Burgundy: 2002 whites and 1999 reds

Our great chum Gernot was visiting from Austria, to celebrate this we decided to hold a Burgundy tasting with the theme above. Sometimes, as I am sure you are aware, you taste a wine and think, “Wow, I am really lucky to try such a wonderful thing”. I experienced this feeling many times tonight; we tried many wonderful things.

Hard to draw general conclusions from three whites, but we all remarked on the ripeness of them. We felt all but the Pernot had plenty of time left. The C-M re-affirmed my lust for good white Grand Cru Burgundy.

The 1999 reds were all charged with a vibrant life which we felt would keep them fresh for years. Considering the ripeness of some of these reds you’ve got to be slightly surprised by the good acid levels.

Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru Clos de la Mouchere 2002, Jean Boillot

The nose has a strong oak character, it is so present it edges toward the clumsy. No, not quite that far. The fruit is very ripe here and there is a good richness to the minerality. The savoury, slightly vomity character of this nose makes me think “Damned good Puligny”. Beyond the oak there is one hell of a lot of interest to this nose. Ripe fruit is the predominant character of this palate. Pleasingly there is a lot of minerality, and quite a serious amount of acidity to keep this finely balanced. We all agree the fruit is very sweet and ripe. This is a stylishly complex and attractive palate. Dig (or is it ‘Digg’ for the interweb generation these days?) that finish. This is ripe but type 1er Puligny which, let us be honest, is showing us its well-titted-out best.

Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru Folatieres 2002, Paul Pernot

There is something a bit whiffy about this nose; dirty in a reductive kind of way, I feel. If you sniff around a bit there is an incredibly powerful minerality to it, and some good, ripe lemon fruit. But those lemons are the kind that when you are offered them you say, “Great! Slightly shrivelled lemons! What else have you got?” There is a lot to like in this nose, but there is that character which says “I’m a tiny hint of a wine-making fault” to me. Anyway, we are allowed to taste it as well. Cripes, what an elegant, refined palate of total beauty. Very ripe fruit once again, and also the weighty minerality. The palate is so much better nick than the nose. Let us go for it, it’s a kick-buttock palate. Very refined despite its ripeness. Very much up for drinking in a way the previous wine was not, but there is sex on the palate.

Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru 2002, Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet

Now this is how Grand Cru white Burgundy smells! There is one hell of a lot of power combined with a nervous energy that just keeps this charged with life. Real excitement here, vivid, complex aromas burst from the glass. The minerality here is truly amazing, so beguilingly complex. There is so much going on here: I’ve smelled passing hints of Bovril, nuts, vomit and many others, all totally nice despite what it sounds like, as this grows in my glass. Yes, it smells like a large-scale wine, but it is in no way overblown. Like, wow, man. Now that is a palate of total harmony and beauty: amazingly compelling. There is a lot of lemony fruit, powerful minerality and fine acidity, it is quite big. Big it may be but it is screamingly well balanced and utterly refined, its thrillingly gorgeous components are just in such hilarious equilibrium. Chardonnay does not get much better than this, I’m really moved. Will keep another five years or more, but why? Why would you want to? This is slap my bitch up bonkers super brilliant wine. If you’ve got some it will be one of the best purchases you have ever made.

Volnay Premier Cru Clos des Ducs 1999, Marquis d’Angerville

Oh beauteous beauty, this nose is hyper attractive. Very elegant, very pretty too. The vigour here is also really impressive. The interplay between the ripe fruit and minerality is frankly stunning and as you smell this you really find yourself thinking this is a nose of screaming quality. I’m stunned. Ah, it is tasty too! Again the fruit/minerality balance on the palate is lewdly attractive and heighted by the great acidity. I think this is pretty Cote de Beaune-y, but at the ludicrously high-quality end of those offerings. Ripe and attractive for sure, but so much more than that: there is one hell of a lot going on in this wine. This is one of the most engrossing, spell-binding and downright delicious Volnays I’ve had in a while.

Pommard Premier Cru Clos des Epeneaux 1999, Comte Armand/Domaine des Epeneaux

This is another Cote de Beaune-y nose, good pure fruit here. I find a hint of alcoholic warmth on the nose, but basically this has a reasonable amount of interest. Again I like the energy here, it is full of life. This is clearly a wine where they spent a lot of money on oak. Not that it is screamingly oaky, just that it is oaky in a sophisticated manner. Now that is a very suave and sleek palate. It is tannic, but the tannins seem polished, as does the entire palate. Lovely fruit with fruity acidity which persists on the classy, (slightly warm,) long finish. This is a very urbane bottle of Pommard which delivers a lot of pleasure. It has a long life ahead of it, which is handy as I have a jero lined up to drink for a significant birthday in many years time.

Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru les Gruenchers Vieille Vigne 1999, Domaine Fourrier

Ah Chambolle, it is so lovely. Smell a good glass of Chambolle, and this is good Chambolle, and a smile will just spread across your face. Good, ripe fruit, cherries I feel, and there seems to be some old vine concentration to it. There is a lot of charm here. The palate has a lot of lovely fruit, finely balanced acid and some soft, ripe tannins. This seems really attractive to drink now, still young and lively but very, very giving. Certainly some good length to it and I feel there is plenty of complexity and style to this wine. OK, not as good as the Dujac Gruenchers 1999 we had back in August, but this is a lovely wine.

Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru aux Malconsorts 1999, Sylvain Cathiard

Smell this and you get the feeling that it is a sculpted little beauty of a wine. There is a lot of fruit here and rich minerality. However, I feel that this nose lacks a bit of exotic flair for a flash Vosne Premier Cru. It smells like a good bottle of Burgundy, but not very Vosne-y, it is attractive but there could be so much more to it. The palate also has the feel of an elegant, poised wine, it seems very carefully composed. It does feel a very tiny bit anaemic, I want more love from a wine like this, more flesh. Pretty complex, though, and some good length to it. I like it, but I do feel slightly let down.

Clos Saint Denis Grand Cru 1999, Domaine Arlaud

A very intense nose of stone with an incredible, slightly floral perfume to it. This is crazy in its overt display of love for all who sniff it. This is intense, profound essence of Morey and that is a wonderful thing to be. It smells of so many things! All lovely, attractive things, luckily. I’ve just tasted this and been totally blown away by the depth of character, it may be a fruity, floral, elegant and svelte character, but it just goes on and on. There is so much here and every facet of its character is all about charm. It is charged with a lively equilibrium, though, this is vivacious: active it how it wants to display its love for you. You could keep this for a while yet, but if you’ve got a bit you could try some, it is so pleasing.

Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru 1999, Domaine G. Roumier

My god, it is full of stars. The explosive, electric life on this nose it matched only by its easy charm and sophistication. Rarely, boys and girls, do we get to smell a wine with so much going on in it which is also downright lovely. I’m actually feeling a bit at a loss for words here, this wine speaks to me about so much, but the meaning of its words is so deep I think I am inadequate to relate them. I’ll try: Smells lovely, don’t you know? And it tastes, oooohhhh… it tastes… of rather a lot actually. The fruit and soft charm is ravishing, but its power and energy get the sparks flying in your pleasure centres. Structurally this palate is approaching perfection (Ha! The limits of pleasure are yet to be defined or reached), it is an intense, living entity of stunning complexity. I recognise it is rather late in the evening, so I may be a tad enthusiastic (enthusiastic as a newt) but this is one of the most lovely, stunning, charming and lewdly giving wines I’ve had in a while. What a long and happy future this wine has, and if you have some you’ll have a happy future too.

Pommard Premier Cru Grands Epenots 1997, de Montille

The fruit of 1997, the class of a top vineyard and the refined beauty of de Montille: works for me.

OK, you want the serious track on these wines written as I fight back sleep with only the warm glow of booze to keep me going? There were three truly brilliant bottles necked tonight which would honour any dinner table and grace any cellar with their presence. The others were embarrassingly, tear-jerkingly, pant-wettingly good also-rans, but these three… Wow… I mean… what can you say? Anyone could try them and say they would be amongst the best wines they’ve ever tried. They are the Chevalier-Montrachet, Clos des Ducs and Bonnes-Mares. You will not find much better wine than these three. If you find any better wine then post some bottles to me.

Many thanks to James and Katie for hosting. Sorry we were all so dull, Katie, I’ll think of some non-wine things to say next Monday. Thanks to everyone for the wine. Lovely to see you Gernot.


4 Comments

  • Richard B wrote:

    You are drinking really very well indeed. I’ve never had a Roumier Bonnes Mares, and that 99 is a legendary wine. Surprised that the Armand Epeneaux 99 was so approachable, as I’ve had older vintages that were completely unready and didn’t seem like they ever would be. Interesting also to see your notes confirm my views that Cathiard is a tiny bit over-rated, and Arlaud is an almost great, under-rated producer.

  • David Strange wrote:

    I get the feeling that the ageing profile of 99 red Burgundy has been rather attractive. Even when they were a few years old they were open and giving, I don’t remember many of them having much in the way of a closed phase. But certainly, that was one of the most accessible bottles of Clos des Epeneaux I’ve had.

    The incredible fireworks which have accompanied a few of the bottles, but not all of them, of Cathiard I’ve had make me hesitate before describing the geezer as over-rated, but I cannot deny this wine was muy expensivo for something quite so… ah… lacking in thrills. However, based on this bottle I feel my hard-won fun tokens would be better spent on other producers.

    Cyprien Arlaud’s wine would clearly be a great thing to blow cash on. I still think he is getting better and better. Those 1999s were really good when I tried them just after bottling, but pow zap yum slurp the 2008s! Phew they were better. I want a mag of CSD.

    Roumier BM 99 was floridly, psychedelically brilliant.

  • Peter wrote:

    Yes indeed, what an evening. A series of brilliant wines that left us lost for adjectives. I didn’t think there was a single disappointment, so I thought you were perhaps a tad harsh on the Cathiard, David.

    Also, if one has to pick out wines of the evening, clearly there were some differences of iew around the table. If I recall correctly, at least four of the reds featured in at least one person’s favourites list. For me, the Roumier Bonnes Mares and the Arlaud Clos Saint Denis, drunk side by side, were both wines of truly stunning beauty, and a step up from the other brilliant red wines of the evening. One of the pleasures of the evening was the realisation that Arlaud is up there with the best. Being able to shine in the company of such an awesome wine as Roumier Bonnes Mares 99 is a tremendous achievement.

    Thanks to all, for a memorable evening, and especially to Katie and James for the lovely supper, and above all to Katie for being so patient.

  • David Strange wrote:

    I was a bit disappointed by the Cathiard, I really did expect olfactory fireworks from it. The vineyard is right next to La Tache and Monsieur C gets rave reviews. It was a very good bottle of Burgundy which provided a quite reasonable amount of pleasure but it should have been a hilariously fine bottle of Burgundy that blew our minds.

    The Arlaud Clos Saint Denis was indeed a proper Grand Cru wine and it was great to see something of Cyprien’s performing so well. He is a lovely fellow and we prefer wine from lovely people. Measuring up to as something as flipped-out-crazily-good as the Roumier BM is a high accolade indeed.

    I really loved the Clos des Ducs. I admit when I first sniffed it I thought it was Roumier Amoureuses, but isn’t that one hell of a compliment? It was a properly beautiful, refined, sculpted Volnay of the very highest order.

    One of the many fun things of the evening was how much interest there was in each of these wines. Sure, there was one hell of a lot of pleasure in them too, but as far as a flight of wines in tasting circumstances go we had much to analyse and discuss. There was always another aroma to find or a stylistic quality to elucidate. We made some pretty good guesses for the wines we didn’t know. That was great company to be tasting with.



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