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DATELINE BURGUNDY

DOMAINE ROBERT GROFFIER

It was only 5:30 in the evening but it was already getting dark as we drove around Morey Saint Denis trying to find the entrance to the Domaine Robert Groffier, where Gaylord, the sommelier from Arpege had made an appointment for a tasting at 6 o'clock.

As it got darker and the vines and vineyards started to look the same, we were hard-pressed to find this little lane before the cerulean blue sky turned to inky black.

Swearing heartily at Gaylord for having made an appointment right before our flight to Italy where we had dinner plans, we finally found the lane in question and drove up.

There was not a single light on as we drove up to the domaine house, itself a dark shadow in the countryside. An owl hooted eerily in the distance.

"Are you sure this is the right place?" I asked Gaylord as we approached the front door. "But of course!" He replied with typical Gallic self-confidence.

We knocked on the door. Nothing. We knocked again.

Suddenly out of the blue, a dog appeared barking madly. Startled, we took a few steps back, looking around wondering what to do.

"Stop that racket!" A male voice sounded from the side of the house. Lights went on and an older gentleman appeared. His appearance calmed the dog who sauntered off.

"How can I help you?" he asked.

Therein followed an "Inspector Clouseau-like conversation between him and Gaylord in rapid, sure-fire French, at the end of which we discovered that he was Robert Groffier, Senior, the founder of the domaine. Monsieur Groffier then called his grandson, Nicholas, Gaylord's friend with whom we had an appointment.

Twenty minutes later, Nicholas appeared, freshly showered, apologizing profusely for his tardiness. And after he and Gaylord had a loud and boisterous and gesture-filled exchange, we went down to the cave for a tasting.

Notwithstanding the amusing entry into the world of Groffier, the wines were wonderful.

As we tasted through these bottles wines, we were very fortunate to taste wines from the 2000 - 2011 vintage, seeing some of the generational changes and influences illuminated in the wines. Nicolas is the third generation making wine and is seeking ways to improve his family wines. These changes seems to be for the better, as these wines promoted more fresh notes and acidity in the more recent vintages, as compared to older vintage tastings.

Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Hauts-Doix 2000

Rich wine, with intense flavors of chocolate, dried beef, and jammy fruit. The wine lacked balance, revealing sweet oak notes, lifted alcohol and low acidity levels.

Gevrey Chambertin Les Seuvrées 2009

Rich and earthy with smoky character again. Barnyard aromatics and richly textured. It seems rich and structured by vintage character, but gains weight on the palate, showing a lack of acidity to provide lift.

Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses 2008

40% new oak. Groffier is the largest single owner in Les Amouresues. In order to provide continuity in this vineyard, 1/4 of the vineyard is replanted every 20 years, keeping the vines on an 80 year cycle, or avg. 40 year age. Earthy core again, always showing floral and earthy character with dominance. This shows the masculine character of the domaine, entwined with the feminine quality of Les Amoureuses; signature rose petal notes. This shows pointed acidity and blood orange citrus notes, over an iron rich, chewy and meaty backbone.

Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru 2010

30-40% new oak and 50% whole cluster. Notes of fresh mint and licorice dance on the nose. This muscular wine grow in power on the palate, revealing a graphite minerality and ripe dark fruit and blood orange character.

Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru 2011

Very herbal expression, showing the same mint & licorice notes, but more aromatic revealing a garden of herbs including thyme and marjoram. Spice notes of clover are subtle over fresh meat and sanguine notes, where the wine shows its freshness and minerality.