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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Friday, August 07 2009. 17:41

Blog : Bruised Burgundy at its Best

Patricia Corcia, an exporter from Burgundy left a bottle of  Griotte Chambertin 2000 Chezeaux, a Grand Cru red Burgundy for tasting with me few months back which got bruised somewhere along the time in the cellar where I had stuck it in. What happened to it? Read on…

Let me tell you something about the label first. It was produced by Domaine Chezeaux, a producer of Gevrey Chambertin, one of the prestigious villages in Burgundy, which is one of the better known Burgundy villages in India. A Burgundy wine is classified in four levels of the quality hierarchy. At the bottom is the Bourgogne red (the Regional AOC) which means the grapes could be from anywhere in Burgundy but made under some stipulations; 52% of wines from the region are in this category. Then there is the village (communal) appellation- Gevrey Chambertin in this case- 34% of all Burgundy wines are in this category.  Next comes the Premier Cru with only 11% share. But the Best of Burgundy is the Grand Cru, absolute top of the line; only 2% of the total production falls in this category.

Gevrey Chambertin is the northernmost end of the true Côte d'Or. The largest of all of the communes, it has nine- Grands Crus (Chambertin, Chambertin Clos de Bèze, Chapelle Chambertin, Charmes Chambertin, Griotte Chambertin, Latricieres Chambertin, Mazy Chambertin, Mazoyeres Chambertin and Ruchottes Chambertin).

So the 2000 vintage was the top of line Burgundy wine which needed to be stored for about 8-10 years to start getting the best of its flavours. The 2000 was relatively a poor vintage and would not shoe off the best of Burgundy and would not also last for 20+ years that a good year would see the wine mature and mellow in the bottle. This bottle currently retails for $100-120 in the US and UK. Although the more delicious and better regarded vintage of 1999, commands 50% more price.

Though I had kept the bottle in my wine cellar at 13º C (I like to store at the lower end of the range 13-15º C because of the frequent power cuts in Delhi), I noticed the cork had moved about three-fourth of  an inch. Worried about the oxidation possibility though hoping the cork was long enough (many good quality bottles use longer and thinner corks to minimize the chances of oxidation), I shifted it to one corner and watched its cork position every month-luckily I did not see any more displacement.

A couple of days ago I decided to take the plunge and open the bottle. The cork had popped out about three fourth of an inch but the ullage (gap between the wine and the cork) was fine. The first swirl and sniff and the smell was fine- much relieved. Some more wine, some more swirling and sniffing - the perfumed bouquet was absolutely enchanting. I decanted it gently and left it for breathing for 30 minutes- less than I normally would.
The long and complex bouquet of roses, cherries and berries could make everyone on the table just nose it all night long. The wine was a light bodied and elegant, rather feminine and seductive in its charm. It had beautiful balance, soft tannins almost to the point of being weak-structured (vintage might have had something to do with it too). Wine with a long finish and intensity and easy and very pleasant on the palate. It appeared that by looking after it well, I was able to avoid a potential disaster.

So next time when you see the cork popping out, you need to wonder what caused it and do you need to open it right away or if you can wait a while. If it is an expensive wine or a delicate wine like a Burgundy, you need to nurture the bruise to get its best. And I hope you have slightly better understanding of one of the best red wines from France. Good luck!

Subhash Arora


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