roche Vielles Vignes

From 375mL. Seemed pretty tired, going a bit brown on the edge. Not much going on. I’d try a regular sized bottle before I gave up hope. I’ve had great success with 200s in the past year, so maybe a better bottle will be better. I never drank the kool-aid on Ponsot, so I wouldn’t be a buyer.

1993 Damoy Chambertin Clos de Bèze

Clearly the best wine of the evening. I didn’t have high expectations since this is anot a producer that I consider to be particularly good. Maybe a triumph of terroir over viticulture? I don’t know, but this was everything I like about Clos de Bèze. The combination of ethereal lightness and underlying power was intoxicating. In style, it is very reminiscent of the Clair version. A sort of woodsy overlaying that Gevrey animal-mineral-dark red fruits. Some sous bois, but the thing that really struck me was the structure. Framed so that it held together from first sip through a long, tangy finish with acidity to lift the flavors and tannin to drive them through. Almost made the mediocre duck taste ravishing. Fantastic wine that I will certainly buy if given a shot at well stored bottles. Surprises like this are what make wine so interesting.

1993 Geantet-Pansiot Charmes

Still has deep ruby-red color. A bit cloudy though, maybe could have used more time standing up or a decant. Nose had tons of dark earth, sous bois, and woodsy with dark red fruit undertones. Very Charmes in character. The palate was a a bit murky and not as delineated as I would like. Certainly not like the 1995 or 1996. A very good wine, that folks at dinner think will improve, but I'm not so sure. I don't like the murkiness and am not sure it will ever clear up. If it does, it won't be soon. My guess would be another 10 years.

1998 Trapet Chambertin

Framed by a torrefied woodiness, this is good as wine, and as Gevrey, but doesn’t really scream Chambertin at me the way the Damoy did (or other producers wine). I’ve never been enamoured of Trapet and this didn’t change my mind.

2000 Arnoux Romanée-St.-Vivant

This is the last of the 2000 Arnoux’s that I wanted to try. The amazing thing about this was the texture. It was full and still sappy, but so incredibly silky and louche without ever getting heavy or going overboard. Very Vosne in its spiceyness, almost kinky. Very sensual and long in the mouth and back end, but didn’t really ever open up aromatically. I took the final quarter of the bottle home to enjoy a couple of night later and it held up very well, although the aromatics never did pop. Should be excellent for at least another decade, probably longer, depending on how you like it. At $230, I’m probably not a buyer, but I would definitely consider it if I was looking for a bottle to bowl over a girl.

2005 Trapet Latricières

I’m generally not a huge fan of Latricières as I find it to be a bit on the rustic side. They tamed that with ripe generous fruit, but there was plenty of wood and tannin. Not necessarily my type of wine, but could be good.

2005 Pousse d'Or Volnay Caillerets

Had a cotton candy like fluffiness to it. Puffy blue and black fruits. Can’t really feel the structure through it. Not really my cup of tea.


Lyle Fass said...

'99 Lafon Charmes is still the greatest Lafon I have ever had. I actually have had alot of Lafon '95-99 as U worked in the same retail store that the MA importer was based in. The '96's when young were delicious. Clos de la Barre I remember very well.

The 2005's from Damoy were some of the best from the "Lyle off-brand" scene. The 2005 Chambertin Clos de Beze is one of the great wines of the vintage. The Chapelle is lovely and a great example of that vineyard.

Fevre did not get it going till 2002 IMHO.

Any fights that night?

the vlm said...

Nah, totally civilized.

Do you guys have the Damoy Beze?

Lafon has been nothing but disappointment for me. This bottle was the exception. Like I said, I'll drink it from now on, just won't buy it.

Lyle Fass said...

No Damoy Beze.

I will drink it to if someone else is buying. Lafon that is.

Florida Jim said...

Your comments on the Dauvissat wine give me hope; I have several bottlings of the 2000 vintage and all this premox stuff was getting me anxious.
Chances are, mine came from a different source - and lets hope that's where the one you tasted got warm.
So you're leaving SoCal? Where to?
Best, Jim

the vlm said...


I wouldn't be worried about your 2000 Dauvissat's, but maybe we should check on them just in case...