La Pousse d’Or 2005 Pommard 1er Cru Les Jarollières (Burgundy) — A polished wall of fruit, but the insistence that this is unapproachable is misguided; it’s nothing magnificent at the moment, for sure, but it’s eminently drinkable. I had fears regarding storage for this bottle, hence the infanticide. (10/16)
V. Girardin 1996 Pommard Clos des Lambots “Vieilles Vignes” (Burgundy) – Soft and anonymous, and not exactly unmarked by the supremacy of aged wood over aged whatever-else-there-once-was. For reasons that seem inexplicable to me, at some point around the time this was released I bought a bunch of Girardin, and I’ve regretted each as every purchase as I’ve opened it in the years since. These are not wines for my palate, at all. (7/11)
Epeneaux means neaux
Armand 2000 Pommard Clos des Epeneaux “1er Cru” (Burgundy) – Pretty and soft, with cherries and strawberries. Elegant and lithe. Caresses the tongue. (2/08)
Yes or Epenots
Domaine de Corcel 2003 Pommard Grand Clos des Epenots “1er Cru” (Burgundy) – Dill and nuts. Soft. Very strange in a number of ways, number one being that it’s not tannic. It doesn’t much matter, however, because it’s no good either. (2/08)
Maréchal 1995 Pommard Les Vignots (Burgundy) – Starting to fray, with dominant acidity and a sharp razor of tannin slicing deep into a crisp core of red cherry, raspberry and cranberry fruit. Some interesting floral/earthy aromatics skid across the top, but this wine has become mostly about structure. (7/07)
TN: Haus und Familie (Lorraine, pt. 2)
(The original version is here.)
26 March 2006 – Thionville, Illange & Uckange, France
Frédèrique & Jean-Marie Burger’s house – Lunch with the relatives. Always casual. Always fun. Today, it’s pot au feu, and we soon join the family in deciding that potatoes swimming in broth are the best part of the meal. Ah, the cuisine légère of Lorraine…
Wolfberger “Belle Saison” Pinot Noir (Alsace) – Yes, it’s non-vintage. Light, crisp red cherry with lots of acid and minerals at the foundation. This functions more like a white wine with red fruit aromas than it does an actual red or rosé. It’s only just OK, but it’s probably better than the vast majority of Alsace pinot noirs that result from significantly more effort.
Edmunds St. John 2001 Syrah (California) – As is typical whenever I bring a domestic wine to France, the weight and heat are commented upon (negatively) by the natives. And maybe it’s the setting or the context, but this does come off just a touch hotter than usual: there’s strong leather, blueberry, black pepper, and a touch of sweet Scotch lounging in Sherry wood. It’s rather forceful, sure, but there’s good acid and a succulent juiciness that keep it tasty. I also note that, despite their reservations, my family guzzles it down.
We follow lunch with a walk around the old German fortifications on the small hill that crowns Illange.
Gaston & Claude Schwender’s house – Drinks with the relatives. More formal, more “classic” French. And also tinged with sadness, because these relatives are older and can’t really host meals anymore…which is a particular shame, as a lot of my formative French experiences were at this family’s table. Perhaps more relevantly, many of my most revelatory wine experiences were from Gaston’s cellar. Now, he can’t drink much (doctor’s orders), she can’t drink at all (ditto), and matters have reached the point of slow but inexorable decay. Loss is always with us, isn’t it?
Roederer 1997 Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (Champagne) – Intensely fresh lemon, ripe apple and yeast with sharp acidity and pulses of greater complexity and weight around a spherical, icy core. Striking.
Patricia & Bruno Fratini’s house – Dinner with friends (and relatives, who’ve been invited to join us). More great food, more wine. But I’ve reached the point where the smoke wears on me, and thus I start losing interest in the French that surrounds me; an interest I need to follow well enough to participate. Thankfully, there’s more music on the overhead projection screen; this time, a mix of seventies Americana (mostly the Eagles) and the always-entertaining Alain Bashung.
Louis Violland 1999 Pommard “La Pierre du Roy” (Burgundy) – Rough, sweaty and slightly athletic, with wild cherry, blackberry and light earth. It brightens with aggressive swirling. Nonetheless, it remains a somewhat surly wine, with its rough edges unfiled.
Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 1997 Pauillac (Bordeaux) – Cedar chest and fresh cassia with pine. It smells like Christmas. It’s also fairly tight, but swirling brings out some aromatics and more complexity, and the wine is probably just about to re-emerge in a burst of blackcurrant fruit. The finish is a bit of a sine wave that one must catch at zenith. This is a pretty good effort from a difficult vintage.
Wolfberger “Belle Saison” Pinot Noir (Alsace) – Take two. And in this company, much stranger and less appealing than before: fish and crushed minerality with skin bitterness and a flat finish. Moral: drink it first, then move on to better things.