We went with our good friends Eli & Gilly to a newly opened tapas restaurant in Tel-Aviv, whose owner and chef (two different people) we both know well. We discussed beforehand what wines to bring and decided on two top-of-the-line wines from the 1991 vintage: a Chambertin to represent Burgundy and a Cote Rotie from the Rhone.
For almost three hours an endless array of succulent small dishes kept arriving at our table: Scallops wrapped in bacon, grilled shrimps, mountains of thinly sliced superb Iberica jamon, young lamb chops, spanish chorisos and more.
I rarely find myself comparing wines from different regions. When I write about a wine I have tasted, I try to evaluate it on its own merit. One can like Pinot Noir more than Merlot or Cabernet more than Syrah. But wines made of different grapes in different areas should be judged by their own qualities and against their expected typicity.
|Cote Rotie 'La Mouline'
This time however I think an exception is in order... here is why:
The vintage - Following the three (almost universally) great vintages of '88 '89 and '90, 1991 was initially sneezed at by most pundits. About 7-8 years later it started to emerge that - especially for the northern-most appellations of Cote de Nuits and the Rhone valley respectively - 1991 was a fantastic vintage indeed. So here we have two representatives, one from Gevrey-Chambertin and the other from Cote Rotie, of these specific appellations that turned out to be extremely successful in 1991.
The pedigree - Both these wines are the most illustrious representatives of their respective appellations, and perhaps even of their whole regions.
The taste-of-the-pudding test - We all agreed that in spite of the marked differences between them, these two wines had more in common than, say, any of them with a 1991 1st Growth Bordeaux, or any other region we could think of.
Wow! If that was not the longest apologetic paragraph I ever wrote, so here goes :)
Chambertin - Bought at auction May-96, for $120 (current market price ~$300).
La Mouline - Brought by Eli. (current market price ~$400)
COLOR: Both wines displayed nice medium-dark color. Lighting conditions prevented us from noticing differences in appearance if there were any.
Chambertin NOSE: A fountain of exquisite aromas. Cassis, fresh cherries, damp forest floor, some spice and well balanced wood notes. All that and more is engulfed by the most beautiful and clean 'Bourgogne Nose'. Deep, wide-spectrum and amazingly captivating nose.
La Mouline NOSE: Not altogether different. Similarly deep and concentrated. Less pronounced fruit but more laden with spice and raw meat aromas. Here too wood notes compliment and do not overshadow. Very rich, very polished and very enticing nose too.
Chambertin TASTE: Semi-ripe red fruit is just one of a million flavors and layers every sip of this wine reveals. A multi-dimensional wine if there ever was one. So deep and complex that the tiniest sip fills the mouth with ever-developing flavors. Noticeable tannins and good acidity. Still young and a touch unyielding. Unforgettable.
La Mouline TASTE: Absolutely delicious on the palate though somewhat less multi-facet than the Chambertin. Immensely concentrated tasty flavors that are immediately obvious and are fully integrated with the soft tannins and acidity. Surprisingly mature and harmonious. If the Chambertin gets the nod for complexity and breadth, La Mouline here is the 'tastier' or more delicious, of the two.
What I mean here is 'delicious' as in vanilla ice-cream, as opposed to 'complex' as in hot & sour soup [Gee, I knew I shouldn't have started that... lol].
LENGTH: Both wines have infinitely long and reverberating finish.
Chambertin TEXTURE & BALANCE: Full-bodied (in Burgundy terms) wine of immense complexity. Quite vigorous though never losing its delicate touch. Excellent grip and focus though not yet fully integrated. Really fine backbone and wonderful balance.
La Mouline TEXTURE & BALANCE: Medium-full body (in Rhone terms), super rich and winey with silky texture. Delicious fruity-spicy flavors that are harmoniously blended with the tannins and acidity. Perfectly balanced and surprisingly forward for its age.
Chambertin OVERALL: Extraordinary!! A truly great and complex Burgundy that will no doubt reach the Grand Vin mark in a few years.
La Mouline OVERALL: Extraordinary!! With more stress on richness of taste than on complexity it is hard to think of a better wine. For me at least this wine is close to its peak now.
|Chambertin & La Mouline MARK: 19.5/20.||BUY MORE? Yes.|
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Jacob "Yak" Shaya.