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Are You Tasting the Pith? - 4th September 05

A Tale of Two St-Aubin

You know, I really like St Aubin as an appellation. I was switched onto it by the mighty Hugh Johnson, who in a passing comment in one of his books mentioned that the wines offer great value, as they are not as fashionable as their immediate neighbours (Puligny, Montrachet et al). So when a message was posted on www.wine-pages.com, pointing out that there was a parcel of mature Burgundy arriving in Majestic stores shortly, I got on the blower quicker than you can say "Murgers des Dents de Chien, arranging to go and politely pillage whatever allocation there was in the Leeds stores.

In the end, I had to get a case made up across two stores, although to their credit, the staff were never less than completely lovely and helpful when presented with my repeated hysterical phone calls. Eventually, a mixed case of St Aubin, Volnay and Corton-Pouget was mine, for a trifling price that is unlikely to be repeated. But, as we all know, bargains are sometimes too good to be true. Was this going to be the case yet again? Had my boyish enthusiasm once more combined with my grown-up wallet to conspire to rob me of a few quid and not replace it with a dozen nice wines?

After a week languishing under the bed (the wine, you fool, not me!), I cracked and broke out a bottle of 1998 Colin-Deleger et Fils St-Aubin 1er Cru "En Charmois" (about 11, if memory serves), eager to see what treats were held within - it was a Friday night, after all. And...and...bingo! A wonderfully well-structured hit of classic Burgundy. Great aroma, fairly complex, showing notes of ripe fruit, citrus, and a pronounced savoury quality - bay leaf, capsicum - and maybe just a hint of oak (very little). On the palate, this savoury quality was much more amplified, combining with the fruit to give a wonderfully complex wine, and which I am embarassed to say made me note things like "taut" and "nervy", not some flight of fancy that I am usually given to, but there, I've said it now. Not an extraordinry wine, but great value, and very enjoyable.

A few days later, and I decide to open the 2000 Sylain Langoureau 1er Cru "Le Champlot", which was priced at an absurd 5.99 - I don't normally quote prices so slavishly, but it's fairly noteworthy on this occasion. The wine has nothing like the intensity of the Colin-Deleger offering, and in fact remknds me of another HJ phrase; "apparent finesse can be the result of overproduction". It's alomst liek a dilute/overproduced version of the Colin-D, and while it would be churlish to say I was a bit disappointed with it, even at that price, I was a bit disappointed with it, even at that price, However, it's still a great example of how an appellation can express itself in even the humblest wine.

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