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Tasting of Burgundies with Alex Gambal - Printable Version

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- wondersofwine - 05-12-2010 05:29 PM

Alex was at Nana's Restaurant in Durham last night with three of his white Burgundies and three reds. We had hors d'oeuvres with the wines (toast rounds with mozarella cheese and jam, with brie and slice of strawberry, and mini-rounds of shrimp and crabcake, and a stronger cheese (Epoisse? or Gruyere) on toast with red pepper? and spiced meatballs.

All wines tasted were from 2007 vintage.

Alex produces about 5,000 cases a year--about half of it white wine. He is now growing about 30% of the grapes he uses. He uses organic methods and is moving towards biodynamic techniques.

(I sat next to the mystery novelist Jeffrey Deaver at the table. I did not realize that Alex graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1979. Several of his former classmates were at the tasting.)

BOURGOGNE-CHARDONNAY CUVEE PRESTIGE. Lifted, penetrating nose, leggy, medium to long finish. Some pear Helene flavor. Sees 10-15% new oak. (I have a 2006 of this at home to open next.)

CHASSAGNE-MONTRACHET. He made only nine barrels or 175 cases of this wine. It was a little less assertive and more elegant than the Cuvee Prestige. Slightly buttery. Very attractive finish that encourages running the tongue over the lips or taking another sip. It was an especially apt pairing with the toast points with brie. I order two bottles @ $48 plus tax. (In comparison the Drouhin Chassagne-Montrachet which I really liked at a Charlotte tasting sells for $75.)

CORTON CHARLEMAGNE GRAND CRU. This showed a richness that is almost chewy. It was very nice last night but Alex said it will be at its best after nine years. Sells for $125.

Moving to the reds:

BOURGOGNE-PINOT NOIR "lES DEUX PAPIS". Unlike the "Les Deux Papis" (I don't know the vintage) we tasted in Charlotte, this had no trace of Brett. Cherry flavor but something deeper as well that I couldn't identify. The grapes are from the Volnay area and Alex suggests drinking this over the next eight years. From 20-25-year-old vines.

SAVIGNY LES BEAUNE "VIELLES VIGNES". Over 50-year-old vines. Pale rosy color with some transparency. This was declared one of "Wine Spectator's" bargain wines of the vintage. Alex produced 10 barrels, 250 cases. I found more elegance here than I usually find in Savigny wines leading me to purchase two bottles @ $36. I enjoyed this with a spice meatball.

CLOS VOUGEOT GRAND CRU. Gorgeous nose. Grapes are from a recently retired farmer. He and his brother have 110 years of growing grapes (60 years for one and 50 years for the brother.) Coats the palate. Leads into a long, pleasant finish, goes on and on. He says because the grapes are from the higher part of the Clos Vougeot slope, they get more morning sun and ripen better. At $145 this was much more than I normally pay for a single bottle and may be my most expensive bottle purchase (even more than a Lafite from a so-so vintage that I'm still holding.) But after passing up ordering it last night, I reconsidered today and put through the order for one bottle. I did receive some unexpected money when my aunt died late January so easy come, easy go with a bit of it. It's fun to drink now and I don't want to hit it in a dormant period so may commit infanticide on this bottle. The grapevines are 35-60-years old.

Fun evening which helped settle my nerves after something exploded in my engine compartment? under my car? right in front of my car? while I was driving west on I-40 towards Durham. I pulled over to the shoulder expecting to see a blown tire or dent from a big rock or leaking oil pan or something but no indication of problems. I will have Jiffy Lube take a look next week when I go in for an inspection and oil change but it is almost as if a firecracker or explosive went off under my car. A loud bang, some smoke, but no real shaking of the frame.