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Thoughts On Provenance

Reading John Tilson’s notes on the Old Burgundians’ tastings makes one appreciate provenance. I think that when it comes to appreciating Burgundy, New Yorkers and much of the Eastern wine drinking public came late to the party when it came to appreciating wines from the Cote. New York, like Paris, has always been a Bordeaux town. The great lists in the old restaurants always featured Bordeaux, the wine writers found it far easier to write about it, perhaps following the lead of the English writers. Certainly, Burgundy was not ignored and great bottles found their way into the collections of some keen tasters, but Burgundy was always harder to visit, the owners, with the exception of DRC,were largely farmers, rather than Parisian aristocrats who may have been absentee owners. Tastings were often done in sheds, cold cellars, or someone’s kitchen rather than in a magisterial living or tasting room. In the past there was a preponderance of shippers’ wines and blends rather than elegantly labeled Chateau offerings; thus you frequently see tastings of older vintages where the results are very spotty with many bad bottles and subsequent sullied reputations of the producers. Some of this may be warranted due to rustic winemaking, but much is not and is a result of how the bottles were mistreated en route from the producers to multiple storage locations along the long shipping route, finally sitting in non-air conditioned corners of large eastern warehouses, sitting in New York shops at room temperature for a season or two or three until sold. In summary, great Southern California and San Francisco Bay area collections, paradoxically enough, may be the best places in the world to taste Burgundy!!