Last night was Dining Club and as usual the choice of wines was mine to make. I plumped for a Puligny-Montrachet from Gerard Chavy for the intermediate course (I ought to have checked what I served last time, because that was a Puligny 97 too, although it was a different Lieu-dit and producer). The 1997 Puligny-Montrachet "les Folatieres" has always been good for me, but it is a wine that Ive neglected of late, and that has meant Ive missed its evolution from a cracking good burgundy into one that seems now to be in decline. Last night we had to open eight bottles to find five that were fit for service, and the variation between them was quite large. There were two bottles that were sublime - hazelnuts and vanilla on the nose with a citrussy finish, fresh and lively, three bottles were slightly duller on the nose, not quite as fresh but still rich and nutty with a slightly more buttery character, and the rest were quite horrible. The good ones had a golden yellow colour, with a clear watery rim, the bad ones were browning with a colour verging on amber. Now an attrition rate of approaching 50% is not good, and it was to get worse with the cheese wine. An 83 Bonnes Mares from Drouhin-Laroze. Their wines often have a more feral character, almost brettish, with good earthy tones and vibrant fruit in the background waiting to come forward. I knew it was on the mature side of life, but was quite surprised at the fragility of the wine, and the remarkably short space of time it took to tip over the edge into stewed fruit and then vinegar. It got the stage when we opened the bottles minutes before they were due to be served in order to ensure they were fit for consumption.
But the good news was the guests only got to see the good wines, and in the end they all really enjoyed them. Ive got until September now to sort out the next dinner!!