Goodbye to Bertie (Mar. 28, 2016)

You know that feeling when you land in a new country
at the start of a week of vacation and even the very air
seems fresh and full of promise?
So, that.
One birthday celebration a week with Eldad Levy wasn't enough, so what was supposed to be an impromptu meeting quickly turned into a sequel exulting the virtues of Burgundy and Champagne: freshness of fruit and clarity of terroir captured in bottle (at least in the case of five of the eight bottles). Sadly, though, this turned out to be my last dinner at Bertie in its current incarnation.

Ah, Bertie. You've been my second or third home for almost four years. And it's been true love right from the beginning.

"I started out with Burgundy and soon hit the harder stuff".

And, it seems I ended up with Burgundy. The circle is closed.

Vilmart, Grand Cellier Cuvée Rubis, Brut Premier Cru, 2009

This is a very appropriate Champagne to bring to a Burgundy themed evening, as it is as close as you will ever get to a Grand Cru with bubbles. The nose is very sexy, slowly changing with the passing minutes, showing red apples, minerals and forest floor. The palate is very complex and long, with flavors and acidity of a fresh grapefruit acidity. The fruit is so ripe, it almost feels sweet, but that fantastic acidity...

Domaine William Fevre, Chablis Grand Cru, Le Clos, 2006

Lately, I've often been disappointed with Fevre Grand Cru bottlings (I haven't been buying Fevre in recent years, so the Premier Crus might actually still be good buys, I've simply drunk them all years ago and haven't bought new ones so I wouldn't know). This is no exception. There're some minerals and hints of tropical fruit, and low acidity, and in all, it feels like an indifferent Chassagne.

Domaine de l'Arlot, Nuits-St.-Georges Premier Cru, Clos des Forets St. Georges, 2004

This is just okay. Smooth, with mediocre acidity, making for a one dimensional palate. The nose is better, though, with exotic spices providing interest, but that's as god as it gets, for such an expensive wine.

Domaine Henry Gouges, Nuits-St.-Georges Premier Cru, Clos de Porets St. Georges, 2007

Same vineyard, an arguably better year - for my money, a much a better producer. This has a delightful nose, more exotic than I'd expect from an NSG, although it is earthbound by iron and animalistic aromas (not dirty, barnyard smells, but rather healthy, clean animal smells). The palate is reserved and short at first, but expands well, showing great, acidity driven complexity.

Arnaud Ente, Meursault, 2008

This is the first of the surprises that Daniel Lifshitz brought. Arnaud Ente is the younger brother of Benoit, who makes fantastic Pulignies of a similar bent. This is only a village wine, but it is really awesome, perhaps the best village Meursault I've ever tasted, certainly the best not to come from a single lieu-dit. The nose shows tropical fruit balanced by a very complex lattice of minerals. The palate is full of saline acidity - vibrant, complex, fresh, like chancing upon the slab of marble that Michelangelo carved the David out of.

Domaine Ponsot, Morey-St.-Denis Premier Cru, "Allouettes", 2005

When I first started drinking Burgundies, the book on the Allouettes called it one of the best value Premier Crus. Sadly, I've never drunk a great bottle. Most were actually off, but now that I've finally found a decent bottle, it turns out to be just that: decent. It has a lot of what I love in red wines, i.e. understated power, but lacks what I love in Burgundy: that same power married to subtle complexity.

Marquis d'Angerville, Volnay Premier Cru Champans, 2011

Very young, but sexy and fresh the way only fine Bourgognes can be, floral with earthy spices, and it picks up complexity and body. The very epitome of what we mean when we call Volnays "feminine". A great wine by a great producer, and it's not even a great year.

Domaine Rossignol-Trapet, Beaune Premier Cru, Les Teurons, 2010

Daniel's second offering of the evening is an even bigger surprise. The Rossignols are yet another Cote d'Or clan, although not as well known as, say, the Gros or the Gagnards. It has even greater length than the Champans, arguably sharper focus, with nubile complexity. An under-rated wine that managed to get to the top of the evening's lineup by dint of purity and indefatigable freshness: