DRC Tasting at Classics Restaurant

Tasted October 12, 2005 by psmith with 1,826 views

Introduction

This was an even organized by Classics restaurant in Cleveland. Jen and I saw it as a rare opportunity to try some wines normally out of our price range. The dinner was well organized and of very high quality with great parings. Sommelier Manuel Nieves and Wilson-Daniels rep Brian Lynch were gracious hosts and gave a thorough introduction to the wines.

Flight 1 - Arrival and Amuse Bouche (1 note)

The evening started with a Champagne from the always wonderful Salon. Jen and I enjoyed a couple of glasses with great starters while waiting for the other 16 guests.

White - Sparkling
1995 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut France, Champagne
A young, light beer color with an ultra-fine bead. Elegant nose of white flowers and baking bread with some crisp, just ripe apples. Austere and youthful on the palate. Lighter bodied than I'm used to with Salon, but very round and integrated on the frount. Good length that exposes some heat on the finish. Loads of acidity, should age nicely. ***+

Flight 2 - Mallard Duck Terrine "Alex Humbert" (Master Chef from Maxim's Paris) Vintage port and truffle aspic, mesclun greens, pistachio oil vinaigrette (1 note)

A great classic country French dish with an equally great wine. Those who question the very-good '01 Burgundy vintage should be forced to try this wine.

Red
2001 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Echezeaux France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Echezeaux Grand Cru
A slightly reticent nose of roses and sweet candied strawberry and cherries with some allspice and clove oak influence. Wonderfully round and mouthfilling, and fuller than any Echezeaux I've had from DRC. Beautifully textured without any hollow parts. Fruit profile reminds me of an '02 burg which covers some of the firmer '01 tannins and build. Great Echezeaux! ****

Flight 3 - Poularde demi-devil, supreme sauce, Albufera rice, petits legumes glaces (1 note)

The wine chosen to pair with this dish, an '02 DRC Montrachet, was a star. I kept my 3-4 oz. glass until the very end of the night, over which it continued to evolve and grow.

White
2002 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Montrachet France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Montrachet Grand Cru
Initially a terribly young nose of lemon, butter and chalky minerallity. A palate that's wonderfully rich and creamy with laser-like focus and an almost painful acidity that keeps everything perfectly in balance. The nose develops a more butterscotch profile with time, certainly very fat and undoubtedly the "biggest" wine in the DRC lineup. A super-long finish that pulses with additional intensity and depth. Wonderful. *****

Flight 4 - Squab "en Croute" with braised cabbage, black truffle, and foie gras sauce (1 note)

Unquestionably the pairing, and dish, of the night. The subtle gaminess of the food complemented this dish wonderfully and brought out a sweetness in the wine characteristic of a far younger Echezeaux.

Red
1989 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Echezeaux France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Echezeaux Grand Cru
Throwing a bit of sediment which gives the wine a somewhat cloudy appearance. Some underbrush and decaying leaves, still somewhat vibrant ripe strawberry notes. Rounder and more youthful palate with a strong family resemblance to the '01. A sappy, medium-bodied Echezeaux with fully integrated wood. Quite masculine. ****-

Flight 5 - A selection of French cheeses from master fromager Claude Lauxerrois (1 note)

As good as the cheeses were, I felt it a shame to not taste the '02 Romanee Conti without food. I held my glass the remainder of the night over which this young wine developed layer upon layer of exotic complexity. While it's often said that it takes 20-25 years for Romanee-Conti to surpass La Tache in its greatness, it was clearly the star of the reds tonight.

Red
2002 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Romanée-Conti Grand Cru
Surprisingly light color. Initially a very red but rather primary nose of strawberry and, above all, exotic Vosne spices. Creamy and round on the palate with length that reveals hidden layers of spicy complexity. Develops a real violet kick on the finish and a perfumed nose that could be described as "chemical" much in the way (but obviously different) that a great Condrieu or Gewurtz can. Very feminine, very young, very 2002 in it's accessibility, and with a depth that few wines will ever achieve. ****+
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Flight 6 - Chocolate milles-feuilles, wild berry marmalade, borbon vanilla sauce (1 note)

A well crafted dessert, but a train-wreck of a pairing. DRC wines have a characteristic wonderful sweetness that's totally destroyed by the chocolate in this dish. I figured this would be the case and was sure to enjoy a full glass of the La Tache before having seconds and trying the dessert. This only further verifies my opinion that chocolate and wine are just not good bedfellows, if it must be done the wine needs to be sweeter than the chocolate.

Red
2001 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, La Tâche Grand Cru
Bright, candied red fruits with plenty of underbrush and a darker black cherry streak with Asian spice. Velvety, and with a good core, but so compressed and painfully restrained which comes through on the short finish. Largely structured with grape tannin and characteristic '01 acidity. Plenty of potential, but should be forgotten for 10+ years. ***+

Flight 7 - Coffee service (1 note)

An additional wine presented before the checks. I don't think Sauternes. works with chocolate either so I gave my desser back, skipped the coffee, and enjoyed the d'Yquem on it's own.

White - Sweet/Dessert
1997 Château d'Yquem France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
A forward, fat d'Yquem. Marmalade and candied apricot nose. A spongy "cotton candy" mouthfeel with intense fruit, good concentration, but slightly deficient in the acidic backbone. A solid wine, but a very mediocre d"Yquem. ***

Flight 8 - After dinner wines (4 notes)

After the tasting ended at about 10:00, Jen and I were still perfectly coherent and looking for more to drink. A few other guests stayed for what turned into a blowout end to a great tasting, with Manuel playing the exceedingly generous host by pulling out wine after wine as glasses were emptied. In response to one guest's remark that he "hadn't had a good '00 Napa Cab" Manuel brought a blind wine which turned out to be a Jen-identified '00 Silver Oak Napa which I didn't get around to taking notes on. While it probably didn't change many opinions on the vintage (which I happen to think produced some very good wines), it was solid with cherries, oak, and a characteristic '00 green streak. Jen and I left at about 1:00 after polishing off a "palate cleansing" Krug Rose while the other headed out for even more. Thanks again to Manny for his generosity!

Red
2002 Emmanuel Rouget Echezeaux France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Echezeaux Grand Cru
Dark and very young with black cherry and violet notes hiding behind an ample wall of structure. Quite tannic in its youth, without the playful sweetness of the DRCs. Still, a good core with plenty of potential. ****-
Red
2001 Gagliole Rosso Italy, Tuscany, Colli della Toscana Centrale IGT
Sangiovese-heavy Italian nose showing animal furs, cherry, and manure. Round and with good fruit density but a hideously large tannic build that lasts for minutes and makes the wine far less enjoyable than it could be. **-
Red
2002 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage
A bold, spicy, white pepper nose showing roasted meat with blackberries and lots of clove and cinnamon woody spice. Some mint comes through on the palate which gets a bit hollow in the middle followed by some finishing heat. Good core of fine-grain tannins. A perfectly solid wine with a complex profile but lacking fruit density and propped up by wood which will keep it from lasting. ***
Rosé - Sparkling
N.V. Krug Champagne Brut Rosé France, Champagne
Early-mid 2000s label. Barely light salmon in color. Just a hint of strawberry comes through a profile of bread, ripe baking apples, and Krug sherried notes. Seemingly crisper and more austere than the Grande Cuvee, and turning a bit sour on the finish in its youth. ***+

Closing

The wines were, of course, very young and none, with the possible exception of the '89 Echezeaux was showing it's full potential; however, this was a wonderful experience and, without question, the most memorable Wednesday night dinner I've ever been fortuante enough to participate in.

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