Dinner with Bernard Burtschy

Just had a nice dinner with the great French wine critic Bernard Burtschy in Paris. We spoke about Bordeaux 2009 en primeur and largely agreed on a lot of things:

  • we both think that the Left Bank was on average better than the Right bank
  • he also was not as thrilled with the Graves region as other critics were.
  • he also thinks that Haut Brion was far better than La Mission Haut Brion.
  • we both loved Calon Segur and Leoville Las Cases but also Trotanoy (too bad that will be very expensive).
  • we agreed that Vieux Chateau Certan was not nearly as successful as in 2005.
  • furthemore, we both think that 2009 Sauternes is a fine vintage but may not be a ‘great vintage’ especially for lovers of complexity in Sauternes. He explained that it may not have the complexity of 2007, and that 2001 has both complexity and intensity, while 2009 certainly has intensity. It reminds him of 1989, he said.

We differed on a few things. He likes Petrus in 2009 more than in 2005. Not that most of us will buy any, but he found it riper (later picking in 2009) and more concentrated. I preferred the nuance of the 2005…

In any case, we had a great dinner, kicking things off with a bottle of Moet Chandon 1995, which was quite refreshingly energetic, showing zesty citrus fruit, perhaps a hint of “sock”, but also good body. Overall very nice and just easy to drink. I was not sure what to expect from Moet in 1995, as I am not really a fan of their basic brut and have not always been enthralled by their vintage wines, but the 1995 did taste like a mini Dom Perignon.

Bernard had purchased some fresh rouget (red mullet fish) from a local market, and it was delicious with a nicely aged Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Gueberschwihr VT 1983 late harvest. The residual sugar was very well integrated, the wine showed some intriguing notes of chestnut as well as white fruit and dried nut, with smoke. I really enjoyed this as it was not overly rich and matched the flavorful fish well.

Then came the supreme treat of a Chateau L’Evangile Pomerol 1978, which we enjoyed with roasted pork and broccoli. What a fine nose of graphite and toffee, which as it sat in glass started to dominate the palate, which was quite robust and showed mint freshness as well. I liked a certain lead pencil quality – almost like the Medoc – which came later. 80 percent Merlot however and the rest Cabernet Franc. What was also nice was a sneaky, lingering espresso-laded finish.

Many thanks to Bernard for the invitation! I hope to taste with him in the months to come.

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