2010 Burgundy tasting from Howard Ripley

Since I did not make it to most of the 2010 Burgundy tastings I planned to attend I am very pleased that my friend James Hardy provided this summary of Howard Ripley’s event. James is an ex-Captain of the Oxford University Blind tasting team and so knows his onions. This is particularly true as I was instructing him in his first year on the team and made damned sure all my team members knew how to tell good from bad with devastating certainty.

Over to James:

I felt more fireworks at the (Haynes, Hanson and Clark) tasting on Monday but there can be doubt that it confirmed the excellence of the vintage – even though a number of the samples were shaken up and not tasting well. I got there a little late and didn’t attempt to taste the full range. I also took a degree of the day’s frustrations with me – not helped by the £25 entry fee! By the time I got there (about half way through the advertised time slot) many bottles were finished (most top reds – whether because they were good or otherwise). I think next time I will go back to front.


Barraud whites showed well. Macon had weight but plenty of acid – the 2 Pouilly-Fuisses both delicious – the Alliance is a lighter, racier style, the La Roche a bigger, broader wine but still with good focus. I liked all of these very much.

Fevre alongside Droin very interesting – when young like this the absence of wood really pushes me to join team Fevre as they seem to have so much more definition and purity. The Fevre wines really sing with citric fruit and the vintage gives them a directness that appeals enormously to me as a lover of the more linear white wine. But is their Clos really twice as good as Christian Moreau’s (it is almost twice the price)? The Fevre Vaillons is fabulously good – but over 20 sheets a pop. I think I will shut my eyes and pay for Vaillons.

In the Cote d’Or whites, the Fontaine-Gagnard (I’d wanted to try these for a while) tasted much better than Chavy etc, but nothing to my mind got anywhere near the excitement and energy of the Lambrays Clos du Cailleret or the Olivier Leflaive Domaine wines – although what was on show was a lower end of the spectrum than the mainly Grand Crus (Thierry Brouin said he considered the Clos du Cailleret a Grand Cru anyway – or perhaps this links to his pricing!).


Very pretty Bourgogne from Hudelot-Noellat. This was very light but all their wines were super elegant with nice texture (Vosne villages, Suchots and Clos Vougeot all respected the hierarchy – although the latter as so many Clos Vougeot wines didn’t really seem a Grand Ccru). They may be into whole cluster fermentation as all were very pale? Expressive wines though – a very attractive range.

I was keen to try the Comte Armand wines. Auxey 1er Cru was as delicious as expected and well structured. Really stylish. Clos des Epeneaux was all necked by others by the time I got there. Am sure it is fantastic. Given the brilliance of all the wines I’ve tried from this address since the mid 90s, am tempted to splash out for it on trust even though it isn’t cheap…

De Courcel Pommards were both superb – as I understand they were last year. Great, very ripe dark fruit, but real energy and depth – the Rugiens had an amazingly silky texture and suppleness. Best wines on show for me by a distance.

All Gouges samples were too sulphury and shaken up for me. I found them very hard to taste.

Only Arlot red on show/not all drunk was the Bourgogne Chapeau – good for the money, much more serious than the Hudelot-Noellat Bourgogne.

Bruno Clavelier’s wines showed very well. His wines have a lot of oak influence at this stage and exotic coffee/chocolate flavours but the fruit and balance seemed terrific and from memory his prices are still not too scary. Very stylish.

Fourrier wines clearly very good this year as ever- most of these had been slurped dry – even given not all of them were great samples. Seems a year for his style.

Frederic Esmonin wines I liked a lot. They are not up there with the very best but they are well made, pretty transparent and I commend his very reasonable pricing!

Enjoyed another chance to try Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Chaignots from Mugneret-Gibourg vs. Mugnier’s Nuits 1er Cru Clos de la Marechale. The former is a richer, fuller wine but still with great style and silky texture. But the Marechale is so delicious too.

The new Pousse d’Or wines I found overworked. For Volnay there was also some quite bold extraction. I would need to be persuaded that these deserve my money if not my attention.

I really wanted to try the Benjamin Leroux wines. The only one I got to was a Gevrey 1er cru and it was quite a peaky, sulphury sample. Let’s be honest – I would like to have liked it more. I blame the sample.

I didn’t retry the Thomas Bouley wines but Jeremy Seysses says he has heard good things about him and OW Loeb are very positive indeed. Maybe that was a sample problem on Monday.

The quality of the village level wines in general was striking. They consistently had good ripeness and concentration. There is still reward for trading up but what pleasure to be had at the lower end!

Howard Ripley’s website is here.
Many thanks James, I am sorry I wasn’t there with you!

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