Why Big Red Diary?

Round-up of wines tasted

wine testing
No slurping and spitting; these wines were really drunk and predominantly at home with food and friends between November 2004 and March 2005. I started 2005 with a few 1999 Vosne 1ers – usually very good, occasionally fabulous. Plenty of 2002’s that are very nice, but aren’t quite so generous as when in barrel or I think quite as good as the best from 1999.

Corkwatch: 4 from 109 = 3.7% for ‘corked’ plus one more faulty cork – oxidised – still the best average for over 1 year…

1999 Ghislaine Barthod, Bourgogne Rouge
Medium, medium-plus cherry red. The cherry infused nose is fresh and forwardly fruity. Nice concentration and very good acidity. The tannins are still a little showy and astringent but manage not to dominate the pretty fruit. A serious bourgogne that needs another 2+ years in the cellar.
2001 Sylvain Cathiard, Bourgogne Rouge
Medium colour. The nose is a nice mix of high-toned and deeper black fruit. The palate is also framed by rather black fruit, some fat, good concentration and acidity. The tannins are well mannered but obviously young. Very good Bourgogne, but very expensive for what it is from this source.
2003 Domaine du Château Gris, Bourgogne Clos de Lupé
Medium-plus colour. Sweet, ripe fruit – really good balance and length – surprisingly good length. Fresh and very interesting.
2002 Domaine du Château Gris, Bourgogne Clos de Lupé
High-toned red-fruity nose. Once more there’s good concentration and texture balanced by grippy tannin and good acidity. Another nice wine.
2002 Vincent Girardin, Bourgogne Emotion de Terroirs
Medium-plus cherry red. The nose is mainly cherry, though shaded more to black – no really obvious oak. The palate is very well put together, no hard edges or vices. Tasty with medium concentration, not much tannin and reasonably good acidity. Very smooth and perfectly nice but I was left wanting more for the price if not the appellation
2003 Camille Giroud, Bourgogne Pinot Noir
Bottled just before the 2004 harvest. Medium, medium-plus colour. A melange of sweet red fruit greets the first sniff. The palate is surprisingly plush for a regional wine, the sweet red fruit also on the palate. The acidity is almost good enough and the tannin is completely covered by the ripe fruit. Just one of many ‘super-regionals’ that will come from 2003. I bought the last available case, just, and at the expense of their Dutch importer – sorry about that 😉
1996 Maison Leroy, Bourgogne Rouge
Drunk directly after the 1999 Barthod Bourgogne Rouge. Medium ruby red. The nose is sweet red cherry with just a little extra secondary dimension. I remember that this was quite acidic on release but has padded out beautifully – if anything it’s now just a little fat. There is tasty fruit and a nice finish. Doesn’t have the extra dimension of a good villages, but a very nice wine in it’s own right – there’s no rush to drink these.
1995 Maison Leroy, Bourgogne Rouge
Medium ruby with a little amber at the rim. High tones over plummy and red fruit. Nice weight to the palate, actually quite silky with good acidity. The fruit is red in complexion and of medium length. I’ve really appreciated these ’95’s, perhaps it’s time to take the ’96’s out from storage!
1999 Nicolas Potel, Bourgogne Rouge ‘Maison Dieu’ Vieilles Vignes
Medium cherry-red. The nose is deep but slightly diffuse; sweet and meaty, eventually showing more of a rd confiture. Good concentration, very good acidity and with a black aspect to the fruit. It’s become just a little spicier than I prefer, also there’s a little bitterness on the finish, but not enough to cause concern. Certainly it’s tightened in the last 18 months but no rush to drink-up.
2001 Chartron et Trebuchet, La Cuvée de Jean Chartron Bourgogne Vieilles Vignes
I cannot lie, bought this purely out of interest because it was so cheap, ~8 Euro. For some time I forgot about it and at a moment of need in the kitchen I though it would be the perfect ingredient – it was, but I’d no idea how much I’d enjoy the remaining 2/3rds of a bottle. Medium yellow. The nose is a not unpleasant cocktail of sweet, ripe fruits with a nutty nod towards Meursault. The palate, however, nods in the direction of Puligny with balance, nice acidity and more than enough fruit to carry into a graceful finish. I bought more…
2002 Vincent Girardin, Bourgogne Emotion de Terroirs
Medium gold colour. A sweet, slightly honied nose. The honey is there on the palate too, only in accent though. Like the red version this wine is a very drinkable package with plenty of concentration wrapped into a very smooth package. Doesn’t come close to the focused intensity and quality offered by Leflaive at this level, or the enjoyment of the Chartron wine above – but it’s a very easy and tasty drink – again not inspiring value for the appellation though.
2000 Comte Georges de Vogüé, Bourgogne Blanc
Pale gold. A waxy nose with subtle, cream covered, pineapple. The nose slowly evolves a faint butterscotch edge. The density and balance when coupled with the acidity is rather good, it’s not entirely subtle but there is more than a hint of refinement, there’s even a lingering creamy edge to the nut infused finish. Very interesting and worth keeping in the cellar for 5+ years – as demonstrated by…
1996 Comte Georges de Vogüé, Bourgogne Blanc
Golden. The beautifully round nose retains a citrus bite. Medium bodied with a lovely, waxy, satin texture. There’s good length too – for a Bourgogne! Frankly this has a real Grand Cru nose and real density and interest in the mouth; it’s only from the mid-palate onwards that we have a diminuendo rather than a crescendo, but these are very young vines… A wine that could still be cellared and might yet improve but it’s compromised only by the very young vines.

1996 Ghislaine Barthod, Chambolle-Musigny
I remember my first bottle from this case, on release there was overwhelming sulfur on the nose; I took it back to the merchant as it was completely undrinkable – even 4 hours after opening – this was where I learned about bottle stink, but they still replaced the bottle! This second bottle didn’t start much better, perhaps worse, the sulfur has slowly evolved to hydrosulfite – that means very smelly cabbage. The palate manages to show just a little creamy length, but for me the dominating factor is the sulfur infused edge. Even on day two and despite the nose clearing up a little the palate was the same – perhaps worse as there was even a hint of oxidation. I’ll give this case one more chance this time next year – if it fails I’ll be looking for the merchant to take them back – potentially good wine spoiled by too much sulfur.
2001 Albert Bichot, Vosne-Romanée
I’ve usually shied away from the Bichot wines, not sure why, I’ve rarely seen them reviewed, maybe it was a hangover of Anthony Hanson’s assessment in his book! Certainly the label is nice and attractive but what about the wine? Medium, medium-plus cherry-red. The high-toned nose instantly betrays a little toasty oak but then it’s gone leaving predominantly red fruit with a little white pepper. Fresh palate with sufficiently intense red fruit for the appellation and much finer tannins than the Chevigny V-R that follows it. Super acidity and creamy length. Not as robust as the Chevigny and perhaps not quite as concentrated but there’s a really lovely mouthfeel here. Obviously quite young but pure and not obviously oaky either. Next time the co-op has a sale I will certainly buy a few more – a success – maybe I should arrange a visit!
2002 Bouchard Père et Fils, Côte du Beaune Villages
Bargain alert!!! Medium-plus cherry red colour. The nose is a forward and interesting fruit mix that is very dark red, but not quite black, something slightly herbal in the background. The palate is big, sweet forward red-shaded fruit. There’s very good freshness and a long, acidity inspired finish. The tannins are well hidden too. This was very ripe, but not over-ripe and finished way too fast. This would be a fabulous quality house wine.
2002 Bouchard Père et Fils, Beaune
Medium-plus cherry-red. The nose has an initial blast of oak but then it’s gone. What’s left is a lovely pure red cherry expression, perhaps some strawberry too. The sweet palate is at once softer but more intense that the previous wine. The acidity is very balanced and the tannins pass you by hardly with a note, though they coat your gums well enough if you wait. Just a slight high-toned astringency to the finish but probably nothing to be concerned about. This is a lovely wine though today I’d plump for the Côte du Beaune, longer term I still might prefer the Côte…
1999 Bouchard Père et Fils, Pommard
Medium-plus colour, edging towards ruby. The nose is a mix of red and black and shows some raisined fruit. Wow, quite some elegance on the palate; it’s full, just a little fat with fresh, black-shaded fruit and very well-mannered tannins. Blind I’d probably guess this to be a well above average NSG. The medium finish takes away none of the refinement – very fine villages and not even vaguely rustic. I’ll probably bag some halves – very handy.
2002 Louis Carillon, Chassagne-Montrachet
Medium, medium-plus colour – still young cherry-red. The nose is of creamy red cherry, perhaps a little soft and lactic. In the mouth it’s a fresh expression of black shaded fruit with a lovely creamy tinge to the medium-plus finish. Quite some personality here; fresh acidity and slightly grainy tannins – there’s a depth to the fruit that is not matched by intensity but I liked this anyway. Very nice with a pork joint.
2002 Pascal Chevigny, Vosne-Romanée
Medium-plus cherry-red colour. The nose is a little yeasty at first and fresh-baked bread, then slowly starts to give up fresh black cherry and even a blue tinge to the fruit, just a little licorice and bacon too. The palate is mouthfilling with good acidity, medium-plus furry tannins and a spicy black fruit aspect. This wine manages to show both authority and drinkability in one very young package. No really overt oak character and at €17 from the Giant-Casino supermarket this is a bargain – I bought a few more.
2002 Domaine des Chezeaux, Gevrey-Chambertin
Medium cherry-red. The nose shows more than a little depth and a nice high-toned fruit top-note. The palate has a nice fresh complexion with fruit concentration that’s higher than expected for this cuvée, and nice sneaky length too! There’s just a little fat and mild-mannered tannins. This is never a very extracted wine so is perhaps close to it’s zenith in a year like 2002. Really super value, but I think they may have sold-out!
2003 Domaine du Clos Frantin, Vosne-Romanée
A later harvest for this wine – another 10 days after the ban des vendanges to allow the phenolics to ripen. Medium, medium-plus cherry red. The nose is sweet and starts a little heavy, slowly becomes a little higher toned over vanilla notes. The palate is fat, ripe and sweet, just a little purer cherry fruit at the back of the palate that follows into the vanilla driven finish. Tannins and acidity are conspicuous by their absence – actually everyone loved this, but I suspect it will be at it’s apogee over the next 5 or 6 years, rather than 15-16, not too much obvious ‘Vosne character’ either at this pre-release stage.
2002 Domaine du Clos Frantin, Vosne-Romanée
Medium cherry-red. The nose takes a little while to lose a dense woody note, but once gone there’s a slightly heavy and quite ripe morello cherry, becomes purer still and higher-toned with time. The palate is medium density and also needs a few minutes to iron-out the oak, but it’s well balanced and shows good length. The style is of a light to middle-weight with an extra, slightly vanilla tinged dimension on the finish. Like the nose there’s an ever improving impression to this wine, particularly the finish and the nose – I’d give this at least 3 or 4 years before returning – should be more than worthwhile.
2001 Domaine du Clos Frantin, Vosne-Romanée
Medium, medium-plus colour. Instantly deep, oak inflected nose – behind lies a red and black confit, spicily edged with ginger. Lovely mouthfeel; the entry is soft and the mid palate bursts into life. Silky smooth with juicy acidity, sweet, but not too sweet fruit and a lingering creamy note. The oak recedes and the quality of the fruit on the finish reminds me very much of a 1993… Very impressive.
2000 Domaine du Clos Frantin, Vosne-Romanée
Medium cherry red, perhaps shading to a more ruby hue at the rim. The nose starts more oaky and with disappointingly thin fruit – it needs the oak to dissipate to give a more interesting balance, and dissipate it does leaving a nice high-toned expression. Eventually it’s a sweet mix of slightly caramel-tinged red fruit. Nice mouthfeel, less apparent concentration and not such a long finish, though the acidity is almost good. Tasty, very well balanced and serious but ultimately less serious than the excellent 2001.
1999 Louis Jadot, Beaune
Medium, medium-plus cherry-red. The nose has deep and inviting red fruit with still a little ashy oak showing. In the mouth there’s good volume and forward but smooth acidity that continues to sparkle on the finish easily longer than 30 seconds. The tannins are well hidden and like the nose there’s still some oak showing, particularly on the finish. Very good villages but it would be best to wait for another 2 or 3 years for the next bottle.
1999 Louis Jadot, Gevrey-Chambertin
Medium, medium-plus cherry-red. The nose unfortunately has just a trace of taint to complement meaty, spicy, stewing fruits. It’s a shame, this wine is rather silky and the fruit is quite intense – another bottle should be good.
1998 Denis Mortet, Gevrey-Chambertin
Medium-plus colour, still quite primary. The nose has spicy, meaty black fruit with a touch of licorice. The palate shows a similarly black aspect, nice acidity and smooth tannins. The finish is surprisingly long with a hint of earthy, minerally cream. An obvious winemaking signature at work, but a tasty wine all the same.
2002 Patriarche, Gevrey-Chambertin
Medium cherry-red colour. The nose is very high-toned and has more than a hint of the medicinal about it – improves a little with time. Once in the mouth the impression is of medium concentration fruit, slightly forward acidity and quite nice tannins. No obvious Gevrey character though it’s an okay wine without real faults. On reflection I suspect a number of Bourgognes might give it a close run for quality, if not price.
2003 Domaine du Pavillon, Pommard Clos des Ursulines
High-toned nose. Real density without too much fat. Ripe, but in the best sense. Well structured with just a little earth on the tannic finish. Very, very young, I’d buy.
2002 Domaine du Pavillon, Pommard Clos des Ursulines
A little ashy earth and minerality on the nose, less forward than the 2003. Very good, wide fruity character, good length and well managed structure. Another good wine.
1999 Nicolas Potel, Nuits St-Georges
Medium, medium-plus cherry-red colour. The nose has high tones and a slightly jammy red fruit core. The palate is much more sedate than the wall of tannin that greeted me when I first tasted this on release. The palate has really good intensity that slowly fades. Good acidity and well mannered tannins. I just find that following the burst of fruit at the start and the good length I’d like a bit more in the middle, but it’s nicely sweet and was heartily devoured.
2001 G.Roumier, Chambolle-Musigny
Medium-plus cherry-red, no fading. Bready and meaty notes mingle with the fruit – after a while it’s almost like minestrone soup – quite bizarre. Perhaps a little sulfur was causing the problem, given time it’s mainly creamy black cherry. The palate is much more like it; fresh black-shaded fruit and really good acidity. Silky with good concentration and medium, medium-plus length. Very tasty.
2002 Domaine Tortochot, Morey St-Denis
Quite a deep colour. The nose starts in a very promising way, like Griotte… Chambertin that is. Given a little time it becomes more and more diffuse and soon starts to hint at taint. The palate is fresh and steely without any resemblance to Griotte. There’s good intensity to the fruit but the finish has a high-toned metallic edge and more obvious taint – it’s also very short. A shame – it started so well.
1999 Domaine des Varoilles, Gevrey-Chambertin Clos du Meix des Ouches
Medium, medium-plus cherry-red colour. Candied red fruit on the nose, red cherry predominates but it’s quite primary still. The palate is medium concentrated with very good acidity and almost absent tannins. Lovely balance to this wine, it’s sweet and tasty with good but not exciting length. A very worthy and enjoyable villages.
2001 Comte Georges de Vogüé, Chambolle-Musigny
Medium cherry-red, fades to salmon pink at the edge. The nose shows powdery, pure red fruit. The palate gives a very fresh expression; medium length but quite lacy and très elegant. The fine tannins give a little bite on the finish but this is a lovely, pure and elegant rather than powerful example of Chambolle.
2000 Comte Georges de Vogüé, Chambolle-Musigny
Medium cherry-red. There’s a hint of briar but mostly the wine majors on red, powdery fruit. Fresh, nice acidity and texture. The fruit is ripe and elegantly proportioned. The medium tannins still give a little grab. Young, primary and elegant to boot.
1993 Comte Georges de Vogüé, Chambolle-Musigny
Medium-plus colour and looks amazingly young – younger in fact than most ’98’s! The nose is wonderful with the full range of 1993’s characteristic dried cherry/cranberry/raisin fruits, slowly developing a savoury, meaty edge. Classic, fresh, 1993 acidity is matched by creamy fruit and an almost graphite/coal-style mineral edge. For a villages-level wine this is gorgeous and still quite young.
1998 Jean-Marc Boillot, Puligny-Montrachet
Pale gold. The sweet nose starts with a toasty blast that fades to provide a trace of pineapple and butterscotch. The palate is equally sweet with a pleasing balance, nice acidity and a good length. The fruit is nicely concentrated but doesn’t really shout ‘Puligny’ to me. Puligny or not, this bottle was enjoyed, hence, finished much faster than expected. Perfect now and very tasty.
2001 Henri Boillot, Meursault
The last bottle was corked, so we try again. Medium gold colour – very nice nose – fresh, high tones with whiffs of pineapple and pear. The sweet palate has really excellent balance, some fat and an impressive length for the appellation. I re-stocked despite the previous corky experience – very good wine, excellent villages.
1998 Louis Jadot, Puligny-Montrachet
Golden colour. Oxidised.
1999 Louis Jadot, Puligny-Montrachet
No replacement 98’s so here’s the 99. Also quite golden in colour. The nose is deep, still showing a trace of wood, slightly creamy with a dense honeysuckle note. Gradually becomes more butterscotch. Smooth, slightly waxy and honied palate with good acidity and medium length. For me, despite no real faults the overall impression is a little heavy. Still it has good intensity and is already very tasty.

2002 Marquis d’Angerville, Volnay Clos des Ducs
Medium, medium-plus cherry-red colour right up to the rim. The nose starts with a muddle of oaky and mixed-fruit notes really needing around twenty minutes before the mist starts to lift, given thirty and focus reigns. It’s deep, creamy and totally red with white pepper over a fading marzipan. Versus the 99 at the same stage this is a completely different expression, the 99 had laser-like but densely expressed fruit whereas this is broader but without the same depth and ultimate concentration. That said there is a beautiful balance to this creamy wine with subtlety being the main hallmark. Fades very slowly. Excellent. Perhaps it’s only 90% as good as the 1999 but that’s 90% of a very big number, I’m glad there are a few in the cellar!
1999 Domaine l’Arlot, Vosne-Romanée Les Suchots
Medium colour that fades to salmon pink at the rim. The nose starts with an almost overwhelming smokey note – there’s sweet red berries and strawberry too – even after an hour in the glass the smoke is still there though on a lower level, reminds me of Dujac’s ’95 Clos de la Roche. Fat and sweet with a very silky mouthfeel and little noticeable tannin. The finish is a long one that’s redolent of the smokey nose. Quite an individual wine and one that I’ll be really interested to follow the development.
2002 Domaine l’Arlot, Nuits Saint Georges 1er (Jeune Vignes du Clos des Forets Saint Georges)
Medium colour. The nose is jump-out-of-the-glass stuff; an almost baked strawberry-red fruit but much of this baked effect comes from the dry, smokey base. If this is the young-vines wine I’m looking forward to the bigger brother; there’s sweet fruit that has a good extra kick in the finish – slightly creamy too. The tannins have medium-plus strength with good texture and just a slight bitterness in the finish too. Needs another two or three years for maximum friendliness but tasty and with some character.
2002 Domaine l’Arlot, Nuits Saint Georges Clos des Forets Saint Georges
Medium-plus colour. The nose has Arlot’s characteristic smokiness but is covered with toasty oak. The oak dissipates to leave higher toned red fruit (again a strawberry complexion) than the last wine. Immediately fatter and denser though the acidity carries the wine well giving excellent balance. The tannins are a little more forward still though again with nice mouthfeel. This wine will need even longer than its baby brother; personally I wouldn’t touch another for at least 5-8 years when it will be a very good wine.
1996 Domaine Bertagna, Vougeot Clos de la Perrière
A big, heavy bottle. Deep ruby colour with very little fading. Starts with lots of depth but gradually a piercing red fruit note comes through. Fresh palate with really super, slightly creamy but also slightly saccharin length. Doesn’t have the fatness of the 1993 and it also has a slight grain to the tannin. This wine shows great balance and an ever-changing, in fact exciting nose, I’m looking forward perhaps another 3-5 years to a time when, hopefully, the palate will show as much interest as the fantastic nose and lose that slightly confected saccharin finish.
2001 Bouchard Père et Fils, Beaune du Château
Always a relative bargain this wine – assuming that it’s a good one of course: Medium cherry-red colour. The nose is faintly powdery and a little closed when cold from the cellar. The palate shows a linear delivery of tight fruit with good intensity but little fat. Very good acidity and a slight creamy impression to the medium finish. The tannin is still a little astringent but becomes softer and friendlier with aeration. I won’t return for at least 3 years, serious wine for the price.
2000 Bouchard Père et Fils, Beaune Clos du Roi
Medium cherry-red colour. The nose is high-toned and slightly estery, though there’s still reasonable red fruit in the background. Nice density and useful acidity too but not quite the buffering sweet fruit of 18 months ago. Still, the texture is almost good and there’s a little cream on the surprisingly long finish. This was a fantastic little wine on release but the joie de vivre is now gone so I suggest letting them lay down for another few years.
2002 Bouchard Père et Fils, Volnay Caillerets Ancienne cuvée Carnot
Medium-plus cherry red. The nose starts heavy with lightly toasted oak, the palate equally so. Given time for aeration the oak fades by around 75% with sweet fruit of several layers – all of them red. The palate starts with an understated intensity that builds and builds into quite an exciting flourish on the long finish. The tannin has just a little dryness on the finish but is finely grained. This is very good but needs quite a few (several) years though should be excellent.
2003 Domaine du Château Gris, Nuits-St.Georges 1er Château Gris
A lovely nose, sweet and ripe fruit that becomes a little powder with swirling. Good fat but really excellent fruit and a nice texture to boot. Good-plus length – another very nice wine.
2002 Domaine du Château Gris, Nuits-St.Georges 1er Château Gris
Nice sweet fruit on the nose. Broad and interesting palate with good length. Not as ‘showy’ as the ’03 but don’t take that to be a negative.
2002 Domaine des Chezeaux, Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cazetiers
Medium, medium-plus cherry-red. The nose is quite lovely and ever-changing; starts with a little barnyard but slowly gives up really beautiful and precise high-toned red berry aromas and eventually adds a trace of cream to the fruit. The palate is round and friendly with understated concentration and a rather elegant structure that’s coupled to fresh-faced fruit. The length is good and predominantly primary fruit. A really lovely drink and another relative bargain.
2002 Domaine des Chezeaux, Gevrey-Chambertin Lavaux St-Jacques
Medium cherry-red. The nose is much more primary than the Cazetiers, high-toned with powdery-red fruit that hints at an extra depth. In the mouth it’s a fresh complexion with good acidity and nice length – very understated. More obviously young and in need of time than the Cazetiers and, as such, it is today less charming but still a very good and well-made bottle.
2002 de Courcel, Pommard Clos des Épenots
Drunk directly following Bichot’s 2001 Vosne-Romanée. Deeper medium-plus cherry-red. The nose is sweet and black, actually very nice and pretty though primary. The palate doesn’t show an obvious concentration upgrade vs the Vosne and in the mouth certainly isn’t as texturally impressive. Plenty of medium-grain tannin and good acidity. Again a nice black cherry aspect to the palate coupled with a medium finish. Nice, fun and tasty but I expected just a little more…
1999 Domaine Joseph Drouhin, Vosne-Romanée Les Petits Monts
Medium-plus cherry-red colour. The nose starts deep and a little oaky. Given time the oak is replaced by a classic Vosne spice and eventually sweet cappuccino. The palate is first-class; silky, very round, real fat and tight though lovely and complex if slightly backward fruit. Nice acidity helps lengthen the finish. This has gorgeous mouthfeel and despite it’s youth I loved drinking it today. A singleton that forced me to buy some more (the eight bottles I could find!) and of course, before you read this! Grand Cru standard – Vosne Grand Cru at that!
2001 Domaine du Clos Frantin, Vosne-Romanée Les Malconsorts
Medium colour. The nose is a little spicy, eventually giving up it’s red creamy-edged fruit – very understated. Like the nose, the palate is also quite understated, everything is in the right place, a little red fruit here and a little black fruit there. Well put together and quite elegant, but also quite primary. Reminds me very much of the Camille-Giroud ’01 Malconsorts tasted 6-7 months ago, no real excitement today but hope for the future.
1998 Alex Gambal, Vosne-Romanée Les Suchots
A wine that followed the ’96 Drouhin Musigny and despite that, a very good showing. The colour is medium red, halfway between between cherry and ruby. The nose eventually becomes a lovely blend of sweet red and black fruit following ~40 minutes of so-so performance. Nicely concentrated and complex fruit of interesting and mouthwatering expression. The acidity is good and the tannins are a little grainy – but none of the astringency of some ’98’s. The finish is mouthwatering and quite long too. Very nice wine without a doubt.
1996 Germain, Beaune Les Teurons Vieilles Vignes
A deep and rich ruby core that shades to pink at the edge. Baked red fruit nose with chocolate and eventually a little pipe tobacco. Reserved acidity for a ’96, some fat and velvetty tannins. Despite showing layers of complexity this is some way from maturity and worth holding onto.
1999 Louis Jadot, Vosne-Romanée Les Suchots
Medium-plus colour without much fading. The nose starts high-toned with powdery red fruit, becomes a little smokey with coffee overtones. The palate has excellent intensity to the fruit with good, slightly grainy tannin and good acidity. This is a very good wine that still shows quite a lot of oak effect on the palate but will be very fine.
2000 Domaine Joblot, Givrey Clos de la Servoisine
Amongst a sea of tiring 2000’s – mainly from the Côte de Beaune – it’s nice have a drop that still shows both energy and interest. Medium, medium-plus young colour. Crushed black cherry nose. Refreshing, succulent black fruit that turns a little creamy on the finish. There’s a little oak and a trace of astringency but it’s not tiring yet. Just in case, I’m going to drink-up the last three of these and enjoy them now.
2002 Morey-Coffinet, Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeots
Medium, medium-plus cherry-red colour. Slightly toast on the warm, sweet red nose. The palate shows an oaky toasty base – but it’s well done – it’s additive to the flavour rather than the texture. Sweet with good acidity and a nice burst on the finish. Good fruit. Needs longer for the oak to better integrate but it’s already very drinkable – tasty!
2003 Domaine du Pavillon, Aloxe-Corton 1er Clos des Maréchaudes
A deeply coloured wine. The nose is rather closed, but the palate has a lovely covering of ripe, black-shaded fruit that has an extra burst on the finish.
2002 Domaine du Pavillon, Aloxe-Corton 1er Clos des Maréchaudes
The nose is a little alcoholic. Very nice satin texture, complex fruit, good acidity – well structured.
1999 Nicolas Potel, Vosne-Romanée Les Beaux Monts
I think that the majority of my previous Beaux-Monts have failed to inspire – this one managed to avoid that fate by some margin. Medium-plus cherry-red colour. A lovely nose that combines Vosne-spice with a dense base of ripe red fruit that slowly takes on a higher-toned aspect – still quite primary – but does develop a more caramel aspect with time. The style is that of a middle-weight prize-fighter, taught, lean muscle with no extra pounds. Quite fresh and intense, excellent acidity and well hidden tannins. Doesn’t quite show the intensity of finish of the Drouhin and Jadot wines but matches their ultimate length. A young and very interesting thoroughbred that my tasting partners rated even higher than me!
1999 Nicolas Potel, Volnay En Chevret
The first from this en-primeur case. Medium-plus cherry-red colour. A lovely ebullient, wide and complex nose, tons of interest, red fruit, violets and just a twist of caramel-oak. There’s an equal measure of complexity and interest in the mouth – not the intensity or fineness of texture of Nicolas’ Clos des Chênes or the Clos des Ducs from d’Angerville but today much more going on, plus a lovely, creamy, dreamy finish. This is a lovely 99 with more than enough interest – very, very nice.
1995 Pousse d’Or, Volnay Les Caillerets
Medium ruby colour with a darker core. The nose is a bright mix of sweet, minty raspberry tart that overlays more meaty aspects. Really lovely texture, the tannins are still there on the finish, just slightly forward but fine-grained and not dominating. The well concentrated fruit is that same raspberry red colour with the minty notes of the nose still showing. Good acidity that follows through the raisin-tinged and eventually creamy finish. Certainly tasty enough to warrant a couple more purchases.
2000 Prieur-Brunet, Santenay-Maladière
Medium, medium-plus cherry-red – no obvious maturity. The nose gives-up slightly soapy red cherry, eventually improving by losing the soap and soaring ever higher. The palate has fresh acidity and tannins that are a little forward and astringent. The fruit has some black tone but is more balanced to red. The fruit has some density but at first was not enough to counter the structure. You would have spat this out with a wince on opening but there was quite a transformation with time, becoming fatter and more open – in fact quite palatable with food – but without it’s a bit charmless right now so you might as well wait a while…
2002 Gaston & Pierre Ravault, Aloxe-Corton 1er
Medium cherry red to the rim. The nose is mainly red berry fruit as opposed to cherry. The palate is a medium bodied elegant red fruit expression, redcurrant and raspberry in the main – particularly intense in the mid-palate. The acidity is in the background, as are the finely grained tannins. Just a little creaminess to the finish too. Elegant and perfectly formed at a bargain price.
2002 Domaine Tollot-Beaut, Savigny-les-Beaune Champs Chevrey
Medium, medium-plus cherry-red colour. The nose is high-toned, very fresh and very red with a creamy edge. Likewise a very fresh palate, concentrated red shaded fruit that’s also very creamy in the finish – slowly takes on a blacker shade. The medium tannins are finely grained but also slightly astringent. Lingering acidity too. There is much more obvious structure here than many 02’s but it didn’t hamper the drinking in any way. I usually like this wine and this is no exception – more to be ordered.
1995 Domaine des Varoilles, Gevrey-Chambertin La Romanée
Medium ruby red, little fading and despite a little amber at the rim, still looks relatively young. A fresh raspberry and cherry tart nose with a pleasing, slightly estery, tertiary depth. The dominant style of this wine is the acidity, smooth but in the ascendant. The fruit is actually quite tasty with a piercing red fruit aspect. There’s just a trace of dryness on the finish but the tannins are well mannered. Not fully joined up this wine, but it’s clean, very drinkable and unlikely to go downhill soon.
1997 Domaine des Varoilles, Gevrey-Chambertin La Romanée
Medium ruby red core just fading slightly to amber. Ash-notes overlay sweet, spicy and slightly plummy red fruit. There’s good texture that’s just a little creamy. The acidity is just a little harsh in the finish but the wine’s quite fat and the fruit has concentration and lasts very well though is quite cooked – reminds me more of Carneros than Gevrey…
1998 Domaine des Varoilles, Gevrey-Chambertin La Romanée
Starts with rich, chocolaty fruit but within 3 or 4 minutes overpowered by taint…
1999 Domaine des Varoilles, Gevrey-Chambertin La Romanée
Medium-plus cherry red, no fading. Stewing cherries on the nose – little else. More density and definition than the 2000, still with mouth-watering acidity and little obvious tannin. Certainly not a stunner for the vintage, but very tasty in isolation and should last for a long time.
2000 Domaine des Varoilles, Gevrey-Chambertin La Romanée
Medium ruby red. High-toned, fresh and slightly powdery dry nose. Good, mouth-watering acidity, very little overt tannin. The red-shaded fruit is quite nice and has not-bad concentration for a 2000. A little 1996 in style but without the concentration of many from that vintage, good and clean but not really exciting.
2002 Domaine des Varoilles, Clos des Varoilles
Medium, medium-plus cherry-red colour. Well-rounded oak and mainly black fruit, even hints of black olive and coffee. Equally round, slightly fat palate. There’s excellent balance, good fruit and acidity plus tannins that are completely buried unless you do some serious chewing – if you do then the acidity becomes quite tart. I look forward to following the development of this wine.
2001 Comte Georges de Vogüé, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru
Similar in colour to the 2001 villages Chambolle. The fruit shows a much deeper aspect on the nose and still a trace of oak. The palate also offers a step-up in density vs the villages and an extra creamy edge to the beautifully presented fruit. To match, there’s a little extra structure with more forward tannins. Not so lacy but certainly more serious. Very good wine, one day.
2000 Comte Georges de Vogüé, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru
Just a little darker than the 2000 villages Chambolle. The nose is deeper, but significantly tighter. In the mouth, instantly lacier and spicier with an immense step-up in complexity – high-toned fruits invade the back of the palate. Late tannin grab with a really impressive length – I’d buy this in a shot.
1997 Comte Georges de Vogüé, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru
I’ve had two bottles of this wine from one source before, and on both occasions there’s been a rather muddy, indeed soupy aspect to the wine – disappointing would be a fair descriptor – particularly when factoring in the price. This wine, direct from the domain, is completely different. For a start it’s much fresher and does without the cooked plummy-fruit aspects of the previous wines. There’s not the purity and focus of the ’93 village Chambolle but neither is this an archetypal 1997 as it still offers good freshness. It’s nice, complex and shows some density. It’s an interesting and good wine, but possibly the weakest of all these wines, at least in terms how they all perform within their respective categories.
1999 Comte Georges de Vogüé, Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses
Denser colour than the 2001 1er Cru. The nose starts with faint mushrooms against a tightly-held core of fruit. The nose continuously evolves; first there are strawberry notes then a multitude of redcurrant and other red-berry fruits take turns coming to the fore – this is superb, very complex and becomes quite haunting. The palate has both intensity and balance but gives little else away, it is a very primary performance. There is more than ample length, but it’s the nose that dominates this wine, and what a nose!
1992 Comte Georges de Vogüé, Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses
Quite a deep core of ruby-red fruit, it’s only this and the ’88 Bonnes-Mares that seem to show any sign of age. The nose starts with a deep plum-skin that gradually becomes more red without ever coming close to the delineation or complexity of the ’99. Beautiful texture – this is 1st-class Burgundy. It is amply proportioned, soft and sexy. This ‘lady in love’ has little time for the intellectual, but she’s very ‘ready’ now! A really lovely wine and frankly there’s no rush to consume – my best 1992 experience.
1999 Bouchard Père et Fils, Meursault Charmes
Golden colour. The nose has faint butterscotch and an aged, nutty, slightly aniseed complexion. With a little swirling more primary citrussy fruit is released. The palate is nicely put together with good acidity and shows a good, dense, mid-palate. The finish has above average length and majors on the hazelnut aspects. I have to say that this is not my favourite profile and whilst the nuttiness is a characteristic of a mature Meursault, this seems a little overdone – especially for a 99 – I suspect this is prematurely aged. Somehow the bottle was still finished with ease…
2002 Bouchard Père et Fils, Meursault Perrières
Medium lemon yellow. The nose is fresher than the Charmes, perhaps a little sweet lime, but there’s faint butter and a brooding, creamy base below. The palate is concentrated without being over-fat, it’s perfectly balanced with the acidity too. There’s a seamless ride from first impression, to mid-palate, to the achingly long, creamy finish. The wine hasn’t the impressive minerality of the best Perrières I’ve tasted (Roulot’s 2000) but this is a very convincing effort and one-third of the price – I’ve already added a half-dozen to the cellar.
2002 Alex Gambal, St.Aubin 1er (Sur Gamay)
Golden colour. Honey and fresh pineapple nose, gradually turns a little waxy. Good fat, nice creamy fruit and excellent length. Not quite as racy and exciting as Gambal’s ‘Dents de Chien’ but possibly longer. Very tasty and drunk far too quickly!
2002 Alex Gambal, St.Aubin Murguers les Dents de Chien
Only an impression really as I lost my note. From magnum, more sediment than there should have been – perhaps from fining(?) Great nose and a plate of real depth – magnum or not this was polished of by four of us very quickly – I must see if there is some more of this wine – before they run out – it’s worth it!
2001 Domaine Long-Depaquit, Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons
Medium yellow. The nose has depth, high-toned citrus and an initial impression of oak – but it blows off. Wow, after a recent diet of 2003 Côte de Beaunes this is brilliant; not fat but lovely, lovely acidity. Just a little harshness and grain at the back of the palate that is reminiscent of oak. Medium length. It was 22°C today (March!) – so now it’s white wine season – and this works just fine.
2001 Prieur-Brunet, Meursault Charmes
Pale gold colour. The nose is round and a little more exotic than the 2002. The palate shows just a little more balance and texture but without quite the same power and fat of the 2002. I prefer this by a short-nose. There’s that slightly nutty Meursault thing starting to happen vs the more primary fruit of the ’02. Good length. I prefer the texture and balance of this wine, but prefer the fruit of the ’02 – such is life – still a good wine.
2002 Prieur-Brunet, Meursault Charmes
Pale lemon yellow. The nose starts with a quick blast of citrussy fruit with a deep, tight mineral core. The palate is a little fat and sweet with an aniseed twist. There’s just a hint of oak causing some harshness – but this is young. The length is good with a slightly creamy edge. Not bad at all!
1997 Rapet Père et Fils, Pernand-Vergelesses 1er
Medium yellow colour – looks quite youthful. The nose is fresh with a little butterscotch and honey. The palate is understated but with concentration in reserve. Nice and fresh with good enough acidity. Enjoyable.

2003 Bouchard Père et Fils, Le Corton
Philippe Prost is very proud of this wine, he thinks it could be the best he’s ever vinified. The nose is deep and brooding, only grudgingly gives up it’s complexity at this temperature. It’s not so fat as the previous wines, much more classically balanced. Excellent length, quite a flourish too, with mouth-gripping tannins that underline 10 years sleep in the cellar for best results. I will most likely buy some of this.
2002 Bouchard Père et Fils, Le Corton
Medium-plus cherry-red. The nose has really impressive black-shaded depth with a twist of oak, tightening with time and slowly taking on an unusual spicy, creamy, fresh-ginger note – if you wait an hour or so the nose has a much more classic profile. In the mouth there’s concentrated ripe fruit. This wine has a very round and balanced personality with acidity and tannin that you hardly notice. Really a very sophisticated wine and one I’ll be please to cellar.
2003 Bouchard Père et Fils, Chambertin Clos de Bèze
Aromatics that are wide and deep, a little blurred vs the previous Nuits, but there’s certainly more going on. Slowly a note of violet comes to the fore, focus improving all the time. Like the Corton, a more classically proportioned palate. Really good balance between the structure and fruit. Very, very good.
1996 Guy Castagnier, Clos de Vougeot
Medium-plus core of ruby only fading slightly at the rim. The nose starts with a little oak, slowly settling down to a dense red cherry fruit, slightly powdery but little else showing. The palate shows fine tannins that slowly build and very good acidity. Tightly presented, intense fruit, deep but still quite primary. Tasty enough now, but I’m really looking forward to tasting this again in another 3+ years.
1996 Joseph Drouhin, Musigny
Medium-plus ruby-red. From 12°C the nose starts deep, dank and woody with a touch of forest floor – much nicer than it sounds! As the wine warms in the glass, the fruit starts to take over; first it’s deep and plummy with hints of roast too. As the wine gets closer to room temperature the fruit gets ever more primary and and pure – beautiful red berry fruit – reminds me of the 99 de Vogüé Amoureuses of last week. The palate has just a little fat but is superbly balanced and beautifully round. There is almost a hidden density to this wine coupled with excellent fine tannin. The finish is very good but not quite a match to the rest. My best Musigny experience and a wine I absolutely don’t regret opening – wine of the year so far.
1997 Domaine du Clos Frantin (Bichot), Echézeaux
Medium, medium-plus red, still with a hint of cherry colour. The nose has just a trace of primary cherry over earthy and faintly ashy notes. The palate doesn’t have the most luxurious of textures but has a real Grand Cru depth and length to the finish. Certainly not a typical fruit-profile for a 1997 – there’s plenty of freshness. Acidity is okay but there is just a trace of oaky bitterness on the finish. No rush to drink and it’s a pretty good drop too.
1996 Dominique Gallois, Charmes-Chambertin
Medium-plus garnet, very little fading. The nose is sweet and meaty with a little ash and dried red fruits – more oak than I remember from the last outing. Muscle without fat, some grain to the tannin but melded to lovely ’96 acidity and again some earthy ash. Intense fruit and a lovely, slowly decaying finish. It might not be top-drawer, but it’s a very worthy Grand Cru.
1999 Jean Grivot, Clos Vougeot
Very deep colour – looks like Bordeaux. The nose starts with plenty black and red fruit-skin notes but slowly becomes less giving and settles-down to an interesting spice note redolent of cumin. The palate is very polished and concentrated with mouth-wrapping velvet tannin that’s well matched to sweet black-shaded fruit and acidity that you hardly notice. The finish, like the fruit, is quite primary and of good length. Not an austere CV and easily drinkable but one that could do with at least another 5-7 years before assessing. Very fine.
2003 Domaine du Pavillon, Corton Clos des Maréchaudes
Evident extra structure. Also more depth and length. Has more of everything, though not quite the little burst of the 1er.
2002 Domaine du Pavillon, Corton Clos des Maréchaudes
Denser fruit, though not fatter. There’s a little extra shade of black, if not quite the satin. Still a sleeker wine.
2002 Nicolas Potel, Charmes-Chambertin
Medium-plus cherry-red. Some depth to the fruit on the nose and a low-key meaty note – surprising for such a juvenile. Intense cherry cordial on the palate with balanced acidity and tannins that show just a little rasp at the end.. A one-dimensional but long finish. Very easy to drink and given the balance and intensity you could lose this in the cellar for 10 years – no problem.
1998 J-F Mugnier, Musigny
Splash decanted 15 minutes before drinking. Medium cherry/ruby red – the colour’s a little intermediate, but not much fading. The nose starts a little ‘solid’ plenty of ashy oak taking at least an hour to release the creamy red fruit – it’s good but not great. The palate is medium intensity with a spectacular finish, creamy and long, long, long. Most likely serves me right for opening at this age but I would have liked something to be happening in the mid-palate… Lovely balance – elegance over power, nice unobtrusive tannin and a real peacock’s tail of a finish, but this left me looking for just that bit extra. Excellent but as said, not yet great…
2000 Comte Georges de Vogüé, Bonnes-Mares
Similar intensity to the 2000 Chambolle 1er, but the colour has a more purple shade. Much more communicative on the nose with blacker dried and slightly spiced fruits. No spice on the palate, instead there’s dense, concentrated and muscular black, tarry fruit. Much more primary so less complex than the 1er Cru but a lovely creamy finish tops of this performance. Very impressive.
1999 Comte Georges de Vogüé, Bonnes-Mares
Medium-plus cherry-red. The nose has a little oak-toast and shows a much more savoury and spicy edge than the other wines, the fruit has a blacker edge too. The spice is also there on the palate, in-fact it currently defines the wine more than the fruit. A completely different expression to the others; it shows impressive though primary density and balanced structure – more so than the 99 Amoureuses – different, but very interesting.
1988 Comte Georges de Vogüé, Bonnes-Mares
Medium-plus core of ruby-red that shows only a little fading. The nose is very-much a 1993-style expression of fruit with a more mineral, graphitic edge and becomes a little meaty with aeration. Lovely texture, still very fruit-driven and also quite earthy. The balance and remaining structure suggest that many years of enjoyment lie ahead for this wine.
2000 Comte Georges de Vogüé, Musigny Vieilles Vignes
Medium, medium-plus cherry-red. Softer, lighter, more floral nose than the 2000 Bonnes-Mares more complex with the scent of roses. Fantastic mouthfeel, elegance allied to power – wave after wave of different, sometimes spicy elements. Fine tannins and an extra little burst on the finish. The real excitement is on the mid-palate. Young and fresh. How great? I guess we’ll find out around 2020…
1999 Comte Georges de Vogüé, Musigny Vieilles Vignes
Medium, medium-plus cherry-red. A melange of fruit greets the first sniff; the aromatics are in a similar vein to de Vogüé’s ’99 Amoureuses, the palate however, has another level of structure and concentration: it’s not obvious at first taste as you’re assaulted by such a bewildering array of sensations, but it’s very obvious when you move back. Despite the density there is no undue fat, many unfurling layers and tannins that wrap your teeth in velvet. Whilst today I prefer the expression of fruit on the nose of the ’99 Amoureuses, I simply can’t imagine how good this wine will become. I’m not tempted to try it before it’s 15th birthday though. Very special.
1991 Comte Georges de Vogüé, Musigny Vieilles Vignes
A vintage of hail, this was the ‘two-week triage with tweezers’ harvest. Only 15 hl/ha (Bonnes-Mares was down at 9!). I’ve read reports that this is not a typical Chambolle but on this performance it is a fantastic wine. Looks younger than the ’88 Bonnes-Mares that precedes it, but despite both depth and an engaging complexity after the previous wines the nose is relatively understated. The palate is dense without being fat, well delineated and shows a little rasp to the the tannins in the finish – but it’s a long and tasty finish. This wine still seems to speak of more to come in the future. Whilst the ’99 certainly has an extra flourish on the finish, side-by-side I’m surprised to see a little more intensity to the fruit of this wine. Luckily I’ve tasted (actually drunk with dinner) this wine twice in just over a year and this was a consistent showing. Very fine wine.
1999 Domaine Long-Depaquit, Chablis Grand Cru La Moutonne
Medium-plus yellow. The nose is waxy and smooth. The concentrated palate gives quite a dense showing – there’s lot’s of material here – good acidity and nice length. For me this wine is in that area where I wouldn’t drink – old enough to have lost it’s youthful zest and still too young for serious complexity.
2003 Bouchard Père et Fils, Corton-Charelmagne
Bottled in January, 2-3 months after the other whites. The vines are at the fop of the hill and north-east facing, Philippe believes that this cooler spot helped to preserve acidity this year. Lovely nose, hints of green, cream covered apricots. Instantly classic palate with tons of complexity – really good mouthfeel. The finish is a strong one, fading only slowly. A very good wine that speaks more of Corton-Charlemagne than of 2003 – excellent.

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