Sunday, 6 May 2012

Gevrey-Chambertin, Bouchard Pere et Fils, 2001

Appearance: dark hue with a slight tawny rim but limited sign of age

Nose: eucalyptus, cloves & creamy oak

Palette: needed two hours open up. Initially beet root & herbs, with fully integrated tannins and not much sign of age. The highlight is a bright acidity that perpetuates a long, taught finish of balsamic & strawberries with a little dry tannin at the end.

Conclusion: despite 11 years of age this is still  in the full flush of youth. However, I expected more given the appellation and bottle age. 3* 6/10

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Bowled over by Barbaresco!

This is easily the best looking wine I have ever seen! Normally, it's the taste of a wine that is captivating. This Barbaresco was different. It had the most beguiling colour, with the brightness and clarity of a diamond and the depth and translucent crimson of a ruby. Initially, the palette was closed by the tannins, but after an hour it had blossomed into a truly remarkable wine. 4* 9/10

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Pilgrimage to the Cote d'Or (part 2)

Having visited the Cote d'Or many times, I have learnt the hard way that villages such as Gevery-Chambertin and Puligny-Montrachet can be an expensive lottery, where high expectations are often dashed at great expense! Like its geographical location, tucked away behind Beaune, Savigny's wines are a relative backwater that sit in the shade of other more illustrious names.

However, do not mistake modesty for poor quality. There are other villages in the Cote d'Or that are more famous and make more prestigious, more expensive wines; but to my mind there is no village other than Savigny-les-Beaune that provides such consistently good wines at prices that represent such value for money.

Savigny is also home of one of the best domaines in the whole Cote d'Or, Domaine Simon Bize, whose door and wines I return to time and time again (see earlier blog entries). So, before stopping for lunch at la Cuverie restaurant (where I first encountered Monsieur Bize's wines in 2006) there was just enough time to sneak in a quick degustation.
The Domaine Simon Bize range
With only limited time, this was more of a 'speed degustation', tasting only the top and bottom of the Savigny range. We started with the 2009 Bourgogne rouge 'les Perrieres', which was outstanding given its rank and €11.50 price tag! This wine always has  incredible depth of flavour for a Bourgogne with deep, soft black fruit in keeping with the ripe 2009 vintage (2* 8/10).

I cannot recommend this wine highly enough. It is easily as good as, if not better than most producer's village or premier cru wine. Moreover, the wine is made from old vines planted in 1971 and 1974 and are over 40 years old! The vineyard itself is on a hill over looking the village of Savigny-les-Beaune.
Les Perrieres, over looking Savigny-les-Beaune
At the top of the range, the 2009 premier cru Aux Vergelesses was definitely "mineral, intense, and complex..." as noted by Bill Nanson in his excellent book, The Finest Wines of Burgundy.  Like the Bourgogne, the wine is made from exceptionally old vines planted in 1939, 1949 and 1954! Although not cheap at €27 a bottle, this wine represents excellent value for money and would easily hold its own against other more expensive wines.

The 2009 Aux Vergelesses is likely to have a short initial drinking window as Mme Bize mentioned that in a hot vintage like 2009 and 2005 this wine tends to close down after two years, before reopening anything up to fifteen years later. I found it a well rounded wine with soft, black fruit and nervy mineral tension. Very good indeed! (4* 8/ 10).

Monday, 30 April 2012

Pilgrimage to the Cote d'Or (part 1)

Le Clos de Magny, courtesy of Google's Street View
The wines of Domaine Jean-Yves Guyard are unlikely to grace the pages of 'fine wine' literature. When tourists visit the Cote d'Or, they are unlikely to cross the threshold of this domaine for a degustation. However, the wines, especially the reds, are light, fruity, and reassuringly Burgundian.

Having tasted their 2010 Cotes de Nuits-Villages the night before at dinner, the next morning I made straight for Domaine Jean-Yves Guyard in Villers-la-Faye. The domaine has only 7 hectares in both the Hautes-Cotes de Nuits and the Cote de Nuits-Villages. The latter comes entirely from le Clos de Magny, a climat in the relatively unknown village of Corgolin at the very southern tip of the Cote de Nuits.
Le Clos de Magny (on the road to the Hautes-Cotes) 
9:30 am is a little early for degustation but, when in Rome..! The 2010 Hautes-Cotes was light, bright with fresh, crunchy Pinot fruit. The Cotes de Nuits-Villages (this time the 2009) had more weight with lusher, darker fruit. Price-wise the wines are reasonable value but not when compared to a top producer's Bourgogne, such as Bize's Bourgogne at €11. See below for cellar door prices...

Bourgogne Aligote 2009 €5.50
Hautes-Cotes de Nuits 2010 €8.00
Cote de Nuits-villages 2009 €11.00

Back in the UK, the Cote de Nuits-Villages tasted even better. I never thought I'd say this but much of the improvement was down to glassware. A larger glass aerated the wine better, releasing more flavours on the nose and in the palette. My (brief) tasting note is below.

Cote de Nuits-Villages, Jean-Yves Guyard, 2009

Appearance: bright & clear
Nose: light vanilla
Palette: round & fruity, cherry & cloves with some toasty oak, sweet recurrants & strawberries on finish.
Conclusion: A decent  & easily enjoyable wine that shows the fullness of the vintage 2* 7/ 10

Monday, 23 April 2012

Burgundy (slight return)

Savigny-les-Beaune, 1er Cru Les Peuillets in the flesh
Slight return: a move partially back in an artistic direction that was abandoned or forgotten. 

Despite taking up a large part of both my cellar and blog, Burgundy has been neglected recently. A recent rip to France and Bill Nanson's brilliant book, The Finest Wines of Burgundy, have conspired to reignite my passion for Burgundy and its wine.

Stopping off in the region on the way to and back from skiing, offered the chance to see the vineyards, meet the winemakers, and taste the wines. Burgundy is the very essence of terroir. Nowhere else, except possibly Barolo, is the link between vineyard and taste more acute. While the delineation of vineyards into hundreds of individual plots, each with their own terroir, can make Burgundy confusing, it is also what makes it the most fascinating wine region in the world. Where else can you find such a range of flavours from only two grapes, pinot noir and chardonnay?

Having spent years pouring over maps, trying to locate each wine's vineyard in maps, it is always inspiring to see them 'in the flesh'. So, having spent time in the Hautes Cotes de Nuits and Savigny-les-Beaune and tasted a variety of wines, Burgundy is back!