Whenever I question the efficacy of having so many bottles of wine rolling around in my basement (which admittedly I don't do too often in my pleasure-centered world) I'm going to have to refer to this post. If ever I needed a reminder of the amazing change that can take place in a bottle of grape juice, then this 2003 Joseph Drouhin Chorey-les-Beaune I took to dinner with friends a few weeks ago was it. Talk about exceeding expectations and once again reminding me of how lucky I am, not only to be able to drink and eat so well, but also that I can actually appreciate these things. Kind of a "thank you, god" moment!
When I stuck this bottle in my "wine cellar" (what I euphemistically call my assortment of boxes and metro racks piled with bottles and shoved into a corner of our basement) about three years ago I had hopes...not high, but at least modest expectations. Belying the fact that most people think you have to spend a ton of dough to drink great French pinot noir, this Burgundy was selling for $23 at the wine shack (actually I just checked and the 2006 vintage is still selling at the same price!). 2003 was a scorching hot vintage in France and even the pinot noir from a "lesser" appellation like Chorey got riper than usual. The classic example of how in great years a rising tide raises all boats Still this had the requisite acid to balance all that fruit, and this is what held it together and helped it become what we shared. What it was was a beautifully elegant, almost luxurious pinot. The aroma was all about cherries, plums, spice, and that incredible French dirt. I'd say "terroir" but that term always sounds so bad wine geek. Anyway, all those aromas were echoed on the palate where it spread across my tastebuds like a velvety, fruit filled blanket, gently and seductively caressing every pleasure center in my mouth. The hard edges were just starting to fall away, the acid and tannins blending in, and what was left was pure lusciousness. It kept opening up, revealing more and more complexity, the classic Burgundian earthiness coming more into the forefront, expanding and blending seamlessly with the ridiculously delicious fruit to make something pretty freakish. I told our friends this is what all American pinots wish they could grow up to be but never will. Kind of like the sophisticated cousin from France who comes to visit and charms everyone with that cute accent, making you feel like a slack jawed yokel. A rather happy development, and a perfect rebuttal to all those wine snobs who say you can't ever possibly afford to drink great Burgundy. Hey snob, stick your nose in this you self-impressed putz! On second thought, I wouldn't want their noses anywhere near my glass!!