December 17, 2009

Support for a Theory

The 2005 vintage of the Confuron-Cotetidot Vosne-Romanee smelled of woodsmoke and plum skins. It also had an odd, meaty note that I don't usually associate with Pinot. In the mouth, it was tart cherry fruit and peppery spice with a big, green-tinged tannic bite on the finish.

Given the growing conditions of the vintage, I expected ripe, maybe even over-ripe, fruit. I read somewhere that the high tannin levels in the 05s might be an issue. This bottle suggests that's true.

But it was remarkable to drink this next to the 2001. It was so clearly a younger relation. The wines had nearly identical structure, similar linear elements, common aromas and flavors.

Surely there's a big clue about terroir in those shared traits.

And in the differences.

December 13, 2009

An Education

As I mentioned, I was a little apprehensive opening the next installment of the Evolution (Red) series. The last bottle drank older than its years. I feared the 2001 vintage was set for early expiration.

So it was a startling epiphany when I tasted 2001 Vosne-Romanée last night.

The wine was really good. Way better than the last one.

All the architecture was there. But more fruit. Denser, more approachable. Stewed fruit, blackboard chalk, grape stems, white pepper and sandalwood on the nose. On the palate, tart cherry, allspice, leather, minerals and mocha.

I don't know if the last bottle was flawed, if slightly...

The Confurons have been vignerons for more than three centuries. More recently (80s), Jacky Confuron used careful vineyard management, grape selection and punched down the cap with his feet and so developed a reputation for making highly structured, old-school wines. More recently still (now), his sons Yves and Jean-Pierre have taken the helm but have continued making wines like Dad. The vineyards have NEVER seen pesticides, not even when this was fashionable. Vines are old. Yields are low. The wines have a reputation for their ability to age.

So maybe this wine is just coming into its own.

I've got nine to go. So I sure hope so.

I'll make good on my compare/contrast 2001 and 2005 tomorrow.

December 12, 2009

EVOLUTION 3.5: Better Late Than Never

The combination of my summer illness and the protracted negotiations regarding our TARP repayment has delayed the next installment in the Lab's EVOLUTION series. We're overdue to taste the next red.

Some of you may remember that the last time we drank one of the reds from our long duration experiment, 2001 Confuron-Cotetidot Vosne-Romanée, we drank it alongside an older vintage, a bottle from 1988. This time we thought we'd go the other way -- mostly because I happened to find a 2005 at a wineshop in town.

I'll admit, I'm a little nervous about this bottle. The last one seemed to be giving up the ghost (or at least the fruit).

Stay tuned.