This is one old Burgundy that won’t fade in a carafe, so don’t hesitate to decant it, and be sure to use a good large glass. The wine has a youthful, saturated, deep ruby color, with flashes of bright mahogany at the edge. And the nose is a moving target; endlessly complex and exotic, with aromas of dried cranberries, strawberry preserves, chiodini mushrooms, and freshly turned earth, all moving in and out of the foreground as the wine evolves in the glass. On the palate, the flavors echo the nose: sweet and pure on entry, with a warm, concentrated core that grows more and more voluminous with time, yet remains wonderfully firm, fresh and vibrant. And the long fine-grained finish leaves you wishing it would never end. This is not like drinking a young wine. The bottle seems ageless, as if in suspended animation, and much too small. Drink now – 2025. But no need to wait longer; this one is fully mature.
About this wine producer: Clive Coates, MW, writing of his first visit to Domaine Ampeau in 1986, called Robert Ampeau “a French vigneron determined to live up to the archetype: surly, suspicious, chauvinistic, doing his best to make us feel uncomfortable, to make us realize we were wasting his time.” But we’d heard from better sources, stories of the five incredible cellars under the rue du Cromin, and that Robert’s son Michel was funny and smart. So I couldn’t resist asking if we’d be welcome when we were in Burgundy in 1991. And I needn’t have worried; we found Robert Ampeau to be as good-natured and generous as I’d heard he was ornery and cold. Our 1991 visit, it turned out, was only the first of many. And for us it was an epiphany. What we’d heard about Robert and Michel Ampeau “holding back wine until it was ready to drink” wasn’t the whole story at all. They simply didn’t care as much about whether or not anyone bought them, as they cared about the weather, and the vines, and their annual struggle with nature to produce them.