There was rot in the vineyard in 2006. Selection was one of the ultimate safeguards for the wine in the Loire and in Burgundy, yet 2006 was a favorite vintage for me.
Landing in Beaune and walking out into the mist it was hard not to reminisce, except for one particular fact, the weather out in the northern part of France was mostly cool with a few spikes of heat, everything was late, just like Northern California.
"In fact, there are still peaches in the market," Russell said to me, while presenting me with the hunk of Comté (there's a new man in the market, he explained. lovely little crystalline bits, aged 34 months. Delicious.)
Welcome to an old-fashioned cool and wet vintage. It was freezing when I arrived. Like 40 degrees. It's shait that the Pinot Noir is the heartbreak grape, Burgundy has heartbreak weather. Then you taste the grapes, and it's more like heart throb.
This year they are small with great flavor and picked well, selected well, in the right hands of those who safeguard their name, the wines should be impressive, quiet and elegant. But it is too soon to tell.
The millerandage is what they're talking about here rather than what you'd think is the obvious, the rain and the rot in the vineyards.
grapes waiting for the vat at Domaine Fourrier.
Discarded grapes from Lafarge on the other side of the Cote, olnay. The grapes they did keep were beautiful, expect a small but beautiful vintage.
It was kind Jean-Marie to accept my visit during the harvest. I had never been to see the winemaker in Gevrey-Chambertin and it is always a privileged visit during this busy time. So walking from vat to vat, he told stories out of school. he revealed that when RMP jr, came to visit in the 90's and told his father he had to put his wine in 100% new oak, the dad showed RMP Jr. the door.
The domaine never has more than 20% new wood, to rotate in new barrels. There's low sulfur, no racking until bottling. No cold soaking (this year all of burgundy was cold soaked, that was the vintage. ) 99% of his production goes out of France, a shockingly high number of bottles. No wonder few in this country, even in Burgundy seem to know his name, one quite respected in America. Down in the cellar, a friend of mind took over, giving me a smattering of the 2009, a vintage I'm intrigued by for its oddity.
I had just tasted at Pacalet the day before so the '09 was in my palate. Right after the vintage last year his wines seemed lush and formed, now a year later, they've regained a freshness. As always the wines had a profound perfume. The Pommard spicy and in your face, the Gevrey _C always a little backward, the NSG, firm and fresh and masculine. The NSG 1er Cru was positively charming with a touch of sumac. The Lavaux St. Jacques was highly structures and very jumpy, alive and meaty. And as far as the Echezeaux his first vintage of it, all I wrote was elegance.
Tasting at Fourrier, the vintage once again reminded me, once again that they seem oddly fully formed at this stage, and I'm quite curious to discover what they will do in barrel. Fourrier is one of those who uses whole cluster, encouraging the carbonic, as he wants the fragrance of the terroir to come out. One of my favorites were the Combes Aux Moines and the Clos St. Jacques. The former retained lovely acidity with a fresh spice (exotic) and a killer long ride on the end. THe CSJ, was ethereal yet grounded. The Griotte was crazy powerful, will be interesting to see this after bottling and fifteen years down the line.
I'm mostly holed up, writing, which is sad because this is the time to pick and poke, I want to be handing my grapes over to the man with the hutte on his back, I want to be slogging along in Wellies, just like the others I see all up the Cote D'or. But at least my Vancouver friend, who was working the vendange at Fourrier, took me for a misty walk in Clos St. Jacques.
Muddy, difficult with one pair of pants for the rest of my time here, I came out a mess, but worth it. Rousseau and Esmonin still haven't picked, are they waiting for a breeze to blow the humidity away, or is it the, I'm the last to pick game?