January saw me visiting the New Club in Edinburgh to taste Burgundy at the invitation of one of the world's most famous merchants. Now, six months later, I'm sharing my notes. Why did it take me so long? I'm not entirely sure. I could claim that I wanted to avoid the tedious hype that surrounds En Primeur, but that would be fibbing. I'll chalk it up to laziness, I suppose.
The tasting itself was straight-forward. There was no deep mulling on my part regarding the vintage: it's very good when it's good and very disappointing when it isn't. The whites are not, on the whole, for keeping.
My note format is a bit different here. I grade on a 3 point scale rather than 5. This is a system I use when tasting in an official 'buyer' capacity, and can be fairly flexible. Plenty of perfectly reasonable wines get no score just because I don't think they fit whatever list I may be buying for - in this situation it was for a merchant with an extensive Burgundy range in need of refresh. I also had a few private clients in mind. The stars represent how strongly I feel we should buy something, with one star being the 'it would be nice', three stars being 'we have to buy this' and two stars sitting somewhere in the middle. Three stars tend to be wines I'll fight for, and they are not necessarily the most expensive.
Table 1: Les Heritiers de Comtes Lafon
Bright and juicy on the nose
The palate is a touch tropical, but avoids flabbiness. Great value.
Macon-Chardonnay, Clos de la Crochette
Bit more candied fruit on the nose, with a hint of anise.
Fatter in the mouth, though still kept in line by the acidity. That anise note comes through as well.
Sweeter on the nose than the other two, almost honeyed.
The palate comes in waves of lemon drops and honey with great mouthfeel and texture.
• A really impressive range that delivers Cote d'Or quality and yet remains true to the Macon.
Table 2: Bachelet Monnot
Santenay Blanc **
Butter and spearmint nose. Quite fresh.
Continues to the palate with fresh mint minerality wrapped in soft butter.
Puligny-Montrachet, Les Referts 1er Cru Les Referts *
Quite a fat nose of boiled sweets and cardamon.
Still lively, with a bit of bottle-shock perhaps? Nice finish though.
Puligny-Montrachet, Les Folatières 1er Cru ***
Candied with a mix of eastern spices.
Far more developed structure - gripping but balanced acidity that puts all that rich pineapple and citrus fruit in the right place. Makes the Referts look flabby.
Santenay, Les Charmes *
Powdered sugar and rhubarb with strawberries on the nose.
Really lovely mouthfeel - textured like strawberry pips.
Maranges, La Fussiere 1er Cru **
Dark, intense cranberries on the nose.
Great texture and depth, wrapping up that dark cranberry fruit rather beautifully.
• These were a happy surprise. I don't think any of these would be out of place on our list. That's not saying we should buy the range, but that maybe a red or a white here and there would be good.
Table 3: Jean Noel Gagnard
Chassagne-Montrachet, Les Chenevottes 1er Cru
Flinty nose with edges of pineapple.
Fleshy fruit texture of quince, orange and pineapple. The flint from the nose never appears.
Chassagne-Montrachet, Morgeot 1er Cru
Richer on the nose - white fruit and butter.
Disjointed on the palate with an aggressive, coarse finish. Not ready to write it off as it could just be a bad bottle.
Chassagne-Montrachet, Les Caillerets 1er Cru
More harmony on the nose - balanced pineapple
The palate is bright and fleshy but no flabbiness - the acidity keeps it in line.
Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru **
Very tight nose - piercing lemon and pineapple fruit.
Already signs of good integration. Waves of citrus and rich, fleshy, textured secondaries cascade one after the other. Really fine, but it should be.
Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge 'L'Estimee' *
Nose is floral, but a touch confected.
Quite exotic on the palate. More-ish. Better than Clavillon? More approachable, but not as structured.
Santenay Clos de Tavannes 1er Cru *
Quite simple, though pure, red fruit on the nose.
Good, classic, juicy, crunchy cranberries, raspberries and strawberries on the palate. Nice, fruit-forward stuff.
• As a range, it's solid, but not overwhelming. The Batard was lovely.
Table 4: Vincent Dancer
Bourgogne Blanc 2009
Fresh nose with toast and oyster shells.
Clean and crisp with mint, flint and green apples.
Bit dumb on the nose. Perhaps a touch of cheese?
Surprisingly light & simple. Unimpressed.
Chassagne-Montrachet Tête du Clos 1er Cru
The nose and palate seem tainted by off ewe's milk. Poor.
Meursault Les Perrières 1er Cru
Better, but not great. Lemon and rocks. Little definition.
Big nose, confected edges
Too light on fruit and heavy on tannin. Very disjointed.
Pommard Pezerolles 1er Cru
Agressive, stalky palate.
• Considering how universally awful the rest of the wines were, I'd like to retaste the basic Chardonnay, just to make sure it's not shit.
Table 5: Martelet de Cherisey
Puligny-Montrachet Hameau de Blagny 1er Cru
Seems to have refermented. Smells and tastes of scrumpy.
Puligny-Montrachet Chalumeaux 1er Cru
Less like scrumpy, but still very much apple-y.
The palate is nicely textured. Seems a touch expensive.
Meursault-Blagny La Genelotte 1er Cru *
More apples, but not fermenting. A touch of spice as well.
Nicely rounded on the palate and quite rich. Are their holdings all near apple orchards?
Blagny Rouge La Genelotte 1er Cru **
Red apple skins on the nose with loads of eastern spices.
Savoury, textured and backwards. Promising stuff.
• They're expensive and taste of apples. That makes no sense to me. The red was really good though.
Table 6: Follin Arbelet
Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
Quite light on the nose, surprisingly.
Candied palate. Not showing well at all. All glycerol and boiled sweets. Shame.
Red apple and cranberries on the nose.
Crisp and crunchy palate of red apple skins and ripe cranberries and red currants.
Aloxe-Corton Clos de Chapitre 1er Cru
Bit dumber on the nose - similar but perhaps a touch more floral.
Backwards but compelling red fruit and crushed rose petal.
Corton Bressandes Grand Cru **
Punchy soured cherry jumps into the mix now, riding the crest of bright red berry fruit on the nose.
Morello cherries, chantilly cream, cranberries all knitting together nicely and showing great length.
Romanée St Vivant **
Craisins (yes, I just used Craisin on a tasting note. Awaiting cease & desist order from Ocean Spray) with bright cherries.
Ripe, rich, sweet red fruit with flower petals and a solid, dark backbone.
• Very disappointed in the Corton Charlemagne, but the reds were strong. The village Aloxe Corton could very well fill a gap.
Table 7: Robert Chevillon
Bourgogne Rouge ***
A touch backwards and farmyardy on the nose.
Lovely, rounded, generous but not flabby palate. Soft and delicious.
Nuits St-Georges Vieilles Vignes **
Fantastic nose. Bright and perfumed.
Gorgeous palate of floral red fruit - feminine red Burgundy and damn fine at that.
Nuits St-Georges Les Bousselots 1er Cru ***
The bright red trio: cherries, cranberries & strawberries in boisterous abundance. Perfumed edges.
The palate is compelling; peppermint tea wrapped around those berries from the nose with a great, dark backbone.
• We should buy all of these. The most impressive range of the bunch.
Table 8: Bruno Clair
Marsannay Blanc **
Nose is bright, pithy lemon.
Great, zingy acidity with lemon and lime rind texture. Gripping, zingy and impressive.
Marsannay Rouge Les Longeroies
Fleshy & forward. Lacking structure. Disappointing. Any chance of Vaudenelles?
Light, floral nose.
Soft and pleasant on the palate, with crushed red berries and a gentle finish.
Slight hints of mint and cedar on the nose.
Comes through on the palate - good integration with the fruit and nice length.
Gevrey-Chambertin Petite Chapelle 1er Cru
Good nose with soft fruit - simple but suggesting more to come.
Ripe strawberries with powdered sugar (is this an aspect of the vintage?) and great, vibrant acidity.
Gevrey-Chambertin Cazetiers 1er Cru ***
Very deep on the nose - dark and foreboding. Exciting in that.
Fruit a touch light at the moment, but there's an underlying power there. This will grow into greatness as there's a brightness and promise of things to come. Hard to explain, but this will be legendary stuff.
• Some great wines - I feel the Santenay Blanc is well worth buying in quantity, and the Cazetiers is far and away worth the premium.