29 October 2010

some burgundy lying around: spring boutique, 75001

Rue de l'Arbre Sec is, for me, the Bermuda Triangle of Paris. If I mention passing thataway to friends they seem to expect by now that I'll miss all appointments later in the evening; my whereabouts will unknown (or not so unknown) for hours. It's just that between Spring Boutique, Spring Buvette, and Le Garde Robe - all within spitting distance of each other - there's usually something going on, people to say hi to, a bevy of random Burgundy open...

And in such a manner one quick aperitif turns into a long research session involving red teeth and hasty tasting notes scrawled on the back of a tax document (not pictured). Josh at the Boutique the other night happened to have a smattering of Domaine Chandon de Briailles's wines sitting around. It's a Savigny-les-Beaune estate known as much for its gorgeous house and gardens as for its adherence to biodynamic principles. But it's important that I mention that these wines have not, at time of writing, been ordered by Spring Boutique, and are not available there. These were samples, which fact lead to a discussion of why crowd-testing sample bottles is actually a great idea - even beyond the general enjoyment it provides to a geek such as myself, passing by on a rainy night. 

The thing is, no wine retailer is going to frankly tell you the flaws in wines he or she stocks. The result is that retailers frequently come across as relentlessly positive about all wines; in other words, they can appear uncritical and not to be trusted. But crowd-testing sample bottles allows a wine retailer to actually let loose and rip into things once in a while - which, in addition to being very enjoyable and refreshing for the retailer, also provides good opportunities to gain the trust of clients.

That being said, Josh was a lot nicer about these wines than I was, or at least more reserved in his criticism. (Such is the liberty I have, being a blogger and not, you know, actually doing anything.)

While I applaud Domaine Chandon de Briailles for their commitment to biodynamy, I have to say that on average, the lineup I tasted was just slightly on the wrong side of natural, bordering on the unhygienic. Not that the wines will kill you; they were all interesting in their own way. But across the board I perceived a kind of funk and randomness that to me speaks of less-than-sparkling cleanliness in the winemaking process. The lowlights were a 2007 Pernand-Vergelesses Blanc 1er Cru "Ile des Vergelesses" that my friend P correctly tagged as "sheepy / cheesy," and a 2006 Corton Rouge Grand Cru "Les Bressandes" that was just sad and lettucy in the classic loser-Bourgogne fashion.

P and the sheepy Pernand-Vergelesses
I did very much enjoy the 2005 Pernand-Vergelesses Rouge 1er Cru "Ile des Vergelesses," whose firm structure, integrated tannins, and dark-cherry / tea flavors are perhaps more than partly attributable to the general excellence of the vintage. It's worth allowing, however, that all these wines have a lifespan ahead of them, and some are perhaps in transitional stages; this would explain the general wanness of fruit and emergent-savory aspect. And I'd still be considerably more enthusiastic to retaste these vaguely dirty wines in ten years than any slick robotic New World construction. 

To summarize very briefly: 

2007 Pernandes-Vergelesses 1er Cru "Ile des Vergelesses": That pecorino thing I mentioned. No fruit. A little waxy. Odd, but by no means pleasurable. 
2004 Corton Grand Cru: Really bizarre lemon drop nose that smells almost botrytized. Round, slightly droopy palate, much drier than nose would imply. Interesting and almost pleasurable. 

2006 Corton Grand Cru "Les Bressandes": Sad, vegetal, no joy. 
2005 Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru "Ile des Vergelesses": Very well-built, yet to attain real complexity but confident it will get there. Inky, for what it is, and focused. 
2001 Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru "Les Lavièrs": Dark, broad, with an interesting coppery tone. 

Some or none of which may one day eventually be in stock at: 

Spring Boutique
52, rue de l'Arbre Sec
75001 PARIS
Metro: Louvre-Rivoli
Tel: 01 58 62 44 30

Related Links:

Aperitifs at Le Garde Robe
Fall Wine Preview at Spring Boutique

Burgschnauzer's* profile on Domaine Chandon de Briailles
Another profile of Domaine Chandon de Briailles @ BurgundyReport

*What a ridiculous name. "Honey, will you let this Schnauzer take a whiff of our Burgundy?" (She faints.)

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