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Tasting Notes for Corton Charlemagne - Coche Dury, 1994:
On January 17, 1997, a Belgian wine merchant held a comprehensive tasting of virtually every Montrachet at the Crillon Hotel in Paris. In addition to myself, Pierre Rovani was the only other American in attendance. The group was evenly split between members of the Belgian/French wine trade and private consumers. I was permitted to insert several top California Chardonnays in the tasting as "ringers." I provided the Peter Michael Chardonnay Pointe Rouge and the 1992 Mount Eden Estate Chardonnay. The tasting was impeccably organized, with the wines served blind in multiple flights. The results, although not unbelievable to me, were shocking to the group of serious Belgian and French wine tasters. Two of the French tasters were well-known winemakers. One of them who asked to remain anonymous proclaimed that in large part, the group of Montrachets was "a crime against France's patrimony." The group overwhelmingly rated the Peter Michael Chardonnay Pointe Rouge the top wine. Several tasters recognized that it was a California wine, but they still felt it was by far the most compelling, complex, and complete wine of the tasting. Second place went to another "ringer," the Domaine Valette Pouilly-Fuisse Le Clos de Monsieur Noly Vieilles Vignes, third place was awarded to the Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne another ringer, and fourth place went to yet another "ringer," the 1992 Mount Eden Estate Chardonnay. Of the Montrachets, three producers produced wines that certainly merited outstanding ratings. The fifth place wine was the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Montrachet; sixth place went to Domaine Lafon's Montrachet; and seventh place was the Domaine Ramonet Montrachet.
My numerical ratings generally mirrored the group's, with the Peter Michael Pointe Rouge receiving 97 points, Domaine Valette Pouilly-Fuisse Clos de Monsieur Noly Vieilles Vignes, 95; Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne, 96+; Mount Eden 1992 Chardonnay Estate, 94; DRC Montrachet, 93; Domaine Lafon Montrachet, 91+; Domaine Ramonet Montrachet, 90+; and most of the other Montrachets in the mid to upper-eighties, except for the appalling Montrachets from Delagrange-Bachelet and Rene Fleurot. A tropical fruit-scented, disjointed the acidity stuck out as it does in many New World Chardonnays Robert Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de la Guiche was another underachiever. Only four of the Montrachets possessed the depth and richness or the group's top three wines. Perhaps the most remarkable conclusion of this tasting was that none of the Montrachets displayed the complexity of the group's favorite three wines. And let's not hear any whining about these Montrachets needing 5-10, perhaps 15 years of cellaring. That may be the case in vintages such as 1986 or 1995, but the Montrachets are extremely forward, low acid wines except those that appeared to have had far too much acidity added. Too many of them were diluted, disjointed, flabby, and flat compared to the non-Montrachet wines of this tasting.
Much is being made in European wine writing circles about American versus European tastes, another phony non-issue by writers who would better serve their readership by doing more tasting than pontificating. While no single tasting can be considered definitive, this particular tasting did prove that a group of French and Belgian tasters exhibited a preference for California Chardonnays. C'est la vie. Robert Parker Wine Advocate
Parker Points: 94-96
Drinking Period: -