I SPENT a week in Burgundy earlier this month to look at the 2012s now that they are safely in barrel. Weather conditions during the growing season had given rise to concerns regarding the quality of the vintage. April, May and June had been miserable, cold and wet, raising the threat of disease, particularly mildew and oidium. There had also been the hail storms mainly in the Cote de Beaune
. The Cote de Nuits had largely survived unscathed. However the vintage was largely successful, as all the damage had taken place before the period of final ripening. Yields were therefore lower but quality had not been greatly affected. The final verdict from the BIVB was that quality of the grapes was good but the grape crop had been reduced by about 20 per cent.
MAISON/DOMAINE LOUIS JADOT
We had a very instructive barrel tasting in the Jadot cellar under the very informative new winemaker, Frederic Barnier, who had taken over from the irrepressible Jacques Lardiere.
Meursault 1er cru Charmes: Very good ripeness, freshness and density. Good
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er cru Morgeot: Broader-shouldered wine, richer, good freshness and ripeness. Good length.
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er cruMorgeot, Duc de Magenta: Richer and denser still, with better freshness. A big wine.
Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru Garenne, Duc de Magenta: 90-year-old vines. Very rich wine with great length, almost sumptuous.
Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru Folatieres: Broader-bodied, more fat, more roundness. Very good ripeness and balance.
Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru Referts: A big-bodied juicy fat wine, good length.
Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru: Very ripe fruit, with great minerality.
Volnay 1er cru Clos des Chenes: Very good, a lot of power for a Volnay.
Pommard 1er cru Clos Coumarin (Monopole): Very good fruit, very dense. Perhaps a bit short?
Corton Pougets Grand Cru: Very dense, rich, very compact. Very long finish.
Chambolle-Musigny 1er cru Les Fuees: Very ripe fruit, a bit compact, very complex and long on finish. Will be very great wine.
Vosne-Romanee 1er cru les Suchots: Rich complex wine, I preferred the Suchots.
Morey-St-Denis1er cru Clos des Ormes: Very good, a lovely charming wine.
Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru Clos St Jacques: A great wine, with the fruit, structure and complexity. Quite extraordinary.
Clos Vougeot, Grand Cru: Very tight and compact at the moment. Has the fruit and structure. Will be good.
This tasting set the tone and standard of all the tastings that week. Sadly, I was not there at the most convenient time for some of my friends, eg Dominique Lafon and Michel Gros, as the unfriendly weather meant that harvest had to be prolonged and that kept them in the fields.
Wines drank at lunch with Pierre-Henry Gagey, president, Louis Jadot:
Montrachet Grand Cru 1979, Louis Jadot: 14K gold colour. Bouquet a melange of mushrooms and very ripe citrus fruit. Rich very ripe orangey flavours on the palate, touch of mushroomy flavours, finishing with good freshness and length. A lovely wine.
Corton Dr Peste Grand Cru 1990, Louis Jadot: Medium-mahogany red colour, with nose sweet ripe fruit, and a touch of roses. On the palate, ripe orangey flavours of ripe red berry fruit, good acidity and medium length.
Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru 1953, Louis Jadot: An amazing wine. Medium-hued brownish red, with very sweet aroma of very ripe fruit. Immediate impression on palate of very good freshness and very ripe fruit. A rich mature wine, still at peak, very long persistence.
At Drouhin, we were very kindly received by Frederic Drouhin, now president of the company. For an interesting change he had set up a tasting of some wines from the 2011 vintage.
Beaune 1er cru Greves: Brilliant red, with light bouquet of ripe berries, not showing much at the moment. Good ripeness of fruit on the palate, very good freshness. A medium-bodied medium-weight wine, soft, with rounded shoulders.
Beaune 1er cru Clos des Mouches: Softer in texture, but more elegant, very long on the palate. Lovely wine.
Nuits St Georges 1er cru Proces: Very much a Nuits St G wine, good fruit, and balance but quite tight at the moment.
Corton Bressandes Grand Cru: A lovely wine, with very attractive bouquet; very intense, full of ripe fruit, dark flavours, very long. Has the rich fullness of a Corton.
Vosne-Romanee 1er cru Les Petite Mont: Distinguished by a very fine seductive bouquet. Very much Vosne-Romanee character, rich fruity fullness, great intensity of concentration and good length. Very fine.
Vosne-Romanee 1er cru Les Amoureuses: Medium-dark red colour, aroma at the moment quite faint but seductive already. A big wine, lots of very ripe fruit, palate of ripe cherries, very long persistence.
Bonnes Mares Grand Cru: Compact wine, very very ripe fruit, not so much big bodied but a solid wine, quite closed at the time of tasting, and a very very long finish. Great wine.
Musigny Grand Cru: A lovely wine, full of perfectly ripe fruit, very gentle yet with power beneath the gentleness. Very special.
Chablis Grand Cru Vaudesir: It is not sufficiently widely known that Drouhin is not only a very major owner of Chablis vineyards but also some of the greatest of the Chablis Grand Crus, this being one of them, and a particular favourite of mine. The problem as always with Chablis is that they need time - and patience. Straight Chablis may be quite attractive when young but as one goes up the Chablis ladder, the higher the classification, the longer bottle-ageing it needs, and in these days of instant gratification, impatience and shortage of proper wine storage space, long bottle-ageing becomes a luxury.
This is a classic example of a Drouhin Vaudesir Grand Cru Chablis - everything you want to know about Chablis Vaudesir is there. Light golden colour, a floral nose, lots of ripe fruit on the palate, very fine gentle yet piercing acidity and great persistence. Altogether a lovely wine. To be cellared for 20 years.
Beaune Clos des Mouches Blanc: A long-time favourite white burgundy of mine, sadly drunk up too fast. Brilliant pale-golden colour; lovely light lemony bouquet of beautifully ripened fruit with great refreshing acidity and great minerality; very very long, very complex. A masterpiece.
Montrachet, Marquis de Laguiche: One of my favourite Montrachets, this is a very great wine. A pale yellow, with a very fine citric nose, lots of ripe fruit and freshness on the palate, great length. Again another wine which needs time and a lot of patience. But well worth the patience - and the wait.
I intentionally chose this week to feature the wines from two Domaines who are concurrently negociants, to illustrate the error we all too often make in confining our Burgundy preferences to "grower" wines, almost as it were figuratively turning up our noses at the sight (or even mention) of wines from such names as Jadot, Drouhin, and Faiveley. To repeat an earlier comment, these big houses also own hectares and hectares of vineyards, including some of the choicest and most sought-after names.