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A Week In Burgundy With John Truax (Part 6)

Tuesday, November 17

I had to great fortune to be invited back to Becky and Russell’s house in Bouilland for another gala luncheon and a vertical tasting of Grivot Richebourg. Thanks to a generous Burgundy collector we able to taste every single vintage of Richebourg that Etienne Grivot has made. We had 20+ vintages on the table that day.

The wines were lined up on both sides of a bare wooden table. There were lots of accomplished wine tasters present from France, UK, Hong Kong, Singapore, the USA and points beyond. Any wines that our gracious host could not provide came directly from Domaine Grivot for the tasting. An effervescent British taster from Hong Kong exclaimed, “Oh my. This is just like “The Matrix” - Download Richebourg!” And so we did!

1985 - pale brick red, astringent, tannic, souring fruit but good stuff.
1986 - orange/red, still has fruit but fading fast.
1988 - healthy orange red color, good fruit, great length, very fine and rich and round.
1989 - palish red, starting to brick, very fine, spicy, beautiful and long. No spitting of this wine. Lovely, rich, pure, very very fine.**
1990 - palish red, no bricking, mushroomy? Not in perfect shape.
1991 - palish red, no bricking, very very sweet fruit, still some tannin, great stuff ***
1992 - palish red, some bricking, great fruit and menthol flavors, powerful, astringent, tannic, very very nice. **
1993 - pale and very healthy red. Tannic, astringent, very long and powerful.
1994 - pale but healthy color, astringent, drying out but really a good drink, especially with food. Good spice.
1995 - healthy rich red color. Stinky nose. Very tannic and astringent. Not my favorite.
1996 - deep rich red with no bricking. Great fruit in the mid-palate. Astringent and tannic. Very, very young.
1997 - healthy deep red color. Great fruit. Powerful. Astringent. Tannic. Full.
1998 - NG. Stinky. Shot.
1999 - First bottle corked. Second bottle brought from the domaine. Lovely rich red color. Pure and rich and fine. Great fruit. Powerful. All components in excellent balance. Great wine. ****
2000 - beautiful healthy red color. Very pure and fine ripe fruit. Round and rich. Excellent wine. ***
2001 - deep red color. Powerful, rich, pure fruit flavors and spice masking tannins and astringents. Very nice. Lots of power. Very complete wine. ***
2002 magnum! - surprisingly pale color. Souring nose of fruit and spice. Really remarkable. Very very fine. Powerful. ****
2003 - Cerise red, stewed fruits, tannin and astringents, will last a long time. Good stuff, very interesting.
2004 - Nice color. Pure, powerful, tannic, astringent. Needs time.
2005 - Rich color. Powerful sweet fruit. Lovely, seductive, super wine. ***
2006 - Deep color. Sweet fruit. Mouthweight, very very fine. Superb. ***
2007 - Beautiful sweet fruit, very grapey, powerful and complete.
2008 - Full flavored and fine. Very sweet fruit, spice, tannin, astringents, lovely and complete. Will last a long time.
2009 - Super sweet fruit. Rich and full and long and precocious.
2010 - Pure, rich berry fruit, tannin and astringents. Very complete.
2011 - Cool, menthol, licorice, lovely.
2012 - Rich, ripe, brambly, pure. Very very fine.
2013 - Deep color, big, pure, clean, fine and rich. Great wine.

After such a magnificent tasting, we needed to come back down to Earth. Russell made another fantastic meal. We had smoked salmon and champagne and a magnum of 2008 Roulot Meursault Charmes. It was beautiful and full and rich. And a magnum of 2009 Jean Noel Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Aux Chaumees.

Then Russell served his wonderfully soulful and earthy lentils and sausages which are known throughout the land and known universe. You can find his recipe on the Le Serbet website. Truly fantastic.

What great wine can you serve after a vertical tasting of Grivot Richebourg?1985 Bonnes Mares De Vogue from magnum. Very fine, sweet fruit, great, resolved - the tannin lay as sediment in the bottom of the bottle. Then aMagnum of 1999 Roumier Ruchottes Chambertin. Deep color, very blackberry fruit. Magnum of 1999 Grivot Echezeaux - deep black red. Wonderful black fruits on the nose. Pure and rich with a saline quality on the finish. And 2000 Comtes Lafon Volnay 1er Cru Santenots de Milieu. Nice, cerise color, rich red fruit, medium weight, good persistence and acidity. A lovely and nice wine. This would have been a showstopper on its own but the competition for attention was intense.

I was very lucky to get a ride back into Beaune with our host in a luxurious van with a group of very happy and well-fed Englishmen. I asked them to drop me near the arch in Beaune and meandered back to my apartment where I took a much-needed nap. It was still daylight.

When I awoke, it was dark and I was hungry. I wandered over to the Bistro de l’Hotel for a simple fish dinner without too much fuss. Fully expecting to eat by myself, much to my surprise there were two large tables full of people - many of whom I had run into again and again over the previous week. I saw my friend Jay sitting at the head table with Veronique Drouhin and her husband and the very gracious couple from the New York chapter of the Chevalier du Tastevin. The same couple who sat next to us for our first lunch in Burgundy a week before. They insisted I join them.

I asked the waiter if I could please get a simple fish and a glass of their most modest dry white wine, whatever he chose. Just after I ordered my fish and glass of white wine, a gentleman at our table offered me a glass of 1980 Drouhin Musigny. A very rare wine I never expect to see again. His warmth and generosity was surprising but that was his spirit. The waiter brought me a lovely fish and a glass of Heretiers de Comte Lafon Macon which was delicious with the fish and more along the lines of what I am accustomed to drinking in the normal course of my life. I sincerely believe that the simple wines give us perspective and allow us to better understand how magnificent and rare premier and grand cru wines are.

Some had dessert, all were sated after this long day of dining and drinking. I didn’t have any dessert or cheese. Some people ordered Armagnac and were going outside to smoke. I don’t smoke anymore and declined the offer.

Then our host took the check and proclaimed, “I’ll pay for this but not for their Armagnacs. They can buy their own.” They had ordered really fancy old Armagnac. I requested my check and much to my surprise the waiter told me it had been taken care of. What a gracious man.

Jay and I went back to our nearby apartment within easy stumbling distance from the Centre of Beaune. We were getting a ride to Geneva Airport the next morning and MoMo our driver wanted to get an early start. The day before he had taken someone to the Zurich Airport and was stopped three times on the way by various factions of the Swiss police. MoMo is a nickname for Mohammed and it had been just five days after the Paris attacks. As it turned out we got to Geneva Airport hours before our flight.