Palate training with 1990 Grand Cru Burgundy

As many of you already know, I got my start in wine when I went to Israel during the 2006 harvest and worked at a winery & in this winery’s vineyards.  From there I went to Napa and worked at a large custom crush facility.  Before returning to NYC I asked the winemaker whom I most respected and admired how I could speed up the training of my palate.  Feeling a well rounded and critical palate was essential for me to succeed in the wine industry, yet recognizing that I was an inexperienced taster, I was seeking the secret to palate training.  What I learned was that sadly there is no shortcut to palate training.  With a shrug of the shoulder this world class winemaker told me “I’m sorry, there are no shortcuts, you must taste, taste, taste”.  And with that, I embarked on a mission to taste as much wine as humanly (and financially) possible.

Which led me to “Meetup”.  Meetup is a website that “makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face”.  And through Meetup I became a member of a wine tasting group. It has now been a year and a half, and the core of the group is going strong.  We have all learned A LOT together, and several of us have since transitioned into the wine industry.

I bring this all up as I recently attended the first of a series of Burgundy tastings.  These tastings are with several of the original members of the wine tasting “meetup” club, and have become good friends.

On this night, we tasted Burgundy from Gevrey-Chambertin, a classified Burgundy region.  We tasted 7 wines, although 1 of the 7 seemed to have been “off”.  They ranged in price from about $50-$350 (although given our industry connections we did not pay full price).  The $350 wine was a 1990 Domaine Jean-Claude Fourrier Griotte-Chambertin Grand Cru.

1990 Burgundy

Amazingly, this 18 year old wine had a firm acidity, indicating many more years of life.  It was a clear lite orange color, becoming almost peachy-pink at the rim.  It had aromas of tart raspberry and mint and tasted of earth, mineral and berry. This gem had a nice long finish.

But my favorite of the night was the 1999 Dominique Laurent Mazis-Chambertin.  This clear garnet wine with a slightly brick colored rim was fabulous.  A very pretty nose of berries, perfume, flowers and limestoney minerals led to elegant berry and earth flavors on a beautifully round and subtle palate with a very long finish.

Happy Burgundy tasting palate training!


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