The Gold Standard-Meursault, Les Vireuils, 2004

Like a symphony orchestra that gave me the chills with notes of lingering melancholia; or a poem I strain my ears to hear so that I might remember the words as I do old friends; or a sunset I dared not blink through in case I missed the next hue that would top what came before,  this Meursault (White Burgandy, Chardonnay) rivaled all great moments that have caused me to painfully concentrate on its moments of joy.

I know–that’s a lot of expectation to bestow upon a wine, but like all great and welcome surprises, I wasn’t prepared to be enamored.

The setting: I could wane about a terrible trip I had had leading up to this wine, but I prefer to recall the spectacular August night of Minnesota, with a well-cooked filet mignon and quiet company, this wine was a great point of punctuation to what rivals perfection.

The wine:  Meursault, Les Vireuils, 2004-Nicolas Patel hails from Nuit-Sant-Georges, the northern part of the Cote d’Or (“slope of gold”) in France’s Burgandy region, and as I already set the expectation earlier in this post, it was the perfect wine for the perfect night.

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Served chilled, but not overly cold, the wine was full-bodied, rich in texture and taste.  The wine was at first subdued butter, but surrendered to mineral tones that lingered on the pallet, and marked a delicate balance with it’s citrus and almond notes that came through the medium plus acidity.  While I could have had the wine on it’s own, it held its own in body against filet mignon (cooked in butter) and its acid and fruit flavors played well off of the steamed and season cabbage, of all things!

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The wine was a suspended note of gold wrapping that made me want to linger in the moment longer that what was possible.  Yet, as Robert Frost wrote of gold, it is the hardest hue to hold and ultimately, cannot stay.  But, the good news is the wine is still on the shelf, and will hopefully bring future good memories to bear.

The good (or bad?) bottom line: You can find this in Minnesota.  I found mine at Haskell’s, Maple Grove (Retail: $30-50, depending on sale).

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My story of Burgandy: Savigny-Les-Beaune

Like every person, every wine has a story.  Some are great epics, others merely small vignettes, or even, dare I say, a blog, a mention, or a passing thought.   What is inherent at the heart of any good tale is the character of our hero and the reason for his/her/its existence.

These days I find myself more and more intrigued by the story told by a Pinot Noir, and as of late and more specifically, by a Burgandy.   Like an episode of “The Game of Thrones,” there is a turbulent story of power and intrigue behind the French region and the history of its wine.   What remains after years of seclusion and then slicing and dicing of vineyards, the exiling of other grapes by fierce rulers, and disease and blight is a wine that is nuanced, perhaps a bit temperamental, and one that exhibits a story many will pay big money for if told correctly.

In the Oxford Companion to Wine, Janis Robinson writes, “If Cabernet produces wines that appeal to the head, Pinot’s charms are decidedly more sensual and transparent.”

Enter, the winephoto-100 of the day: Bourchard Pere & Fils’ 2010 Premier Cru Savigny-Les-Beaune from Les Lavieres. That’s a mouthful even I don’t understand on the surface. (It being French and all).

Below the surface and the cork is also a wine of mystery, but one quick to unfold and very expressive.  At first pass (it was a long day—I skipped the nose and went for the throat), the wine exhibited notes of baked tart cherry (almost with a currant flavor behind it), oak and spice.  Diving in a little deeper and letting it open up, I also found flavors of raspberry, leather (a light leather coat that has seen some air, versus a heavy sofa kept inside), white pepper, and savory notes of smoked meat.  It had a beautiful, complex flavor, bright fruity notes, medium acid and a long, lovely finish.

This wine was, as Robinson points to, very sensual. To me, it would be a crushed red-velvet dress or smoking jacket one finds in a thrift store—a treasure that is comforting, extravagant but a bit dusty at the same time. You buy it because there will be a night perfect for it’s subtle drama.

I was sold. I bought a bottle.   And I probably will buy more, even if it’s to drink alone during a cold, stormy Minnesota winter’s night.  At $49.99 it is not a cheap wine to drink on a daily basis, but it will be a night worthy of whatever story you choose to tell, be it sonnet, saga or a little salacious narrative.  Sante!

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