Monday, January 26, 2009

Bize LEROY Burgundy Red-White Tasting April 19th , 2007 With C. Rolland In Washington D.C. Outside Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits

My rep from Constantine, Marci Weinstein was nice enough to invite me to a special tasting at a local D.C. restaurant, a cafe-bistro across from the Ford Theater. I cannot now remember the name of this popular restaurant and am sorry for that. I will include it at a later time. I had never been before and I do like to visit the restaurants that I still do not know. It was held upstairs and I was on a really tight schedule I am sorry to say.

Of course the real draw for me was a chance to try some of the LEROY white and red burgundies. I rarely if ever get a chance to try these types of wines and so I make every effort I can to get to them. I am really glad that I did in this case. Even trying just one or two would have been worth the effort ; but to be able to try nine ( 1957-2004 ) was spectacular, really! Five whites and four reds with the tasting handled by Monsieur Rolland that works for LEROY and I believe that was living in New York city when he conducted this tasting.

Proper glassware was readily available as was the whole Constantine staff ( minus Gus, where were you Gus? ) on-hand to help and facilitate anything that might be wanted/wished-for. Of course Marci was there and she greeted me immediately and got me started after introducing me to Monsieur Rolland.

There were two tables spread along the wall that faces out onto the street with us the tasters looking at the wall and with the bar behind us. Off to my left were tables spread with food which I never had a chance to enjoy because of time. It was a nice touch I am sure, however for those with more time on their hands.

I did not have my camera and so had to rely on my powers of observation and so they went into overdrive as did just about everything else for me. I started with the whites and then worked my way over to the reds. Monsieur Rolland was the only one pouring so he had to spread himself quite thin at times to pour and explain quickly each and every wine that was being tasted. He did it quite well, too as memory recalls now on Monday, January 26th , 2009 here at home in northern Virginia on a cold winter's day at 12:09 PM nearly one and a half years later.

Luckily I have my signed by M. Rolland tasting sheet where I also scribbled quickly my notes of each wine. I will have to be careful separating them and not confusing them now. It sure is nice to have things like this on paper to help. It was quite the event and it did seem like they had a good turn-out ; not exceptional but enough considering how much wine they had on hand and really only one person pouring and explaining.

We started with the 2004 Puligny Montrachet " Les Charmes ", $130 a bottle : I noted " " Grand yet youthful, so good. Buy? Good, full, thick body, young, tight, zesty, columned ! Great citrus , minerals ".

We continued with the white 1999 Meursault 1er Cru " Blagny " , $160 a bottle : I wrote again : " It had just been opened, this bottle by Monsieur Rolland. It needs to open, tight ... great smooth finish ". I needed to go back to it later but never did. I simply did not have enough time.

Then we tasted what had caught my curiosity and intrigued me from the very first : the 1997 white Bourgogne Blanc, ( $32.00 a bottle ) that was now ten-years-old! I wanted to see what it tasted like and see how fresh or how tired, how much like nuts and sherry it might taste like now with 10 years of bottle age. I simply wrote : " Still really nice ! " It was still fresh and bright and not oxidized at all!

I then proceeded on to the 1996 Meursault 1er Cru " Les Poruzots " , and for some reason do not have any notes on that. There's no price on the sheet next to it either. Perhaps it was not tasted after all.

Then it was onto the last five reds.

The 1999 Bourgogne Rouge ( great year ) , $40 a bottle , I wrote : " Lovely . toasty fruit in nose. Rich, deep - very well-made, still tight ( even after eleven years !?! ) ; needs food ". It, too was not showing any fatique or oxidation from extra bottle age.

The 1999 Chorey Les Beaune , $120 a bottle , I wrote : " Earthy, gamy , wet, good mouth-feel. Sophisticated, smooth finish ; fruit in the oak - married : a food wine ".

The 1996 Volnay 1er Cru " Santenots ", $185 a bottle , I wrote : " racy, smelly barnyard bouquet in-check - one bolt of welcome lightning, great mouth-feel . Full yet muscular, not lean/ fit, not lean, well-toned - like an athlete ".

The 1990 Maranges , $130 a bottle , I wrote : " still kicking! Great complete - thick , not variegated mouth-feel/taste ". Reading this now I do not know what I meant exactly by the word " Varieagated "? Oh well, I do love a mystery. I do know that I found the wine both perplexing and attractive at the same time. It challenged me a lot this Maranges did.

The 1957 Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru " Les Cazetiers ", $1,500 a bottle , I wrote : Great every which way ! Hanging so nicely - open at 1 PM / I tasted at 3:30 PM - a 50 Yr-Old that exercises and knows how to live when the time's right ". This wine was in great shape after all these years and still not tired and past all it's charms and tricks and pleasing qualities, no way!!!

As I see from my notes everything seems to be in health-terms : exercising, being fit, being muscular and lean and athletic. This was and still is a phase that I enjoy, even now. All about staying fit and with these older wines it is nice to see / marvel - wonder even at !

So many people today are subtly and tirelessly, too bombarded/assaulted/threatened within a hair of their lives ( ? ) to believe that all things today must be young things, new things, virgins for all intents and all purposes! What lunacy! What has happened to us as a people?!? Are we all lemmings walking blindly into the ocean to our deaths?!? Are we all mostly-dead already, even before we hit the water? I certainly hope not.

Bize Leroy has held the bar high indeed with these excellent wines of hers. She's forced us all to take a second look, to retrace our steps, to pause and actually think ( what a novel idea : to use one's own brains and not always rely on another's including that of the internet?!? ). I know, I know : these are harsh words indeed and I am sure I will be held accountable ( or in contempt ) for them now and actually called to task someday. More than likely, however, I will be simply dismissed as beating something to death that we all know is true and should just bloody-well stay silent about.

All I want to say is that at one point in time it was alright to make wines that like us, would age gracefully with time, grow into themselves, their own wines skins and what juice was contained within each and every unique one of them. They would slowly reveal their charms to us / to themselves ( to the world ) - with appeal, with class, with intrigue and some entertainment, too. More effort would be required on our parts ( with of course so many more rewards, too - for the patient, for those that feel strong enough in their own skins to wait, to test-taste, to smell, to see, to have unfold ) : and that's how it was once and should be once again.

That's not a bad thing : it's an absolutely glorious/divine thing and we should embrace these moments- rare - wholeheartedly and with enthusiasm, curiosity, un-perceived notions and innocence. I mean : what will be will be. That's exciting in and of itself. And how will each of us internalize/externalize our reactions -emotions - gut and mind interactions with these tastes, young and old as they start by our smell and then pass to our palates and tastes, and then their relationship to whatever foods might have been served alongside with whatever company they might find themselves in, surroundings, too?

This is all pretty complex, amazing, wonderful stuff that has to almost be broken down into smaller parts to be appreciated. It takes skill and daring and confidence that whatever will be will be and we are along for the ride to add our imprints somewhere to IT all : our moment, the only one we can really know, shared with whoever else is around us. Wow, I really enjoyed these forty five minutes or so quickly tasting these LEROY wines. I did not give them the time they needed. This was a real mistake on my part, I know. I am sorry for that. But I am not sorry for the experience though be it limited.

I think that I really loved that last 1957 1er Cru " Les Cazetiers " Gevrey Chambertin. I should have, too for at $1,400 or so for each and every bloody glorious bottle this was indeed the drink of kings and gods and the filthy rich. My taste was about $75 a glass - my glass : thank you LEROY. And if I had not been pressed for time to get back to Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008 , Tel : 202-363-4265 ,, ) to sell more wine I would have lingered, had some food, spoke a lot more, time-permitting on both our parts - with Monsieur Rolland. We could have then continued to converse in French and my imagination and love of all words whether English or French would have at least catapulted me into the stratospheres of wine-appreciation ( especially burgundy ) and made me write and conjure even more images to record now.

As it was, I was pressed for time and so what I recorded here no how does justice to the event and to the wines. The restaurant looked like a bistro or a cafe : it was cozy, relaxed and comfortable. It was a great back-drop for these fabulous burgundy wines that revealed all their strengths, weaknesses - power, glory, frailness's, grape skin pimples, blemishes, untouched with any man's makeup to prettify or glamorize. You got what the land, the water, the soil and the sun and all the minerals and influences of nature as a whole had to impart or give the vines, roots and grapes during these different growing seasons.

These nine wines ( four whites and five reds - I've revised looking at my notes more carefully now ) are reflections of a complete respect by the pickers, crushers, fermenters and final winemakers involved in their production. There were no cheap theatrics or abstract flare and flash and expensive fireworks to detract one's attention from their complete authenticity. These are as real as wine-expressions ever get/ can get. This represents the ultimate goal I believe. Make of them what you will : give them the utmost time possible that you can give. Don't approach with a lot of information : simply let the wines and their flavors, characters, personalities wash over and bathe, rejuvenate, ignite, comfort, excite, entertain and with time - - blow you away! Wow, they did me ; and would have so much more if I had not been in such a rush.

In the end I could only afford to buy for our store both the red 1999 red burgundy( $39.99 ) and the white 1997 burgundy ( $32.99 ). They both sold well, almost immediately. I did order more and that was good. We were lucky to get whet little bit that we got. I only wish that it had been more.

I have had a bit of trouble with my notes as I have already said. On the 1999 white Meursault 1er Cru " Blagny " I wrote : " Fabuleux ! Opened yesterday ". And I crossed it out. I guess my question is : what wine had been open since yesterday, was it the same Meursault he later opened a fresh bottle of? Oh well , it's a mystery. Perhaps Monsieur C. Rolland remembers? I have his card somewhere and will have to find it and contact him.

As I quickly said my " good byes " to Monsieur Rolland and Marci and rushed out into the street I could not forget where I was as I passed the Lincoln Ford's Theater and sped to my car. What would Abe had thought if he had been there by my side tasting these burgundy " gems " from LEROY in France. I like to think that he would have enjoyed the experience just as he would have enjoyed previous play experiences at the Ford Theater before meeting his final, serendipitous curtain call there.

There sure were lots of tourists everywhere soaking up this past history and probably oblivious to the wine joys happening there so close to them and yet for all intents and purposes like they never happened. Isn't that what a whole lot of life is really about? Seize your very own moment. After all, it is all that you will have and can ever hope to have and enjoy to the full limits of your abilities. Cheers, TONY

Funny, as I have sat here to proof this before sending I went up to let our dog go outside. I got the mail and there on the top is a card announcing " The President's Own " United States Marine Band : Lincoln Portrait ( Monday, Feb. 16 at 7 PM ) at the music center at Strathmore. Colonel Michael J. Colburn, conducting this Living History 2009 Concert " Interesting that I should see this right before finally posting this blog? Go hear the Marine Band if you have time and get yourselves some LEROY burgundy, too. Sante et merci Bize. A lan prochaine, bientot , j'espere.

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