Here are my notes from a rather interesting and enjoyable tasting of wines from a trio of Burgundy vintages - 2004, 2005 and 2006 - presented by Nottingham Wine Circle member Nicola Kidd. Most (if not all) of the wines were sourced from The Wine Society and the prices shown are the prices Nicola paid on release. Somehow, I doubt that you'd be able to get them at such reasonable prices now, even for current vintages!
1. Crémant de Bourgogne Louis Boillot -NV (£9)
A blend of Pinot and Chardonnay. Apple and orange aromas and flavours. Some noticeable residual sugar places this somewhere between sec and demi-sec, but the richness is countered by cracking acidity. Lovely fizz.
2. 2006 Maconnais Domaine Saint Denis Hubert LaFerriere (£10.50)
A deep-ish colour and an unusual nose, slightly reductive, with hints of orange peel and flowers. I wasn't alone in thinking this was more akin to an Alsace Pinot Blanc or Gris than a Burgundy. It is quite rich and fat, with quite a lot of oak influence and a touch of alcoholic warmth (14.5% abv!). Despite the relatively low acidity, I quite like it, in a new world sort of way.
3. 2006 Bourgogne Chardonnay Coche Bizouard (£10.50)
A fresh, floral, fruity/lemony nose, hinting at good acidity and minerality. The palate also shows some freshness, but is marred by a somewhat woody, bitter, almost tannic finish. OK, but no more.
4. 2006 Beaune Maison Champy (£12.50)
Flowers (notably orange blossom and honeysuckle) on the nose. It could almost pass as a classy Viognier, but that is probably as much down to the barrel fermentation as the fruit. The palate has some nice lemon and lime flavours, quite rich, but with good acidity. It is perhaps a touch formulaic, but a nice drop.
5. 2005 St Aubin Premier Cru Murgers Dents de Chien, Henri Proudhon (£15.50)
This is a huge step up in quality - instantly complex and classy on the nose, with orange blossom and mineral aromas, a touch of struck match and some toasted oak. This really is "proper" Burgundy, with fruit, minerality, elegance and complexity in droves. Long and very lovely.
6. 2006 Gevrey-Chambertin Domaine Maume (£19)
An abundance of cherry, raspberry and strawberry fruit. Quite floral, too, with soft spice nuances and careful oak. Nicely balanced, although the tannin and acidity is (currently) buried beneath the voluptuous red fruit. Nice hint of spice, too. This strikes me as the ideal introduction to red Burgundy for those who might otherwise be fixated on new world Pinot. Not hugely complex, but rather delicious anyway.
7. 2006 Vosne-Romanée Domaine Jean Grivot (£19)
This one smells not so much grapey as "winey", with plenty of secondary aromas, damp earth and older oak. It is classy and understated and very "old school", though it packs plenty of fruit into the palate, albeit with a slightly raw tannic edge. A rather masculine and foursquare wine, which I suspect will evolve over the next 5 to 10 years into something rather lovely.
8. 2006 Nuits St Georges Domaine Jean Chauvenet (£19)
A deep, dark, extracted nose, very earthy and with the fruit somewhat hidden. The palate is deep and earthy too, and very tannic - in fact I have rarely experienced such tannins in a Burgundy before. Perhaps another 10 to 15 years of age will see it soften, but I'm not convinced it has enough fruit to last the course. Whatever, it certainly isn't elegant!
9. 2005 Gevrey-Chambertin Domaine Maume (£20)
This is more like it - instantly appealing and classy. Very old world, with cherry fruit, spice, tobacco and sous-bois aromas. The palate is deliciously sweet and sour and considerably complex, with bags of fruit and notes of sweet spices and cloves emerging with air. It is beautifully poised and lovely to drink already, but certainly has enough structure (and fruit) to evolve beautifully over the next 10 to 15 years. A Village wine of undoubted 1er Cru quality. Superb.
10. 2005 Bourgogne Rouge Domaine Jean Grivot (£10)
After the Lord Mayor's Show, this one. A decent wine, but pales somewhat in comparison to the Gevrey (which, to be fair, it probably should). In fact, this is actually a very good basic Burgundy by anyone's standards, and with plenty of good quality fruit. Given the year and the grower, it could well provide some excellent drinking in another 5 or so years.
11. 2005 Vosne Romanee Domaine Jean Grivot (£24)
This is complex stuff, with cherry and sous-bois aromas. The palate is firm but ripe, with good tannins and excellent acidity. It opens-up nicely with air, developing orange peel and perfumed/floral aromas. There is plenty of fruit, which is currently masked by that tannic/acid structure. It sounds like I am damning it with faint praise, but this is possibly the most structured/complete wine so far - it just needs a few years to really show its class, and could be quite special in another 10.
12. 2005 Nuits St Georges Domaine Jean Chauvenet (£20)
Tannic! Good fruit though, but for me this is another rather extracted and tannic wine that - for the moment at least - lacks elegance. That said, it is head and shoulders above the 2006 (wine no.8 above) - I guess that's a clear indication of the respective vintage qualities. Ultimately, this may well turn out to be quite a decent wine, but I wouldn't touch it for another 10 years.
13. 2004 Gevrey-Chambertin Domaine Maume (£17)
The nose on this one is so expressive and alluring, and would surely convert anyone to Burgundy. Complex on the nose, with sour cherry fruit and mineral aromas. The palate has decent grip with just the right amount of tannin and a lovely combination of juicy red fruit flavours - cherry, cranberry and raspberry - and ample acidity. A rather good wine, which still has a few years left before it peaks.
14. 2004 Vosne-Romanée Domaine Jean Grivot (£19.60)
A meaty, savoury nose, quite earthy, with a nice hint of tobacco. Unfortunately, the palate doesn't live up to the promise of the nose. It seems a touch lean and green, as if the tannins are out-living (or perhaps smothering) the fruit. It has neither the charm of the 2005 (no.11) nor the restrained power of the 2006 (no.7).
15. 2004 Nuits St Georges Domaine Jean Chauvenet (£17)
Another deep wine - this grower obviously goes for a lot of extraction. The nose is woody and earthy, with a pleasant florality. The palate is less interesting, with a touch of greenness and harshness that can't just be down to the tannins. Again, this is a wine that demands food - and preferably a good few years of ageing, though I wouldn't expect a sensual experience after the long wait!
16. 2004 Savigny les Beaune 1er Cru Narbontons Camus-Bruchon et Fils (£15)
A tarry, slightly reductive, earthy Pinot nose. The lightest and most elegant of the four 2004's, nicely balanced, with plenty of sour cherry fruit and none of the harsh, green notes found in the others. A good wine.
- The whites were an enjoyable (rather than educational) element of the tasting, with only the St Aubin really standing out. On the plus side, there were no signs of premature oxidation (the curse of modern white Burgundy).
- The reds, on the other hand, were quite revealing. Although the sample range was relatively small, it provided quite a stark contrast between the vintages, with 2005 unsurprisingly the clear winner, with wines that are good to drink now, but with more than enough fruit and structure to age gracefully for many years - a true classic vintage for red Burgundy.
- The 2006's weren't bad, either, though they have less charm than the 2005's and clearly need quite a lot of time to really come around.
- The 2004's were way behind in 3rd place, with most of them showing a harshness that (in my limited experience) wasn't there when the vintage was first released. Perhaps this is the "ladybird effect" coming into play (if you are curious, Google is your friend).
- Domaine Maume is clearly a grower worth following. The 2005 Gevrey is certainly of 1er Cru quality. The 2006 is very different, but still lovely, whilst even the 2004 is a pretty good effort.
- I'm yet to be convinced by Nuits St Georges - despite its long-standing reputation, the wines of this appellation (not just these, but ones I have tasted in the past) always seem rather tough and lacking in charm.
- Overall, I love Burgundy. ;-)