This may be my weirdest tasting ever.
An overall lousy morning: my wine pick-ups were all screwed up in one way or another, so the warehouse rejected my Customs paperwork, so I had to spend lunchtime scrunched over the steering wheel duplicating in duplicate. I turned up at the Domaine Rapet Pere et Fils at 2 PM to pick up a dozen cases. The place was a hub-bub of activity, as usual. Labeled the cases; loaded it in the van; got the paperwork; ready to go when Vincent Rapet says… want to taste something? I demur; say no (too busy, just ate, lots of pick-ups… etc). He says, there are several open bottles of old Charlemagne and Corton. I reconsider. He takes me to the caveau, gives me a clean glass and says he’s got to go to a meeting. Leaves me there with Charlemagne 1996 & 86… and Corton 2001, 1996, 85 and 78. Alone
I still don’t know what the tasting was about, but I know the bottles had not been opened long. Must have been a thing that morning with a group of important clients. But who cares? There I am, with no particular constraints other than the warehouse closing at 5 PM. So what do I do? Speed tasting… well, as speedily as you can get your head around wines from this stratum. Taste, think and spit.Terroirs of Burgundy
The Corton-Charlemagne 96 was sublime youthful chardonnay, orange and crisp and juicy; with a glimpse of the spice and texture that will make this one of the greats. The 86 Charlemagne was restrained, lemon and straw and bees wax, almost as if it were closed. But at 25 years of age, the finish was long and elegant, and my speed tasting slowed accordingly to appreciate the finesse. 2001 Corton was fiery young, with a fantastic open nose of black cherry freshness on top of menthol and chiseled structure. The 85 was… 1985. I’ve never been able to describe it, but I find it almost always in well-made 85 Burgundy. It’s the leafy woodland undergrowth you get with secondary Pinot aromas, but with a rain shower overhead. The 96 Corton is a youthful animal with great acidity, forward cherry fruit, but with savage undertones that are just emerging. And the 1978 at 32 years of age was simply beautiful: beautiful to see with its limpid brick red; beautiful to smell with an earthy base and surprising freshness on top; and a beautiful explosive attack, earthy again, with A+ structure still. And I spat it all!