Monday, September 14, 2009

Allen "Burghound" Meadows

For the second time in the past year, I have encountered and experienced the ebullient and passionate Allen Meadows of Burghound fame. For any wine lover, particularly Pinot Noir (and Chardonnay) fans, the Burghound tsunami will have you craving and appreciating the magic and spirit of Burgundy. This past Friday night, the folks at C'est Vin hosted about 90 Burgundy zealots to two hours of Allen Meadows as he shared (seldom taking a breath) his passion and knowledge as illustrated by one white and eight red Burgundies.

You know it's going to be an outstanding evening when you are greeted at the door with a glass of a Dominque Lafon wine, the Macon-Milly-Lamartine, 2005. This is Dominque Lafon's personal estate, not Comtes Lafon, the finest white wine estate in Burgundy. Lafon has only a 10% stake in Comte Lafon, so to expand personally, he ventured south to Maconnaise in search of more affordable land. Upon arrival, he began cutting yields to the laughter of the local growers. As the quality of his wines soared and...sold, Maconnaise had a new found respect. No one is laughing, now.

With Burgundy, there always has to be a discussion of terroir, which is the French concept that embodies the totality of everything that impacts the grape and its final flavors...such as elevation, climate, soil, grape growing practices, and topographical features. Now, there are those who contend that terroir is fantasy. Allen counters with just two powerful words, "La Tache," the greatest vineyard in all of Burgundy and the globe. No amount money can every duplicate La Tache. I would add that without a focus on terroir, we are drinking wine more and more that taste the same.

Here are the wines and a few pertinent comments:

Domaine Comte Armand/1er Cru Clos des Epeneaux, 2004--This is monopole of 5.24h within the larger Les Epenots and is produced by the accomplished Benjamin Laroux. Allen noted a little known fact about the 2004 vintage. It is common knowledge that Pommard and Volnay were hit hard by hail in 2004. The damage was restricted to south of Pommard. Clos des Epeneaux is on the northside of Pommard and was left unscathed. As for the wine, it is still young showing black fruit, solid tannins, hardness, but good balance. Top Pommard. Patience required.

Simon Bize, Savigny-les-Beaune, 1er Cru Les Fornaux, 2005--Usually Savigny-les Beaune wines are for earlier drinking. Not here with the use of ripe stems adding tannin and serious longevity. Allen thought Simon Bize and Jean Marc Pavelot were the two most noteworthy growers in Savigny-les-Beaune. Allen added that the highly acclaimed 2005 vintage will need 12-14 years from harvest and 20 years for the top Grand Crus. It might prove to be a 50 year vintage. And I have five cases of the stuff...smuggle it in the side door of the nursing home.

Jacques Frederic Mugnier, Nuits St. Georges, Clos de la Marechale, 2004--In 2004 Freddy Mugnier took back the Clos de La Marechale monopole (single owner) from Maison Flaively which had leased it for 50 years. This showed typical density and rustic characteristics of NSG, but having balance and finesse (not often associated with NSG).

Rene Engel, Vosne Romanee, 2004--Rene Engel passed away of heart attack at age 49. The estate is now owned by Francois Pinault, owner of Chateau Latour. Vosne always notes spicy and this has it...very pleasant. Concentration and extraction are not the same, according to Allen. Concentration comes only from the vineyard and is the coating on the palate. Extraction, on the other hand, emanates from the wine making process or vinification.

Sylvain Cathiard, Chambolle-Musigny, 1er Cru Clos de l'Orme, 2004--Here's a rock star, Sylvain Cathiard. Chambolle translates into finesse and elegance. Cathiard takes it a step further to seductive. There's judicious use of new oak. As Allen clearly pointed out, "it's not the amount of new oak, but how much of it shows up." The oak transforms this village wine to pure elegance. This is a wonderful example how talented hands can achieve a lovely result from a troublesome vintage.

Lignier-Michelot, Morey St. Denis, 1er Cru Faconniers, 2006--Despite having four Grand Crus and a piece of a fifth (Bonnes Mares), Morey St. Denis doesn't have the lofty reputation of either Chambolle-Musigny or Gevrey-Chambertin. Value can be found here. Virgile Lignier's Faconniers lies in the middle of the commune and shows attractive minerality and finesse. This was one of my favorites for the evening. The wines from the 2006 vintage will be enjoyed long before popping the cork on the 2005s.

Alain Burguet, Gevrey-Chambertin, Mes Favorites, 2004--Produced from old vines, Mes Favorites is robust, tannic, distinct, and authentic much like Burguet himself. Mes Favorites, though a village level, is equal to many premier crus.

Denis Bachelet, Gevrey-Chambertin, 2004--The silky, subtle grace from the use of new oak offers a sharp contrast to Burguet' robust, masculine style. These are well made wines. At the moment, Gevrey-Chambertin is the best at the village level, according to Allen.

Allen lauded the 2008 vintage in Chablis, perhaps, better than 2007. Chablis is also his value tip for solid white Burgundy. To learn more about Chablis, you would be advised to subscribe at The next quarterly report for subscribers will be coving 2008 Chablis. You can be assured it will be a comprehensive and frank analysis...framed with passion!

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