|$28.04 per bottle with case discount.|
The second chance.
What’s so wonderful about this wine? For one thing, from my point of view, I get a second shot at it. I had planned on cellaring this because I enjoyed it out of barrel, and who passes up 2005 1er Cru red Burgundy at around $30? Not me. I stalk wines like this. Six bottles were as good as in my cellar except for the fact that a wholesale account swooped in when my back was turned and took our entire inventory. I remember the day well. I walked past the loading dock and saw a pile of wine. “What’s all the Monnot Maranges doing on the loading dock?” I inquired gently, yet firmly. “We sold it all to *name omitted to protect the semi-innocent*,” was the answer. My jaw dropped. I shook my fist. I howled. But there was nothing to be done. Or was there? Turned out there was still a bit more in France. It arrived in our warehouse last week.
The Xavier Monnot wines are relatively new to us, but we’ve already taken a shine to their verve and intricacy. Monnot’s 2005 red 1er Crus from Beaune and Volnay are notable for their depth and concentration. This is coupled with subtle tannin extraction that avoids any overwrought character brought on by carelessness in vintages of high dry extract. This Maranges is in the same mold except for the fact that it is a 1er Cru monopole for $28.04 with the case discount. Let’s look at that previous sentence. Less than $30 for a 1er Cru? True the Clos de la Fuissiere isn’t Richebourg, but the wine in this bottle is definitely high quality red Burgundy. You folks that were asking for vineyard designate Burgundy under $30 and I kept saying it doesn’t exist, well, I’m happy I’m wrong. For a few days anyway.
This is one of those wines that will slake our thirst for the reds from this vintage in 5 years. It will be hitting its stride when those broad shouldered $70 and up bottles are just beginning to peak out from their structure. It is technically drinkable now in terms of the tannin profile, in that it doesn’t tear the roof of your mouth off, but the wine is more shy now than it was 6 months ago, signaling it is heading off to sleep with the rest of the 05 reds. When we opened it one morning (yes, morning, we’re professionals and therefore allowed to open wine in the morning, it makes our palates stronger) it was reticent, but by the evening when I took it home, the aromatics had arrived, and the palate was just beginning to emerge. The next evening it started to hum, and now I have a nice stash of it in my cellar. So, if you are curious, be patient after you open it, but the best strategy is to be truly patient and wait till the two thousand teens. Besides Burgundy wants bottle bouquet, and the only way to get some of that is to age the wine in bottle.
Maranges is basically an extension of Santenay and the Clos de la Fuissiere is in the sweet spot of the appellation, half way up the hill. Though in normal vintages the wines are more delicate than the Cotes de Nuits powerhouses, 2005 finds it right where you want Burgundy: with concentration and finesse. Kind of like Chambolle Musigny at half the price. The mantra of ‘buy little wines in big vintages’ has never been so appropriate as the relatively obscure Maranges shows well ahead of it’s classification. Who knew that our best value 1er Cru from this vintage would come at the end of the campaign, but I think it is a perfect way to book end a years worth of wines from this outstanding vintage. – Ben Jordan
|$28.04 per bottle with case discount.|
As I said before, the wine was shy when we opened it, but the nose opened nicely with a few hours of coaxing. One trick I employ to get a sneak peak at the aromatics to come is to let the wine sit covered in the glass (we use the base pieces from broken stemware) for a while. When I come back to it, I don’t worry about swirling, just put it to my nose, and I find all sorts of perfume that was hidden by the wine’s youth. This practice brought my first shiver of excitement for this Maranges. Upon later inspection this wine was effusing the aromas without the aid of my trickery, and not to pour another glass for a drunk horse, but I love the magic of aromatics.
‘Cracked cherry’ is a tasting note term I would like to coin. In the same way cracking pepper releases the essence and flavor of the peppercorn, this wine has a snappy, essence of cherry character to it. There is also a ‘fleeting spice-rack’ aspect to the attack. It comes at you when you’re not looking and then runs off in the other direction before you have a chance to really detail it. When that happens to me I write things like ‘sandalwood’ because I don’t know what sandalwood tastes like, and I have a sneaking suspicion that no one else does either. On another level, the finish reminds me of Bordeaux. This may sound odd, but it has that lovely earthen character that sets Bordeaux apart from New World cousins. It is what I think we meant when we used to describe wines as “dry”, not in a sugar sense or in terms of the tannic interaction with the palate, but in terms of the flavor as the fruit finishes. It is both attractive and distinct. This is a sensation that always translates itself into class and poise in my notes. And that’s really what we should say about this wine. Lots of class, and lots of poise.