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.