This past weekend I attended a Cote des Nuits tasting lead by David Speer, personal sommelier and owner of Portland based company Wine & Chocolate, Inc.
I try to attend as many classes as I can these days… partly because I want as much experience as I can get before taking my own sommelier exam, and partly because I want to eventually teach others about wine and therefore take advantage of every opportunity to learn not only new things about wine, but new teaching styles, techniques, ideas. Lately I have been disappointed by some of the tasting events I have gone to... Either because of the instructors lack of knowledge or enthusiasm of the wines on the flight… or downright lack of instruction at all. Just a good ol’ fashioned “here’s your wine… have fun”. Really? Am I really paying $20 for someone to simply pour me 4 wines I’ve never heard of and not even tell me anything about the producers, the grapes, or the region? But sadly it happens time and time again.
But when I got notice that David was hosting a Burgundy tasting I had to try it. First of all I had never gone to one of his classes before, and face it… “You just had me at Burgundy” David!
David’s set up was very nice and intimate. A long table seating 12 with tasting glasses for 2 flights of 4 wines, along with a sheet for folks to keep their tasting notes on.
He started with a brief introduction of the way he had structured the class and a quick scan to see where everyone was with their Burgundy knowledge. Seemed most people knew a small bit, so he tried to adapt the class to our knowledge level… again something instructors in the past have been blind to.
Now the fun part.
In order of tasting
FLIGHT NUMERO UNO
Dom. Taupenot-Merme Gevrey Chambertin 2006 $50
Started out smoky with lots of tobacco notes with the addition of some pretty vanilla and cherry on the nose. The wine was very dry on the mouth with more smoke and dark cherry and finished dry. Probably my second favorite of the first flight.
Dom. Lignier-Michelot Morey Saint Denis En La Rue de Vergy 2004 $45
Super chalky, smoky, and tobacco on the nose. Reminded me of camping in the woods… and would probably be my wine of choice on a rustic camping trip, but not for every other night of the week. Some pretty cranberry fruit came out on the mouth, but was still my least favorite of this particular flight whereas most of my fellow co-tasters favored this wine. I guess my feminine taste got outvoted by the rustic manly Pinot taste.
Dom. Lignier-Michelot Chambolle Musigny Vieilles Vignes 2004 $45
Yes please! This wine had a softer yet predominate nose with some pretty pepper notes followed by some ripe cherry floral notes. The mouth was soft with a slight tinge of spice and more cherry… very elegant I kept thinking to myself.
And although it was the same producer as my least favorite (the one above), this one was #1 for me, well for this flight! Great opportunity to see how the same producer makes such different wines and styles… the only difference - the place/vineyards.
Camille Giroud Vosne-Romanee 2004 $60
Lots of red fruit on the nose, including cherry, raspberry, and a bit of tart cranberry, the mouth was very fruity and fun with a slight bit of smoke and tobacco. A little more rustic then the other three. Rounding in at #3 for me.
FLIGHT 2… MORE COTE DE NUITS… YESSSSSS
Starting back up north…
Lucien Boillot Gevrey Chambertin Les Evocelles 2006 $75
Had a waxy and earthy smell to begin with… one with many refer to “band aid” smell.
Later opened up to more cherry, raspberry moving into some pepper and spice finishing dry. A pretty wine, but my least favorite of this flight.
Dom. Taupenot-Merme Chambolle Musigny La Combe d’Orveau 1 er 2006 $80
Intriguing smoke with a tinge of sweet vanilla. Smells fatty… don’t ask, it was just in my notes… maybe I was daydreaming about pork? Although I liked the deep vanilla, black cherry on the nose this was one that reminded me more of a Willamette Valley style, probably because of the predominate sweet vanilla wood tones, and yet this one was a bit one dimensional. I’d still drink it any day of the week… came in at this flight as #3… only because the next two were so much more complex.
Sylvie Esmonin Gevrey Chambertin Clos St. Jacques 1 er 2006 $125
Tight at first, this wine opened up beautifully. Red fruit, earth, leather, smoke with nice structured tannins. This is the kind of wine that keeps giving you more each time you go back for more. It was very intriguing. At $125/bottle, I don’t think I’ll be going back too much in my immediate future but was still a fun one to try! To me, this one and the last were my favorites strictly due to the complexities on both of them.
Dom. Taupenot-Merme Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru 2000 $150
Shy at first, this wine wasn’t ready for you to really understand it until you went back for more, and more, oh and then some more. Had a bit of a rustic animal smell at first mixed with some tobacco and earth tones. It later opened up into some rhubarb, cinnamon spice, leather, and cracked pepper on the finish. It had a bit of it all, earth, spice, fruit… the works. The tannins were structured and balanced. Nice job.
All in all, based on the overall experience including the ambiance, the quality and focus of the wines chosen, the educational component, and the company, it ended up being a great tasting experience and I look forward to more of David’s classes.