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Event: Tuesday Class at Lake Travis Wine Trader

What an interesting, impressive tasting, led by Micheal Lunceford of Ambiente, a smaller distributer here in Austin with a lovely portfolio. They represent Kermit Lynch here in the region, and if Micheal is any indication, they do so flawlessly.

Lake Travis Wine Trader supplied tasty nibbles to go with this wine class, which included tastes of 6 wines for $30, the median bottle price being $43. This is an excellent value for a tasting, in my opinion; usually a tasting will run $20-25 and you’ll taste 4 or 6 wines that are all in the mere $20 range, which is also interesting, but what I enjoy about the LTWT is that these people have super-expensive tastes! Them and me, we totally get that. There’s a regular group of Tuesday tasters, but they were surprisingly friendly and inclusive, considering how well they all seemed to know each other. Don’t be afraid that if you attend one of these classes alone, you’ll have no one to talk to.

I could easily do one post on each of these wines; they were all really interesting and delicious in their own right, but I think it’s also quite instructive to look at them all together, and since you weren’t able to join me, gentle reader, here’s what I noted:

Domaine de la Cadette “La Chatelaine” Vezelay 2005, $21

Domaine de la CadetteMais, q’est-ce que c’est? I’ve never heard of Vezelay. It was not indicated on our handy map of Burgundy, much to the dismay of others at the table as well. I now know that it’s actually pretty far from what most people think of as Burgundy: it’s southwest of Paris, in fact, and almost exactly west of Dijon. Golden straw in color. Chalk, pear, mineral, and white peach on the nose. Light-bodied on the tongue, with powerful mineral and granny smith apple. Interesting note of white grape juice in the back palate, with some white peach or nectarine lingering on the finish with the minerality. I was kind of expecting a Chablis, and was surprised at the lushness, but I liked it.

Evidently, the village of Vezelay is one of the lovelier villages in France, and the chapel there is supposed to house the remains of Mary Magdalen. A couple of crusades started there, like the third one.

Phillipe Colin “Sous Les Feilles” Montagny Premier Cru 2005, $35

Pale gold in color. The aroma is intensely perfumed, almost soapy in its floral, unctuous, fleshy richness. Rich butter on the palate with a tart lemon acidity, but a persistent finish with a nutty, almost smoky flavor, and then a long finish of All. Green. Apple.

This was a really neat contrast with the Vezelay: Kate Moss, followed by Marilyn Monroe. Micheal brought up the subject of how the French tend to taste a wine for its regional characteristics, and appreciate a good, say, Montagny, for demonstrating typically Montagny qualities.

Domaine Chignard “Les Morieres” Fleurie 2006, $26

Oh, lovely lovely wine! SO good.

Fuschia in color. Powerful floral aromas of lavender and violet, paired with crystaline red fruit smells of cranberry and pie cherry; makes you want to slap yo mama. To continue the actress/model metaphor, this wine is Katherine Hepbern in Bringing Up Baby: sassy, bright, blithe and cheerful. The palate is more elegant than the nose, with smoky plum and Ranier cherry flavors, tart and clean with a just hint of tannic grip.

As mentioned in my last post, this was my favorite wine of the evening. It’s a Cru Beaujolais, (which I invariably mis-spell as “cur,” heaven help me) and it was so super-nummy that I just want to drink Beaujolais all the time now. Gulp, gulp, gulp.

Phillipe Colin “Les Chenes” Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge 2005, $35

Yeah, so I’ve never had a red Chassagne-Montrachet before, but apparently it was only recently that the region moved to 60% white production. In ages past, this was red wine country.

Light garnet in color. Perfumed aroma, with raspberry and notes of sweet vanilla and oak. The palate is cranberry fruit, thyme and some quiet earth notes. An almost bergamot-inflected black tea tannic grip lends structure, and the pleasent herbal flavors linger on the finish. Very lovely, but I thought the oak on the nose obscured the fruit.

Domaine Maume “En Pallud” Gevrey Chambertin 2004, $59

Micheal tells us that Bertrand Maume is known to harvest his vineyards in multiple passes, only picking ripe clusters over a period of days. He’s also known for not replacing old vines until they just die, which would keep his production very low. Maume’s wines unfined and unfiltered.

In-your-face earthy, herbal character on the nose. Palate is also earthy, with tart blackberry and cherry flavors, but muted in that way you get with some fine French wines. Oolong and plum flavors on the finish, and a silkiness that’s very agreeable.

Domaine Lucien Boillot & Fils “Les Pruliers” Nuits St. Georges 2005, $83

vineyards of Nuits St. GeorgesSons Louis and Pierre are taking over the domaine from Pere Lucien, and they’re known for full-throttle Burgundy. Is that like being famous for being a loud whisperer? Or performing a flamboyant Japanese tea ceremony?

Color is dark red, almost opaque. The first bottle was corked, so another is blithely opened. Aroma is likefresh cranberries soaked in everclear, with intense smoke and mushroom, and lots of herb. The palate is quite acidic, with a slight metallic tone. The tannins are perceptable and almost scratchy, like fake satin. This needs more time in the bottle to smooth out and give up the good stuff.

Bonus wine: Alain Hudelot-Noellat “Les Petits Vougeots” Vougeot 2003

This was the best aged wine of the night. A 2002 Pommard was opened too, but I never got a look at the bottle. I liked this Vougeot better, anyway.

Pale garnet in color, with deep red center. Truffle (at last!) and wood smoke on the nose, with pie cherry aromas; this wine smells like the perfect autumn. The palate sends me to oolong tea again, and bittersweet plum. The acidity and tannin are in perfect balance, and the finish lingers for centuries. Well, maybe just minutes, but wow anyway. Gorgeous silky texture, just what I like in a great Burgundy. Impressive, if a little stand-offish.

I honestly wish I had the cash to get seriously into Burgundy, but hell, I can only afford to drink cru Beaujolais on special occasions. The group concluded a really remarkable tasting with a rousing debate about Oregonian Pinots vs. Burgundy, prices, and winemaking for region or style. What do you think, are Oregonian winemakers trying to Burgundify the Willamette Valley? And should they?

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