Thursday, October 29, 2015

Swallow, Don't Spit - La Maison Romane Tasting (Oct. 8, 2015)

Man, Oronce, you worked your ass off and didn't even score Premier Cru grapes?
I've been a fan of the Maison, love child of Oronce de Beler, for a couple of years. Even so, I was worried that what I perceive to be a personal signature works better one wine at a time, as opposed to a comparative tasting, where it might muddle the imprint of the vineyard, at the very least. Oronce's business model is based on a barter system wherein he and his horses tend various vineyards at the Cote d'Or in return for grapes - and it was a bit of a letdown to find out that, in the low quantity 2012 and 2013 vintages, his end of the trade consisted of solely of grapes sourced from Village crus. So I steeled myself to an idiosyncratic but limited palate.

So, OK, village wines: always fun but I expected your weekday, missionary sex anyway, not weekend acrobatics, and I did get that, but high quality stuff, and of a distinctly sweaty and fulfilling sort. And it turns out that Oronce's touch and whole cluster ideology expresses both the vintage and village. Which was definitively expressed in the way the Marsannay flight didn't segue into the Gevrey flight via the Fixin, but rather the wines bitch-slapped each other out of the way, the Marsannays floral as opposed to the typical sauvage of the Gevreys, with the Fixin separating the two distinct facets with its vivid, feminine fruitiness and rotting rose petals.

Macon, Chateau de Berze, 2013

This is Gamay, of course, this being Macon, the lesser known Gamay habitat, and it shows fresh yet brooding berries, a hint of spices, savory yet prominent tannins, and on point acidity. 205 NIS.

Macon, Chateau de Berze, 2012

This is a very joyful, more harmonious wine, fleshier and more detailed, with a very peppery strain. You can see, with this pair, how 2012 has fleshy fruit a la 2009, while 2013's acidity resembles 2008. 200 NIS.

Macon, Chateau de Berze, 2011

At peak, tannins very tame, overshadowed by 2012, even 2013 to a lesser extent, and very similar to them at any rate. 2011 is the  most drinkable vintage of the three anyway, likely the most friendliest and earliest drinking since 2000, and, in some ways, it is arguably the shallowest - this being Macon, it is probably at its peak, with this bottle a little past it.

Marsannay, Longeroies, 2013

Marsannay is the most northern village in the Cote d'Or, and Longeroies is a very high vineyard, so that makes for a very floral, elegant wine, with pure, fresh fruit, complicated by a touch of earth, a touch of earth, soft tannins. 285 NIS.

Marsannay, Longeroies, 2012

As with the Macon, 2012 is fleshier, much more concentrated and spicier on the palate and, especially, the nose. The vineyard expresses its signature with a telltale languid freshness that the 2013 also exhibited. 280 NIS.

Fixin, Le Clos, 2013

You could chalk up the differences between the Macon and the Marsannays to the variation in grapes, but here you just have to own it up to terroir. This is the fruitier wine of the evening, but since this is Burgundy, all that means is that there is a languid, delicate sweetness born of fresh fruit, without any harmonic and/or dissonant notes of earth, fur, spices and the like, although there is a pleasant sensation I would term rotting flower leaves - although I wouldn't argue if you wanted to term it tea infusion, we'd sound like pretentious pansies anyway, wouldn't we? 305 NIS.

Gevrey-Chambertin, La Justice, 2013

Gevrey. The "blind tasting" village, the one you're supposed to always spot, because it's got that leathery character the French call sauvage, which isn't easy to translate, so just think horse hide, leather, sweat, the things that make conjure game and hunt. This tasting, of course, wasn't blind, but I think the characteristics I described qare uite self-evident here, in this concentrated, primal, almost liquorish wine. 430 NIS.

Gevrey-Chambertin, La Justice, 2012

This is even more of Gevrey, which is expected, as age usually underlines the characteristics of the terroir. It's stinkier and more concentrated, at the same time the tannins are finer. 420 NIS.

Vosne Romanee, Aux Reas, 2013

"There are (should be) no common wines in Vosne" said no less an authority than Hugh Johnson. And this is no common wine, with a lofty price to boot, opulent and loaded with exotic spices, flavorful and multi-layered on an almost airy frame. 590 NIS.

What's the bottom line? If you want to pursue Gamay, Oronce's version can easily rival, and arguably best, the highest level of quality Beaujolais Cru. If you want the best specimen of Gevrey or Vosne - well, I'm not going to argue that Maison Romane should be your first choice. But if you want to get it on with an artisanal expression of Bourgogne and want to experiment with a personal idiom of overlooked villages such as Marsannay or Fixin, then you've come to the right place (conversely, if you want to focus on the big name villages, I'm not going to argue that either)! And when he can get a hold of the grapes, the man makes a Corton Grand Cru that'll make you loop the loop.

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