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During my recent trip to France I had the pleasure of dining with Claude de Nicolay Drouhin and her husband Frederic Drouhin at their house outside Savigny-les-Beaune. The evening started with a 2001 Corton blanc from Chandon de Briailles (Claude’s family domaine) that was served blind. Corton blancs tend to be tropical in flavor, but this wine was surprisingly mineral and restrained.  Frederic, the President of the Executive Board of Joseph Drouhin, grilled some fantastic steaks on their fireplace and they were served with a 1978 Valet Freres Gevrey-Chambertin. The bottle was purchased that afternoon at Maison Pierre Bouree in Gevrey. Valet Freres is an alternative label used by the estate, but the wines are the same as those labeled Pierre Bouree. Considering the age and modest appellation, the wine was surprisingly still alive. The nose hinted at oxidation, but that faded as the wine sat in the glass. In the mouth, the flavors were earthy and tart. Inspired by the older bottle, Frederic disappeared into the cellar and returned with a bottle wrapped in a brown bag. The color was bricking at the rim, but deep red at the core. Although obviously mature, the nose was powerful. The flavors were deep and persistent on the palate. I guessed that wine was a grand cru, possibly a Musigny from a really good vintage like 1959. It turned out to be a 1971 Joseph Drouhin Richebourg. Frederic was shocked that the wine was so good. 1971 was an extremely difficult harvest and produced few legendary wines. I believe that I was still smiling when I woke up the next morning.

 


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