Cathiard already knew how to charge for their wine when this was released en-primeur; £100 per bottle ex-tax in January 2001 versus £41 for Engel’s Grands-Echézeaux – both are great wines, but the latter, so far, unquestionably the greater. Of course, that’s still very cheap versus today! The merchant offered to split a case of 12 for me, so I could merely buy 6 – probably it’s impossible to buy cases of 12 today(!?) With hindsight, oh for the chance to buy Cathiard and particularly Engel at those prices again!
I still think of Cathiard in that period as a more than good producer, who was striving for excellent – since the 1980s, first the André Cathiard labels, then Sylvain’s had always been more than good – and relatively inexpensive too – rarely great wines but always great values. Hints of that lack of detail-conscious approach remain for this 1999 – not least, the unassuming normal length, bleached pale, unbranded cork – just a Burgundian coat of arms and ‘mis en bouteille a la proprieté‘ – that’s all you get, but:
1999 Sylvain Cathiard, Romanée St.Vivant
A practically sombre, if still clean, red colour – no signs of age though. Oh! What a beautifully elegant red-fruit nose – that’s a great invitation – though not the complex class of Arlot’s 99 Clos Arlot right now. In the mouth it’s similarly red-fruited to the nose with a panorama of flavour that rapidly widens – and here is a profound depth of flavour that’s inextricably linked to the upper-class length of finish – clearly ‘bravo’ wine – equally clearly a wine whose performance remains out of sync with the commercial value of the bottle – despite still being a great wine. Today the Arlot is the better wine in all except, perhaps, ultimate length. One of each remain to compare in another 9-10 years – maybe also with the Arlot RSV – wouldn’t that be fun?!
Rebuy – Yes at the old price, definitely not the market price…
2017 Julien Brocard, Chablis Boissoneuse
The penultimate of 28 bottles of this, and the nose seems to have shrunk – still a clarity and freshness but less depth and attack here. In the mouth, well that’s just lovely – as always – fresh, mobile, fine citrus energy. A little sweetness but also saline and with that beautiful ‘Chablis balance’ – just completely delicious – and then it was gone!
Rebuy – Yes
2012 Domaine Faiveley, Corton-Charlemagne
A nose with quite some weight of punch – a faint firework reduction that wraps a creamy, almost creme-brulee, note around the sweetness of the fruit. If it wasn’t so damn impressive, it would be too much! Mouth-filling, oily-silky, intense, radiating sweet flavour wide and long, here is also some mouth-watering minerality. I wine that is just so brilliantly impressive – yet today it lacks a little freshness for the best balance. I just have one more of the original 3 of these, and clearly this has the potential to be great wine. It needs 5 more years – maybe 10 – but it’s sealed with cork, so that’s a worry. This was so nearly great that I’m prepared to wait on the last bottle until 2027 – I hope that the cork is sympathetic…
Rebuy – Yes