Exploring the cellar (again) – a perspective on Hubert Lignier and wines with a bit of age …

It seems that, more often than not when contemplating a new blog post, I am drawn to comment on the joys of exploring wines that we had tucked away in our private cellar many, many moons ago.  I do this, I think, because there appear to be so few opportunities now for those who are relatively new to the wine trade to experience these sorts of epiphanies.  So much wine is gobbled up and consumed upon release that a smaller and smaller percentage of formidable wines are destined for aging in a proper cellar.  Perhaps by talking occasionally about the exquisite pleasures to be had from drinking properly aged wines, a few amongst us will be pushed to change habits and start to lay down wines that will benefit from additional years of age.

In any event, last night (Feb 20, 2013), while celebrating with a couple of good friends over dinner, we pulled two wines produced by Hubert Lignier from our personal collection: Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru “Aux Combottes” 2000 and Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru 1987.  Neither of these wines originate from vintages declared as “great” but both wines met that classification in reality.

The Gevrey Combottes is a “miracle wine”.  It always has been when in Hubert Lignier’s hands, a 1er Cru that consistently outperforms most of the exalted Grand Crus that neighbor it (and that actually physically surround it!).  The 2000 vintage with its grace and silky texture provides perfect counterpoint to this manly terroir.  At 12 plus years of age, the wine was in impeccable condition with vibrant color, an exuberant bouquet that played a grand symphony of notes in the company of a sensual flavor display.  We have many great Burgundies in our cellar but I found this wine to be pitch-perfect, an exceptional wine.

The Charmes Chambertin 1987, if not quite as satisfying as its predecessor at the table, enters its 26th year in fine form.  The Charmes is never quite as powerful as the Gevery Combottes but, as seductive as it usually is, it displays a good, and surprising, bit of backbone that makes it capable of aging well.

The point of this piece is that this wine, were it to have been consumed twenty years ago, as most wines of its breed are now drunk, would have been a pleasant companion at the table but nowhere near as exciting and satisfying as it was last night as it lingered near peak performance.  Our quartet at the table spent hours luxuriating in this duo of wines that proved, once again, that the most grand of wines speak most profoundly of their respective terroirs when given the time to develop and express their identity.  Put a few wines aside; it’s worth the effort!