Thursday, July 8, 2010
A ho-hum Puligny Montrachet
Is it possible for a white Burgundy to be, well, mediocre? What about a Puligny Montrachet? Can this appellation be mediocre?
I first learned about the white Burgundy appellations of Puligny Montrachet and Chassagne Montrachet from the Wall Street Journal wine columnists John Brecher and Dorothy J. Gaiter, whose lovely columns brought the elegance of wine to the hoi polloi. Their advice was you hardly could go wrong choosing a wine from either of these stellar appellations along the Cote d’Or, so evening finding a “cheap” Puligny was a good buy. Cheap, of course, is relative. When most of these wines retail from $60 to $80, and many commanding much more, a cheap Puligny or Chassagne would fall in the $30 range. And by and large, that advice has been sage, whether it be a white or red Burgundy; there was only one caveat. Let it be a good year.
So in my closet has been a 2004 Puligny Montrachet by Olivier Leflaive. Wine Spectator rated the year 2004 for white Burgundy with a 90, so I figured that would mean just about any white Burgundy from that year would be good. I selected this wine because I thought the price was at least reasonable at $40.
The trouble is, one comes to have certain expectations with a wine at certain price points and from certain places of origin.
I enjoyed this wine (yes, I did enjoy it) with my friend Curt during a meal of broiled sword fish and our usual accompaniment of vegetables. It had all the wonderful brightness of a white Burgundy on the front end: the brilliant mineral quality, the light and vivacious taste of apples and pear. But on the back end, the finish, this wine was decidedly lacking. Another one of those all tits and no ass types of wine. Which, considering the origin of this wine, made it even more disappointing. If I want to drink a disappointing Chardonnay, I can do that with just about any California bottling and for $10 rather than $40.
But I have to admit, I did enjoy it. It wasn’t awful, or even bad; just disappointing. And that does happen from time to time.
So I shall rate this Puligny Montrachet with a 5.5. Alas, it had such promise.