Terrified that the wines would run out quickly and I would miss the boat, I raced over to the Domaine Coche-Dury table. Well known sommeliers Richard Betts (Master Sommelier, The Little Nell) and Rajat Parr (Michael Mina) where pouring the wines, all from 2006. The intense aromas of the village Meursault showed some wood, but it was not overwhelming. On the palate the wine was rich and full of ripe, concentrated fruit. The Meursault, Les Chevalieres showed more oak on the nose and in the mouth. While it was more concentrated than the village cuvee, the Chevalieres did not show the same intensity of fruit. I actually preferred the village. The Meursault, Les Rougeots was profound. Beautifully balanced, the wine was packed with concentrated, sweet fruit flavors, yet still seemed restrained. Mr. Parr was pouring the Meursault, 1er Cru, Les Caillerets from a huge, curved Riedel decanter. Of the four wines, this cuvee had the strongest presence of minerals. Everything about this impressive wine was more intense, including the acidity. I have tasted the Bourgogne form Coche-Dury on a few occasions and was greatly impressed each time, but the bottles poured at this event blew me away. The wines made by Jean-Francois Coche-Durry are not only great, but also unique. Coche makes intense, richly flavored wines that never come across as being heavy or one-dimensional. There were many top level winemakers in the room at this event, but the only genius was unfortunately absent.
I made a slight diversion and wondered over to the Chandon de Briailles table to say hello to Claude de Nicolay Drouhin. On the way, I walked pasted Daniel Johnnes (founder of La Paulee NYC) and Larry Stone (the former sommelier of the now closed Rubicon restaurant in San Francisco). The room was packed with people, a large number of which were top wine professionals from around the country. My company represents Domaine Chandon de Briailles in several states, so I have visited the domaine multiple times. I had tasted the 2006’s from barrel and, in the effort to preserve my palate, I limited myself to two wines at the table. The Pernand-Vergelesses premier cru Illes des Vergelesses is one my favorite vineyards, it part because of its outstanding quality to price ratio. In top vintages, Illes des Vergelesses can produce wines that flirt with grand cru quality. Chandon de Briailles is the largest owner in this vineyard and produces a white and red cuvee. Despite being rich in texture, the 2006 blanc seemed bright and fresh due to a strong mineral presence. The fruit was slightly tropical and overall, the wine was delicious. Compared with the other reds being served in the room, the rouge was remarkably open and fragrant. The wine possessed earthy, red fruits with an elegant, long finish. Domaine Chandon de Briailles owns vineyards which are off the radar of most wine consumers and thus the estate has remained grossly underrated.
Domaine Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey’s table was not too crowded so I slipped in for a quick strike. The Saint-Aubin, 1er Cru, La Chateniere, 2007 was very mineral and full of fruit. I was blown away by the power and complexity of this wine. The straight Puligny-Montrachet, 2006 was nice, but was seemed like a letdown after the Saint-Aubin. Similarly, the Chassagne-Montrachet, 1er Cru, Les Champs Gain, 2006 was very good, but it did not standout. My main reason for stopping at the table was to taste the Batard-Montrachet, Grand Cru, 2006. The aromas were not tropical, which is typical of many wines from this vintage, rather they were reserved and fresh. Bigger and richer than any of the proceeding wines, the Batard remained very well balanced. I was not blown away by the wine, but it was very well made. An interesting side note, all the wines at this table were sealed by wax. I wish more estates would adopt this practice. Collectors are constantly reporting on bulletin boards that their white Burgundies are prematurely oxidizing, but one estate rarely mentioned is Raveneau. Maybe it is just a coincidence, but Raveneau bottles all their wines with a wax seal. I certainly would feel more comfortable cellaring a white Burgundy with this type of closure.
I joined the line at the Bar Boulud station, where the selection of pates and terrines was stunning. The ingredients were right up my alley, headcheese, rabbit, pork, etc. Daniel Boulud imported a master Charcutier, Sylvian Gasdon, from France when he opened Bar Boulud and his skills were on full display at this event. The pates and terrines are so good, that gourmand extraordinaire Robert Parker recently called them the finest he has ever eaten. I was not counting, but I am pretty sure I consumed enough calories to get me through the week. There were other good food options, including a duck meatball prepared by Cru restaurant, but I needed to regain my focus and continue tasting.
Domaine de L’Arlot, which I visited in 2004, is a domaine that I rarely get to taste. The first wine was the shockingly good 2006 Cote-de-Nuits-Villages, Clos du Chapeau. Deep red fruits dominated the nose and palate of this delicious wine. Much tighter and showing more tannin was the 2006 Nuits-Saint-Georges, 1er Cru, Clos de L’Arlot, rouge, which is a monopole of the estate. The 2006 Nuits-Saint-Georges, 1er Cru, Clos-des-Forets-Saint-Georges, also a monopole, was similarly structured, but the fruit was darker. Perhaps the most interesting wine at the entire tasting was the 2006 Nuits-Saint-George, Clos de L’Arlot, blanc. Only a handful of domaines produce a Nuits-Saint-Georges blanc and in several cases it is from mutated Pinot Noir grapes. L’Arlot’s cuevee is 95% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Gris. The wine was richly textured and full of red fruits.
Clive Coates has written very positively about Domaine Alain Burguet, which is based in Gevrey-Chambertin, but I had never tried a wine from this estate. With that in mind, I was happy to see that Alain was in attendance at La Paulee and eager to taste the wines. Unfortunately, I did not like the wines. Four 2006 cuvees were shown; Bourgogne Les Pince Vin, Gevrey-Chambertin Place des Loice, Gevrey-Chambertin Mes Favorites and Clos des Beze Grand Cru. The wines were all dark in color and full of sweet fruit. I would describe these wines as modern, but not in the sense that they show a lot of new oak. Rather, they were super concentrated and ripe. I like Burgundies in all styles, but these wines were too new world for me.
I loved the wines from Mugneret-Gibourg as much as I disliked those from Burguet. John Gillman has called Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg one of the top five estates in Burgundy, and I would be inclined to agree with him. Each wine released by this estate is absolutely seductive. I love the fragrant, silky style employed by the sisters Marie-Andree and Marie-Christine Mugneret. The 2006 Vosne-Romanee and 2006 Nuits-Saint-Georges, 1er Cru, Chaignots were both beautifully balanced, seamless wines. The 2006 Echezeaux, Grand Cru is made from old vines in two parcels, Les Rouges du Bas (70 year old vines) and Les Quarter de Nuits (40 year old vines). The wine was silky and concentrated on the palate, with a core of dark, red fruits. Interestingly, I asked one of the sisters why part of Les Quarter de Nuits was Grand Cru and the rest village. She just shrugged her shoulders. I have tasted many wines from the Clos-de-Vougeot, but only on a few occasions have I been impressed. The 2006 version from Mugneret-Gibourg is the best example to have crossed my lips. Sourced from 55 year old vines near the main building, the wine was powerful and very complex.
I grabbed a chocolate brownie from restaurant Daniel’s station and headed out the front door into a blast of sunlight. One of my favorite espresso bars, Telegraphe, was located a few doors down and I popped in for a quick double shot. After reviewing the list of wines and jotting down a few notes, I headed back to the garage. I pulled out onto 23rd street and began the drive to my boss’s house in the Bronx, where I would be spending the night. If the traffic was light, I would have about an hour to change, brush my teeth and mentally prepare for the Gala Dinner (i.e. Mecca of Wine). As I drove up the Westside Highway, I kept thinking that I had already tasted enough great Burgundy to last me until the next La Paulee, in 2011. I also felt a sense of regret for having attended the walk around tasting. From this moment forward, I am officially a diehard fan of the wines of Coche-Dury and I can not afford a single bottle.