Lovers of red Burgundy will be all too familiar with wines which fail to live up to expectation. Too many wines – especially in the past – were pale, feeble or lack the heady perfume that Pinot Noir can deliver in the Côte d’Or. But when they do deliver, they are – without qualification – among the world’s finest and most memorable wines.
Friday evenings are for special bottles, whether that is for higher quality or for something with a personal resonance. Janet and I have had a few disappointments of late – corked bottles, bretty wines or wines that just don’t deliver what they are supposed to. She tends to choose the wines as that gives me an extra blind tasting opportunity, even if I know in general terms what we have in our cellar – though a weakening memory means there are more surprises than there used to be!
So I was pleased when Janet choose and decanted her bottle and announced ‘girl done good!’ Clearly the weight of disappointing previous Friday bottles was weighing on her. The liquid in question was distinctly garnet in colour, richly aromatic with forest-floor and leather aromas and had a mouth-filling breadth. The palate was remarkably rich and textured with the tannins providing architecture to the wine as a whole.
It never occurred to me that this was red Burgundy because of the weight of the palate and the richness but this Nuits-Saint-Georges 1º cru really shone. There was a perfect harmony between the bottle-aged aromas and the fresh fruit core and that luxurious texture. Perhaps the most surprising aspect was the weight in the mouth. The best wines put on weight in the bottle while remaining fresh. This 16 year old was at a real peak. It had a long and savoury finish, perhaps not quite as subtle as the very best. But still, here we had a fully mature, glorious, red Burgundy really showing what it can do.
Domaine Robert Chevillon, Nuits-Saint-Georges, 1º cru Les Roncières, 2002, bought en primeur from the Wine Society.