I had the great pleasure of attending a white burgundy tasting in Ely Bar & Brasserie last night organized by Conor Richardson (of Burgundy Direct fame). The theme for the tasting was Puligny vs Chassagne Montrachet. Conor started organizing this a couple of months back and when we gathered last night he had amassed 15 willing participants who had the tough task of tasting 17 different wines from Puligny & Chassagne ranging from village wines right up to grand cru. Needless to say I was very excited in anticipation of this evening.
The wines were arranged into 7 flights all designed to give a different take on the villages. The first flight was 3 2006 village wines, 2 from Chassagne and 1 from Puligny. This was a good opening flight but one wine stood out from the others
[b]2006 Chassagne Montrachet, Bernard Moreau[/b] – This was a cracking start to the evening. The nose was full of exotic tones of coconut and orange rind but the palate was very mineral and steely as well as having some oak derived tones. This was a very complete village level wine that was a step above the other 2 wines in the flight
[b]2006 Puligny Montrachet ‘Miroy’, Pierre Janny[/b] – This wine showed the most vintage character, with tropical fruits on the nose intermingled with pear and minerals. On the palate this was quite taut and firm but had a tasty, persistent finish
[b]2006 Chassagne Montrachet, Domaine Bachelet[/b] – There was a bit of debate as to whether this wine was ‘correct’ or not. Initially I thought it was spoiled but as it opened up in the glass it began to show a bit more character. In the end it was a light, mealy wine with lots of oaky tones and a sour finish.
The next flight was a pair of Pulignys from the 2008 vintage. This flight served to show that these types of wines need at least 2/3 years in the bottle before broaching to give them a chance to fill out a little.
[b]2008 Puligny Montrachet ‘Trezins’, Marc Colin[/b] – Lovely wine, but very young. It’s a bit gawky at the moment with plenty of oak, acid, fruit and minerals on show but not at all integrated. One to revisit in another year or two.
[b]2008 Puligny Montrachet, Moillard-Grivot[/b] – I didn’t enjoy this wine as much. The use of oak was a little obvious and the wine was lacking sufficient fruit to balance out the acidity. As the wine opened out it became more enjoyable though.
The third flight was a superb flight, 2 Drouhin Puligny 1er Cru Folatieres but from different vintages. There was a noticeable step up in quality from village wines to the 1er crus.
[b]2007 Puligny Montrachet ‘Folatieres’ 1er Cru, Joesph Drouhin[/b] – This was a superb wine showing very well. It was a big wine but carried itself very elegantly. It had superb mineral cut and thrust and a complex range of flavours. The oak in the wine was noticeable but added to rather than distracted from the overall wine
[b]2005 Puligny Montrachet ‘Folatieres’ 1er Cru, Joesph Drouhin[/b] – This wine was a little tighter than the 2007 but incredibly refined and complex. It didn’t have quite as much mineral cut but the overall package was knee weakening. Both wines were superb examples of a forward style of Puligny.
The fourth flight was a bit of a let down after the fireworks of the previous flight and none of the wines did Chassagne any favours. In theory this should have been a great flight of 3 wines from the same vineyard in 3 different vintages from 2 different producers.
[b]2005 Chassagne Montrachet ‘Morgeots’ 1er Cru, Louis Jadot[/b] – Prematurely Oxidised! Sherry on the nose, sherry on the palate. Quickly dumped into the spittoon.
[b]2006 Chassagne Montrachet ‘Morgeots’ 1er Cru, Vincent Girarden[/b]– Lots of oak on the nose, quite unrefined but definitely white burgundy. Not as distinctive a step up from the village level chassagnes. A little short.
[b]2007 Chassagne Montrachet ‘Morgeots’ 1er Cru, Vincent Girarden[/b] – Quite tight. Too much oak, not enough fruit. A pleasant wine but nothing more. Better length than the 2006
Both of the Girarden wines got a bit of a short shrift on the evening due to being book ended by much better flights. In reality these wines would probably be lovely on an evening on their own with a nice dinner but they didn’t shine at this tasting.
The next flight promised so much, 2 great 2005 Chassagne 1er crus, but again started off with a disappointment before revealing 2 top notch wines.
[b]2005 Chassagne Montrachet ‘Champ Gain’ 1er Cru V&F Jouard[/b]– Corked, unfortunately. This should have been a superb wine.
[b]2006 Puligny Montrachet ‘Champ Canet’ 1er Cru, Louis Carillon[/b] – This wine was opened as a back up for the corked Jouard. This was wine of the night for many of the tasters. It was a complete wine, drinking perfectly and a pleasure to taste on the evening. It had superb minerality, fruit, oak, acid and great balance and length. The precision to the wine was key as it delivered understated complexity in waves across the palate. A truly superb wine.
[b]2005 Chassagne Montrachet ‘La Romanee’ 1er Cru Vincent Dancer[/b] – This wine was coiled up tight but still delivered great pleasure. It had a superbly plush mouth feel and great length. It felt as if it was holding back a little as behind a deep core of fruit was a steely, mineral wine.
Flight 6 was another cracker, 2 great 2005 Puligny 1er crus, but one wine stood head and shoulders above the other
[b]2005 Puligny Montrachet ‘Pucelles’ 1er Cru, Philippe Chavy[/b] – This was a bit disappointing initially after the previous 2 wines. It was a bit oaky and a bit flabby in comparison with the others. It’s a very forward wine that’s giving its all at the moment but was just a little outclassed on the evening. After an hour or so it opened out nicely though and was a little more refined and less obvious.
[b]2005 Puligny Montrachet ‘Perrieres’ 1er Cru, Louis Carillon[/b] – Cut from the same cloth as the 2006 Champ Canet. The minerals soared out of the glass onto the nose and followed through the palate. This is an incredible wine, full of energy, with plenty in reserve. I’d drink the 2006 Champ Canet now but would rather have a case of this in the cellar.
The final flight was really superb with 3 contrasting wines, which all showed great quality.
[b]2004 Puligny Montrachet ‘Combottes’ 1er Cru, Jacques Prieur[/b] – This was the only fully mature wine of the evening. It had amazing flavour and complexity on the palate but (arguably) lacked a little energy as a result. It showed lovely flavours of dried apricots, orange rind and sweet spice all sitting on top of a bed of minerals. Yum!
[b]2002 Chassagne Montrachet ‘La Romanee’ 1er Cru, Vincent Dancer[/b] – I thought this wine was wonderful, but others were disappointed as the felt it showed better a few years ago. Superb mouth feel, great minerality and lovely length. This isn’t as taut or refined as the better Pulignys but is a great wine in its own right
[b]2005 Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru, Vincent Dancer[/b] – Just as the 1er crus were a step up in quality from the village wines this grand cru was another step up again. Still very young and very tightly coiled this wine just flattered the palate with great power and complexity. It delivered waves and waves of different flavours as it washed across the palate and settled down, cosied up and flirted with your taste buds. Simply divine but possible not the best wine of the evening.
All in all a great evening, with some wonderful wines and good insights. The importance of producer rang clear to me on the evening. The pureness and cut of Puligny stood out from the most rustic nature of the Chassagne wines. The difference in quality between the tiers was evident and it shows (unfortunately) that you have to pay for the best experience in white burgundy. The risk of Pox is real and a great shame as catching these wines at the right time is very difficult, but at least they deliver pleasure right through their lifetimes.