Whorehouse Nose

I’ll get to the title later.  I’m hoping for lots of random search engine hits…

Back to business or, rather, not business.  Bordeaux EP is a commodity.  A few weeks back I tasted some wine, wine for drinking – some of us have forgotten that drinking it is what it’s about…

It’s hard not to be impressed by Nicolas Potel, pretty much on every level.  He is a lovely bloke who speaks an infectious Franglais.  He has an energy to him – a dynamis – that gets into his wines.  He makes excellent wine that can largely be bought at reasonable prices – either his domaine wines from his own vineyards or his negociant wines which are impeccably sourced, skilfully finished, delightfully well-tuned.  I used to think that a “yes man” was someone that was always up for it.  Nicolas Potel is always up for it.  I am a fan.

And he’s always up for some business: Domaine Roche de Bellene are the wines made from his own vineyards.  Maison Roche de Bellene wines are his “negoce” wines, wines that he has bought in barrel and “finished”, which is to say that they are children that he has brought up if not conceived.  Both sets are excellent.  The Collection Bellenum consists of mature wines that he has bought from 26 different domaines and is marketing himself, under his own label.  This might sound like money for old rope – there is none of his winemaking skill in the wines – but there is more to it, which is mostly his skill at selection and his connections: find me a Burgundian who either (a) doesn’t like and trust Nicolas and/or (b) afford his family name respect and, well, you just won’t.

So: forty odd wines dating from 1959 (and this was ethereal) to 2006.  And the 1959 was white.  The wines were variable, as wines of this age are.  The attendees mostly journos, again variable, which is part of the whole shebang.  Do you want everything to taste the same?  Do you want everyone to have the same opinion?  Not me.

Notes on the whole lot later once I can type then up.  In the meantime: best in show…

1959 Meursault

A village Meursault.  53 years old.  Sadly you can’t buy this and I am ashamed to admit that I was losing focus toward the end of the tasting.  My note:

“Lovely toasty nose.  Something else.  Cooking popcorn.  Lovely.  Syrup.  Caramel.  And again in mouth.  Very, very, very impressive.  Like drinking popcorn (n.b. sugared).  Just lovely.  Almost Sauternes-like.  All in place.  Almost indescribeable.”

The 1964 that followed was impossibly fresh but everything after this was in the 1959’s shadow.

1997 Clos de la Roche

“Yum.  Lovely plump ripeness on the nose.  Really lovely and with focus.  Plenty of weight thought it is the poise that impresses.  Lift.  Excellent.  Freshness.  Just delicious.”

One of our group is an MW journo who is particularly sensitive to faults in wine.  Indeed I thought he may have invented one at the tasting.  These are not technical notes, because this is wine.  This is about pleasure, not analysis, for me.  And it’s not about numbers (this is not commodity Bordeaux).  And 30-year old wines were not made in the science lab..

The final flight was all Chambertin.  The wine of the flight, indeed the red of the day, was the 1989 and again my note isn’t technical: it’s sensuous, which is what I reckon wine is all about.  Whorehouse nose?  Think western films, plump cushions, velvet, love; an escape from loneliness.  Think pleasure, think perfumed ladies who want to know your name.  Think cowboys who need some love and some sleep and some food.  Think respite, and the sunshine that is a new day.  Think total sensory satisfaction, executed with love and with class.

1989 Le Chambertin

“Much more here on nose (than the rather Cistercian 1988).  Immediate richesse.  Whorehouse nose.  Lovely.  And in mouth there is more ripeness.  Sweet.  Cushions, silk and completeness.  Quite lovely.  Excellent.”

With a subscription you can read what Jancis wrote here (she too was seduced by the Meursault) and I recommend Mr Bill Nanson here.  It was notable that these wines, rather than split opinions, formed them.  We all seemed to have different favourites, which is rather the point, no?

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