Wine Words & Video Tape

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2009 Burgundy

Written by JW. Posted in Burgundy

It’s been impossible to avoid 2009 Burgundy what with all the glossy en primeur offers dropping through the letter box and a series of daily tastings put on by merchants at venues across London. In a nutshell, the reds 2009s are hailed as excellent, reminiscent of 1999, though maybe not quite up to the majesty of 2005. The whites, described as better than expected, are not seen as long-lived but are forward and enjoyable.

Well, I’m not sure your thoughts if you attended any of these tastings yourself, but I came away from one well-organised event [courtesy of Lay and Wheeler] thinking just what a tricky beast red Burgundy is to judge young. I was in no doubt that there is something gorgeously forward about the white wines from the Côte d’Or in 2009, no matter that they may be a bit low in acidity, but the infant Pinot Noir I tasted, although many great wines were produced in this vintage, did provide a surprising number of disappointments for such an obviously ripe and rich year.

A number felt awkward, fairly extracted and had rather dry tannins. Maybe this is to be expected, Pinot is a sulky thing after all. The samples probably resented being rushed up the autoroute from Dijon to attend the tasting, a feeling displayed ever so slightly by one or two of the growers accompanying them, though it should be said that most seemed to be enjoying themselves, Etienne de Montille and Nicolas Potel especially, who were having a wonderful time pouring wines and chatting away. Anyhow, given what’s been written about this vintage, I expected to be knocked out by the 2009 reds, but I wasn’t quite. My notes were limited to eighteen predominately red wine growers – and a dozen white producers – so admittedly it’s a very small sample but reasonable enough one would think from which to draw conclusions. So with all the praise about 2009 red Burgundy, I feel a bit of a lone voice.

That’s not to say excellent red wines weren’t produced. Comte Armand’s plummy Pommards were terrific , especially the 1er Cru Clos des Epeneaux. Domaine de Montille’s fragrant beetrooty Beaune 1er Les Sizies, a spicy, violet scented Pommard 1er Cru Pezerolles and a Volnay 1er Cru Taillepieds were extremely impressive. Domaine Michel Gros also impressed with a firm and tannic Nuits-St-Georges Chaliots and a violet-scented, concentrated Vosne-Romanee, 1er Cru Clos de Reas. Domaine Méo-Camuzet produced a full and ripe Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Aux Boudots and a seductive Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Chaumes. All these wines had plenty of fruit and depth.

There were also very good wines from Domaine de L’Arlot, their cherry scented Nuits-St-George 1er Cru Clos des Fôret St Georges was excellent, though their 1er Cru Clos de l’Arlot felt blousy and loose. Domaine Louis Boillot’s Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Pruliers, silky at first then tannic and concentrated on the palate had lots of potential, though their Volnay 1er Cru Les Brouillards felt disjointed and unsettled. Domaine Ghislaine Barthod’s Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Cras was dense, spicy and tannic, maybe a little dry and extracted presently but I imagine it will settle. Domaine Lamarche’s Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots was rather tannic and dry but their monopole grand cru La Grande Rue was silky and delicate.

Domaine George Mugneret-Gibourg produced a rather raisiny Vosne-Romanée but their Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les Chaignots was calmer, with more fragrance and scent and didn’t feel too forced on the palate. The Echezeaux here was quite exotic, essence like and had cherry and violet tones. Domaine Sylvain-Cathiard, Domaine Jean Grivot and Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux all produced concentrated reds with lots of grip and tannin, but in some cases I felt things were a little to extracted or drying [maybe the addition of stems here making things trickier to judge younger I wonder?]. Nevertheless overall there did seem to be sufficient depth in the wines. Sylvain-Cathiard’s Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Aux Malconsorts had a satiny palate with cherry and beetroot flavours, Jean Grivot’s Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les Pruliers had savoury and spicy notes and good density on the palate and Arnoux-Lachaux’s Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les Procès was weighty, strong and tannic.

The disappointments to me were the wines of Humbert Frères which didn’t show well and were very very tannic, grippy and backward and Domaine Clos des Lambrays where the two wines shown were jammy and over-done. Domaine Follin Arbelet also produced wines that were very tannic and grippy and not showing well and Domaine Chandon des Brailles reds seemed a bit pinched, extracted and tannic. I wouldn’t write any of these wines off ultimately but they wouldn’t be on my wish list right now, let’s say that. Finally I’m not quite sure where to place the wines of Nicolas Potel’s operation Maison Roche de Bellene. The wines were certainly structured and grippy but they were missing excitement. The Nuits-St-Georges Aux Murgers was good, concentrated and structured, and his Beaune Cent Vignes cherry scented, structured and grippy. Clos de la Roche, Grand Cru was also silky and fragrant, but I wouldn’t have thought it comes cheap. Good wines certainly yet not remarkable.

The 2009 white burgundies I tasted from a dozen growers seemed almost uniformly delicious and forward by comparison with the reds. They remind you how no white wine in the world can quite approach the power, majesty and sheer complexity of Chardonnay grown in the best vineyards by the best growers in Burgundy. It feels sacrilegious to identify these as purely varietal – they seem to provide so much more in the glass. These wines are so delightful now but I do think that some of the best will age reasonably well. Nevertheless this forward, reasonably early maturing style, should make these wines a big hit and I would snap up as much of these white wines as you can. In particular Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard’s Chassange-Montrachet 1er Cru Caillerets was excellent along with Domaine Philippe Colin’s Chassange-Montrachet 1er cru Les Chenevottes, Domaine Philippe Chavy’s Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles and Domaine Jean-Marc Boillot’s Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Champ Canet.

Louis Carillon as ever was flawless, their Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Combettes and their Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Perrières were ace and the straight Puligny was no slouch. Domaine Ballot-Millot’s Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrières and their Meursault 1er Cru Charmes were also wonderful and spot on top-drawer Meursaults as was Domaine Michel Bouzereau’s Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrieres. Domaine Hubert Lamy impressed as ever, especially the St Aubin 1er Cru Clos de la Chantenière and Domaine Etienne Sauzet’s Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Champ-Canet was very good. I will add the full tasting notes shortly.

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