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               Why Big Red Diary?

Round-up of all wines tasted…

wine testing
No slurping or spitting!

This is a compendium of wines that were drunk with food, friends and family, between July 2004 and the end of October 2004.

Corkwatch: 5 from 83 = 6.0%

REGIONAL WINES

2002 Bouchard Père et Fils, Bourgogne Pinot Noir
A bright, medium ruby-red colour. The nose is a little reticent but there’s faint, sweet cherry with a developing orangey note. The palate doesn’t boast the concentration you’ll find in Bouchard’s Bourgogne Chardonnay, but given the price, this is very good. The finish betrays a little taint – which is a shame – but this is more than almost good for €5 in the French supermarket.
2002 René Bouvier, Bourgogne Le Chapitre
Medium colour. Sweet, high-toned fruit on the nose and for a short time a little modest oak too. The palate is also sweet, showing very good acidity and noticeable, but smooth tannin. A well made but modest Bourgogne.
2000 Confuron-Coteditot, Bourgogne
Medium-pale ruby colour, fading to salmon pink at the rim. Nice sweet red fruit nose – like a ’97. The palate is quite fresh with grainy tannins and okay acidity. Still some astringency on the finish. This was fine with food, but was a little rustic without.
2002 Joseph Drouhin, Laforet Bourgogne Rouge
Medium cherry red. There’s cherry and blueberry fruit on the high-toned nose. A fresh palate with super acidity and refined tannins. A nice, mouthwatering finish too. Very good Bourgogne.
1999 Nicolas Potel, Bourgogne Rouge Vieilles Vignes
Medium-plus cherry red. The nose has good depth, but the red fruit is a little diffuse. The palate has much more going for it than your average bourgogne; good intensity to the fruit, nice acidity and tannins that still need a year or two. Certainly better than most ‘no-name’ village wines and probably giving it’s best around 2006-2010.
2002 Bouchard Père et Fils, Bourgogne Chardonnay
A medium yellow colour. The nose is quite nice, high-toned, sweet but not too sweet, with a little citrus depth. Open with no hard edges on the palate; there’s nice acidity with enough sweet fruit and a medium finish that has the merest young trace of bitterness. I wouldn’t complain if I ended up with a glass of this in a bar – a worthy house wine for consuming over the next three years and very good value.
2002 Domaine Jafflin, Bourgogne Blanc
Pale colour. The nose is high-toned and quite clean. Simple but pleasant palate with absolutely nothing to object to. Quite nice.
2001 Domaine Leflaive, Bourgogne Blanc
A surprising amount of oak on the nose – not noticed this with my other bottles – but this is following a wood-free Chablis. The nose also reveals a broad palate of fruit. As always, super depth for a Bourgogne – though at it’s price-point it should really be compared with villages wines. My home stacks are shrinking, but I’ve enjoyed every bottle.

VILLAGE WINES

1998 Robert Arnoux, Vosne-Romanée
Given the block-buster reputation of this domaine’s V-R Suchots I was mildly surprised by this village wine. Medium but young colour. The wine really sings on the nose with beautiful red-cherry pie and a very interesting but slightly tighter depth. The palate is sweet, medium bodied and very elegant. Good acidity pushes the finish longer and longer. The tannins are there and in the slightly dry ’98 vernacular, well behaved but perhaps begging a little more fruit concentration. Elegant to start with, but the tannin does start to get in the way without food, very good with though.

1998 Amiot-Serville, Chambolle-Musigny
Medium-plus colour. There’s an earthy note on the nose overlayed by a high-toned fruit accompaniment. Young palate that started with more structure than fruit, and basically carried on the same way until gone. ‘Under fruited’.
1999 Christian Clerget, Chambolle-Musigny
I gave this plenty of time – seemed corky to start, but it could have been bottle stink. I decanted and then vacuvined overnight, behind there was lovely black fruit… Next morning, most but not all of the smell was gone, also there was now a trace of oxidation – too much aeration the night before! Even without the taint I would have called wine faulty because it was still undrinkable 3 hours after opening due to an excess of sulfur.
2001 Confuron-Coteditot, Chambolle-Musigny
Young medium cherry-red colour. Nice nose, has both depth and interest. Very good acidity and a slight grain to the tannin but chewing this wine releases many flavours. Medium, medium-plus length. Short-term I’d take it with food, longer-term I think this will come together very nicely. Good wine.

1996 René Engel, Vosne-Romanée
Medium red, with quite a dense core. The nose is sweetly red and faintly spicy. The palate is very fresh with a super core of fruit – but you need to wait a while in the glass – it’s not so obvious at first. The longer it’s in the glass the better it gets – one to wait another 3 or 4 years for.

1999 Francois Gay, Ladoix
Medium plus cherry red, still with a rim of purple. At 16°C this is gorgeously fresh with a nose of blue-skinned fruit, and drinks much too fast on a warm day. At 18°C it’s less focused but has a more interesting nose – dried cranberry, cherry and a little raisin – reminiscent of many a 1993. The palate bursts with mainly black cherry. Lovely acidity and tannin that you won’t know is there unless you hold the wine in your mouth. Not a fat wine, but certainly a gorgeous wine the more oaky complexion of 2 years ago is gone. I bought half a dozen based on Burghound’s recommendation – that was a mistake – I should have bought 12!
1999 Jean Grivot, Nuits-St-Georges Les Lavières
Medium plus colour. Deep black fruit surrounded by a dry, spicy oak note – nice. The palate is concentrated, showing black fruit – almost a black olive note – very good acidity and decent length. The tannins have a little grain and a little bitterness too. This is certainly in the Grivot vernacular, extracted and needing a little time. With aeration the black fruit starts to take on a plum aspect, indeed if the the tannins were a bit thicker and more velvetty you could probably convince someone that this is a merlot! I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt, and I’ll also give my other two bottles several years.
1996 Jean Grivot, Nuits-St-Georges Les Lavières
Medium plus colour without obvious aging. The nose still betrays a little oak, otherwise high-toned black fruit, some sweetness too. Lots and lots of fruit on the palate and a reasonable balance between the succulence of the fruit and acidity vs the more drying and slightly bitter tannins. Starts a little disjointed but puts on a better show after half an hour or so if a little moth puckering.
1999 Jean Grivot, Vosne-Romanée Bossières
Medium plus ruby colour. Starting with plenty of woodspice, you need plenty of aeration to get more fruit, still a little spice and plummy almost porty fruit. There are tannins, but well controlled and quite velvetty. The acidity nicely prolongs the finish of the black shaded fruit. This wine is currently about concentrated, one-dimensional fruit. Again I have a couple of bottles for the future which will hopefully show a little more interest and complexity once I get round to them.
1996 J-F Mugnier, Chambolle-Musigny
Unfortunately, after a very good run – over 2 months – corked! Smelly cork on extraction, but the wine smelled okay on pouring – 5 minutes later – ugh. I think behind the taint there’s a nice wine – sad.

1999 J-F Mugnier, Chambolle-Musigny
Resorted to this one when the Clerget Chambolle showed badly. Medium young cherry-red colour. The nose is high toned and a little diffuse, taking time to put on extra weight with coffee overtones. Elegant red fruit but a little more subdued than the last outing, still has the extra creamy dimension on the finish but really takes its time to sing. Today the next wine is the more rewarding.

2000 J-F Mugnier, Chambolle-Musigny
From a half bottle, I have a soft spot for this wine in halves, very handy. Medium red and still quite young looking. The nose has quite some depth, just a little powdery perhaps but digs up spade-fulls of red fruit. The palate is equally giving; depth, interesting creamy length and not too much tannin. I’d still leave this another year or two, but from a half it’s drinking pretty well. On the finish, not the extra dimension of the 1999, but this comes close and is a rewarding drink – I stocked up on a few more – you can’t beat having a few halves available.

1997 Nicolas Potel, Volnay Vieilles Vignes
One bottle per year since release and to-date plenty of disappointments – I think I’ve another 7 or 8 left. The first bottle lived up to the original Clive Coates review, all the others were dumb – most unlike the average 1997 – perhaps with this wine we’ve turned the corner. Despite a slightly musty note (presumably cork derived but not counted as corked) on the nose and palate, at last we have a wine with personality! The colour is deep and shows little advancement. Powdery red fruit over a slightly ‘dirty’ background. The palate at last shows some interest with dense, even monolithic, red fruit that shows raspberry and strawberry notes. The acidity is good and the finish is also showing much better, slightly creamy extension. Still a year or two away from it’s drinking window, but I’m feeling much better about the original purchase…
2000 Maison Paul Reitz, Maranges
Not quite medium ruby colour, just a little cherry still evident. The nose starts off a bit thin then develops orange and cherry notes. The palate is medium concentrated and quite metallic in the finish. With about 1 hour of aeration (or perhaps it was the pasta interlude) the wine takes on a sweeter note though is still a little tart on the finish. Very cheap in the Swiss Co-Op, but a good Bourgogne Rouge would show it a clean pair of heals

2000 Domaine des Varoilles, Gevrey-Chambertin Clos des Meix des Ouches
Medium ruby red, looks great with the sun shining through. The nose is a faintly honied red fruit – very tasty. Whilst medium bodied this is soft with a super-silky texture. Subtle tannins and a nice finish that’s lifted a little by the acidity. Not a wine for the ages but this is lovely now.

1999 Domaine des Varoilles, Gevrey-Chambertin Clos des Meix des Ouches
Darker than the 2000 but with a watery rim. The nose also has a black stance, slightly spicy too. Soft on the palate with smooth, sweet and quite dense (for a villages) fruit – yet I have the feeling that there’s a trace of dilution – not sure why. The finish is satisfying and the tannin and acidity are first rate though there’s a trace woody-ness. Certainly drinking now, but much more structure than the 2000. A wine that I would buy again.

1998 Domaine des Varoilles, Gevrey-Chambertin Clos des Meix des Ouches
Despite having more to offer than meets the eye, this wine visually disappoints. The colour is a medium-pale, ruby-amber – it could be a weak looking 1985. The nose blows off a few slightly cooked and woodland notes to reveal a still, quite primary red fruity base. The fruit could be more concentrated on the entry, but there is a kick in the tail – a surprisingly intense mid-palate – then a medium, not so exciting finish. Improves quite a bit overnight but frankly I don’t know what to make of this wine. If I had a few in the cellar I think I’d drink all bar a couple and check them out for academic interest in a few years.

1997 Domaine des Varoilles, Gevrey-Chambertin Clos des Meix des Ouches
Another pale-ish and and mature looking wine. Slight green and cedary notes overlay a sweet apple and raspberry pie. The texture is almost good despite a slightly rasping finish. Not an archetypal 1997, indeed a it’s maybe a little under ripe, but there’s a sweet and cedary finish. Quite drinkable but not on my purchase list.

Villages Whites

1998 J-M Boillot, Givry Clos de la Brulée
Pale lemon yellow. The nose starts with a waft of wood to be replaced by a little spent-match and a trace of honey. The palate has piercing acidity with just enough (even for my acid loving palate) sweet fruit to act as a foil. The fruit style is very agrumes with grapefruit in the ascendant. Medium-plus length, a lovely refreshing drink for the summer terrace and one that exceeded my expectation.
2002 Domaine du Colombier, Chablis
No wood used in production. Open high-toned nose with faint citrus. Good fat and surprising depth and length for the price. Perhaps I’d like a hint more acidity, but there’s good minerality and an even better price!
2001 William Fevre, Chablis Champs Royaux
Pale coloured. The nose is sweet and a little flowery. The palate just does something I don’t like, it has a ‘clingy’ sweetness that in some respects reminds me of a cheap Leibfraumilch. Sorry but I didn’t like it.
2002 William Fevre, Chablis Champs Royaux
Pale coloured. High-toned citrussy nose. Understated, lightish in style with good acidity. More of an ‘aperitif wine’ but very good value.
2001 Domaine Leflaive, Puligny-Montrachet
Today this wine shows more modest oak on the nose than the Bourgogne Blanc – but still hints at Puligny. There is concentration that’s well coupled with the acidity and medium-plus length. Not so outstanding at this level as the Bourgogne at its, but this is a very good bottle.
2000 Guy Roulot, Meursault Les Tillets
Pale lemon yellow. The nose bursts with limes/citrus fruit and an undertow of creamy, slightly oaky chardonnay fruit. Depth and forward fruit on the palate. There’s a fatness that is cut with lovely acidity. Lasts well in the finish. We seemed to demolish this one very quickly – very good and quite moreish.

1er CRU WINES

1999 Marquis d’Angerville, Volnay Champans
Medium-plus ruby-red. The nose starts with a tight but impressive depth, quite a bit of oak-toast in there too. With time you have a much higher toned fruit profile, it never quite loses the toast, though café-creme develops. The first taste is of a similarly tight core of red berry-fruit, just a little spritz on the acidity and no obvious tannin. Medium plus finish. You need plenty of aeration to get this wine to sing a little and it really does sing. Despite an ever improving creamy finish and in spite of it being a very fine wine, it will always be in the shadow of the majestic 99 Clos des Ducs – don’t pass it by because of that though…
2000 Comte Armand, Pommard Clos des Epeneaux
You might well think that this wine is a Monopole, I did, but I bet not many of us knew that there were two versions for a few years(?) In the time of Pascal Marchand (now of Domaine de la Vougeraie) two barrels would find their way each year to the cellars of Camille Giroud – see the 1996 further down the page. This is a young looking wine, made whilst David Croix of Giroud was working at Clos des Epeneaux. High toned, pure nose of red fruit. The palate is not very 2000, pure, concentrated and very linear in delivery, quite friendly though. Very good acidity and well hidden tannins. This is a young and atypical 2000 with a good future.
1999 Jean-Claude Belland, Santenay Comme
This was a great fruity mouthful on release, but is becoming a little less appealing. The nose has strong meaty tones against black cherry – but the combination is not the most pleasant. The palate starts in a very fruit-forward way but the tannins are much more obvious now a little of the fat has been lost. Given a couple of hours aeration the palate is much more balanced and the tannins seem much, much smoother – now a beautifully balanced, very smooth wine but for me the aromatics remained unappealing. Good, but!
1990 Simon Bize, Savigny-les-Beaune Aux Vergelesses
Medium colour with some amber at the rim. Oaky, chocolaty, completely secondary nose – very nice. The palate is lovely, still wrapped in tannin with good acidity and sweet fruit. No hard edges, this was lovely.
2000 J-M Boillot, Pommard Jarollières
Medium colour with little fading. The nose starts not auspiciously with sweet, alcoholic red fruit and oak but no cohesion, perhaps it’s the oak that’s the main fault, because as it fades the overall effect improves considerably. The palate is cool but also not so well joined-up. There’s a little tannin that sticks out as slightly bitter and mouthwatering acidity that also could also be better balanced. The fruit doesn’t do enough to hold this wine together. This was a nice, succulent wine last year but doesn’t come close to that definition this. I’m hoping it’s only a phase as I’ve 4 more in the cellar.
2000 Bouchard Père et Fils, Beaune du Chateau
Medium cherry red. The nose is a quite pleasing red fruit number without ever being very interesting. The fruit on the palate is very nice, with reasonable depth too. What’s surprising is that (for a 2000) the structure slightly outweighs the fruit. In this case this in not obvious with food and the wine works very well.
1996 Domaine Germain, Beaune Les Theurons
Medium, medium-plus colour. The nose is fresh, slightly minty but just a little jammy – raspberry jam. On the palate there’s classic 96 fruit/acidity balance, in this case relatively sweet fruit. Not the depth or concentration of the Castagnier Clos Saint Denis that preceded it but the length is comparable. Anyway, this was a beauty.
1996 Camille Giroud, Pommard Clos des Epeneaux
See above for an explanation of this wine’s provenance. Direct from the cellar, the colour shows little sign of age. The nose is slightly fuller than the 2000 but stylistically similar. The palate has a little extra dimension, but there is an amazing family resemblance to the 2000 – amazing considering the different vintages and elevages. I’d say they need a similar time to maturity too. Would be a great buy.
1996 Jean Grivot, Nuits-St-Georges Les Roncières
Medium plus colour, just a slight shading to amber at the rim. The nose has a few sweet flowery tones that overlay equally sweet red fruit. Lovely concentrated fruit and very smooth, Grivot was in a sweet vein with this wine in 95/96. There’s concentration without over-extraction, perfect acidity, tannins that are very well behaved for a Nuits, though just a trace of bitterness. Many years ahead for this wine and I’ll probably save the rest for at least 2 or 3 years.
1995 Jean Grivot, Nuits-St-Georges Les Roncières
Medium plus colour with an amber rim. There’s a little meaty extract overlaying tight fruit – 10 minutes later it’s obviously corked. Bottle 2: The palate is cool, understated and packs a concentrated punch in the finish. The tannins are still present, but very, very refined. The taste lingers for almost a minute as your mouth waters from the perfectly judged acidity. Like the ’96, concentrated without being ‘extracted’. I’m glad I’ve a few more of these and hope the only dud is now discovered…
1999 Louis Jadot, Chambolle-Musigny Les Feusselottes
Most 1999’s drink great today, but if you want to drink this wine now, take a decanter! For 90 minutes the nose of this wine was only about wood-spice. Given time there is a superb soaring red nose. The palate seems also to lose a little graininess with aeration but retains a little astringency to the tannins. Excellent acidity and a finish that is long but currently one dimensional. Not a shy and retiring Chambolle – indeed quite muscular – but this should be a super bottle in the future.
1999 Louis Jadot, Gevrey-Chambertin Les Poissenots
Medium colour with a trace purple. Good nose, only faint earth but there’s black chocolate-dipped cherry fruit. Starts understated, but despite not showing great density the palate is fresh and intense and shows a really sneaky, creamy length. With aeration this wine just gets better and better. The antithesis of blockbuster Burgundy, but I’d love a few more in the cellar.
2000 Lupé-Cholet, Nuits St.-Georges Château Gris
Medium cherry-red colour. The nose is high toned with diffuse cherry notes. On the palate the fruit is almost good, but the acidity sticks out a little. The finish is quite interesting, but overall needs a bit more interest to re-purchase.
2002 Olivier Père et Fils, Santenay Beaupaire
Medium-plus cherry red, purple at the rim. The nose is a blast of cherry and blue-skinned fruit. Nicely balanced with forward, ripe fruit, good acidity and barely noticeable tannin. Tasty and another moreish wine.
1996 Domaine Pavelot, Savigny-les-Beaune Les Dominode
A nice young-looking medium cherry-red colour. High toned nose, slightly powdery red fruits – good purity. Classic ’96 expression of intense fruit buffered by lots of acidity. Many years ahead of this wine – hopefully should be very good.
2000 Domaine Pavelot, Savigny-les-Beaune Les Dominode
Looks both concentrated and young – there’s still a purple edge to the deep cherry colour. The nose is very fresh and pure cherry – red & black. The palate is exactly what many 2000’s are not; a little austere but has concentrated, linear, primary fruit. Very good acidity and tannins that have a little grain about them. Still drinkable but this wine will amply repay 5 or 6 years in the cellar. Super.
2000 Nicolas Potel, Savigny-les-Beaune Les Peuillets
I must have loved this one when I first tasted it as there were another 6 in the cellar which I found whilst tidying up. The colour is starting to show a little age. The nose has a little high toned fruit but mostly it’s a dense, slightly sweet affair. The palate shows the vintage without the ‘puppy fat’ the fruit has reasonable density, but there seems to be some acidity missing making the wine much less refreshing and succulent than I remember it on release – perhaps I should have drunk these at the time(?) Still they’ll be handy when I need an extra bottle for something/one, after-all they were quite reasonably priced – I think! It’s a perfectly okay wine, but not in the class of Pavelot’s 00 Dominode.
1999 Nicolas Potel, Volnay Clos des Chenes
Medium-plus colour with a deep core of cherry red. A lovely, though slightly understated nose eventually expands to give a creamy, almost bready and earthy base to the red fruit. Concentrated and wonderfully smooth, the palate has real executive tannins, succulently intense, creamy fruit of many layers and very good acidity. By a margin, and to my palate, the d’Angerville Clos des Ducs is the best Volnay I’ve tried from 1999, but maybe this wine plays in the same league. From memory I’d still rate the d’Angerville higher, but it would be interesting to try them side by side – one day I will. Lovely wine for now or over the next 10+ years.
2002 Noel Ramonet, Chassagne-Montrachet Boudriotte
Medium, medium-plus cherry red colour, shading to purple. The nose still has sweet medium-toast oak in the ascendant but below is blue skinned fruit – takes about 30 minutes for the oak to fade. The palate is a blast; ripe high toned fruit, really super acidity and plenty of furry tannin. The finish is still slightly bitter – but this wine is fun, fun, fun – with a serious side. Less full with food, but very good.
1997 Daniel Rion, Nuits St.-Georges Les Vignes Rondes
I’m ashamed to say, that this is a wine I bought solely based on a Winespectator review – 93 points or something, however, it’s not all that bad! The colour is medium ruby red fading slightly to amber. The nose is a blast of creamy, toasty oak that fades slightly though never quite enough to show the fruit. Ripe fruit, some fat, creamy length and little in the way of tannin. The finish is reasonably long. This is a nice wine that needs a little longer to let the oak fade a little more, but is an excellent drink now if you like the style – me I’ll let the oak fade a little more.
1996 Daniel Rion, Nuits St.-Georges Les Vignes Rondes
Wow – what a wine! A very deep and young looking colour. The nose has high tones over a meaty base. This wine assaults the palate with massive fruit concentration, but the acidity of the vintage manages to provide a modicum of balance. There is little tannin and a medium-plus finish. I’d still leave it for a couple of years, but if you don’t mind obliterating the taste of your food – try one now.
1996 Domaine des Varoilles, Clos des Varoilles
Bugger! After opening I noticed a few bubbles in the neck – I turned round to get my glass and when I returned the bottle was standing in a puddle of wine! How strange thought I – do they may sparkling reds? – then I realised that there had been a crack in the bottle, mainly covered by the label. Pulling the cork was enough to make the crack give-way. Unfortunately enough air had obviously got through over time as the wine was oxidised. Underneath it was concentrated and seemed to have good fruit – I’ll have to get another…

Premier Cru Whites

2002 Domaine du Colombier, Chablis Fourchaume
Good depth, though less width on the nose vs the village Chablis, good fruit though. Gives an impression of fat, but there’s a really obvious minerality. Good acidity. Like a greyhound this wine, no excess fat – really enjoyed.
1995 Colin-Deleger, Chassagne-Montrachet Les Chaumes
A waxy, honied nose – quite interesting. The mouthfeel is really silky – nice wine. Good acidity and finish, delivered in a a very clean and tasty way but very understated too. Very good.
1995 Louis Jadot Duc de Magenta, Chassagne-Montrachet Clos de la Chapelle
Young pale gold colour. Lots of oak on the nose but it fades slowly to reveal forward and high-toned fruit. Nice mouthfeel and excellent finishing intensity. The wood is obvious, but doesn’t spoil the overall effect. Not obviously mature, a very good wine.
1999 En Truffière, Puligny-Montrachet Caillerets
Golden colour. Intense nose that is concentrated and very Puligny but shows just a little more buttery character than my preference. The palate is also quite concentrated but to me has an oxidative streak through the middle – others called this honey. I’ll let them buy the bottle instead of me then – good finish though.
2001 En Truffière, Puligny-Montrachet Caillerets
Golden colour. The nose starts with a few barrel notes that make the nose slightly buttery, higher tones of lemon too. The palate has good acidity and a nicely intense fruit that follows well into the slightly sweet finish. There is a little harshness on the palate but this will fade. A nice wine.

GRAND CRU WINES

2002 Bonneau du Martray, Corton
Medium-plus colour. The nose is a blend of red and black fruits. Not the obvious fat and flashy friendliness of most 2002’s, much more a classic, concentrated brooding wine. The tannin shows a good grip and there’s a lovely fruity length. A very good wine.
2001 Bonneau du Martray, Corton
Medium, medium-plus colour. The nose is a little tighter and less communicative, some powdery red fruit. Shows a very young and backward palate. Excellent quality to the fruit and good length too. This wine begs several years in cellar but should be worth the wait.
2000 Bonneau du Martray, Corton
Medium, medium-plus colour. Pleasing high-toned red cherry fruit shows on the nose. There’s a solid core of fruit on the palate. A silky, wide, expansive impression in the the mouth with velvetty tannin. Long and with definite personality this is a serious 2000.
1993 Bonneau du Martray, Corton
From magnum. Deep colour. High tones over a base of raisins and dried red fruit on the nose. A really nice core of concentrated fruit on the palate pushed long into the finish by first-class ’93 acidity. The grainy tannins don’t have the sophistication of the recent wines, but this is certainly a very enjoyable finale and still a very young wine in this format.
1996 Guy Castagnier, Clos Saint Denis
I don’t drink Clos Saint Denis enough – this wine confirms it. The nose seems a little oak-heavy to start with but opens gorgeously – very 93 in it’s fruit complexion and slightly dried cranberry effect. The nose gets more ebullient with time. A focused core of fruit wrapped in 1996 acidity. I’m glad I drank many ’96’s young as I still don’t really know if they will soften with age – but I’ve enjoyed many them on the way. Silky palate but I would have preferred a little more length – worth the purchase only for the nose, it’s like a slightly purer version of Dujac’s ’95 Clos de la Roche – gorgeous!
1996 Guy Castagnier, Bonnes-Mares
Just a trace of dried wine below the capsule. The colour is medium-plus ruby-red, fading to the rim, but little colour change. The nose starts with some oak, takes a little longer to disperse than with the Clos Saint Denis, eventually a sweet red fruit comes through. Fatter than the Denis with less obviously 96 acidity – but still fine. More tannin and with a slight grain. There seems to be more material here, but in just a little more primary form. It’s easy to drink but it’s about 4 years since I last tasted this one and at the time I thought it was the most forward – not today.
1994 Domaine des Chezeaux, Griotte-Chambertin
Horribly corked! Experiment time, I’d heard that polythene bags (not sure PE or PP) can remove TCA – so stuffed a clear bag into the bottle and recorked – next day TCA was gone! Truly amazing but as I had no vacuvin the wine was oxidised instead…
2000 Robert Comte, Bonnes-Mares
Medium, medium-pale intensity, the colour is more like 1995 than 2000. Sweet red nose, perhaps a few cooked notes. The palate is equally sweet but rather soft, jammy and cooked. Okay if you didn’t actually want Bonnes-Mares.
1999 Faiveley, Corton, Clos des Cortons Faiveley
Medium, medium-plus cherry-red – looks young. Powdery fruit but with real creamy depth on the palate – completely primary. The palate is likewise very primary, showing a tour-de-force of tannin, more than adequately balanced by the fruit and acidity – super balance. Hard work on its own, but more than palatable with food. I’m so glad that someone else opened this as it means that my own should be safe for at least another 2 or 3 years before curiosity prevails. Give it a decade and it will be super!
2001 Dubreuil-Fontaine, Corton Bressandes
Medium colour. The nose is very red; raspberry and strawberry/cherry. Super acidity and very well mannered tannins. The fruit has intensity and length, the main impression is a wine that’s fresh and mineral rather than fat. Absolutely nothing rough about this wine, but could certainly do with a few years in the cellar to take on a little extra charm. Good wine.
1998 Alex Gambal, Echézeaux
A developed, medium ruby red. The nose has a lovely dried red fruit and raisin aspect – just a little coffee and smokey ash too. The palate unfortunately is a bit of a let-down: The fruit is nice enough – as is the texture – but from the mid-palate onwards this is a little bitter, weedy (for a Grand Cru) and woody. In fact the wood note hovers perilously close to taint, but we had two bottles with consistent notes. A shame, as I know the 1999 is a very nice wine. A friend had Alex’s ’98 V-R Suchots and it showed far better than this. Not worth the entrance price.
1999 Vincent Girardin, Chambertin Clos-de-Bèze
Deep colour. There’s deeply toasty and creamy black fruit on the nose. Primary, painfully intense fruit with excellent acidity and buried tannins. Excellent but very hard to drink right now – I’d guess that you need another 7 or 8 years before this wine starts to bloom – but bloom it will. Very impressive wine.
1998 Domaine Thomas-Moillard, Bonnes-Mares
Quite deep colour. Nose is quite wide but not so deep it really needs time to extend itself. Likewise this was a little disappointing on the palate when first opened – more a village standard. It was really about 90 minutes before this wine was singing, and I really liked the tune, both nose and palate expanded in all directions. There’s plenty of tannin, but not particularly astringent and has the fruit to match. Long in the finish – I was disappointed at the start, but sorry to see this finished. If you go for it, take 2 hours in a decanter, it’s young but it’s also very, very promising.
1998 Domaine Thomas-Moillard, Romanée-Saint Vivant
From the get-go, this is a more interesting wine than the Bonnes-Mares. More of everything vs how the Bonnes-Mares started. There’s a really cracking creamy depth to the fruit (I waited for 90 minutes in a decanter) that sustains an excellent finish, the tannins are softer but still large-scale. Today I marginally prefer the peaking Bonnes-Mares, as by the last sip it outstrips this RSV – looks like an interesting match-up over the next few years – I’ll have another look in 4 or 5 years.
2000 En Truffière, Clos de la Roche
Medium colour. The nose shows high toned berry fruits and low gamey notes. The palate is also a little gamey though again with plenty of berry fruit. More mineral than fat, this wine doesn’t show the required density for the label. Nice wine though, but more of a very good villages than a Grand Cru – certainly not worth the cash.
2001 En Truffière, Grands-Echézeaux
Medium, medium-plus colour. The nose has black fruit, a little oak and faint gamey notes. A step up in concentration though well short of the best examples. Nicely intense black fruit and good length. Really need another 4-5 years to integrate all the parts – not least the oak. Very nice, if a second division GE.
2001 En Truffière, Charmes-Chambertin
Medium, medium-plus colour. Nice earthy red fruit on the nose. Sweeter than the last wine, nice acidity and very good length. Good concentration. Good wine and closer to Grand Cru quality.

Grand Cru Whites

2002 Bonneau du Martray, Corton-Charlemagne
A young, pale colour. A wine whose aromatics major on fruit. Seems fat, but needs just a little more time as there’s still a little oak marking the palate. Gives the impression of lower acidity, but perhaps that’s due to the extra fat. Probably starting to sing as you read this – or leave until 2015+
2001 Bonneau du Martray, Corton-Charlemagne
Same colour as the 2000. The wine shows a blast of fruit on the nose. The steely palate is much more mineral than the 2000 and seems to show an extra length despite less-than piercing acidity. Very drinkable today, in fact it’s a bit of a honey.
2000 Bonneau du Martray, Corton-Charlemagne
Light colour again. Again a high toned nose, slightly alcoholic. The palate is fit rather than fat, super focused Charlemagne intensity. Super texture, really nice acidity and a great finish. Few words but great wine.
1997 Bonneau du Martray, Corton-Charlemagne
A deeper yellow colour. The high-toned nose has hints of oak and is much more backward than a recent half bottle that showed lots of exotic fruit. The palate doesn’t have the kick or the complexity of the 1995 that follows, still it is showing in a very young and backward way. This wine from the domain is quite backward compared to other examples – presumably from cooler storage.
1995 Bonneau du Martray, Corton-Charlemagne
Medium golden colour. The nose is a little closed with what I first thought to be faint oxidative notes but with air becomes honied. The palate is fat and concentrated showing real complexity and super acidity. The finish is reminiscent of fresh, wild strawberries. This wine will last a very long time – and will be super.
1994 Bonneau du Martray, Corton-Charlemagne
Lighter colour. The nose majors on honey. A real Charlemagne blast of concentration on the palate. Relative to the previous wines this is a little more muted and shorter, but in isolation this is still very nice wine and was very much enjoyed with dinner.
1993 Bonneau du Martray, Corton-Charlemagne
Relatively pale colour. The nose is open and high toned, quite pure. The palate shows a lovely blend of fat and acidity surrounding a super core of concentrated young fruit. Very long too. This will be a wonderful wine, but should still wait.
1986 Bonneau du Martray, Corton-Charlemagne
From magnum. Bright golden colour. The nose shows complex notes that include honey and lanolin. A model of freshness and power the palate has engrossing complexity and a special ‘extra’ dimension on the finish. Real class.
2001 Henri Clerc, Bâtard-Montrachet
I’m not sure that Mr Clerc made this wine (Girardin?) I think the labels were actually kept for repeat buyers in the French restaurant trade. Quite pale colour. The nose is penetrating without being forceful – very nice. I find the palate quite oaky but the length isn’t in doubt. After the Truffière Charlemagne, this wine is a little light or could be lacy – you can choose your own descriptor. Evidently a very good wine, but doesn’t do enough for me to justify the price.
2000 Domaine du Colombier, Chablis Bougros
Pale gold. This is nicely deep on the nose with honied hints of citrus. Better acidity than the two 2002’s tasted, but this wine majors on the mineral. Very very long, perhaps with a faint metallic edge. This is a wine to forget for a few years – super.
2001 Dubreuil-Fontaine, Corton-Charlemagne
Quite pale. A pure and understated nose that gives few hints to the depth to come. The palate shows quite a fat attack becoming more mineral on the mid-palate and into the finish. Slowly fading length. Has classic Charlemagne attack, but the overall style is closer to the understatement of the 2001 from Bonneau du Martray than the outright power of Henri Boillot’s 2001. I bought a couple more of these.
2001 En Truffière, Corton-Charlemagne
Pale yellow. Lovely nose – shows some intensity. The palate is super and very Charlemagne. A different expression, but close to the Dubreuil-Fontaine in quality. Tasty but more expensive than the Boillot or Bonneau du Martray…

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