Saturday Night Tasting (Apr. 5, 2008)

William Fevre, Chablis Premier Cru, Montmains, 2005

Minerals and yellow fruit on the nose, very dry and taut on the palate, and somewhat bitter. The structure, aroma and flavor profile are not only not very Chablis-like, none of us even guessed it was a Chardonnay. I liked it the same way I enjoy some kabinetts with some maturity on them, only right now it's at an unformed place which, considering the vineyard, vintage, producer as well as the reviews it has garnered, it should grow out of.

Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard, Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru, Vergers, 2004

A lovely nose of pears and flint, just a classic Bourgogne nose. Despite the still-obvious oak, very elegant with a wry, dry, saline finish. And, despite the oak, I found it drinkable already but I'd say it will improve in a couple of years. Again, it's hard to ignore the potential of the cru and vintage.

I had the remains of both whites the next day after they had been stored in the fridge, with less than a quarter left in each bottle (the Chablis wasn't even re-corked). Both were still alive and quite fresh, all things considered. The Montmains was showing much more Chardonnay and Chablis traits. The Vergers had lost a lot of oak and was showing somewhat sweeter fruit. Not that I'm certain that the"spend the night in the fridge" test has any validity, but it was a good showing for both wines.

Gaja, Barolo, Gromis, 1998

This is the first Barolo I'd ever bought, about four years ago. Red fruit aromas with choppy strokes of spices. A rusty backbone of acidity lends it a somewhat rustic character. I mean, I like a little rust in my wines and I enjoyed this one a lot but here the rust worked against the wine's elegance. Thus, ample fruit and length, complexity borne of bottle age but not a whole lot of it, yet lacking some finesse.

Vignobles Jean Royer, Chateauneuf-Du-Pape, Cuvee Prestige, 2001

A strange wine that I found hard to fathom. A very haughty, ornery wine that started out flat on the palate and overbearingly ripe on the nose, then filled up and settled down. After 2-3 hours. Before that, it's the kind of wine that'd make an Old World geek pinch his nose, which is what we all did in turn. But really, it put on an amazing comeback, showing blackberries and black cherries and spices and a killer tannic backbone. Not exactly to my liking but very impressive and opened, what, four years too early?

Chateau Rabaud-Promis, Sauternes, 2001

Toffee, mildly tropical fruit and brown sugar in various quantities and permutations on the nose and palate, but a sponge-cake like texture is complemented by enough acidity to turn a possible fleshpot into a hedonistic thrill. Quite irresistible. I see the pros have given it a very long drinking window but it's such an utter joy right now, I doubt it would get much better, so why wait?