Tomer Gal's Annual Nuits-St-Georges Tasting (Oct. 11, 2010)

Last year's Nuits tasting was an eye-opener, but this year's, for me, was more along the lines of a return to school after a summer vacation. Some of the thrill is gone now, as a loose set of expectations has crystalized: Meo will be slick, Gouges will be funky, Grivot will be somewhere in the middle with a vague feeling of dormancy, Chateau du Puligny-Montrachet will be relatively lacklustre and Leroy will be, well, Leroy. But it's nice to re-visit these friends as I have a soft spot for the wines and Nuit's reputation for rusticity has kept prices almost sane. The lack of any Grand Cru vineyard is irrelevant for me as I'm not often on the buyer's market for the big boys in the first place.

And speaking of eye-openers, the appertif was a revelation. I've never drunk a Macon before, and, for some reason, I overlooked the Heritiers du Comte Lafon when the 2010 Burgundy Wine Collection catalog came out. So I had no idea the following wine even existed and approached it with absolutely no expectations.

Heritiers du Comte Lafon, Macon-Milly-Lamartine, Clos du Four, 2008

I've been thinking lately. I'd like to minimalize risks: drink low-end white Burgundies, forfeit the potential complexity, enjoy the vitality of youth and never go through the despair of getting the drinking window wrong and drinking oak or caramel. This here wine is one good argument for that thought. It's very elegant and crisp, almost airy - a floater - yet packs a lot of flavors in its light frame. 135 NIS.

Meo-Camuzet, Nuits-St-Georges, 2007

An attention-commanding nose that gives an impression of concentration even before the wine is sipped: spices, leather, rust, with redder fruit than I've come to expect from Meo-Camuzet. Elegant, sweet fruit with round tannins and balanced acidity. I love the domaine's wines but this is the first one that impresses me as being good value. In Burgundian terms, anyway. Sourced from the Au Bas de Combe village vineyard. 280 NIS.

Henry Gouges, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru, Clos des Porrets St-Georges, 2007

Another planet. A more challenging, animalistic, even "stinky" nose, with a touch of minerals. More tannic and less friendly but drinkable with some air (given that, like most of the wines, it was opened ten to twelve hours in advance!) - in short, a wine that I'd love to drink on a regular basis all winter long. 280 NIS.

Chateau du Puligny-Montrachet, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru, Clos des Grandes Vignes, 2006

In my opinion, the way the Montille house style is wedded to Nuits terroir plays against Etienne's wines in these tastings, as their austere nature is highlighted. This wine has a very earthy nose - earth as in dirt. The palate is all about tannins and glycerin right now, it's all the fruit will give. Thus, most of the flavors are hidden, making the palate, for the most part, one-dimensional . That is how the wine shows today, in this specific tasting. 290 NIS.

Henry Gouges, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru, St-Georges, 2007

Holy stinking cow. The Gouge fingerprint is unmistakable - it's very similar to the Clos de Porrets, yet more intense with animalistic-cum-minerally aromatics that are so expressive that it's hard to pull my nose out of the glass. There is a toughness about the palate, but it's complemented by its vibrancy and a gruff sense of elegance. Hell, I'd marry this babe, if only for the lovely saline finish. 520 NIS.

Meo-Camuzet, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru, Murgers, 2007

You might call the nose a spicy, minerally bomb, but by its nature it's more of a seducer (although with all those aromas of gunpowder twirling around this temptress, I wouldn't turn my back on her, who knows just what she's hiding). The palate is still closed and tannic, but the tannins melt to seduce the taste buds as well. 530 NIS.

Domaine Leory, Nuits-St-Georges, Lavieres, 2005

This wine smells less like a Bourgogne than the rest, as the extraction almost snarls on the nose, all spices and what I have to say smells like oak and barrel. The palate is dense and long, nothing I would call elegant, and minerally from start to finish. 1300 NIS.

Jean Grivot, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru, Roncieres, 1999

This is the third vintage of this wine that I've tasted and it's always an interesting experience that I find hard to qualify. The nose starts out spicy and sour, and fairly one-dimensional, but grows in leaps and bounds, becoming both animalistic and minerally. The palate is sweet and unformed at first, until the tannins start to assert themselves. In the end, the nose matches everything the Meos and Gouges could throw, but the palate is in an awkward spot where the fruit lacks grip and power. I like it, though, I just wish it was drinking better at this time. 560 NIS.

Meo-Camuzet, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru, Boudots, 1999

The nose is a knockout, nuanced and complex, starting with the blackest fruit of the tasting, then, like most of the rest of the wines, picking up animalistic and minerally notes, thus adhering to the Nuits idiom established by its peers. It's more tannic than the Murgers, but the tannins have a tasty, savory accent. Like the Grivot, the tannnis have not melded in tandem with the fruit, although it drinks much better, probably due to possessing much greater power. 710 NIS.

Domaine Leory, Nuits-St-Georges, 2004

An odd, idiosyncratic, yet lovely, creature. The nose is all sour cherries, then it smells like something I described in my handwritten notes as "stinky apple cider", then completes the painting with hints of leather and sweat. The palate is long, with soprano acidity and an ethereal presence of fruit that combine to a balanced and tasty effect. I much prefer this to the 2007 Lavieres. There, as in other Leroy wines I've tasted I've tasted, I can sense the firm hand of a control freak; whereas here, due to personal issues during the 2004 vintage, Madam Bize-Leroy seems to have let go. Which is an improvement as far as I'm concerned, as we get more Bourgogne and less Leroy. A blend of Village and Premier Cru sites. 1050 NIS.

Henry Gouges, Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru, Perriere, 2007

This is a white Nuits, made of Gouges' famous white Pinot Noir clone. The wine was opened the previous day and it still needs time and air in order to show its stuff. The nose at first seems like a theoretical marriage of Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc, being floral and tropical. The palate is really Sauvignon Blanc-like at first, with high-toned acidity. After calming down, it is crisp, saline and with a touch of honey. I admit I was prepared to dislike it when I first sniffed it, but it's very interesting and pleasurable. 520 NIS.