Friday saw another early start, leaving Saint-Gengoux at 8.30, for a 10 o'clock appointment at Domaine Francois Lamarche in Vosne-Romanée. They had no wines to sell, here (and every wine we tasted was a tank sample) so presumably everything is snapped-up very quickly on release. As a result, I have no idea of prices - though I suspect they are pretty pricey. That said, there was a very clear distinction between the "lower end" wines and the top wines, with quality rising steadily through the tasting - definitely the mark of excellent terroir and a very good winemaker.
The Lamarche residence
Simple cherry aromas and flavours, with high acidity. Fresh, firm, cherry kernel flavours. Decent, but not loveable. Long, though.
Vosne-Romanée Villages 2009
A lick of oak and a touch of spice. Pepper and licorice, cherries and a touch of oak tannin. Soft fruit flavours, but with a firm underlying structure.
Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Cras 2009
More woody, with polished/older oak aromas. Leafy, almost stalky, with high acidity, hefty tannins and somewhat sour fruit. Not an easy wine to taste.
Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Chaumes 2009
Elegant nose of Asian spices, subtle oak and a hint of chocolate. Softer, more balanced and very enjoyable. A winner.
Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots 2009
Quite muted on the nose - not a lot going on. The palate is a different matter - lovely and soft and full of spicy fruit flavours. Supple tannins, gentle acidity, quite rich, but elegant too. Not a lot of oak influence, but none the worse for it. Long and lovely.
Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Malconsorts 2009
Again, the nose is muted (too cold?) but showing notes of spices, chocolate and older oak. The palate is generous and expansive, with dark cherry flavours, good acidity and some hefty tannins. There's plenty of sweet fruit lurking underneath, but this really needs a good few years to evolve.
Échezaux Grand Cru 2009
Generously oaked (85% new oak) but well done - plenty of fruit and spice showing through on the nose. The palate has soft, sweet, almost pastilley fruit flavours, well balanced, although the tannins linger on the finish. Needs 10 years, after which I think it will be supremely elegant.
Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2009
Bitter cherry kernel nose. This is a big wine in every way - rich and fruity, but again very tannic. Needs 10 years or more.
Grands Échezaux Grand Cru 2009
A wonderfully elegant nose - very "winey", integrated and not oaky at all. Perfumed, with notes of flowers and cloves. The palate is expansive, dense, tannic, perhaps even a bit stalky, but very ripe and opulent. Should turn out to be rather special.
La Grand Rue Grand Cru 2009
Cloves and mixed spices on the nose. Enormously complex, with older wood notes and a touch of cocoa. The tannins are present, but very fine, silky even. This sees 90% new oak, but you wouldn't know it, because it's all about the fruit. Very long and very elegant - in fact, a very fine wine indeed.
High-tech temperature control and stainless steel in the cellar at Domaine Lamarche
The 1.65 hectare monopole vineyard La Grand Rue
Then it was off to the café in Morey-Saint-Denisfor a luch of bières pression and a delicious omelette aux champignons. The service was painfully slow, but it was a scorcher of a day, so were were happy to sit outside and watch the world go by.
This is what happens when you sit too close to the road - but Peter Bamford sees the funny side
(lunch in Morey-Saint-Denis)
Just another Vosne-Romanée winemaker's residence!
After lunch, we headed for our next appointment at Domaine Michel Gros in Vosne. It was nice to be able to actually buy a few bottles of wine for once, instead of just tasting them. Then again, if this had been the case at every domaine we visited, my wallet would have taken a real battering! Conversely, there were no barrel or tank samples here - everything we tasted was from bottle.
The immaculate cellars at Domaine Michel Gros
Bourgogne Haut Cotes de Nuits 2008 - 9.80 Euros
A lovely bright colour, with aromas of pepper, tar and bramble fruits. Fairly light-bodied, but with excellent structure. Nice to drink now, but will evolve for a few years yet. Great value at 9.80 Euros. I bought 4 bottles.
Vosne-Romanée 2007 - 23.20 Euros
Tar and bramble on the nose again. Richer, but less elegant than the HCdN. A bit rustic.
Nuits-Saint-Georges 2007 - 22 Euros
Lighter-bodied, and all the better for it. Aromas and flavours of cherry and raspberry, with high acidity and soft but present tannins. A lovely, pure-fruited wine, with excellent potential. At 22 Euros, this wasn't cheap for a mere village wine, but I was impressed enough to buy a couple.
Nuits-Saint-George Les Chaliots 2007 - 22 Euros
Tar, bramble and cherry kernel. Bitter cherry kernel on the palate, with some earthiness and minerality, but very short on real fruit. I can't see where this one is going.
Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Clos de Réas 2004 - 41.50 Euros
My goodness this is strong and rich and very masculine. Animal/bretty notes on the nose. The palate is massive, with dark fruits and fierce tannins - real bottom of the teapot stuff! Feral, mouth-filling, meaty, but with a good core of sweet red and black fruits, and a touch of cranberry sourness. Not for drinking now, but I feel this could be very interesting in another 10 years.
Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru 2001 - 41.70 Euros
This seemed a bit oxidised, but that was probably because the bottle had been open for a day or more. Then again, I wonder why they are still selling this wine (plus all the other vintages between 2003 and 2008, except the 2005 - with the '03 being most expensive at 44.30 Euros!). It displays sweet fruit, tar, liqueur and mulberry. Generous and rich, with some sous-bois and other secondary aromas and flavours. Give it another 5 years.
In the office at Michel Gros - IWC Pinot Noir and Red Winemaker of the Year trophies
Although we didn't get to taste it, Andy Leslie spotted a Bourgogne Haut Cotes de Nuits Blanc 2008 on the list and took a punt on a few bottles. When he opened one for us to enjoy back at the ranch, I was kicking myself for not having done the same, because it was absolutely delicious - and proof that basic whites from top Burgundy growers can provide great enjoyment for not a lot of money. At 10.30 Euros, it was an absolute bargain.
Next up, Domaine Dubreil-Fontaine in Pernand-Vergelesses.