Last Thursday, March 11th, the San Francisco Wine Center (SFWC) crew, along with a class full of wine enthusiasts and SFWC’s members, kick started the La Paulée Burgundy celebration week with an awesome night of Burgundy Pinot Noirs. Jordan Mackay, our instructor, shared fascinating tales of Burgundy as we sipped through 9 hand-selected reds from the Cote de Beaune. Brian, the SFWC’s owner, personally hand selected those wines for the night.
We had several wines from the great 2010 vintage (known to be the last great vintage of Burgundy). We learned a Burgundy red could be “honest” – that’s how Jordan described the Paul Pernot Pommard Les Noizons 1999. We also swirled and swirled the Domain Bruno Clavelier Corton Le Rognet Grand Cru 2010 and debated “to de-stem or not to de-stem” which is often the key question among Burgundy’s legendary wine makers in a particular vintage.
We started the night with Masion Leroy Cote de Beaune 1990. The Cote de Beaune appellation covers the red wines from a smaller subset of the vineyards around Beaune than the more traditional Cote de Beane Village designation. Leave it to the legendary Leroy to make even their Cote de Beaune so special and age worthy! With aromas of red fruits and ripe cherries, it was truly a humble yet inspiring start for the night.
Then we moved to Jean-Claude Boisset Santenay Clos Rousseau 1er Cru 2006. The Santenay appellation is located to the south of the legendary Chassagne-Montrachet on the southern slopes of the Cote D’Or. The wine had silky and round tannins. Jordan told us that they let the wine macerate for 3 weeks which makes the tannins so soft and velvety.
The 3rd wine of the night was Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret Savigny-les-Beaune Les Narbantons 1er Cru 2011. The moment you smell this one, you’re enveloped in the spicy aromas of red current and earth, which are the signature of Savigny style wines. Here one of the class participants suggested going back to the first 2 wines and smelling them one after another followed by the Savigny wine. And oh it was worth it! The spicy aromas caused by not de-stemming the grapes were so dominant that I don’t think anyone in the class will ever forget the sensation.
The fourth wine that Brian selected was Paul Pernot Pommard Les Noizons 1999. This was interestingly smoky and irony. The mineral smell of the soil came through beautifully and on the palate it was robust and still alive with tannins. Jordan paused, and with a big smile on his face, called it a great example of the honest wines of Pommard and more clear evidence that even the more humble wines can age beautifully for many years.
Nicolas Rossignol Pommard Les Fremier 1er Cru 2009 was the next glass we tasted, a wine we all agreed was very well made and more the “glossy” feel of a Pommard wine.
So now behold…the next two wines deserve the drum roll please. I personally plan to order a case or two of these wines, store them, and once they age for couple of years I will pour them at a dinner party of my closest friends (only they deserve this ) and surprise them with those complex aromas that no one will expect from such light colored red wines. I guess by now you can tell that I loved the next two wines: Domain Vincent Girardin Volnay Les Santenots 1er Cru 2010 and Domaine Michel Lafarage Volnay Clos du Chateau des Ducs 1er Cru 1997. Greg our beloved storage member and wine collector suggested we try the wine with the two truffle cheeses that our dear Milena, the SFWC manager, selected for the evening. We all loved it! The next day I actually went and bought that cheese so that I could serve it with those lovely, lush Volnay wines at my dinner party.
We then wrapped up the class in style with two Grand Cru Cortons, the Domain Chandon de Briailles Corton Bressandes 2007 and Domain Bruno Clavelier Corton Le Rognet 2010. The 2007 was classic Corton but accessible and elegant, while the 2010 was traditional and expectedly tough as nails, even with time in the glass. Did you know Bruno Clavelier was a professional rugby player who then moved to the world of wine, producing highly sought after old-style red burgundy? His story is a true tale of wine fascination to which I can certainly relate. Can’t you?
Once the class was over we had the unique opportunity to taste some more amazing wines handpicked by Brian from his personal cellar as well as by our long-time Storage Members and Burgundy collectors; Greg and his lovely wife Julie. These two true burgundy experts (they were married in the Clos Vougeot!) chose several amazing wines to share from their own personal storage space at the SFWC. It was truly a night to remember. We tasted beautiful wines from 1985 and 1999 vintages. Days later, I for one could still feel the long and perfectly balanced finish of the 1985 Chambertin, if not on my palate certainly in my memories.