That's probably how it is for people who know little about a winemaker, a winery or an appellation. At least that's what happened to me: I was alone at home and took a bottle out of the cellar, a bottle that is not registered in my otherwise meticulously accurate cellar book. I must have received it from a friend, at some point, on some occasion. And so it has been resting - for years now - unnoticed in the cellar. Vintage 1995, Burgundy - I know relatively little about Burgundy (although I've been there several times): not at all wine lover-like. Rémy, my friend who knows Burgundy, is in charge. He guides me through Burgundy wine-wise. But Rémy is not there, on holiday, in France.
So I dare to do it. Although I always decant all wines (even old ones), this time I did without. Out of sheer convenience, let's put it bluntly: laziness. The first sip - bottle just opened - elicited an Ah. Still slightly pressed notes, stable or cellar tones, no oxidation, no brown tones, sparkling liveliness, yet slightly plummy. An "old wine", but obviously a remarkable one: Ahhh! Then it developed, in the glass, it got better by the minute, more harmonious, more complex, deeper. Ohhh! Because I was alone, I didn't cook much: I regretted it, because this wine deserved better accompaniment. Wow!
I didn't notice how I became more and more infatuated with the wine, no, entrenched in its aromas, its harmony, its presence, its joy-giving nature, but above all in its serenity. After all, I realised that I had not opened just any old bottle here, but a small trouvaille (for me, at least, it was a discovery) that was still alive, developing in the glass and giving me - for hours - pleasure. The bottle was almost empty when I went to bed. Actually, I still wanted to consult some wine books or surf the internet to catch up on the knowledge about this wine and the winery.
It only came to that this morning: Benoît Germain was an artist, a winemaker of stature and a creator of great wines, I read there and nod approvingly. But there is also the telltale "had been" and I learn fragments of the "drame humains dans le vignoble". Benoît Germain, the fifth generation to run the château and winery, has passed away: "Depuis le décès tragique de Benoît, en décembre 2010, le domaine a fermé", notes "le Figaro". The 2009 vintage was his last work. However, he only vinified his first wine in 1999, so this Chorey-les-Beaune 95 still comes from his father François. I ponder: yesterday, a feeling of elation with the wine of a great winery, today, an encounter with a tragic fate around the same wine.
I'm glad I didn't know about all this: for me, the work of this domaine is an unexpected, beautiful encounter. Still very light smoky hints on the nose, beautiful cedar notes, probably last, light fruit developing from the plum tones, accessible, soft and very round, with a wonderful finish. As I write this, it is the other early morning, I pour another sip: the wine has - despite its age - survived the night (open) well, has perhaps even become a touch deeper, more profound. Pure old wine pleasure.