Posts Tagged ‘Nuits-Saint-Georges’
The birthday boy’s choice for this month’s themed Bring a Bottle club was Burgundy (good choice!), with a stipulation for more reds than whites. That is in fact how it worked out but not always for the best of reasons.
Even if the wine is off it can serve some photographic purpose. Sadly two of the five whites were either very oxidised (Chablis 2000, Emanuel Dampt) or just oxidised, the latter a real loss: Meursault, Les Forges Dessus, Domaine Prieur-Brunet 1996. The photograph too was a mistake but a rather happier slip of the hand.
Petit Chablis, Cuvée Special Juliette Anaïs, Patrick Piuze, 2010 was in much ruder health: obviously young and fresh, tart apple and lemon sherbet, we all agreed that it is a remarkably good wine for its humble appellation. The Puize label now has quite a following in this part of north Hampshire courtesy of Caviste. The second bottle is also available locally: Macon-Cruzilles, Clos des vignes du Mayne, Aragonite, 2009. Some of us had tasted this before as it is supplied by Grape Expectations and very good it is too. On this bottle the oak was not as evident as a few months ago, rather it was showing attractive stewed apple notes, some creaminess and mild oak. The final white was a class act with honeyed, gooseberry and even some exotic fruit aromas, good oak and mineral notes, complex, fine and long. On this occasion the appellation lived up to its name: Puligny-Montrachet, Moret-Nominé, 2006.
The evening’s reds were an excellent line-up and some quite venerable:
Nuits-Saint-Georges, Mommessin, 1993
Hospices de Beaune, Premier Cru Guigone de Salins, 2002
Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru Les Cazetiers, Vallet Frères, 2000
Chambolle-Musigny, La Combe d’Orveaux, Jean Grivot, 2005
Aloxe-Corton, Premier Cru Les Chaillots, Louis Latour, 1996
Auxey-Duresses, Terre des Velle, 2009
The 1993 was doing pretty well, managing to combine a blue cheese or germolene aroma with pure raspberry fruit, but it was rather drying out and tough on the palate. The 2002 was a beautifully velvet Pinot Noir, with some ageing notes and some weight, probably at its peak. There was further development on the 2000, the best of the older wines, with lovely old fruit and that velvet texture again. The 1996 started off in dusty and wet cardboard mode but then recovered itself, with some fruit but it was fading with noticeable drying tannins. Of the younger wines the 2005 shone with its lively raspberry and strawberry flavours, subtle and perfumed if still structured and tannic. And the 2009 was young and fruity as it should be with a whiff of gun powder and toasty oak, even marzipan. Evidently there were far more highs than lows in the red wines.
Burgundy not being noted for its sweet wines, the final offering was an excellent Vin Doux Naturels but far out of region: Grand Reserve, Rivesaltes, Les Vignerons de Terrats, 1974 – not quite the year we were celebrating but a good approximation! And the wine was charming and subtle as the celebrand: sweet caramel, raisins, orange peel and a fine sweetness with smooth alcohol. Special birthdays are something to celebrate!
Burgundy en primeur week in London gives a chance to taste the 16 month-old wines which have been bottled specially for this purpose – see the previous post; this post focuses on the wines. As Burgundy is a relatively northern location for wine growing, there is big vintage variation due to the weather conditions in individual years. 2009 and 2010 are perfect examples. 2009 was warm and even for the grower – which meant good quality grapes and lots of them. 2010 was quite different. The year opened with a cool and wet spring which meant that the flowering and later fruit set were poor, leading to lower yields. Summer was no great shakes either. The season was saved (which happens quite often) by three great weeks in September, including some summer like days. The overall result was that good wines could be made by good growers/ winemakers but yields were down, between 10% and 50% down depending on which grower you talked to. Domaine Marquis d’Angerville reported that while they would crop at 40 hectolitres per hectare in a good year, in 2010 they only made 20 hl/ha. That is an extreme example but it shows the problem – both for the grower and, inevitably, for the consumer in terms of higher prices.
In a cool year you would expect the white wines to shine – and indeed they do. This piece will pick out some wines from two very impressive tastings at Lea & Sandeman (LS) and Corney and Barrow (CB) – we only like the very best on this website. (Actually, on a serious note, it is a shame that the Burgundy growers association did not put on their usual mammoth tasting as that gives you a great snapshot of the general state of the vintage. The BIVB is promising ‘something better’ than the usual tasting next year.) For some wines below, I have put in in-bond prices to give an idea of rough pricing levels.
Domaine Moreau-Naudet (LS)
I love this great value Chablis and it is not just the striking label – I can’t decide whether the drawing is of a hand rising out of the vineyard with a nugget of gold or a piece of the precious earth. In the end it comes to much the same.
Of the seven wines tasted I would pick out:
Chablis – there is also a Petit Chablis but otherwise this is the basic wine and very good it is too. Characteristic fresh green apple fruit and typical minerality, good concentration and only £90 a case in bond (add £22 per case excise duty and then 20% VAT on the total = £134, ie just under £11.20 per bottle). The freshness of the vintage shines through this entry level Chablis.
Chablis Vaillons Premier Cru – much broader on the palate, substantial minerality, very long; classic quality Chablis
Chablis Valmur Grand Cru – one for keeping of course but great mineral notes, many years of potential ahead but it should retain the raciness which is the hallmark of Chablis.
Domaine Pierre Labet (CB)
Much further south on the Côte d’Or, Labet produces high quality Meursault, other whites and, from other appellations, reds.
Bourgogne Blanc Vielles Vignes – rounder, riper fruit, with fine acidity, slightly drying oak evident at the moment (and most drinkers are not going to keep this long),
Meursault Les Tillets – juicy palate, very youthful, excellent fruit, pleasant whiff of oak, good persistence
Savigny Premier Cru Vergellesses – a different flavour profile, ripe apple and some stone fruit (peach), refreshing acidity, needs time to develop but very good
Moving to the reds:
Beaune – elegant red fruit, lovely acidity, surprisingly drinkable now but enough structure to develop
Gevrey-Chambertin – superb fresh red fruit, beautiful lines – something about the way that the fruit is followed by the acidity and then the tannic rasp, quite lively tannins
Beaune Premier Cru Coucherias – a more lifted bouquet, then refined fruit, superb
Domaine de l’Arlot (CB)
In a rather different style, the wines of this domaine have a rustic quality.
Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Les Petits Plets – quite powerful vegetal notes, some lifted aromatics, needs time, difficult to know how this will develop
NSG Clos des Forets – very dense, high impact on the palate, lives up to NSG’s reputation for big, robust wines
Some grand wines
Last year I commented on Corney and Barrow’s top wines from Ch. de la Tour who have, by Burgundian standards, a massive six hectare plot in the Grand Cru, Clos de Vougeot. The 2010s are very promising too: the Cuvée Classique at the moment hits the nose with a great whack of super-refined oak, rich forceful fruit, high acidity and tannins – all the components the wine needs for a long and developing life. The Vielles Vignes is more muted but the palate has an remarkable concentration.
Over at Lea & Sandeman there were 117 wines if you tasted them all and the final straight groans with great names. In whites the Henri Boillot’s Grand Cru Corton-Charlemagne (£786 in bond), is tightly closed, fine and concentrated on the palate but with ripe fruit showing through. In the reds, their Clos Vougeot has super supple and beautiful fruit, managing to combine sophistication with drinkability. Another step up to Grand Cru Clos des Lambrays with yet greater concentration, quite superb. Finally, there were three great wines from Thibault Liger-Belair finishing with Grand Cru Charmes-Chambertin – very refined beautiful fruit again, great density and persistence – and Grand Cru Richebourg – old wood clove notes, tight knit, huge potential, not for now. If you need to know the prices of these wines they are probably beyond your wallet – the last named gets above £2K per case in bond.
2010 is a vintage that Burgundy lovers will cherish. After the full charm and ripeness of 2009, 2010 is a marked by lovely clear fruit, refreshing acidity and good concentration. It won’t be ready to drink as soon as 2009 but it is more classic and likely to be longer lasting. From the best growers, there are good wines at all quality levels and the middle to top wines are very good indeed. Happy drinking … from now or 2013 onwards.
My good friends in the BBC (‘bring a bottle club’ and taste them blind) asked me to nominate the theme for the July meeting as it happened to fall on my birthday. They all thought I would chose something Italian (reasonably enough) but I went for my primo amore, Burgundy. As it happened there were less of us than normal but this tasting was very rewarding, both in the whites and the reds. Quality – and comparison – is more important than quantity.
First up was a good glass of refreshing fizz, obviously Crémant de Bourgogne, made in the traditional way from Chardonnay with the second fermentation in the bottle. Nice toasty nose, attractive lemon fruit, refreshing, moderate body and little staying power, but very drinkable.
We then had a bit of debate about whether to taste my white first or a pair of whites which had been brought for comparison’s sake. We opted for the singleton and later tasted the pair. Of course, if it is blind tasting you can’t give any clues. However, in fact it turned out that all three bottles were from the same Burgundy village!
Meursault has a special reputation of it own. The wines, 100% Chardonnay, are not as mineral as those from the Montrachet vineyard further south or as chiselled and stony as whites from more northerly Chablis. But they are famous for their dairy qualities – butter and cream. As one taster put it: what you are expecting from Meursault is a bit like spreading butter on toast: ‘you spread the toast and then when the butter has disappeared down the holes, you spread some more!’
However, tasted blind from the recently opened bottles, none of these three bottles was particularly buttery. We did not taste them in this order, but it seems sensible to discuss them in date order, from youngest to oldest.
Meursault AC, Les Tillets, Patrick Javillier, 2008 – in Burgundy you can add the vineyard name, here ‘Les Tillets’, to the commune name (Meursault) even if the wine is not Premier or Grand Cru. This wine impressed with some floral elegance, excellent acidity and good apple and lemon fruit. It is very young and could no doubt have developed for some years. It had been brought to the tasting as part of a pair to contrast with Meursault number three below.
Meursault AC, Le Meix sous le Château, Jean-Phillipe Fichet, 2002 – this was the wine we tasted first and it completely foxed us. There was no doubt about the quality: this nine year had delicate oak notes, but was chiefly remarkable for its vibrancy and refined palate. Initially at least there was no hint of the cow shed at all, no butter, little cream. Tasting it, initially no one thought ‘Meursault’. But then why should every wine conform to its stereotype? After an hour of so in the glass, a vanilla butteriness did show.
Meursault, Premier Cru AC, Sous Blagny, Nicholas Potel, 1992 – in short, a wonderful wine and one which showed the potential of barrel aged Chardonnay to develop in the bottle over two decades. Not surprisingly, slightly stinky to start with but this then transmuted into old citrus peel. A remarkably assertive nose – marmalade as noted, layers of aged fruit, full even voluminous in the mouth, still good refreshing acidity, lingering. Remarkable.
After this highly instructive comparison – which make me think we should nominate a Burgundy commune, a Bordeaux appellation or a specific Italian region for future showings of the BBC – we moved on to the reds. Here another treat lay in store, particularly in the outstandingly interesting first and second reds which we could subtitle ‘infanticide and geriatricide’ (or euthansia!). One member had opened one bottle of Burgundy only to find it was corked and so had very generously upgraded to a very grand bottle indeed – which would probably have developed for 30 years. Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, Maison de Bellene 2008, a Grand Cru vineyard in Morey-Saint-Denis, was brimming with potential – a splendid structure, sharp, perfumed, highly drinkable but no doubt would have developed. Jancis Robinson puts the drinking date as 2012-20, so perhaps we were not that far off. There are so many big, assertive wines in today’s market that you have to recalibrate your senses when it comes to Burgundy – the normally rather shy and retiring Pinot from this relatively northern latitude can really perform on the very best sites.
At the far other end of the scale was a venerable old wine. The first struggle was with the cork. The pictures above are of ‘man struggling with old bottle’ and ‘expert struggling with the same bottle and damaged cork’. It has to be said that the bottle won with the cork ending up in the precious liquid. But this is not a group to be deterred by the odd bit of cork in their glass.
The wine when it finally got into the glass was distinctly murky and old. The aroma was markedly farmyardy, healthy compost heap and old leather – but at its core there was still some strawberry/raspberry fruit. We floundered madly trying to guess the age. In fact it was Nuits-Saint-Georges, Lalignant Chameroy, imported and bottled by Blackett and Spedding, sold at auction and catalogued as ‘believed to be 1947’! The neck label, where presumably the vintage had been stated, had long since disappeared. So I got to celebrate my birthday with a very young Grand Cru and a wine even older than I am. What a treat!
The final wine of the evening was positively straightforward compared to these last two: Nuits-Saint-Georges AC, Premier Cru, Clos des Porrets, Domaine Henri Gouges, 2001. There was a tiny bit of capsule showing with its bright green colour – and one of our number guessed the producer from it! (Too much time spent in wine shops me thinks. And it just shows that you can’t be too careful at blind tastings not to give visual clues.) This wine was slightly dumb to start with and then showed its steely class – taut on the palate, restrained fruit and nose, despite its ten years it also had some more to go.
This was a brilliant evening. There were fewer bottles than usual but the comparison between the young, the one-decade-old and the two-decade-old Meursault was remarkable, as were the ‘infant and the grandparent’ in the reds. As one of our more poetically inclined members put it: in these disparate wines there is ‘definitely a common soul’. I am already looking forward to next month’s tasting.