I’ve been attending regular meetings of the San Diego Wine Society for well over a year. As our agenda has evolved, one goal has emerged as a persistent theme—the quest for a good Burgundian Pinot that does not require pawning the family jewels.
Of course, the good people of Bourgogne make lovely wine but their small plots, small production folkways and the buckets of international money seeking cases from the best-known producers have pushed prices far beyond the reach of ordinary wine lovers. So if you want to get a taste of this storied wine region you have to seek out the lesser known brands and throw the dice, hoping to find rare quality at a bargain before word gets out and the price is bid up. We’ve tried wines ranging in price from $15-$200; the result is always disappointment—until this past weekend’s meeting hosted by the Marina Kitchen in the downtown Marriot Marquis.
This 2008 offering from Domaine Dougat-Py, a Premier Crus from Gevrey-Chambertin, has an explosive, opulent nose of red fruit and baking spices with earth and coffee notes just beginning to show. There is plenty of complexity, especially with time in the glass, allowing the secondary notes to become even more prominent. The palate is still a bit shy but it shows intense minerality in the mid-palate and a very long finish. This is a formidable village wine.
But what would a quest be without forfeit? In order to sample this gem we had to sacrifice a child. This wine was too young to drink. The searing acidity was not yet integrated. Obviously built to age, in 5 years it will just be beginning to show what it can do.
And the cost? About $250 per bottle. In the contemporary wine world that is not excessive for Burgundy.
And what do we do now that our quest is over? I think we should start it anew. If Sisyphus had been pushing this particular rock up that hill he would have had no need for revolt.
Although this pinot was the main part of the show, we tried several other noteworthy wines. A bright, energetic Torrontes from Crios (2012) was so aromatic and weighty I thought it had to be Riesling. A lovely Tavel Rosé introduced the red wines. If you’re familiar with only the sweet, innocuous Rosés from commercial California producers, do yourself a favor and get the real deal from Tavel. Darker, deeper, and drier with more complexity than new world versions, they are ideal summer beverages that pair well with a variety of foods.
The La Pont Bandol 2010 was typical—the mourvedre showed its young herbal character, but the minerality and hints of bacon suggest an interesting wine with a few more years on it.
A 2006 Bosco Agostino La Serra Barolo was serviceable but at its $40 price point is a good bargain. The Delas St. Joseph Francois de Tournon 2009 was an even more impressive bargain. Peppery, spicy, with rich blackberry aromas, the silky, elegant mouthfeel is well worth the $30 price tag.
But everyone was knocked out by a 2009 Epoch Sensibility. Epoch is a relatively new winery out of Paso Robles that is quickly achieving cult status. Dominated by Grenache, the sunny yet powerful red fruit is set off nicely by cloves and pepper and the sweet coconut flavors from new American oak.
The evening was topped off by two lovely desert wines—a 2006 Tokaji, always a treat, and a 1994 Julius Wassam and Sohn Huxelrebe Trockenbeerenauslese.
The latter was donated by Joshua Orr, the sommelier at our host restaurant, Marina Kitchen in the downtown San Diego Marriot Marquis. Joshua’s insights regarding the wines and Chef Aron Schwartz’s delicious prix fixe menu made it a memorable evening. This is a venue that wine and food lovers in San Diego should seek out.