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2010 RED BURGUNDIES–A CONNOISSEUR’S VINTAGE

December 7, 2011

SUMMARY:

2010 is one of the most interesting, and exciting, vintages that I have tasted out of barrel.  That said, it is in my view a connoisseur’s vintage, or, to use a word that seems to have become (as it was in the Nixon era) a political epithet, an intellectual vintage.  I say this not because these wines will not give great pleasure in the glass—they will—but because the more you know and appreciate the subtle, and not-so-subtle, differences among Burgundy terroirs, the more you will get out of these wines.  The best wines of this vintage, and there are many, achieve what Burgundy so rarely does: they are wines of ripeness, balance and transparency, and the more one either brings an understanding of Burgundy to the tasting (or seeks it through vertical or horizontal tastings), the more interesting and rewarding the experience of these wines will be.

The key to this vintage was the poor weather at the time of flowering, which caused a large amount of millerandage (very small berries with thick skins and few seeds), and also a significant number of aborted berries. The growing season was protracted and unstable; as one producer said, it was rare to get three beautiful days in a row.  However, by the time of the late September harvest, the grapes had been able to reach phenolic ripeness yet retain a significant level of acidity, a highly unusual occurrence. The best are remarkably balanced, with ripe fruit yet penetrating minerality, wines that clearly reflect their terroir differences and have already begun to develop a silky texture. However, the growing conditions also favored the development of botrytis and mildew, and careful triage was necessary at harvest to eliminate affected grapes. In truth, I did see in a number of wines a significant touch of sucrosity in the back palate just before the finish, and whether this is just a stage in the development and integration of these wines, or something that will ultimately mar their balance and purity, remains to be seen. It also must be said that, unlike 2009, this was not a “no-brainer” vintage; rather, in the words of Aubert de Villaine, it required “skill, experience and rapidity of intervention.” As a result, while there are many great wines to choose from, it may be that the portfolios of the negociants, where there are some very great wines but also generally less consistency, are more representative of the vintage as a whole than, say, the portfolios of Domaine Lafarge or Georges Mugneret-Gibourg.

If small berries produce more concentrated wines, they also yield far less juice, and production levels for this vintage are down 30% and more from the prior year. Compounding this problem, there was a severe frost in December 2009, which killed many vines, particularly in the Cote de Nuits vineyards that abut the D974, the main road through Burgundy. This frost mostly affected Village and Bourgogne appellations, and further contributed to the shortage of wine in this vintage. This is particularly unfortunate in that there were some remarkable wines made among these “lesser” appellations in 2010. 

Comparisons with the highly-acclaimed 2009 vintage will be inevitable. Bernard Hervet of Domaine Faiveley noted that while 2009 is a universal vintage, one that will give great pleasure to beginners and sophisticated Burgundy collectors alike, 2010 is more likely to be appreciated by the latter.  Certainly the 2009s have their hedonistic side.  In side-by-side comparisons with the 2009s, the earlier vintage has richer and denser fruit flavors, but the key to real greatness was being able to preserve the acid balance of the wine.  As the notes below indicate, some producers did that very successfully, though elsewhere there are wines that are rich and heavy but lack essential balance.  While it seems fashionable in some critical circles to denigrate the ‘09s a bit (too easy, too rich), the fact remains that there are many superb wines in ’09.  In many of the cellars we visited, one could find instances of individual wines where the ’10 seemed better, and others where the ’09 seemed better. In the end, these are two first-rate vintages, the ‘09s a warm, ripe vintage that one sees, with pleasure, every decade or so in Burgundy (comparisons have been made to ’99 and ’59, among other vintages), while ’10 is unusual, if not sui-generis, and I am not sure that trying to rank them makes sense at this early stage of their development. As to other vintage comparisons, most producers seemed to agree that the 2010s are not at the same level as the 2005s (a vintage that has it all, but that will take many years to evolve), and also that while they bear some similarities to 2008 and 2001 in their terroir transparency, the ‘10s are much more harmonious and well-balanced than either of those earlier vintages, and have a lot more ripe fruit.  In discussions with several dozen winemakers, very few could think of a comparable vintage, and more than one chuckled at the notion that while this was being called a “classic” Burgundy vintage, it was one that was almost without precedent. One grower who did venture an analogy, Michel Lafarge, reached back to 1962, which if it proves true is high praise indeed.

The white 2010s are more irregular; while the best possess the same sense of harmony and balance as the reds, there seem to be fewer successes—mainly because the acidity levels are not always what they should be, and the wines can seem on the fat or even flabby side. Philippe Senard remarked that in his experience, when yields were down considerably for whites, the resulting wines often have had a propensity to top-heaviness. Nonetheless, there are some great successes among the whites, including among the Chablis that we tasted (albeit only a handful, not enough to give a comprehensive picture of the vintage in that region). While the 2010 whites in general seem better than the 2009s, I would approach the vintage with some caution, also keeping in mind also that no significant progress has yet been made on the premature oxidation issue.

Overall, because of the lower quantities and the cult reputation this vintage has already begun to acquire, the 2010s will likely be more difficult than usual to find.  And while cellar door prices are not likely to be up substantially, no doubt the ultimate price to consumers will be affected by the shortages.

Another characteristic of this vintage is that the grapes ripened well in the lesser appellations, and there are a number of delicious Village wines, and even some excellent Bourgognes. These should not be overlooked as they will provide excellent everyday drinking and should be accessible relatively early. In terms of drinkability, the tannins in most wines seem ripe and well resolved, and while the top wines may close up for a few years, I would expect that this vintage will be at least accessible early on–though holding the wines will be well repaid in the development of nuance over time.

 

 RED BURGUNDY

THE DOMAINES

Bruno Clair: Great successes in 2010. Bruno Clair referred to 2010 as “la grande petite annee” and, as one of the few producers whose memory and experience extends back far enough, felt Lafarge’s analogy to 1962 was not necessarily a good one, finding ’10 richer than the earlier vintage. He also said that, in his view, 2009 was like 2002 but much more powerful. For those willing to reach down the appellation ladder, there are some excellent Marsannays here, particularly the Longerois, and a fine Savigny Les Dominodes.  However, the greatest successes are, not surprisingly, at the top levels—an excellent Gevrey Cazetiers, with great cut and transparency, and tannins to keep it, and an even better Clos St. Jacques, more reserved but with a wonderful purity to it, especially on the long complex finish; followed by a great Clos de Bèze, complex and dense, with sweet fruit throughout, and plenty of tannins, but ripe ones.  The best, however, was the Bonnes Mares (from the Terres Blanches sector), an old style, dense wine that keeps its feet, with great tension and a long, high-toned finish.

            2009s tasted included the Savigny Dominodes, very ripe but with good balancing acidity (90); and the Gevrey Cazetiers, extremely ripe and rich but possibly a touch heavy (91). As between the two vintages, I preferred the ’09 Dominodes and the ’10 Cazetiers, but we did not see enough ‘09s to get a good sense for how they compared overall at this domaine.

Rousseau:  We began in medias res with the Mazis, which was quite a way to begin: floral, transparent, and balanced, without the ponderousness I often find in this wine. The Ruchottes was a bit reduced, which amplified the dryness in the tannins, but it seemed complex, and pure on the finish, and it should be quite fine in time. The fireworks, though, began with the Clos St. Jacques, dense, pure and penetrating, with great black cherry fruit and spice; there is a lot of wine here, particularly for a premier cru.  Indeed, for quality it held its own with the Bèze, though the latter was much denser, with the small berry fruit evident and ripe tannins, excellent balance and a long finish. The star, though, was clearly the Chambertin; the nose was more calm and refined than that of the Bèze, there was a lot of power here, and density, but also structure and refinement, and a long transparent finish; if one may anthropomorphize, this is an extremely self-confident wine, as it deserves to be. Bravo!

Trapet:  It was a busy morning at Trapet, and Jean Trapet was pressed into service to conduct our tasting, which proved to be a great treat, as he is a font of knowledge about the history of the region and shared some fascinating stories with us. Fortunately, however, he did not distract us from our mission of tasting the wines, as they were a great success in 2010. While I have in the past sometimes been critical of the level of toasty oak used at the domaine, this year it did not seem obtrusive (with the possible exception of the Gevrey Village). The Gevrey 1er Cru Capita (composed of grapes from Combottes, Ergots and Corbeaux) was particularly delicious, with very fine delineation, and the Chambertin was as usual excellent, with lots of spice, grilled meat, depth, power and energy; the tannins seemed fairly prominent but silky. The surprise, though, was the Latricières —not that it is ever a bad wine, but this one was really singing—great penetrating minerality and spicy red fruit on the nose; balanced, charming and elegant on the palate, and concentrated yet transparent on the finish.

            Among the ‘09s, I liked the Gevrey 1er Cru Capita, with a lovely complex nose, a soft entry and a good minerally mid-palate (90-91), and the Chapelle-Chambertin was very silky, if a bit dry from the wood (91). The Latricières had a great nose, and was very precise, powerful, balanced and structured—a particularly fine Latricières  (93), while the Chambertin was reserved and dignified, a very structured wine with a lovely spicy finish (94). Overall, I had a slight preference for the ‘10s, but the ‘09s are rounding out nicely, particularly the top two.

Ponsot:  2010 was another brilliant success for Laurent Ponsot. Wines that particularly stood out for me included the Chambolle Charmes, which despite a touch of reduction showed concentrated fruit, and “despite” the richness and density also showed great balance and freshness; the Morey 1er Cru Cuvee des Alouettes, reflecting well its terroir; the Griottes, with intense fruit balanced by wonderful fresh acidity, and with refined tannins; an old vines Clos de Vougeot which was extremely expressive on the nose, and quite intense and complex on the palate, yet it kept its balance; and of course the Clos St. Denis TVV, with an intense, deep yet subtle nose, great equilibrium on the palate, black cherry fruit, minerals and spice, it was elegant and even ethereal on the palate, with some very sophisticated tannins. It was a truly great wine, and I even marginally preferred it to the Clos de la Roche, glorious as the latter was, with a broader nose than the Clos St. Denis, complex and harmonious, a wine of texture (silk, to be sure), with a touch of tannin at the end to hold it.  Ponsot is clearly on a roll.

Dujac: Comparisons between Dujac and Ponsot, while inevitable, are interesting less from a quality standpoint (both, at their best, can be outstanding) than because the styles are very different, as are the personalities of the winemakers. There are excellent wines here in 2010, including a very good Charmes-Chambertin (not usually my favorite terroir), an even better Vosne Malconsorts, with excellent spice, density and texture; a slightly reduced but nonetheless very fine Clos St. Denis, which if more open-knit and broader than the Ponsot, was well balanced, silky and extremely long; a first-rate Clos de la Roche, with excellent structure and texture and a lovely transparent finish; and finally, a terrific Bonnes Mares, with a very pure fruit expression, density and balance—another quite self-confident wine. Jacques Seysses admitted a preference for the Clos de la Roche, but on this morning at least, I gave the nod to the Bonnes Mares.

            Among the ‘09s, I found the Vosne Beaumonts a touch heavy (89), while the Charmes was delicious but lacked grand cru weight (91).  From there, the wines just got better and better: the Vosne Malconsorts, with much brighter acidity and better balance than the Beaumonts (92); the Echézeaux, with great balance and depth (93); the Clos St. Denis, with excellent vibrancy and balance, a fair amount of tannin still, but elegant and relatively dense for CSD (94); an even better Clos de la Roche, with great presence and balance, silkiness developing, and good density (95); a powerful Bonnes Mares, with lots of minerality and dense black cherries (94); Chambertin, which was rich, meaty and powerful, well-balanced, but with just a hint of baked fruit that kept the score from being higher (93-94); and at the head of the class, the Romanée-St-Vivant, with remarkable Asian spice, black fruit and minerals on the nose, and real delicacy on the palate, silky, elegant and balanced, no heaviness here, to be sure, and a very persistent finish (96). It will be interesting to see ’09 and ’10 side-by-side as they mature, but today I think I had a slight preference for the ‘09s here.

Clos des Lambrays: After a few years in which this Domaine seemed to have lost its way a bit, the good news is that their 2010s are flat out terrific. Even the Morey Village is a great success, with great freshness, sweet fruit and a silky texture. The Clos des Lambrays, of course, is in a different category, with a perfumed, almost musky component to the nose, and on the palate, great charm and lovely texture, and a minerally finish with excellent tension. We also tasted the ’09 Clos des Lambrays, which was quite dense, richer than the ‘10 but without the balance (89). My clear preference here was for the ’10.

Clos de Tart: After a fascinating tasting of various components (young vines, top, middle and lower slope, 0, 50 and 100% stems), we tasted the final blend, which was dense, spicy, complex and balanced, with well-resolved tannins and a glorious long finish; this is a wine of finesse and harmony that will be a great Clos de Tart. (As an aside, while I am certainly a believer in the centrality of terroir to an understanding and appreciation of Burgundy, we had the benefit of a number of component tastings this year, including also Comte Armand’s Clos des Epeneaux and Christophe Roumier’s Bonnes Mares, all of which benefit greatly from the blending of different sub-climats, and even in this terroir-dominated vintage, one should not lose sight of the complexities of this subject. But that is a discussion for another time.)

Mugnier:  Not surprisingly, several superb wines from the always-modest Freddy Mugnier in 2010. The Village Chambolle was a lovely example, with a nose of cherry and spice, a nuanced and expressive palate, excellent balance, and a charming finish. The Fuées seemed more serious and restrained, with a fair amount of tannin, and the Nuits Clos de la Maréchale (shown after the Musigny, which is understandable on one level but nonetheless jarring) seemed a mélange of Nuits and Chambolle.  The Bonnes Mares, though good, still lacks the depth of great Bonnes Mares. The Amoureuses, however, was in another league, with a nose of ripe red fruit, lavender, and minerals, excellent tension and purity on the palate, and ripe, silky and fine tannins, and the Musigny was in another universe, with a deep nose showing great purity and elegance, a silkily-textured palate, delicate balance, a bit more power perhaps than is usual for this wine, but the quintessence of power without weight; a wine of enormous subtlety.

            Great ‘09s here, as noted last year. The Chambolle Village had riper and deeper fruit than the’10, but retained its balance—two great Village wines that will be interesting to compare as they mature (90). The Chambolle Fuées was full of black fruit and spice, again, richer than the ’10, but perhaps not quite the same balance, though it did keep its feet well (91). The ’09 Nuits Clos de la Maréchale was ripe and beautiful, a bit less rustic than the ’10 (91), while the Bonnes Mares had an extremely expressive nose of black cherry, hay and cassis, with lots of power, minerality and density on the palate, and today it was showing more complexity, richness and concentration than the ’10. The Chambolle Amoureuses was quite intense for Amoureuses, with a lot of tannin but beautifully refined, and notes of cinnamon and mocha that carried through from nose to an almost endless finish (95). The Musigny showed ultra-ripe black cherries on the nose, citrus and an almost tarry note, on the palate it had ripe fruit, a touch of soy, minerals, and was powerful, rich and dense—a relative heavyweight for Mugnier Musigny. Certainly it is an exceptional wine, but the ’10 seemed purer and more refined to me. Here, at a domaine that is among the very best in Burgundy, there are wines that are better in ’10, and others that are better in ’09, which to me only shows the foolhardiness of making definitive pronouncements on the comparative quality of these two vintages.

Roumier: It is always interesting to taste at Roumier and Mugnier on the same day; two of the greatest winemakers in Burgundy, next door to one another, making many of the same wines, in two very different but equally compelling styles, yet both always respectful of the underlying terroir.  As at Mugnier, not every wine is compelling in ’10, but the best will rank among the monuments of the vintage. Here, even the Bourgogne is tasty, and the Chambolle Village is a delicious wine, with bright fruit and a purity that will emerge more fully once the wine is racked. The Clos de la Bussière seemed quite elegant for Morey, and the Chambolle Combottes, while a little reticent (like Mugnier’s Fuées in this regard), nonetheless had a pure spicy long finish that suggests this will be quite fine. The Chambolle Les Cras, though, was a step up, pure, balanced, with lovely sweet red fruit, and a finish that displayed great energy (a word one heard a lot in describing the better ‘10s). The Charmes, while charming (!), for me lacks Grand Cru weight, though Christophe said he liked the stem touch in the finish here. The Ruchottes was several steps up from the Charmes, with gorgeous silky fruit, great balance and, despite its power, it was remarkably elegant for Ruchottes—I very much liked this wine.  The Amoureuses had a brooding black cherry nose, a velvety texture, and a lot of minerality, with a long, pure and elegant finish. The Bonnes Mares, a blend of Terres Blanches and Terres Rouges, was complex, nuanced and powerful, with lots of small berry fruit and minerality, and the balance of this vintage; this will be a really fine Bonnes Mares. The Musigny, as always in heartbreakingly small quantity (why, one wonders, can’t the wine gods intercede and give de Vogüé’s Musigny to Christophe to make, as his grandfather did during de Vogüé’s golden era?), was simply amazing, with a sensational nose of small red berries, minerals, lavender, citrus and spice; on the palate, this wine is a lesson in purity, balance and elegance, with the finest possible tannins and an almost endless finish. Breathtaking.

As at Mugnier, we tasted a broad range of ‘09s. The Chambolle Village had creamy dense Chambolle fruit, a velvety sense that began even on the nose, and a long spicy finish (91), while the Morey Clos de la Bussière was quite spicy and powerful, but still balanced, and a creamy finish (90), and the Chambolle Combottes was quite well balanced, with no sense of heaviness and a strong spicy finish (90).  The Chambolle Les Cras had a wonderful perfumed nose, and was very pure and minerally, with excellent density (92). The Chambolle Amoureuses was still a bit locked down, but had exceptional balance and harmony, with spicy black fruit, minerals, a floral touch and citrus and mocha notes on the finish (94). The Bonnes Mares was powerful, dense and complex, with a lot of acidity to balance the fruit, and a long, glorious finish (95). Christophe preferred the Amoureuses, for its floral qualities, while Freddy Mugnier, who was at the tasting with us, preferred the Bonnes Mares (as did I). As at Mugnier, these ‘09s are undeniably great wines, and the only proper answer to the question of “which is better, ’10 or ’09?” is “why not have both?”

Château de la Tour:  A very nice Gevrey Chambertin V.V., still a bit reduced, but underneath there was a lot of structure, and a long sweet fruit finish–a nice Village wine. The Clos de Vougeot was also very good, but of course the star was the Clos de Vougeot V.V. (from vines now 100 years old), with a deep, almost purple color, this is a wine that is dense, layered and intense yet has a silky texture, and excellent balancing acidity.

Hudelot-Noellat:  Though Madame still putters around the office, responsibility for this estate has now fully devolved upon the 23-year old Charles van Canneyt, and despite his relative youth, he is off to an extremely promising start. While the Village-level wines showed a bit too much reduction to get a clear view of their ultimate quality (reduction being quite common, for whatever reason, in the wines of this vintage at this stage), the premiers and grands crus were generally more accessible and several of them were particularly outstanding. I once again was surprised by the quality of the Vougeot Les Petits Vougeots (one more year, and I’m going to have to stop being surprised), which in the past has been rather rustic, but here had a silky texture and an interesting cherry and mineral finish. The Nuits Meurgers was also excellent, if slightly rustic, while the Vosnes were particularly outstanding, the Beaumonts beautifully balanced, pure, delicate and silky, the Suchots, with a finish that seemed even richer and creamier than the Beaumonts, and the Malconsorts, which was in another world: dense sweet fruit, great Vosne spice, silky, intense, pure and extremely long. It even showed up the Clos Vougeot, which was very nice but not necessarily better than the Vosne premiers. The Romanée St. Vivant, despite some reduction, still showed huge spice on the nose, anise and clove, great balance and density, and a lovely silkiness at the finish, with the tannins well resolved. The Richebourg was at least as good, and although the nose was restrained, there was a gorgeous silkiness here too, with delicacy, purity and balance and an exceptionally long finish—an elegant Richebourg.

The ‘09s were also showing extremely well. The Chambolle Village was juicy and rich, and an initial hardness gave way eventually to a silky texture and a charming finish; this had a lot of finesse for a Village wine (90+). The Nuits Meurgers had a pure, minerally earthy Nuits nose, surprising elegance on the mid-palate and a penetrating spicy pure finish (92-93), while the Vosne Suchots had great presence and density, a sweet, slightly gamey mid-palate, and a long charming finish; indeed this wine was almost too charming, if that’s possible, but it kept just short of going over the top (92-93). The Clos Vougeot, while very dense and powerful, was not expansive on the mid-palate; perhaps it is slightly shut down, but today it was not as impressive as its stable-mates (90). The Romanée-St-Vivant, however, had beautiful weight and density, great charm, silky refined tannins, and a lovely primary fruit finish that gave way to deep spice (94).  The Richebourg had hints of game, violets and lavender, and a lot of tension, plus power (95). Overall, a highly impressive range of ‘09s.

DRC: Bernard Noblet thought hard about what vintages might be analogous to ’10, before finally saying that it had some affinity with 2001, which he described as complex to understand for most consumers (unlike 2009), and also perhaps with 1991. Allen Meadows added that there was greater phenolic ripeness in 2010 than 2001, as well as lower yields. In any case, the ‘10s here are, not surprisingly, hugely successful. The Corton certainly had the hallmarks of this terroir, though I found it perhaps a touch light in the mid-palate. The Echézeaux was not dense but elegant and very well-balanced, while the Grands Echézeaux was, as usual, a big step up, powerful, mineral-driven yet beautifully balanced, with polished tannins.  The Romanée-St-Vivant, which Bernard thought a little tired from its recent racking, nonetheless displayed a great sense of equilibrium, with typical spice and lovely sweet fruit; overall, it is a wine that still seems coiled and not ready to show everything just yet. The Richebourg also showed a lot of reduction right now, but there was a sense of harmony and power nonetheless–a brilliant and powerful wine not yet emerged from its chrysalis.  La Tâche was finely defined on the nose, with the spiciness still slightly suppressed but excellent balance and transparency, and a super-long finish with some highly polished tannins. Romanée-Conti showed much more density and intensity of fruit on both nose and palate, with perfect balance and its typical gracefulness on the finish; a very concentrated wine with a finish that seemed almost endless, it is a wine of great subtlety and finesse.

We only tasted one ’09 here, the Echézeaux, a dense spicy wine that exuded confidence, with sweet black fruit, good minerality and tension, and lovely structure (93). I found it more compelling than the ’10, but it is only one wine and one day. (As an aside, while usually the person conducting a blind tasting gets to be omniscient while making everyone else look foolish, for once the tables were turned:  Bernard had intended to show us the ’09 followed by the ’99, but mixed the two up so that the ’99 went first, and drew puzzled stares and much head-scratching when he announced that the 12-year old wine we had just tasted (as had he, though to his credit he seemed perplexed as well) was the ’09.)

Georges Mugneret-Gibourg:  One day, perhaps, this Domaine will command prices equivalent to the quality of the wines, but for now, the wines, though no longer a secret, still represent a bargain relative to the quiet brilliance of the winemaking. In 2010, the Vosne-Romanée was a standout among the Village wines tasted on this trip, with dense fruit and spice on the nose, it was soft and approachable, yet pure, on the palate, and had a charming finish. The Nuits Chaignots had bright small-berry fruit, and was dense and earthy, with a fair amount of tannins still, though the finish was long and pure. The Chambolle Feusselottes had classic Chambolle fruit, but also excellent presence, while the Gevrey 1er Cru (the “Ruchottes Junior”, so-called informally because it is young-vine fruit from the Ruchottes vineyard) was light but charming. The Echézeaux, while still quite primary, had real presence and purity, and was dense, complex and long. The Ruchottes was even better, with a gorgeous nose of black cherry and grilled meat, as well as minerals, a wine with a wonderful silky texture and a very long finish. While in most vintages I put the Clos de Vougeot ahead of the Ruchottes here, it was a close race today, with the Clos de Vougeot being denser than the Ruchottes, and while the Clos de Vougeot was also quite pure, I found the Ruchottes a bit brighter, though this takes nothing away from the quality of the Clos Vougeot.

The ‘09s here were also brilliant, beginning with the delicious Bourgogne, which had dense black cherry fruit, and while it was a touch heavy it had a rich aftertaste (89) (according to Allen Meadows, these vineyards were considered Vosne Village prior to the establishment of the AOC). The Vosne Village was also quite rich, and also a touch heavy, with a long fruit finish (89). (I did think the ’10 of this was better.) The Nuits Vignerondes was earthy, dense and ripe, showing its Nuits origins, with fresh acidity at the end (91), while the Nuits Chaignots was very spicy, and perhaps a bit lighter-bodied than the preceding wine (90).  The Chambolle Feusselottes was especially fine, with sweet red and black fruit, great balance and purity, a minerally finish and excellent tension (93). Here I preferred the ’09 to its ’10 counterpart. The Gevrey 1er Cru was a nice drink but a little slight (90), but the Ruchottes was powerful yet still graceful (93-94). The Echézeaux had a confident nose of black fruit and delicate spice, and was dense but still transparent (93), and the Clos de Vougeot had a glorious nose, with strong mocha notes along with black fruit, spice and lavender, and was dense but with lots of balancing acidity—a long distance runner with polished tannins and a long spicy minerally finish (94-95).

Liger-Belair: Typically excellent wines here in ’10, though I found a little bit of inconsistency. The Village wines had recently been racked, and perhaps suffered a bit from it (I have somewhat better notes for the Village wines from this past summer, though my notes for most of the wines are consistent), however, the Vosne Clos du Château was more approachable than the Colombières or the Vosne Village, with very good balance, spice and power.  The Vosne Petits Monts, while not racked and showing some reduction, nonetheless had a spicy transparent finish, small berry fruit, great transparency and length. The Vosne Brulées, with a touch (19%) of whole cluster, was even deeper and more interesting, with great presence to it (though unfortunately it is available, if at all, only through the occasional charity auction). The Nuits Cras has never been a favorite of mine here (though Louis-Michel is at pains to point out it is Nuits from the Vosne side, with very old vines), and I found it overweight and possibly a bit too extracted for my taste. However, with the Vosne Reignots we were once again back on solid ground, with deep spice and sweet fruit on the nose, lots of density and complexity on the palate, and a spicy finish (some of it from Vosne and some from the new oak), yet the lift of the acidity gives it great balance–a wine of real elegance,  (We did not see the Suchots in November, but it was showing extremely well in July.) The Echézeaux was also marvelous, a wine that spreads its wings in the glass and keeps going, with more presence, and indeed charm, than the Vosne 1er Crus. La Romanée, despite some reduction on the nose, showed itself to be a pure, almost delicate, La Romanée, a very elegant wine, with very ripe tannins and a hint of game on the long finish.

The ‘09s also showed a little bit of inconsistency, though the best are quite superb here. The Vosne Colombière was showing a lot of spice, and while it had rich fruit, it seemed less earthbound than usual (90). The Vosne Clos du Château was even better, quite open at the stage, with red fruit, perfume and some lavender on the nose, and while it was sweet and open it also had good acidity and minerality (92). The Nuits Cras had a bitter edge on the nose, and though there was sweet fruit, the wine seemed a bit heavy and rustic (88). The Vosne Reignots was superb, with dense ripe black fruit on the nose, and excellent balance, spice, minerality and density on the palate; this is a very rich wine but keeps its balance, and the tannins are present but polished (93). The Echézeaux had good pure fruit and a balanced, spicy finish, a very good wine but without the presence of the Reignots (90+). La Romanée had a restrained, spicy nose, hinting at great depth; it was an elegant wine, with coiled power, just beginning its evolution (95).

Grivot:  I am increasingly impressed with the results at this Domaine, where the ever-modest Etienne Grivot has quietly but effectively ratcheted up the quality level. This is particularly good news given the range of Vosne premiers crus that the Domaine owns, in addition to their signature Richebourg.  The Nuits Charmois (a Village lieu-dit) had a lovely bright sweet fruit nose and a lot to it for a Nuits Village, while the Village Vosne-Romanée, despite some reduction, seemed to have balance and purity. The Nuits Roncières was also quite good, though it is an earthy rather than an elegant wine. The Vosne Brulées was a bit too reduced to fully evaluate, but the Vosne Beaumonts, while also showing some reduction, was a brilliant wine: a calm, spicy, elegant nose; with great balance and transparency on the palate, a touch of wood but not obtrusively so, and a long lovely transparent finish. Etienne said it represented what he was trying to make: wines of elegance, power, sensuality, energy and luminosity. The Vosne Suchots, though very good, perhaps suffered slightly from being served after the Beaumonts; while the Reignots, though showing considerable reduction, impressed with its density, power and balance.  The Clos Vougeot, a mid-to-heavyweight wine, seemed dense and tarry; its future was a bit opaque at the moment.  The Echézeaux, however, had lovely line and balance, with real grand cru weight and good purity on the finish, while the Richebourg had a sensual nose, and had power without weight—beautifully balanced, pure and long, with ripe tannins.

Regrettably, we only had time to taste three ‘09s here. The Vosne Village had beautiful pure black cherries and spice on the nose, a touch of cream, and charm, only the slightly short finish betraying its plebian origins (90). The Nuits Boudots was spicy and earthy, with great presence and excellent acidity (92), while the Vosne Beaumonts had deep spice on the nose, and was packed with rich fruit but completely balanced, with a significant level of tannins—great Beaumonts (94-95).

Anne Gros:  As readers of past reports will know, I have been critical of Anne Gros in recent years, as I think she is a very talented winemaker who seemed to take her eye off the ball, and even her ‘09s did not seem to reach the full potential offered by the vintage. The good news, however, is that Anne is very much back on form in 2010. If the Bourgogne and Chambolle Combe d’Orveaux still seemed to suffer from too much new oak, the Vosne Barreaux seemed to be eating it well, and was a wine of great spice and black cherries, with excellent acidity to give it lift. The Echézeaux was well balanced, with pure sweet fruit; though dense, it felt a bit more ponderous than the Vosne. The Clos de Vougeot, however, had good lift from the acidity to match the density, and a long brambly blackberry finish. The Richebourg, despite some reduction, was concentrated and complex—an elegant Riche with great balance.

The ‘09s seemed much as I remembered—good but not great wines. The Vosne Barreaux was a little curious, with a ripe spiced pear nose, and cloves, plus sweet cherry fruit (86), the Echézeaux had strong wood tones on the nose, some nice acidity and lift, and seemed charming if not very deep (89), while the Clos de Vougeot had prominent wood notes, and despite good depth and penetration seemed ponderous, with some sharp tannins at the end (89). The Richebourg had more fruit than oak on the nose, and some elegance, but overall seemed a bit light for Richebourg, especially given the vintage (90?).

Méo:  I confess to some puzzlement here. There are certainly some great wines here, but there seems in recent years to have been, overall, a greater inconsistency than in the past, which I am at a loss to explain. Possibly it is because we are being shown an increasingly higher percentage of the negociant portfolio (and some of the key domaine wines, most notably the Cros Parantoux, were unaccountably missing from the tasting); certainly I find the negociant wines less compelling than those of the domaine overall, but whether this is as a result of having somewhat less gifted terroirs in that portfolio, or of the wood treatment, or of simply not having the same level of control (though the domaine does all the vineyard work for at least some of these wines), I just don’t know. In any event, while I thought the negociant wines we tasted had good fruit expression and density, I missed the purity I had seen elsewhere, though I did like the Nuits Perrières the best among this side of the portfolio.  Among the Domaine wines, the Vosne Chaumes, Echézeaux and Clos de Vougeot seemed good but at the moment the wood is a bit too prominent, while the Corton seemed more expansive, with fat rich cherry fruit, excellent balance, and a nice texture developing. The Vosne Brulées, always one of my favorite wines here, had excellent tension and balance, though it seemed, at least today, to have a bit of blunt tannin at the end. The Richebourg was quite dense, rich and spicy on the nose, but the wine seemed to require a lot of work to get at its underlying depth, before coming up nicely on the finish. Perhaps these wines are simply going through a phase right now; certainly that is always a danger, and given Méo’s track record, I would not want to bet against him. Still, having had so many great wines here in the past, I confess to longing for more.

We only tasted one ’09, an excellent Vosne Chaumes, with an effusive nose of rich ripe fruit and Vosne spice and excellent acid balance on the palate, and with the tannins evident but dominated by the ripe fruit on the long, spicy finish (91). Jean-Nicolas had a lot to say about the two vintages: in his view, the ‘09s have structure and need time but will age well; he views criticism of the wines as too ripe or easy as misplaced. He does see the ‘09s as more voluptuous than the ‘10s, and finds the ‘10s difficult to compare to any other vintage, though he said it might be seen as a mix of ’05 and ’08. He said he regards ’05 as potentially the greatest vintage of the last 20+ years, though the wines are still austere and closed.

Comte Senard:  Philippe Senard embodies joie de vivre, and it is always a pleasure to pass several hours in his company. He has now turned the Domaine’s winemaking over to his daughter Lorraine, who is definitely gaining not just in experience but in confidence. This year, several of the wines were not easy to evaluate, with many of the noses seeming suppressed, and relative to many other wines tasted on this trip, the future of some of these wines seemed uncertain. However, there were several standouts, including a very good Corton Clos des Meix, with touches of cinnamon and cardamom; Corton Bressandes, which stood out for its sense of balance between fruit and minerality, as well as its charm; and Corton Clos du Roi, which despite some heavy reduction, showed great balance, transparency and elegance.

We also tasted the two top crus in‘09: Corton Bressandes, which had a lot of lush fruit and spice, and high-toned acidity; while it was a powerful and dense wine compared to the ’10, it seemed a little short, though Philippe said it was suffering a bit from recent bottling and not fully integrated right now (NR); and Corton Clos du Roi, which had a nose of iron filings and meat, plus open black fruit, and on the palate it was rich without being heavy, with excellent acid balance and real grip and harmony (93).

Comte Armand (Domaine des Epeneaux):  Both the Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru and Village Volnay were quite good, as was the Volnay Fremiets, with a sweet red fruit nose, excellent delineation, and a very nice cherry finish. The Pommard Clos des Epeneaux, which we tasted first as four different components, was absolutely beautiful, with a nose of black fruit, spice and a touch of earth, while on the palate it was unusually elegant for a young Pommard (Pommard seems to have done quite well in this vintage), with a long, pure, spicy finish. The ’09 Clos des Epeneaux had a lovely nose, with spicy, transparent, ripe fruit; it was dense and intense but kept its feet, and had strong but ripe tannins. Nonetheless, it seemed heavier and more earthbound than the ’10 (92-93).

Michel Gaunoux:  The Domaine does not offer barrel samples, so we did not taste the ‘10s. However, we were able to taste the ‘09s in bottle, and were among the very first to do so. The nose of the Bourgogne Rouge seemed reticent, but there was lovely bright fruit on the palate; a straightforward wine (87). The nose on the Pommard Grands Epenots was also a bit unforthcoming, though one sensed the red fruit underneath; on the palate though, there was lovely bright red fruit, an excellent balancing acidity, a touch of sucrosity, and a lovely spicy complex finish, with great minerality (93). The Pommard Rugiens had deeper-pitched fruit than the Epenots, with bright acidity, great balance, and a dense, earthy, rich spicy fruity finish (94). The Corton Renardes was even better, with ripe red fruit and a touch of bacon on the nose, grand cru weight and depth on the palate, and a great high-toned finish of sweet red fruit and minerals, pure and in excellent tension (95).

De Montille:  Some excellent wines here, though not uniformly successful. I quite liked the Beaune Grèves, with its light red fruit and earthy notes, and touch of stem tannins (1/3 whole cluster), the Volnay Champans, with ripe black cherry fruit on the nose, and real delicacy on the palate; and especially the Volnay Taillepieds, elegant, minerally and restrained, with a creamy texture developing (100% whole cluster). I was less persuaded by the Pommards, and the Corton Clos du Roi seemed top-heavy. The Clos de Vougeot however was very good, with delicate perfume and spice, very well balanced and delivering power without weight, though there were some strong dry tannins at the end (100% whole cluster) that will need time to resolve.  The regular cuvee of Vosne Malconsorts was quite good, but the Cuvée Christine was even better: a floral nose, with Asian spice and small berries; great lift on the palate from the acidity, and intensely long on the mineral/fruit finish, with lots of tannin but the finish almost endless.

Marquis D’Angerville:  Great wines from Guillaume d’Angerville. This Domaine has been producing top-flight Volnays for many years, but in recent years they seem even more polished and precise, and in ’10 the wines are pure, terroir-specific, restrained and elegant. The Village Volnay showed the way with excellent balance and transparency, and the Volnay Clos des Angles was concentrated yet had real delicacy and persistence.  The Volnay Frémiets had a nose that jumped out of the glass, but seemed more in need of a racking than some of the other wines. Volnay Caillerets had black cherries, stones, hints of cinnamon and clove on the nose, and overall was stony and balanced, though perhaps it lacked a little seductiveness. Volnay Taillepieds was dense, pure and minerally, with sweet fruit on the palate and excellent texture, and a high-toned finish; it was, in Guillaume d’Angerville’s words, “a serious wine.” The Volnay Champans was denser, with a sense of small berry, cassis-like fruit on the nose, balanced and pure but powerful, with great density and weight on the finish. Guillaume said that the Champans is to him the archetype of Volnay, but I do have to say that this year at least, I preferred the stylishness of the Taillepieds. Best, though, was the Volnay Clos des Ducs, with a brilliant, layered and complex nose, and though it had power on the palate it very much kept its feet, and if it had a bit more tannin on the finish than the others, it was ripe tannin, and the finish itself was quite long and elegant.

Lafarge:  This was one of my favorite tastings this year, as the wines were hugely successful from the bottom to the top of the range, while the terroir differences quite clearly stood out. Michel Lafarge remarked that while in 2009 the flavors were closer together from wine to wine, in 2010 one can see the differences in terroir very clearly.  The Bourgogne Rouge was quite attractive, with lovely red fruit and spice, and texturally a hint of silk to it, and the Village Volnay was also excellent, with a surprising density and richness for Village wine, and a lovely pure finish. The Volnay Vendages Selectionnées was even better, soft, silky and delicate, elegant even, with some tannins and a bright pure finish. (Michel Lafarge said this comes from old vines bordering the premiers crus.)  The Beaune Aigrots had deep spice and earthiness, and spicy, sweet cherry notes, though the tannins were a touch dry; I preferred the Beaune Grèves, with an earthier nose than the Aigrots, and finer tannins on a spicy, minerally, citric finish—a really great example of Grèves (followed a few days later by a brilliant bottle of the ’66 Grèves from Lafarge, which shows what this terroir can do at its best). The Volnay Mitans, never my favorite Volnay, was good (less lumpy than the de Montille, for example), but the Clos du Château des Ducs seemed much more interesting, a distinctly charming and seductive wine, soft and a little forward, though not without very nice minerality in the mid-palate and on the finish. Volnay Caillerets was a star, with a nose that paired pure ripe red and black fruit with an austere minerality, great purity on the mid-palate, with cherries, spice and even a hint of violets, and a long, transparent, highly cut finish.  Somehow, though, the Volnay Clos des Chênes managed to be even better, with a nose of flowers, cherries and hints of strawberries, plus minerals and mocha; on the palate, it was developing a silky texture already, and was balanced and transparent, while on the finish, the tannins were evident but ripe, and the finish as a whole was long, minerally, pure and subtly elegant.

We then tasted several ‘09s. Michel Lafarge said this was the best vintage of the decade after 2005 (though he did not clarify whether he considered the decade to end with ’09 or ’10), though he sees the ‘09s beginning to close up a bit. The Volnay Vendages Selectionnées had pure sweet fruit on the nose, with spice and a touch of creaminess; on the palate it had red fruit, a silky texture, and a touch of dry tannins leading to a spicy sweet finish (90). The Beaune Aigrots was more minerally and earthy on the palate, with good balance, and a strong amount of tannin, albeit ripe (90). The Volnay Caillerets had a beautiful transparent nose, great minerality, an elegant wine with ripe fruit and a very pure finish (93-94).  The Volnay Clos des Chênes had a nose of very ripe fruit and a contrasting deep minerality; it was a highly structured wine, with great balance and purity, developing a silky texture, and very refined tannins on an aristocratic and refined finish (94-95).

 

 

THE NEGOCIANTS

Drouhin:  Some brilliant wines here, particularly at the upper levels. The Village Gevrey was quite nice, with lots of sweet fruit, a meaty element, and good transparency, and the Chambolle 1er Cru, which is almost always a great value, was transparent, long and lovely. The Vosne Petits Monts was, as usual, at another level, with incredible rich primary fruit, spice, and great presence and power, but still the acidity to balance it out beautifully, and today it outshone the Clos de Vougeot, though the latter is certainly a very good wine. The Grands Echézeaux was particularly fine (other than DRC, it is hard to think of a Grands Echézeaux that is equal to or better than this, though it is a bit of a sleeper in the Drouhin portfolio), with a nose of black cherry, spice, and a creamy note; on the palate, it is an extremely elegant wine, with great balance, medium body, and some strong but quite ripe tannins on the spicy, incredibly long finish.  The Griotte-Chambertin was also excellent, with deep black cherry notes and meat, a fairly powerful yet transparent wine with ripe tannins, and great presence and purity on the long finish. Chambolle Amoureuses did not suffer from being shown after these grands crus; the nose was deep, with small-berry fruit (currants?) and minerals, adding spice and citrus notes on the palate; plenty of tannin but ripe, with great purity and presence, and sweet fruit and deep spice on, again, an almost endless finish. Good as this was, the Bonnes Mares was even better, with a classic high-toned Bonnes Mares nose, and in contrast, more soft red fruit on the palate, yet great intensity and purity under, with a velvety texture, and a very long finish with some dry but resolved tannins present. The Musigny was nothing short of brilliant, with an intense, sweet, small-berry nose, penetrating minerality, and the characteristic citrus top note—pure yet rich; on the palate, a soft entry, lots of fruit, then minerality in suspension, still restrained over all; and on the finish, deep spice, power without weight, a fair amount of polished tannin, and an intensity that carries on and on.

Faiveley: As with any range of this breadth, there is going to be variation, but there are a lot of terrific wines here, and a handful that are truly standouts even in a vintage that produced so many great wines. Among the premiers crus, I quite liked the Volnay Frémiets, with an amazing silkiness and harmony, the Nuits Damodes, which reflected its terroir quite well, a bit rustic perhaps but to be expected, the Nuits Porrets St. Georges, more stony and yet silky, the Chambolle Fuées, quite integrated and with a lovely raspberry finish, and the Gevrey Cazetiers, surely a crowd-pleaser with its lovely red and black fruit notes, meatiness, and soft tannins. The star among the premiers crus, though, was an utterly brilliant Nuits Les St. Georges, with an amazing silkiness (it even smelled of silk, if that’s possible), remarkably elegant for Nuits, with a great balance of red fruit and acidity that carries through the finish. Among the grands crus, standouts included the Latricières, complex, reserved, with a characteristic cool minerally nose, a wine that is less evolved than most but is quite serious and will be excellent. Corton Clos des Cortons was typically intense, rich and fruity–and delicious–while the Clos de Bèze had a complex nose, ripe fruit balanced with a spicy component, again rich on the palate, and a developing silkiness, and the Musigny was an extremely classy wine, with serious if highly polished tannins to keep it, an incredibly long finish, and a great deal of elegance. However, the show was stolen by a special cuvée of the Clos de Bèze, called “Les Ouvrées Rodin.” This comes from parts of the vineyard that Bernard Hervet feels consistently produce a superior cuvée, and he is certainly on to something here. The wine is much more minerally on the nose than the regular cuvée, smoky, and very complex as it opens; on the palate, there is an amazing balance, silkiness, and great delicacy, with a subtle spicy element, followed by a long finish; overall, this is a wine of brilliance, grace and harmony, an extremely sophisticated Bèze that will be well worth the trouble to seek it out. (We did not retaste the ‘09s here; however, an ’09 Nuits Les Damodes, tasted at dinner, had great fruit and structure, as well as clarity and precision (91-92). It was only one wine, but confirmed the positive impression I had last year of the Faiveley ‘09s).

Bouchard: As with the other negociant firms, mixed results but some very fine wines in the portfolio.  Among the “smaller” wines, I quite liked the Monthéie Clos Les Champs Fuillot (located next to Clos des Chênes, interestingly). It had bright fruit, good tension, and a good bit more interest than one usually finds in Monthélie. The Beaune Grèves Enfant Jesus was particularly fine (there were some especially good wines this year from Beaune Grèves, for whatever reason), with a lovely silky texture and a sense that this could develop real elegance. The Volnay Caillerets Cuvée Carnot was a touch light, perhaps, but drinking well, while the Pommard Rugiens, despite a rustic touch, was transparent and had a very good minerally finish. Le Corton was relatively open and charming, and should be a crowd-pleaser. The Gevrey Cazetiers was particularly fine, showing real Gevrey character, with excellent balance and a long minerally finish.  Echézeaux was very nice, despite carrying a fair amount of wood (though in general the wood has been considerably dialed back here, which has helped the quality of the wines considerably), while the Bonnes Mares was outstanding: a restrained, typical Bonnes Mares nose, rich ripe fruit on the palate, good balancing acidity, grand cru weight, power and a long precise minerally finish, and refined tannins.

Jadot:  A good range of wines from Jadot, though curiously I was more impressed overall by the premiers crus than by the grands crus. The Beaune Clos des Ursules was excellent, really showing its terroir, with earth, cherries, spice and minerals, and tannin to keep it.  The Pommard Rugiens was also good, as was the Nuits Boudots, a nicely balanced wine, again reflecting its terroir well, and with a long finish.  The Gevrey Clos St. Jacques was, as usual, a great success, with excellent presence, balance, density and length.  Among the grands crus, I liked the Latricières and Mazis but neither seemed completely put together at this stage.  Bonnes Mares, while not without its virtues, was surprisingly soft, and in my view could have used more precision, while the Musigny was soft and charming, with a lovely texture, a very good wine to be sure, though not in a league with the very best Musignys we saw. The Clos de Bèze, though also exhibiting a touch of softness, had good red fruit, some power, smoked meats, and the tannins were fairly resolved on a spicy, minerally, sour cherry finish that was quite persistent.

Olivier Bernstein:  Our first visit here. Certainly they talk the talk, about seeking purity and terroir expression, and about the technical means they use to try to achieve it. The results, however, are wines of deep color and high extraction that, quite frankly, resemble each other entirely too much, and were difficult to tell apart. Well-made, certainly, but not at all in a style that I esteem.

 

 

WHITE BURGUNDY

This year illness as well as some scheduling conflicts kept me from seeing several producers I normally would visit, and so I did not get as full a view of the vintage in whites as I would have liked.  However, I did taste enough to suggest to me that the whites are much more irregular than the reds, and in part that may be, as I quoted Philippe Senard earlier, an effect of the small crop, which resulted in many wines being too heavy. Another factor, which I discussed with Bernard Hervet, is that whereas one could with little trouble rattle of the names of more than a score of red wine domaines that are committed to excellence and willing to take risks to make great, rather than merely good, wine, one is hard-pressed to name more than a small handful of white wine domaines where that same spirit and determination prevails. Unfortunately, too many are content to produce a good quality commercially acceptable wine, and leave it at that.  Sadly, even among those who do strive for the best, all but two have had serious and persistent problems with premature oxidation (there is nothing, I regret to say, new to report on that depressing subject).  

All this said, there are some great successes among the whites in 2010, but careful selection is going to be critical.

Leflaive:  A very nice range here, with the individual terroirs very much on display. Even the Bourgogne was lovely, with white flowers, minerals and spice, and the Village Puligny had good weight and balance. The Puligny Clavoillon had more to it than usual, though a touch of acid sticking out at the end. The Puligny Folatières was a big step up, with excellent density, spice, white flowers and peaches; it was elegant and long, while the Combettes, tasted next, had perhaps even more tension to it.  The Pucelles was the best of these, with hints of citrus cream on the nose, and a long, lean, racy finish.  The Bienvenues-Bâtard was a charming middle-weight wine, balanced and elegant, with good acidity, but the Bâtard had a good deal more tension to it, with notes limewood, spice and sweet fruit, as well as excellent power and structure—I quite liked this.  The Chevalier, however, had still other dimensions: perfect harmony on the nose, with wet stones, white flowers, and great elegance; on the palate, it was soft and spicy, balanced, with acidity underneath, and a very long, focused, spicy finish.

Roulot:  Curiously, several of the wines here had not finished their malolactic fermentation and so were not shown; while malos were quite protracted in general in this vintage, this was the only cellar we visited where a significant number of wines had not finished malo. Still, those we saw were quite good, including a charming and delicious, if slightly simple, Meursault Vireuils; a spicy, rich Meursault Luchets that showed excellent terroir; a nicely balanced Meursault Tillets, and a reserved and still gassy Meursault Tessons Clos de Mon Plaisir that nonetheless had excellent structure and a very fine finish. The Meursault Charmes, the only premier cru that was showable, was rich and creamy but with a lovely minerally edge, a nice limestone finish, and good structure.  Based on the wines shown, I would expect the range to be quite fine this year, as it was in ’09. Indeed, we retasted a few ‘09s, which showed quite well: the Meursault Tillets, with a pure minerality to the nose, good weight, and a pear spice finish (91), and the Meursault Perrières, with a beautifully cut, precise nose showing white flowers and minerals as well as cinnamon and mocha notes, then sweet fruit on the palate, spicy, dense and complex with a very precise finish (95). Roulot is clearly one of the great success stories in ’09, which is not a particularly outstanding white wine vintage. 

Latour-Giraud:   Jean-Pierre Latour loves his ‘10s, which he considers very complete, and with reason. While the Meursault Cuvée Maxime was perhaps a bit simple, if pleasant, the premiers crus all were quite good, beginning with a floral, balanced Narvaux and moving up the ladder to a rich and crowd-pleasing Charmes, and a more serious Genevrières, with lovely white flowers, anise, juniper and spice; though a touch soft on entry, there was some strong minerally acidity which gave boldness to this wine. The minerality dominated the Perrières, but there were white flowers, citrus notes, and a very spicy long finish. The Puligny Champ Canet was, as befits its terroir, a very different wine on the nose, but it had tension, power and drive. Finally, the Meursault Genevrières Cuvee des Pierre was a complete and balanced wine, with a racy quality and a long, minerally spicy finish.  The ‘09s here I found mostly soft and charming, but with considerable sucrosity—pleasant wines, to be sure, but not at all at the level of the ‘10s.

De Montille/Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet:  Alix de Montille’s style in making the whites is biased towards acid, and while that is not usually a bad thing, there were a couple of these wines that could have been better balanced. Among those I liked were the Village Puligny, with a great floral quality and quite a bit of richness for a Village wine; the Meursault Bouchères, with a floral and perfumed nose, fat on the palate but with nice balancing acidity and an excellent finish; the Meursault Perrières, minerally and rich, with a long if slightly dry finish; and especially the Puligny Caillerets, its nose hinting of licorice, white flowers and citrus, still a bit closed on the palate but showing great cut and structure, and a very long, lingering finish.

Bouchard:  The range of whites was a bit disappointing this year, compared to recent years, and in general I found them to be fat and superficially charming, but lacking classic structure. This was not the case with the Chevalier La Cabotte, which clearly had a wonderful nose, but at this point still lacked integration on the palate, or the Montrachet, which was a massive, powerful wine, aristocratic even, but even here, I’m not sure it has the balance to evolve well. Very different, however, were the Fèvre Chablis, which really were quite fine. The Bougros Côte de Bouguerots had nice medium body and balance, a bit of tannin, and a long, flinty and minerally finish, while the Valmur was a real heavyweight, very steely, the fruit discreet but present—this wine could be a long distance runner. The Preuses was better still, with anise and spice, lemon cream and gingerbread and excellent acidity; it was a more complete wine than any that preceded it. However, the best was Les Clos, with great presence on the nose, with touches of lemon cream, minerals and steel, some reticent fruit on the steely palate, and a very long, spicy finish with an oystershell aftertaste—a very fine, very characteristic bottle.

Drouhin: Here we started with the Chablis, and again this seems, at least from the distance of Beaune, to be a very promising Chablis vintage. The Chablis Les Clos was particularly good, with spice, gingerbread and minerals on the nose, a soft floral style on the palate, great charm, and a steely edge on the finish which I liked. The whites from the Cote de Beaune seemed more variable; among the better bottles were a soft and quite charming Meursault Village, a similarly soft Puligny Folatières that, while not racy or taut, had much charm with white flowers, lime and peaches as well as spice; a well-cut Chassagne Morgeot Marquis de Laguiche, more my style with some knife-edge minerality and purity; a good, spicy, minerally Meursault Perrières; and a very fine Beaune Clos des Mouches, with a black fruit element, spicy, earthy, transparent, long and racy. The Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche was quite fine also, very minerally, still evolving, with great volume, complex spice and stone fruit (peach, quince, pear) and very long.

Jadot:  Jacques Lardière felt that the usual practice here of blocking completion of the malolactic fermentation of the whites was particularly justified this year, as it preserved the acidity and freshness of these wines and kept them from becoming top-heavy. Certainly these wines do not lack for acidity, though whether allowing the green apple flavors to mature into something softer and possibly more elegant would have helped the wines rather than harmed them, is something we can’t ever know. Overall, I thought the results here were mixed; while I liked the Chassagne Morgeot Clos de la Chapelle (from the Domaine de Magenta) and the Puligny Folatières, I wondered about the ultimate balance in each case.  I was more impressed with the Bâtard, which was very tightly wound, with good cut, power and a dry racy minerally finish, the Corton-Charlemagne, with real minerally depth to it and spicy, creamy notes as well as white flowers and red fruit; and I especially liked the Chevalier Les Demoiselles, with a complex nose of minerals, white flowers, garden spices and heather, a superb palate expression of sweet fruit melded with a minerally cut, and a long dry minerally finish. Sadly, however, the Demoiselles has been suffering particularly badly from premature oxidation in recent years (currently including the ’05), a fact that Lardière dismissed with a wave of his hand.

Faiveley:  Most of the Côte de Beaune whites had only recently finished their malolactic fermentations, and were still cloudy. As a result, they were not showing particularly well, and will need to be retasted at a later time to get a more accurate view of their ultimate quality. However, here too the Chablis were better, with a good Fourchaume (from Vaulorent) that came on strongly at the finish, and an easy and delicious (if not quite classically structured) Les Clos.

Other Whites:  My colleagues reported excellent results at Paul Pillot and Bernard Moreau, as well as Bonneau du Martray, which sadly I did not have an opportunity to verify. Among the wines I encountered elsewhere, and liked, were a very fine Meursault Village at Domaine Lafarge, with a spicy, floral, butterfat nose, good acidity and a long spicy finish—an excellent Village wine (and also a good Beaune Aigrots from Lafarge that was floral and spicy, if not as interesting as the Meursault Village); a Nuits Clos de la Maréchale Blanc from Mugnier that was quite delicious, with spicy limestone notes, white flowers, and sweet fruit; very good Clos Monts-Luisants and Corton-Charlemagne from Ponsot, and a brilliant Montrachet (one barrel, from the Puligny side), with a wonderful spicy, floral minerally nose with great energy, while on the palate it was honeyed, minerally, intense and very long. Roumier’s Corton-Charlemagne was also first-rate, with white flowers, minerals, spice and beeswax on the nose, great balance, and lots of spice, stone fruit and minerals on the palate. Senard’s Corton Blanc was also attractive, with rich buttery, floral and citric notes on the well-balanced palate. Finally, one of the most interesting whites of the trip was ’09 Morey-St.-Denis En La Rue de Vergy from Bruno Clair (as the ‘10s had just finished malo, Bruno did not feel they were ready to be shown), a spicy wine with a lot of charm and rich fruit, some acidity, and pineapple and orange notes, not a grand wine, but a very good one (89) from deep in red wine territory.

 

© 2011 Douglas E. Barzelay

 

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From → Vintage Reports

One Comment
  1. Bravo for this extensive report. Cited on my blog.

    Mauss François (Tél : +352 621 17 11 88)
    Président-Fondateur du Grand Jury Européen (GJE)
    Président-Fondateur du World Wine Symposium (WWS) Le “Davos du Vin”

    Mail :
    contact@grandjuryeuropeen.com
    contact@davosduvin.com

    Blog :
    http://gje.mabulle.com/

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    http://www.worldwinesymposium.com/fr/

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