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all kneel (neal)…

Neal Martin don’t you hate him? Young enough to get away with liking trendy bands (that you’ve never heard of), gorgeous Japanese girlfriend, spends all his time drinking 1785 claret, writes with a rare witty style – and on top of all that – his new website is already (probably) the best repository of (up-to-date) info on the Bordeaux Châteaux – bugger!

tough day!

On Wednesday this week I had the really tough job of visiting Joseph De Bucy – a nice man who makes very tasty Meursaults, and Nicolas Potel for a marathon tasting of 2002’s. In between I had to shoe-horn a 3 hour lunch and afterwards a pizza and lots of water to ensure full concentration for the 2 hour drive home. And the wines? – well you’ll have to look at issue two of the www.burgundy-report.com won’t you – only 2 weeks to go – but suffice to say I’m already making enquiries about some of Mr Potel’s wines 🙂

lazy boy!

A mixture of a dead laptop and finding the time means I’ve been very lazy of recent – at least in terms of adding material to the site – Burgundy Report is ticking along nicely for next months issue though. Anyway a nice dinner on Friday evening and no TN’s but here’s a brief overview :

1989 Olivier Leflaive, Corton-Charlemagne – perfect condition, waxy and nutty, very long – super enjoyable
1998 Olivier Leflaive, St.Aubin 1er Charmois – same golden colour as the Corton – stylistically similar but in a less forcefull way – very nice wine
2000 Pirramimma, White Label Shiraz – opaque, big juicy shiraz – as it should be 🙂
1993 Chateau Langoa-Barton – Medium-plus colour, blackcurrant and cedar nose, medium intensity palate with just a little grain to the tannins – nice easy drinking wine – a luncheon claret?

testing times…

Just testing too much Burgundy at the moment for the Burgundy Report so it’s a bit quieter than normal – tough life 🙂

The January Burgundy Session

Absolutely good food, good wine, good company. Warming up with two red wines with friends on the Thursday evening (Clos de la Roche and Grands Echézeaux), and considerably more on the Friday evening when 13 of us from the wine-pages forum got together in London.

As you can see from the first picture, everything started in a perfectly orderly fashion: four hours later you can see lower down that perhaps we weren’t such a well oiled machine !

THE WHITE TN’s

All of these drunk at the restaurant – La Trouvaille, just off Carnaby Street.

1996 Verget, Chablis 1er Montée de Tonnere
Medium toast oak and a hint of something green on the nose – lime I think, gradually becomes buttery and honied. The palate is powerful and rich, showing very good acidity, just a little butter and very long. Despite just a trace of bitterness on the finish I think this is excellent wine, though the oak blurs the ‘sense of place’ for me.

1999 Hubert Lamy, St.Aubin 1er Clos de la Chatenière
More subtle nose than the Chablis, the oak is less obvious and there are white flowers against a faintly citrus background. The more mineral palate is wide and quite powerful, though can’t compete with the richness of the Chablis. Lovely acidity and very long too, almost a caramel ending. Very good.

1997 Colin-Deléger, Meursault
Deeper colour. For me just a hint of oxidation on the nose. The palate is fat and rich, in fact rich enough to do a good job of hiding the good acidity. A long finish too. The palate is better than the disappointing nose, but still a pretty good wine.

1999 Colin-Deléger, Meursault Les Corbin
Nicely integrated oak on the nose. The palate is quite sweet and again the extract does a good job of hiding the acidity. Not as long as the previous wines. For me, pretty good only.

2001 Domaine Dujac, Morey St. Denis 1er Les Monts Luisants
Lovely nose with grapefruit and banana notes. Good acidity and reasonable volume in the mouth. There’s reasonable length, but I find the wine a little bland, perhaps the fact that the wine’s only been in bottle for two weeks is to blame.

1996 Fontaine-Gagnard, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Les Caillerets
Lovely nose, nicely integrated. Plenty of acidity but slightly harsh. The palate has good intensity but comes across a little bland. Quite good only.

1995 Gerard Chavy, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Folatières
Relatively subdued nose, faintly nutty. Lovely acidity coupled with a slightly buttery palate that opens really wide. The long finish shows a little aniseed. This is a lovely wine.

THE RED TN’s
All but two of these were also drunk at La Trouvaille, you might find a couple of interlopers . . . .
2000 Robert Groffier, Bourgogne Rouge
Slightly animale nose with primary black fruit. For a Bourgogne this has excellent density and very good acidity. The tannins are quite grainy with blackberry and raspberry fruit. This is very nice wine and excellent Bourgogne.

1989 Albert Morot, Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Vergelesses
Restrained nose still has surprisingly primary berry fruit. The palate has good volume and acidity but is less interesting than the nose. Quite good.

1996 Fougeray de Beauclair, Fixin ‘Clos Marion’
Lovely red berry nose, though slightly ‘spikey’. The palate is relatively sweet with a nice depth of fruit. Good, though slightly tart acidity. A little rustic but still worth leaving for a while. Good

2001 Seville Estate, Yarra Valley Pinot Noir
Nose is quite black and astringent. Thick and ripe with good acidity. Finish is slightly bitter. Not bad but for my style preference, over-ripe.

2000 Ashton Hills Vineyard, Pinot Noir
Red cherry and raspberry nose. Less ‘over-ripe’ than the Seville Estate, making the fruit much more interesting. Acidity is good and perhaps a trace of banana on the medium-plus finish. Quite good.

1989 Tollot-Beaut, Corton Bressandes
Starts a little cheesy on the nose. Good depth with furry tannins, but the acidity is a little harsh. I’d drink this quite soon, pretty good, but for me no better.

1994 Joseph Faiveley, Latricières-Chambertin
High toned nose with cherry and quite raw alcohol at the top end and earth at the bottom. The palate shows lots of Gevrey earth, medium density and medium length. Good acidity and tannins, but to my palate not fantastic.

1994 Armand Rousseau, Clos de la Roche
Medium ruby with obvious bricking at the rim. There’s an undertow of red fruit, but the dominant note is of vanilla. The palate is sweet, has good concentration of black cherry and the tannins are absolutely smooth and ‘ready’. The vanilla comes through on the palate too, but still very good.

1991 Louis Latour, Corton Grancey
Undergrowth and earth on the nose, perhaps a little animale too. The animale notes disappear to leave light toasty aromas and some fruit. Excellent acidity with still vigorous tannins. Quite long, this is a very good wine.

1997 Dugat-Py, Gevrey-Chambertin Les Evocelles
Nose is mainly toasty oak – not much else. Good acidity and relatively fine, mouth-coating tannins, but where is the fruit? Considering that 1997 is generally a very ripe vintage I amazed that I could only find the ‘wood’. To my palate very disappointing.

1995 René Engel, Grands Echézeaux
Deep colour. Nose has quite primary small berry fruit. Good acidity and quite grainy tannins. Lovely depth, I wouldn’t suggest trying another for at least 3 years. Very good.

1982 Marquis d’Angerville, Volnay 1er Clos des Ducs
From magnum. This has the best nose so far, and is a lovely complex mix of sweet red fruits, orange peel and rose petals. The sweet palate shows good acidity and still furry (though slightly drying) tannins. A very good wine, and excellent senior citizen.

1985 Domaine Dujac, Bonnes-Mares
From magnum. Sweet, cooked cherry nose still shows lots of oak, but the wood is well integrated. The palate is very ripe and sweet with good acidity and mouth-wrapping tannins. I’m surprised how primary this wine still is, no real complexity. I don’t know whether it will just stay at this level for another 15 years or whether it will improve. Still a fine wine.

red burgundy vintage 2001 with howard ripley

Another good showing from this UK based Specialist Merchant. First a quick word on the whites; I love the aromatics, but they don’t show the consistent interest and balance of the 1999 & 2000’s. Consistent is the operative word, there are some fabulous wines, but ‘some’ not lots, I certainly haven’t tasted any ‘bad’ wines yet, only some which are a little un-interesting. I think Chablis had a tough time compared to the Côte d’Or. There were no Chablis whites in this tasting. For the whites, go here.

Now the reds. For me 2001 has similar lovely fruit to 2000, but turned up a notch for intensity. The acidity is good, but the really obvious difference vs 2000 is the much more robust tannin. The colours are less deep than 99 or 98, but deeper than 2000 – but so what? It’s the concentration and the pleasure they bring, not the extraction of colour and I think there are definitely hot spots for Pommard and Vougeot 2001, and most of my purchases seem to come from Gevrey-Chambertin. I also think it’s hard to call on many of the Côte de Beaune reds because the structure on the bottled cask samples seems to be overpowering the fruit, but from barrel this seems not to be the case – remember bottle shock etc., these are still not finished wines in most cases. So for me 2001 is good/very good vintage for the medium/+ term.

THE RED TN’s

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 are already in bottle. The notes ignore such things as ‘bottle shock’ and are as written at the time.

Domaine Didier Fornerol, Bourgogne Rouge
Pale. Oaky but sweet cherry and raspberry nose. Fine acidity and some tannin. Reasonable concentration. Rather good.

Domaine Didier Fornerol, Cote de Nuits Villages
Slightly deeper cherry colour. Nose is sweet and slightly minty. Similar volume to the basic, but silkier tannins. Good

Domaine Simon Bize, Savigny-lès-Beaune Les Bourgeots (CS)
Medium ruby red. Nose is high toned. Very furry tannins and good acidity. Perhaps the fruit is struggling with the structure. The finish is persistent – so there’s still hope.

Domaine Simon Bize, Savigny-lès-Beaune Aux Grands Liards (CS)
Again medium ruby red with a high toned nose. Tannins are have just a little less grip on the tongue and teeth compared to the ‘Les Bougeots’ but finish a little bitter. Good fruit though.
Domaine Simon Bize, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er, Aux Forneaux (CS)
Deeper colour, now cherry red. A reticent but pure cherry nose. Palate is much more obviously fruity than the village wines. Good acidity and tannins. Good wine.

Domaine Simon Bize, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Aux Vergelesses (CS)
More ruby than cherry colour. Reticent nose again. Very good acidity and tannin which dominate the wine somewhat. Nice fruit though so still good.

Domaine Paul Pernot, Beaune 1er Les Teurons
Medium-plus ruby red. Some oak and plummy fruit on the nose. Smaller scale and smoother tannins. Good acidity with persistent fruit. Good.

Domaine Paul Pernot, Pommard Les Noizons
Medium+ cherry colour. The nose is high toned with sweet oak. More tannic than the ‘Les Teurons’ but with nicer acidity and more interesting fruit.

Domaine Guy Amiot, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er, Clos-Saint-Jean (CS)
Deeper cherry colour. Nose is clean,but in the background a little kerosine(?) Nice fruit with medium tannins and good acidity. Quite persistent. Good.

Domaine Bruno Clavelier, Vosne-Romanée Les Hautes de Beaux-Monts (CS)
Pronounced purple colour. Some earthy notes on the nose. Quite a soft wine with lovely fruit. Very good.

Domaine Bruno Clavelier, Vosne-Romanée La Montagne (CS)
Not quite as deep purple as the ‘Hautes de Beaux-Monts’. Lovely pure fruity nose. A little more tannin and good acidity. Nice style again.

Domaine Robert Arnoux, Vosne-Romanée(CS)
Medium colour but purple tinged. Earth and sweet wood on the nose.. Furry, velvetty tannin and nice acidity. Persistent fruit. Good-plus.

Domaine René Engel, Vosne-Romanée (CS)
Medium cherry colour. High toned fruit on the nose. Sweet lovely high toned (raspberry and redcurrant) fruit on the palate too. Good acidity, though hefty tannins and a little astringent. One to lay down, good.

Domaine des Lambrays, Morey-Saint-Denis (CS)
Medium-plus cherry colour. Lovely high toned red fruity nose. Also red fruit on the palate. Furry tannin, good acidity, persistent & structured. Very good.

Domaine Frédéric Esmonin, Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Prieur
I found the 2000 vintage of this wine a little dull, but not this time. Medium-plus colour with a purple tinge. Some oak but lovely fruit on the nose. Palate has medium-plus tannins, good acidity coupled with persistent fruit. This is definitely good.

Domaine Fourrier, Gevrey-Chambertin Aux Echézeaux (CS)
Medium-plus cherry colour with a hint of purple. Nose has integrated sweet oak. Good fruit here, medium tannins and good acidity. A nice wine.

Domaine Géantet-Pansiot, Gevrey-Chambertin Les Jeunes Rois
Medium-plus colour with some purple. Not an obviously pinot nose, perhaps a little reduced. Pronounced but velvetty tannin, soft centred. Could perhaps benefit from a little more acidity. Not bad though.

Domaine Géantet-Pansiot, Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes
Deep cherry colour with purple rim. Nicer cherry nose than the ‘Jeunes Rois’ with some oak. More fruit extract here, but once more soft in the middle. Still a better wine though.

Domaine Géantet-Pansiot, Gevrey-Chambertin En Champs
Deep colour. High toned very forward nose. The best of this trio, but still seems a little soft in the middle. Quite good.

Domaine Robert Arnoux, Nuits Saint Georges(CS)
Medium-plus cherry colour. Sweet though reticent nose. Good fruit, acidity and tannin. A very nice wine.

Domaine des Lambrays, Morey-Saint-Denis 1er (CS)
Medium-plus cherry. High toned flowery nose – nice. Good acidity with quite strong furry tannin. Good length too. A nice wine.

Domaine Bruno Clavelier, Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Brûlées (CS)
Medium-plus cherry. Reticent high toned nose. Good fruit and acidity, the tannin creeps up on you. This is very good.

Domaine Robert Arnoux, Vosne-Romanée 1er, Les Chaumes(CS)
Medium-plus ruby colour. Sweet, well integrated oak nose. Furry tannin with good acidity build a wall around the fruit. Seems okay though.

Domaine Bruno Clavelier, Chambolle-Musigny 1er, La Combe d’Orveaux (CS)
Medium-plus cherry colour. Pronounced fruity nose coupled with sweet well integrated oak. Good tannin and acidity. Lots of volume. Best wine so far.

Domaine Géantet-Pansiot, Chambolle-Musigny 1er, Vieilles Vignes
Medium-plus cherry. Nice fruity nose with no obvious oak. Good acidity with medium-plus tannins. The fruit is good here, again in a soft style. Good.

Domaine Robert Arnoux, Nuits Saint Georges 1er, Les Procès(CS)
Medium, bright red colour. Some sweet wood and red cherry. Nice acidity and tannins – the fruit is good here. Nice wine.

Domaine Robert Arnoux, Nuits Saint Georges 1er, Les Corvées Pagets (CS)
Very reserved nose, but strong fruit on the palate. Good acidity and medium-plus tannins. Very persistent fruit too. Very good.

Domaine Frédéric Esmonin, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er, Estournelles Saint Jacques
Medium cherry red. Reticent nose with a hint of caramel. Good friut and acidity with pronounced tannin. Very long, this very good.

Domaine Fourrier, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er, Les Goulots (CS)
Slightly paler cherry red. Cherry, strawberry and raspberry on the nose. Good fruit and tannin with excellent acidity pushing the finish long. This is very good.

Domaine Fourrier, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er, Les Combe aux Moines (CS)
Medium-plus cherry red. Red fruit nose with well integrated background oak. Stronger tannin than the ‘Les Goulots’ with good acidity and fruit. Very good.

Domaine Géantet-Pansiot, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er, Les Poissenenots (CS)
Medium-plus cherry red. Deeper nose than the ‘Combe aux Moines’ with some oak and baked cherries. Good tannin and acidity. Fruit is quite good here. A good wine.

Domaine de Courcel, Pommard 1er Les Fremiers (CS)
Paler cherry. Lovely sweet, high toned nose. Lighter style but still with strong tannin – I like this.

Domaine de Courcel, Pommard 1er, Grand Clos des Epenots (CS)
Medium-plus cherry with purple hints. High toned nose has flowers and fruits. Wow, extra strong tannin and high acid, like a top Grand Cru in stature if not quite fineness. The fruit is definitely a match though. This is excellent.

Domaine de Courcel, Pommard 1er Les Rugiens (CS)
Medium cherry colour. Lovely nose. Soft entry onto the palate, though full tannins and acid. Again the fruit is up to the battle. Very good.

Domaine Robert Arnoux, Vosne-Romanée 1er, Les Suchots(CS)
Medium-plus cherry colour. Softer than the last Pommard. Medium tannins the acidity pushes lovely fruit very long into the finish. This is very nice.

Domaine Frédéric Esmonin, Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru
Medium-full cherry. Understated cherry nose Very lovely fruit with medium tannins and good acidity. Very good.

Domaine Frédéric Esmonin, Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru
Medium-plus cherry. Subdued nose has lovely pure cherry. Another quite soft entry, but strong structure here. Very long and very good.

Domaine Frédéric Esmonin, Chambertin Clos de la Bèze Grand Cru
Medium-plus cherry. Subdued nose again, but sweet cherry pies in the background. This has lovely fruit. Good tannins and long acidity. Fine.

Domaine Frédéric Esmonin, Chambertin Grand Cru
Medium-plus cherry with some purple. Understated nose but has lovely purity if you swirl enough. Again concentrated fruit here. Good acidity and full tannins, Even more concentrated than the last wine. Also very fine.

Domaine des Lambrays, Clos-des-Lambrays Grand Cru (CS)
Medium-plus cherry with some purple. This has deeper more ‘cooked’ fruit than the previous Chambertins. But still excellent structure. Very good.

Domaine Fourrier, Griottes-Chambertin Grand Cru (CS)
Medium-plus cherry. Whilst quite reticent, this is still a nose to fall into. Lovely very pure fruit with medium-plus tannins and very good acidity. I liked this a lot – Fine.

Domaine du Clos de Tart, Clos de Tart Grand Cru (CS)
Darker cherry. Very lovely high toned nose. Lovely fruit with medium-plus tannins and good acidity. Almost creamy fruit. Another fine effort.

Domaine Jean Grivot, Clos Vougeot Grand Cru (CS)
Medium-plus colour. Thick cherry compote nose. Lovely fruit, thick tannins and good acidity. This has an earthy character and is a touch astringent, but is very good indeed.

Domaine Robert Arnoux, Clos Vougeot Grand Cru (CS)
Medium-plus cherry. Also a lovely nose, this time high toned fruits and cherry. Great fruit, strong tannin and acidity. Long and lovely.

Domaine René Engel, Grands Echézeaux Grand Cru (CS)
Medium cherry. Nose is more reticent than the preceding wines. Lovely fruit lingering with the tannin. Also long and lovely.

Domaine Armand Rousseau, Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru (CS)
Medium cherry. Very obvious, unsubtle oak on the nose, but there is something sweet and red behind this wall. The oak is a little less obvious on the palate, nice mouthfeel with very good fruit. Still a good wine.

Domaine Armand Rousseau, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Clos-Saint-Jacques (CS)
Again medium colour. The nose whilst subdued is more interesting than the previous ‘Ruchottes’. Lovely in the mouth – great fruit. Mouth-watering acidity and good tannin. Excellent.

Domaine Armand Rousseau, Chambertin Clos-de-Bèze Grand Cru (CS)
Deep cherry colour. Very subdued nose, faint cherry perhaps. Intense fruit on the palate with good acidity and medium-plus tannins. This is lovely.

Domaine Armand Rousseau, Chambertin Grand Cru (CS)
Medium-plus cherry colour. This has a fine, high-toned nose. Tannic palate but intense fruit to match. Very good acidity too. Last year at this stage I prefered the ‘Bèze’. This year I prefer this.

My Picks
More uniform quality this vintage than for 2000, still the best producers seem to have hit the spot, Arnoux, Engel, Rousseau and for consistency I think Esmonin is worth adding to the list. I liked very much the Clos de Tart, but pricing is high. Also for the second year running I loved de Courcels Pommard’s – in fact this year I’m going to buy some!

Okay, it’s put your money where your mouth is time. Quite hard to choose this year as the overall standard is higher than last. In the end financial considerations had to be addressed, so I didn’t buy the most expensive wines, only the wines which I thought offered the best value. My purchases are up on 2000. In fact, my purchases are also up on 1999 in terms of variety, though down in terms of volume. So this is my shopping list:

Domaine de Courcel, Pommard 1er, Grand Clos des Epenots
Domaine Frédéric Esmonin, Ruchottes-Chambertin
Domaine Frédéric Esmonin, Mazis-Chambertin
Domaine Frédéric Esmonin, Chambertin Clos de la Bèze
Domaine Frédéric Esmonin, Chambertin
Domaine Fourrier, Griottes-Chambertin
René Engel, Grands Echézéaux


THE WHITE TN’s
Domaine Gérard Chavy, Puligny-Montrachet
Very pale. Nose is a lovely fruit assortment. Palate shows nice acidity with concentrated fruit. Good length too. Very nice.

Domaine Gérard Chavy, Puligny-Montrachet Les Charmes
Pale yellow. Deeper nose than the last wine, not obviously oaky. Palate is a little more mineral with good length too. Good.

Domaine Paul Pernot, Puligny-Montrachet
Pale yellow. Deep nose with well done oak. A little buttery, nice acidity – good balance here. Very nice.

Domaine Gérard Chavy, Puligny-Montrachet 1er, Les Folatières
Pale yellow. Dried, sugared fruits on the nose. Nice mouthfeel, on the follow through I thought the fruit had a ‘dirty’ finish, actually I think this is oak. Still a good wine.

Domaine Jean-Michel Gaunoux, Meursault
Pale yellow. High toned, understated nose. Good volume in the mouth and nice acidity – hard to find the fruit though!

Domaine Jean-Michel Gaunoux, Meursault 1er, La Goutte d’Or
Pale yellow. Reticent nose with background toast. More fruit than the last wine. Acidity is okay. Quite good.

Domaine Jean-Michel Gaunoux, Meursault 1er, Les Perrières
Pale yellow. Subdued nose. Much more mineral and nervous than the ‘Goutte d’Or’. Seems a little one-dimensional though – until you hit the finish which comes with a lovely burst. Very good.

Domaine de l’Arlot, Nuits Saint Georges Blanc, Jeunes Vignes du Clos de l’Arlot Blanc
Pale yellow. Yeasty sweet nose. Nice acidity and reasonable fruit. Quite good.

Domaine de l’Arlot, Nuits Saint Georges Blanc 1er, Clos de l’Arlot Blanc
Pale yellow. Nice nose, sweet & sherbet. Deeper grapefruit palate. Very long. Not my personal style favourite, but this is very good.

Domaine Vincent & Francois Jouard, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er, La Maltroie
Yellow colour. Sweet melon and grapefruit nose. This has intense fruit, goodish acidity and reasonable length. Good wine.

Domaine Vincent & Francois Jouard, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er, Morgeot ‘Les Fairendes’
Pale gold colour. Lovely nose of pineapple and sherbet. Concentrated fruit, good acidity and a lovely finish. Very good.

Domaine Guy Amiot, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er, Les Macharelles
Pale yellow. More melony nose than the previous ‘Morgeot’. Palate is less full, but good fruit, good acidity and very long. This is good wine.

Domaine Guy Amiot, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er, Champgains
Pale yellow. Understated nose. The palate is more mineral. Good acidity and reasonable length. Good

Domaine Colin Deléger, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er, En Remilly
Pale yellow. Again an understated nose. There’s good acidity and another wine that finishes with a burst. Good

Domaine Colin Deléger, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er, Les Chaumées
Pale yellow. Understated nose with some oak. Sweeter palate than the ‘En Remilly’. Again an interesting finish. Again good wine.

Domaine Paul Pernot, Bienvenues Bâtard Montrachet Grand Cru
Pale yellow. Another subdued nose. Palate is much wider than the preceding wines. The finish comes with a crescendo of fruit. Spoiled by just a hint of spritz, despite that, a fine wine.

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.

red burgundy vintage 2000 with howard ripley

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.

The wines…
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.

My Picks
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

clive coates, 1996 grand cru burgundy tasting

An expensive evening at £90 for the ticket, but considering there was a ¼ glass of each wine, and the cost per bottle is in many cases higher than the cost of a ticket, value is of course relative. Long term, I’m sure it will cost me much more!

Clive shared with us his knowledge of the various 1990’s vintages, the climats, the producers, and even their differing production techniques. I hope he does another of these tastings again next year!
I gave a numerical score to the colour of the wines – 1 is the lightest, 3 is the densest, though this is all relative since, a 1 is still deeply coloured. All the wines were ‘closed’, had very high acidity and tannin. My notes are as tasted, I was ‘shellshocked’ by the wines, hence, too many “very’s” in the notes(!). Any additions are in (brackets). Tasted in the following order :


1996 Anne Gros, Clos de Vougeot
Colour 1. Very closed nose, very high acid, high tannin. A very intense wine (1920’s vines), but also very smooth. Finishes long. Wow!
1996 JJ Confuron, Romanée Saint-Vivant
Colour 2. Closed nose, though a slight hint of caramel (Clive later said coffee). Very high acid, medium tannin. Very pure red cherry fruit, silky smooth on the palate. Very, very long – fabulous!
1996 Robert Arnoux, Romanée Saint-Vivant
Colour 2. Closed again. Once more very high acid and medium tannins. Not as smooth as Confuron’s, but again very pure fruit – cherries. Nice length.
1996 Alain Hudelot-Nöellat, Romanée Saint-Vivant
Colour 3. Closed. Maybe even higher acid than the previous wines – but we’re still not talking paint-stripper!! Really mouth coating tannins. Not the obvious pure fruit of the previous two – perhaps it’s actually a little more mature and complex. Good length again.
1996 Jean Grivot, Richebourg
Colour 3. Nose not quite so closed, a few ‘higher notes’ – almost school ink smell. High acid, incredible thick tannin – you can chew it! Medium (for this company) length. Apparently, Etienne Grivot cold soaks, de-stems and has a long, low temp. fermentation, compared to . . . .
1996 Anne Gros, Richebourg
. . . . who has a shorter cold soak, and ferments at a higher temp. Colour 3. Less closed again, cherry and plum fruits. High acid, reduced tannin compared to Grivot’s. More obviously fruity palate with a slightly creamy oak finish. Full bodied, again very, very long and again – fabulous!
1996 Comte Georges de Vogüé, Musigny VV
Colour 2. Again the nose giving little away, though certainly, higher toned than the previous wines. High tannin, though much lower than the Richebourgs. It somehow seems to combine the body of the last wine, with being smoother and softer. This wine has, by a margin, the longest finish – incredible!
1996 Claude Dugat, Charmes-Chambertin
Colour 3. Slightly farmyard nose (100%, high toast oak), more going on here. Very high acid and very high tannin. The palate is more obviously ‘fat’ and smooth (soft-centred – C.C.), and sweet. Good length – très bon!
1996 Chambertin, Clos de la Bèze, Armand Rousseau
Colour 2. Nose is closed, though higher toned than the Charmes. High acid, medium tannin, indeed, leaner and less ‘thick’ than the last wine. Not a ‘big’ wine, but very, very long finish. Much ‘fresher’ when compared to the Chambertin – next.

1996 Armand Rousseau, Chambertin
Colour 2. Again a higher-toned nose, but somehow different to last. High acid with slightly higher tannin than the previous wine. This wine is fuller and sweeter, with an even longer finish than the Clos de la Bèze. A hint of creamy oak still on the finish.

Summary
1996 is a very good vintage. It’s hard to believe given the high acidity and monstrous tannin structure of these wines, that you could enjoy them now, however, they all possess a “balance” which makes this possible. It would of course, though, be a waste to drink them before their 10th birthdays. Clive suggests they will outlive us all. At (probably) 20 years his junior, I’m not intending to leave any of mine behind ! For the record My top three were as follows :

1st – Richebourg, Anne Gros
Joint 2nd – Musigny VV, de Vogüé
Joint 2nd – Romanée Saint-Vivant, JJ Confuron

Clive marked all 10 wines in the region 18.0 – 20.0 (fine plus, to Excellent – Grand Vin!), with two perfect 20’s. I had a warm feeling when I found that I had chosen both 20’s and an 18.5 – but that feeling could have been due to draining my tenth glass !!

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