The first question is can we tell our generic Burgundy from a village level wine or a Premier Cru. There are no obvious visual clues – they are are all basically medium intensity pale lemon in colour. Of the five wines, we all pretty much got the simplest correctly. Wine 1, Macon-Villages, has medium intensity fruit on the nose with no overt oak with ripe simple fruit and is only middling in terms of its persistence on the palate. Similarly, wine 4 is a lovely if simple example, what you might call ‘Bourgogne Blanc plus’: it is marketed as La Secret de la famille, and the ‘secret’ is that the fruit comes from just outside the delimited area for Meursault. Perfect fruit-acidity balance, just the hint of oak, lovely early drinking for £12-£14.
If that first task was challenging, far more difficult was placing a flight of 2011s all from Premier Cru and Grand Cru sites. You might think that Moutonne Grand Cru from northerly Chablis might stand out but in fact, it is one of the warmest sites (95% Vaudesir, 5% Preuses). My note did say ‘lean intensity, very muted nose’ which was a reasonable description. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru Les Languettes was ripe and peachy with a citrus undertow. In time it should have breadth and precision, but at this early age, the 2011 is only showing the later. In the middle ground, Beaune PC Clos de Mouches was leading with its nutty oak, the fruit coming from young vines; a flashy style which should tone down as the wines mature. Puligny PC La Garennes has lifted mineral and ripe, just about tropical fruit notes, bordering as it does on Meursault, while Chassagne Vide Bourse has a slight coolness about it with some honeyed, layered notes. These were all remarkable wines of real elegance and length. It is perhaps a bit of a cop-out but these wines all need five years to show their whether or not they are typical of their village/cru characteristics.
With many thanks to Maison Bichot and Richard Bampfield MW.
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