Some thoughts on 2009 Burgundy

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Since writing up my two tastings in Germany I’ve been furiously dismantling the flat trying to find my lost my tasting notebook – it seems to have disappeared. Bit irksome, that, I’m acutely vexed, I don’t mind telling you. Consequently, I cannot give you my tasting notes for all the wines I tried in Burgundy. However, such was the quality of the vintage and the wines that I remember the important bits.

I shall cut straight to chase: 2009 is a highly attractive vintage that has produced many fleshy, almost buxom, wines that burst with ripe fruit and demand to be enjoyed in a slightly lewd manner. Lots of people are really going to enjoy these wines and it seems inevitable that availability will be low and prices will be high. I’ll be buying some and will relish indulging in their undisguised charms. I’ll tell you about the producers I visited.

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Domaine J & F Mugnier is always a treat to visit, not only because the wines are usually models of poised beauty but also because I get to see the deeply scrumptious Audrey, M. Mugnier’s ravishing assistant. It seems the view of 2009 is not so positive at Mugnier, they feel it is not a vintage that suits the house style. I can see where they are coming from on this, but I have to admit to rather enjoying the voluptuous Chambolles. The balance seemed fine to me with good acid levels to keep these lush wines lively. The Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru Fuees seemed a particular delight in 2009, it expressed its origins very clearly. The Bonnes-Mares had some real power to it, not terribly Mugnier, but lots and lots of delicious fruit was present. The Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru Amoureuses and Musigny were glorious, throbbing entities of raw hedonism; we may normally seek refinement and sculpted pulchritude from Mugnier but there was no denying the tremendous pleasure these wines displayed. At the more affordable end of the range the Nuits Saint Georges Premier Cru Clos de la Marechale was highly accessible and will clearly provide much in the way of drinking fun. It still seemed very Nuits in character to me. I am tickled pink to have a small allocation of this, it’ll be an absolute hoot to neck over the medium term.

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Just next door is the other great producer of Chambolle: Christophe Roumier. Unlike his neighbour Christophe was very pleased with his wines, although he said he did not feel challenged making as easy a vintage as 2009. All of his wines were engorged with Rubensesque allure; as I tasted my way through his range there was much mirth-filled chortling. That being said, I felt the wines clearly showed where they were grown. The Morey Saint Denis Premier Cru Clos de la Bussiere, normally a wine that doesn’t engage me, was a really characterful wine which struck me as being essence of Morey Saint Denis. I also thought the Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru les Cras was the best I had tried from him in a long time – a top drop. The Bonnes-Mares was profound with layer upon layer of intense flavour, its power was thrilling. My favourite wine from Christophe was his Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru Amoureuses, not that surprising, eh? It was certainly well-endowed with ripe fruit but its multi-faceted, stunningly scented sophistication was mesmeric.

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I cannot pretend to be terribly objective when it comes to Domaine Dujac; I was at Oxford with my great friend Jeremy who is now the winemaker (assisted by his enchanting and indisputably hot wife Diana) and I have benefitted from the extreme hospitality of the Seysses family on innumerable occasions. I’ll tell you what I thought anyway. It struck me that, even with their ripe characters, the wines were decidedly elegant and svelte. They were a step above mere ripe fruitiness and all oozed with cultivated class and pulsed with the characters of where they were grown. The wines that stood out as being particularly successful were the succulent Morey village, the super-silky Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru aux Combottes, an unfeasibly exotic and complex Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru Malconsorts and a positively nectarous Clos Saint Denis. Most of my friends I was tasting with preferred the Clos de la Roche and Bonnes-Mares to the Clos Saint Denis, but I love CSD and this was an exceptional example of the wine. Domaine Dujac really landed on their feet in 2009, I’d try and buy some if I were you.

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My final destination in the Cote de Nuits was Domaine Arlaud also in Morey Saint Denis. Now listen carefully, Domaine Arlaud are the super-hot tip for buying 2009 Burgundy. Cyprien Arlaud has been making better wine each vintage since I’ve been visiting and his stunning 2009s are the cat’s arse, dog’s bollocks and other dirty parts of domesticated animals. Up until now his wines have not really been noticed by the wider wine world and so they are relative bargains considering the screaming quality. However, at some point soon every Pinotophile will sit up, look sharply in his direction and demand to buy his wines. So, boys and girls, get them at not indecent prices whilst you still can, the window of opportunity will not be open for much longer. Much as I adore his Clos Saint Denis, Bonnes-Mares and Clos de la Roche the real bang-per-buck wines are his Morey Saint Denis Premier Crus. They are really satisfying examples of Morey which are tumescent with complex, captivating, classy characters. Definitely as fine as Premier Cru Morey gets and that is pretty god-damned fine in my vastly opinionated opinion.

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If I may move away from 2009s for a moment, we were lucky enough to be able to swing by Comte Lafon in Meursault. We got rather lost in Meursault trying to find his establishment and ended up walking past the Clos de la Barre (left) about five times with the blazing sun slowly roasting any bit of our pallid skin on show. Worse, this resulted in us being late for our tasting; I hate being late especially when it is an appointment with someone as serious as Lafon. Fortunately our host was quite understanding. I was very pleased that the tasting started with a small vertical of Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu as I have long been a fan of this distinctly intense expression of Volnay. In terms of engrossing experiences they were all I could ask from what is the fifth best wine Lafon makes. We then tried his range of Meursaults from 2008 and 2007 which were outstanding; anyone who says Lafon Meursaults are too oaky doesn’t know their arse from a hole in the ground. We finished off with the 2008 Le Montrachet – this defied description, a vinous experience that will live with me as long as I have a few functioning neurons.

Back to the topic. 2009 is such a fetching vintage demand will be high. Even though my limited tasting experience suggests some wines will be too well titted-out to be svelte models of harmony, there are some seriously classy wines out there which lovers of Burgundy shouldn’t miss out on. I am starting to save now. It was great fun going to Burgundy and tasting these gorgeous wines, I ate well too:

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