The evening's theme was simple: wines from appellations that start with B. Knowing the people involved, we were obviously being manipulated towards Bordeaux, with Burgundy a backup option. But, there are so many appellations that start with B, we all know that.

There's also an appellation that starts with a C, that we weren't about to give up on. You may have heard of it...

Vilmart, Emotion, 2012

Crisp, focused opulence, a rose that isn't just a Champagne dyed pink, but one where the Pinot provides a touch of underbrush, an autumnal kiss by way of Burgundy. Don't rush to gulp it down, flavorsome and moreish though it may be, because it only gets better with air, as minerals and complexity emerge.

Domaine de Montille, Pommard, Les Cras, 2012

Back when the inheritance tax laws that shaped the Burgundian landscape were invented, did someone add an appendix that required every village to have a vineyard called Les Cras? This is the first time I've encountered this wine, and, having no idea Pommard also has a Les Cras, was underwhelmed by the wine until I noticed it's only a village lieux-dit. Montille's Premier Crus are lovely, but this is average-plus. The nose is almost gorgeous, black cherries and smoky earth, but lacks the complexity to be really memorable. The palate manages to frame flabby fruit with a tannic backbone, an accomplishment of sorts. I think this is as good as it gets.

Rizzi, Barbaresco, Nervo, 2016

Alcoholic, even sweetish, certainly unbalanced, hopefully this was a bad bottle or just a bad time for the wine. Knowing what I've learned about Piedmont in the last three years, I would leave 2016's alone at this time, or else give them much more air than this bottle received.

Comm. G. B. Burlotto, Barolo, 2014

This bottle did receive some time, at least three hours by the time we got to it. So, while it plays young, it shows evidence of its balance, as well as Fabio Allssandria's craft. I did hope for more nuances at this stage, because 2014 reads like early drinking, at least for low-tier Barolos and Barbarescos, but I settled for a straightforward, albeit elegant, snapshot of cherries and rose petals.

Chateau Montrose, Saint Estephe 2me Cru, 2001

A Left-Banker at this level, with the marriage of balance, elegance and power gifted to us by climate, geography and centuries of skill-honing, is irresistible. That elegance, and the blend of black fruit, tobacco leaves and iron, is a pleasure that I wish I could enjoy on a more regular basis. 

Weingut Heidi Schröck, Burgenland, Furmint Auslese, 2019

My first thought was, this is as light and ethereal as a Riesling, but then, a three year old Auslese wouldn't be this light. Which was probably my subconsciously polite way of thinking this doesn't have a whole lot of fabric to work with. Still, a fun evening capper, a light fruit punch with veins of mustard and minerals.