THE trio of Burgundy vintages 2009, 2010 and 2011 are reminiscent of the Bordeaux trio of 1988, 1989 and 1990. I chose vintages 2010 and 2011 for the Burgundy tasting at Paulée de Singapour 2014 to show that notwithstanding the general opinion that 2011 was ranked the least of the three, the overall quality of the vintage, in both red and white, was not far off from the 2010.
I still remember clearly the pronouncements of Frederick Mugnier of Domaine JF Mugnier when we were barrel-tasting his 2011s in his cellar in the autumn of 2012. He regards his 2011 as rather similar to his 2008s, which he surprisingly said he preferred to his 2009s!
He regarded 2010 as the best of the three, a classic Burgundy vintage, ranking with the greatest of all Burgundy vintages. The situation vis-a-vis 2010 and 2011 parallels that between 2001 and 2002, a comparative tasting of which was the theme of the first Paulée de Singapour in 2005.
Altogether 63 Burgundies, 42 red and 21 white, were tasted, and I do not know what the rest of the tasters felt but at the end of the three sessions, I was inclined to think that 2010 and 2011 were very close in overall quality, albeit different in their individual strengths. Looking over my tasting notes again it was striking how little the differences were between them - to my palate, at least.
My own conclusions at the end of the tasting was that there was little to choose qualitatively between the two vintages of each wine, and that any difference that could be discerned would be the result of individual taste preferences.
Put it another way, I would happily drink either vintage - provided I could get hold of them, and even if I could, it would be provided I could afford them!
One-liners on selected wines:
Beaune 1er cru Clos des Ursules, Louis Jadot
2010 more density and breadth, 2011 perhaps a little lighter, just as enjoyable.
Volnay 1er cru Santenots de Millieu, Comtes Lafon
2011 very ripe big cherries, very long.
2010 great fruit, great ripeness, more acidity.
Chambolle Musigny 1er cru, Pacalet
2011 a light wine.
2010 good ripeness, with good length and freshness.
Chambolle Musigny 1er cru Baudes, Drouhin
2011& 2010 both exemplary examples of Chambolle Musigny character - the colour a glorious transparent, medium-red, the Pinot Noir-perfumed bouquet light and floating in the air, the transparently textured palate. Both very concentrated, beautiful fruit. Do not choose between the two if you ever come across them. And please let me know where you find them!
Corton Grand Cru, Bonneau du Martray
2010 & 2011 both very crimson colour, 2011 transparent, 2010 darker. Both very Pinot Noir nose, 2011 lighter in intensity. Very good length and ripe fruit, 2010 more density. On balance, 2010 the bigger wine, 2011 lighter perhaps a bit more elegant.
Griottes Chambertin Grand Cru, Domaine/Maison Roche de Bellene
2011 darker in colour crimson red; bouquet in both very fine Pinot perfume. Very good fruit in both. Both very close, on balance 2010 slightly bigger.
Clos Vougeot Grand Cru, Louis Jadot
Both similar crimson colour; exhibiting very good ripe fruit, 2010 denser, very fine acidity in both. 2010 bigger wine, 2011 lighter and very attractive.
Nuits St-Georges 1er cru Clos de la Marechale, JF Mugnier
2011 and 2010: Same dark-ruby colour in both, very little to choose between the two. Both very ripe fruit, 2010 perhaps richer with good minerality.
Nuits St-Georges les Chaillots, Michel Gros
Both same dark ruby; lovely Nuits St-Georges character, particularly 2011. Very fine fruit and minerality especially 2010. Little to choose between the two.
Both had a touch of brown in otherwise deep red, light Pinot nose. Dense ripe fruit in both but lacking a little in freshness.
2011 was found to be better than 2010.
Vosne-Romanee, Michel Gros
Dark ruby-red in both, attractive Pinot nose in 2010; very ripe fruit in both but needed airing to bring out. On balance 2011 had the edge on 2010.
Vosne-Romanee 1er cru Les Brulees, Michel Gros
Both very good in colour, nose and fruit. Very little to choose between the two, both very good examples of the character of their respective vintages.
Vosne-Romanee 1er cru Clos des Reas, Michel Gros
The flagship wine of Michel Gros. Both vintages typical and excellent examples of their individual character. Very dark ruby colours, fine Pinot aromas still rather shy in 2010, both are big wines, mouth-filling juicy fruit, 2010 perhaps a tiny bit more intense.
Vosne-Romanee 1er cru Les Malconsorts, Dujac
Both very similar, dark colours, both very fine, big, powerful seductive wines, difficult to choose between the two, 2011 perhaps showing a touch more minerality.
Clos St Denis Grand Cru, Roche de Bellene
Both showed dark ruby red colour, lovely pure Pinot nose, very refined; lots of good ripe fruit in both, both were a little short on finish.
Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, Roche de Bellene
Dark ruby-red colour in both and fine delicate Pinot aromas. Good fruit in both, 2011 very intense dense solid wine, 2010 showed a trace of umami even. Both similarly slightly short finish.
Chambertin Grand Cru 2010, Chateau Marsannay
Deep red with a touch of brown, surprising for its age. Good Pinot fruit with distinct tinge of savouriness. A bit short, may improve with age.
Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru, Faiveley
Very dark ruby-red in both, 2010 showing just a touch of tawniness; both showed very good Pinot aroma.
Lots of very ripe fruit in both, very solid, very long. 2011 showed touch of savouriness (umami). Very little to choose between the two.
Bonnes Mares Grand Cru, Comte Georges de Vogue
Both dark ruby-red, 2011 perhaps a little darker; very fine Pinot perfume from both wines.
Very ripe fruit in both, 2011 a little more open, 2010 very closed and backward, almost stern in character, very much in character. Rather "yin and yang" in comparison and contrast.
Grands Echezeaux 2010, Domaine Romanee-Conti
Surprisingly beginning to show brown tints in the otherwise red colour. Very fine Pinot perfume - ripe strawberries, light touch of citrus - very ripe fruit, but very youthful showing a little roughness around the edges.
Very very long, very powerful wine.
Musigny Grand Cru, Comte Georges de Vogue
Deep purple-red and very fine Pinot perfume in both; lots of very ripe fruit in both, 2011 perhaps showing a touch more acidity. Very good length in both. 2011 very Musigny character, 2010 more backward, deeper richer fruit, will need more time. Both extraordinary, ultimate Pinot wines.
Musigny Grand Cru, JF Mugnier
Both beautiful wines, deep purple-red colours, very refined Pinot perfume for bouquets; 2011 big volume very ripe closed; 2010 very complex, very ripe. Both very fresh and very long finish. Impossible to choose between any of these Musignys!
Thus endeth the reading as they say - what a surfeit of riches indeed.
An extensive tasting of white and red, across the board , from Cote de Beaune and Cote de Nuits, from producers who included some of the most famous names in Burgundy, a truly representative showing. On balance, 2011 showed it is very close to 2010, just a little different. Like twins, close but not exact copies.
I would buy both vintages, from the top producers if available, as much as I can get and can afford, and even if there's no storage space, would somehow make space for them, as this is a chance of a lifetime.
And I would wait another five years at least before touching them.
Disclaimer: I am involved in the distribution of Domaines JF Mugnier, Michel Gros, Bonneau du Martray, Comtes Lafon and Leflaive.