A few days in Burgundy

Cote d'Or

Tasted July 13, 2006 - July 17, 2006 by psmith with 1,865 views

Introduction

The third segment of our 16-day trip was in Burgundy country. We stayed at the Hotel le Cep in Beaune, a charming old place with quaint rooms and lots of character but rather poor air conditioning which made for a difficult few days in the 95+ degree heat. Needless to say, whites were far preferable to reds under the circumstances.

We spent the first day wandering around Beaune, where wine shops were more plentiful than good deals and lots of knickknacks of all sorts were being offered in the local shops. For dinner that night we were lucky enough to get into Ma Cuisine, a tiny restaurant with an international cult following for their superb comfort food and excellent wine list. The excellent food prices were welcome after Champagne country and the dishes like penne with heaping mounds of black truffles and a sort of scrambled egg casserole with basil and parmesan were delicious. With dinner we had:

Flight 1 (1 note)

White
1999 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault
90 points
Mineral-driven, characteristic Lafon nose. Ripe and fat, but not lacking in focus. Lengthy and persistent with good depth and power for the level. Can still benefit from bottle age.

Flight 2 (1 note)

We followed dinner by ordering a few drinks off the deep and well priced list: a 1987 Domaine de la Romanee Conti Marc de Bourgogne has loads of spice and anise with a dark profile and an alcoholic bite that 16+ years in wood hadn't subdued. A 1941 Camut Calvados has a stunning old nose of well-spiced caramelized apples with an intense palate presence and medicinal finish.

Back at the hotel we enjoyed a wonderful wine that we had found in Reims for a great price:

White
1992 Robert Ampeau & Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault 1er Cru
94 points
Pronounced orange oil and lemon nose with a wonderful chalky mineral character. Full-bodied, rich, and oily palate. A precise, penetrating mineral core and pure, expressive flavors with a tangy acidic finish. Undeniable breed and plenty of room for improvement. Really special.

Flight 3 (2 notes)

I drug Jen out of bed early to drive me up north on the Route de Grand Crus to walk some of my favorite vineyards. Of course, Vosne-Romanee was the first destination and Romanee-Conti the first vineyard that I looked for - a pilgrimage of sorts that does have something of a religious feel too it. After visiting all the grand crus of Vosne we drove to Chambolle looking for Musigny but the small roads and my hunger forced me back to Beaune.

Lunch was at La Cave du Paradoxe, another well-priced restaurant offering basic but high quality food located in a refreshingly cool cellar. The wine list was quite good with more than a few deals. We enjoyed a young Puligny Montrachet before going back to the hotel for a young Chablis:

White
2004 Jean Boillot & Fils Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos de la Mouchère France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru
88 points
Rich, tangy lemon and chalk notes up front but comes across as angular - finishing with ample acidity but short flavors. Tasty and with potential, but needs time to work itself out.
White
2003 François Raveneau Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru
87 points
Rather neutral with citrus notes and less characteristic steely slate and mineral flavors than usual. Surprisingly light in both flavor and body, though not without focus. Enjoyable, but not up to the usual standard.

Flight 4 (2 notes)

Dinner was at l'Ecusson which, again, was highly recommended to us and was an excellent choice with a good wine list to match. Lots of well-priced Coche on the list made the wine decision an easy one, while back at the hotel we decided to open our first red of the trip.

White
2000 Coche-Dury Meursault Les Rougeots France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault
92 points
Smoke, flint, and mineral notes alongside typical Coche wonderfully opulent citrus fruits. Medium-full bodied with a weighty, viscous texture. Not quite the minerallity or precision of Coche's 1er Meursaults, but certainly not lacking in that department and a very impressive wine.
Red
1995 Domaine Robert Arnoux / Arnoux-Lachaux Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru
91 points
Ripe, spicy, dark plummy fruits with sous-bois type undertones. A masculine, powerful wine that's just starting to develop some secondary flavors. Great density and finishing with coarse tannins. Very good wine.

Flight 5 (1 note)

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We enjoyed the wine list and food so much on our first trip to La Cave du Paradoxe that we decided to go back for lunch and the same menu (something like 18€ for three courses). Jen wasn't drinking wine yet so I ordered a half bottle from the list for myself:

White
2004 Paul et Marie Jacqueson Rully 1er Cru La Pucelle Blanc France, Burgundy, Côte Chalonnaise, Rully 1er Cru
88 points
Youthful lemon and orange citrus fruits. Refreshingly acidic with good minerallity. Some buttery notes. Really good Rully.

Flight 6 (1 note)

Not far from the main square in Beaune we found a merchant specializing in old wines and decided to take a chance on a few that weren't too expensive and seemed in good condition. The first we enjoyed back at the hotel after lunch:

White
1953 Gaston Rollin Corton-Charlemagne France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
92 points
From a bottle with excellent color and 4-5cm ullage. Mature honey, orange and apricot fruit, and marzipan notes with only traces of nutty oxidation. Amazingly light on its feet with a wonderfully creamy texture and still quite firm acidity. Could easily be 30+ years younger. Darkens in color with time but holds over 1.5 hours or so, actually gains in roundness and complexity. Especially nice up front, though well-balanced throughout. Truly enjoyable and impressive.

Flight 7 (2 notes)

Dinner at La Cave Madeleine was in the same mold as the previous meals - more comfort than haute cuisine. The escargot was superb, though my Tete de Veau experience was less stellar, probably more me than the cooking. The restaurant offered a number of wines for sale with a 5€ dine-in premium. Unfortunately I didn't realize until after I'd opened our Mugnier Chambole 1er that the owner had a wonderfully deep cellar under the restaurant that he was more than happy to recommend wines from (though he did not have a list). After dinner we went back to the hotel and opened our other recent buy.

Red
2001 Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Fuées France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru
Quite closed on the nose with only traces of sweet, dusty, red and black cherry fruit. Grippy and not showing much on the palate with an impenetrable wall of tannin and characteristic 2001 acidity. Hopelessly hard to read, though seems to have clear aging potential. (NR)
Red
1961 Domaine de Saux Beaune 1er Cru Teurons France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Beaune 1er Cru
84 points
On odd wine with a Confrerie de Chevaliers du Tastevin labeling and aged in the cellars of Poulet Pere et fils. Reasonable color with ~1cm ullage. Black, decidedly un-Pinot fruits with a grainy mouthfeel that follows through to the gritty tannic finish. Tarry, asphalt and smoked meat notes. Never really balanced or impressive, but certainly alive whatever it is.....Burgundy or something from farther south.

Flight 8 (2 notes)

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We headed south down the Cote de Beaune the next day to tour the Meursault, Puligny, and Chassagne vineyards before heading back for a quick pizza lunch and some wines that we had picked up at an excellent store in Chassagne-Montrachet named La Caveau de Chassagne:

White
1988 Bouchard Père et Fils Chevalier-Montrachet France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru
87 points
A lean palate that, while not showing much age, lacks body to match the more substantial mineral core. Noticeable alcohol with hints of butter through mouth-drying acidity. Some moderate improvement with time, and showing mild young citrus fruits, but rather characterless and never really living up to its pedigree.
White
2001 Bouchard Père et Fils Chevalier-Montrachet France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru
93 points
Sharply focused young lemon zest with hints of butterscotch. Medium bodied, mineral-driven wine well supported by a firm core of acidity and an assertive mineral streak. Pure and refined with good transparency and a wonderful tension on the palate. Excellent Chevalier.

Flight 9 (2 notes)

Dinner at La Ciboulette in Beaune was just OK. The fare was pretty similar to the places we had been going, but the execution not quite at that level. The wine list was still well priced and we found a tasty young Lafon Meursault, followed by a Roumier Les Cras back at the hotel:

White
2002 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault Clos de la Barre France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault
91 points
Quite rich for Lafon. Pure and intense flavors with lengthy, balanced young lemon notes and a firm mineral backbone. An oily, fat, characteristic Meursault texture and quite perfumed white flower notes. Streamlined and focused. Delightful.
Red
2000 Domaine G. Roumier / Christophe Roumier Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Cras France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru
90 points
Dark, mushroomy earth-driven notes with blackberry fruit. Less expressive on the palate with rather coarse young tannins that clip the fruit off. Very Roumier in style with sweet dark strawberry or raspberry fruit, even bordering on cassis, with lots of class and breeding. Hard finishing structure.

Flight 10 (2 notes)

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Lunch the next day was at Castel de Tres Girard in Morey St. Denis in anticipation of our Domaine Dujac visit later. Lunch was quite good, clearly the most ambitious restaurant we had been to in Burgundy. The wine list was also nice though our luck with corked wines came to an end. We weren't really sure until half of the half-bottle was gone, and since I'd forgotten the French word for "corked", I sucked it up and finished the wine off before ordering another:

White
2001 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru
flawed
Smoke, gunflint, and lemon curd notes but a background hint of TCA. Bold, mouthfilling flavors and a wonderful minerallity but by the second glass cork taint becomes quite apparent. A shame as there's some great stuff under there.
Red
2000 Domaine Dujac Bonnes Mares France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Bonnes Mares Grand Cru
92 points
Candied red and dark fruits with odd, almost Cabernet-like flavors. Spicy with clean flavors and fine tannins. An assertive wine, yet very pretty and deep with traces of earth. Hard-structured finish. I really enjoyed this, though I'd imagine some purists would definitely not.

Flight 11 (2 notes)

This restaurant was actually in a hotel that the concierge was nice enough to show us around. We left jealous as the rooms were both larger and less expensive than our hotel in Beaune, and the hotel pool would have been absolutely precious in the heat.

A tasting at Domaine Dujac followed lunch. This was a really excellent tour - one of our best in any wine country. We were showed the Dujac vineyards, facilities, and caves by the charming Diana Seysses, followed by a tasting from both barrel (2005s) and bottle (2004s et al). Dujac has recent acquired some new vineyards including Malconsorts and Romanee St. Vivant in Vosne, and Chambertin in Gevrey. Though the 2005s had not quite finished malo yet (the Dujac cellars are relatively cold) we jumped at the chance to taste a few. The 2005 Dujac Pere et Fils Chambolle-Musigny has a dark fruit profile with good body for its level. The 2005 Dujac Clos St. Denis was clearly not finished with malo and had some asphalt type aromas with darker fruit and high-toned acidity. The 2005 Dujac Vosne-Romanee Aux Malconsorts 1er has a delicious red fruit profile with an amazing array of spices. It was quite full, ripe, and sappy and while still undergoing malo this was a very impressive wine. I think the Dujac style will lend itself incredibly well to Vosne, and I'll be on the lookout for both the Malconsorts and RSV when they're released.

The 2004 Dujac Morey St. Denis is lighter boded with balanced dark flavors and a firm finish. The 2004 Dujac Morey St. Denis 1er has a greater body and earthy notes but some greener olive-type notes. The 2004 Dujac Gevrey-Chambertin Aux Combottes 1er has a delicious red fruit profile, great balance, and firm precise character. Clearly this is a very good wine capable of lasting many years. The 2004 Dujac Charmes Chambertin showcases dark fruits in a streamlined, balanced package. The 2004 Dujac Clos de la Roche shows great potential and a wonderful tension between red and black fruits with no lack of ripeness whatsoever. The 1999 Dujac Clos de la Roche shows hints of ripe, dark fruits buried under a wall of structure. This bottle was in a rather awkward place and needs time.

There were a couple more wines that Mrs. Seysses opened for us in the cellars but offered to us to take back to the hotel later. I was particularly interested in how the 1976 Gevrey Aux Combottes might evolve, and it did turn into a very nice mature wine with a couple of hours of air in bottle:

White
2004 Domaine Dujac Morey St. Denis 1er Cru Monts-Luisants Blanc France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Morey St. Denis 1er Cru
87 points
Rich, ripe, and opulent melon and orange flavors with hints of banana. Tangy acidity. Never really fully focused or balanced flavors, and while I can't say it's really flabby, it does seem to walk that line that too many Côte de Nuits whites cross.
Red
1976 Domaine Dujac Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Aux Combottes France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru
89 points
Initially a quite meaty wine showing somewhat fierce tannins. With time wintergreen and roasted earth notes with old cherry and well-integrated flavors, though still a bit hard on the finish. Masculine, with plenty of character. Very nice, but time to drink.

Flight 12 (3 notes)

Dinner on our last night was back at Ma Cuisine. The food was, again, excellent and filling and was followed by an exotic 1960ish Chartruse Verte 'Tarragona' at the restaurant and a Ponsot Clos de la Roche back at the hotel.

White
2004 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis 1er Cru La Forest France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru
90 points
Full but steely lemon and restrained mineral notes with balanced length and a great tension on the palate. Refreshingly acidic and in need of significant bottle age. An excellent Chablis for its level.
Red
2002 Domaine Ghislaine Barthod / Barthod-Noëllat Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Véroilles France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru
90 points
Reticent nose shows dust and black cherry notes. Grapey on the palate, with rich young fruits. Forward, but with a classic structure and hard finish. A bit Vogue-like and very hard to read young. Needs lots of time.
Red
2002 Domaine Ponsot Clos de la Roche Vieilles Vignes France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Clos de la Roche Grand Cru
88 points
Candied red and black fruits, though tending more towards the latter. High-toned in the mouth with a tart red cherry liqueur finish. Fully structured and well built with fine tannins. Licorice-type flavors come across as quite odd.

Closing

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We left the next morning for five nights in Paris.

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