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American Club Burgundy Masterclass & Tasting

July 15, 2009

Thanks to the generosity of a colleague, I was invited to the above event on 11 July 2009, right after my return from Paris, tutored by Ms Lisa Perotti-Brown, MW. At SGD170, this was superb value given the lineup. Ms Perotti-Brown started off with a 25 minute lecture on the characteristics and nuances of white and red Burgundy wines of various regions, after which we launched into the most insightful part: the actual tasting.

We began with 4 whites centred around the south of the Cote de Beaune. The 1999 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatieres was pale golden, with the nose and palate dominated by lifted aromas of lime, citrus and a huge dose of minerality, coming across as big and powerful. The sample we had was served at a temperature that was probably too warm, for the wine, although crisp and fresh, was soft and somewhat flat at the finish. I’d expected more richness and intensity, and was rewarded after it sat in the glass for a further 30-40 minutes, when it took on a nutty and caramel character that was quite appealing. It’s actually quite excellent, and should be, given the reputation of this producer and the outstanding vintage. At 17.64 ha, Les Folatieres is, by far, the largest of the Puligny premier crus. But with uneven distribution, its quality is definitely below that of Les Pucelles.

The 2000 Domaine Ramonet Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Champs-Canet was darker in hue, and served too cold. However, one could already discern a fabulous bouquet leaning towards peach and apricot against a background of toasted cashews and a faint “yeasty” note that was simply quite exotic. Rich, with excellent mouthfeel and complexity. Bit short on the finish, but I liked this very much. My favourite of the 4 whites.

Showing a similar color, perhaps a tad lighter, was the 2002 Domaine Roger Bellard Mersault-Santenots 1er Cru, giving off a very floral note full of apricot, lime and pineapple flavours. A big wine, dominated mainly by citrus notes, showing some “oily” thickness on the mid-palate, with good acidity and a strong finish. Ms Perotti-Brown hailed it as the quintessential Mersault. In spite of the outstanding vintage, it lacked the subtle nuances that comes so effortlessly from a Puligny-Montrachet.

Another Domaine Ramonet, the 2001 Chassagne-Montrachet Clos de la Boudriotte 1er Cru, rounded off the line-up of whites. Like the earlier Ramonet, this wine carried more weight and body, with lifted aromas of lime and citrus. Quite complex, with a lingering finish. I liked it.

American Club Burgundy lineup 11Jul09

Unlike most wine tasting sessions that tend to get off to a slow start, Ms Perotti-Brown moved us on to the reds, beginning with the 1995 Morey-St Denis from Domaine Dujac. Clearly in advanced maturity, it exhibited the bouquet of the night: a very fragrant, floral nose of sweet red fruits. Soft, medium, plush, with extreme purity and lasting finish. This demonstrates very well the age-old dictum when it comes to Burgundy wines – foremost consideration goes to the producer, above all else. Who’d have guessed that this was a village wine?

Then came what was unanimously hailed as the wine of the night: 1999 Mommessin Clos des Tart, a Grand Cru monopole. It displayed the deepest red of the entire line-up, and a nose that was still reticent, needing plenty of coaxing. Underneath lurked a full-bodied wine rich in red and dark fruit characters that had yet to develop tertiary flavours. Traces of vanilla betray the presence of unresolved new wood, perhaps not surprising given its breeding in such an outstanding vintage. The nose opened up a bit an hour later, but clearly this beauty, offered at SGD408 (!), still needs plenty of sleep. Superb, but not to be touched.

After this magnificent showing, the 2002 Geantet Pansiot Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru that followed tried its best to impress with a very emergent sweet floral bouquet, combined with a wine that was full, rich and dense on the mid-palate, quite characteristic of reds from this region, particularly premier crus and above drunk less than 10 years from an outstanding vintage. In fact, some of this intensity might be misconstrued as being syrupy. Good linearity and finish. I felt it was excellent and I liked it. However, it failed to flesh out in the glass, and didn’t really excite some of my fellow tasters. Part of the reason was, perhaps, because it was sandwiched between the Mommessin and the 2000 Comte de Vogue Chambolle-Musigny. As mentioned earlier, a great producer can do amazing things with a village production. This wine was absolutely superb, again giving off the richness, intensity and density typical of a Chambolle-Musigny, but with wonderful layering, structure and complexity that was missing from the Geantet Pansiot, in spite of 2000 not being particularly outstanding. Fabulous stuff, but comes at a price.

The most highly anticipated wine in the line-up also turned out to be the biggest disappointment: 1997 Domaine Romanee-Conti Richebourg Grand Cru. Light red, with a delicate floral nose suggesting a lighter wine. Good entry, medium-bodied, but lacking in richness and the expected complexity failed to materialise. The fruit, clearly, was drying out, suggesting the wine was already over the hill. Perhaps we had expected too much, but at SGD1500, we have a right to do so. The only other DRC that I’d tasted , a 1993 Echezeaux courtesy of Fatty (surprise!) last year, was far more superior.

The tutored tasting ended with the 2001 Robert Arnoux Echezeaux Grand Cru, typically a big wine from this producer with plenty of red and dark fruit characters, but the complexity was not quite evident, and the finish was dry, almost to the point of being astringent.

We didn’t quite realise, but we had tasted 10 serious wines. This was not the end. We then adjourned to the next room for a buffet of oysters, shellfish, fresh prawns (superb!), as well as a selection of lamb and beef cutlets, to be washed down with a free flow of 60 different Old and New World chardonnays and pinot noirs, courtesy of Hermitage Wines. I hoped they managed to recoup their costs, for I remembered tasting, freely available: 1999 Domaine Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc (good but relatively expensive), 2003 Maison Verget Chablis “Vaillons – Villes Vignes des Minots” 1er Cru (crisp & delicious), 1997 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet, 2006 Kistler Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 2006 Kistler McCrea Vineyard Chardonnay (rich, creamy, great depth; better than the Dutton Ranch), 2003 Beringer Private Reserve Napa Valley Chardonnay, 1999 Armand Rousseau Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru (wonderful but still not ready), 2002 Domaine Joseph Faiveley Echezeaux Grand Cru, 2003 Armand Rousseau “Lavaux St Jacques” 1er Cru (excellent…how can it not be??), 1981 Maison Henri Boillot Pommard “Les Rugiens” 1er Cru (still alive & drinking well), and 2006 Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir (now I understand why this is so highly sought after). The most memorable highlight was the 2004 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru – creamy, rich, complex, great finish…a complete wine. I’m glad I’d bought some earlier this year during Ponti’s closing sale, at only SGD128.

I must have drunk well beyond 750 ml of wine that evening. Frankly, I was struggling to keep my hatch shut at the end. I must thank John Lim and his associates (particularly that delicious babe who was pouring the reds) from Hermitage Wines for their unstinting generosity in providing us with such a glorious opportunity, and to the American Club for organising this event, which was worth way beyond the SGD170 I paid.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. David Tan permalink
    October 26, 2009 12:12

    Wow this sure is an interesting tasting.
    Hardly get to try so many different btls at a tasting.
    If you are going to have another event like this, and if there is place to spare one or a few seats please sent me a mail.

    Thanks and Cheers

    David Tan

    • Ric permalink*
      October 26, 2009 13:19

      Hi David,
      Thanks so much for visiting my website. I’ll keep you informed when the next opportunity arises. Best wishes,

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