As I learn the ropes of wine-buying in the US I am putting to one side my preference for classic labels and terroir-only appellations. Here is the evidence a bottle of "Love, Oregon" 2010 pinot noir. "Pathetic" as the sage of Walden Tom Cobbold would say. This pinot noir from R Stuart & Co in Oregon has a plesant nose of blueberry, cooked rhubarb and strawberry. There is faint background plum. A pleasant bouquet. Ignoring the slight fizz in the glass this wine has good linearity, freshness and raspberry fruit. The structure is dainty. Simple and not too fruity. Dare I say that this is a pinot noir aperitif? Scores 20/30 for an Oregon pinot noir.
Monday, September 09, 2013
Saturday, August 10, 2013
This white Burgundy has a lovely nose dominated by orange blossom and orange sponge cake. Here is sweetness, there is freshness. A touch of garden mint, lemon and marzipan. Beautiful poise on the nose. Full citrus flavours, satisfying breadth and an enlivening pithy finish. Perfectly constructed. Could age gracefully for another 3-5 years. Scores 27-28/30 for a Bourgogne blanc.
Thursday, August 08, 2013
In recent years 2008 has emerged as one of the superior vintages for chardonnay from the Côte d'Or. It has a lovely combination of freshness, ripe stone fruit flavours and an edge of complexity. This Chassagne 2008 from Domaine Bachelet-Ramonet tries to squeeze too much out of this attractive millésime, I asssume due to yields being slightly higher than would be preferred for top quality. The nose of orange and asparagus with a touch of almond is strangely quiet, like a muted violin. Not something one expects on a wine with 5 years. Pleasant orange and apple fruit on the palate with good initial impact but no length to speak of. Not a stylish wine and underperforms for the 2008 vintage. Unexciting. Inexpensive though compared to the top 20 Chassagne producers. Scores 19-21/30 for a Chassagne.
Sunday, August 04, 2013
We visited this domaine, located in the vineyards between Chassagne and Santenay in July 2009. There had been some confusion as to whether the tasting was with Benard Moreau or Bernard Morey. A frequent problem on Burgundy tasting tours for people with brains addled by pinot. I remember the wines being fruit-driven, round and friendly. This Santenay premier cru is on the mid-to-lower slope on the northern side of the village near Chassagne. There is cherry here, some cassis, good berry ripeness, shoe polish (tan), damp straw, quail droppings and freshly-rained on gravel. Tasty cherry and plum fruit with a lacing of tart cassis. This Santenay does a good job of capturing the freshness of the 2007 vintage and has a refreshing length. An all round good egg. Impresses more than the wines tried at the domaine. Scores 24-25/30 for a Santenay premier cru. Photo shows the Gravieres vineyard falling away from the Santenay windmill.
Friday, August 02, 2013
Tasted on a very warm evening in the rather too warm dining room of L'Aventure off the Abbey Road in London this Corton-Charlemagne was very pleasing to drink although suffered from premature oxidation in both colour and aroma. Very open on the nose, the Bourgoblog team identified marzipan, almonds, white peach, orange blossom and a hint of madeira. Much fresher on the palate than the slightly premoxy nose would suggest, we enjoyed the pear and peach flavours which had depth and expressed a sense of luxe. More richesse than finesse. This Javillier offering scores 22-24/30 for a Corton-Charlemagne. We imagine the premox is the result of poor cellaring.
The Bourgoblog team visited the hidden gem of north west London's restaurant scene, L'Aventure, as part of a bottle distribution evening. Whilst the restaurant's wine list is not large it does burst with gems of wines. This Charmes-Chambertin 2008 from the Domaine Arlaud turned out to be such a fine specimen that we ordered a second cheese course as an excuse for a second bottle. Why is this wine spectacular? It has an incredible, enthralling multi-layered nose that is tempting and beguiling. There is perfume, vanilla, pomegranate, rye bread, bramble and raspberry. This is a pinot nose which is philosophical and deep. Offers so much now, and promises even more in the future. This 2008 grand cru is velvety, lively, fresh and concentrated on the palate. It is obviously a grand cru wine with thoroughbred breeding. This Charmes-Chambertin evolved over two hours and retained its character in full. Perfect pinot, as one of the tasters said. Scores 26-28/30 for a Gevrey grand cru.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
By the standards of the Côte d'Or (against which all vineyards must be measured) the Saint-Véran appellation is a giant sea of vines: 645 hectares. This compares with just 394 hectares for Meursault. The maximum permissible yield in Saint-Véran is 55 hectoliters per hectare versus 45 hectoliters for white wine on the Côte d'Or. What do all these numbers add up to? Vineyard exposition and yield management have a huge impact on quality in Saint-Véran. This 2011 from Domaine Thibert is cool and lacking in kick on the nose, slight hints of cucumber and lemon. This is partly due to its youth. Good texture, lively citrus and pear fruit on the palate. Narrow yet with length. This could evolve into something interesting with more weight. Requires at least 2 years to open up. Scores 19-23 / 30 for a Saint-Véran.
Monday, July 29, 2013
Fixin is a one of the small, unsung villages of the Côte d'Or located to the north of big brother Gevrey-Chambertin. One assumes the village does not consider it has a top tier lieu dit since it has not taken the double-barreled rebranding route like so many of its Côte de Nuits cousins. This Fixin from the rich 2009 vintage has a ripe earthy nose of cherry, lamb chops, aniseed, dried thyme and mint tea. Chewy plum fruit on the palate with breadth but no length to speak of. Rustic charm with a loofa-like texture - this wine is true to the terroir and is not jumped up. Scores 20-22/30 for a Fixin. Photo shows Fixin in the distance in July 2011.
Sometimes a new restaurant gets everything right -- but rarely. I am delighted to say that Pierre & Jean, the bistrot across the road from its illustrious parent Maison Lameloise, is one of those rare examples. We visited Pierre & Jean on the recommendation of at least five different vignerons in Meursault and Puligny. We opted for the phenonmenallly good value weekday lunch menu for 29 euro. After trying the reviving house aperitif we moved onto the pâté en croûte tradition which redefined what can be a tired dish with the gelée de Porto et Madère. We appreciated the genuinely Burgundian portion (but regretted it later). The carpaccio de veau, vinaigrette aux câpres capron avec parmesan was substantial and interesting. Not on a par with the marvellous pâté en croûte though. Since this was a lunch we both ordered fish: one filet de dorade and the other the merlu en croûte de riz soufflé, bouillon de crevettes grises à la citronnelle. As often happens with the best French restaurants, it is the accompanying ingredients that star not the focus of the dish. The bouillon de crevettes was intense and spicy. Meanwhile the gnocchis de pommes de terre à l’estragon were consumed without pause by a non-potato eater and the caviar d’aubergine stretched the potential of this grand vegetable with the waiter claiming it was nothing but an overn-roasted aubergine with salt and pepper. To finish the sorbets of cassis and framboise as well as a caramel ice cream were divinely cooling on a very hot summer day. The only semi-success was the melon and crème citron sur un biscuit pain de Gênes. We'd had superior melon the day before from the Chalon-sur-Saone market and the biscuit was chewy. Throw in a half bottle of Saint-Romain and a bottle of the much-improved (less salty) Badoit and one can hardly believe it is legally possible to serve such sublime food for 45 euro a head with impeccable service. Just one problem, the wine list is exceptionally short for such a fine restaurant. The door is half-ajar to paying a droit de bouchon but the ten or so Côte Chalonnaise wines and a smattering of Côte d'Or wines do not cut the mustard.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
The lay of the land in Saint-Véran and Pouilly-Fuissé is very attractive. The hills are twice as high as those of the Côte d'Or, steeper too, providing wonderful views as far as Mont Blanc if you are an early riser. The vignerons say that if you can see the snowy peaks of the Alps then bad weather is in store. Domaine Cordier is a recognized high quality producer in the region and this Saint-Véran is an enjoyable if not spectacular wine. Typical aromas of globe courgette, melon and apple. That pleasing combination of ripeness and freshness on the palate, there is weight on this wine of the Maconnais. Apple and ginger flavours. Has personality though not much style. Scores 19-22/30 for a Satin-Véran. Likely to be more interesting in late 2014. I am unsure about the price difference but this is definitely a poor cousin of the Clos du Four 2011 from Lafon. Photo shows ecological protesters in a Saint-Véran vineyard.
Drinking this simple Bourgogne blanc from the Nuits St Georges based négoçiant Nicolas Potel made me realize how accustomed my olfactory senses have become to fine white Burgundies with medium to full bodies and 13% alcohol. Whilst correctly made, this is very much a wine for undergraduates who are unfamiliar with Meursault. A light hay colour, a somewhat mean nose of lemon, nettle and pine. Tight, fresh and short. The taste of the valley floor and high yields. Fair enough for what it is, but does not compare with the Bourgogne blancs made by family-owned domaines. Scores 17-19/30 for a Bourgogne blanc.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Was 2009 the stand out vintage that the wine media claimed it to be? No. Lots of sunshine does not deliver complex and fascinating red Burgundies... and certainly not white Burgundies. Lots of sunshine results in very pleasant, early-drinking fruit-driven wines. This Volnay 2009 from the highly respected Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur is true to the vintage. A fragrant nose of black cherry, ripe strawberry and plum jam. Succulent, delicious and tangy on the finish. Very enjoyable, well-made, flawless but no mystique. Scores 21-23/30 for a Volnay. The 2008s will be incomparably better. Photo shows Volnay viewed from the hill behind the village in July 2011.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Another wine tasted at the domaine in early July, this Aloxe won many plaudits from the Bourgoblog tasting team. Strawberry, cherry, vanilla and violet aromas. This Aloxe is very pretty. Half of the vines are from 1928 which will tend to give more concentration and half are young vines which often translates into a more floral, elegant nose. Reflecting the 1928 vines, this Aloxe has superb velvety texture, depth and seriousness. The palate adds baritone and tenor to the soprano on the nose. Intellectually engaging to boot, this Aloxe 1er Cru evolves from trapezium, to cylinder and then to cube on the palate. Try the wine and think about it! An exceptionally good wine. Scores 29/30 for an Aloxe 1er cru. Photo shows Aloxe vineyards above the village in August 2011.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Savigny has some ancient vineyards such as "La Dominode" from Bruno Clair and these Tollot-Beaut vines were planted in 1954 which makes them genuine vieilles vignes. Inital aroma of groseille, red apple. The nose plays hide and seek with my taste buds -- still needs another 18 months in the bottle to open up. There is a touch of raspberry and vanilla. Then expands onto plum. This Savigny 1er Cru from the fresh 2011 vintage is concentrated, structured, long and fresh. Promises to be a complex wine in 5 years time. Scores 23-25/30 for a Savigny 1er Cru. Photo shows a laden red currant (groseille) bush in the jardin potager of the Château de Sully.
The first red tasted at the domaine in July 2013, Tollot-Beaut are recognized as one of the best -- if not the best -- producers of Chorey in the world. This offering has a cherry nose, upfront tannins, its slightly rustic comme il faut. There is a chewy cherry finish, its tangy, bright, good but a slight hint of green reflecting the slightly tricky 2011 vintage for reds. I am no Chorey expert but believe this wine has shown better in more sunny vintages such as 2001, 2005 and 2009. Scores 22/30 for a Chorey.
We visited the Tollot-Beaut domaine in the unsung village of Chorey-lès-Beaune on the annual Bourgoblog tasting trip and received a welcome worthy of a Royal baby from Nathalie Tollot. The nose starts with ripe apple and then moves onto star fruit. Aged 18 months in barrel, 3 of the 5 barrels being new. This Corton-Charlemagne 2011 is round, on pear fruit, a fine texture, a touch creamy. Medium acidity, melds apple and rhubarb flavours. Surprisingly tight and fresh which reflects the location of the vines on the east of the appellation which is dried by the cool vent du nord. The domaine practices only a little batonnage unlike Domaine Peut-Etre in Chambolle where batonnage happens every night. Overall a very well made and enjoyable wine which scores 25-26/30 for a Corton-Charlemagne. Photo shows the hill of Corton on July 18, 2013.
Sunday, July 21, 2013
The second wine tasted at the Domaine Taupenot-Merme which confirmed the strong house-style which favours velvety texture following the glorious Saint-Romain 2011. A deep colour, strawberry, ripe berry nose. Lovely texture, superb berry fruit cylinder. Tangy finish, fully ripe. There is minerality and this wine is showing well. Medium tannins and very pleasant. Will need to taste some older Taupenot-Merme vintages to understand how they age given all the glossy fruit. Scores 24-26/30 for a Gevrey.