2012 red Burgundy at Clark Foyster Wines, the best of the best

2012 red Burgundy is excellent. A lot of wines are probably truly great. However, the appalling weather conditions during the growing season mean that the volumes of these complex, structured, intense wines are sadly miniscule. Of course, this means that prices have gone up. Again. Bugger! Luckily, for us, Clark Foyster Wines, who put on the best show of the London en primeur season, have hardly put up their prices for the tiny amount of 2012 red Burgundy they have available. They have some freaking stunning wines so it is a shame that hardly any of us will get any.

2012 red Burgundy is something every lover of Burgundy should make serious efforts to obtain. Those producers who looked after their vineyards and sorted carefully at harvest (and which decent producer does not these days?), made wines that will rival the best you will ever taste. 2012 red Burgundy is dense and deep, with loads of joyous fruit to complement their intense structure. These are wines that will age as well as any modern Burgundy is capable of ageing, but I feel with all that scrummy yummy-in-my-tummy fruit they will have an attractive ageing profile.

Certainly you don’t have to do what some weirdos do and waste cellar space on Bourgogne Rouge in the hope that it will eventually turn into something decent, it is already decent and drinking these bottom tier wines will bring you a lot of delight. It is it the things higher up the scale you want to be ferreting away because as they become more mature they will deliver screaming buttloads of pleasure.

Lance Foyster tastingThere are three producers of 2012 red Burgundy I want to highlight from the Clark Foyster tasting who made wine that is aureate on the quality/price ratio-front, and another who is simply brilliant. I am sorry to say that I didn’t take any pictures at this tasting, so those I show will just be swiped from the web.

You may be amused to learn that I was told off at this tasting. Apparently having the temerity to enjoy myself and talk to The Editor about the wines at this excellent tasting, interfered with some toady-looking Sommelier’s thinking about the wines, and he told me off. He and his luridly-booted girlfriend were crawling around the tasting at a snail’s pace. They poured themselves huge bumpers of wine, most of which they poured away, which is extremely bad form at an en primeur tasting. They also stood in front of as many bottles of wine as they could manage, gazed vacantly into space and refused to move to allow other to access the wines no matter how many times people said “Excuse me”.

Unfortunately, I had a mouth full of wine when he was telling me off, so I was unable to whip out a pithy riposte about the geological pace of this thinking. His fatuity had clearly temporarily infected me, as I made the bêtise of not simply spitting my tasting sample directly at his face.

Now, to the top four producers you want to score something from no matter what! Prices are given per bottle in bond, and Clark Foyster wines are making the much appreciated move of selling some of their wines in three-packs (because they have so little 2012 red Burgundy and so many clients’ lusts to satisfy).

Domaine Heresztyn-Mazzini (the name change is due to the change in generation and the addition of a wife running the domaine) produced three 2012 red Burgundies that sent little thrills down me.

The 2012 Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes (£24.50) was proper Gevrey – structured, powerful with concentrated fruit. A bargain at this price. If you like them a touch more elegant, spend a few pounds more and get the 2012 Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Village (£27.50), which had structure and concentration to the fruit, but danced a touch more lightly and deftly across my palate. Pretty, as well as pretty complex.

The wine that made rather large thrills run through me is the 2012 Morey-Saint-Denis Premier Cru Les Millandes (£41). It showed that the lighter touch being employed in the vineyards and in the winery, as they move toward organic farming, are already yielding stunning results. This is a complex charmer of involute enticement. The Gevrey-hand in the winemaking showed with its structured nature. This was no block of tannin, but rather a finely-honed beauty of poise and balance. The wines from this address have got a lot better with the addition of a Mazzini.

Domaine Henri Jouan Clos-Saint-Denis Grand CruI have a bit of a thing for the wines of Domaine Henri Jouan and the 2012 red Burgundy he made showed I am right to – they are buttock-caressingly attractive. Go for the 2012 Morey-Saint-Denis (£24) over the Chambolle-Musigny (£26). Not only do you save a couple of quid but the wine has a better tannin/fruit balance and positively throbbed with beauty for a village wine. Perhaps this is because I consider Morey to be Bourgogne de Chez Bourgogne!

The 2012 Gevrey-Chambertin Aux Echezeaux (£29) was a Gevrey whose seductive, come-hither silkiness made my nipples pert. Quite the winsome one that easily outperforms its village status. At this price even your bank manager will beg you to buy it, in the hope that he gets a bottle for his frivolity.

You want to get some 2012 Clos-Saint-Denis Grand Cru (£64), even if it means your family has to forego new clothes this year. Although, to be honest, for Grand Cru Burgundy, this is hardly pricey and it is so good it freaking bites buttocks. Complex, perfumed, refined, elegant, stylish, classy – everything you could want from a Clos-Saint-Denis only probably more so than any you have ever tasted before. Domaine Henri Jouan continue to massage my inner thighs with their quality.

Domaine Confuron-Gindre Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru ChaumesOne of my favourite new producers in 2011, Domaine Confuron-Gindre, impress me even more with their 2012 red Burgundy – it is the cat’s arse. If you are broke you would be a fool not to buy their 2012 Bourgogne Rouge (£7) and you would be a bigger fool if you didn’t drink it within a year of receiving it from Clark Foyster. It is fruit, juicy and delicious; the platonic ideal of Bourgogne Rouge.

Their 2012 Vosne-Romanee (£25) is enticingly exotic and intricate, with so much fruit I could write one of those piss-awful Robert Parker-style tasting notes that are basically just a tedious list of subtly different fruits. God! I hate tasting notes like that, they are uninformative, pretentious wank-level drivel, if you ask me. Which you did not, so I shall move on.

Confuron-Genderbender make three different 2012 Vosne-Romanee Premiers Crus (each £40): Les ChaumesLes Brulees and Les Beaux-Monts – try to get hold of any you can as there is exiguous difference between them. If you hunger for my hard core tasting analysis it is, briefly, the Chaumes is most sexy and titillative, the Beaux-Monts is most refined and classy, and the Brulees has a slightly rustic, earthy edge to its florid prettiness which I rather like, making it my favourite.

I wish their 2012 Echezeaux Grand Cru (£60) was on show. Oh yes, I wish it was! This is a Domaine to watch with your eyes pressed so close to the cellar door that they bleed.

Domaine Sylvain Cathiard et Fils Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru MalconsortsFinally there were a few 2012 red Burgundies from Domaine Sylvain Cathiard et Fils on show: 2012 Vosne-Romanee (£45), 2012 Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Aux Thorey (£83) and 2012 Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru Aux Malconsorts (£158).

I don’t think there is much point in me giving any individual tasting notes for them as prices are so high and quantities are vanishingly small, but one thing is sure, if you can afford them, for Christ’s sake buy the bleeders, as many as you can get!

It intensely pains and shames me to borrow a phrase from that arch arse, immensely infuriating loony bin-escapee Jean-Michel Deiss, but I can honestly say, as someone who has had really quite a lot of them, that anyone who says Domaine Cathiard are not worth the money are ‘simply incapable of understanding the greatness of [their] wines’.

As ever, many thanks to Lance and Isabelle of Clark Foyster Wines for inviting Team Elitistreview to the tasting of the season, it was titting brilliant and we had a real hoot! We even found it hilarious to get told off for enjoying gratuitously fine wine!

If you buy any of the wines I’ve recommended you’ll find them hilarious too. These are the choice picks from my tastings of 2012 red Burgundy and they will knock your socks off before they nibble your toes, lick the soles of your feet and then work their way up your legs.

  • Alex Lake

    How did I miss this post? Absolutely agree on everything you say concerning the relatively few wines I tried. Yes, everyone in the room heard your, um, paroxysms of orgiastic joy on encountering Les Millandes… That and the Jouan Clos St Denis were admired by plenty of far more respectable folk, too – I know Nigel Platts-Martin was a big (though less voluble) fan of both. I was pleased to discover that I managed to get all the wines I went for and will indeed consume them young…

  • I’ll be quick for reasons of dodgy vision and feeling I’ve already ranted too much in my response to your comment on the Morey Clos Sorbe.

    Sure, drink the simple stuff young, you’ll have a terribly large amount of fun. If you got anything of the Jouan CSD level of eflugence, or even a bit less coruscating, then there is no harm in keeping them as long as you would dare keep the best of any modern Burgundy. They’ve got the stuff to do it, they are really good, it’s just that most modern Burgundy is made in a style made for enjoying young. Lance and Isabelle kindly sold us three bottles of Confuron-Genderbender Brulees and, without consulting the partner, I’d hope we can put one of them aside for 7-10 years. The other two, I similarly hope, I will be allowed to pop with the best of friends whilst they are pretty young because they were so god-damned gorgeous now.

    I’ve got a headache, I’m going to stare at a wall.

  • Tom Blach

    That’s a very interesting contention, your saying that most modern burgundy is made for enjoying young. I rather hope you are wrong but I fear that you may be right. When would you say the modern era began? it does seem sometimes as though tannin has been almost completely eliminated from burgundy( I think this is called in winemakerese ‘tannin management) and this is a development which displeases me greatly, tannin being one of the things that marks out drinks for adult palates. For me the problem is that while I greatly appreciate the charms of open young burgundy I do not find it truly satisfying and look instead for the allusiveness and layered complexity of age, to the point at which, and I know you don’t share my taste (quite reasonably), I prize maturity over absolute quality when it comes to choosing a bottle for drinking.

  • Richard

    David, I totally agree on the Jouan and Confuron Genderbender wines. The Jouans are maybe a bit finer? I like the Clos Sorbe as well as the excellent Gevrey Ech and obviously the Clos St Denis. The CGs are that vanishingly rare thing, the ‘good honest Vosne’: reflecting super-smart vineyards without being particularly polished by the winemaking. Like you I got three bottles of the Brulees and liked it best of the three 1ers.

    I need to be convinced by the new Heresztyn wines. I enjoyed the 2012 samples here and had very similar impressions to yours, but historically they have made rather unexciting wine and the two 2010s on show were not good: leathery and much too advanced. So I will wait to see what happens before I buy. Good luck to them though. They have some great vineyard plots including Gevrey Goulots and Clos St Denis,.

  • Tom, it goes without saying the choice between absolute quality and maturity is so stark, starting obvious I’d think someone was trying some subtle plot to humiliate me in front of both my readers to even have the temerity to ask me my views on it. If you think things are bad in Burgundy then pity the poor (yes, obviously) Bordeaux drinker (rather than laugh maliciously as one would normally deem fit and proper). In Bordeaux wines are made to taste their best in the countless thousands of en primeur tastings that the wines strive for superiority at all over the world. By the time they are bottled they are often less good than at this engineered high point so they are part their prime before the customers even get them. But then, Bordeaux is not for drinking it’s for selling (as Bruno Prats suddenly famously said (of all wine) when he met Jacques Seysses for lunch. To his credit Jacques ordered half a bottle and didn’t share).. God, I hate Bordeaux; but then I think wine should be drank and should be an expression of the grapes and where the wine was grown articulated through the winemaker as gently as possible, rather than a piss-boring, heavily manipulated, mass-produced expression of nothing, certainly not the dreary, characterless land it was pressured to grow on. Rant over.

    Richard, yes I thought the Jouan wines wee finer and the CSD in particular was infused with magisterial class and sophistication. I agree about Confuron-Genderbender’s ‘good, honest Vosne’ as well. To me the are the wines of Rene Engel reborn and not vastly more pricy in the grand scheme of things. The character of the Brulees was deeply appealing even if I did think the Beauchamp Monts more polished. I always quite liked Herezchoo but the leap in quality that they’ve made with the 2012s is frankly stunning and is to be applauded and encouraged. Who knows what wonders will coming in the future!

    I’m really sorry, everyone is my spelling and grammar are way off the mark: I’m in stunning pain as I write this and it’s making my vision dim and cloudy. I hope Android is clever enough to fix the more obvious mistakes and so make this intelligible. I’ll have some morphine and fall asleep.