May 02, 2007

Burgundy from Scott Paul Selections

A few weeks back, I had the pleasure of attending an “advanced” Burgundy class held by Scott Wright at his Carlton winery, Scott Paul Wines.

Burgundy in the heart of Oregon Pinot Noir county? Do they drink Oregon in Burgundy? I don’t know, but I’m sure there’s no one importing Oregon wine in Beaune. Of course, things are different here.

In addition to producing some of the more interesting local Pinot Noir out there, Scott Paul Wines is also Scott Paul Selections, representing some terrific white and red wines from the Cote d’Or.

Scott Wright also leads a series of tasting classes on Burgundy, from beginner to “graduate” level, demystifying the complexities of what is obviously his passion. Of course, there is no simplifying the absurdities of some vineyard names and classifications, yet Scott somehow explains it and makes you feel good with his almost jolly manner. He even supplies detailed maps, whicha person has to love.

We sat down in two long tables in the front room of the old brick winery building and began with a single white wine. The 2004 Philippe Chavy Puligny-Montrachet had a pretty greenish gold color and nicely complex, floral, apple, and hazelnutty oak aromas, then oily tangy lemon lime flavors with barrel notes. The oak flavors are a bit rough right now, but this wine has nerve and length and should age for several years. Very nice, and in Scott’s words, classic Puligny.

Then a selection of wines from Pommard, to highlight the same producer working with two vineyards, and the same vineyard in the hands of two different producers.

First, the 2004 Aleth Girardin Pommard Epenots 1er Cru, with an Oregon-like aroma of black cherries, underbrush, and woodsy spice that, were it from here, might be one of the best Oregon wines I’ve smelled. The bright cherry flavor had a ripe, sweet quality that also suggests the new world. But this is Burgundy, with mineral acidity that promises more in the future, as good as it was today. Scott notes that Aleth Girardin’s holding in this vineyard are in the Le Grand Epenot section, which is a perennial candidate for upgrade to Grand Cru status. Upgrade are rare occurances, and this one isn’t actually likely to happen anytime soon.

Then the 2004 Aleth Girardin Pommard Rugiens 1er Cru, the vineyard half a kilometer away from Epenots. This was more subtle aromatically at first, then turned sweet and almost jammy, to me suggesting more the style of the producer (ripe) than a vineyard difference. In the mouth, this was also cherry dominated but finely tannic and again tightly structured, again suggesting cellaring for a few years.

Next, a 2004 Theirry Violot-Guillemard Pommard Rugiens 1er Cru that had a slightly lighter color and more finesse that the Girardin. This too smelled Oregon-like at first, with loamy earth and cherry, then pepper and floral notes. Scott used the term “lacy” a few times to describe the fine texture of good Burgundy, and this wine showed that lacy quality. Finely tannic and again tight and young, I really liked this aside from a slight bitter note on the finish. That’s picking nits though.

Next time, a pair of truly fine Grand Cru from Echezeaux and Vosne to finish the session.

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