There are Grand Crus. Then there’s everything else. That is not to say that wines without Grand Cru status are necessarily bad. In fact, many of them are great and just as many would probably be granted Grand Cru status if the denomination existed in their regions.
Nevertheless, Grand Cru status represents the apex of quality at every stage of the wine making process. From method of production and grape selection, to the reputation of the Chateaux and their vintners, only the best will do. Presentation matters and so does the glass. Crystal glasses don’t hurt and Baccarat crystal is as good as it gets.
Private Cask Imports paired selected Grand Crus with courses prepared at Chevalier in the Baccarat Hotel for their New York City tasting. Extra Brut or sparkling wines with low dosage, about four grams of sugar per litre, tend to bring out the subtler nuances of the grape. The Champagne Ernest Remy Millesime 2005 Extra Brut Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru demonstrated the complexity of the 2005 harvest. Notes of crisp and zesty lemon and orange blended with peaches and a touch of toast came together to achieve balance in both acidity and texture.
A cru classe Rose’ from Chateau Saint Maur showcased the results of a mineral driven terroir. Schist and calcareous soil along with careful selection of choice Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre and Rolle followed by meticulous vinification resulted in the aptly named 2014 L’ Excellence Chateau Saint Maur Cotes de Provence. This delicate and floral Rose’ with tropical fruit notes featured what we have come expect from this prominent Rose’ producing region.
The vines from Louis Basinbert in the Corton Charlemagne comes from good roots. Literally. Charlemagne is said to have gifted the area with vines in the eighth century. One of the highlights from this area is definitely the 2011 Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru. This vintage consists of one hundred percent Chardonnay and benefits from Southeastern sun exposure. The warmer and more temperate climate has yielded a soft, balanced and fruit driven wine with considerable complexity that will continue to evolve with age.
Not every vineyard that makes a good white wine can make a red of similar caliber. But the 2012 Louis Basinbert Corton Les Perrieres Grand Cru made with one hundred percent Pinot Noir and also produced from vines with Southeast exposure possesses all the complexity, well roundedness, balanced and soft tannins that help to distinguish this region as one of the best sources for fine Pinot Noirs. Chateau Labastide Orliac stands out for two reasons. The first is for their exceptional vintages, particularly the Chateau Labastide Orliac Royal Heritage 2008, an estate blend of yields from the vineyard’s oldest and finest reserves. This vintage consisting of 40 percent Merlot, 20% Tannat, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Abouriou is full of complex mixed dark berry, ripe cherry and jam notes. Balanced tannins, a silky full roundness and an extended finish make this a wine for aging and savoring.