Fat and steel, cream and acid: white Burgundy synthsizes opposites. No surprise then to find there a Temple of Janus, the god of two faces: one coming, one going, one happy, one sad. Contradiction may be at the heart why of Burgs appeal to CQ, but we also think it works as Breakfast Wine.
Following: other thoughts with which we left a recent 2001 1ere Cru tasting, where 8 participants tried 8 wines blindly, each ranked them and then took averages of rankings.
CQ's #1 - Ramonet, Chassagne Montrachet, Morgeot. Group's #3 of 8. Lush minerals and floral notes in the nose and what some called slutty or promiscuous oak on the tongue, balanced by great acids and a hugely long finish. All one could hope for in a baby white Burg. Kind of strange to be seduced by oak, but at least one's assured this is old and french rather than young and flexing. $48
CQ #2 - Bonneau de Martray Conton Charlemagne. Group's #1. Beautiful nose of ash with muted banana; others noted hazelnut and butterscotch. Robust elegance with impeccable structure. Interestingly (?) the lightest in color of our 8 - almost clear. $60
CQ (closely tied for #3) #4 - Chateau de la Maltroye, Chassagne Montrachet, Dents de Chien. Group's #4. We found cappucino, cinnamon, coffee, chocolate notes in the nose - not sweet but rather soft and pretty, with an urchin-like acidic curl to it; fat and complex on the palate. Quite long too; a bitter flirtatiousness that wouldn't unhand you. $70
All these four really lovely.
CQ #5 Colin-Deleger, Chassagne Montrachet, Vergers. Group's #6. Still really nice wine: a flinty chalky lemony nose but a little too sweet on the palate; fell apart structurally at the end. $40
CQ #6 Bernard Morey, Chassagne Montrachet, Morgeot. Group's #5. Nice nose, could definitely feel the youth on it though. A great deal less to be found in the mouth: thin, burnt lemons. $35
Of the last two we were less fond:
CQ #7 Michel Neillon, Chassagne Montrachet, Les Champgains. Group #8. Nose of sugar with a gushy slosh on the palate and saccherine aftertaste. $50
CQ #8 JM Boillot, Puligny montrachet, Referts. Group's #7. Our notes read: "Yuk. Imploding wine," another mentioned "Welch's grape juice"; one suggested faint hints of botrytus. $48
White Chardonnay grapes in Burgundy gain complexity and grace from growing in acidic, minerally chalks and limestone, high in calcium carbonate. California'a fat, round, buttery Chardonnays grow in less acid and more fertile soils; if good wine can be made from them it wil be through manipulating how the climate, not the soil effects grapes.