Given my initial article on 2009 Burgundy last summer and the Haynes, Hanson and Clark report a couple of days ago you have probably had enough of me harping on about the stuff. If so then I do apologise, but I love Burgundy and have found the 2009s to be so libidinously pleasurable that I want to assist Pinotophiles and Chardonnay-doxies in getting the very best from this vintage.
Tonight’s report comes from the excellent tasting organised by top Burgundy and German Riesling supplier Howard Ripley. Such is the quality of producers in their list that when I receive a copy my bank manager senses me reaching for the debit card and becomes positively concupiscent at the thought of the impending overdraft fees. This tasting included many wines I’d gleefully sell a kidney for if I hadn’t abused my body so much no one wants my organs.
Once again I was rather taken by the whites, with many at the bottom end of the quality ladder performing very well. Alain Chavy’s Bourgogne Blanc is an absolute steal for those after uncomplicated drinking. I found the Comte Armand and Fourrier Bourgogne Blancs to have more depth and class whilst still being quite reasonably priced.
I quite like the Macon wines from Daniel Barraud and, whilst some were a tad corpulent, they would clearly deliver a lot of pleasure if you don’t mind your gustatory conquests being of relatively easy virtue. I was particularly taken with the Pouilly-Fuisse ‘La Roche’ which was very expressive with good acidity and a really lively energy to match its tits-out value.
As I commented the other day, I think 2009 is a great vintage for Chablis. The wines from Jean-Paul Droin did seem more voluptuous than I would like, with the notable exception of the Grand Cru Grenouille which had the acidity and minerality to match its profound density.
Louis Michel is a favourite producer of mine and in this vintage he performed with panache. His basic Chablis was delicious and vibrant and both the Grand Crus on show (Vaudesir and Les Clos) had refinement as well as compelling intensity. Only the Premier Cru Vaillons seemed like it could do with a shade more acid.
Fevre has made the best Chablis I’ve ever tried, they are still in that high-quality zone with the 2009s. The Premier Cru Vaillons was impressively vigorous and deep, a joy to drink. This was totally eclipsed by the Grand Crus Vaudesir and Les Clos which trumpeted such profound sophistication I could have sat down with those two bottles and remained consumed with their bewitching traits for hours.
Of the Cote de Beaune whites I only tried some Pulignys. Pernot’s village wine was deliciously balanced and very reasonably priced, but I felt the Premier Cru Folatieres was just a shade fat. His Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru was of heroic scale but throbbed with complexity – top kit. Alain Chavy made some really appealing and distinctly serious wines. His Folatieres had a great texture with lovely fruit and finely balanced acidity but the Pucelles was clearly a step up in terms of intensity and class.
If you are after an affordable red you could do worse than scoring some of Faiveley’s Mercurey ‘La Framboisiere’ which had lovely fruit and bright, lively acidity. I’d also recommend Hudelot-Noellat’s Bourgogne Rouge that was engorged with pretty fruit and is priced at a level that will prevent spontaneous combustion of your credit card.
Comte Armand’s Auxey-Duresses was another fruity charmer but with a slightly more rigorous structure. Good as that was I’d drop another twenty fun tokens and get a six pack of the Auxey-Duresses Premier Cru. This had an impressively confident structure and plenty of dimension for a relatively baseborn wine. It struck me that the finger prints of Benjamin Leroux’s meticulous, masterly wine-making were plastered all over this wine.
There were a few village level Cote de Nuits wines that are worth seeking out. I was particularly smitten by Ghislaine Barthod’s Chambolle-Musigny, Hudelot-Noellat’s Vosne-Romanee and Frederic Esmonin’s Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes. Actually, now I think about it that Gevrey VV was eminently enjoyable and priced within the limits of my nugatory income; I’m chuffing well going to email Howard Ripley now and add a six pack to my order.
When I came to taste the Cote de Nuits Premier Crus I was flabbergasted to have a Jean Grivot wine that was not punishingly exigent, indeed it was pleasantly charming and accessible. Grivot can make agreeable wines, wow, next thing I know salad will be tasty. Anyway, his Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru les Rouges was a delightful wine of prettiness and reasonable dimension.
Even more sophisticated was Hudelot-Noellat’s Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru Les Suchots. This was throbbing with gorgeous allure and I thought it quite reasonably priced considering its terrific style and manifest class.
Of the Cotes de Nuits Premier Crus I thought that the structure and ultimate balance of wines from Nuits-Saint-Georges seemed the most impressive. Clos de la Marechale from Mugnier was silky with svelte tannins and elegant fruit; quite delectable. L’Arlot’s Clos-des-Forets-Saint-Georges had an impressive structure and was suffused with sumptuous, opulent fruit – an ebullient drink.
I don’t think I have had Gouges wines as exciting as the 2009s. The Clos-des-Porrets and Pruliers had the rigorous composition one hopes to find in Nuits wines, but their intricate minerality and refined fruit elevated them to an echelon of truly astounding quality. Any committed Pinotophile would do well to score some especially considering the comparative bargain that Nuits wines are compared to other villages. I find myself thinking that, given the style and class these somewhat lesser Premier Crus pulsed with, I fervently hope to try the Gouges Vaucrains and Les Saint Georges as soon as I can.
Before I moved onto the Cote de Beaune Premier Crus I tasted the Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin Clos-Saint-Jacques. This is not cheap, but its elaborate layers of seductive fruit and detailed, thrilling earthiness all combined with palpable finesse to make this a wine of stupefying quality. I was so dazzled I had to pour myself a second little taste just to confirm my initial assessment. I swallowed that taste and by arse did its flavours persist. Bravo, Monsieur Fourrier!
Three Cote de Beaune Premier Crus were in my pleasure zone. The Volnay Clos de la Bousse d’Or and En Caillerets Clos des 60 Ouvrees from Domaine de la Pousse d’Or were very grown up in terms of structure, intricate earthiness and complex, appealing fruit. They were animated with stylishness, completely equanimous with their seduction engorged status.
Then came the Pommard Premier Cru Rugiens from de Courcel. I have a soft spot for Pommard and buy quite a lot of the stuff but I don’t think I’ve tried one quite as irresistibly captivating as this. It was of impressive scale, certainly, but lacked nothing in terms of harmony and consonance of its constituents. The interplay between profound tannins, dramatic fruit and dazzling earthiness had my faculties spinning with undiluted passion. A great, mind expanding wine.
At this point I was beginning to feel a tad perturbed about being out and around large groups of people so I thought it time to go. As I was scurrying out Sebastian Thomas, the Howard Ripley boss man, intercepted me and said he had three more wines I had to try. I’m invariably willing to be lead astray so held out my glass. Sebastian revealed three Armand Rousseau 2009s and by my pert nipples was I grateful I tried them. The Charmes-Chambertin was the best example I’ve ever had from Rousseau, it throbbed with beauty. The Gevrey Premier Cru Clos-Saint-Jacques was similarly coruscating with bewitching style (but Sebastian and I both thought the Fourrier I mentioned earlier was perhaps a bit better).
Finally there was a little taste of Chambertin. Whilst I live to try wines of such preposterously extreme quality I don’t think it is possible to write a tasting note that adequately captures its magnificence – words are simply too limited for such a wine. If you can afford it then make all efforts possible to secure some and please share a bottle with me.
It was a great tasting that re-enforced my positive view of the 2009 vintage. Quality wines were in abundance and existed at all quality levels; Howard Ripley offer an embarrassment of riches and I whole-heartedly recommend buying from them. These are great times for lovers of Burgundy, there have been a string of great vintages and 2009 continues the trend, expanding the horizons of quality as it does so.
Contact details: Howard Ripley, London House, 271-273 King Street, London W6 9LZ Telephone: 0208 2332867