Clark Foyster Wines 2011 red Burgundy tasting was my favourite event of the London 2011 Burgundy en primeur week. They have a focussed range of extremely good producers, some of whom made it to the tasting to discuss their wines, and Riedel Burgundy glasses were provided for tasting. Good glasses make such a difference to tasting but not, perhaps, as much difference as having an array of beezer beaver kit on hand to taste.
I should perhaps say that I’ve known Lance Foyster MW for twenty years – he used to terrify me and my fellow blind tasting neophytes with punishingly difficult training sessions. They worked, though, thanks to his help my team never lost. I’ve known his wife Isabelle Clark MW for a shorter time, but she shares Lance’s passion for the very best wine experiences but I don’t think she’d make her blind tasting challenges as obnubilate as him. In the pictures of me with Lance and Isabelle below we were told to think something dirty; from our expressions you can tell we have different views of what qualifies as dirty.
Right, let’s get on with the tasting notes! All prices are in bond unless otherwise stated.
Historically I have not tasted much Marsannay but, given the escalation in prices in more famous villages, wines from here are destined to be the next big thing. Clark Foyster have done well to secure themselves a quality producer in this village before they are all snapped up.
The two Marsannays I tried were very good. The Longereoies (£192 for 12) was an elegant, refined number with pure fruit and a lively structure. I preferred the additional weight and complexity of the Champs Salomon (£204 for 12). It had really delicious fruit and good length.
My favourite wine from Audoin was the Fixin Le Rozier (£216 for 12) – it was easily the best Fixin I’ve ever tried. It was compact and elegant whilst being perfumed with the lovely fruit of the vintage and displaying an impressive mineral character to the nose. The palate had a lively, taut structure which, combined with the delicious fruit, made me pour another little sample to
drink check I was right. This address will do well.
Fourrier have been in the limelight for a few years now, and Clark Foyster have been representing them for over a decade, so we had three wines that were standard-bearers for their appellations to taste. Fourrier make clean, modern wines but they are true to their origins, age really well and are generally very classy.
The Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes (£312 for 12) was extremely good for its quality level. Fourrier’s old vines give it a real depth of flavour which, in this vintage of scrummy fruit characters, made it highly enjoyable. The tannic structure was spot on for a Gevrey, structured but silky. I thought this good enough to age for the medium term.
I absolutely loved the Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru Champeaux (£516 for 12). It was vigorous and lively with a solid structure and the clean purity one expects from Fourrier. The harmony was spot on here and this is a wine you can enjoy with great invigoration when young or sophisticated refinement when old.
For supreme beauty and elegance you want to go for the Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru Clos Saint Jacques (POA). It was so silky, smooth and sexy, limpid with life and infused with intricacy. The finish was an absolute joy. Far more grown-up than me.
Beautiful Morey-Saint-Denis from Jouan; Morey is quite often what we want. The estate practices extremely limited intervention winemaking which probably explains why they are so expressive of their appellations. For the serious quality these wines deliver they are remarkably wallet-friendly.
Morey-Saint-Denis Villages (£288 for 12) is the kind of village wine you want to drink. It was a beautifully perfumed wine with the earth and floral fruit aromas of the village. Quite the charmer. I found Jouan’s Chambolle-Musigny (£264 for 12) to be quite Morey in character but with a shade less complexity than the Morey Villages. It was a pretty wine for drinking young.
Some vineyards are obviously misclassified and Gevrey-Chambertin Aux Echezeaux (£288 for 12) should definitely be a premier cru. It was a real step up in terms of complexity from the first two wines, with great concentration and not lacking in finesse. It was sophisticated, attractive beauty with plenty of élan.
I almost preferred the Gevrey Aux Echezeaux to the Morey-Saint-Denis Premier Cru Clos Sorbe (£396 for 12) until both my analytical and lubricious sensibilities kicked in at full tilt. Wonderful Morey fruit, made extra-delish by the vintage, with a rich earthy complexity. This was a wine for the mind and the rude bits, highly stimulating to taste a Morey of all-encompassing gratification.
Clos Saint Denis (£588 for 12) is one of the very best Grand Crus but for some reason people don’t seem to realise this. I’ll make it clear, if you don’t love Clos Saint Denis you are an aesthetic clodpole. Jouan’s was oozing with the beauty and love the Clos Saint Denis expresses so well, incredible intricacy of flavours whilst being obviously lustful enough to make you want to collapse on the floor and writhe around rubbing yourself with uninhibited pleasure. The finish was an explosion of supremely attractive fruit driven by a finely balanced acidity. Tits.
I know Francois Bertheau from the Merguez Frites stand in Vougeot – it’s one of my favourite places to eat in Burgundy, but don’t go for the hot dog sausages that ooze sinister looking grease in their questionably preservative jar of steam. Francois is a lovely chap who likes to have fun, even if his shirts are nowhere near as loud as mine – at least he makes an effort. These wines were excellent, and I thought they would age better than any previous vintage of Bertheau I’ve tried. However, no previous vintage of Bertheau I’ve tried has shown any cellar potential at all, the older vintages on show were surprisingly mature, so take my past experience as a guide before you decide to lay down any of your Bertheau wines for anything more than a few years. That being said, when they are young they are the cat’s arse.
His basic Chambolle-Musigny (£288 for 12) is a bargain for someone who wants something with fragrant beauty and callipygian aspect to revel in as soon as it’s delivered. It was a delicious Chambolle of really, really lovely loveliness. Good depth of flavour and nice acidity to keep it lively. But it won’t age, oh no.
A step up in terms of complexity and sexiness was the Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru (£456 for 12). Deliciously drinkable throbbing with the vintage interplay of fresh fruit and lively acidity. The tannins were a bit more serious in this one as well. Another one for lascivious pleasures when young.
I found myself thinking the structure of the Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru Charmes (£630 for 12) might allow it to age for a reasonable period of time, but it was so good in the tasting I definitely advise cradle-snatching. The enhanced structure and more complex fruit made this quite an involving drink that you couldn’t help but smiling when you drank it.
Wine for love is the Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru Amoureuses (£990 for 12); it’s just charged with seductive, svelte, silky sexiness. Great complexity, nice acidity, good tannins and all that, but you just want to drink this with the person you love most and giggle foolishly to each other with only occasional breaks for passionate embraces and opening extra bottles. Absolute attractiveness, but you do have to pay a lot for really pulchritudinous, exquisite beauty.
The Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru (£1200 for 12) definitely had the power and presence of the vineyard, but was also plastered with Bertheau’s lipstick-covered fingerprints. Not the most tannic Bonnes-Mares I’ve ever tried but there was plenty of acidity and the fruit was profoundly complex. A splendiferous entity of gorgeous pleasure.
I had never tried a Confuron-Gindre wine before and, based on this showing, I want to taste them again and again. Not since the glory days of Domaine Rene Engel have I found a source of Vosne-Romanee so affordable and so very, very good. All their wines were brilliant, charged with interest, class and superior style. This domaine is one of my hot tips for the vintage and to watch out for in future vintages. In 2011 you won’t go wrong here.
After trying a string of green, tough, insipid Bourgogne Rouges during the week I was delighted to find Confuron-Genderbender’s Bourgogne (£84 for 12) to be precisely what I want from this level. Glorious, fresh fruit, throbbing with life, bright acidity and delivering vivacious pleasure. It’s not going to win any prizes for complexity but you’d have to be pretty dreary not to drink this with a smile.
The Nuits-Saint-Georges Villages (£252 for 12) was a wonderfully refined and elegant example of the village, much in the style of Freddie Mugnier’s Nuits. Good tannins and that delicious, slightly leafy Nuits fruit made the origins of this clear. But buy the Vosne-Romanee Villages (£264 for 12), it’s better. It’s real Vosne with exotic fruit and classy, complex perfumes. The tannins were very svelte and it had a remarkably long finish for a village wine. Damned good stuff.
The Vosne-Romanee Premier Crus Les Chaumes, Les Brulees and Les Beaux Monts (all £396 for 12) made up the best little collection of Vosne Premier Crus I’ve tried in this vintage, and even in more serious vintages. The vintage character enhanced the exotic attraction of the fruit, they were all quite perfectly balanced and charged with sophisticated earthiness. You don’t need to know the subtle differences between the three because I’ll tell you that you should sell a kidney to score Les Brulees; it’s one of my favourite vineyards and this was a finely detailed, explosively attractive version.
If you buy one wine from Clark Foyster wines it should be Confuron-Gindre’s Echezeaux Grand Cru (£588 for 12). It wasn’t a fruity, fresh 2011 Burgundy but one of the greatest examples of this vineyard I’ve tried young in years. Charged with élan and brilliantly sophisticated complexity it was supremely desirable. At this price you don’t even have to sell your other kidney, it’s a scream of a bargain for such a fine wine.
Well, what can I say about Domaine Cathiard? They are one of the top domaines in Burgundy and priced to match their exalted status. Make no mistake, if you can afford them you should be buying them as, along with a mere handful of other producers, they represent the zenith of extreme wine pleasure. If you cannot afford them you want to make friends with someone who can. Urgently.
There is no point in me giving tasting notes for wines of such unbounded brilliance, but if you’ve never tried them before I’d summarise the house style as delicately sculpted entities of focussed purity and intense intricacy. And they’re hilariously good. To give you some idea of prices, the Vosne-Romanee Villages is £492 for 12, Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Aux Thorey is £972 for 12 and Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru Malconsorts is £1800 for 12. Saying this makes beads of sweat appear on my forehead, but they are worth every penny.
What a tasting! Many thanks to Lance and Isabelle, you pleasured me immensely. Now this is the end so go and buy loads of Confuron-Gindre wines now. BY ORDER!