Wow, I recognised and rubbed shoulders with so many ‘famous’ people. I helped Jancis with her coat and joked about trying the gym afterwards (not), and Joanna Simon should get a new picture for the Times, she’s actually quite striking and nice lady too – she even poured me a glass. Anyway, I’m sure your not interested in my fawning, but to show a bit of balance there were lots of men in suits too!
So what about the wines ? Well, with one exception I tried only the reds. I found them to have good structure i.e. both good acidity and tannin, though at this stage, very few of them could be described as charmers, but no obvious duds either. If you have a good merchant, then you can of course expect them to pick the good ones !! Of the 34 reds that I tasted, there are no opaque, saturated monsters, and only 5 or 6 showed the intensity of fruit you will find in the 1999’s but then, what difference does a year make? I’m guessing that there are parallels to 1998 here, which is turning out to be a cracker of a vintage that I’m still buying. In most cases a generic TN would read pale to medium cherry colour, red fruits plus wood on the nose, good acid and tannin, mainly medium intensity red fruit, good finish. Overall, good+/very good.
I’d rate the vintage historically a very good one, but in the context of the vintages you can still buy from the 1990’s no more than average.
So will I buy ? Well, selectively yes, this is burgundy after all, so the producers can sometimes do amazing things. I only tend to buy when the TN is ‘fine’ or better, and I bought very widely the 1999’s which apart from some DRC I think I’ve stopped buying (I hope I’ve stopped buying !). I suspect I might only buy 20-30 bottles of the 2000’s, much less than the 1998 vintage, maybe even less than 1997 too. I certainly don’t need lots more wine where patience is required and some of these will certainly require patience.
In the order tasted. Those marked with (CS) are cask samples, put into bottle, and then driven to the UK the day before the tasting. The rest (I assume) are already in bottle. The notes ignore such quaint things as ‘bottle shock’ and are as written at the time.
Domaine Didier Fornerol, Bourgogne Rouge
Pale colour. Oaky & cherry nose. Not so bad acidity or tannin, good length. Good+
Domaine Didier Fornerol, Cote de Nuits Villages
Pale-mid cherry colour. Oaky nose again, but this time higher toast and can’t locate any fruit. Both higher acidity and tannin than the previous wine with good length. Good but not my style preference.
Domaine de l’Arlot, Cote de Nuits Villages Clos du Chapeau (CS)
Medium colour. This cask sample shows some mustiness and no fruit on the nose. On the palate we have nice red fruit and good acid with quite high tannin. The length is okay too. Without the mustiness, good+. Subsequent bottle was okay.
Domaine Guy Amiot, Chassagne-Montrachet Les Chaumes
Mid cherry in colour. Some mild toasty oak on the nose. Very grippy tannin with good acidity. Good.
Domaine Simon Bize, Savigny-lès-Beaune Les Bourgeots (CS)
Darker cherry with a purple tinge. Again grippy tannins with good acidity. Most interesting wine yet. Very good.
Domaine Simon Bize, Savigny-lès-Beaune Aux Grands Liards (CS)
Mid cherry again, but this time no purple. First wine where fruit dominates the wood on the nose. Grippy tannins and very good acidity. Red cherry & raspberry on the palate, but a little shorter than previous wine. Very good.
Domaine Simon Bize, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Aux Vergelesses (CS)
Medium cherry/ruby looks a year older than previous wine. Not too much wood, high toned, though closed nose. Good high tannin, which is not so grippy. Nice acidity with red cherry fruit. Good+
Domaine Rapet, Pernand 1er Ile de Vergelesses
Lovely medium cherry colour. Harmonious oak and red fruits on the nose. Good but not so obtrusive tannin, good acidity. Red & black cherry finish. First wine with a really good mouthfeel. Very good+
Domaine Paul Pernot, Beaune 1er Les Reversées
Medium cherry colour. Oak is quite sweet on this one with red fruits behind. Doesn’t have the structure of the previous wine but is not bad. Again a good mouthfeel and medium length. Good+
Domaine Paul Pernot, Volnay 1er Les Carelles
Medium cherry colour with a purple edge. Oaky nose has a hint of toast, doesn’t at this stage smell like a Volnay (to me). Good mouthfeel with good structure. Good+
Domaine Bruno Clavelier, Vosne-Romanée Les Hautes Maizières (CS)
Medium cherry, nose is a mixture of red & black fruits with subtle oak. Sweet with highish acidity and very good tannin. Finish is a long fruit compote. This has nice style. Very good.
Domaine Robert Arnoux, Vosne-Romanée Les Hautes Maizières (CS)
Subdued sweet nose. Very similar to the previous wine, but with an added strawberry dimension on the palate. Very good+
Domaine René Engel, Vosne-Romanée (CS)
Less ‘new’ colour than previous wine. Some higher tones on the nose, but basically closed. Higher acidity than previous two, good tannin. The fruit is very long on this one. Not a charmer today, but this is at least very good+
Domaine des Lambrays, Morey-Saint-Denis (CS)
Medium ruby colour. Some high tones though closed. High acid and medium tannin, much softer and more charming than the previous wine. Sweet with medium length. Very good+
Domaine Frédéric Esmonin, Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Prieur
Medium cherry colour with some purple. Hint of spice on closed nose. Medium acid & tannin. Medium length, medium interest. Good+
Domaine Fourrier, Gevrey-Chambertin Aux Echézeaux (CS)
Darker cherry than previous wine. Spicy red and black fruit on the nose. Medium acid and tannins with very good fruit. Finish is only medium length, but still overall very good.
Domaine Géantet-Pansiot, Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes
Similar dark colour to previous wine. Closed though still sweet nose. Good acidity & tannin supporting deep black cherry fruit. Very good+
Domaine Bruno Clavelier, Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Brûlées (CS)
Colour is vibrant cherry with purple edge. Nose has oak but also deep interesting ‘cooking’ black and red compote. Good acid and medium tannin. A lovely deep finish. The star of the show so far. Fine
Domaine Fourrier, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Gruenchers (CS)
Medium cherry with purple hints. Nose sweet but closed, though some mild spice. Palate is lovely with medium acid and tannin. Very good+
Domaine Rapet, Corton Grand Cru
Medium cherry. Nice palate with good acid & medium tannin. Only medium length, but good red & black fruit mixture. Very good.
Domaine de Courcel, Pommard 1er Les Croix Noires (CS)
Medium cherry. Nose giving little away, though some sweetness and a few ‘low’ tones. Palate is much more interesting than the previous (Corton). Very high acid with good tannins. Very good length in a creamy black cherry way. Very nice and very good+
Domaine de Courcel, Pommard 1er Les Rugiens (CS)
Medium ruby colour. High toned nose, cranberry with a sweet undertow. Good acid and high tannin. Creeps up on you with the long finish. Very nice and very good+ again.
Domaine Frédéric Esmonin, Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru
Medium cherry with a hint of purple. Whilst a little closed, gives the impression of being very ‘wide’ on the nose with high tones that are more floral than fruit. Quite silky with well covered acidity and medium tannin. Very good+
Domaine des Lambrays, Clos-des-Lambrays Grand Cru (CS)
Slightly darker cherry. Some high tones on the nose but less expressive than the previous ‘Ruchottes’. Good acidity and tannin. Exquisite fruit on the palate and very long too. Super, definitely fine+
Domaine Frédéric Esmonin, Chambertin Grand Cru
Similar colour to the Lambrays. Nose is oaky with toast. Highish acidity and tannin and good length too. Very good+
Domaine Frédéric Esmonin, Griottes-Chambertin Grand Cru
Paler cherry colour than last few wines. Nose is sweet & oaky. Good acid and very good tannins. Silky with plenty of fruit and length. Very good+
Domaine Géantet-Pansiot, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru (CS)
Good cherry colour. Subdued nose with sweet undertones to the oak. Medium acid and tannin. Very silky and sweet, medium length. Very good+
Domaine du Clos de Tart, Clos de Tart Grand Cru (CS)
Darker cherry with purple hints. Nose is at first a little disjointed, oak then raspberry then cherry. All comes together on 3rd sniff. Very good acidity and tannin. Sweet with lots of fruit and a good finish. Fine.
Domaine Jean Grivot, Clos Vougeot Grand Cru (CS)
Similar depth of colour, but no purple. Subdued nose has some spice and sweet background oak. Lovely raspberry fruits with a creamy background. Again good acid and tannin. Fine again !
Domaine René Engel, Grands Echézeaux Grand Cru (CS)
Deeper cherry again. The nose was a little almondy, apparently reductive (very similar to a 91 Echézeaux from Grivot I recently had) and had a sweet oak background. This wine is more concentrated and intense than the colour would suggest. Good acid and tannin with creamy black fruits. Not so sure about this reductive nose business, but I’ll be buying some anyway. Fine+
Domaine Armand Rousseau, Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru (CS)
Bright medium cherry. Very closed nose. Good acid with medium tannins. There are sweet red and black fruits. Medium length. Very good+
Domaine Armand Rousseau, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Clos-Saint-Jacques (CS)
Darker cherry colour. Sweet nose has subdued spice and oak. Good acid and tannin with a nice length. There’s nice mouthfeel, but on this showing the wine is not that outstanding. Still very good+
Domaine Armand Rousseau, Chambertin Clos-de-Bèze Grand Cru (CS)
Similar darker cherry colour. Good nose of harmonious oak and predominantly red fruit. Much more intense than the previous two wines. Good acid and tannin and nicely long. I think fine+
Domaine Armand Rousseau, Chambertin Grand Cru (CS)
Colour as above, but with some purple. Nose is more subdued. Higher acid and good tannin. Fruit is again intense and interesting, but less length. This is certainly at least fine, but on this showing I prefer the Bèze.
I went back to the Grands Echezeaux again after tasting these last two and it still held its own, so it’s my top pick at £41 in bond, though the Clos-de-Bèze is maybe a bit better it is also likely to be nearer £60 in bond. My other top pick was the Clos-de-Lambrays – a really fine quality Grand Cru for only £28 in bond. Also, both of the de Courcel Pommards, and the V-R Brûlées from Clavelier were really super. Grivots Clos Vougeot is excellent but £37 in bond. The Clos de Tart is also a beauty, but a bit expensive at £52 in bond !
Okay, it’s put your money where your mouth is time. I ended up purchasing :
René Engel, Grands Echézéaux
Domaine des Lambrays, Clos de Lambrays
Bruno Clavelier, Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Brûlées