Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Olivier Leflaive Saint-Aubin Premier Cru en Remilly, 1995

I don't pretend to be an expert on white Burgundy; I've never felt rich enough to buy the best wines of the appellation. But at tastings I have sampled enough Puligny Montrachet, Chassagne Montrachet and Mersault to know what I like. And to know that Olivier Leflaive's Saint Aubin is an excellent value that was once in my price range. This was my favorite wine at a big Frederick Wildman tasting in the late 1990s, and I bought a case for less than $150, which was a good buy even then. The current vintage of the same wine would likely cost me $350 to $400 today.

The vineyard for Saint-Aubin en Remilly is just west of the Grand Cru vineyards of Puligny Montrachet and higher on the slope. So it has the acidity and intensity that I prefer in Chardonnay. Nearing its 18th birthday, the wine is appropriately showing its age with a deep gold color. Even since my last bottle a couple of years ago, it has changed--greater maturity, less fresh fruit but more of the wonderful secondary characteristics of a fine wine. The winemaker, Frank Grux, writes that "one finds hints of almonds, cinnamon, spices and beeswax," and I agree (although I admit that I wouldn't have noticed the cinnamon and beeswax without his suggestion). What really excites me about this wine tonight is the beautiful silky texture and the long, long, long finish. This bottle, in its maturity, tastes much sweeter than any of the others from the case, but in a positive way. It's a layered sweetness, not at all cloying or one-dimensional. It remember it distinctly even the next morning.

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