In the past week I've had the pleasure to drink two Burgundies that were such opposites of each other, I had to write about them. Both are made from the Pinot Noir grape and both are from the Côte de Beaune in the Southern portion of the Côte d'Or in France, but the age difference alone allowed me the chance to reflect on the beauty of wines from Burgundy.
I was lucky enough to grab the bottle of 1978 Remoissenet Volnay at Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa, FL. Upon first opening the bottle, the wine smelled of funky dirty earthiness and dried cherries. Very quickly the funk blew off and the wine opened to seamless red fruits. Cherry and ripe red raspberry were at the core, but dried herbs and dusty earth were there as well. The ample acidity kept the flavor amazingly fresh despite its age. If there ever was much tannin, the 38 years of age turned it to nothing. The texture was smooth as silk and the finish subtle and complex.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I ordered the 2013 Arnoux Savigny-Lès-Beaune online. I was actually quite worried about the bottle, I missed my original Fedex delivery window and when I got the bottles two days later, they were warm to the touch. Heat and light are the natural enemies of wine. I was sure my bottles had been cooked and rendered undrinkable. Imagine my surprise when I popped the cork and found the bottle happy, alive, and un-cooked. On the nose and palate are bright and tart cranberry, red cherry, and underripe raspberry with quite a lot of minerality, specifically crushed rocks. Tannins are present, but barely perceptible. My only complaint was the lack of complexity, but honestly, this is a wine I could drink all day and be happy.
Reflecting on both bottles has led me to some definite thoughts to consider. Neither bottle is a Premier or Grand Cru, and while Remoissenet is a well-respected producer, this Volnay doesn't have the pedigree that would make one think it should be aged very long at all. I have to seriously wonder what the Remoissenet tasted like in its youth. Both wines show ample acidity, the single most important factor for age-worthiness of wine, yet I can't imagine the 2013 Arnoux being as good 10 years from now, much less making it to 38, but if I did hold onto one of my bottles and popped it open in 2051, would I be pleasantly surprised? And right there, that's the true mystery and beauty of wine. You never know for sure until you pop the cork and pour a glass. There are guides you can follow, best guesses to be made, but in the end, every bottle of wine is its own little magical being, living, changing with time, sometimes improving, sometimes degrading, with age. And for me, that's one of its greatest pleasures.
Labels: Burgundy, Pinot Noir, Wine, Wine Review