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Burgundy 2009 – 13/1/11 tastings

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

Côte d’Or

By Stephen Brook

Three more tastings, but you can tell the wine critics are getting punch drunk on all those Burgundies. I spent five happily wasted minutes looking at Anthony Rose’s cat pin-ups on his laptop in the middle of the Lay & Wheeler tasting. Now back to the wines. The whites continue to send a mixed message, but the reds are an almost total success. There were fears that late-picked wines in this very ripe year could result in jamminess and excessive alcohol, and while there are a handful of such wines, they are scarce. Guillaume d’Angerville of Volnay reflected that the only potential pitfall in 2009 was picking too late, but even habitual late-pickers, such as Chantal Remy, made balanced wines. Tannin management seems more of a problem. The lushness of many of these wines disguises their high tannin content, and there are signs of over-extraction at some estates. But this too is not an issue to worry about. The great majority of wines are rich and full-bodied and well structured. As with the whites, their sheer ripeness makes the distinctiveness of each cru not very apparent at this stage, but that will emerge in time. There are inevitable differences in style, with some growers opting for purity of fruit and finesse, others letting rip with power, opulence, and tannins. Both styles can be highly successful. The whites need to be selected with care, but the reds can be bought with confidence. Two or three estates turned in lightweight sets of wines, but the overwhelming majority delivered the goods. Buy with assurance, if the prices are not too daunting, and drink in the medium term, and, for the top wines, over the long haul.

Etienne Sauzet, Les Champs Canet, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru 2009
(white) Sumptuous nose, quite oaky, lush without being overblown, with ripe citrus and apricot aromas. Juicy and full-bodied, but there’s an underlying acidic tang supporting fruit is that is admirably ripe without being flabby. Excellent length. Drink 2014-2022. (18 points)
£545-625/case (in bond) John Armit Wines, London W11 (020 7908 0655), OW Loeb & Co, London SE1 (020 7234 0385), Justerini & Brooks, London SW1 (020 7484 6400)

Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard, Grand Cru, Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet 2009
(white) Ripe, grassy, floral nose, with great charm. Quite rich and concentrated, but overall this is a discreet rather than flashy style, with admirable poise and persistence. Drink 2014-2022. (17.5 points)
£435/case of 6 bottles; 876-890/case (all prices in bond) John Armit Wines, London W11 (020 7908 0655), OW Loeb & Co, London SE1 (020 7234 0385), Howard Ripley (020 8877 3065)

Domaine des Varoilles, La Romanée, Monopole, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru 2009
Why isn’t this domaine better known? I’ve admired their wines for years, and the 2009s are glorious. This monopole premier cru has a voluptuous nose, gorgeously fruity, and with a kiss of oak and cloves. The palate is equally sumptuous and seductive, with a velvety texture as well as evident tannic structure. Drink 2013-2022. (18 points)
£430/case (in bond) Corney & Barrow, London (0207 265 2430)

Domaine Trapet, Grand Cru, Latricières-Chambertin 2009
An exercise in finesse, with sweet pure raspberry aromas, and a palate that is only medium-bodied, but silky and concentrated and tight. The acidity is perfectly judged, and the finish long and fresh. Delightful. Drink 2013-2022. (18 points)
£895/case (in bond) Corney & Barrow, London (0207 265 2430)

Domaine Simon Bize, Les Vergelesses, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru 2009
I’m not always a fan of Bize’s wines, but this is a resplendent Savigny. The nose shows opulent cherry fruit, while the palate is rich and concentrated, with firm tannins. It’s a robust style but not rustic. It has ample personality and vigour, and exhibits force and drive rather than elegance. Drink 2014-2022. (17.5 points)
£295-315/case (in bond) John Armit Wines, London W11 (020 7908 0655), OW Loeb & Co, London SE1 (020 7234 0385)


By Rosemary George MW

It was a fairly light Chablis day today, just four wines from Vincent Dampt, courtesy of Corney & Barrow. This is a family estate, with several premiers crus, including Vaillons, les Lys, which is part of Vaillons, and nearby Côte de Léchet. And there was also their second harvest of a grand cru, Bougros, from just four rows of bought grapes. The premiers crus are aged in vat only, whereas the grand cru spent some time in old oak barrels, second-hand ones from the Côte d’Or. I liked the Côte de Léchet premier cru best.

Domaine Vincent Dampt, Côte de Lechet, Chablis 1er Cru 2009
This has the richness of the vintage, with quite a ripe nutty nose that almost makes you think the wine has been in oak when it most certainly has not. That is one of the intriguing characteristics of Chablis, its chameleon character that keeps you guessing. The palate is rounded and textured, with layers of flavour and a long finish. Drink 2013/4-16. (17.5 points)
£170/case (in bond) Corney & Barrow (0207 265 2430)

Côte Chalonnaise & Mâconnais

By Margaret Rand

Another fairly fruitless day on the Mâconnais and Chalonnais front, but some good reds at Corney & Barrow and Lay & Wheeler. Good but seldom compelling: the majority are pretty, charming, seductive, but not great. Some are quite lightweight: it was a large vintage, as Bruno Pepin of Louis Latour pointed out. Some growers, said Etienne Grivot of Domaine Jean Grivot, ‘confused over-maturity with density’: the result could be wines with 14%-plus alcohol. Not chez Grivot, however: ‘I want precision, minerality, feminity and about 13% alcohol’. (He clearly doesn’t subscribe to the view of my old friend Nick Faith that ‘feminine’ equals hard, mean and ungrateful.) But whence the hype? Bruno pins it on the fourth estate, which seems to be ascribing rather too much power to us. But I can quite see how these things build up: somebody blogs about being in Burgundy while the grapes are being picked, and M. Dupont says he’s never seen such marvellous grapes; somebody else tweets from a cellar that they’ve just tasted a fabulous barrel sample; and you can hardly expect the producers to say, hang on. They have produced some delightful, and highly saleable, wines: all credit to them. Is it like the case of the 2003 vintage in Bordeaux, of which Jean-Michel Cazes said that ‘we never knew it was a great vintage until such-and-such a journalist in the US told us so’? I don’t think so; and anyway, as the Queen was saying to me only the other day, I must stop dropping names.

Domaine A et P de Villaine, Bouzeron, 2009
(white) Hay and sour cream fruit, chalky and ripe; a detailed wine with pretty fruit. Drink 2011-6. (16 points)
£125/case (in bond) Corney & Barrow, London (0207 265 2430)

Domaine A et P de Villaine, Les Saint-Jacques, Rully 2009
(white) Sour milk and minerality: a structured, precise wine with a big finish. Drink 2011-7. (16.5 ponts)
£165.case (in bond) Corney & Barrow, London (0207 265 2430)

Domaine A et P de Villaine, Les Montots, Mercurey 2009
A red with fine, detailed fruit, nice balance, tight with a big finish, powerful and expansive. Drink 2011-8. (16.5 points)
£180/case (in bond) Corney & Barrow, London (0207 265 2430)

Written by Stephen Brook, Rosemary George MW & Margaret Rand

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