Very Volnay

I love Volnay, Clos des Chenes is a damned serious Premier Cru and 2009 is a top vintage. Even the producer, Jean-Marc Bouley, is a serious chap, although his wines are distinctly underrated. So, this bottle of Burgundy could well have been created just for me to pleasure myself immensely with – hooray!

Surprise, surprise, once again I must thank my wonderfully generous friend Keith Prothero for giving me this probable charmer. He is probably the biggest supporter of Elitistreview, although – if I am honest – there are bugger all supporters of Elitistreview. I think this is because I keep frightening, insulting and generally alienating most people who might be tempted to send me properly decent wine to review. Anyway, thank you, Keith!

To the tasting note!

Volnay Clos des Chenes 2009 J-M BouleyVolnay Premier Cru Clos des Chenes 2009, Jean-Marc Bouley

This is quite dark (which tells us little with Pinot) and heading toward carmine in colour, which tells us that it has a bit of age. Bloody hell, we know that! I wrote the bleeding vintage just above this! 2009 – ten years old!

The first aromas from a complex panoply to hit your nose are lovely, soft, ripe cherry and loganberry (that is a sort of brambly raspberry-like aroma if you do not know the fruit) fruit. They are rather powerful. 2009 was a ripe vintage and the fruit shows it. The alcohol-level is perfectly balanced, so Jean-Marc did not let his Pinot get too ripe.

This sweet, ripe fruit is highly attractive, but there is more to this nose. There is a warm spiciness – not exactly mulled wine spiciness but close – that suffuses the aromas here. It is very complex and highly attractive. I would put it down to a combination of the warmth of the vintage coupled with the complexity imbued by this coming from a favoured vineyard site. I do not know the age of Jean-Marc’s vines, but I would wager there are some pretty old ones in his plot.

As I would expect from a Volnay, there is a little hint of greenness lurking on the nose. It is not unripeness, it is just a character Volnays often have. This one is very Volnay, deliciously so.

A slightly truffle-y earthiness is also in attendance. This common aroma on fine Burgundy is a tertiary characteristic*. There is clearly some development on this nose, the softness of the fruit is also a tertiary characteristic.

If there ever was any new oak on this nose, it has been consumed and the nose speaks of harmony, the beginnings of maturity and high quality in a ravishingly pleasing way. This is a Volnay for lovers of very good Volnay (that’s me!) and is just edging toward the stage where it sings so very beautifully.

Yeah, this is good. Very good, a wine that provokes goosebumps on me. Oooohhhh yeeeaaahhhhh… Shall we do with the important bits? Let us.

The harmony between components is supreme. Acidity, tannin, fruit, earthiness, spiciness, they all love each other and have spent the last ten years getting to know each other in a far more intimate manner than you will ever achieve if you are holding a sex manual whilst you are trying to perform its instructions. Everything just wants to get along on the palate.

This is a harmonious cascade of deeply indulgent complexity. The interplay between fruit, the slightly rigorous structure, the fine acidity, that spicy set of flavours and a fine chalky grip are absolutely dazzling in the way they toy with your senses. This is brilliantly involute.

This is a sculpted model of total beauty; everything works together to please your pleasure centres with finely honed pulses of effulgence. Delightful!

This Volnay is for those who really like it; it has good acidity, there is a firmness to the tannins and even though it is quite structured it is elegant and pulchritudinous. I get the feeling that all those bloody awful over-extracted, over-ripe and over-acidified Central Otago Pinots I have tried were made by winemakers who would have the biggest petit frisson of their lives if they tried a wine as superb as this.

One last point, this has only just opened the door to look out at the scented flower garden of maturity, it is quite backward for such a generally bien loché vintage as 2009. It has a long and unfailingly attractive future ahead of it. If you have some bottles you should not really be opening them now. Come back in five or more years. Having said that, if you are a fan of the charms of structured Burgundy this will blow your socks off. It is bleeding marvellous even though it is too young. Excellent wine. Thank you Keith!

He gave me another bottle too!


*Let me make this clear: Primary aromas are characteristics from the fruit and the vineyard it is grown in. Secondary flavours are those produced from the winemaking – an example of secondary aromas would be all ‘natural’ wines smelling of an oxidised mix of beer, cider and crap. Tertiary aromas are those derived from bottle age. There are not just primary and secondary aromas – are people’s minds so limited that they cannot tease apart the first two (or that they can only count to two)?

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