After returning from my summer holiday I wrote a piece about my initial [link2post id=”3774″]thoughts on 2009 Burgundy[/link2post]. I’ve just got back from a tasting given by the London wine merchant Haynes, Hanson and Clark and I’m pleased to report that my initial assessment about 2009 being a high quality vintage was correct. Indeed, based on this tasting I feel I may have undersold their qualities.[image image_id=”4755″ size=”medium” align=”left”]
Before getting to specific wines and producers I’ll immediately cut to the chase and say that 2009 Burgundy looks like there are seriously high quality wines tumescent with charm and profound pleasure right across the board. Last summer I had the vague feeling that the wines were a shade on the ripe and fleshy side, lacking a bit of harmony and rigour. This tasting disabused me of that notion. Every lover of Burgundy should be selling their bodies down the docks to get enough money to buy epic quantities of these beguilingly visceral and intellectually stimulating wines. I’ve rarely enjoyed a tasting as much as this one; I could barely suppress my desire get naked and rub myself with the wines whilst chortling with mirth.
My first real surprise about the tasting was how throbbingly brilliant the white wines were. I expected in such a warm vintage that they would be corpulent and flabby – not a bit of it. Pretty much all the wines I tried had decent acid levels and I was very pleased with their transparent communication of their origins.
I began with the Chablis of Domaine Dampt and was flabbergasted by my first taste of their generic 2009. It did have ripe fruit, but the precise character of the acidity and minerality made the wine one hell of a compelling cheapie. Their two Premier Crus (les Lys and Cote de Lechet) were even more arresting. The thrilling combination of ripe fruit, star-bright acidity and complex minerality made these two quite breathtaking to taste.
More Chablis followed from Domaine Christian Moreau. Again the generic punched way above its price-point, as did the Premier Cru Vaillon Cuvee Guy Moreau, but their Grand Crus sent sparks shooting through my pleasure centers. They had the penetrating sophistication one wants from Grand Cru Chablis but the harmonious interplay between the fruit, minerality and density of flavour left me gagging for more. The Grand Crus they showed were Vaudesir, Valmur and Les Clos; the Clos was slightly better than the others but I can safely assure you that you’ll get pleasure from any of them should be be able to score some.
I’ve never been much of a fan of St Aubins, but Domaine Francoise et Denis Clair’s two Premier Crus showed quality examples do exist. They had good fruit and a reasonable degree on dimension to them. Go for the En Remilly in preference to the Sur Gamay.
Jean-Marc Roulot has long been my favourite producer of white Burgundy so I was rather chuffed that a couple of his efforts were on show. The Bourgogne Blanc had a surprisingly luxurious degree of weight to it, but as the acid levels were spot on this just made it seem like the kind of mouth-watering lovely you’d want to drink all day. His Meursault Tillets was also a shade larger than I am used to it tasting, but again the balance was fine and it pulsed with mineral complexity. Anyway, life would not be as fun if you couldn’t drink an occasional bottle of slightly lardy Meursault.
I’ve encountered the negociant wines of Maison Champy on numerous occasions and today their whites were their best offerings I had ever tasted. Even the very humble Vire-Clesse was a delightfully composed wine of fruity fun. The Pernand-Vergelesses they showed had no of the acrid linearity which can typify those wines whilst their Meursault Premier Cru Aux Cras was a seriously composed but ravishingly enjoyable wine. Corton-Charlemagne was their last wine on show and had none of the miserably awkward angularity I associate with that appellation. I pleasured myself immensely with that little taste of juice.
Two Sauzet wines were being poured and, whilst I found the generic Puligny oddly cheesy the Premier Cru Les Perrieres was confidently sophisticated and charged with an impressive degree of elan.
Red wines were served on the next tables and I felt a gnawing worry that they might not live up to the coruscating quality of the whites. I consider myself a terribly fortunate fellow that they did and I got to taste them.[image image_id=”4756″ size=”medium” align=”right”]
First up was Chateau Grange Cochard’s Morgon Cote de Py. I’ve had it before and liked it then, but I’d forgotten quite how much it was like real wine rather than Beaujolais. The fruit was delicious, with decent tannins and balanced acidity. Properly good wine.
Back to Francoise et Denis Clair for their reds. The Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Beaune was a quite attractive little number with plenty of ripe fruit and no harsh acidity. It is a bargain. Their Santenay Clos Genet was impressively structured but that ripe, voluptuous fruit kept it harmonious. Better still was the Santenay Premier Cru Clos de la Comme; I was deeply taken with its buxom fruitiness and rather titillated by its rigour.
As I walked to the next table I was charged with a feeling of slight peturbation – it had wines from Chandon de Briailles which I’ve previously found to be either wonderful or bloody awful in about equal proportion. When I smelled the Savigny-les-Beaune my discomposure evaporated – it was a ravishingly fruity wine that slipped down a treat. The Savigny Premier Cru Fourneaux that followed was also delectably scrumptious, but had an impressively serious texture to it and I dare say it has the class to age. When I have favourite wines from Chandon de Briailles they are usually the Pernand-Vergelesses Premier Cru Ile de Vergelesses; I’ve never had one as good as the 2009. Everything was there, winsome charm, intellectual fascination and more than enough of a suggestion of lewd beguilement to keep the lover of dissolute japes spellbound. This was good. The Corton-Bressandes Grand Cru was also a winner, quite cerebral but you know it is just waiting to lead you into the bedroom.
Maison Champy’s reds continued the high-quality theme of their whites. I have rarely had Bourgogne rouge as downright gratifying as there 2009, it was tits out for the boys all right (or tits out for the girls if you are that kind of girl). I was terribly happy they bottled it with a screwcap and they Champy representative was telling people they needed to drink it within a year. You won’t have as much fun with a bottle of Bourgogne rouge unless it ends with going to hospital to get it extracted. The Beaune Premier Cru Aux Cras and Volnay Premier Cru les Taillepieds both had an impressive depth of character and I thought they were really good examples of wines from those villages. I was gobsmacked by the raw quality of their Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru les Suchots, it was suffused with all the class, style and enchantment that good Vosne should show. They finished off with a Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru, which charmed me no end but I was still consumed with trying not to wet myself with joy about the Vosne’s manifest resplendence.[image image_id=”4757″ size=”medium” align=”left”]
Domaine Georges Mugneret-Gibourg showed two wines. Firstly was a Vosne village of cool sophistication and elegant class. I then tried their Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru les Chaignots and was smitten. It had proper Nuits masculinity but was also incredibly refined. This was another top bunny bottle.
I moved onto the final table and was as pleased as Punch to be poured a slug of Mugnier’s Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Clos de la Marechale. It may be Nuits de chez Chambolle but as I like both Nuits and Chambolle I have no complaints. Its silky, polished fruit was quite winning. My erstwhile chum Thierry Brouin was pouring his wines from Domaine des Lambrays. The Morey was ultra correct Morey of bewitching quality, but I didn’t dally with this too long as I wanted to try the Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru. It was clearly one of the best wines I’ve had made by him and I feel too woefully inadequate a writer to describe how its staggering brilliance opened doors of pleasure in my psyche that I was previously only dimly aware of. Buy some. Buy lots, but save me a few bottles.
And after that mind-enhancing experience I had to get the train back to horrible, horrible Woolwich. I was so happy I danced by the local hordes of muggers with a spring in my step. You must get some 2009 Burgundy, the reds and whites are fantastic, the Bourgognes are charged with love and the Grand Crus are charged with something even more exquisitely pleasurable. Don’t hold back.
Contact details: Haynes, Hanson and Clark, 7 Elystan Street, London SW3 3NT Telephone: 020 7584 7927
Interesting David-I went to J&B tonight and enjoyed myself. It seems a very good vintage at the lower end and particularly some Bourgognes were almost opulent, though experience leads me to believe that this won’t be the case by the time they get here. It was a very easy vintage to taste as bottled cask samples, unlike many-even Grivot’s wines were quite friendly, though I saw nothing that excited me hugely except absolutely titanic Vaucrains and LSG from Gouges, not only Grand Cru level but top Grand Cru level, and I see no reason for this not to continue to the finished article.I suspect the Lamarche wines of magnificence too, but they were respectably backward. Value was nowhere to be found though except for the superb red pernands of Rollin. I simply can’t afford 2009 at current levels.
Fantastic review – your love of Burgundy seeps through every pore in your keyboard. Wish I could be there to taste these wines – but your review was as good a vicarious enjoyment of them as I could wish for. Chapeaux!
PS I managed to obtain a good lot of Clos des Lambrays, fortunately without having to sell my body down the docks!
Great report, David. This has made me quite excited about this evening’s tasting at Bibendum. If it’s as good as you say, I’ll sell one of my kids…so much less stressful than selling a body like mine.
Brilliant and interesting. At risk of diverting things, and although it’s not really what your article is about, why the aversion to St Aubin, and does it apply to red and white? I’d sort of arrived at the conclusion, without extensive tasting, that it tended to offer good value, compared, for example, to similarly priced Bourgogne wines (though to my mind the two have different naturs, the latter tending to be leaner, less complex versions of grander wines which in good examples offer an insight into the grower’s style; the former being more complete but without hints of grander growers).
Thanks for your comments, chaps.
Guy, I’ve usually find St. Aubins to be a tad on the one dimensional side and I usually prefer to get a good bottle of Chablis or Macon wine for the same (or usually less) money. If you are going to the Howard Ripley tasting do try the Daniel Barraud wines as I think they have real interest at keen prices. I haven’t had any remotely memorable red St Aubin in an age.
I am happy that you are writing on your website again and look forward to seeing you in August when I come back for three weeks, so look after yourself. You are the best brother.