Vosne-Romanée 2010: panel tasting results

Decanter experts give their verdict, tasting notes and drinking windows on Vosne-Romanée wines from the 2010 collection.

The summary

Reduction was the only downside to a great vintage characterised by outstanding premiers crus and a handful of village wines that came close to them in quality, says Stephen Brook…

Although there were occasional disagreements between the judges, the tasting as a whole was remarkably consistent in terms of scoring. The gap between village and premier cru wines was considerable, as one would expect. Most of the disappointing wines were in the former category, although there was also a handful of village wines that came close to premier cru in quality.

There were some good and mostly consistent scores across several appellations from certain producers, such as Hudelot-Noellat, Lamarche and Jérôme Chezeaux. Overall, the négociants did not shine, though there were occasional good wines. The main, and unexpected, exception was Louis Latour, whose Chaumes premier cru as well as the top-scoring Petits Monts showed well.

It was good to see the former Domaine Engel, now Domaine d‘Eugénie and the property of Francois Pinault of Château Latour, participating in this tasting, because the wines are rarely seen. The village wine was rather disappointing but the Brûlées was first-rate.

The panel was shocked to find two wines so severely reduced that they were not only unpleasant to sniff but almost impossible to taste. A second bottle was equally reduced. A high level of reduction can sometimes vanish with bottle age, but the panel could not be confident this would happen, so the wines were not scored. The panel was dismayed that both wines were from Domaine Leroy, one of Burgundy’s top estates, which releases its bottles at eye-watering prices. I have encountered reduction before at Leroy, such as when tasting the 2008s from cask, but that is not an uncommon problem during barrel ageing and one that is usually not difficult to rectify. To find it spoiling a young bottled wine is far more disturbing.

Despite some disappointment, the overall quality of the premiers crus was outstanding. The panel was sometimes tempted to give a wine a slight push to place it in the ‘Outstanding’ category – Anne Gros’s Les Barreaux was a case in point – but did not force the issue. Instead, we allowed a wine to bask in its effortlessly high ‘Highly Recommended’ status.

The panel was unanimous in its enthusiasm for the vintage. Perhaps 2009 may prove the greater in a couple of decades – this was certainly the view of one judge – but at present they seem to be level-pegging, although this is probably only the case at top estates.

The scores

67 wines tasted

Entry criteria: Producers and UK agents were invited to submit any of their village-level or premiers crus 2010 Vosne-Romanée (finished bottles and tank samples). Grands crus were not tasted. Wines not marked ‘1er cru’ can be assumed to be village wines.

Outstanding 4

Highly recommended 18

Recommended 40

Fair 3

Poor 0

Faulty 2

Good value 11 (1er crus: £45 and under; village wines: £35 and under)

The results

Following the exalted 2009 Burgundy vintage, no one really expected the 2010 releases to fare as well. But our panel found plenty of high-quality village wines and premiers crus, reports Mark O’Halleron…

The inclement weather was expected to make its mark on the 2010 vintage, yet our tasters found plenty to please them. But as Stephen Brook noted, it wouldn’t have been without careful attention at the sorting table. ‘The vintage is a bit of a mystery to me – most of the growing conditions seemed to be so awful, and yet it turned out so well at the end,’ he said. ‘Or should I say, it turned out well for the people who had the resources to sort a lot and get rid of any grapes that were not in perfect condition. There was no evidence of rot or grubbiness in these wines, which indicates they had been properly sorted and selected.’

As to the hallmarks of the vintage, Anthony Hanson MW explained: ‘The vintage has a balancing acidity, which gives it a welcome freshness. In 2009, the wines were splendid and rich but powerful and high in alcohol. These are more classic and may turn out to be finely balanced wines. They remind me of the 1996s, which were not made by the quality of the summer, but by the spring and the September. In 2010, flowering problems led to low yields, resulting in small berries and fruit concentration. Then the autumn weather repaired the problems of the mid-summer. This is a classic year.’

Jasper Morris MW was similarly optimistic: ‘It’s a really super vintage. It reminds me of 2002; it has the same purity, freshness, crispness and finish, and those wines have gone on to get better and better.’

The premiers crus received the highest scores, but Morris said the village-level wines should not be dismissed: ‘There’s a significant difference in price between them, so there’s a proper place for both. If I was to choose six I wanted to buy, then it would be split between the two. There were a couple of excellent, single-vineyard village wines.’ Hanson and Brook concurred, with Brook being ‘surprised’ by the quality of the village wines.

Brook said there was an ‘obvious step up in quality’ with the premier crus. ‘I really liked Beaux Monts; the wines were tight and lean,’ he said. Hanson, who similarly ‘loved’ this vineyard, also found two ‘really exciting’ wines in Malconsorts, though Suchots was graded as slightly disappointing.

‘Suchots is the biggest and it’s a hard vineyard to get one’s head around,’ explained Morris. ‘It probably doesn’t show enormously well in competitive tastings as it doesn’t have the flair, flamboyance and vibrancy of either Malconsorts, or one or two of the best hillside vineyards. I suspect that in terms of drinking at home, the Suchots might show better. They will gently, gracefully age over a long time but they’re never going to do what Malconsorts does.’

As for cellaring potential, the general verdict was that this was a medium-term vintage. ‘Fifteen to 20 years for the best,’ according to Brook, and Morris agreed: ‘I would be looking to start drinking the premier crus around 2020, and keep going for a while after that, but I wouldn’t expect to have many examples in my cellar after they’re more than 20 years old.’

Brook added: ‘This tasting underlines how much Burgundy has improved in terms of consistency; we found so few poor wines.’ And Hanson agreed: ‘Ten or 15 years ago there would have been much more variation in quality. This shows Burgundy is going through a golden age, and there is a far greater, and more regular, production of well-balanced wines, at both premier cru and village levels.’

Our tasters each pick their top 3 wines form the tasting:

Stephen Brook

Stephen Brook has been a contributing editor to Decanter since 1996. He has won a clutch of awards for his writing on wine, and is the author of more than 30 books, including Complete Bordeaux, the definitive study of the region. Brook also fully revised the last two editions of Hugh Johnson’s Wine Companion.

‘This was as satisfying a tasting of fine Burgundies from a single village as any that I can recall. With few exceptions, the quality ranged from very good to magnificent. In the past it was prudent to pay the premium for a premier cru if one wanted a Vosne of true quality, but this tasting also confirmed the high quality of many village wines, especially from local growers.

‘It also confirmed the excellence of the 2010 vintage. The difficult growing season meant tasters approached wines from this year with some scepticism when they appeared on the market at the start of 2012. Yet even then, the classicism of the vintage was impressive; today that impression has been reinforced. Until recently it was self-evident that the riper, more opulent 2009 vintage would continue to outflank the less voluptuous 2010s, but that view will need to be revisited over the next few years.

‘The tasting also confirmed the wisdom of the Burgundy hierarchy of vineyards. Not all premiers crus are considered equal, and those regarded as being among the best (and thus rivaling the lesser grands crus, such as Echezeaux) were often among the most admired wines here. Naturally, the skill and experience of the individual producer counted for a great deal, as always in Burgundy.’

Anne Gros, Les Barreaux

‘Anne Gros is fortunate enough to have some magnificent sites in Vosne, so this is a lesser star in her galaxy. But it was probably the best of a strong range of village Vosnes, with gorgeous aromas, super-ripe flavours, but plenty of vigour and acidity too.’  18/20pts (93/100pts) Drink 2013–2025

Domaine François Lamarche, Les Malconsorts 1er Cru

‘After a sluggish patch, this potentially great estate was taken over by cousins Nicole and Natalie Lamarche in 2006, and quality has soared. This was brilliant in January, and still is, with velvety textures and impeccable fruit and structure.’ 18.5 (95) Drink 2014–2040

Domaine Michel Gros, Clos des Réas 1er Cru, Monopole

‘Michel Gros has long made excellent wines from this site. The 2009 was superb and this is probably its equal.  It exudes ripe red fruits, while the palate has succulence, harmony and length. Should age well.’ 18 (93) Drink 2014–2030

Anthony Hanson MW

Anthony Hanson has worked in wine since he was 19. He became a Master of Wine in 1976, founded UK importer Haynes Hanson & Clark in 1978 and wrote the book Burgundy in 1982. He joined auction house Christie’s in 2000 and is instrumental in organising the Hospices de Beaune auction, the world’s oldest charity wine sale.

‘My high expectations were not dented by this fine array. Many 2010 red Burgundies have classic proportions, combining luscious fruit with fine acidity and tannins. This is explained by the extended flowering in the vineyards, which produced many small Pinot berries with thick skins (while reducing the size of the crop). Fine weather in June, July and the crucial vintage period resulted in fresh, well-ripened grapes being picked. Careful sorting allowed only the best grapes and bunches to go into the vats.

‘Among village Vosne-Romanées, there were many well-balanced, early drinking examples, then a noticeable increase in quality, richness and concentration was seen from some named vineyards at this basic appellation level. We then tasted 29 different premiers crus, from eight sites. There were several examples from both Malconsorts and Beaumonts which generally showed well – more consistently than the range of Suchots. Among smaller plots, Les Brûlées, La Croix Rameau, Petits Monts and Chaume each fielded at least one splendid example.

‘The 2010 wines are less opulent than their more famous immediate predecessor, but they have greater freshness and reflect considerable variety from site to site.’

Anne Gros, Les Barreaux

‘Grapes from this site need a fine autumn to ripen fully, as the hillside curls towards the north. This has beautiful, purple-garnet colour, shows black and red fruit character on the nose, then substantial fruit density, with lovely, fresh length.’ 18 (93) Drink 2013–2025

Domaine François Lamarche, Les Suchots 1er Cru

‘The domaine has two Suchots plots, one well-placed and one in the depression, where the land dips. The grapes are assembled here, giving a stand-out Suchots cuvée. Balanced, fruity, soft and long. 18 (93) Drink 2013–2030

Domaine Jacques Cacheuxnet Fils,  La Croix Rameau 1er Cru

‘This comes from a rarely seen, tiny vineyard which lies between the village and grand cru Romanée-St-Vivant. Deep in colour, fragrantly spicy, richly structured, it has intense fruit and a succulent, fresh aftertaste. 18.5 (95) Drink 2013–2035

Jasper Morris MW

Jasper Morris MW ran importer Morris & Verdin until 2003 when it was bought by Berry Bros & Rudd, where he still works as Burgundy buyer. In 2010 he published Inside Burgundy, a lifetime’s study of the vineyards and vignerons of the region, which won the André Simon award for best wine book of the year.

‘Amazingly, given the miserable weather conditions of the summer, 2010 has turned into a lovely vintage. The wines were relatively easy to taste, without high alcohol or any specific aggressive vintage character impinging on the quality of the wines.

‘Vosne-Romanée is reputed to make no common wines, and certainly in judging the wines here I was looking for a sense of nobility rather than just an agreeable glass of Pinot Noir. There were no corked wines, and apart from one or two that were unacceptably reduced, no obvious winemaking faults. The main point of variation was in the level of ripeness of the grapes: happily there were few over-ripe examples and Pinot Noir has a habit of forgiving under-ripeness as the wines age.

‘The village wines did a thoroughly decent job, though it was not until we reached the single-vineyard versions that a real sense of excitement developed. They, in turn, were eclipsed by the premier cru wines, where the vintage maintained its reputation for being an excellent medium for interpreting the different terroirs, be it the purity of Beaux Monts, the flamboyance of Malconsorts or the under-the-radar subtlety of Suchots.’

Anne Gros, Les Barreaux

‘This stood head and shoulders above all others in the village section – and had there been no premiers crus it would surely have been rated Outstanding. The style of the bouquet is quintessentially Vosne-Romanée, touching on the ethereal, and the fruit on the palate presented itself in seamless fashion. Beautifully done.’ 18.5 (95) Drink 2013–2025

Louis Latour, Les Petits Monts 1er Cru

‘Congratulations to Louis Latour for this beautiful wine, just a notch ahead of its other premier cru, Les Chaumes. Does this mark an evolution in style? Certainly the Petits Monts had a thrilling purity and elegance to it.’ 18.75 (95+) Drink 2013–2035

Domaine Jacques Cacheuxnet Fils, La Croix Rameau 1er Cru

‘Few people have come across this tiny premier cru, an enclave within Romanée-St-Vivant, but they might want to know about this wine, which is not far short of grand cru quality itself. Not only is it an immensely attractive wine, but it has a touch of nobility to it as well.’ 18.5 (95) Drink 2013–2035

About Vosne-Romanée

Some individual vine yards in Burgundy, such as Le Musigny and Clos de Bèze, can match those of Vosne-Romanée for excellence and renown, but no other village can lay claim to such a roster of fabulous sites as Vosne. There are the magnificent monopoly grands crus – Romanée-Conti, La Tâche, La Romanée – and other grands crus, such as Romanée-St-Vivant and Richebourg, that scarcely lag behind in quality, but also a handful of premiers crus that often rival the top growths in splendour.

So many great sites come at a cost – the top wines of Vosne, whatever their official status, are invariably expensive. Owned by some of the most perfect estates in Burgundy – Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Sylvain Cathiard, the Gros family, Méo-Camuzet, Liger-Belair and many others – their wines rarely fail to deliver, not just in exquisite fruit and beguiling complexity, but in longevity too. We have every reason to expect the highest quality from these wines. In a fine year, Vosne is as good as it gets.

The 2010 vintage was certainly fine, if not perhaps on the same exalted level as 2005 or 2009, although bottle age often yields surprises. The early summer was warm, even hot at times, but damp spells led to mildew and rot. A wet August slowed the ripening. September was warmer but stormy. Vineyards with lower yields and thus thicker skins resisted the rot reasonably well, but after the harvest began, sorting proved essential. Overall, between one-third and half of the crop was rejected. What remained was healthy and ripe, and growers reported wines that were fresher and showed more purity than in 2009.

Terroir expression was stronger than in 2009, with its hotter and more uniform conditions, and some winemakers, such as Philippe Prost of Bouchard Père et Fils, preferred the classicism of 2010 to the opulence of 2009. But that was probably a minority view.

Outstanding wine

The southern part of Vosne borders Nuits-St-Georges, while the northern vineyards are adjacent to those of Chambolle-Musigny; Vougeot lies tucked into the north-east corner of the village. Aux Malconsorts is the most important premier cru close to Nuits-St-Georges, yet it can still show amazing finesse; Cros Parantoux and Les Petits Monts lie just above Richebourg, while Beaux Monts, Brulées and Suchots are closer to the centre of the village. The elevation of Beaux Monts generally results in perfumed wines that appear lighter than some other top premiers, but which age well nonetheless. All these sites are capable of producing truly outstanding wine. Potential candidates for promotion to grand cru – but don’t hold your breath – would include Malconsorts, Suchots and Cros Parantoux. Clearly the skill of the winemakers plays an important role, too.

What should one expect from a fine Vosne-Romanée? For a start, density of flavour, obtained from moderate yields of relatively old vines. But also a profound elegance – not in the more ‘feminine’ sense of many a Volnay or Chambolle, but allied to intensity and length of flavour, as well as a robustness that never descends into coarseness.

Vosne-Romanée: the facts

Area under vine 232 hectares

Area under grand cru 75ha

Area under premier cru 57ha

Number of premiers crus 14

Vosne-Romanée: Know your vintages

2011 A wet summer reduced yields and led to some rot, yet the wines seem elegant and silky, with moderate alcohols.

2010 Wet spells and disease tested the skills of growers and winemakers. The best wines have purity and finesse, but selection is essential.

2009 Optimal growing conditions, so no excuse for poor wines. Low acidity may give faster developing wines than 2005, to which 2009 is often compared.

2008 After an awful summer, growers were beginning to despair. But a north wind from mid-September dried the grapes and increased concentration. Some superb wines, but patchy. Fresh wines with quite high acidity.

2007 A cold, wet summer dashed hopes, but the wines have charm and will drink well over the next few years.

2006 Hot and dry in July, cold in August; demanded scrupulous vineyard work and sorting to eliminate rot. Less concentrated than 2005, but wines of charm and moderate structure. Lowish acidity, so medium-term wines.

2005 A hot, dry summer, with just enough rain at the right moment. Thick-skinned grapes produced wines  of density and structure, built to last.






Anne Gros, Les Barreaux

See Decanter experts' rating, tasting notes and drinking window for Anne Gros.


Les Malconsorts 1er Cru

See Decanter experts' rating, tasting notes and drinking window for Les Malconsorts.


Louis Latour, Les Chaumes 1er Cru

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Jérôme Chezeaux

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Vincent Ravaut

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Domaine Jean Féry & Fils, Aux Réas

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Thibault Ligier-Belair, Aux Réas

See Decanter experts' rating, tasting notes and drinking window for Thibault Ligier-Belair.