Chevillon (Nuits-Saint-Georges) are two of the top producers in their respective villages and in all of Burgundy. The wines bottled by each domaine are expensive, but they each make a wonderful passetoutgrains (a blend of Gamay and at least 1/3 Pinot). The 2006 bottling from Lignier is medium-bodied, elegant, and earthy. Chevillon’s version, also from 2006, is meatier and more powerful. Both wines reflect the style of the producer and the village of origin. Passetoutgrains is often overlooked, but, when made by a top winemaker, they are a fantastic value.
Domaine Robert Chevillon, along with Domaine Henri Gouges, is regarded as one of the top two producers in Nuits-Saint-Georges. The wines made by the estate are rich and powerful, the essence of the appellation. As expected, most of the estate’s production is vin rouge, but there is a small amount of Bourgogne Aligote made. I recently spotted a bottle of the 2007 Aligote and opened it with great curiosity. The wine has a delicate bouquet of white flowers and citrus. Medium-bodied and racy, it resembles a Chablis or Sancerre in texture and flavor. However, I was disappointed in the wine. It was a little thin and slightly bland, but to be fair, Nuits-Saint-Georges is not known for its Aligote.
Finding Corton is easy. It is impossible to miss the giant hill as one drives through the Cote d’Or. However, the New York restaurant bearing the same name is difficult to locate, even if you are staring right at it. The only indication of the restaurant’s location is the name stenciled in a neutral color on the small, main window. My wife and I walked right by Corton twice, which is a life threatening situation when the temperature is hovering near 10 degrees. The warm atmosphere of the restaurant was felt instantly as we entered the small space. The lighting and sound are mellow and the staff gracious.
Even though the restaurant is named for a famous appellation in Burgundy, I was most interested in the food at Corton. Paul Liebrandt , the executive chef, is one of the most skilled cooks in NYC. I was blown away by the foie gras dish he prepared at the La Paulee last March and was eager to taste his menu at Corton. Several starters arrived at the table and, although small, they were intense. That would be a theme for all the food served. The portions were restrained, but each of the dishes bursted with complex flavors. Liebrandt’s current froie gras preparation is coated in a beet spread and served with quince. The combination worked and thoroughly satisfied my fat tooth. Perhaps even better was the Violet Hill Farm Egg, which was presented on several plates. The dish included a serving of pig head which was outstanding. We both ordered the Painted Hills Beef entrée, also served on multiple plates. The beef, extremely dense and rich, was perfectly cooked. On the side was a stunningly flavorful serving of veal cheek. Since we still had wine in our glasses, I ordered a cheese plate, which was excellent. The chocolate tart, while very good, was slightly boring. A bigger disappointment was the Macoun Apple dessert. More savory than then sweet, the dish was dominated by a strong dose of rosemary.
While the food was the highlight of the evening, the wines were also very good. After an introductory glass of Champagne, I ordered a half bottle of 2005 Michel Bouzereau Meursault Les Grands Charrons. The wine is a good example of Meursault, slight nutty and rich on the palate. At the recommendation of the sommelier, we drank a 2000 Joseph Roty Clos Prieur Bas. The nose was musty at first, but that blew off and revealed nice earthy aromas. Like most wines from this vintage, the Roty is very soft and supple in the mouth. The vintage did not receive great press upon release, but the wines are very enjoyable at the moment and perfect for consumption in restaurants. The New York Times awarded Corton 3 stars and I would not be surprised if it received a 4 star in the future. Corton is an outstanding restaurant that will satisfy both the wine lover and the foodie.
Alain Gras is considered by many to be the finest producer in Saint-Romain, a village that is more known for its barrels than its wines. Not having tasted a wine from Gras, I recently purchased two cuvees, a white and a red. The 2006 Saint-Romain blanc is very polished and flavorful. Modern in style, the wine is elegant and surprisingly rich. It did not exhibit the rustic quality often attributed to the wines of Saint-Romain. I thoroughly enjoyed the wine and would seek out more. However, the Auxey-Duresses Vieilles Vignes rouge was disappointing. The vines supplying the grapes for this bottling are very old (100+), which increased my expectations, but the wine was light in body and rather weak. Saint-Romain generally produces better whites than reds and the same is true of Auxey-Duresses. Perhaps that explains the results.