Drouhin Morey Clos Sorbe, have they always been this good?

One of the things about knowing lots of growers in Burgundy is one can get a little sniffy about the negociants. You start thinking things like, without direct control in the vineyards they cannot keep the quality up. Then some vicious bastard will open lots of Dominique Laurent wines for you and you become convinced that negociants wish to maintain some warped house style without any considerations of vineyard qualities. In the case of Laurent all he seems to seek is a frighteningly large amount of new oak. Only oak!

But then, some negociants have long term contracts with real quality producers who do take care of their vineyards. This is good for the negociant because it means they are getting decent kit into their portfolio and it is good for the growers who have a guaranteed source of income that comes in early after the harvest when importers and other international clients may be less reliable.

I have had some stunning wines at the really flash end of the market from a few negociants who clearly encourage the best from their growers, but I have only rarely been impressed at the middle quality bracket of the market. Time to taste one from a vineyard that has been much on my mind of late…

Drouhin Morey-Saint-Denis Premier Cru Clos Sorbe 2011Morey-Saint-Denis Premier Cru Clos Sorbe 2011, Joseph Drouhin

My, what an attractive nose! It has the earthiness one hopes for in a good Morey but it is really polished and refined. It also has really svelte, slightly floral fruit. This is Morey alright, and really good Morey at that.

The vintage character shows with the accessible, pure fruit that really makes you think it is up for a good plucking. 2011s are so much fun to sniff and drink and this one has all its pleasures on ostentatious display ready for you to dive in and ravish.

Yet it is not just a pair of huge jubblies asking for a good mashing, there is a refined complexity here which lifts this above the obvious pleasures of poonts. The fruit and the earthiness are a harmonious delight and there is no distraction from excessive alcohol or new oak. This is the kind of nose that restores one’s faith in Burgundy as the thinking man’s seductive pleasure and deserves much praise for that.

If memory serves, and it often does not so please correct me if I am more wildly mistaken than a man who thinks that Jorge Luis Borges is still alive, Drouhin have contracts with Domaine Henri Jouan. This shows much of the same beauty and elegance that wines from that fine estate are satisfyingly suffused with. Just from the nose you would be hard pressed not to guess, if presented this blind, that it did not come from them, or someone of similar sublimity.

The palate is a connatural blend of concupiscent joy and intellectual engagement. The fruit is smooth and richly dense, it is layered with levels of deliciousness that engage the senses. If you do not find this a sirenic mouthful, you must be a pretty dreary type.

Then there is the polished, silky earthiness. That is really attractive too. It adds to both the complexity and direct pleasure. These characters are taken to a higher level by the acidity, which is bright and lively, without stepping over the line into sharpness. Its tannic structure is also a lissome enchantment.

So this provides visceral satisfaction, that is sure, but as I stated about this is not just a set of bouncers to nuzzle. Rather, with its intellectual attractions as well as the lascivious ones I would say this is fesses de Chez Fesses, and that is quite a compliment. The wine obviously deserves it.

I wonder about how it will age. The acidity is lovely now with that fresh, attractive fruit, but might it becoming too prickly when the fruit softens? I admit I like wines young, but I would not risk it if I were you. Drink them now. NOW! Do you hear? Get popping those corks or I will set The Editor and his hockey bag full of beating implements on you!

You can buy this wine from Hand Picked Burgundy.

  • Alex Lake

    Hey, nice one maestro! So pleased to see that you’re managing to boss the diabetes.
    I’m wondering whether I like MSD as a region or not – my vague thoughts are that I like it very much indeed young. eg. at the recent 2012 EPs I got more pleasure from MSD than pretty much anywhere else, but I’ve had a number of “meh” wines where there’s been some (but not a lot) of age. I suspect it’s one of those things where you have to understand the wine before you can see the good in bottles where there are side-issues making their presence felt. Perhaps will have to see if I can try some of this. BTW, really enjoyed a very modest 2011 from Mark Haisma the other day. Perhaps this “drink ’em young” concept is a good one.

  • Ah I’m having to be very careful with boozing and the old (well, I’ve had it for two months…) diabetes, I’ve had some really dodgy bloody sugars at times that could well have been down to me getting wre… having a little drink.

    Morey-Saint-Denis is where I think Burgundy is at. Sure, there are few villages I’d want to give up drinking, but didn’t tasting that Jouan 2012 Clos-Saint-Denis at the Clark Foyster jolly just tweak every bit of you that you wanted tweaking? I don’t know if you got any (I did guard the magnum for a while I must admit) but the 08 CSD from Arlaud at my 40th bash did it for me in at least as many interesting locations. I’ve had Dujac Clos de la Roche going back to 69 and right now I cannot think of a single one that hasn’t made me want to collapse to the floor and roll about giggling whilst rubbing myself all over enthusiastically. Most of my chums in the region tell me that the best part of Bonnes-Mares is in Morey (I *do* admit the larger proportion of my chums in Burgundy make wine in Morey). Clos des Lambrays can be the essence of dissolution. True, I think the winemaker of Clos de Tart should be tied up in piano wire and beaten with cricket bats, but there are plenty of wonderful Premier Crus that make up for that failing. Morey-Saint-Denis when it comes to quality Burgundy, it’s the cat’s arse!

    Sorry, I got a bit carried away there, but I do love Morey, and I’m sure it has nothing to do with me going to university with the best winemaker in the village. I hardly ever gave him my essays to plagiarise…

    2011s are really for drinking young in my vastly opinionated opinion, it’s just not worth the risk. They are fabulously enjoyable now and if even a shade of that is lost by keeping them then you’ve needlessly missed out on good times. And aren’t they good? If you tried the Confuron-Genderbender Chaumes 11 at the CF bash you’ll know just how much fun they can be. Their Echezeaux was fabulously better than that last year and even a Grand Cru from a gifted producer will not need much time, you don’t want to run the risk of too much time. It was so good! I’m having three 2011s for lunch with chums on Wednesday. A David Clark Cotes de Nuits Villages (a wine of his I’ve never tried before so much interest there) and two Henri Jouan’s: Gevrey Aux Echezeaux and Morey Clos Sorbe. I thoroughly expect to be giggling with pleasure.

    I realise I’d better shut face as this is turning into a series of incoherent rants. I apologise if my spelling has been wildly inaccurate but I’m writing this on my 7″ tablet and the text is so small that my profoundly diabetes-affected vision is only giving me the vaguest clue as to what I’m writing. So I’ll stop.

  • Howard Hilton


    good to see you back writing about burgundy. my experience is pitifully limited but even given that I have found the few NSG i have drunk to almost entirely dull and dissapointing, reliably so. In particular the 1999 Arnoux wines of which I have recently had a few from half bottles just are not worth the bother of opening. A Grivot also fro a half was actually not half bad but even so…..

  • Tom Blach

    I am reliably informed that Jouan sell both this wine and Clos St Denis in bottle to Drouhin, though I must admit to finding that difficult to believe given the apparent vast differences between the relatively few bottles of both I have consumed. Nice stuff under both labels, though.
    David, I must open a good bottle of Laurent for you. The oak thing is vastly overplayed-they can indeed sometimes taste like they’ve been matured in heavily burnt barrels lined with bacon but astonishingly this is simply a reduction phenomenon caused by bottling with all possible CO2. They just need a very, very good shake indeed to get rid of all this, at least when young, and then a very different and sometimes remarkable story of purity emerges.

  • I popped a Jouan 11 Clos Sorbe yesterday and, though my palate-memory is dulled by morphine, it seemed rather like this, really rather like this, only with a shade more structure and rigour to it. That being said it was a really nice drink, extremely pleasurable, much in the same style as this as in it made you want to wallow in its gratuitous niceness.