This month’s Imbibe New York Wine Club took it to another level, one from which I don’t think any of us will ever come down. Burgundy. Red Burgundy. Pinot Noir. 100%. Most of us couldn’t have dreamed such sensuality in a bottle–the layers upon layers of complexity, the liquid silk. We pooled our funds and purchased four bottles of three different wines–two from Cote de Nuits, one from Cote de Beaune, and each so remarkably disparate from the rest. And from the sounds of the audible sighs that circulated Brian’s table as we sipped, I think it’s safe to say that each and every one of us, in our own way, if only for a moment, saw God .
Burgundy, or Bourgogne in eastern France, is home to both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and comprises such regions as Chablis in the north, Cote de Nuits, Cote de Beaune, and Maconnais. Technically, it even includes Beaujolais to the south, though these wines are light and fruity, and made from Gamay.
Before sampling Burgundy, I never really got Pinot Noir–the incredibly temperamental, thin skinned varietal that demands fierce attention from wine-grower and wine-maker alike. In fact, it’s this attention that allows the grape full self-expression, for which we, as consumers, pay a mighty high price. Many fine wine makers consider Pinot Noir nothing more than a blank slate, one that simply demonstrates a given vineyard’s terroir–the essence of climate, weather, soil, and topography–the natural elements of the vineyard. If not given such deliberations, a glass of Pinot can taste like jam.
Though each wine was decanted for two hours, the first to our lips was Savigny Les Beaune 1er Cru, Les Narbantons, Domaine Mongeard Mugneret 2005 ($60) from Cotes de Beaune. Pale ruby in color with earth and cherry on the nose and palate, and a floral undertone, this Premier Cru possessed the softest of tannins–each element fully integrated…I can only imagine how it might improve over the years.
Of the Morey Saint Denis, Domaine Lucie et Auguste Lignier 2001 ($55) we had two bottles. Ruby in color with an orange rim (due to oxidation/age) the Lignier showed less fruit on the nose, and more barnyard and earth. The fruit that did surface was in the form of a Luden’s cough drop–cherry and spice. With more body than Les Narbantons, the mouth-feel was surprisingly dense for a Pinot Noir, yet still orgasmicly smooth. At first, we sensed leather. But as the wine aired, the leather turned cumin and beef.
With this last bottle, I yearned to lock myself in a black closet, so that I might narrow my senses and better discern. And then I would write a book. Grand Vin de Bourgogne, Sylvain Cathiard Chambolle-Musigny, Les Clos de L’orme, 2006 ($125). So incredibly complex that a new flavor appeared with every step along the tongue. Showing no fruit on the nose, this Pinot Noir is all about earth. It even smells like dirt, or rather a metallic dark soil, which even children know, is good enough to eat. Progressing through the elements, we then sensed a water fused breeze, coming off the surface of a lake or pond; it finished long and left me wanting…more.
Stay tuned for Riesling in June.