Tuesday, December 15, 2009
You can't keep a good man down. And with wine, sometimes you can't keep a good bottle down. Especially if you give the bottle some extra time to develop.
Such was the case with a bottle of 2002 Domaine de la Bongran Cuvee Tradition Viré Clessé produced by Jean Thevenet. The style is rich. Late harvested Chardonnay grapes (a small percentage botrytised?) grown in the northern Maconnais are pressed and then fermented for a much longer period of time than the norm. Then, aging in older oak barrels. Please excuse the vagueness, here. See Organic Wine Journal for an interesting Jean Thevenet post, and if anyone cares to fill in any gaps please go ahead and comment.
Initially, this wine bordered on blowsy to me: dense and rich, yes, but with some botrytis honey notes and not enough acid to balance. Minerality, hidden. As I suspected, a week of deep sleep in the fridge was needed to wake this wine up. It's still a bit outside of my usual taste preferences, but the difference in the freshness of the aromas, precision of structure, and emerging minerality is dramatic. I have one more bottle (I had originally purchased three, the first one was corked) which I will not be opening for another 5 years or more.
Another '02 French white wine which I enjoyed recently performed out the gate, a wonderful bottle of 2002 Domaine Cazin Cour-Cheverny Cuvee Renaissance. 100% Romorantin, also produced from late harvest grapes. There is an intensity to the interplay between this wine's crackling acidity, honeyed botrytised qualities and residual sugar that is quite thrilling. It's everything I always hope for, but seldom experience, in demi-sec Loire Chenin. I've two more bottles which will invariably improve for a while, but as delicious as they are now I might greedily guzzle them while listening to a Kraftwerk record, or watching a Criterion collection French film, or something geeky like that.
Please, don't beat me up. Otherwise, Ray Lewis will be waiting to tackle you at your work.