A pristine bottle of Domaine Maume 1988 Charmes-Chambertin, Grand Cru (from vines in Mazoyeres-Chamerbertin, which can be and often is labeled as Charmes) was a fascinating lesson in how a wine can evolve while sitting in a glass. When first opened, the wine showed a high level of acidity and biting finish. The texture began to soften after a half hour or so and all the elements seemed to come together. A beautiful red cherry fruit appeared and the wine really seemed to speak of its origins. The last third of the bottle tasted drastically different. The once charming fruit turned toward orange rind and the finish became coarse. I enoyed the ride as this wine took one turn after another and in the end this proved to be a fascinating bottle. A 1989 Maume, Mazis-Chambertin, Grand Cru (from 70 year old vines in Mazis-Bas) drunk in November supplied an entirely different experience. Big and wild are two descriptors that pop to mind regarding this wine. The fruit played a secondary role to the burly tannins and chunky texture. I would like to think that the wine was just too young, but it may be the case that it will never settle down (I feel the same way about a bachelor friend of mine). Regardless, I throughly enjoyed the experience of working through this bottle. The only other wine I have tasted from Maume was a 1999 Gevery-Chambertin, 1er Cru (a blend of 85 year old vines in Les Cherbaudes and 50 year old vines in Le Perriere), which was interesting, but very tight and hard to enjoy.
I have been told that the Maume cellar was classically old school in appearance (i.e. dirty and full of character), but I am not sure if that is still true. Bertrand Maume took over from his father Bernard back in the early 90’s and has apparently refined the style of the wines from this domaine (the ‘99, however, seemed typical). The Maume bottles may contain a more elegant and polished product these days, but there was something unique about those made by the old man. Perhaps the wines I tasted were not great, but they were one of a kind. In other words, they were special.