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Burgundy 2009 – 11/1/11 tastings

The day's top wines live from the Burgundy 2009 en primeur tastings in London


By Rosemary George MW

In an ideal world all the owners of grands crus Chablis would belong to the Union des Grands Crus (writes Rosemary George MW), but it’s not an ideal world, and some of the key owners of the grands crus adopt the same attitude as Groucho Marx about joining a club. Consequently, the annual tasting provides a brilliant benchmark for the quality of the vintage, but it is by no means fully comprehensive. Most people seem very happy with 2009, but it does lack acidity compared to 2008. The most instructive conversation I had was with Didier Séguier, the talented winemaker at Domaine William Fèvre. There had been a bit of millerandage in 2009, thanks to cool weather at flowering, so yields were lower than average, and the harvest was relatively early following a warm summer. It was a question of picking early to retain acidity, and the grapes were very healthy and unaffected by rot or rain. A couple of summer storms had provided water at the right moment. Didier makes beautifully crafted wines as exemplified his 2009 Les Preuses, one of my top five wines of the day…

Domaine Laroche, Les Clos, Chablis Grand Cru 2009
Les Clos is always the most structured and powerful of the grands crus, but this particular wine was also elegant, with refreshing fruit and acidity, while retaining a firm structured backbone. The winemaker, Denis de la Bourdonnaye, explained how he has reduced the amount of oak ageing for his grands crus, and the benefit was there to be tasted in the glass, with some refined elegance. Drink 2014-18. (18 points)
POA Liberty Wines, London SW8 (020 7720 5350)

Domaine William Fèvre, Les Preuses, Chablis Grand Cru 2009
Light colour; quite a delicate nose, and lovely ethereal quality to the wine. Very elegant, with minerality and acidity and a refreshing elegance, with a long delicate finish. The wine has just been bottled and needs time to develop in bottle. Winemaker Didier Séguier suggests the 2009s will be drinking well in 3-5 years since they have softer acidity than 2008. Certainly, this Preuses seemed very accessible already. Drink 2014-16 (before the 2008s…). (18 points)
£450/case (in bond) John Armit Wines, London W11 (020 7908 0655), John E Fells, Herts (01442 870 900)

Gérard Tremblay, Vaudésir, Chablis Grand Cru 2009
Vincent Tremblay, Gerard’s son, is now in charge of the family vineyards in Poinchy since his father has supposedly retired. The Vaudésir spends time in both barrel and vat, and has some lovely nutty fruit, and on the palate there is firm acidity with some nicely balanced flavours, with minerality and weight to develop further in the bottle. Drink 2014-18. (17 points)
POA Les Caves de Pyrene, Guildford (01483 538 820), Enotria Winecellars, London NW10 (020 8961 4411)

Domaine Long-Depaquit, Moutonne, Chablis Grand Cru 2009
Mathieu Mangenot’s winemaking gets better and better with every vintage. For my taste buds, he used to favour a bit too much lees stirring, but with the 2009 vintage – since it is quite a ripe vintage – he has held back, and it shows in the glass. The Moutonne was beautifully balanced, ripe and rounded, with good acidity, concentration and the weight you would expect from a grand cru, but not too heavy, just beautifully harmonious – and with plenty of ageing potential. Drink 2014-16. (18 points)

Domaine Jean Collet & Fils, Valmur, Chablis Grand Cru 2009
This is an old family estate, with just 50 ares of one grand cru, Valmur, yielding about 3000 bottles per year. The wine is fermented and aged in oak and it tastes quite solid, rounded and structured, with some firm mineral fruit and considerable weight and texture. Like most of the grands crus, it is still in vat and will not be bottled until the spring. Solid and textured with a great deal of ageing potential. Drink 2016-18. (17 points)
n/a UK www.domaine-collet.fr

Côte d’Or

By Stephen Brook

Another four tastings today, with many excellent, if few stellar wines.The whites seem paradoxical to me. My view is that this is not a great vintage for white Burgundy, but I fully acknowledge that many of the wines will give great pleasure. They are certainly ripe, and therein lies the problem. Many are too ripe, and lack acidity. They are lush and juicy and packed with fruit, and many consumers will not mind that they lack the mineral edge that singles out great Burgundy as a supreme expression of Chardonnay. I like my Burgundies to taste like Burgundy, and the raciness and zest that made the 2007 and 2008 whites so irresistible are in short supply in 2009. There are some superb whites that are classic white Burgundy, but they seem in the minority. And some growers who are normally reliable have come up with a set of feeble, slack, and rather dull wines. In short, white 2009s must be selected with care. If you favour primary fruit rather than minerality, then there is many a Bourgogne Blanc or Village wine at sensible prices that will meet expectations.

Château de Puligny-Montrachet, la Garenne, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru 2009
(white) Firm apricot and apple nose, quite oaky. Broad and weighty without being heavy-handed; concentrated, with lots of extract and a nutty finish, showing a welcome austerity that’s rare in 2009. Long. Drink 2014-2022. (18 points)£444/case Berry Bros & Rudd, London SW1 (0870 900 4300)

Domaine Jean Chartron, Clos du Cailleret, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru 2009
(white) Muted nose, oaky and stony. Full-bodied, creamy, and concentrated, with fine acidity that contributes to a very long, racy, and mineral finish. Drink 2014-2022. (18 points)
£600/case (in bond) Bibendum, London NW1 (020 7449 4120) 

Bouchard Père & Fils, Grand Cru, Corton-Charlemagne 2009
(white) Lush nose, with aromas of lime and green peas. Creamy and voluptuous, showing fine depth of fruit and a subtle underlying minerality; the palate combines fleshiness with stony extract and good length. Drink 2014-2022. (17.5. points)
£375/case of 6 bottles; £790/case (all prices in bond) John Armit Wines, London W11 (020 7908 0655), Clarion Wines (020 8747 2069)

Thibault Liger-Belair, les Saint-Georges, Nuits-Saints-Georges 1er Cru 2009
Firm oaky nose, cherry aromas. Fine attack that’s fresh, concentrated, and lively, with fine acidity to balance the firm tannins. It’s robust but not extracted, and has a discreet power (yet the 14.8% alcohol is barely detectable). Drink 2015-2028. (18 points)
£594/case (in bond) Berry Bros & Rudd, London SW1 (0870 900 4300)

Domaine des Perdrix, Aux Perdrix, Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru 2009
Splendid rich nose, cherry fruit, both oaky and floral. Full-bodied and concentrated, with fine acidity and marked spiciness, and intense fruit sweetness on the long finish. Drink 2014-2022. (18 points)
£415/case (duty paid ex VAT) Charles Taylor Wines, London (020 7821 1772)

Bouchard Père & Fils, Clos des Chênes, Volnay 1er Cru 2009
Ripe intense red-fruits nose, showing purity and finesse. Supple, juicy, concentrated, and dense, this is structured but has delicious fruit and limpid texture. Fine length. Drink 2014-2022. (17.5 points)
£366/case (in bond) Clarion Wines (020 8747 2069)

Côte Chalonnaise & Mâconnais

By Margaret Rand

The hunt for Mâconnais and Chalonnais goes on. Berry Bros & Rudd seemed a good place to start today. I was on to a winner here: they have Mâcon and variants from Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon, Olivier Merlin and Bret Brothers. Dominique Lafon reckons that 2009 ‘is the best year since I started in the Mâconnais’, with more elegance than 2008. ‘In 2008 there is weight and acidity; it’s more aggressive.’ He also thinks that 2009 is generally better for whites than for reds, which is just about the opposite of the usual assessment. The BBR wines in general put up a good argument for the quality of the 2009s, though I’m still not convinced they’re entirely worthy of the hype. Justerini & Brooks’ St James office has a big window display about burgundy announcing ‘More great 2009s’, or words to that effect: Bordeaux is setting the agenda for these wines, and I don’t suppose the Burgundians mind in the least. Anyway, on to the second tasting of the day, at Clarion, who had the journey from hell trying to bring the samples over from France. Their hired car broke down in France, and then on the way back they were nearly killed on the M20. After the day’s tasting, a dinner given by Long Depaquit (Chablis) at Hakkasan Mayfair, where the food was utterly utterly delicious, and where the lighting was so low that perhaps nobody could see that my teeth were Pommard-coloured.

Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon, Clos du Four, Mâcon-Milly-Lamartine 2009
(white) Milly Lamartine always sounds like a French night-club singer, and this wine is indeed vivid and opulent. It has ripe quince fruit, notes of smoke and cream and a big, powerful finish. Drink 2011-8. (17 points)
£156/case (in bond) Berry Bros & Rudd, London SW1 (0870 900 4300)

Dominique Lafon, Saint-Véran 2009
(white) A generously spicy and oaky wine, very seductive and enveloping. Excellent balance, too. Drink 2011-7. (16.5 points)
£138/case (in bond) Berry Bros & Rudd, London SW1 (0870 900 4300)

Olivier Merlin, Clos des Quarts, Pouilly-Fuissé 2009
(white) A very modern, lush, sumptuous wine with a tight core. Drink 2011-8. (16.5 points) £186/case (in bond) Berry Bros & Rudd, London SW1 (0870 900 4300)

Bret Brothers, En Carementrant, Pouilly-Fuissé 2009
(white) A lovely balance of elegance and lushness, with peach and quince fruit and a mineral streak, very enjoyable. A big finish. Drink 2011-8. (16.5 points)
£189/case (in bond) Berry Bros & Rudd, London SW1 (0870 900 4300)

Jean Rijckaert, La Roche, Vieilles Vignes, Pouilly-Fuissé 2009
(white) Creamy, nutty wine, sleek and rich with puppy-fat over a fine bone structure. Drink 2011-7. (16 points)
£168/case (in bond) Clarion Wines (020 8747 2069)

Written by Rosemary George MW, Stephen Brook & Margaret Rand

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