This is why we drink Burgundy (and why we don’t buy ZH)

Earlier tonight we ate reasonably well and had some truly mind-bendingly good wines. This is what life is all about. One wine, however, disappointed. Shame, Olivier Humbrecht, shame!

Brut Chardonnay 1996, Pol Roger

A wonderful, dense nose of bread and digestive biscuits. Very complex, and just beginning to show a reasonable degree of maturity. That being said, I think this wine will hang around for a while yet. There are layers of fun, frolicsome entertainment on the palate which we just lapped up. This is drinking really well now but I don’t see keeping it for a few years longer doing it any harm at all. A really great blanc de blancs which would charm the most jaded Champagne drinker and positively entertain those who are less jaded.

Riesling Clos Windsbuhl Vendanges Tardives 2000, Domaine Zind-Humbrecht

A vaguely pleasing nose of petrol and citrus, it seems surprisingly one-dimensional, though. Surely there should be fireworks here rather than boredom, don’t you think? Oh dear, the palate is even more flat and lifeless. Sure, there is some sweetness and quite a bit of acidity, but not much more than that. When this was young it exploded with life and flavour, now it just seems like vinous wallpaper. There is nothing here to compel the lover of fine things. I find myself feeing quite bored and vaguely vexed that I bothered ageing this, and downright despondent that I paid for it. The ZH flame gets even dimmer for me after trying this.

Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru ‘Clos des Ruchottes’ 2001, Domaine Rousseau

I used to be brilliant at getting this wine right when blind tasting, I can see why: it has personality. The fruit is very distinctive in quality: ripe yet pure and refined. Quite lovely, too. The fruit/acid balance on the palate is very attractive and the whole experience of this wine draws you in to drink more. Once you’ve tasted it you want more alright. Don’t we all want more wines like this? Wines with great fruit, bags of personality and style? Tickled my fancy, a top class bottle of Burgundy.

Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru les Cras 1999, Domaine G. Roumier

I last had this in Oxford many years ago with my chums James and Gernot; great memories, eh chaps? I loved it then and tonight it delivered much the same pleasure in a slightly more mature manner. It is clearly Chambolle, but really quite ripe and dense Chambolle. There is a lot of high-class action as far as the fruit is concerned, a depth of ripe, rich style to it. It has layers of character that we greatly enjoyed penetrating, diving into its heady, voluptuous power and seeking out all its deliciousness. Probably needs a bit more age if we are honest, but we had a whale of time drinking this bottle tonight. If you have a few bottles you should really be keeping it.

Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru Gruenchers 1999, Domaine Dujac

In the name of all that is evil and wicked, what a nose! This is totally compelling, you have to love this from when you first smell it. This is screamingly beautiful, fragrant, sensual Chambolle of the very highest order. Am I being positive enough about this wine? Probably not, my mere words cannot begin to convey how totally pleasurably this wine is. And then we get to drink it. Again, I feel inadequate to the task of describing how much I love this wine. There is beautiful fruit, perfectly balanced acidity and the most wonderful, detailed texture. I like a lot of things about this wine, but that texture does it for me: silky, svelte and sexy to the nth degree. Wow, just when things are going so well they suddenly get even better. Those Dujac kids deliver the goods once again. They always do, if we are honest.

Hermitage 2005, Domaine du Colombier

The Colombier wines often tend toward the reductive in style and this is no exception: it is quite beetrooty on the nose. However, there is also a good earthiness and plenty of blueberry fruit and, even though I think this is quite an elegant example, it is still not lacking manliness. It is Hermitage alright. The palate has pleasingly refined tannins and bucket loads of weighty fruit. There is enough complexity here to mark this as the real thing, even if it does not cost as much as Hermitage from Chave, Jaboulet or Chapoutier. I am pleased to own a couple more bottles of this which I feel easily merit the compliment of deserving more years in the cellar. This is the address the smart Hermitage buyer goes to these days.

Riesling Auslese Wehlener Sonnenuhr 1993, Joh. Jos. Prum

All that the ZH was lacking in terms of being a late-harvest Riesling this presents for enjoyment and fun. Oh yeah. Enjoyment both in a visceral but also a thobbingly intellectual manner. The fruit charms totally, the ripeness engages your senses and the acidity wakes you up and slaps you around a bit. This is a wonderful bottle of Riesling. Really wonderful. And to think some people counselled against buying the 2007 Auslese for my cellar…

  • Will

    Sounds like I should drink my 2005 Clos Windsbuhl young then. Disappointing tasting note but the other wines look like they more than made up for it!

  • David Strange


    I think drinking your 05 now would provide a lot more pleasure than that 2000 delivered. I have a bottle of 04 Riesling CW VT which I will be liberating from the cellar and drinking as soon as I have the opportunity.

    I’m not really sure why the 2000 was quite so staggeringly dull: no complexity, no minerality, no style or class. It was just flat and boring. We tried it on release and thought it was an explosively interesting bottle of wine. Ageing it has made it piss boring.

    Nice of you to drop by!


  • Jeremy

    My guess is that the problem lies mostly with the V.T. element: (over)ripeness results in convergence and frequently in loss of minerality. I’m guessing that the “regular” Windsbuhl riesling would have been better.

    And on the topic of Prüm Auslese 2007, I thought you had some when I voted that 6 bts of Schaefer Domprobst Spätlese would be my preference… I thought you might be weighing Goldkap vs non Goldkap wines. In that latter case, I would almost always forgo the Goldkaps.

  • David Strange


    The ZHCWVT had plenty of minerality when it was young, I was vexed as to why it had become so staggeringly dull. But I see your point. I think I’ll be drinking such wines when they are in the first flush of fun life.

    I am pleased to have some Prum Auslese 2007. The 1993 last night was spell-binding and a 1996 we had recently was totally, totally brilliant. This is the kind of thing I need to own, even if it is only one bottle.

    The Gruenchers was awe-inspiring.