Sunday, May 03, 2015

Bourgogne Rouge 2012, Lignier-Michelot

This domaine is based in Morey and is run by Virgile Lignier. The RVF says that Virgile is trying to establish the domaine among the elite of Burgundy but his wines can err on the austere. Obviously he is having some success since the wines are stocked by many of the leading Anglo-Saxon merchants. This red Burgundy has a good, medium-depth, classic red-purple pinot colour. The nose is on unpicked autumn blackberries, violets, aniseed, hay and vanilla. Very appealing, both sweet and dry. There is ripe berry fruit. There is bon matiere.There are breakfast tea tannins. There is a brambley finish with a touch of black cherry and blood orange. There are loud murmurings of appreciation. For a simple Bourgogne this is a stupendous wine and awesome value. Scores 26/30 for a Bourgogne rouge.   

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Savigny-lès-Beaune "Les Pimentiers" 2010, Jean Chartron

I am amazed to say that I have tasted at this domaine since January 1993 when an acquaintance was working there. A lad amongst wine-makers. We were invited back to one of the vineyard workers' houses in Puligny and tasted from a barrel of "vin blanc" which seemed to be part of his compensation. His large red nose told the rest of the story. This Savigny white is full of surprises. Marzipan, over-ripe apricots, butter, vanilla, sweet on the nose. A touch of candied pineapple. Flabby, a touch sour, more apples than apricots on the palate. Seems prematurely aged since it is short and lacking in vim. A pleasant wine but imperfect. Scores 20/30 for a Savigny blanc.  

Monday, April 06, 2015

Chambolle-Musigny 2011, François Bertheau

Perhaps it is a mildly underperforming bottle, the impact of the light 2011 vintage or a dip in form as the wine hits its 3-4 year mark, but this is not as good as I remember from a wonderful tasting at the domaine with M. Bertheau who bears an uncanny resemblance to one of my musical heros, Sting. This pinot has a light cherry colour it is very transparent, what the wine-maker at Domaine de Courcel would call "léger". The first nose combines vanillins, shiitake mushrooms and some background bright raspberry aromas. Frankly, its a bit twiggy in the glass. Just not enough fruit. Lean on the palate, very tight, tights plus I'd say. Short, tangy finish with too much citrus and rhubarb and not enough ripe berry fruit so the trademark Chambolle sensuality and silky texture isn't there. I hope this is a slightly off bottle as opposed to being representative of the lean and light 2011 vintage. Not the message in a bottle I was expecting!

Friday, April 03, 2015

Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru "La Dominode" 2011, Bruno Clair

As I build up to a two week trip to Burgundy I felt it appropriate to exorcise (exercise - ed?) my palate on some of the finer wines in my NYC cellar. Avid Bourgoblog readers will no doubt be familiar with this wine given the tasting notes from 2002, 2004 and 2010. My olfactory senses were not disappointed. The bouquet is a fascinating mix of wild strawberries, black cherries, ripe raspberries and sweet spices like cloves, cinnamon and vanilla. The low yielding ancient vines of "La Dominode" deliver the depth, complexity and sheer quality that one hopes for. There is also a menthol nay rhubarb edge to this Savigny 1er Cru which reflects the bright 2011 vintage. The third nose offers bready aromas that range from wholemeal to pumpernickel. And there is an overlay of blood orange - a typical 2011 feature. The palate is fresher and more citrus than the nose, combining morello cherry with satsuma and red plum. Even a hint of edible moss à la Heston Blumenthal. Like many 2011s this Savigny has a nez flatteur but is less thrilling on the palate. Scores 25/30 for a Savigny 1er Cru -- the most one could achieve in 2011. And of course what we appreciate is the vintage typicity as well as the terroir.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Viré-Clessé 2013, Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon

I am amazed to find this is the first tasting note I have written for Burgoblog for an appellation contrôlée Viré-Clessé. I imagine much of the wine is consumed in France because there are 390 hectares of vineyards in the appellation which is only 5 fewer than Meursault but there is little to find in restaurants and wine merchants in London or New York. A fine, transparent, silvery hay colour the bouquet is all white flowers and a hint of white peach. It's a gentle nose, sophisticated and meek. More promise on the palate with attractive clementine and bright apricot fruit flavours. Rounded, balanced and a good matière on the finish. A quality wine from this relatively unknown appellation. Scores 25/30 for a Viré-Clessé.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Macon-Milly-Lamartine 2013, Les Heritiers du Comte Lafon

A very pale colour had me worried but this is an absolutely delicious wine procured from one of Manhattan's best wine merchants, Flatiron Wines. The nose is perfumed, apricot blossom (I imagine), or warm ripe apricot skin, white peach and simmered oranges. If you can imagine sniffing Marilyn Monroe's navel I honestly believe this is the lovely bouquet you would have found hidden in that delicate spot. No hint of oak. More citrus and apple on the palate, uplifting acidity, good length and excellent balance. A stunningly good wine, I recommend all Burgoblog readers buy a case! Trust me. And the quality/price ratio is also good. Thank you Dominique Lafon. Scores 29/30 for a Macon Villages blanc. Here is the tasting note for the 2011 vintage which I tried at the domaine -- something of a speed tasting in cool conditions but the sheer quality still showed through.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Chambolle-Musigny "Vieilles Vignes" 2007, Geantet-Pansiot

Tasted chez James Whyte on whom I foisted a post-Christmas tasting lunch (thank you!) this was the final red wine of three tasted blind. A dark cherry colour, semi-opaque, pointed to good concentration. The bouquet evolved nicely from cherries and cassis to cinnamon, nutmeg and star anise. Then returned to a ripe berry note after 15 minutes in the glass. The initial palate was very smooth, a lovely texture with fresh cherry and plum fruit but it finished on a surprisingly tannic brieve. Tasted blind I immediately went for a Volnay and pegged it as a 1999. Right idea stylistically but wide by a country mile on the vintage! I think the vieilles vignes concentration misled me somewhat. Compare with the tasting note for the same wine from April 2012. Scores 26/30 for a Chambolle. Excellent stuff.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Chorey-les-Beaune 2010, Tollot-Beaut

This is one of the least well-known Cote d'Or appellations in part because it is small, in part because it lacks vineyards on the Cote itself. The whole appellation is snuggled down on the Saone plane. I wonder if I am being brainwashed though by the Tollot-Beaut offerings since I have tasting notes for 2011, 2007, 2006 and 2005. This Chorey 2010 was immediately attractive on the nose: roses, violets, plum, cherry and red currants. A great breadth of pinot characteristics. And it packs a punch on the palate with lovely concentrated berry and plum fruit flavours, surprisingly structured tannins and a good finish. A very successful wine. Score 26/30 for a Chorey.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Chablis Grand Cru "Les Preuses" 2009, La Chablisienne

Most of you know that La Chablisienne is the wooly mammoth of the Chablis producers -- the cave cooperative supplied by many small vignerons. It has been several years since I tried a wine from this producer in part due to my snobbishness about non-family owned domaines. Not wishing to be complimented by my own prejudices, but this 2009, which I thought should be very rich and giving due to the ripeness of the vintage, is a disappointment. Not much at all on the nose (flint stones, limestone) is followed by a decent concentration on the palate, citrus dominated, some wax on the finish with a chalky end. A grand cru should always wow, enthuse or bamboozle. This is not an exciting wine. Scores 14/30 for a Chablis Grand Cru. A decent companion to my Ottolenghi seafood, monkfish and fennel soup.  

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Bourgogne Blanc "Cuvee Oligocene" 2010, Patrick Javillier

Icing sugar, lemon tart, orange blossom, white flowers. Lovely weight on the palate combining lemon, ripe apple and a bright apricot flavour. Ridiculous opulence for a bourgogne blanc. A touch of residual sugar. Fresh and tangy finish with good length. Fully open now and mature on the palate. Bouquet will likely evolve over the next 2 years but at the expense of the fruit and freshness on the palate. Scores 25/30 for a Bourgogne blanc. Compare with the tasting note for the Cuvee Oligocene 2010 from August 2013.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru "Aux Cras" 1999, Domaine Bruno Clavelier

This domaine doesn't have a high profile compared to others based in Vosne-Romanee but boy are the wines good! When we tasted at Domaine Bruno Clavelier three years ago the expression of terroir achieved by the domaine's wines was second to none. We were happy get our hands on some older vintages. This NSG 1999, another generous corkage bottle provided by partner in tasting Ammar Al Gevrey, proved an ideal companion for our steak dinner. "Aux Cras" is a premier cru lieu dit closer to the village of Vosne than it is to Nuits. But in the meaty 1999 vintage it combines the glorious ripe, swanky fruit of Vosne with the structure and earthiness of a Nuits. The bouquet was masculine: plums, dates, rack of lamb... possibly a hint of wild boar breath. Ripe tannins, plenty of dark stone fruit (plums, black cherries) and a powerful structure on the palate which went head to head with my rare-medium cube of rump steak at Hawksmoor. Perfection for a gourmand. Scores 27/30 for a NSG 1er Cru.   

Meursault "Cuvee Tete de Murger" 2007, Patrick Javillier

I am no stranger to the wines of Domaine Patrick Javillier, indeed every year I drop into the wonderful tasting cellar in Meursault. So I was delighted to try this special Meursault cuvee - a unique blend of Meursault Casse-Tetes and Meursault Les Murgers de Monthelie -- donated by Ammar Al Gevrey to a dinner at Hawksmoor. A thrilling floral nose of white hawthorn blossom, giant daisies and lilac evolves into marzipan, butter and icing sugar. Still fresh on the palate which melds white peach with ripe yellow-fleshed apple. Good length and a mouth-filling density. Utterly delicious and a perfect companion to scallops cooked in white port served on the half shell. Scores 28/30 for a Meursault A/C.      

Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru "Les Referts" 2008, Etienne Sauzet

What is the problem with wines from Domaine Etienne Sauzet? They are too good. Its as if the wine maker has moved his magic wand over the barrels and given the wines more concentration, more finesse and more complexity than should be possible. This Puligny 2008 Les Referts was initially quiet on the nose and then burst into life and had amazing staying power over the course of a 4 hour lunch. Spritely ripe lemon notes, oranges and tangerines combined with a touch of marzipan and white truffle. But its really the texture and finesse on the palate which constantly amazes me. Not so much luxurious as elegant, beautifully balanced and vigorous. The Balanchine of the wine world, it was superior to the Corton-Charlemagne 2008 from Javillier. Scores 26/30 for a Puligny 1er Cru.   

Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2008, Patrick Javillier

Tasted at the Rex Whistler restaurant at the Tate Museum in London, we were delighted to see one of our favourite white Burgundy producers on the list. Hailing from the finely-balanced 2008 vintage, this Corton-Charlemagne sparkled in the glass. A rewarding aromatic array of green melon, spearmint, pineapple and orange. Rich, ripe apple, melon and cooked lemon fruit flavours on the palate with a luxury texture. Very enjoyable. Scores 25/30 for a Corton-Charlemagne. Unfortunately the food at the restaurant was sub-standard.   

Saint-Veran "Grande Reserve" 2011, Domaine des Maillettes

The bouquet takes me on a journey from cinnamon to dried orange to cantaloupe melon to peach and finally to salt. Ends on bees wax. Good weight on the palate with a brassiere of citrus acidity, more pale yellow racerback than lacy white corsette. In short, that wonderful combination from the Maconnais: ripe Provencal fruits with Cote d'Or finesse. Scores 25/30 for a Saint-Veran. A big success!  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Willamette Valley 2013, Argyle

Its America, so the Willamette Valley has not yet evolved its own style. It's not possible to say "Oh, that's an old school Willamette pinot." The reference points aren't there yet. So each wine from the valley is a surprise. This pinot noir from the Willamette Valley is aiming for elegance and achieves a lightness of being. Its more ethereal than elegant. A (too) light pinky red, transparent robe leads onto a nose of cranberry, raspberry and white watermelon flesh. A touch of sweet licorice. Fresh, tangy berry fruit driven on the palate, with no waist to speak of or much flesh. So a big contrast to some of the alcoholic, busty monsters from nearby producers. Whilst I prefer a lively, elegant syle over something heavy and viscuous, this has pushed the concept too far. Scores 19/30 for a Willamette Valley.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Auxey-Duresses 2010, Domaine Bzikot

I remember during the annual Burgundy tasting trip in 2013 my friend Jenson Buttonhurst appeared at my house in Puligny at 9am looking pleased as punch. It transpired that en route from his hotel on the village green he had snuck into Domaine Bzikot for a pre-9am tasting. Call it dedication to the cause from Jenson. And what admirable hospitality from M Bzikot whose family emigrated to Puligny in the early twentieth century from Poland. The domaine's wines also fall into the "friendly" category. This Auxey has a pleasing nose of plum and cherry, singing the story of the riper 2010 vintage. Whilst I doubt this was aged in new oak there is a significant toast note on the nose. Lively, tangy, yet ripe berry fruit on the palate with a good sour-savoury kick on the finish. This is a cheeky chappy of a wine. Well made but not something for a collector of labels. Scores 20/30 for an Auxey and will evolve well for another 2 years.   

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Beaune 1er Cru "Grèves" 2011, Michel Lafarge

This Beaune 1er Cru from the Grèves lieu-dit featured in my week long Thanksgiving food and wine fest. Not being a turkey fan we dined on wild mushroom parcels, duck and pork pate en croute, rack of lamb with an Ottolenghi herb, soy and red wine vinegar marinade and a gorgeous apple tart. And that was just for breakfast! Onto this wine: dark cherry almost plum colour, looks older than a 2011, lovely ripe berry nose of strawberry and raspberry, floral and very pretty; tremendous style on the palate with a layer of ripe berry fruit, a layer of aniseed and wildflower honey, complimented by an elegant tannic structure. This is delicious stuff... knocked off its perch only slightly by a dry tea finish which is a 2011 vintage characteristic from the hail-affected Cote de Beaune. Scores 22-24/30 for a Beaune 1er cru and I am sure will age gracefully. Thank you Gandalf. Here is the tasting note for the 2010 vintage of the same wine which was showing far better than the 2011 when tasted at the domaine in Volnay.   

Friday, November 28, 2014

Volnay 1er Cru "Les Santenots Du Milieu" 2008, Arnaud Ente

Arnaud Ente's domaine is a classic small-scale Burgundy operation. With just a handful of appellations he emphasizes the rarity value of his wines with a label that informs one that this bottle is one among "826 bouteilles et 60 magnums". This Volnay 1er Cru has a sombre, intense dark cherry colour. Brooding. The aromatics have moved on to nutmeg, aniseed and cinnamon spice with an undertow of baked blackberries and roast duck. This is a serious wine with surprisingly thick tannins, hefty plum and cherry fruit -- definitely on the stone fruits not the berries. Mouthfilling and savoury with some over-stewed black breakfast tea tannins. Possibly affected by the 2008 hail which has resulted in a mouth-puckering dryness on the finish. Surprisingly -- given other 2008s have been very open since 2013 -- this wine needs another 3-4 years to fully express what I am sure will be an intriguing bouquet. Already an ideal companion for duck and prok pate en croute and rack of lamb served at our Thanksgiving feast. Scores 21-22/30 for a Volnay 1er Cru.         

Monday, November 24, 2014

Beaune 1er Cru "Les Sizies" 2011, Domaine de Montille

Domaine de Montille is one of the top Volnay producers and Hubert de Montille's adult children own Deux Montille and the Ch de Puligny-Montrachet -- my neighbour in Puligny. It has been a while since I tasted one of the wines from the domaine and this Beaune 1er Cru is line with prior bottles. The emphasis is on elegance over power. Deep ruby red colour, transparent, good berry nose, black tea, fine berry fruit on the palate dominated by red cherry and wild strawberry. Not terribly exciting. Needs another 2 years to express more interesting aromas. Definitely a food wine with its lively acidity and blood orange edges. I'm afraid 2011 is not showing itself as a fun vintage at this stage. The 2011 vintage was classified as 14/20 by the Guide Hachette for red Burgundy but so was the amazing 2008 vintage. This Beaune scores 18-22/30 for a Beaune 1er Cru.