Feb 10 2011
The beautiful people were there, tanned and bare-fleshed; long-limbed with gleaming white teeth and discreetly clattering jewellery, and smelling o-so-lovely as you walked by. And those were just the guys.
French Toast, wine and tapas emporium in Bree Street, Cape Town is hot, hip and happening. Also very good. Hammer wine selection. Fine stemware. Also, it understands tapas. Fresh and tasty, and just-so portioned with fresh bread. White anchovies and calamari to die for. Check out the charcuterie. Cheese. Sausage. Sauces.
This was also the venue for a Burgundy tasting hosted by Great Domaines, a Gauteng outfit deservedly recognised as South AfricaΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s top importers of Burgundian juice.
French Toast co-owner and one of the seemingly endless array of resident Babes, Karen Visser, had kindly offered Great Domaines a long table in the upstairs area. Here three white Burgundies were waiting, along with Great Domainian Derek Kilpin who had flown down from JoΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗burg to introduce his products.
The Chardonnays were all 2007 Premier Crus and comprised St Aubin Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├║En RemillyΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├æ Chateau de Puligny Montrachet, Meursault Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├║SantenotsΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├æ Domaine dΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗Angerville and Puligny-Montrachet Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├║Folati╬ô├╢┬úΓö¼ΓöÉresΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├æ Chateau de Puligny Montrachet.
The aim was to introduce a broad selection of vineyards to a select group of Burgundy-lovers, but Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£Γöñ more importantly Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£Γöñ with the emphasis on producers. As Kilpin stated, donΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗t be obsessed with Grand Cru or Premier Cru, but go for the producer. This is what Great Domaines has focused on, allowing them to access wines from a diverse array of hand-picked Burgundian producers, the result of the forging of personal relationships.
The St Aubin was a top-notch example from this area, which can produce wines of wilting backbone and excessively sharp minerality. The Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├║En RemillyΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├æ was, however, well-lit from all sides of the Chardonnay spectrum with dried flowers, honey, apricot and a smidgen of nut and clove on the palate.
Palate weight was superb with the myriad flavours expressing themselves in all corners of the senses.
The Meursault was, as could be expected, fuller. But only slightly so. Flowers and citrus embraced, without any tangible buttery belt there to rein them in. Once again, the way the wine danced around the mouth was an experience. Light, ethereal, exciting.
Of course, monsieur Puligny Montrachet was a step in another direction. The wine was tight as a nunΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s desire, had a whack of restless wood, a bit of clay-soil chunkiness. It was obviously way too young, although the seriousness of the make-up was a wake-up a call, the wine parading along the aisles along French Toast shouting: Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├║I am Chardonnay, and I am Burgundy.Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├æ ╬ô├╢┬╝Γö£├¡
Kilpin was delicate in his presentation, taking care to show each taster where the respective vineyard was from a book of maps.
The reds were not served in a singular flight, but came separately. Also 2007. Also Premier Cru.
The Beaune Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├║Les PerrieresΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├æ Domaine de Montille was a fine example of the C╬ô├╢┬ú╬ô├╢├▒tes de Beaune. Velvety on the outside and initial entry, the wine exploded into wisps of forest floor, black pepper and soya sauce, all elegantly restrained.
Pause for the shuddering of inner-thighs: The next red wine, a Nuits-St-Georges Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├║Aux BousselotsΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├æ from Domain Robert Chevillion was the wine of the evening, so much so that the Boss models who had claimed the table next to ours received no attention whatsoever.
It was huge. It was powerful. It delivered Burgundy on a Shuttle Challenger. Iron and blood, a tangy chunk of half-dry Japanese sour cherry and a hint of Chanel no 5. What an absolute humdinger of a wine, and I will eat hot glass slivers if any region outside Burgundy is ever able to replicate this beaut.
Kilpin ended with a wine from the region I personally struggle with, namely Gevrey-Chambertin. This was the Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├║Combe Aux MoinesΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼├æ from Jean-Marie Fourrier, one of the vineyards which was saluted by NapoleonΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s troops as they walked passed it.
It was typical Gevrey-Chambertin: a heavy landing in the mouth with the palate immediately coated by slick tannins and heavy dark fruit. Only at the swallow is the cloak lifted to reveal lasting elegant tunes of refined fruit, mushroom and crushed acorns. But to get to the sweet-spot, you have to do a bit of enduring.
As I told Kilpin, Gevrey-Chambertin is the one region I want to immerse myself in, find out how its mind works, what it aims to be.
Sated, thrilled and inspired after the tasting we went on to tapas and beer and some Chablis to clean the palate, refresh, lighten. Although memories of a fine tasting are not easily washed away, or forgotten.
So inspired, IΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗ll do something uncharacteristic and give all parties a punt. So, head on to French Toast to chill or organise a tasting. And my man Kilpin, well, if you need guiding in the world of Burgundy, check out www.greatdomaines.co.za. They deliver anywhere in the country, within days.
╬ô├╢┬╝Γö£├¡TheyΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗re both worth it.