A date had been in the diary for a little bit, we were going to be anything up to six people. There was some natural wastage along the way so it ended up as a dinner for three; Myself, Sussex and Mr Magnum at Frenchie in Covent Garden. Some of the best bottles and splendid times have been at dinners with these two blog “diehards” so I was excited. I had not been here before but had heard good things. The theme remained uncharged from when we would have been a different number – bring burgundy, one white, one red. Without over planning we ended up with a terrific balance of wines.
With this much wine to get through, not a chore(!), we decided that we would go for a starter-starter-main-cheese “formation”. The food was very good, the service friendly and knowledgable and the glassware good too, i’ll be going back. We started the whites in the order below but also had them overlapping as we devoured our starters.
Meursault 1er Cru La Goutte d’Or 2007, Arnaud Ente – This was pure and did a good job of combining the richness of Meursault with the focus of the 2007 vintage. Lovely right now for me, will age well but this has just the balance I like here, waxy texture and a nice feeling that any oak has long since dissolved into the wine. Nicely complete, a wine of texture rather than explosive richness.
Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2009, Bonneau du Martray – This has been a very good 2009 since “conception”. The vintage can be very good for whites but can be a little OTT at times. The restraint that Jean-Charles uses here has clearly worked well in a warm and generous vintage. There is, like the Ente, good focus and no excess, nice moreishness and a little saline. Pure with a long life ahead.
Meursault Villages 2000, Coche-Dury – This is fully mature and in another gear colourwise, a contrast to the two predecessors. The maturity though is exactly as it should be – 17 years on. There is a rich “dry honey” character, almost a toffee apple note. A little reduction remains and adds a slightly savoury edge. Something about this reminds me of 48month Comte – a sort of rich intensity combined with a saline edge. Totally ready now, just enjoy.
To have three wines from three top names and one to be Villages, one 1er Cru and one Grand Cru but all work well together shows exactly the charm of Burgundy. With the reds we moved into pure Grand Cru country.
Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2011, Domaine de Varoilles – So you might think that in this exalted company a Domaine like “Varoilles” (located off the “main drag” in Gevrey) would get outclassed but it is always nice to try different things. I deliberately took a young vintage. I was delighted with how it showed – any oakiness that can show early in these wines – was gone leaving a very primary pure, red, cranberry-like, fruit and a good drive. It is very much in first gear but a good wine from a vintage that can be charming though sometimes a little green.
Chambertin Grand Cru 2006, Rousseau – This had a stunning nose, pure and primary but in a darker character than the Charmes, more damson less cranberry. The “Rousseau nose”, a little like “THE Domaine nose” is hard to define but you know it when you “see” it. Without being a tour de force per se this has a long way to go…it is persistent and unflashy but all the better for it, very proper.
Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru 2002, de Vogue – On the night this was the most “in the zone” of the reds. Opulent and generously in 3rd gear, darker fruit but sweeter, in a degraded way, than the Rousseau. My, admittedly biased, enjoyment of Bonnes Mares continues at a pace. The main source of my tasting of Bonnes Mares comes from this vertical tasting, but it must be said my main drinking of Bonnes comes courtesy of company dinners or Mr Magnums generosity.
This was a terrific dinner, a good quantity of wine to drink whilst chatting about all sorts. Just what wine should be about and all conducted in a terrific setting…