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Wine dinners aren't the best places for level-headed assessment of wine, if for no other reason than I find myself, more often than not, drinking the stuff rather than spitting it out—an entirely reasonable course to take at a dinner, I'd say.
Nevertheless, I took it upon myself to write at least reasonably comprehensive (perhaps that should be reasonably comprehensible) notes at a Burgundy event put on the other night by the importer Frederick Wildman at Veritas here in NYC. Multifarious wines, mostly Premier and Grand Cru reds, almost evenly divided between the 2002, 2003 and 2004 vintages, and one thing they made abundantly clear is that everything you may have heard about the 2002 vintage being spectacular, the 2003s being pulchritudinous fleshpots, and the 2004s being, um, well, not as good (at least the reds), is entirely true. Or at the very least it was true for these wines.
Two notes. First, regarding the whites. You may not have realized (I hadn't either) that you've been searching all your life for the perfect wine to go with peekytoe crab salad with cauliflower puree, chives and tarragon, but I'm here to tell you it's Meursault. Specifically, it's the 2004 Domaine Darviot-Perrin Premier Cru Les Perrières ($94). It smelled delicately of oak and dry spices and tasted of stones and citrus, with flavors that fanned out after each sip. The fellow representing the winery claimed it smelled (or tasted?) of rain in summer on cobblestones, which is a bit twee but not off base either. Regardless, the stuff is great (which makes sense, as their parcel is apparently right next door to Coche-Dury's).
And didn't I say the 2004 reds were weak? Right. True enough: but one of the best wines of the entire night (for me) was the 2004 Jacques Prieur Grand Cru Musigny ($296), which was thrillingly aromatic, lacked any of the stalky green notes that marred several of the other '04s, and wove a gorgeous little web of exotic spices and black cherry fruit (hm—getting kinda twee myself). It came after a pair of pretty grand Grand Cru '02s, but I thought winemaker Martin Prieur's comment essentially summed it up: "It's hard to put an '04 after an '02, but Les Musigny will survive." Of course, you really have to be French to get away with a statement like that. If I tried the same thing at a dinner party, I'd be hooted out of the building.