Saturday, November 28, 2009

A night with the legend of Burgundy

Henri Jayer who died in 2006 left behind a legacy and a future path for Burgundians to follow. He epitomized the phrase "do as little in the winery as possible". This non-interventionist attitude did not mean "do nothing" however, just not in the tanks but in the vineyard. Unfortunately, it is not clear whether he has any equal or successors ( in the form of Rouget or Meo-Camuzet ) to this legacy. There is something about these wines which is unmistakable. Just as Domaine Leroy wines have an unmistakable "fingerprint" so does Henri Jayer.

1990 Echezeaux. George et Henri Jayer.

Vinified, produced, elevated and bottled by Henri Jayer. I think we should put the myth to rest that this wine is not qualitatively as good as Henri's own - it is. Coming from a section of Echezeaux located right below Grand Echezeaux it was multi faceted and complex. Needs about an hour of air with smells of plum, cherry, tea, vanilla & cream, herbs and minerals. I have never had an Echezeaux with such a complex and ever changing bouquet. On tasting again multi faceted and layered with a long finish. The most appropriate words for this was "symphony". Stylistically speaking there is nothing quite like Henri Jayer, not Leroy not DRC. Everything in the right amounts, balanced nothing out of proportion or wasted. 96+ points

1993 Echezeaux. Henri Jayer

This was made from Henri's own plot. This was starting to come into it's own after the 1990 started to fade ( roughly 2.5 hours after opening). Again that Jayer fingerprint of supreme competance of balance, focus proportion and nothing out of place or wasted. This was less complex in the aroma section compared to the 1990 there were plums, tea, minerality incredible balance in the mouth as well as a more impressive tannin structure and very very long. The tannins had a little bitterness to it which started to fade/back down later (~2hours). This may need a few more years to hit it's stride. While it had a less complex and chameleon like aromatic structure whatever it had was more focused and more pure. So it comes down to preferences - and these could change even in the same person day to day. While the 1990 was a symphony, the 1993 was a "soloist". The best analogy I can think of is music. Sometimes you want to hear Fritz Reiner or George Solti conducting the CSO. Sometimes you want to hear David Oistrakh doing a violin solo. Both are equally valid and equally good. 95+ points.

1997 Fontaine Gagnard "Le Montrachet"

This is because it required lots of time to open up. The color was medium gold and my first concern was oxidation but this wasn't the case. Notes of caramel, toast, oak and minerals. Came alive about 2 hours after opening - powerful. If you can imagine Batard Montrachet then this would be it's big brother. I was hoping for a little bit more complexity - not an epiphany. This is where one can understand why some experienced Burgundy drinkers consider Chevalier Montrachet qualitatively equal to Montrachet. 92 points.

2006 Dog Point. Section 94
Brought to keep people occupied while the other Burgs had a chance to air out as well as provide a counterfoil. This should be the benchmark for New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Lemon, citrus, cut grass, gooseberries and aromatic vegetables ( i.e. celery, endives ), touch of oak very good concentration and not watery at all like many other SB's.