Everybody working in a certain level of restaurant has experienced the frustration that accompanies a guest sending back a pricey bottle of wine, insisting that it’s faulted in some way. This is unfortunate for restaurant owners and sommeliers as well, who simply have to deal with losing money on a bottle that they’re unable to sell, and the loss has to simply be absorbed by the restaurant’s budget.
On the other hand, sometimes guests send back wines that are not only perfectly fine, but are showing very well- such as this smashing Brunello, a wonderful example of its ilk- insisting that something isn’t correct. Perhaps the wine just isn’t what they are expecting, or what they’re accustomed to. It’s also all too common that the tertiary aromas and nuances of aged wine are mistaken for faults by inexperienced drinkers. In this case, the result is the same; the sommelier is left with a bottle of wine that they’re unable to sell.
Of course, since in this case the staff may as well enjoy it, this isn’t always the worst case.
07.24.2011 Château des Charmes Vineyard, Niagara on the Lake
Vineyard tour on our way out of Canada
I’ve been unfortunately too busy to enjoy wine on my own time, and tasting opportunities have been few and far between. The casual summertime tasting I’ve been doing is mostly of things not really worth sharing, either; I’ve been sticking to easy, refreshing white wines and beer. The other day, though, presented me with a rare and incredibly exciting tasting opportunity:
While these were both consumed far too young, they were both incredibly interesting.
The Grands Echezeaux was light, sleek and vine grained; on the nose it displayed just a touch of raspberry, sour cherry and cranberry fruit, supported by deep underlying notes of mineral, sweet tobacco, bay leaf, and a fine minerality. On the palate, concentration is immediately evident. Fine grained tannins and sharp, focused acidity support sour cherry and earthy, compost-like flavours, with earthy, mineral character beneath. Oak is present and not quite integrated in this wine’s youth, but still manages to be balanced. Impressive length to the finish, as well. It can be difficult to make wines that are as light in body and taut as this one is, but still manage to come across as concentrated complete, and that is the most impressive thing about this wine.
The Echezeaux, while still being quite closed, showed almost no fruit on the nose, perhaps just a suggestion of ripe cranberry, and crab apple. An opulent exoticism dominates here, with a complex bouquet of nutmeg, cardamom, vanilla, toasted nuts and rose petals being displayed. On the palate this is the larger of the two wines, but still not immensely full bodied. Fruit is not quite in full showing, with tart cranberry and raspberry notes playing off of flavours of oak, cardamom, grilled nuts and baking spices. Still tight as a drum, but concentration is again here, contrasting to the wine’s lightness. Tannins are present but well integrated, and the finish is very long. This has a long way to go, as well.
These two wines both came across as examples of elegant and understated winemaking. Despite their youth, and although 2007 is generally not considered the finest vintage for red Burgundies, I once read somewhere that the wines of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti act as the yardstick for vintages in Burgundy, expressing both the character of the vintage and the potential for fine winemaking that it has, and after having tasted these two, I understand that statement much better.