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Domaine Forey Bourgogne 2002 and the Joys of Cellaring Modest Wine

July 11, 2011 1 comment

Aging like... wine.

Another in the rack of aged Bourgogne, and next in line for tasting is Domaine Forey Bourgogne 2002. Forey first caught my attention with an exquisite 1995 Echezeaux (from a reasonably light vintage) and I have since been impressed with several vintages of their Nuits St Georges and Clos Vougeot. I’m a little skeptical going in as this introductory level pinot noir was soft and unremarkable at release, but I have enjoyed other vintages of this modest villages blend.

The tongue belonging to a far sharper palate than my own likes to say that 90% of all wine is meant to be drunk within 3 years of bottling and the other 10% needs ten years in the cellar. It’s a generalization that I’ve argued against, but whether or not the numbers are precise, the arc of notion is pretty spot on. Yesterday’s Meo-Camuzet Bourgogne 2002, not yet at its decade in the bottle clearly needs more time, while the Domaine Forey Bourgogne 2002, has blossomed quite nicely. I would add that almost all wine benefits from 2 to 3 years in bottle.

The Forey Bourgogne ’02 is dark garnet (burgundy?) in the glass and initially there’s a big waft of alcohol that blows off to reveal petrol and asphalt, like scorched earth, in a good way. If the Road Warrior weren’t a righteous racist, I’d like to think this might be his red of choice, in the price range. This wine has benefited greatly from the cellar time and is leagues more interesting now than when it went in. The palate shows dry earth, tar, and crushed roadside blackberries. Most wine consumption is an act of infanticide. But this ’02 Forey Bourgogne is another example of how well an inexpensive wine, properly stored and aged, can show.

Checking in with Old Friends: O’Reilly’s Pinot Noir, Bourgogne Rouge, and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts

July 10, 2011 Leave a comment

An earnest beast.

I recently exhumed from storage 2 cases of pinot noir for tasting purposes, one vertical of O’Reilly’s Pinot Noir (’05, ’06, ’07) and a mixed case of Burgundy blends from some of my favorite labels including Meo-Camuzet, R. Chevillon, Claude Dugat, and Domaine Forey. I’m planning a proper vertical tasting of the O’Reilly’s, for which I’ll likely dig up an ’08 and ’09, for the half-decade run. O’Reilly’s is a lower cost pinot noir blend made up of declassified grapes sourced from the numerous significant vineyards from which Owen Roe crafts their fabulous Oregon wines. Recently, an O’Reilly’s Pinot Noir 2006 showed very nicely, but could still benefit from a couple of years nap. Further tasting notes after the vertical.

I’m listening to the pulsating beats and awesome urgency of David Byrne & Brian Eno’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. No matter how many times I hear this record, I always have to check the liner notes: yup, recorded in ’79 and ’80, released in 1981. The thick African-based beats, deliberate repetition, and haunting “found voices,” foreshadow almost all electronic and sample based music that came after. This stuff, all these years

A serious AOC villages blend.

later, is still quite stirring, most notably “America is Waiting” and “Jezebel Spirit” which play off of secular and religious aspects of American yearning. My Life in the Bush of Ghosts remains one of the most engaging pieces of music that has been recorded in the this country, during my lifetime.

The Meo-Camuzet Frere & Soeurs Bourgogne 2002 is much bigger than I would have expected from a nearly decade old introductory level pinot noir, even from a serious Burgundy house like Meo-Camuzet. Much like the 1996 Cote de Nuits, I’ve found the 2002s to be very slow to mature. This wine is a tannic monster and much of the detail is lost to the sheer weight of this juice, so in goes the vacu vin. Many big wines and most especially big dessert wines often fair much better, after being opened and then vacuum sealed for a day or more. A day later and another hour of air and the Meo-Camuzet Bourgogne is approachable, but still weighty. Red fruits have begun to emerge, countered by petrol, fresh mint and white pepper. The wine is nice, but the three remaining bottles are going back into temperature controlled storage for at least another couple of years.

Diagnostics, Glorious Burgundy, and “Off” Vintages

July 9, 2011 Leave a comment

An "off" vintage beauty.

According to the diagnostics, people don’t read blogs on Saturday. So, if you are reading this, you are one of the 10% of the usual crew and I thank you for it. And since you’re here, I won’t bore you with notes on diagnostics or SEO (search engine optimization). But I would like to make a point about vintage charts, arbitrary wine market fluctuations, and the wonderful values to be had in “off” vintages. Recently I was drinking a Jayer Gilles Echezeaux du Dessus 2004, which cost me less than half of what any other vintage of that same wine is available for anywhere. While it was an exceedingly good deal, and I bought everything that was available, it’s indicative of what happens in world wine markets, particularly when a great region of great winemakers is labeled “off” for a given vintage, by the prevailing wisdom. Great growers and great winemakers will find ways to make palatable wine in all but the most horrific of growing seasons.

The three major factors that dictate a wine’s release price are 1) Supply and Demand (+ hype), 2) Relative quality of the product, 3) World currency rates at the time of release. However these factors line up, all future prices on the vintage in question, are largely determined by their price on their way into the market. The 2004 vintage in Cote de Nuits (northern Burgundy) was considered an off vintage compared with ’02, ’03, ’05, but the best of them are still damn good and tend to drink well on the younger side, such that bigger ones, like the Echezeaux pictured here, are drinking quite well, while many of the surrounding “better” vintages yielded wine that is still years before its peak.

Chevillon Bourgogne 2000.

Another example of this is the difference between the 1999 and 2000 vintages of the same region. 1999 was universally better rated than 2000, but many of the ’99s I’ve tasted have had an unpleasant overripeness to them initially, and have not grown out of it. Conversely, the very best of the 2000 Cote de Nuits are better than their ’99 counterparts and can often be found for half the price. While there are certain axioms that hold true in accepted modern wine nomenclature, it’s always best to do as much tasting on your own as possible. Just like with a record review, it all just comes down to one person’s opinion, on someone else’s creation, in a random moment. One of the most trusted palates in my personal pantheon likes to say that regardless of everything else, it comes down to the ‘yum or yuck’ test: Something hits your palate and it either pleases your senses or it doesn’t. The rest really are just details, pomp, and circumstance.