I liked this. It has the ripeness of the 06 vintage, but is still light bodied with good acidity. Very easy to drink, and went well with pulled pork tostado with red cabbage. Some mineral and iodine notes are noticeable as the wine opened.
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(Domaine du Pavillon de Chavannes Côte de Brouilly Cuvée des Ambassades) Dark ruby color with clarity; focused, tart currant, savory, light pepper nose; tasty, tart currant, savory, mineral, light pepper palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points
(Domaine du Pavillon de Chavannes Côte de Brouilly Cuvée des Ambassades) Dark cherry red color; tart beet, green cardamom and cherry nose; delicious, deep, complex tart cherry, red fruit, beet juice, mineral, earthy, beet stems, root vegetable, dandelion and basil palate; medium finish 92+ pts.
(AMBASSADES Pavillon de Chavannes Cote de Brouilly) Ambassades
I would normally reserve something like this for a Wednesday or Thursday when more of you are paying attention but there is so little to be had this year I'm relegating it to the most "unworthy" spot of the week - late on a Monday night.
Small quantity or not, this is one of the more important wines we offer every year and it has found a place near the top of the list by a very astute segment of our customer base - it is not for everyone but it is a timeless wine of yesterday that continues to be vinified like it is 1945. When the wine trade becomes intolerable for me, a beverage like this brings me back to the first day I started spouting off at the wine keyboard years ago - it is a reminder that the highest level of intrigue is still there to be had and there is still so much more to learn...
With one of the more memorable stories I'm asked to recant at speaking engagements (if you recall, this is the story of WWII resistance by the locals against the German army - complete with Nazi bullet holes left in the trees around the vineyard as a reminder during each vintage of how fleeting freedom can be), Pavillon de Chavannes has become not only one of the most difficult wines to source in France but it is unquestionable the single most difficult wine to source in all of Beaujolais. The French government continues to demand this wine be served at each Embassy around the world when the most important dignitaries are entertained - thus the special designation of "Ambassades" (they could choose anything - Chateau Margaux, Latour or even something more reasonable like Pontet-Canet but they choose Chavannes) - that is the highest level of praise any wine in France can receive. In the government's mind, this wine embodies the sense of terroir and of history that can only be found in French wine and I will not argue. It also has that mysterious element that is not possible to describe on paper, another character of the finest French wines whether they are Cote Rotie or Jurancon sec.
With a tattered, elegant and old-style label pressed with an ink and wood etching from the 1920s, the Cuvee des Ambassades (not to be confused with Chavannes' regular Cote de Brouilly, which is fabulous in its own right) is a first growth of Burgundy that is basically unknown in the US. The wine is for palates that veer toward a deftly classic style and ripe fruit is not really part of the makeup (some would say there is no fruit at all - only mineral content). It is made from the most solid rock of the most desirable sub-sect of Beaujolais' most ageworthy cru, the Cote de Brouilly, and its chiseled and sifted mineral style are truly remarkable. The Cote de Brouilly is often compared to Corton and it's easy to see why (this wine in specific has been compared to a mix of Bonnes Mares jr with a fair dose of Amoureuses jr and Renardes - made from Gamay of course - in other words, both sides of the masculine/feminine fence are in the same bottle).
The 2005 version of this wine was a brilliant and elegant effort that spilled its extract from shards of glass wrapped in filigreed gold (no pyrite here) - the 2006 is more of the same, if not a slight bit more accessible (although the brilliance is there to such a degree that experienced palates have a tendency to take a "time out" when they sip this, preferring to sit with the 11.5-12.5% majesty alone and undisturbed). Easily dismissed or overlooked, the Ambassades is for those with the patience to unwrap every layer that comes with exposure to oxygen, no matter how subtle or finely detailed. The fruit and skins will come, the deceptively fine tannins will even out but you must be willing to listen and learn. You can look up TNs, etc if you need to but I'm going to refrain from reprinting the Tanzer review of the 2005 Ambassades (the 2006 has not been reviewed yet) as it will only add to the wine's allure.
In the end, this wine is not for those seeking fruit but it is definitely for those seeking one of the great wines of the world. It is one of those experiences that makes you do an about face, to recalibrate your sense of knowledge and to mutter under your breath "maybe I don't know as much as I thought" - it will captivate your sense of wonder and force you to re-think your depth of understanding about this hobby - it certainly does so to me.
EXTREMELY LIMITED (there were 150 cases of the 2005 for the US market last year and there are only 225 bottles of the 2006 - while up in price nearly 40%, it's still undervalued, especially compared to Descombes VV or any of the other top-tier cru Beaujolais)
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED as just about the perfect poster child for why Garagiste exists:
2006 Pavillon de Chavannes Cote de Brouilly "Cuvee des Ambassades" (please remember, there are only a few hundred bottles of this for the whole country so please be patient with Niki).
Jon Rimmerman Garagiste Seattle, WA
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