The League of Gentlemen has not gotten together in a long time to have dinner and drink wine. Since last week was the birthday of one of our founding members, some of us decided to celebrate his birthday at one of his favorite restaurants, Marseilles in NYC. The theme was Burgundy but as always we started with Champagne, and there were a few surprises.
Champagne Blanc De Blancs Cramant Grand Cru 2008 Lilbert-Fils made from 100% Chardonnay from the Cramant in the Cote des Blancs. Most of the fruit comes from the Buissons vineyard that has very little topsoil and at 40 centimeters below the surface there is pure chalk. The vines were planted in 1936 and have a full southern exposure. The wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel. Dosage 7g/l. This is a crisp, complex Champagne with hints of citrus fruit and white peaches and hint of pear.
Meursault 1995 Robert Ampeau & Fils 100% Chardonnay. Located in the Puligny – Montrachet region of Burgundy covering 10 hectares of vineyards. They harvest by machine and allow other plants to grow between the rows of vines. The wines are not released by the winery until they feel they are ready to drink. The wines are fermented without stalks in cement cuvees and aged in barriques, mostly used for 10 months. The wine has hints of honey and nuts with mineral notes and good acidity.
Volnay Taillepiedes 1er Cru D’ Angerville 1998. 100% Pinot Noir The domaine’s plot of Taillepieds is 1.o7 hectares at the top of the hillside of Volnay, south of the village. The soil of Taillepieds is very poor and rocky. Its steep slope, the thinness of the soil and the particularly solar exposure give the wines of Taillepieds its finesse and elegance. The owner Jacques D’Angerville’s believes in non –intervention winemaking which he learned from his father. “ I want to do as little as possible to the wine,” he says. After destemming, fermentation lasts for 10 to 12 days, with a 15 to 18 month élevage in mostly used barrels. To extract fine tannins, the cap was kept moist by twice-daily pump overs. This was drinking very well with nice Pinot Noir flavors and aromas.
Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru “La Croix Rameau” 2002 D’ made from 100% Pinot Noir. The soil is pebble alluvium and the vines are 40 years old. The vineyard is situated at the bottom of Romanée Saint Vivant and is part of the Clos des Neufs Journaux that was previously owned by the monks of Saint Vivant. Croix Rameau is the smallest 1er cru in the Vosne-Romanée, just 6 hectares. Harvest is by hand and the use of any chemicals is avoided. The present owner Jean-Jacques Coudray-Bizot like to quote his grandfather Dr. Bizot who was a surgeon and wine maker at the Hospice du Beaune. When it comes to wine “you have to hurry up and wait.” This is very traditional Burgundy, opulent and meaty with nice fruit and hints of spice.
Gevrey – Chambertin Dominique Laurant 1998 100% Pinot Noir Dominique Laurent produces wines from his small négociant business in Nuits-St-Georges. He sources fruit from very old parcels and his offerings range up and down the Cote d’Or. He makes his own barrels and only uses Tronçais wood, selected by him, and air dried for at least 3 years and in some cases 7 years. He sells barrels to other Burgundy producers. Dominique finds plots of old vines in the best part of interesting vineyards. The wine is delivered early in the New Year from the producer who has vinified it, sometimes under Dominique’s directions. The wine may be transferred to new barrels, never racked, because it is essential to keep all the gas from the original barrel. The wine is aged without the addition of sulfur until ready for bottling. This was a 1998 but did not seem as if it was ready to drink.
Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello “Santa Cruz Vineyards” 1988 made from 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot. This was the surprise and it was served blind. This is a big wine but the label said 12% alcohol. I know many like this wine but I stopped drinking it after a few sips.
Muscat-Trockenbeerenauslese 1995 NO 5 (Austria) Kracher. The winery is in Burgenland an hour southeast of Vienna near lake Neusiedi. The area is ideal for the development of “botrytis cinerea” (noble rot). This was the perfect way to end a wonderful dinner.