|Teaching is thirsty work|
We arrived at two o'clock and he ushered us in to his little cuverie, which was a bit of a shock after the generous, even cavernous space that houses Domaine des Croix where I worked this year. He told us a bit about his vineyard and winemaking practices (he works organically in the vines, harvests everything by hand, de-stems, uses only native yeasts, blah blah) and then we went down into the cave to taste. Moment of truth... Would his wines prove him a fraud? Unsurprisingly, the answer was no.
The wines were almost uniformly excellent. As you may or may not have heard at this point, 2009 is a critic's darling of a vintage in Burgundy (and elsewhere in France). The wines are generally ripe, full of lush fruit and relatively high levels of alcohol. I have tasted some wines since arriving that I really enjoy and some that I find too plush. Soft these were not, but rather extremely elegant, full of high-toned red fruit, cedar and with a vein of chalk minerality that ran through the whole lineup, from the Bourgogne Rouge to Pommard villages and on up to the "Rugiens" and "Argillieres" Premier Crus. The oak was present but hardly oppressive. They still had the firm tannins and broad shoulders that set Pommard apart from its neighbors but these were very pretty wines.
He opened a 2008 and 2006 "Argillieres" for us to taste as well, which shared that same sense of restraint and delicacy with the 2009s, perhaps even more so, as they are both vintages which lend themselves to a leaner style. He also talked constantly throughout the tasting, telling us about a winemaking project in China he has been consulting on (his first vintage was 2002), and about vines he is helping plant in Senegal. Clearly the guy is no slouch when it comes to earning a living either.
The whole experience was rather reassuring to me. From all the beatings that trade schools have taken in the press in the US over the last couple of years, one gets the impression that they often employ third rate instructors who teach because they would never be hired in the real world. On Sunday I got to see the fruits of the labor I'm sitting in class learning about all day, and they were very tasty. Alvie Singer, eat your heart out.