ChambolOn a night that would have made Allen Meadows proud, my tasting group concentrated its attention on the village reds of Burgundy’s Cotes de Nuits. In a private room at Wilshire Restaurant, we added an extra member to the roster, to cover a wider reach of appellations from Fixin to Nuits St. Georges.

Our price ceiling was raised, digging a little deeper into the wallets (Burgundy isn’t cheap), to procure a handful of bottles—seven official entries—to show off the marvelous spectrum of Pinot Noir from one of the most respected wine regions in the world.

Before the start our collective expectations fluttered above the roof. The seven brown-bags, numbered arbitrarily, had our respect before the first sip. We scrupulously studied every pour to see if we could place the esteemed villages of the Pinot Noirs. Off to a good start with each village bringing something unique to the table,  it wasn’t until the fourth bottle that I had actually picked a first favorite. Primly casting a garnet-ruby and emitting a developing perfume of cranberry, coffee and cheese curds. Pure on the tongue, a marvelously lithe structure that flashed a youthful bit of cranberry/cherry cocktail, with sumptuous burnt sugar and café au lait finish. It was elegant and supple; its attractive balance of soft (medium-fine) tannin and sweet ‘n savory flavors went the distance. When it was revealed, a bottle of 2007 Lignier-Michelot Premier Cru Cuvée Jules hailing from Chambolle-Musigny wore the motto of its tiny commune proudly—dubbed the queen of the Cotes de Nuits.

ClosThe regal Chambolle-Musigny was the odds-on favorite (for me), establishing an early lead while I enjoyed the remainder of the tasting order. I had little luck pinning the appellation to the Pinot Noir but it was terrific exposure. That was especially true of the last bottle, but what was clear, was that it was a notch above the rest. A garnet-orange vin—indicative of an older vintage—with a deep aroma of cranberry tea, shitake mushroom, white pepper, minerals, olives, and more undefinable to list. On the palate the wine was in full stride, Popeye-like muscle delivering a bruising, flavorful wallop that followed the developed nose on a long and memorable finish. Shedding the brown paper wrapper we were stunned to see a 1996 Labet & Dechelette Chateau de la Tour Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru—the largest Grand Cru site in the Cotes de Nuits—from a relatively small appellation of Vougeot beaming on the table. The quintessence of Pinot Noir.

Every wine made an argument for place and we couldn’t have ended on a better note. The spit cups were retired and we meditated on the Grand Cru and village reds as we paired them with truffle flat breads for the duration of the evening. In good company, with the hospitality of Chef Nyesha and Wilshire Restaurant, and the best wines we’ve tasted since the groups’ inception—Cotes de Nuits had made a lasting impression.