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my 2002 wines of the year

Domaine Marquis d’Angerville
Volnay 1er Clos des Ducs
1982

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 !


Romanée Saint-Vivant

Domaine Thomas-Moillard
Romanée Saint-Vivant
1989

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 !

The Domaine
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.

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?