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Wine Reviews

Wine tasting: Pommard and Volnay Premier Crus

I recently attended an outstanding tasting of mostly recent(ish) vintages of premier cru level Pommard and Volnay wines. The quality was universally high across the board, and all well stored examples. In terms of observations, interestingly, neither appellation proved particularly distinctive on this tasting. Pommard is typically thought of as sturdy, masculine and full in style, while its immediate neighbour Volnay, more fragrant, elegant and seductive. Yet, this tasting proved to be more or less a random walk as to which wine was which, with no one feature proving distinctive. I put this down to a function of proximity of the regions, youth, high quality wines and high quality winemaking. Some may lament this apparent convergence. But I don’t, at least when not doing Master of Wine study – I prefer tasting delicious wine more than tasting palatable theory. Perhaps the texts will require re-writing in a couple of decades?
My notes, plus a couple of extras from outside the region, follow.

Domaine Marquis d’Angerville Volnay Premier Cru Caillerets 2008
Les Caillerets is a 14.36 hectare vineyard that is among the most highly regarded in Volnay. And, right off the bat, it was my wine of the night. It opens to aromas of dark cherry, rosemary, anise and potpourri. The palate has towards high acidity (but not quite), great length – wonderful in fact – and a beguiling expression of cherries with some firmer tannins tucked away. Outstanding


Christophe Vaudoisey Volnay Premier Cru Les Mitans 2005
Les Mitans is a 3.98 hectare vineyard closer to the Pommard end of Volnay and is reputed for sturdier wines. The 2005 vintage tasted here, an outstanding vintage, proved to have brooding aromas of dark cherry and licorice notes with an almost porty richness giving away its vintage. The palate is full bodied and rich, with good length and acidity in balance. Delicious and another outstanding wine. Outstanding

Domaine Joseph Voillot Volnay Premier Cru Les Frémiets 2005
Les Frémiets is a 7.40 hectare vineyard that is next to Pommard, making it particularly hard to identify as other than a Pommard. It’s another wine from the 2005 vintage, but presents quite differently to the Mitans. It has firm aromatics of cherry, iron and florals. The palate has great length, with notes of cherry and firmer tannins with time in the glass. Very Good


Comte Armand Pommard Premier Cru Clos des Epeneaux 2013
A strong producer and one of Pommard’s great vineyards (the 5.23 hectare Clos des Epeneaux) cloaked any likelihood that the vintage of this wine would be identified. This proved an utterly delicious wine, and should age and improve effortlessly for a decade or more. It has aromas of dark cherry, blackcurrant and leaf. The palate has firm acidity, flavours of black fruits and spice, together with particularly long length. Too young, but someone has to try them. Outstanding

Henri Boillot Pommard Premier Cru Les Rugiens 2012
Les Rugiens is a 12.66 hectare vineyard (aggregating Hauts and Bas) and is both highly regarded and close to the Volnay border. This proved another outstanding wine, with aromas of dark cherries, earth, iron and rosemary. The palate has reminders of florals and great length. The tannins are just starting to evolve. Outstanding
And finally, a couple of extras, first my favourite Chablis Grand Cru (Les Preuses) and a ring-in from the Mornington Peninsula that almost shocked with its remarkable resemblance to the preceding wines.

Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses 2010
This wine from Les Preuses (some considerably longer musings from the region are here) first had to escape its cool serving temperature. Initial aromas of qumquat and orange rind gave way with time to a more classic expression of lemon, stones and sea shells. The palate has good length, hints of cedar and fresh, if not overly firm, acidity. Very Good

Main Ridge Estate Half Acre Pinot Noir 2013
This is the first time I’ve tried a Main Ridge Estate wine, and I was frankly surprised (and absolutely delighted) at its close resemblance to a Pommard. It has aromas of blackcurrant and earth. The palate has long length and a cherry and earth character. This wine is unlike any other Mornington Peninsula pinot noir I’ve tried, and I’ve tried more than a few. Outstanding
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An outstanding Burgundy tasting of pre-2003s

I attended this amazing tasting back in April.  It was almost a case study in outstanding premier cru and grand cru red Burgundy with 15 or more years of age on the wines.  Only two wines missed the mark – one due to cork taint, the other presenting as simplistic (for a grand cru) due to suspected heat damage.  Whether new to the Burgundy maze or a veteran palate, I would actively recommend all of these wines.  Here are my notes.

***

Domaine Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru Les Ruchottes 2008
There are 51 Chassagne-Montrachet premier crus, and Les Ruchottes is among the better of them.  The 2008 has aromas of lemon, minerals, nectarine and stone.  The palate is full bodied, with good freshness and a long finish.  Very Good to Outstanding


Domaine Robert Chevillon Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Perrières 2002
Les Perrières is a rocky and stony vineyard and one of Nuits-Saint-George’s 37 premier crus.   2002 was a good vintage and it shows in this wine.  Aromas of sweet leather, truffles, mature earth and cherry.  The palate has fresh racy acidity, long length and a cherry core.  Delicious.  Very Good to Outstanding

Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune Les Grèves Vigne de L’Enfant Jésus 2002
Les Grèves is a 31.33 hectare premier cru vineyard in Beaune and is well regarded.  The 2002 “L’Enfant Jésus” has aromas of florals, potpourri and roses.  The palate is slippery with fresh acidity and a certain softness through the palate.  A tannic grip emerges with air, as do some cedar characters.  Very Good

Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Musigny Grand Cru 2001
Words do inadequate justice to this exquisite wine.  Its siren call is strong.  Dark cherry, blackcurrant and leather aromatics promise much.  It is the palate though which truly astounds.   Long length, delicate, light and shade with a lick of tannin.  Burgundy at its finest.  Outstanding with a plus

Domaine Daniel Rion & Fils Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 1990
Clos Vougeot is 50.59 hectares in size and the largest grand cru in the Côte de Nuits with a somewhat varied reputation befitting its size.  1990 was a good vintage.  In the glass, this wine has aromatics of blackcurrant, cherry and an austere iron like character.  There’s long length on the palate with a hint of dryness at the finish.  Very Good


Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Chaignots 1998
Les Chaignots is a 5.86 hectare premier cru vineyard in Nuits-Saint-Georges.  The 1998 is an elegant wine, with aromas of blackcurrant, and even hints of pepper.  The palate has firm tannins and mid range length.  Good


Domaine de Lambrays Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru 2001
Clos des Lambrays is a grand cru vineyard in Morey-Saint-Denis.  This is an impressive Clos de Lambrays, with aromas of cherry and spice, which continue on the palate supplemented by very long length.  The tannins suggest this wine has some time to go yet.  Happily, I have a second bottle.  Very Good to Outstanding


Domaine Jean-Michel Guillon Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru 2002
Mazis-Chambertin is a grand cru in Gevrey Chambertin and is 9.1 hectares in size.  This is a delicious wine from the 2002 vintage, with aromas of blackcurrant, spice and strawberry.  The palate gives a fuller bodied and ripe impression with long length on the finish.  Very Good to Outstanding


Faiveley Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru 1988
Jancis describes this vintage as “tough and unusually backward” with the best requiring a 20 year wait.  Well, here we are.  It has aromas of cherry and a touch of animal (brett suspected).  The palate has a metallic note, with mid range length, stoney characters and tannins that are resolved, but still there.  Points for making it nearly three decades.  Very Good


Comte Armand Clos des Epeneaux Pommard 2006
A comparative baby in this set.  Still youthful, it has aromatics of cherry, and a palate that is full bodied in impression, with big wood driven tannins.  Needs time.  Good to Very Good

***

The tasting finished with a delicious Alsace pinot gris from Domaine Zind Humbrecht with aromas of honey, currants and sultanas, and the palate medium sweet in impression.  Unfortunately my photo proved particularly poor and does not yield the details of the vintage and label.  If you are an expert label spotter (or better still were at the tasting!), please chime in and I’ll post it.

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Wine Reviews

A Burgundian premier cru excursion through the 2012 and 2013 vintages

Here are some notes from a tasting in February looking at some premier crus from the 2012 and 2013 vintages in Burgundy, all tasted blind.  While something of a random walk, my take away observations were that the 2012 vintage had more depth, complexity and fruit, with the 2013s presenting as the more austere of the two vintages.  My notes and some observations on each of the premier cru vineyards follow.  For longer notes on my last trip to the region, see herehere and here.  
Domaine Hereztyn-Mazzini Les Millandes Premier Cru, Morey-Saint-Denis 2013
Morey-Saint-Denis is between Gevrey-Chambertin to the north and Chambolle-Musigny to the south and has 20 premier crus.  Les Millandes is one of the larger climats with 4.2 hectares under vine.  In the glass, the 2013 from Hereztyn-Mazzini has aromatics that remind of stems, cherries, almost currants, spice and pepper with time.  It has mid range length on the palate, with crunchy tannins and good length.  Still developing and drink in 5 years.  Very Good
Domaine Parigot Les Vergelesses Premier Cru, Savigny-Les-Beaune 2013
Savigny is one of the largest of the Côte de Beaune communes (383 hectares of vines).  The Vergelesses is a large climat (15.38 hectares) and is reputed as Savigny at its most refined.  In the glass, there are aromas of stems, rose petals and cherries, which unfurl in a tapering manner.  The wine is medium bodied on the palate, with a mineral core.  Blackcurrant leaf and blackcurrants complete proceedings.  Good to Very Good
Domaine Denis Mortet Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru, Gevrey-Chambertin 2012
Gevrey-Chambertin is the largest of the great communes of the Côte de Nuits and has 26 premier crus.  No particular climat appears claimed on this premier cru wine from Denis Mortet. It has aromas of stems, blackcurrant, cherry and wood spice.  The palate is medium bodied verging on a plumper expression, with good length and balanced acidity.  Good to Very Good
Benjamin Leroux Hospices de Beaune Pommard-Épenots Premier Cru, Pommard 2012
There are 28 premier crus in Pommard, and together with Corton and Volnay, Pommard makes the most serious reds in the Côte de Beaune.  The label does not differentiate between whether the wine is from Les Petits Epenots (15.14 hectares) or Les Grands Epenots (10.15 hectares), but these are some of the best climats in Pommard.  The 2012 is quite subtle in its bearing, with florals and a light rose fragrance.  The palate reminds of stems, with fresh acidity and good length with time in the glass.  Good to Very Good

Pousse d’Or Clos D’Audignac Premier Cru, Volnay 2012
Low level corked.  I wish my taint threshold were higher.  Boo.
Domaine A.F. Gros Les Pézerolles Premier Cru, Pommard 2012
Les Pézerolles is another of the Pommard premier crus.  The 2012 here from Domaine Gros is a deliciously fragrant wine, although was it perhaps relief that it is not corked after the preceding wine?  Floral, green cloves from the oak.  Good length and structured tannins on the palate.  Will last.  Good to Very Good

***
And finally…


Domaine Armand Rousseau Clos Saint-Jacques Premier Cru, Gevrey-Chambertin 2012
This wine is in a separate league to the preceding wines and is from Clos-Saint-Jacques (6.7 hectares in vineyard area), one of Gevrey-Chambertin’s 26 premier crus.  It would seem Clos Saint-Jacques is a grand cru in all but name.  The 2012 Clos Saint-Jacques from Armand Rousseau has floral aromatics that remind of fresh roses.  The palate is superbly balanced with quite long length and a mineral complexity that defies easy explanation.  A serious wine worthy of searching out.  Outstanding
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Beane to Buxy, with some practice blending along the way

The next instalment of my Burgundy trip is from Beaune to Buxy, with a little blending along the way.

Last stop in Beaune



Last but not least of our visits in Beaune was Domaine Maillard Père & Fils situated at Chorey-Les-Beaunes.  This was a short tasting with our knowledgeable guide dressed by French winemaker central casting.  The quality on display at this estate is high and probably ever so slightly more to my stylistic preferences than the preceding tasting at Domaine Roger Belland.  Some short tasting notes follow, with an asterisk next to the highlights of the bracket.

Domaine Maillard Père & Fils Chorey-Les-Beaune Blanc 2013
Lemon and mineral aromatics.  Medium acid, lemon and and mineral characters.  G

*Domaine Maillard Père & Fils Chorey-Les-Beaune Rouge 2013
Aromatics of cherry and raspberry.  Palate reminds of cherry, raspberry, has medium length and balanced acid.  An attractive wine.  G

Domaine Maillard Père & Fils Savigny-Les-Beaune 2011
Savigny is said to be more elegant and a step-up from the slightly more rustic Chorey.  More stalk and cut rosemary on the nose, together with cherry and undergrowth. The palate is balanced with medium length and acid, coupled with raspberry and cherry characters.

Domaine Maillard Père & Fils Volnay 2011
The sample was oxidised.  Pity, as I felt this might have been good.  A sort of oxy melange of cherry liqueur, currants and earth.  F

Domaine Maillard Père & Fils Pommard La Chanière 2011
Cherry and a bit of spice for aromatics.  Medium length, even impression and balanced cherry flavours.  G

*Domaine Maillard Père & Fils Aloxe-Corton 2011
Cherry, spice and earth.  On the palate, medium length, more cherries and spice, medium to high acid, quite pure in its expression.  G-VG

Domaine Maillard Père & Fils Corton-Renardes Grand Cru 2011
More plum and cherry, but with earth too.   Finely integrated aromatics.  Palate with medium to high acid, mid range length.  A passing resemblance to the Aloxe-Corton.  G-VG

En route, leaning insensibly out of a window.

Buxy

Near Montagny

Leaving the Côte-de-Beaune, the next stop on route after a journey of fifty or so kilometres down the A6 was Buxy in the Côte Chalonnaise.  The region is less prestigious than its northern neighbour, but no less beautiful.  Perhaps even more so.  My cleverness in disabling the location feature on my photos means that I am not certain whether the photo below is from Givry or another town, but the beauty, and very warm weather (28+) for early June, is self-evident.  The main appellations in the Côte Chalonnaise are Givry, Mercurey, Montagny and Rully.  I write these down partly as an attempt to be useful and also partly because I continue to find them hard to remember, and I am rather hoping that repetition will assist.

The tasting here was at the Cave de Buxy, a substantial producer in the region.  This producer is very well regarded for its technical prowess and proved a study in the evolution of winemaking equipment over recent decades.  The winery is super clean, and the facilities outstanding.  That much is obvious.  It was also certainly a reminder of how easy it is to forget, writing about wine, some of the technical steps, the decision making and the sheer teamwork and planning that goes into the winemaking process, with extra respect accorded given that winemaking brooks little capacity for error.  I left with a renewed respect for winemakers able to achieve and manage consistent styles of wine at substantial volumes.  That said, it also became apparent that for me it’s probably the wine, the viticulture and then the winemaking in that order in terms of what interests me most.  Well, at least that’s my current thought.

To follow are short notes from the Cave de Buxy.  Most of the wines are more vins correct than revelatory.  However their universal feature is that the wines are well made, good value and the tasting exercise proved a valuable insight into the breadth of styles on offer in the Côte Chalonnaise, few of which are seen in any volume in Australia.  I’ve added an asterisk again to those wines which stood out in the set.

The whites

Millebuis Bourgogne Aligoté 2013

You don’t see a lot of aligoté in Australia, Burgundy’s other white grape variety.  Well, specifically, I’m not sure I’ve previously tried it at all.  Aromatics of pear, earth, spice and florals.  The palate reminds of pear and earth, short to medium length.  A bit pinot gris like.  A-G

Blason Bourgogne Blanc 2013
Overt lemon aromatics with orange blossom and bright.  Palate with short to medium length, balanced, medium/high acid and some spritz. A

Blason Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise 2014
Calmer lemon and grapefruit aromatics.  Balanced, short to medium length, pleasant.  A

*Millebuis Montagny 2013
Spice, floral, orange zest and lemon aromatics. Medium length, balanced, more towards red grapefruit flavours.  G

*Millebuis Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise 2012
Enter oak.  Gentle cedar, cashew, lemon, Australian (new style) chardonnay profile.  Heavier through the palate (in this set; not generally).  Medium length, maybe more.  G

*Millebuis Montagny Premier Cru Les Coères 2013
Mineral, stone, lemon, more Côte-de-Beaune like.  Similar palate with medium length and acid.  A good wine.  G-VG

Montagny Premier Cru Montcuchot 2013
Floral, lime zest aromatics.  Medium length on the palate, lemon flavours predominant.  Seems quite fine.  G

Montagny Premier Cru 2011
Aromatics of grass and spice.  Volatile acidity perhaps.  Medium length, lemon and hay characters on the palate.  A

The reds

Blason Bourgogne Rouge 2014
Aromatics of cherry, bubblegum and cherry cola.  Short to medium length and raspberry characters.  A

*Blason Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise 2013
More spice and cherry, darker cherry almost.  Medium length, cherry favours, good palate and texture.  G

Millebuis Givry 2013
More cherry, a bit of spice.  Plums too.  Cherry, tannins evident, slightly rustic.  A

Millebuis Givry Premier Cru Clos Jus 2012
Aromatics of cherry and cedar.  Seems finer.  Rustic tannins, cherry and mid length palate, together with some butter.  G

Millebuis Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise 2011
Cherry, spice, dark and red cherry aromatics.  A bit of volatile acidity perhaps.  Medium length, cherry, good palate, textural again.  Slightly bitter.  G

And then some blending

The tasting then proceeded to a super interesting blending exercise with 6 different samples of Montagny (a white chardonnay) to experiment with.  The differences between the samples were quite extraordinary – from pleasant and balanced, to unremarkable, to reductive, to acidic and spritzy through to zesty and soda.  Considerable credit must go to the winemaker for identifying such different samples within the same vintage.

Blending is harder than it might otherwise seem, as a present assessment of quality is required, as well as a projection as to what the unbottled wine which will sit on lees and in tank for a while longer, will look like in bottle in nine months or so.  I was more at home with the former exercise, than the latter.  I ended up selecting the blend that was subsequently revealed to be unanimous choice as “best now”, rather than necessarily the correct choice for best in 9 months’ time after time in tank and lees.  It’s a difficult business this evaluation of what can’t yet be seen prior to bottling.  And a considerable credit to the experience of Robin Kinahan MW who was extremely helpful in his very practical guidance regarding acidity, lees and the development evolution of Montagny.  I’ll probably never look at a Montagny in quite the same way again.

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Beaune

The next instalment of my wine trip is Beaune proper, which preceded a trip down the A6 to Buxy in the Côte Chalonnaise.  Beaune is a town where it appears difficult to eat and drink poorly.  Starting with food, for lunch, I can recommend Le Comptoir des Tontons.  The owners are colourful, and the food good.  The accompanying Domaine Chandon de Briailles Pernand-Vergelesses Premier Cru Les Vergelesses 2011 had sappy, cherry and anise aromatics, and an earthy, mid length and balanced palate.


For dinner, the Restaurant L’Ardoise in Beaune also proved to be very good with more modern overtones.  Dinner was accompanied by Domaine Chanzy Rully En Rosey 2012 with aromatics of lemon and cashew and an elegant, mid length palate.

But now to some rather serious tastings of the portfolios of La Cave des Hautes Côtes/Nuiton Beaunoy, Domaine Roger Belland and Domaine Maillard Père & Fils.  There is technique to tasting so many wines, and I found that it improved my ability to compare and contrast, rather than detracted from it, which was, more or less, the opposite of what I had expected.  Or alternatively a happily ex-poste rationalisation of something I would have enjoyed anyway.  Probably the latter.

The first bracket is from La Cave des Hautes Côtes / Nuiton Beaunoy, which proved a tasting of some breadth exploring up and down the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune.  I have added an asterisk next to the best wines of the tasting.

The view.

The whites

Nuiton Beaunoy Bourgogne 2014
Very bright lemon, lemon rind and yellow grape fruit aromatics.  Medium to high acid, short to medium length, pleasant and lemon flavours. A bit unexciting.  A

Nuiton Beaunoy Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune Au Meix Genets 2013
Some cashew and lemon the nose.  Balanced, quite lemony, a touch of cedar on the palate.  This reminded of the new style of Australian chardonnay, and I liked it.  My Australian reference was meant as compliment but I suspect was not taken as such.  G

Nuiront Beaunoy Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits Les Millottes 2013
Mineral, stone, grapefruit and lemon nose.  Palate that is mineral, reminds of grapefruit and has medium to high acid.  Some tension, if overly nervous.  A-G

*Nuiton Beaunoy Meursault 2012
Blossom, floral, lemon and some mineral aromatics.  A palate with medium length, fuller through the palate, balanced acidity and some cashew.  It was noted in passing that there is increasing diversity in the styles of Meursault, which I see no reason to disagree with.  G

The reds


Nuiton Beaunoy Bourgogne Pinot Noir Reserve 2013
Aromatics that are quite sappy, stalky with earth and plenty of twigs and fresh rosemary.  The palate seems a bit sweet and sour, leaving a slightly bitter residue, with some cherry and earth reminders.  A

Nuiton Beaunoy Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune 2013
From the same vineyard as the white, the aromatics remind of sap, smoke and green rosemary (again!)  The palate reveals a lighter style, with cherry and twigs.  A

Nuiton Beaunoy Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits Les Dames Huguettes 2013
Aromatics of cherry and a bit of earth.  A palate with cherry, medium tannins and some bitterness.  Same rating, but a bit better than the Côtes de Beaune.  A

Nuiton Beaunoy Beaune 2012
Aromatics of cherry, earth, some smoke and brighter fruit.  The acid seems high, with flavours of cherry, and short to medium length.  A

*Nuiton Beaunoy Volnay 2012
This is a classier wine.  Cherry, earth, smoke.  Seems more integrated.  A palate that is fuller bodied, with more flavour.  Cherries predominant.  I always seem to like the Volnays.  G

Nuiton Beaunoy Gevrey-Chambertin 2012
More nuance on the nose, with aromatics of spice, cherry and blackcurrant.  Seems finer.  The palate also has some flavour and depth through it.  Reminders of earth.  Complexity seems to grow in the glass.  G

Nuiton Beaunoy Nuits-Saint-George 2012
Aromatics of earth and spice. Fruit is there, but secondary to the undergrowth characters.  Earth and spice on the palate, short to medium length.  The acid doesn’t seem fully integrated.  A

*Nuiton Beaunoy Morey-Saint-Denis Les Sionnières 2009 
What is it about 2009?  It’s clearly a strong vintage in Burgundy too.  Integrated, black cherry and earth aromatics.  Very attractive fruit.  Between medium and long length.  Flavours of cherry and earth.  Great integration.  VG

*Nuiton Beaunoy Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru Clos du Chapitre 2011
This is from a monopole of 9 hectares.  It immediately has more integrated aromatics of black cherry, earth and blackcurrant leaf aromatics.  Between medium and long length.  More integrated and harmonious than the preceding wines.  Black cherry evident.  G-VG

Nuiton Beaunoy Morey-Saint-Denis Premier Cru Les Chaffots 2008
Aromatics of sulphur.  The palate showed stalky raw tannins, less sulphur and good fruit.  I can’t ignore that terrible aroma though.  AG, G if you like sulphur aromatics (my experience is that it only worries some), A if you don’t.

Nuiton Beaunoy Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru 2008
Some spicey aromatics.  Silky palate, with medium length and earth and cherry flavours.  G

*Nuiton Beaunoy Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 2009
Aromatics of spice, blackcurrant and earth.  Complex.  Medium to long length, balanced acid, stone, spice, blackcurrant.  Complex.  This is self-evidently a good wine, and the wine of the set.  VG-O

***

The second tasting is a series of new releases from Domaine Roger Belland.  This is a very serious producer, and the average quality proved to be very high.  As a general comment though I should note that I felt the acidity uniformly higher in all of this producer’s wines.  Whether this is by design, or just an impression on the morning of this tasting, I am not sure.  Either way, this is the sort of tasting that I feel very grateful to have had the opportunity to undertake.  I have not put an asterisk next to any particular wine, as almost all of them are recommended.


The whites

Domaine Roger Belland Santenay Comme-Dessus 2013
Aromatics of buttery cedar, yellow nectarine, spice and lemon.  Palate with medium to high acid and lemon.  The acid seemed a bit separate.  A-G

Domaine Roger Belland Santenay-Beauregard Premier Cru 2013
A step up.  More integrated aromatics, supplemented by lemon and butter.  The palate has medium to high acid, reminder of lemon and is balanced.  G-VG

Domaine Roger Belland Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot-Clos Pitois Premier Cru 2013
Aromatics of cedar, lemon butter, hints of cashew.  Integrated.  Medium to high acid, medium to long length.  This is a delicate wine and quite long.  G-VG

Domaine Roger Belland Puligny-Montrachet Les Champs-Gains Premier Cru 2013
Fine bones, with mineral and lemon aromatics.  The palate has medium to high acid, butter, medium length and is elegant.  G-VG

Domaine Roger Belland Meursault Santenots Premier Cru 2013
Aromatics of cashew, nuts and lemon.  The palate has medium to high acid, medium to long length and similar flavours.  G-VG

Domaine Roger Belland Criots Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2013
Aromatics that are fine boned.  Cashew, cedar and alluring.  The palate has medium to high acid, medium to long length and flavours reminding of lemon butter and minerals.  An excellent release.  VG

The reds

Domaine Roger Belland Santenay Charmes 2013
Aromatics of plum and ripe red juicy strawberries that are quite attractive.  Some secondary rosemary.  Palate with medium to high acid, cherry and slight bubblegum character.  Still good though. G

Domaine Roger Belland Santenay-Gravières Premier Cru 2013
More integrated aromatics, with strawberry, raspberry and cherry.  The usual medium to high acid for this estate, with medium length and similar characters as the nose.  Balanced and fine boned wine.  G-VG

Domaine Roger Belland Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot-Pitois Premier Cru 2013
A first (for me) Chassagne-Montrachet red.  The correction not to pronounce the “t’ in Montrachet remains in my head.  Aromatics of plum, strawberry and raspberry.  Estate acid profile, medium length, a bit fuller through the palate, with more plum and red fruits.  More please. G-VG

Domaine Roger Belland Pommard Les Cras 2013
Aromatics of plum and spice.  Estate acid profile, medium to long length and quite noticeable tannins.  G

Domaine Roger Belland Volnay Santenots Premier Cru 2013
80% of this is not destemmed, but you wouldn’t know it.  There are no bitter twiggy notes here. Aromatics of strawberry, raspberry and cherry.  Between medium and high acid and medium length.  G-VG

***

The third bracket is from Domaine Maillard Père & Fils, which I shall carry over to another post, as this post is already rather long.  To conclude, I can recommend the accommodation at the Hotel les Remparts in central Beaune.  It is situated within a beautiful 16th century building, and has a rather stunning breakfast courtyard.  Some echoes of Fawlty Towers perhaps, but I liked it all the more for the thought.

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Chablis to Beaune

Having just returned from France (again) having climbed the rather silly distance of more than 9,000 metres on a bicycle through the Alps, it seems almost a relief to return to writing about wine.  This write up is of the trip from Chablis to Beaune.

The first of many new facts to dawn upon me is that Beaune is a not insubstantial distance from Chablis – almost 135 kilometres in fact.  Indeed, with this sort of distance, which is substantial even by Australian standards for a wine region, one might reasonably question whether they are really part of the same region at all.  This is particularly so if you reflect that the vines north of Villefranche-sur-Saone, namely prime Beaujolais territory, are closer to Beaune than Chablis.  Yet, the Beaujolais region is left out of some books on Burgundy, and Chablis is included.  This outcome would appear perhaps surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, correlated to the fortunes of these respective subregions.

Bailly

The first stop on route to Beaune involved wending through the gently undulating hills south of Chablis towards the Caves de Bailly Lapierre on the river Yonne, via the small towns of Saint-Bris-Le-Vineux (sauvignon blanc and therefore an oddity in Burgundy) and Irancy (pinot noir, with up to 10% césar) and south of the regional centre of Auxerre.

The Caves de Bailly Lapierre is a substantial producer of Crémant de Bourgogne.  The first thing to note here is that the Caves are entirely situated within a rather enormous cave rising above the river Yonne.  By enormous, I mean a cave which has a car park and cellar door inside, a fully functioning winery, endless rows of wines neatly racked, and during the second world war I understand was used to store aircraft.  So, enormous, hectares in size in fact.  For good order, I should point out that the Cave, is well, a cave.  It’s cold, the air is heavy and dank, and it is best not to look at the topography of the walls and roof too closely.  Happily, however, the Caves de Bailly Lapierre produce excellent Crémant de Bourgogne, the winery inside is very modern and well equipped and, as I shall get to, some of the aged Crémants were glorious.

Here is a potted summary of the wines tasted.  As will quickly be evident, who knew there were so many Crémant de Bourgogne styles, let alone from one producer?  My other primary take away point was the resemblance of the better Crémants de Bourgogne to some grower Champagne styles.  This is a rather advantageous conclusion to have drawn, since the former are mostly substantially cheaper than the latter.

An asterisk indicates a highlight in the line-up.

Brut de Charvis Vin Mousseux de Qualité Brut
Vin Mousseux wines are not necessarily made using the traditional method, and so are broadly a step down from a Crémant.  Though this wine in fact is made using the traditional method, so that information is not immediately useful.  This release has aromatics of lemon and a bit of rind.  A simple frothy mousse on the palate.  A

***



Bailly Lapierre Crémant de Bourgogne Reserve Brut
Aromatics of lemon, soda, a touch of biscuit and a bruised character, apparently from the aligoté.  Fresh acid and a slightly coarse bead.  A-G

Bailly Lapierre Crémant de Bourgogne Chardonnay Brut
Sweeter white peach aromatics, powder and brioche.  The palate has high acid and flavours similar to aromatics.  G

Bailly Lapierre Crémant de Bourgogne Noir et Blanc Brut
Aromatics of toast, lemon and florals.  Palate with high acid and a touch of strawberry from the pinot noir. G

Bailly Lapierre Crémant de Bourgogne Pinot Noir Brut
More obvious strawberry and raspberry aromatics.  Similar flavours on the palate, framed by high acidity.  A-G

*Bailly Lapierre Crémant de Bourgogne Ravizotte Extra Brut
Aromatics of vegemite, yeast and nectar.  My first descriptor was met with a blank, slightly concerned expression from the French winemaker.  Dry, firm acid and lemon characters on the palate.  G

Bailly Lapierre Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé Brut
Made from pinot noir and gamay.  Aromatics of earth, mixed red berries and strawberry.  Palate that is dry, with high acid and quite balanced.  G

Bailly Lapierre Crémant de Bourgogne Baigoule Extra Dry
I wrote that this has around 15 grams per litre of residual sugar.  Strawberry, yeasty nose.  A palate that is dry, balanced and has medium length.  The sugar seemed to balance the acidity out well.  G

Bailly Lapierre Crémant de Bourgogne Baigoule Egarade Brut 2012
Organic.  Yeast, hint of strawberries, nectar.  Balanced, but seems closed.  G

***



2008 is said to be a good Crémant de Bourgogne vintage.

Bailly Lapierre Vive-la-Joie Rosé Brut 2008
A blend of gamay, pinot noir and chardonnay.  Quite earthy aromatics, vegemite and stone.  Similar palate.  G

*Bailly Lapierre Vive-la-Joie Brut 2008
Aromatics of yeast, biscuit and lemon.  The palate has lemon, high acid, yeast and is pretty good.  G-VG

Bailly Lapierre Vive-la-Joie Brut 2007
Grapefruit and soda aromatics.  Palate reminds of nectar and biscuit.  A-G

***

And then for the surprise.  It turns out that not only does Crémant de Bourgogne largely resemble some grower Champagnes, but it also can age stupendously, no doubt aided by the Cave’s textbook maturation conditions being, well, a cave.

*Paul Delane Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Reserve 1993
Sure, looking at the bottle, it looks like something you might have found by the side of the road.  The wine inside though is superb.  Aromatics of honey, toast, brioche and some complexity.  A finish that is long and reminds of brioche.  VG

*Reserve de la Montgolfiere Crémant de Bourgogne 1988
And sure, this bottle looks more like the truck has already taken it away with the recycling.  Again, that would be a terrible mistake.  The Crémant has aromatics of lemon, florals and honey.  And considerable elegance.  The palate has toast, medium to long length, soda and lemon.  Still remarkably fresh at 27 years of age.  VG

Some perfectly stored back vintages in the Caves.

Mouth somewhat seared by all this (good) acidity, we moved onto the next destination, Beaune itself.

Beaune

Beaune has some glitter.  I had not expected this.  Clean, almost polished streets, well-to-do wine shops seemingly every 50 metres, smart restaurants and a general feeling of prosperity, coupled with many tourists.  The impression – I have not researched its demographics – is that of a wealthy town, and perhaps a reflection of the market success of pinot noir and the region in the last 20 or so years.  The pricing in the many wine shops – some regarded as tourist traps – rather sadly appeared quite reasonable by Australian standards.

Sunrise in central Beaune.

Many further pre-conceptions of the region also proved slightly out.  The famous east facing hill of the Cote d’Or, is much gentler and less obvious than I had imagined.  The famed mid slope of the hill, with the best sun exposure, is more like what I would have perceived as the almost bottom of the slope.  The top of the hill could be described as being a rather unchallenging stroll away.  The picture immediately below probably communicates this better than I am able.

Gentle slope?  Unremarkable?  We are standing directly in front of probably the most famous vineyard in the world, namely that of La Romanée-Conti.
A more familiar sight.  La Romanée-Conti in Vosne-Romanée.
Double click and zoom in: pinot noir flowering at Romanée-Saint-Vivant.

The distances between the towns are small, but not so small that commuting on foot would suffice; a car or bike is recommended.  And roads and the autoroute are never far away in the valley.  Finally the towns themselves – a roll call of famous names such as Meursault, Volnay, Pommard and Vosne-Romanée among others – are rather uniformly manicured and beautiful.

Meursault.  Or nearby.  Either way, a typical Burgundian style roof.

In my next instalment, I will post tastings of a phalanx of wines mostly from the Côte de Beaune from La Cave des Hautes-Côtes (Nuiton Beaunoy), Domain Roger Belland and Domaine Maillard.