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Metropolitan Pavilion
My journey to La Paulee commenced as I entered onto the NJ turnpike and headed north towards New York. Momentum for this event had begun to build several months before when it was announced that Jean Francois Coche would be attending. Unfortunately, Monsieur Coche’s father and father-in-law both passed away on the same day and he could not make the trip. His wines, however, still made the voyage across the sea and that was reason enough to attend. I parked my car on 23rd street and made the short walk down to the Metropolitan Pavilion on 18th. The event started at noon, and by 12:10 the room was buzzing. I began tasting at the table where Jean-Marc Roulot, of Domaine Roulot, was pouring his wines. The 2007 Bourgogne was very fresh and vibrant. From the reports I have seen, this mineral wine is typical of the vintage. Two 2006 Meursault lieu-dit, Tillets and Meix Chavaux, were being shown and both were excellent. Jean-Marc commented that the Meix Chavaux is always the wine with the highest acid level in his portfolio. The 2006 Meursault, 1er Cru, Perrieres was much tighter on the nose, but it was by far the richest and most concentrated of the cuvees. Despite the fact that it was not showing much on this day, I am sure that this wine has a bright future.

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.

 
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Anne-Claude Leflaive
Perhaps I should have called it a day, found a park and spent the afternoon staring into the sky pondering the brilliant wines of Coche-Dury. I might have seriously considered that option if I was at any other tasting, but there were other wines from some of Burgundy’s greatest domaines that needed to be sampled.  Domaine Leflaive was the next on the list. Anne-Claude Leflaive, with her distinctive white hair, was standing at the table.  I thought about starting a conversation with Ann-Claude, but those interactions usually prove to be awkward. Instead, I proceeded to suck down the range of 2006’s that were being offered, including the Meursault, 1er Cru, Sous le Dos d’Anne. I had forgotten that this domaine, so synonymous with Puligny-Montrachet, makes a Meursault. The nose was tight, but the palate revealed layers of ripe, tropical fruit. Moving on to the heart of the domaine’s portfolio, I tasted the Puligny-Montrachet, 1er Cru, Clavoillon. Domaine Leflaive is the largest owner in this site, with 4.79 hectares out of the 5.59. Only the parcels owned by the Chavy brothers, Alain and Jean-Louis, prevent this vineyard from being a monopole. The Clavoillon had more weight and structure then the Meursault, but it also possessed good minerality. Surprisingly, the very good Puligny-Montrachet, 1er Cru, Les Folatieres, which is higher up on the hill, did not show the minerality of the Clavoillon. Les Pucelles is just a premier cru in classification, but it is often priced like a grand cru. Leflaive’s bottling is the most famous and expensive from this site and, though young, it showed a lot of potential. Cool climate fruit flavors were framed by a strong mineral backbone and bright acidity. Although quite tight at the moment, the wine seemed to be the most complete of the range, which was very impressive.

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.

 
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Dominique Lafon
Dominique Lafon was absent when I walked up the Comtes des Lafon station. There was a crowd, but luckily I knew the person pouring behind the table (Shawn Dore, former Wine Director of the Borgata). The Macon, Clos de la Crochette was a nice, lively wine that was well made, but it seemed a little pedestrian in the company of the other wines in this room. More interesting was the 2006 Meursault, Clos de la Barre. The wine was delicately mineral and pure on the palate. The 2006 Meursault, 1er Cru, Charmes was bigger, rounder and much riper.  Despite its weight, the wine was very well balanced. The last wine on the table was the Volnay, 1er Cru, Santenots du Milieu. I really liked the fresh, bright profile of this wine.  Monsieur Lafon showed up as just as I was getting ready to move on. I tried several times to take a photo of him as he spoke with tasters, but each time he turned his head at the last second. Finally, I got a decent shot on the fourth take, but Dominique seemed to become a little annoyed by the repeated flashing.

 
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Pierre Morey
Before hitting the food, I made one last stop at Domaine Pierre Morey. For many years, Pierre Morey exploited the Montrachet and three premier cru sites in Meursault belonging to Domaine Comtes des Lafon, but that metayer arrangement came to an end in 1994. Monsieur Morey also worked at Domaine Leflaive, but now he is focused exclusively on his own estate and its negociant arm (Morey-Blanc). The Saint-Aubin, 1er Cru, 2006 from Morey-Blanc was very nice, but seemed a little subdued. The domaine bottlings from the Meursault lieu-dit Les Tesson and the premier cru Charmes both left a similar impression. Each of the wines presented were very good, but they paled in comparison to the wines I had already tasted.

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.

 
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Sylvain Pitiot
It was nearing 2:30, which was when I had planned on leaving in order to stay fresh for the evening event. I felt obligated, however, to taste the three vertical of Clos des Tart that was being shown by winemaker Sylvain Pitiot. I tasted a couple vintages of Clos des Tart at the La Paulee Grand Tasting in 2006, but I did not like the style of the wines. I recalled that the wines had had a distinct roasted quality to them. The first wine I tasted on this occasion was the La Forge de Tart, which is made up of the young vines from the Clos. Although a little too tannic, the wine was fine. Less impressive was the 2006 Clos des Tart, which was tasted like an overripe, alcoholic brew. The 2002 showed some additional mature notes, but it was also a victim of excessively ripe fruit. My notes for the 2001 Clos des Tart where similar to the 2002. These vintages all received excellent scores from Allen Meadows, whom I respect a great deal, but I do not get it. I really hated these wines.

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.

 


Comments

06/06/2014 23:38

Domaine Coche-Dury is a French wine grower and producer. It is based in Meursault, in the Côte de Beaune wine region of Burgundy, France. Jean-François Coche-Dury produces some of the very greatest white wines coming out of Burgundy, which have even achieved cult status. Thanks for the Article.

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