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.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Chambolle-Musigny Vieilles Vignes 2011, Domaine Collotte

The only problem with the Chambolle appellation is that it is too small (152 ha compared with 410 of Gevrey) and therefore prices are often too elevated. Most of the wines are tremendous, whether village quality or grand cru. This Chambolle-Musigny, produced by the Philippe Collotte domaine based in Marsannay has a proud, deep ruby colour which is nevertheless transparent. A gentle nose of fresh wild strawberry and red cherry backed up by floral aromas of roses and rosehips. Background oak barrels. Good fruit texture and structure on the palate. A feminine structure with soft tannins on the finish. Pleasant to drink now but not showing much leg. Representative of the lighter 2011 vintage. Like a hermit crab, I feel this Chambolle has concealed itself in its shell, typical at the three year mark, and needs another two years to open up. Scores 19-23/30 for a Chambolle. Domaine Collotte should not of course be confused with the "sans-culottes" being toasted in this image by Louis XVI.  

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru "Morgeot" 2011, Domaine Morey Coffinet

This domaine is located in Chassagne, the only appellation that has good pinots and chardonnays aside from Beaune itself. Good rich plummy colour, thick rather than bright, some opaqueness is creeping into the transparent pinot liquid. Mélange of strawberry, cooked rhubarb and custard. Not a terribly distinctive nose. Think Eton mess. Full and dense plum and cherry fruit on the palate. Good impact. There are edges. There is alcohol. Substance. Matter. Spices lurking in the deep. Like many good red Burgundies, this Chassagne 1er Cru is in the shade of its evolution three years after its birth. Give it 2 years and there will be much more expression on the nose with rich fruit to back it up. Scores 23-26 / 30 for a Chassagne 1er cru rouge.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Marsannay 2012, Domaine Trapet Père & Fils

A couple of years ago we had a wonderful tasting with Mme Trapet at the domaine. What a character she is. And Marsannay has a special place in my heart as I fondly remember a Bacchanalian Tournante de St Vincent in 1993. The 2015 tournante will be the 900th anniversary! Beguiling nose of vanilla, blueberry, cassis and lilac. Floral and fresh. Wonderful berry fruit, raspberry, ripe cassis and cherry. Lively and wildly expressive pinot. There is a hint of stalk on the nose reflecting the northerly location of the appellation. A soupçon of green bell pepper flavour and oak. This Marsannay squeezes everything out of the pinot grapes available in 2012. It is slightly undone by the vintage -- Marsannay only really sings in warm years. Scores 25/30 for a Marsannay. Check the tasting note for the 2004 vintage.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Maranges 1er Cru "La Fussière" 2007, Bruno Colin

Being almost half Scottish I can get enthusiastic about bargains, this Maranges 1er Cru 2007 from the respected Chassagne-based producer Bruno Colin is a bargain indeed. This cheeky little pinot, from the fresh 2007 vintage has evolved wonderfully. A very fresh, lively nose, more on the berries than on floral notes reveals cranberry, juniper, pigeon and rosehip aromas. After several hours of evolution there is more chestnut and cinnamon. Flavours of raspberry, red currant jelly, tobacco, cooked orange and arrow root. Bright and tangy finish but shows off a plump edge at the finish. Starting to dry out on the fin de bouche -- a touch of tobacco. Will be good for another year then the fruit will fall away. Scores 27/30 for a Maranges.