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A dinner of Vosne-Romanee Grand Cru

September 9, 2009

This theme, characteristic of KG’s usual high standards, was set for a dinner to welcome YW, back on one of his regular visits as Rand consultant. The venue was The French Kitchen, a simple setup with minimalist decor, but more importantly, it’s conducive for oenophiles (BYO Mondays), providing excellent stemware, attentive service, and excellent food without busting one’s wallet. I was late, and arrived to find that 3 wines have been poured, all blinded, with mine the only one remaining. I’m still groping my way about the complexities of Burgundy, basically still very much a novice. However, the group thought I was merely being self-deprecating, and insisted that I identify the wines blind. And so under the watchful eyes of Burgundian hounds like KG and Chad, I tried to summon my woeful knowledge…

The first red displayed a dusty tone that suggested a well-aged wine. Rather shy on the nose in spite of persistent coaxing. However, it turned out to have a fuller body on the palate than suggested by its outer appearance, with the stuffing still intact. Very mellow and harmonious, although, compared to the other reds, this felt a bit rough at the edges, with a slight tannic finish. The fruit seemed to dry out after an hour or so. A quiet wine, contented to sit out its remaining years. I guessed a Grands Echezeaux from the mid-90s. Turned out to be a 1990 Georges Noellat Grands Echezeaux (courtesy of KG). Not a bad try!

An excellent selection from Vosne-RomaneeThe second wine, showing a deeper red, immediately impressed with a fuller bouquet saturated with top notch red fruit characters. This carried well onto the palate, revealing a fairly big wine of great concentration, richness and refinement. Very lush and seamless, with that slick “oily” character on the mid-palate that adds layers to its wonderful depth, finishing long. Throughout, one was struck by its purity of expression of the pinot noir, which was quite profound. A superb wine. In fact, I was reminded of the DRC Grands Echezeaux tasted at Iggy’s the previous week. I guessed a 1999 Romanee-Saint-Vivant. It turned out to be a 1995 Antonin Rodet Romanee-Saint-Vivant (courtesy Chad). Not bad again!

The third red, courtesy of JJ, was even bigger and fuller than the preceding wines. Medium-bodied, again very refined, seamless and lush. Very open on the mid-palate, with sexy, velvety sophisticated tannins, although I felt it contained less depth compared with the 1995 Rodet. A touch angular at the finish. Curiously, it didn’t really evolve much in the glass, remaining quite static. I thought it would be a younger Grands Echezeaux, but it turned out to be a 2001 Follin-Arbelet Romanee-Saint-Vivant, which has gained a bit of a cult following ever since it appeared in the Japanese manga comic strip The Drops of God.

The final wine, a 2003 Rene Engel Echezeaux which I brought, had the darkest red and the most powerful nose, consistent with its youth. Nevertheless, it was quite open in the middle, with good focus, allowing the predominant sweet ripe fruit to excel. Quite lush and balanced, finishing long with well-integrated tannins, and none of that tell-tale burnt note of a hot vintage. Quite excellent, I must say. Chad got the vintage correct, even venturing to hazard an initial guess of a RSV, before I let out that it may not be considered a Grand Cru of Vosne-Romanee. That ain’t my fault…as Clive Coates MW classified Grands Echezeaux and Echezeaux, both strictly from the commune of Flagey-Echezeaux, as Vosne-Romanee grand crus!! It goes to show my meagre knowledge that I wasn’t aware of this bit of controversy till the evening itself! Well, at least I got some education out of this dinner. Thanks to all concerned, and I must say The French Kitchen deserves a return visit.

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