No, not the one on the right – very good as it was – the one on the left. It was a Paulée wine. Only two bottles remained in the cellar; this one with a little air-space and a second one which had a perfect fill – presumably from re-corking. You know when everybody puts their nose in their glass and almost en ensemble exhorts – ouf! – that was this wine. We never felt the need to open the second bottle, there was, however, also the 2005 previously opened, and there was a clear family resemblance…
I little birdie tells that Alain Serveau of Maison Albert Bichot is the IWC’s white ‘winemaker’ of the year. Those are my quotation marks given that Alan probably didn’t get his hands too dirty during the process, rather I expect he provided the ‘direction’ 😉 Well done Alan – a friendly and humble man.
Apparently the Corton-Charlemagne of Bichot’s Domaine du Pavillon 2009 was the winner of both the 2011 White Burgundy Trophy and the ‘French White’ Trophy. I have to say that a bottle of the 2001 earlier this year was nothing short of tremendous!
For the reds it’s another ‘Burgundian’ winemaker – Patrick Landanger – who also scooped IWC Champion Red Wine of the year with his 2009 villages Chambolle. I really must catch up with what he’s doing in Volnay!
So that was 2006!
Not such a bad year (provided you have no association with a ‘war zone’), many good wines were drunk and they easily outweighed the number of disappointments. The 2005’s tasted throughout the year in barrel were harder to taste than (for instance) the 2002’s but really started to come together at the end of of 2006 – a great vintage for both colours that should provide a lot of fun drinking this year and beyond. The quality of the grape harvest was was patchy but many super wines will be made in Corton and further north.
Transfer of the year in 2006 can only be the coup by Robert Parker when he hired Neal Martin for eRobertParker. It was a far-sighted move to bring the the pithy, witty writing of Neal to a new stage – it’s just a shame that Neal is now lost to those who do not pay…
My best value wines from 2006 were very easy to choose – and that despite close to 600 wines tasted/drunk during the year:
1999 Francois Gay, Ladoix and 2002 Louis Jadot, Bourgogne Chardonnay
The red punches way above it’s appellation and was a joy to all that drank it, likewise the plush rather than steely white with its coat of perfectly judged oak was often mistaken for a grander wine. Approximately 16 Euros for the red and 8 Euros for the white provide a true education in burgundian value.
My favourite 1er Cru wines from 2006 were the ones that really stood out from the crowd, I will choose two reds and two whites, first the reds:
2004 JC Boisset, Chambolle Charmes and 2003 Leroy, Gevrey Combottes
Both wines show a mind-bending concentration and yet balance. The Charmes is an unbelievably complex and long wine, whereas the Combottes is about its crystalline delivery. The Charmes is not cheap, but a bargain when compared to the Leroy – note that both of these wines will ‘better’ most grand crus.
2002 Bouchard P&F, Meursault Perrières + 2004 Amiot, Chassagne Vergers
If both of my red picks major on power, then here we look at subtlety and joie-de-vivre. The Bouchard is subtly concentrated but understatedly multidimensional – a wine to marvel in its many reflections. The Amiot was one of my first bottled 2004 purchases, and during the first 6 months of its life stunned in its vivacity, encapsulating all the fresh, citrus infused minerality that 2004 can offer. It’s still fun now, but already just a little less forward – my last three bottles are now sleeping.
The most impressive Grand Crus of 2006 are 2 reds and one white:
1990 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, La Tache
This can only be described as ‘ultra-wine’, unfortunately its price is pretty much unaffordable for anyone who didn’t buy in the first 3-4 years from release. The icon of a generation.
2003 Domaine des Chezeaux, Chambertin
Because of the domaine’s metayage arrangements you will also find exactly the same wine under the Ponsot label for a few dollars more. The Chezeaux/Ponsot Chambertin is usually quite a lacy and understated wine – at least for a Chambertin – but 2003 brings extra density and a peacock’s tail of complexity to the finish. Worth an extra search.
2002 Antonin Guyon, Corton-Charlemagne
Few grand cru whites really stood out from the crowd in 2006, but this forthright ‘take me as you find me’ powerhouse won-over all who drank it this year. Well balanced, but with quintessential Charlemagne power.
Just in case you were interested, the best wine I tasted from barrel in 2006 was Comte Liger-Belairs’ La Romanée.
I’m already looking forward to wines yet to be drunk in 2007…
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti
I suppose February was a little early for an entry in this page, but then again it’s not every day that you get to taste La Tâche. Even from such a young vintage as 2000, there is something quite special about this precocious wine. This was tasted along with the other reds from the domaine in 2000, courtesy of Corney and Barrow> in the UK. La Tâche and Romanée-Conti were head and shoulders above the other wines, which I would ‘merely’ class as excellent, but these two were very special. Apparently La Tâche is usually the most ‘showy’ of the wines when young, and that was certainly the case for this tasting, hence, it’s inclusion ahead of the Romanée-Conti.
The Grand Cru
In the very heart of Vosne-Romanée lies this special piece of ground. La Tâche is a ‘Monopole’ vineyard of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti; that is to say that they own the vineyard in its entireity, so you won’t find any other producers of this wine. As vineyards go at this rareified level, it’s actually quite a large size, covering 6.06 hectares, or 14.4 acres. From the 46 year-old vines, the domiane had a relatively high yield of 32.65 hectolitres per hectare in 2000, producing a little over 2,000 cases. If the vineyard of Romanée-Conti did not exist, this would be the finest Burgundy in the world.
Deep cherry red colour. The nose is at first disappointingly understated and faintly spicy, but with swirling; first red cherry, then black cherry, then blackcurrant, then kirsch, hints of vanilla, then orange – something new every sniff – then the nose goes deeper, showing a little plum and coffee – frankly stunning, who needs to drink this wine? A fat, sappy palate with very concentrated fruit, tannins that are more silk than velvet and a multitude of flavours playing over your tongue – fantastic texture. The maximum interest for me right now is the aromatics, but this is exceptional wine by any measure.
Domaine Marquis d’Angerville
Volnay 1er Clos des Ducs
This wine comes from a 2.40 hectare ‘monopole’ vineyard (i.e. only one owner) in the Côte de Beaune. As vineyards in burgundy go this is quite large for a single owner, the vineyard itself is directly against the Pommard side (North-Eastern side) of the village of Volnay. This wine is usually only lightly oaked, and certainly left no signature on either the 1982 or the 1997-1999’s that I’ve tasted.
So what about this particular example? A couple of magnums were available in a local wine auction, but the first thing you learn about ‘Burgundy’ is that old wines with no knowledge of how well they have been stored, will invariably be a big disappointment. I checked with Allen Meadows of Burghound who last year published a long vertical tasting of Clos des Ducs, but omitted the 1982. Given the quite low auction price estimate and the fact that d’Angerville often produces a good wine even in a less good vintage (such as 1982). Allen though it should be worth a bid, though evidently no-one else did as I paid only €50 for both magnums! So to the wine; this is not the finest wine tasted in 2002 that honour must still go the the Romanée Saint-Vivant (below), but this was so unexpectedly good, plus was enjoyed together with friends and a meal so will be remembered just as well as the RSV :
Both magnums had a very high fill in the neck, so I chose to open first the one with a missing capsule. Wines this old can often be very fragile; they start off in a wonderful way and 20 minutes later have lost all the interest on the nose and eventually become quite unpleasant. So no decanting, and 2 minutes after opening we were already tasting. Fantastic deep ruby core gradually lightening to amber, looks only 8-10 years of age. Nose still has some high flowery tones, but most of the interest is lower down with tea, leather and smokey notes. Palate has excellent acidity with still furry background tannin. Surprisingly vigorous, excellent density of stewed red fruits and a ‘marmite’ finish. The wine lost none of its intensity during the 90 minutes it was open. Given the still robust tannin I would guess that this wine was no charmer in its first 10+ years, but frankly, I couldn’t have expected it to be so excellent. Absolutely no rush to open the second bottle !
It is fitting that this should be the best wine so far this year, as the finest wine I’ve yet drunk, was a perfect bottle of the 1988 Romanée Saint-Vivant from the same producer – that was around 4 years ago. Shame I don’t have any 1990 lying around in waiting !
Domaine Thomas-Moillard is typically Burgundian – i.e. hard to understand ! The Thomas-Moillard labelled wines have always been the domaine wines of what is now called (and labelled) Domaine Charles Thomas, however (!), Domaine Charles Thomas is also the owner of a large negociant business i.e. making wine from grapes that they buy, as opposed to grapes they grow themselves, or simply selling purchased wine. The negociant wines were differentiated by having the labels; Moillard-Grivot or Domaine des Obiers. To make this ‘simpler’ the Thomas-Moillard label should disappear, to be replaced with the label Domaine Charles Thomas (still with me?). This makes the naming a little easier to understand – until you find that they are still releasing under the old Thomas-Moillard label in some markets – oh well !!
The Grand Cru
Romanée Saint-Vivant itself covers almost 9.5 ha, the main proprietor being the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti with around 5.3 ha. Domaine Thomas is one of the smallest proprietors, owning 0.17 ha of the plot at the bottom of the hill, next to the village of Vosne-Romanée. These vines are actually tended by Sylvain Cathiard who has a similar size plot in the same area. RS-V, is usually ranked just behind Richebourg in the hierarchy of Grand Cru’s, but for me this is a preference thing, and my preference leans closer to the often slightly lighter RS-V. Clive Coates likens the style of RS-V to Musigny, and who am I to argue.