Burgundy's Lucky Nines

Drinking in the highs and lows from Brooklyn Dive Bars to Vintage Veuve

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In Burgundy, the great vintages have uncannily fallen in years ending in “9.”  This was true in 1999, 1989, 1969 and in 1959 (arguably one of Burgundy’s greatest in the last 60 years). The most recent vintage of 2009 is on course with the ‘lucky nine’ rule.

Maison Louis Jadot held their 2009 barrel tasting hosted by their esteemed winemaker Jacques Lardiere.
Held at Jean-Georges downtown (with Jean-Georges’ handsome young son, Cedric Vongerichten, as chef), Lardiere enchanted journalists with his vibrant yet elliptical wine descriptions. We sipped all the legends:  Meusault “Les Genevrieres,” Gevry Chambertin “Clos Saint Jacques,” Echezeaux Grand Cru—13 wines in all.


Like a stage actor with dashing looks and a shock of gray-blond hair, Lardiere commented on each barrel sample in dramatically spoken Franglais punctuated with sweeping hand gestures. “You taste, and you taste … and then you see the light,” he said while demonstrating the soulful tasting (a deeply reflective tasting style, which has earned him the moniker the Buddha of Burgundy). It was great theatre with the top tier of the wine-writing community all in attendance—the Wine Spectator guys, Food & Wine’s Ray Isle (who will soon have a TV wine show), even the writer of the Wine for Dummies books (though this Burgundy seminar was hardly for dummies).   

An epic lunch followed with older vintages that would make a “Burghound” salivate. The Japanese red snapper sashimi was paired with a heavenly Chassagne-Montrachet ‘Morgeot Clos de la Chapelle’ 1999. The beet salad with Coach Farm goat cheese (the chef’s splendid creation in taste and design) was matched with two gems, Corton-Charlemagne 06 served out of magnum and Corton Blanc, a Grand Cru from 03. The crowd of journalists swooned and continued swooning as the short ribs were paired with a fabulous Chambertin “Clos de Beze” 2004.

The grand finale with the cheese course was Beaune “Clos des Ursules from 1959 coming in a jeroboam. It literally took two people to lift the huge bottle. This is the flagship wine for the Jadot family estate, and we were all just humbled that Jacques Lardiere presented this 53-year-old bottle, which was probably Burgundy’s greatest vintage in 60 years.

It takes years of drinking it to understand the nuances and to fully appreciate great Burgundy. The standard joke about Burgundy was retold that afternoon … Burgundy is like a mistress; it can be very bad and cost you a fortune at times, but when it’s good, it’s exceptional and hooks you forever … you’d sell your soul for it. When I interview collectors, I notice that as a rule they generally start with Bordeaux and then after years, graduate to Burgundy, which is considered the ultimate. Going from Bordeaux to Burgundy in travel terms is like first appreciating the islands of the Caribbean and then moving on to the truly sublime islands of the Seychelles and the Maldives.

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