Monterey County Winemakers' Celebration
In This Issue
On its surface, this is just another tasting report on a bunch of wines united by a common theme: in this case, red Burgundies, many of them still too young for maximum enjoyment, from the impressive vintage of 2005.
The subtext, though, the organization of this tasting, offers a useful lesson for the serious wine taster: By assembling a panel of local sommeliers, chefs, a few dedicated "civilians" and your humble scribe and agreeing to share the cost of the wine equally among participants, our group of eight was able to sample a much broader selection of interesting wines than any of us would have been likely to afford on our own.
As a further lesson, don't believe everything you read about Burgundy prices: While the Burgundies tasted (and one California "ringer" thrown in to keep us honest) didn't include the most sought-after "cult" Burgs - no Romanée-Conti in this tasting - the range of retail prices fell into more affordable territory than some of the scare stories about 2005 being reserved for hedge-fund managers might suggest.
Quickly told, here's my report on the dozen Burgundies tasted and the "ringer." The tasting was "single blind," which in non-scientific tasting terminology means that participants were aware of the identities of all the wines, but were served in unmarked glasses so we wouldn't know which glass held which wine.
All wines were similar in their clear garnet color, so further visual descriptions are given only where they varied from the norm. Prices given are estimated retail, calculated from restaurant wine-list pricing.
Joseph Voillot 2005 Bourgogne Vieilles Vignes ($20)
Shy, something off in the nose; citrus, no Pinot character, tart and twangy. Least attractive wine of the flight.
Jean Luc Dubois 2005 Savigny-les-Beaune "Les Picotins" ($28)
Delicious red fruit, cherry and apple-skin aromas. Velvety, tart, high in acidity but accessible, ready to drink. (Tasted April 11, 2007 with generally similar impressions.)
Jean Garaudet 2005 Monthelie ($28)
Darker garnet than most. Shy nose, distant bing cherries; tart and tannic, stony. Good balance but closed, needs time. (I had tasted another bottle of this wine April 18, 2007, and found it much more open, as one might expect of a Monthelie. Bottle variation?)
Joseph Voillot 2005 Pommard Vieilles Vignes ($48)
Red cherries, more open than most. Bright fruit, minerals, very high acidity in the finish.
Joseph Voillot 2005 Volnay Vieilles Vignes ($48)
Red fruit, rather herbaceous, an earthy whiff of leather. Mouth-filling, acidic and astringently tannic.
Joseph Voillot 2005 Volnay Premier Cru "Les Champans" ($70)
Shy, almost no scent at first, but vigorous swirling brings up a little sour-cherry fruit and a hint of limestone. Fresh and nicely balanced flavor more accessible than the nose, good acidity over a core of stony minerality.
Lucien Muzard et Fils 2005 Santenay "Champ Claude" Vieilles Vignes ($30)
Shy, faint red fruit and a hint of brown sugar. Acidic but nicely balanced. Closed and tight, needs time.
Lucien Muzard et Fils 2005 Santenay Premier Cru "Maladière" ($36)
A whiff of herbaceous "tomato-skin" leads to brief speculation that this might be the California wine, but closer analysis soon sets that straight: Ripe and juicy tart-cherry fruit, more open than most, tart acidity and smooth tannins, with fruit extract, subtle complexity and beautiful balance despite its youth. Top wine of the flight for me.
Lucien Muzard et Fils 2005 Santenay Premier Cru "Clos des Mouches" ($36)
Darker garnet color than most. Good, subtle cherries, tart, mineral-driven, clean and long. Marked as one of my favorites of the flight before the unveiling.
Besson 2005 Beaune Premier Cru "Champs Pimont" ($35)
A bit darker garnet than most in the flight. Subtle, delicate red fruit, floral and spicy notes. Very tart and tannic, immature.
Jean Luc Dubois 2005 Premier Cru "Cent Vignes" ($35)
Pomegranate, limestone, more open than some on the nose and palate; bright red fruit, tart acidity, puckery tannins on the finish. Another favorite.
Gérard Raphet 2005 Chambolle-Musigny ($52)
A whiff of brown sugar at first; swirling in the glass brings up juicy cherries. Tart cherry and red-berry fruit, elegant and appealing. Another personal favorite in this flight.
Littorai 2005 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($45)
Added to the single-blind flight as a "ringer," this California Pinot Noir stood out rather obviously with its strongly "cherry cola" character and herbaceous red fruit. Mouth-filling flavors follow the nose, much more bold and in-your-face than the Burgundies.
AFTERTHOUGHTS: As we expected, many of these wines, mostly the bigger, higher-end bottlngs, were immature, closed and monolithing and not showing particularly well at this point in their evolution. Give them time, if you own them, although they do tend to open up somewhat and would show better with appropriate food.
The California wine, although a respected label with a reputation for "Burgundian" style, popped right out at all the tasters: Its ripe, potent and comparatively one-dimensional "cherry cola" herbaceousness was substantially different from the consistently more subtle and elegant Burgundies, and in that context, less appealing.
FIND THESE WINES ONLINE:
Check prices and find vendors by plugging in specific search terms on Wine-Searcher.com:
Monterey County 15th Annual Winemakers' Celebration
The Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association, MCVGA, will be hosting the Central Coast's leading outdoor summer wine festival that exclusively features Monterey County wineries on Saturday, August 11, 2007 from 12—4 p.m., at the Historic Custom House Plaza in downtown Monterey. The festivities include over forty-five Monterey County wineries joining forces to showcase their world class wines.
The Eldredge & Rossi Band will entertain wine enthusiasts as they dance to upbeat tunes on the Monterey Bay. The silent auction, always an attraction at the event, will include mixed cases and library wines, spa getaways, and golf and hotel packages.
Headline seminars will include a Wine 101 workshop and a Pinot Noir tasting of the award winning Monterey County Pinots from the Santa Lucia Highlands.
Along with everyone's familiar and favorite Monterey County wineries, there are several new wineries that will be participating in the 2007 tasting. A sampling includes Belle Glos, Figge Cellars, Mer Soleil, Mission Trail, Ronan Cellars, and Szalay Winery.
Tickets are $35 per person in advance, or $40 per person at the event. Ticket price includes a Monterey Wine Country commemorative wineglass, tastings at the winery tables, participation at the seminars, and entertainment. Guests can upgrade to a 15th Annual Anniversary glass and enjoy the reserve sampling wines for $50 in advance or $55 at the door. Designated driver tickets are available for $15, and designated drivers will receive a souvenir glass and unlimited non-alcoholic drinks provided by Southern Wine & Spirits of California, Inc.
Call (831) 375-9400 for tickets and information, or visit online at http://www.montereywines.org
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