More Biodynamics in Burgundy
A Tasting of the Maison Champy
Believe what you will with respect to the whole biodyamics movement but it seems that more and more winemakers are jumping on board. Again, the buzzwords of being ‘faithful to the terroir,’ ‘respectful of the millisème,’’ typicité,’ are at the roots of the adoption of what seems on the surface such a wacky belief system. Maybe it is rooted in French arrogance, but perhaps that is what is needed to stand up and defend their winemaking style against that innocuous army of little penguins (which by the way is revolting).
Pierre Meurgey bought Champy in 1990 and has since worked to rebuild the reputation of Burgundys oldest winemaker (founded in 1720). With winemaker Dimitri Bazas, they exploit a number of sexy and lesser know appellations in Burgundy, accentuating maximum ripeness and terroir typicité. I found the Chardonnays remarkably, and sometimes excessively fresh, while the Pinot were highly extracted. Here’s the rundown.
Saint-Romain Blanc 2003 ($32…importation)
Remarkable acidity considering the vintage. Because of the extraordinary ripeness of the 03’s, they added what he called a homeopathic dose of tartaric acid for the sole purpose of creating an environment more conducive to the indigenous yeast strains that ferment his wine. Like many of the chardonnays of this region, I found it a bit thin and lacking a bit of aromatique exuberance.
Pernand Vergelesses 2003 Blanc ($38…importation)
My first Pernand Blanc and one of my favorites of the tasting. A beautiful floral nose and much better équilibre between freshness and richness. Anchored by an interesting minerality, it has potential to be greater with a short stint in the cellar.
Puligny-Monrachet 2003, Les Ensignères ($73..importation)
In their efforts to maximize the freshness of the wine, they sometimes seem to forget that this is Chardonnay and people want that richness. Thin.
Corton-Charlemagne 2003, Grand Cru ($144..importation)
Nice length with a bit of nutty bitterness on the finish. The best Corton’s that I have tasted have been aromatically intense and I found this one a bit muted, more along the lines of a Meursault. Pretty wine but a bit too expensive.
Chorey les Beaune 2003 ($30..saq)
It doesn’t get much better than this for $30. It tasted of spicey blackberry jam and was held up by soft, ripe tannins. Not the most elegant Pinot Noir I have ever tasted but for those people who find Pinot a bit soft, this is for you. Great Buy.
Beaune 1er Cru 2003, Champs Pimont ($57…importation)
This was the winner of the tasting. Ripe and rich with a wonderful complexity, it had a ton of fruit and with all those sweet spices (nutmeg, cinnamon) that make a great Beaune. Slightly reductive, it needs some time in carafe to get rid of that barnyard funk, but for those of you (like me) who appreciate that aromatic quality, you will have a noseful.
Gevrey-Chambertin 2003, Vieilles Vignes ($56..importation)
Nice density with a slightly licorice nose. I found it a bit rough, and even if this is Gevrey, it lacked a certain femininity. Nope.
Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru 2003, Les Beaux Monts ($109..importation)
Great. Soft, spherique and profound, it had an almost chocolate quality to it. This is Pinot at it’s best with explosive fruit, great length and a texture that made me want a plate of wild mushroom laced Guinea Hen. One of the better $100 burgundies that I have tasted.