"Which one?" the gentleman asked me.
"Jayer," I said. Quite frankly I didn't even note the producer or the year on the Meursault alternative. There was no choice.
No matter what you think of my life, this curtain or the box scenario doesn't happen that often. Becky and Russell spoil me and I've drunk beautifully there, enriched and educated. But at this dinner, with a gentleman I barely knew though like immensely, I was embarrased at my reaction.
I acted like a country girl who saw Paris for the first time, or the first time a knew someone I was taken with was also taken with me. Or the nights that I wished dawn would never come. It's inexplicable and giddy and all the while trying not to be gauche and to act as, well, I drink Jayer all the time.
I have scavenged Jayers after La Paulées, draining what I could from the clunky dregs at the bottom of the bottle from table #1. I've wondered if they were fakes and wondered why I wasn't moved. But the opportunity to sit with a bottle from the legendary producer at dinner and contemplate it and perhaps understand.
I wasn't taking notes so I can't tell you a think about the way it smelled or tasted. Does it make a difference? I could write something like this note, but I found nothing like this gentleman's perceptions in the wine, nor would it make me want to drink it. It is in a wine like this that an experience makes a difference, a tasting note doesnt.
Some was poured. I couldn't wait to put my nose in it. "So much for a lousy year," I exclaimed.
In 1994 I was back in New York City. I had been seeing RB for just over a year and that fall was a huge torential mess, not just in Burgundy at harvest but in my life. Torment. Drama. I weighed 92 pounds and terribly confused, just making my way into the world of wine in a more serious way. I had yet to make my first visit to Burgundy. I wouldn't reach those limestoned hilled until 2001. But over there, in Burgundy it was a vintage that Michael Broadbent said he didn't know what to make of.
Their summer was going splendidly, a warm year and a healthy crop, until the pre-harvest rains started. And started. And rained. By harvest it had dried out, but the damage was done. And Henri, went to work in his part of the Grand Cru Echézeaux vineyard in the southern end, in the climat of Les Cruots ou Vignes Blanches.
The press was unfavorable. Back in those days before I spent time with winemakers and walking the vines, I believed what I read. A bad vintage meant avoid. Now, I know better. Things can go wrong but all a bad vintage means is yields and how much work it was to get a beauty into the bottle.
When I chose my bottle, I was prepared for curiosity, not to fall in love. I was prepared for a flirt. Not to fall into the glass and be deboned. Because, I love stems in wine and Jayer used them not. I'm suspicious of 100% new oak and cold soaks. But the rest? Good viticulture, low sulfur natural fermentations.
It goes back to the importance of no dogma. The wine maker chooses their way of interpreting nature and in that bottle I was moved. It was bricking for sure, it was time to drink, for sure, but it did not disappear, it continued to deepen, take on weight, express. The genies came out of the bottle. The smell was deep and profound. The edges and tannins and been rounded and smoothed but the texture and tannin and structure was there in its brickishness. The aftertaste drove through the stoplight and all of the sudden there was an MG racing along side.
In the miracle of nature, it was perfect with Floyd Cardoz's celery root and cauliflower, sweetening the winter salad. But who needed food.
With great gratitude, thank you.