May 04, 2007

Scott Paul Selections: Grand Cru

Picking up where I left off the other night on the Scott Paul Selections Burgundy course, we reach the Grand Cru.

Tonight, two wines from Francois Lamarche, a producer whose lackluster reputation of years past Scott Wright made no bones about mentioning. Times have clearly changed.

First, the 2004 Francois Lamarche Grandes Echezeaux Grand Cru, which shows a delicate aroma at first that opens to a meaty red fruit compote fragrance. In the mouth, the texture is silky with red fruits and young, crunchy acidity that again suggests aging. There’s good length here, and overall I enjoy this wine but know it really needs time.

Also needing time, but showing tremendously tonight, is the 2004 Francois Lamarche La Grand Rue Grand Cru. La Grande Rue was the most recent vineyard to be upgraded to Grand Cru status, no surprise as it sits between the fabled Romaneé Conti and La Tache sites. This wine is excellent, with a floral, subtle at first black fruit and complex spice aroma. In the mouth, it’s firmer than the luscious perfume suggests, with fine tannin and a long, elegant sweet fruit and earth flavor. I could smell and drink wine like this all night long, and also want a bunch of bottles to store away for ten or more years. Too bad the price is so dear at $115.

In sum, the class was mostly review for this geek. But I learned some interesting tidbits, such as a lieu dit being not just a subplot of a larger vineyard, which it is in some cases, but also the vineyard itself. Yet as plain and accessible as Scott made Burgundian minutiae for this crowd, I felt like people could go away, despite what we tasted, still believing that the whole Grand Cru and Premier Cru system is just a bunch of marketing.

Sure, all classifications have a purpose of separating what is at least allegedly the “best” from the rest. But in the case of Burgundy, even just a look at the Cote d’Or via Google Earth will show the obvious – the best sites are those with the best exposure, and they’re all at least 1er Cru. There are few deserving sites missing from the top classifications, and despite underachievement on the part of some growers, there are few classified sites that are lackluster as sites. Soils will further dictate what grows best, so you see Chardonnay here and Pinot Noir there.

Try and find a great exposure in the Cote d’Or that’s not already at least a 1er Cru. You can’t do it. And that’s not just marketing. It’s terroir, and it’s fact. These terrific wines from Scott Paul Selections only underscore the point.


Marshall Manning said...

As I understand the term "lieu dit" (sometimes spelled lieux dit), it's simply a named vineyard, whether or not it's a village-level wine or a Premier Cru wine. In geek speak, a wine that's called a lieu dit normally means that it's a named vineyard that isn't classified as anything other than a village wine, as in a Meursault Les Chevaliers from Matro, for instance.

Vincent Fritzsche said...

I never heard that particular distinction. I always thought a lieu dit was a subsection of a vineyard, especially better vineyards that warranted such distinction and usually in larger sites that warranted further breakdown of terroir. But what do I know?

Ted said...

Here is the definition from the OCW:

lieu-dit, French, usually Burgundian term for a specific, named plot of land which is in practice used on labels for vineyards below Premier Cru in rank.

Also, if I remember my high school French correctly, lieux-dit would be the plural form of lieu-dit.

Vincent Fritzsche said...

Thanks Ted. Nice to "see" you reading through here.

Ray Walker said...

You can also have lieux dit on Grand Cru such as Aux Charmes which is a specific named section of Charmes-Chambertin. Any named vineyard that is a subsection of an appellation could in theory be called a lieu dit as it is a named place.

Vincent Fritzsche said...

Thanks Ray. That's how I came away understanding things. That a lieu dit is a specific subplot of a larger vineyard. As you know, so often here in the US those smaller plots are just "block 2" or whatever. Sometimes they are a bit more descriptive though.