Pernand-Vergelesses is a pretty village, nestled at the foot of the famous hill of Corton. We had a 10am appointment at Domaine Dubreuil-Fontaine, a grower that I personally hadn't previously heard of (though, with my general ignorance of Burgundy as a whole, that is not unusual). Dubreuil-Fontaine has quite a large vineyard holding for a Burgundy grower - 20 hectares in total, covering 20 different appellations. Two thirds of the production is red wine, and a third white. They practice "lutte raisonnée", which translates literally as the "reasoned struggle", but loosely (and more appropriately) as reasoned viticulture - basically, not quite fully organic, but they only use non-organic treatments in the vineyards when absolutely necessary. The current proprietor of the estate is Christine Gruere-Dubreuil, and although she did not conduct the tasting, she did pop in later to say hello. We were treated to a most interesting tasting, from a range of no less than 16 wines.
1. Bourgogne Aligote 2009
Simple, fresh, with aromas of apples and pears. Fresh palate, robust and quite long. Nice.
2. Bourgogne Blanc 2008
Steely, with high acidity. A simple quaffer.
3. Pernand-Vergelesses 2008
Aged partly in barrel and partly in vat. Steely again, but qite oaky and mealy, with flavours of sour apples. Not for me.
4. Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru Sous Fretille 2007
Fennel, anise, cloves and apple pie. Richer, but still with an underlying steely structure.
5. Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru Clos Berthet 2007
Richer still, nicely oaked, with vanilla and spice. Very mineral, and very nice.
6. Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru Clos Berthet 2008
Spiced apple pie again, generous, herby, mineral. Lovely oak nuances. Lemon and mineral palate. Complex and rather lovely.
7. Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2008
A lovely nose - restrained oak, peach, apricot and tree blossom. A real contemplation wine. Sugared apples on the palate, voluptuous, toasty, buttery, but with great mineral backbone. Complex and softly spicy, with wonderful length. I bought a bottle at 46 Euros.
8. Pernand-Vergelesses Clos Berthet 2008
Very light. Strawberries and jam. Quite simple.
9. Volnay 2008
This is instantly more appealing. An almost new-world nose (not always a bad thing!) of cherry, redcurrant and wild strawberries. Grippy, meaty even, but with bags of fruit. Elegant.
10. Pommard 2008
Bigger than the Volnay, more masculine, more Burgundy-like. Cherries, apples and spice. Rich, long and tight, but with some elegance.
11. Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru Les Fichots 2007
Fresh, almost yeasty. Cherries. Quite tannic, and more simple than the Pommard.
12. Beaune 1er Cru Montrevenots 2008
Cherries in eau de vie. Rich, generous, tight, but nicely balanced. Mouth coating and quite tannic, but a nice wine. Needs time.
13. Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru Isle de Vergelesses 2008
Beefy, almost yeasty, with cherries and berries. Cherry fruit and a touch of tar on the palate. Grippy, but with oodles of elegance. This has much more to give, in time. I bought a bottle at 22 Euros.
14. Pommard 1er Cru Les Epenots 2008
Polished wood, redcurrant and soft spice - a lovely, generous nose. The palate is very grippy, but has generous fruit, with notes of cloves and other spices. Needs time, but a very promising wine. Sexy!
15. Corton Bressandes Grand Cru 2008
Closed in every respect. Clearly quite serious, but seems quite tough. A very difficult wine to assess.
16. Corton Clos du Roi Grand Cru 2008
This, on the other hand, is showing real class. Beefy, almost Bovrilly nose, with exotic spices and good fruit. The palate is rich and expansive, but with really quite delicate (and very complex) flavours. Beautifully balanced. Still very tightly-knit and rather grippy - as you would expect at less than 3 years of age - but already a delicious wine nonetheless. This will be fabulous one day. A lovely wine to finish, and I bought a bottle at 35 Euros.
In the cellar at Domaine Dubreuil-Fontaine - from left to right,
Leon Stolarski, Andy Leslie, Bernard Caille, Peter Bamford, David Bennett, Bill Nanson
(photo by Jane Nanson)
My overall impression of the wines of Dubreuil-Fontaine is that the lower-end wines (Bourgogne and some of the Village wines) are a bit lacking in both fruit and structure and hence, for me at least, don't provide particularly good value. On the other hand, the majority of the 1er and Grand Cru wines are really quite impressive and do in fact provide rather good value for money - at least in the world of Burgundy!