Or this could be titled, how to avoid oxidation – and fail!
Although I intend to have some good drinking in my dotage, I generally drink more modest stuff at home; bourgognes, villages and premiers – perhaps only a grand cru once or twice a month. Actually half the wines I drink don’t feature in these pages because they are habitual house wines – whites in particular. Yet any excuse to make a change.
I finally finished this week a project that entailed 120 thousand words and visiting over 100 domaines since the end of July last year – but I can’t give any more details this year I think. Now I can concentrate on the Spring Report (oops…) and open a couple of bottles to celebrate. The first one is Leflaive’s 2005 Chevalier-Montrachet; I didn’t really plan to open one before 2020 but I’ve heard p.ox reports. The other has been in the cellar for three or four years, from only a single barrel of 1985 Richebourg from François Gros. Let’s see!
2005 Domaine Leflaive, Chevalier-Montrachet
Medium golden colour. The first notes on the nose were – ouch – of Jerez, I left the bottle for five or six hours. On returning there’s merely a suggestion of that oxidative note, more to the fore is dense core of aroma that smells of old oak and some suggestions of mature aromas. Full in the mouth, flavour growing in the mid-palate with cool acidity; the flavour is intense and very long, some creamy and toffee elements too – though it’s not particularly moreish. Day two it’s a little (not lots) better, still with a hint of oxidation. Day three there is none, perhaps the colour is also more yellow than gold. Now it has creamy depth with a hint of lanolin (normally I expect this on 15+ year-old wine). In the mouth it’s full and powerful a hint toffeed and still maybe not the greatest mid-palate flavour – but for the first time I’ve topped up my glass. So, this Chevalier is in an awful place right now. Accepted there were sherry aromas when opened, and even on day two. But no-one tasting this wine on day 3 would say it was premoxed, it has become cleaner every day; it was on the same level after 72 hours (open) as after 48 – just that rather frumpy presentation that many 05s show.
Rebuy – No (Probably! – anyway it’s too expensive now)
1985 François Gros, Richebourg
Bottle 79 of 320. The cork easily slides out in one piece – but what a disappointing looking thing – tiny compared to a villages cork from 08. Still, they say size isn’t everything! Medium colour – perfectly clear with just a hint of amber at the rim. Clean smelling, some dried leaves but no obvious fruit to start with, time adds some wet leaves and damp soil too. A narrow, soft and sweet entry but with good acidity and then suddenly there’s tannin in the mouth. Plenty of mid-palate flavour that seems to be molten essence of barrel and perhaps some minerality – much nicer than it sounds and is very complex and very long. The finishing flavours include in their complexity a hint of something volatile and also a hint of something oxidised. Far from seamless, but a wine that offers something new with every sniff and every taste. Lovely, but despite plenty of tannin, seems to be losing a little cohesion – if you have some of the the other 319 bottles I wouldn’t think that they will get better. On day two – despite overnighting in the fridge – too much oxidation for enjoyment.
Rebuy – No
So, the Chevalier improves just as the Richebourg fails – On one hand He gives and on the other He takes away. It wasn’t much of a ‘celebration’ really 😉