Last night I had the great pleasure to visit my friends James and Katie in the company of recurrent drinking buddy ‘The Kid’ Peter for a comparative tasting of Clapham’s pizza establishments. As you can see, Katie gets rather enthusiastic about pizza.
The Burgundies we opened were all wonderful, in an irksomely prejudice denying manner I even loved the Dugat-Py. Whilst I found it to have interest and character, the 5 year old Moulin-a-Vent didn’t live up to the rapturous reputation of Chateau des Jacques Beaujolais. Sadly our Alsace Rieslings were undrinkable. The Weinbach was simply oxidised whilst the Hugel wine we opened and discarded confirmed with eloquent certitude my view that they squander the potential of their top-drawer vineyard holdings. All the wines were served blind and I think James, Peter and I acquitted ourselves with the adroit prowess ex-Oxford blind tasting team captains should display.
Riesling Cuvee St Catherine 1995, Domaine Weinbach
Oxidised to the extent of being revoltingly undrinkable. I rather like Weinbach wines and would certainly have expected longevity from their Rieslings – you’ve let me down, filles Faller.
Riesling Hommage a Jean Hugel 1998, Hugel
This was a gift from someone who clearly didn’t know I feel Hugel are over-rated producers of vapid swill. In theory, one should be expecting this to compel with complex characters of classy calibre, being made from a selection of the best late-harvest fruit grown on the outstanding Schoenenbourg Grand Cru in what was a super vintage for Alsace Riesling. But then, alas, it was Hugel who picked and vinified it. It has merrily meandered a decent distance down oxidised street and reeks of an alarming array of organic solvent compounds so colourfully carcinogenic in character that even the Russians would consider them excessive to use when poisoning political protesters. I’d guess such a terribly toxic combination of chemicals tastes not nearly so noisome. A despicably, detestably distasteful drink.[image image_id=”4376″ size=”medium” align=”right”]
I’ve long held Hugel efforts in execrable esteem and, whilst having one’s views validated may engender a warm glow of self-congratulatory smugness, there is no joy in drinking egregious wines made by the oenologically challenged. It is a reprehensible misuse of a prime Riesling vineyard to make such an abominable, atrocious wine. I get deeply depressed when encountering wines grown on valued vineyards made by people who piss away their potential. When enlightenment prevails such wines will be sent for industrial distillation and the ownership of the vineyards assigned to the aesthetically adept. Katie’s expression says it all.[image image_id=”4379″ align=”left” size=”medium”]
Meursault les Tillets 2004, Domaine Roulot
As I smell this for the first time I’m aware of a slightly dirty, vaguely stinky reductive character; Roulot wines are made in a more reductive style than a lot of white Burgundy (so they age a treat) but finding one to be even a hint on the stinky side is a new experience for me. I shall swirl vigorously for a few minutes and sniff again. Yes, that smells more typical. Whilst this is a nose of understated refinement it shows a good degree of clean lemon fruit and a definite Meursault buttery character. Its mineral complexity is prominent. The palate is certainly in that refined idiom, with ripe fruit, pronounced acidity, rich minimality and a hint of supporting oak all bound up in a tightly-wound composition of minimalist beauty. There is a taut youthfulness here which makes the drinking experience a shade exacting, but there is pleasure in being asked questions by a wine of such good report that its demands are breathtakingly riveting. If you have some of this clearly fine wine keep it for a few more years, I think there are characters present yet to blossom to their fullest, most attractive extent.[image image_id=”4381″ size=”medium” align=”right”]
Morey-Saint-Denis Premier Cru les Ruchots 2007, Domaine Arlaud
What a ravishing, gorgeous nose charged with ripe, fleshy, fruity allure. I’m smitten from my very first sniff. Whilst being an astronomical unit away from being over-blown or tiresome, I’m finding the fruit so attractive and markedly sensual that only the most churlish of humourless curmudgeons could fail to grin broadly whilst having a sniff. And there is more: a strikingly sophisticated array of earthy aromas and a subtle seasoning of oak – this may be a palpable pleasure to smell but I think it is impregnated with enough sophistication to merit the epithet ‘fine’. It is a throbbing pleasure to drink, too, with complex fruit flavours suffusing its exquisitely wrought texture of intricate, silken tannins and lively, vibrant acidity. Yeah, this seems incredibly lively and vibrant to me, throbbing with youthful exuberance of a winningly delectable nature. Unequivocally a really sexy Morey Premier Cru that is dishing out high-pleasure larks now, as one would hope for in a 2007, but clearly has precisely what in needs where it needs it in order to age over the medium term with considerable class. Morey can be so sensuous and this is irresistibly so – I’m as jolly as a butcher at christmas to own a magnum.[image image_id=”4382″ align=”left” size=”medium”]
Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes 2001, Bernard Dugat-Py
Now this is a deep nose of profound personality, I can smell the concentration imparted by old vines. Whilst it is certainly not short of attractiveness, I get the feeling as I nose this that I am experiencing an entity of brooding power charged with such intensity that it demands serious and respectful attention. It shows no excesses of alcohol or wood which would detract from its sober class and render it merely impressive. Yes, it is impressive, but it has the far more fulfilling character of being a harmoniously beautiful entity which has certainly transfixed me. The palate is also charged with a dignified, composed density that speaks of serious fruit vinified with a skilled but light hand, it shows its origins transparently. There are ripe tannins which show a degree of mature softness and, for all its manifest gravitas, it is a thoroughly arresting construction of perspicuous class. And I’ll admit to that resulting in me being somewhat infuriated. Until tonight I’ve never had a Dugat-Py wine that has delivered anything even approximating pleasure; they have all been turgid, unbalanced entities of monolithic toughness. Consequently, I had come to the opinion that the wines were vastly over-rated and worthy only of my contempt. This quite suited me as I delight in pricking the bubbles of ludicrously expensive wines that are sycophantically reviewed by critics of doubtfully enlightened status. But now I’ve had a good one, a bloody good one at that, so its been my bubble that is being popped. Curses! (but thanks for the wine, James.)[image image_id=”4384″ size=”medium” align=”right”]
Moulin-A-Vent Clos du Grand Carquelin 2005, Chateau des Jacques/Louis Jadot
There are the merest suggestions of bubblegum Beaujolais fruit to this nose, but the more I swirl it and the more I smell it I am finding it becoming rather more meaty and quite clearly having an earthy component to its aromas. It is not stunningly sophisticated but it seems to me there is more dimension than I would usually expect to find in typical young Beaujolais, and those dimensions border on being interesting. Consequently, I think this has improved with age rather than merely persisting. Furthermore, the palate goes beyond hinting at complexity with a degree of maturity showing to its fruit character, more of those meaty flavours and a clear earthiness. There is a valiant stab at harmony with nigh on commendable acid levels and a creditable approximation of a tannic structure; together with the berry fruitiness these characters do enough to keep it from tasting like a can of Heinz oxtail soup. There are distinctly positive attributes on display, which a tenacious taster will find with only moderate perseverance, and I feel it has improved with age. However, I find myself repeatedly thinking these properties do not go far enough in ameliorating the vague lack of charm that disconcerts me with every taste. I know it is well regarded, yet I find the drinking experience marginally too cheerless to really want to share a few glasses with civilized companions. Perhaps the wine is eclipsed by those stunners which preceded it so I’ll not give up on my idea to age some 09s, but I’ll be moderate in my expectations of what’ll happen to them.
Interesting stuff there,David, you express my reservations about Jadot Beaujolais in general very nicely. I have some Weinbach 95 Pinot Gris Cuvee Catherine which is heavily botrytised and very young. It has an absolutely classic ‘premox’cork though and given your experience maybe I should crack on with the last three. It is a great wine with tripe or kippers.
Unsurprisingly I’ve shared your doubts about Dugat-Py and cousin Claude but I must admit that every time I’ve had an older bottle I’ve been seduced in spite of myself;a repetition of the vital burgundy lesson that just because a wine is utterly horrible early in its life it in no way follows that it will always remain so, cf Grivot. One of the great happinesses of Burgundy is the way it so joyously resists assessment.
You are up late, Tom. Nothing perturbing your equilibrium, I trust?
I think heavily botrytised Alsace Pinot Gris is the only style of that grape to age successfully. In my experience normal examples fall apart with distinct alacrity. Before I learned this I frittered away so many swish bottles of Pinot Gris by the simple act of cellaring them for too long. I soon learned that not all quality wines benefit from cellar-time.
My confidence in the ‘utterly horrible’ status of Monsieur D-P’s wines is now unquestionably shaken, that was a stunning bottle of wine that moved me with its profound, powerful personality. However, for one night I’ve had enough prejudice shattering. Consequently, whilst I have total confidence in your aesthetic sensibilities, tonight I cannot contemplate Grivot making anything other than repugnantly unyielding monoliths woefully devoid of the sensual pleasures that titillate the enlightened lover of mesmeric wine. If I were being transparent I might admit to being completely confounded by the compelling character of his 2008s. Even his Clos de Vougeot, normally an unattractively unyielding, heinously harsh and alarmingly austere wine, had a distinct disposition that I found astonishingly adjacent to attractive allure.
Would you say Grivot improved after his final rejection of the Accad method in 2005 or are earlier wines, as you claim, actively appealing? I have three bottles of Premier Crus: a Nuits Pruliers 05, Vosne Suchots from 99 and Beaux Monts from 03. Would you suggest any of them have the potential to provide pleasure and, if so, how long will they need? I would welcome some positive intelligence about wines that I currently feel a moronic, rancid fool to have dropped not inconsiderable numbers of chortle chitties to acquire.
Just a spot of indigestion, David, caused by injudicious overconsumption after a very spartan week, including an extraordinarily feminine and magical Chambolle Villages 98 from Vogue. Hold on to your Grivots-don’t look at any for twenty years after the vintage in these vintages, they will thank you in the long run.
I would suggest a look at what he did in 92, 94, 97, 98 and 2000 to see why I have confidence now. Bolder vintages are just as you describe currently, but I’m pretty sure there is some stunning long term stuff here. I do not think he was a doctrinaire Accadian for long though I certainly avoid 87-91 after some odd experiences(though nothing as bizarre as the wines of that Bettane favourite, Pernin-Rossin). The cold soak is pretty standard by now to some degree as I understand it, and Accad could be argued to be the father of modern vineyard work more generally.
V interested to hear your views on the Carquelin. I’m got very excited by the idea that I could buy cru beaujo cheaply, age it, and have it turn into something like Burgundy. Alas, it doesn’t really work like this, though very good aged cru Beaujos can have a similar, but different, allure I think.
However, these Jadots aren’t cheap… surely one can buy better Burgundy for the same price, or not?
Hello Guy, keeping well I hope.
Sadly, no matter how good a BoJo is, I doubt I will ever try one with the complex character and compelling class of the real stuff – Pinot is simply more suffused with serious sophistication. There are affordable proper Burgundies, like Cyprien Arlaud’s delightful Bourgogne Rouge that a bottle costs a couple of mirth memos over an aryton (Aryton Senna -> tenner as we chirpy, cheery, cockney sparrows say). This makes them cheaper than the seriously spiffy BoJo’s but you have to buy extremely carefully in order to avoid the epic volumes of deplorable dross many merchants unashamedly peddle. Moreover, I am not often convinced that even the best of the very affordable Burgundies have the stuffing needed to age in a manner even approximating that of their older siblings. Most should be purchased so one can deflower them whilst young so as to enjoy their fresh-faced charms.
I may have been in a minority, but I was quite taken with that 09 Morgon Cote de Py we necked at RSJ> This makes me I wonder how many of my swanky BoJo’s will end up being seriously cellared. Just like Cote d’Or wines of similar price, I find myself pondering if my palate is tuned to ravishing swish BoJo’s whilst they are jocund with jolly, juvenile joy.
V interesting – had been meaning to ask if your Arlaud-enthusiasm extended to the Bourgogne, which I rarely see, but may be on my 09 e.p. wishlist!
Thank you for that, David. It seems you have recently been drinking with more style than me – or rather, you have been drinking wines that have more style. I am somewhat disappointed though not to find a detailed review of the Clapham pizza too!