2004 Red Burgundy again

The rather uneven vintage of 2004 in Burgundy nonetheless has some good associations for me.  The very first fine wine supper that Janet and I hosted for Andover Wine Friends in July 2009 was a blind tasting of red Burgundy at ‘village’ level, comparing six wines from that vintage.  ‘Village’ sounds a bit prosaic but in fact it is an important category, indicating that the wine comes from a particular commune without necessarily reaching the heights (or the price) of Premier Cru or Grand Cru. It is at this level that the elusive quality of red  Burgundy really starts to show.

The end of our New Year celebrations were marked by revisiting two wines from this same vintage, if at the higher, Premier Cru, level.   Our host started us off with a good white from further south:

Bourgogne Les Raverettes, Domaine Guillemot Michel, 2007 – excellent white from Mâcon, subtle veneer of vanilla and yeast, good lime and lemon fruit, refreshing finish

The first of two reds from Domaine Jean Marc Vincent:

IMG_0573Santenay Premier Cru Beaurepaire, Domaine Jean Marc Vincent, 2003

The eagle eyed will have spotted that this is from the preceding year – much hotter, a completely different challenge but in the end a  better year in general for reds than 2004. It was really drinking well – an alluring combination of red fruit and developing farmyardy smells on the nose with good, rather dark cherry, fruit.  More forward than you might expect but no doubt that was the heat. The vineyard itself is directly above the village of Santenay, which in turn is right at the south end of the Côte d’Or.

 


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Santenay Premier Cru Le Passetemps, Domaine Jean Marc Vincent, 2004

Sadly this didn’t quite live up to its billing.  The richness of the 2003 has gone but the elegance you might hope for in a cooler year is not there either.  There is decent red fruit on the nose and palate but somehow it doesn’t quite knit up with the oak and the alcohol.  But then it was a very difficult year especially in the cool months which normally constitute summer. However good September is, it can’t do it all on its own.  Again the wine is from the most southerly tip of  the Côte d’Or, a different vineyard.
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But you should never generalise about Burgundy – that’s the point, it is constant variation.  Much further up the Cote d’Or, in Chambolle-Musigny, Domaine Grivot produced a perfectly creditable village wine in the same year. The weather here was marginally better:

Chambolle-Musigny La Combe d’Orveau Domaine Grivot 2004 is sleeker and altogether more polished.  (It is typical Burgundian complexity that this vineyard name appears on both Premier Cru and village wine!)  But the other adage is probably the right one here: the most important name on the bottle is that of the producer and Jean Grivot’s is a very good name indeed.
It was great to drink these sophisticated, variable, wines.  They are very typical of Burgundy – you are either compelled  or driven away by the complexities of what you encounter in the glass, the villages and vineyards, subtle intra-vintage variation and the varying levels of skill of the producer. Or you can just enjoy the wines … or, of course, look somewhere else more predictable.

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