Burgundy's 2007 whites - White Gold

white gold, burgundy, acidity, fresh, white wine People & Places Articles
  • Friday 23 January 2009

It’s often misused, but ‘classic’ is the perfect word to tag Burgundy’s 2007 whites, says MATTHEW JUKES, who is overwhelmed by their searingly fresh acidity, terroir-driven fruit and great potential to age.

My annual October pilgrimage to Burgundy is the highpoint of my wine diary. This year, I decided to break with tradition and just tackle the white wines – leaving the reds until the New Year – following rumours of tight, focused, high acid, mineral-driven wines. Word on the street was that 2007 was a mediocre vintage, but as few UK journalists bother to go to Burgundy for any length of time these days, I was not listening to any unfounded prophesies of doom and gloom.

It is far better to get down there in person than to wait to pass judgment at the London tastings in January when the samples are often flat and uneven. It is a shame that a Burgundy vintage is often praised or damned solely on the quality of its red wines – as with 2004, the quality of which many commentators missed. (I drank a lot of 2004 whites on this trip and they are delicious.)

I will not do this in this article. I will simply let you know just how good the 2007 vintage is for white wines. Chablis was the first stop, and after a run of pretty good, if a little warm vintages, 2007 was set to be a classic.

Something that one shouldn’t be afraid of in Chablis is high acidity, and the majority of the wines are sensational, if very tight by modern standards. Vincent Dauvissat could hardly control his excitement as he showed me his wines. He pointed out thatyou cannot make Chablis like this without having a dreary summer followed by a burst of good weather before harvest.

That is not to say you’d ever wish for the level of worry that 2007 caused these hardworking Burgundians, but it was, in every respect, a miraculous ending to a vintage that looked like it was heading for disaster. Benoît Droin came up with the most memorable quote. Talking about his lovely grand cru wines he said, ‘they are like big cars, accelerating and braking at the same time’.

This image is spot on; while a lot of growers talked about the similarity of their 2007 wines to the 2004s, it is a much better vintage, with more fruit and much finer acidity. Now that the 2005s and 2006s, with their lush, precocious fruit flavours, have all but sold out, we can finally concentrate on a vintage that defines the Chardonnay grape, its exact positioning in Burgundy and its superiority over every other Chardonnay made in the world.

Distinguished and chiselled

The positive mood continued in the heart of the Côte d’Or. While the weather was indeed dull and damp for most of the summer and hail hurt a corner of Montrachet and a decent sector of Chassagne-Montrachet and St-Aubin, it was again the fine weather at the end of August and beginning of September that saved the day.

Eric Remy, at Domaine Leflaive, condensed the character of the vintage into just one

well-chosen word: ‘distinguished’. Jean-Marc Roulot went a stage further saying that it is a ‘terroir vintage’. Each and every wine tastes of exactly where the grapes were grown. These are very truthful wines with nowhere to hide, on account of their flavours being laid bare by the exposure high acid forces onto a wine.

You can spot heavy-handed oak a mile off. You can sense vine age, cropping levels and all

manner of interesting details that so often are covered up with juicy, pulpy fruit. We have all become so used to Chardonnays that flatter and charm from day one that it is almost shocking to taste the raspingly refreshing 2007s and find yourself craving more of these devastatingly attractive, chiselled wines.

Some Domaines apologised for the tartness of their wines, when I was in raptures about the exactness of the flavours and definitive, identifiable postcode of each and every wine. ‘Classic’ is a word that is serially misused in the wine world, but it is one word that sums up this year neatly. ‘Enigmatic’ was another word used, this time by Jean-Charles le Bault de

la Morinière at Bonneau du Martray, a man who chooses his words with great accuracy.

I am certain that 2007 is a great white vintage and one that will keep well and continue to

excite the keen drinker. I am also convinced that it’s a classic.

Jukes’ top tier whites

★★★★★ 5 STARS

Comtes Lafon, Perrières, Meursault (20/20)

This was the only perfect score I gave in

2008 and it came as a total surprise. My

tasting note is ridiculously superlativedrenched

so I won’t repeat it, suffice to

say that every molecule of this wine is

perfect. I was literally struck dumb when I

tasted this – and that never happens! DDi

Etienne Sauzet, Montrachet (19.5)

One of the most closed and concentrated

of wines, but it already shows impeccable

balance and an amazing acid line which

points to a very long life. DDi

Etienne Sauzet, Les Combettes,

Puligny-Montrachet (19)

With so many of Sauzet’s premiers crus to

choose from, I have plumped for the most

grand cru in flavour. It’s the intensity and

layers of fruit that make this a must buy,

not its weight or brawn. DDi

Jean-Marc Boillot, Truffière,

Puligny-Montrachet (19)

A tight, introverted wine showing the

energy and minerality of this vineyard.

Boillot has made amazing village wines,

but when you step up to his unbelievable

premier cru, there’s no looking back. Gdh

Jean-Marc Roulot, Perrières,

Meursault (19)

Roulot cranked up the volume of his

Tessons but with this, its big brother,

comes more structure, minerality and

focus. One of the most incredible wines

this Domaine has made in a decade. DDi

Leflaive,

Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet (19)

All of Leflaive’s grand crus score 19s this

year but Bienvenues is the most beautiful

and gentle. Its grace masks a steely core

of fruit and acidity which will propel this

wine forwards for 20 years. C&B

Leflaive, Pucelles,

Puligny-Montrachet (19)

Eric Remy has engineered some superb

’07s. Pucelles is my pick of the premiers

crus on account of its stony minerality

and socking acidity, which keeps the

awesome fruit in check. A wine that

expands relentlessly on the palate. C&B

Marc Colin, Bâtard-Montrachet (19)

Colin’s Bâtard is the antithesis of many,

with its spice, density and power sitting

back, letting the soul of the wine come

through. A relief after many blockbusters,

showing a domaine heading towards a

new era of finer, more beautiful wines. Gdh

Bonneau du Martray,

Corton-Charlemagne (18.5)

Incredible aromatics and extraordinary

minerality. The control is gripping and

this marshals the exuberant, evocative,

floral, brioche and citrus notes beautifully.

A classic, ‘collectors’-only’ wine. C&B

Bruno Colin, La Boudriotte,

Chassagne-Montrachet (18.5)

Pear, apple, pineapple and beeswax crowd

the nose and then the fruit power and

white-knuckle acidity rush in. A dramatic

wine that leaves you exhausted. Grand

cru-like tension and depth. Gns, Gun, L&W

Colin-Morey, Folatières,

Puligny-Montrachet (18.5)

Pear, apple, toast and melon aromas and

palate, this is an exuberant and racy wine

that shows more succulence and texture

than many. The immediacy of the fruit

hides a steely core of minerality which

will give this balance for a decade. VTr

Comtes Lafon,

Clos de la Barre, Meursault (18.5)

I often find this wine a little too forceful

and butch, but in 2007 the balance is

utterly mesmerising. There is a fitness

and litheness that really suits the terrific

fruit and it is the acidity that is the key.

An essential wine to seek out. DDi

Fabien & Christian Moreau,

Les Clos, Chablis (18.5)

Harvested three times, this is one of the

most complex offerings ever from

Moreau, made with incredible attention

to detail. With masses of energy and a

delicious raw acid lick on the finish, it has

a great future ahead. Gun

Henri Germain, Perrières, Meursault (18.5)

Jean-François Germain crafts some of the

most delicious white Burgundies, and this

is his top wine. There’s depth of fruit and

power, but it is the way all the nuances

focus back on the palate some minutes

after you take a sip that impresses. DDi

Jean-Marc Roulot, Les Tessons,

Meursault (18.5)

The attraction here is the counterpoint

between the rich, defined fruit and the

lip-licking acidity. Often the more

exuberant wines in ’07 have done well

because of their obvious, taut acid and

intriguing minerality. Tessons nails it. DDi

Jean-Paul & Benoît Droin,

Grenouilles, Chablis (18.5)

Round, rich, deep and flamboyant, this is

a classic Grenouilles and one of the finest

I’ve ever tasted. The staggeringly fresh

acidity draws the finish out to

extraordinary dimensions. DDi

Louis Carillon, Les Referts,

Puligny-Montrachet (18.5)

2007 shows the grace and depth of fruit

Jacques Carillon coaxes from his vines.

Referts is the finest: a hypnotic assault of

hazelnut and lime blossom fruit. Gdh

Thomas Morey, Les Dents de Chien,

Chassagne-Montrachet (18.5)

Thomas has taken over from father

Bernard and starts his solo career with a

top vintage. Only two barrels were made

of this complex wine, as captivating as its

neighbour Montrachet. DDi

Vincent Dauvissat, Les Clos, Chablis (18.5)

Stunning length, power and grace mark

this as one of the wines of the vintage in

Chablis. A classic wine that will develop

beautifully over 10 years or more. DDi

★★★★ 4 STARS

Colin-Morey, Caillerets,

Chassagne-Montrachet (18)

Pierre-Yves Colin makes wine with flair.

Like a fashion designer, he encourages his

creations to show well and they do, with

intense fruit and incredible length.

Caillerets is my pick, with its bold notes

and firm acid backbone. VTr

Hubert & Olivier Lamy,

Clos de la Chatenière, St-Aubin (18)

Lamy is a St-Aubin specialist and 2007 is a

classic vintage for these mineral-driven

wines. This has an exotic fruit core, yet the

trademark taut acidity shows on its long

finish. It will evolve gently for 10 years. DDi

Jean-Paul & Benoît Droin,

Montée de Tonnerre, Chablis (18)

A top line-up of wines with consistently

high scores mark this as a key domaine.

With earthy flintiness and tight-grained

oak underpinning the stellar citrus fruit,

this is a heroic, great-value wine. DDi

Patrick Javillier,

Tête de Murger, Meursault (18)

This mix of fruit from Casse-Tête and

Murgers is Javillier’s most thrilling wine.

In ’07 the acidity and mineralityaugments the bold fruit to give it great

balance. Ignore it till 2014, then you won’t

be able to keep your hands off it. C&B

Vincent Dauvissat, Vaillons, Chablis (18)

Dauvissat’s ’07 portfolio is precise and

finely crafted, and Vaillons has a little

more structure and vinosity than his

other premiers crus. Stylish, intense and

vital, this is a very impressive wine. DDi

Bruno Colin, Les Charmois, St-Aubin (17.5)

St-Aubin must be the best-value village in

2007 – the top wines have a complexity

usually only seen in Puligny and Chassagne.

Colin’s Charmois has trademark lushness

cut by superb acidity. Gns, Gun, L&W

Etienne Sauzet, Bourgogne Blanc (17.5)

The most chiselled of Bourgogne Blancs,

Gérard Boudot makes all his wines with

deftness, showing total understanding of

the vintage. Keep till 2011 and see how it

beats all but the top village Pulignys. DDi

Laurent Tribut, Côte de Léchet, Chablis (17.5)

A more forward style, showing just how

pretty and floral Chablis can be in its

youth, despite the obvious energy and

quality of the vintage. Already opening up

and looking desperately alluring. DDi

Marc Colin, En Remilly, St-Aubin (17.5)

The quality and value of Colin’s St-Aubins

is unmissable. With lower alcohol levels

and pronounced acidity, they are

exquisite, with En Remilly being the star

of the lower-priced wines. Gdh

Vincent Bouzereau, Narvaux, Meursault (17.5)

In the right hands, 2007 yielded highvalue,

high-quality wines. Domaines with

a strong viticultural bent have faired well

and Bouzereau’s stunning Narvaux is a

sensational, mightily rewarding wine. Gun

Patrick Javillier, Cuvée Oligocène,

Bourgogne Blanc (17)

Normally robust and often oaky,

Oligocène has elegance and detail for the first time.

its potential to age will prove that this is one of the

finest Bourgogne Blancs of 2007. C&B

Sarah Marsh MW's Value Whites

A&P de Villaine, Aligoté de Bouzeron

Simple, bright and breezy, light and

lively with fresh citrus fruit. C&B

Charles and Remi Jobard,

Bourgogne Blanc

Crystalline purity, citrus fresh, direct

and well defined. L&S

Christian Moreau Père et Fils,

Les Clos, Chablis

Svelte and textural with a wet stone

minerality beneath the ripe, citrus

fruit. Fine finish. HHC, Gun, ThH

Daniel Dampt, Côte De Lechet, Chablis

Glassy, smooth and lucid with a pure

citrus and mineral core. HHC

Domaine des Malandes,

Côte De Lechet, Chablis

Lively, pure, linear, mineral wine with a

whiff of gun-smoke on the finish. Haw

Domaine Drouhin, Vaudesir, Chablis

Lithe and steely with white flowers

and peach; a graceful line and a long,

chalky, citrus finish. Ben, F&R, Ply

Domaine Dujac, Morey-St-Denis

Full and broad with a polished stone

character. Richness is countered by

fresh acidity and a citrus finish. Loe

Domaine Lignier-Michelot, Axelle

Citrus aroma, lightly ample middle

palate with white stone fruit, a hint

of butter-mint and mineral finish. CDW

Henri Gouges, Bourgogne Blanc

Energetic, orange and spice. Round,

with a smooth stone minerality. Loe

Louis Michel, Vaudésir, Chablis

Elegant and shimmering, it dances

on the palate with minerality and

electric tension on the finish. DrA

Maison Alex Gambal,

Chassagne-Montrachet

Appealingly floral and spicy with

good weight and depth on the

middle palate and a fresh finish. Loe

William Fevre, Les Preuses, Chablis

Lovely depth and intensity and

mineral strength. A complex and

seriously stylish wine. Fel

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