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Burgundy magic strikes again

Not only were we blessed with a spectacularly beautiful sunny and warm day (which was well needed after all the drab, gray and wet days last week) - the magic that can only come from a special bottle of very old Burgundy came to visit us this afternoon.

Our annual Insider's Tour of Burgundy is underway, with a great group of long-time customers from Oregon and Texas. In the last 24 hours we've consumed three amazing meals together, shared a little Richebourg for breakfast, done a walking tour of the Grand Crus of the Côte de Beaune, and had a tasting experience that few will ever forget.

We kicked of our tasting adventures with the always lovely Caroline Parent at Domaine A-F Gros, and were treated to a tasting with Caro and her father, François Parent. From the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits to the Pommard Pezerolles 1er, all of the 14s were singing, It was the just-bottled '14 Richebourg that floored us all with it's immense depth and length and complexity. And that was just the beginning.

We followed with lunch at the wonderfully old-school Cellier Volnaysien in the heart of Volnay, where I found a great bottle of '07 Lafarge Clos du Chateau des Ducs on the list. It was stunning on the nose, yet still quite young and un-evolved on the palate, as is typical for the gorgeous wines from Michel and Fred. It totally rocked with the coq-au-vin, ouefs en muerette and the escargot.

I have never seen Montrachet on a more beautiful day. We gathered the group for a shot at the gate to Chevaliers-Montrachet, a yearly rite of passage for those who dare take the plunge with us.

Then we descended into the meticulously maintained cellar of Patrick Essa at Buisson-Charles in Meursault, where a moment of pure magic appeared from the depths of the cellar. After a run through over a dozen '15 and '14 1er Crus in barrel and bottle, Patrick appeared out of nowhere with a treasure from the archives.

I have been incredibly fortunate to taste many wonderful bottles of old Burgundy, some of which are etched in my memory forever. Today's adventure ranks with the very best ever. Patrick often concludes our tastings with an older bottle, and puts me on the spot to guess the vintage and the vineyard (a couple of years back I correctly guessed a '93 Goutte d'Or - mostly luck, but hey, I'll take it.)

Today's bottle revealed a clear, light golden elixir that on the nose and to the eye appeared to be a very young, fresh wine. In the mouth it showed fresh ripe fruit and virtually no signs of evolution. My first thought was that he was trying to sneak in something pretty young, perhaps a 2004. I left the cellar to contemplate the wine a bit, and decided it could be a remarkable 1990, maybe. Patrick caught my eye and whispered that it was probably much older than I was likely thinking. I knew it couldn't be from the 60s, so I steered toward the 70s and took a stab. "1976 Charmes, I would say" - quite sure I was possibly miles off the mark. Non, Patrick said, it is 1976 Bouches-Chères! I was beyond stunned. Stupefied, even. This was the freshest, most pristine, alive and intense bottle of 40-year-old Chardonnay one could ever come across. I truly could have confidently guessed it as something from the 2000s, to be honest.

I've had much older bottles, some going back to the 1800s, but few better. Certain wines have the power to stop time, to take you to a place where it's just you and the wine and you are channeling the divine for a few moments. This was one of those bottles, and I'm deeply thankful to Patrick Essa and his father-in-law Michel Buisson (who made the wine in 1976). I can't promise experiences like this every year on our tour, but we are certainly off to a great start this time around!

My brother-from-another-mother - Patrick Essa, the zen-master of Meursault, and his wife Catherine,

My brother-from-another-mother - Patrick Essa, the zen-master of Meursault, and his wife Catherine,