The Haynes Hanson and Clark 2001 red Burgundy tasting was another enjoyable and thought provoking event. I didn’t try as many reds here as I did whites, but those I did try showed high quality and generally extreme drinkability across the range. HHandC have a great portfolio of producers and there is something here for everyone.
I suppose I don’t have to, but I feel I must apologise for the delay in getting this last report published. As a nut-job you can overstretch yourself rather easily and it doesn’t take much for a toxic mood to consume you. I’m pleased I’m finally feeling up to writing this piece. If I run away screaming half way through you’ll know I misjudged. To the wines!
Thibaut Marion, the winemaker of Seguin-Manuel, is a fun loving chap and, in every vintage of his I’ve tried, the wines overflow with his good-natured charm. He doesn’t have particularly grand vineyards, but he teases a lot of pleasure from his holdings. This is a great place to buy wines to enjoy in their first flush of youth.
There was incredible gratification in his Savigny-les-Beaune Premier Cru Les Lavieres (£175 for 12). It throbbed with fresh, vibrant fruit that had a highly attractive perfume. To smell it was so smile. There was good acidity on the palate keeping everything bright and fresh. This was a wine to drink with easy pleasure, you don’t have to think about it too much but it’ll still charm your underpants off.
Still fun but more seriously structured was the Pommard Vieilles Vignes (£245 for 12). The fruit had the delicious character of the vintage, it just begged you to drink it, and this was combined with a good depth of character from the old vines. There was rigour to the palate, and good acidity too, but with all that lovely fruit you don’t have to wait to before drinking – I think this is one for cradle-snatching.
I have to say, if I had a bit of money for buying 2011 reds I’d seriously consider buying from this estate. They are keenly priced and a bundle of laughs.
I’ve known Pierre Meurgey, boss of Champy, for fifteen years – Christ we’re old! I’ve always thought Maison Champy to be a good negociant, but with some recent acquisitions they’ve been able to have greater control over their vineyards and make even better wines as Domaine Champy. M. Meurgey is rightly proud of his efforts at Domaine Champy; they are damned good across the range.
First up was an early bottled Chorey-Les-Beaune bottled early for quick drinking pleasure. It was called Equinoxe (£120 for 12) and it was the first Chorey-les-Beaune I remember actually liking. Fresh, fruity, fun and cheap too. If you need a general drinking wine and you generally like your guests this would be a beezer buy.
From the same vineyard but not made with the express vinification was Chorey-Les-Beaune Les Champs Longs (£135 for 12). It had a bit more structure and depth than the Equinoxe, but wasn’t so much different to my palate at least. Save your money and go for the cheaper bottling.
Continuing the line-up of screaming bargains was Savigny-Les-Beaune Aux Fourches (£159 for 12). This had a more confident structure than the two previous wines, but the fruit was simply lush, darlings. Not for ageing more than a few years, but you’ll get a lot of fun, and even occasionally engage your brain occasionally, when drinking this.
The one wine I didn’t enjoy from Domaine Champy was the Pernand-Vergelesses Premier Cru Les Vergelesses (£204 for 12). The nose was lovely, but the effect of being from Pernand had too much influence on the palate which was hard and tart bordering on the difficult to drink. Perhaps this is just the stage in it’s evolution, but I buy my Pernands extremely carefully and this one made me think I’m right to.
Beaune wines should be light entities of pleasure, and the Beaune Premier Cru Aux Cras (£230.50 for 12) delivered the goods. Very pretty, elegant and refined with lovely fruit, silky tannins and fresh acidity. It’d be very nice young but I thought, like a lot of Beaunes that seem light and fruity when they are young, it had the capacity to age really well. Indeed, I think this will keep and keep whilst having an accessible drinking profile. Top kit. I actually liked this so much I scored myself a magnum of the 2010 to age for as long as I can keep my mitts off it.
Seriously structured was the Volnay Premier Cru les Taillepieds (£373.50 for 12). Lovely, pretty Volnay fruit and lively acidity, but a great, profound tannic structure. Pleasingly, it was all in complete harmony so I think this is one of the 2011 reds that’ll age best out of those I tried. Lovely stuff.
Finally was one of the very best wines I tried all week, Corton Les Rognets Grand Cru (£465 for 12). I usually find myself thinking Corton is just too tough, miserable and lacking fun, but this wine was a lovely thing. It had all the complexity and depth of flavour one wants from a Grand Cru, but it was structured with minimalist charm and understated pleasure. The fruit was sculpted to winsome perfection. A brilliant wine that is worth making a special effort to grab as much as you can of and age it for a reasonable period.
Thierry Brouin, boss of Lambrays, was in fine form insisting wines are drinking, enjoying and not getting too worked up about. Fine, Thierry, but you don’t have to pay for your wines which may well be an absolute festival of bouncers to drink, but they are now far from the bargains they once were.
Coming from some of the best vineyards in the village the Morey-Saint-Denis (£340 for 12) was bursting with scrummy loveliness but hell’s nipple clamps it’s not cheap for a village wine. The production is tiny so you are really paying for the exclusivity. It does perform well above its Village quality level, with serious complexity, a really deep character and huge amounts of charm, but no way would I buy the bleeder. If any of you out there are loaded I’d love to drink this again, so let me know if you get any and when it’s delivered you can come around for lunch.
Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru (£475 for 6) was a stunning construction of beauty, precision and style, but again it was blinking priced like those printer ink cartridges that cost orders of magnitude more than the original printer. The complexity was compelling, with beautiful fruit intertwined with svelte earthiness and silky tannins. A real stunner, but at double the price of Champy’s Corton you’d have to have enough cash to bloody well give me some! Great wine, though, great wine – the lunch invitation applies to this as well.
Only one wine on show from Freddie Mugnier, his Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Clos de la Marechale (£445 for 12). It was a beautiful, poised Nuits of elegance and class and could well be the Nuits of the vintage. It was a bit lighter in aspect than the 2010 which I still consider the best Nuits I have ever tasted. No harm in not having to age things forever, though. Nuits from Freddie (and Cathiard) are as refined and charged with élan as Nuits can get.
All that is left for me to do is thank Haynes Hanson and Clark, and everyone else who enlightened me about 2011 Burgundy during en primeur week. It was a scream!