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               Why Big Red Diary?

Roundup of wines tasted

wine testing

No slurping and spitting; these wines were really drunk and predominantly at home with food and friends between March 2005 and June 2005. I have the feeling that I’ve had too many corked wines recently but the figures are not that much higher than normal – maybe it was because it was Montrachet! Talking of which, it wasn’t planned but there seems to have been an ample sufficiency of Montrachet and Clos de Vougeot drunk in the last months – I’m even drinking the 2001 Dr Mugneret version right now – I’ll leave the note for next time though…

Corkwatch: 6 from 92 = 6.5% for ‘corked’

REGIONAL WINES
2003 Domaine Bertagna, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits, Les Dames Huguettes
Big heavy bottle exuding quality – hope the wine’s a match – particularly as at €14 it’s not cheap for a bourgogne. Medium-plus colour. The nose whilst shouting 2003 has an extra dimension – it’s close to what you expect from a barrel sample with very forward sweet, ripe red fruit. The palate is also reminiscent of a barrel sample, showing good freshness, a hint of sweetness and a mouthwatering finish of surprising depth. Really first-class bourgogne. Within the context of appellations this is the pinnacle of 2003 red burgundy. There’s now a case in cellar.
2001 Henri Boillot, Bourgogne
Medium cherry-red. Just a small amount of toasty oak against high-toned, slightly estery fruit. Good freshness and concentration but the tannin and palate are still a little angular and harsh. If this wood derived angularity smooths out this will be rather elegant, try again in 2 years.
1997 Louis Jadot, Bourgogne
Medium ruby-red. After a few young wines this comes with a real breath of interest; secondary, tertiary, a little volatility, and behind some baked raisin fruit. The acidity is almost good though shows slightly harsh in the finish. Apart from that harsh last flick from the acidity this has a nice texture, no tannin and an interesting depth to both the fruit and finish, unfortunately no mid-palate to speak of. Quite nice but drink-up time.
2001 Jacob Frèrebeau, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune
Medium yellow. Nose of yeasty, soft and malic, green apple. The palate is certainly fresh, accentuated by somewhat unripe if reasonably concentrated fruit. Not particularly long but drinks reasonably well chilled. Don’t wait, for drinking now in the hot garden.
1993 Domaine Leflaive, Bourgogne Blanc
Very impressive – medium yellow, no gold despite it’s age. The nose is dominated by a mellow, toasty-oak note. Concentrated, vibrant acidity and surprising length. This is a very clean and technical rather than sumptuous wine, with the merest trace of hazelnut towards the end of the mid-palate burst. Happy that I have two more, but sad that there are no more.
2000 Méo-Camuzet, Bourgogne Hates Côtes de Nuits Clos Saint Philibert
Corked…

VILLAGE WINES
2003 Robert Arnoux, Vosne-Romanée
Bottled only six weeks before. Sweet black nose that very slowly releases a red berry note too. Lovely mouth wrapping tannins and a creamy texture. Medium-plus length. This is a nicely controlled wine until it reaches room temperature – than it gets a bit loutish. Just keep him cool!
2000 Alain Burguet, Gevrey-Chambertin ‘Tradition’
Medium ruby-red colour, some advanced amber at the rim. The nose is far from advanced with a primary and sharp black-cherry effect that eventually becomes a little diffuse. The palate starts with quite a bitter oak element, it softens with time but never completely fades. Good length and sweet fruit with a hint of cream. Drinkable, but merely almost good now, hopefully there will be an upside.
1999 Alain Burguet, Gevrey-Chambertin En Reniard
Deep core of ruby-red. The nose starts with a burst then settles to a relatively subdued faint top-end and deeper, black-edged cherry, given time the nose becomes purer and redder and very nice indeed. Fresh acidity, very good density and well covered velvetty tannins. The wine is relatively long and quite sophisticated – it’s actually a bit of a smoothie – don’t get carried away though, this is very young – leave it at least another 3 to 5 years, it will be worth it. Easily the nicest Burguet of my aquaintence – a very good villages.
2003 Pascal Chevigny, Vosne-Romanée Vieilles Vignes
No VV label on the 2002 – what a difference a year makes. Deep crimson (blue-shade red actually). The nose at room temperature is quite diffuse but faint spice and deep, sweet black fruit lay in wait. Cool the wine to 15°C and it’s altogether tighter and in some ways (if you wait long enough) reminds me of 1993. Dense, indeed intense, mouth-watering acidity (Burghound notes no acidification in 03) and tannins that are very well covered by the extract. Very 2003 but it’s big fun too. As well-made as any in 2003 and very good value (~17€), I’ll have to try and visit this year.
1999 Confuron-Coteditot, Vosne-Romanée
Medium ruby red, looking very pretty in the sunshine. The nose has a touch of raisin, redcurrant and eventually strawberry. There’s a mineral, soil inflected aspect to the palate, good acidity and smooth tannin. Overall there’s a nice balance and good fruit too, perhaps a little more secondary and spicier than many 99’s but it’s very, very drinkable.
1995 Domaine Dujac, Morey St-Denis
Medium-pale ruby-red centre further reducing in intensity as you head for the rim. The nose is a sweet mix of stems and hint of red and orange. Concentration is on a higher level than the colour suggests. Good acidity and a slightly coffee tinged finish. Delicate and pretty much open for business – but absolutely no rush as the balance is very fine – I’ll drink the remaining six over the next 10-15 years.
2002 Domaine Fourrier, Gevrey-Chambertin Vieille Vignes
Only medium cherry-red colour. The nose is full of toffee and caramel toppings to the red fruit – surprising considering the modest amount of oak that Jean-Marie uses. Medium bodied, quite elegant palate. Nice acidity and subdued tannin a tasty and quite lacy wine. A little remaining wine stored overnight sadly fell apart – perhaps not a long-term wine then but very lovely on day one.
1998 Jean Garaudet, Pommard Noizons
Medium, medium-plus ruby-red. The nose is a nice sweet mix of red fruit, perhaps just a little roast. The palate is tasty and well balanced, no hard edges, no roughness or dryness to the tannins. Good acidity. An above average villages, particularly good value in 1998.
2000 Robert Gibourg, Morey Saint Denis Clos de la Bidaude
Medium ruby red. The nose is high-toned, mixing a few oaky notes above a deep but hard to get at sweet base. The texture is pretty good with some density. The acidity is forward and although a match for the slightly grainy, drying tannin seems initially a little unbalanced. Improves with time, the nose is a little more fruit driven, but still skinny. The palate never completely evens out but becomes quite acceptable with food. Most likely not a long term wine as it needs more density to go with the structure.
1995 Jean Grivot, Vosne-Romanée Bossières
First bottle corked. Bottle two is similarly deep coloured, almost saturated ruby at the core. A meaty and concentrated nose, just a hint of vegetation together with a mineral, pencil-lead aspect. Concentrated, deep and smooth – or at least until it gets into the finish where the grainy, dry tannins still dominate. This wine manages to produce a mouth-watering finish that’s both deep and a little creamy. A big wine that currently has more in common with the Rhône than Vosne but one that still needs 3 or 4 years.
1996 Jean Grivot, Nuits St-Georges Lavières
Deep colour, more garnet than ruby. The nose is quite meaty and fresh. The tannins, whilst not bad in texture, still require a couple or three years. Decent fruit concentration, and the 1996 acidity carries this wine much more interestingly than the previous ’95 Vosne. Today at least, this is a more appealing package for the acid-lovers amongst us.
2003 Les Fils d’Antonin Guyon, Gevrey-Chambertin
Medium-plus cherry-red. Smells and tastes like a barrel sample. Starts high-toned, but slowly becomes purer and redder in aspect. Reasonable freshness, quite sweet and though the tannins are reasonably textured I find (with a little chewing) they are a little green and bitter. The wine’s perfectly fine with food and quite tasty, though I wouldn’t leave it in the cellar for too many years though.
1999 Louis Latour, Santenay
Medium ruby red. The nose is very powdery and slightly spicy but showing an undercurrent of red fruit. The palate is a bit of a let-down; not even middle-weight flavour or concentration and a slightly strange aftertaste – storage or the wine? Not sure, but this bottle isn’t worthy of the vintage the appellation or the producer.
2002 Dominique Laurent, Nuits St-Georges Cuvée Tradition
Medium, medium-plus cherry red – no purple highlights. Monsieur Laurent seems to have taken his foot off the accelerator a little when it comes to the oaking of this wine; yes, it’s still a little toasty – medium toast – but the oak mingles well with the fine and creamy red fruit notes, particularly about 1 hour after opening – nice. Very well balanced, excellent acidity and whilst I’d like a hint more density there’s a nice creamy length. I don’t think it told me much about Nuits, but this is almost good and was certainly enjoyed.
2002 Méo-Camuzet Frère & Soeurs, Côte de Nuits Villages
Although the label is very much in the domaine’s style, it’s nice to see a little more differentiation on the label for this ‘vin de négoce’. Deep but not opaque cherry-red. The nose is a rather impressive and intense core of black cherry surrounded by higher tones. The palate is an oak-spice and black fruit extravaganza thats coupled with slightly tart acidity and well mannered tannins. Mouthwatering with medium length – a gem of Côte de Nuits.
2002 Méo-Camuzet Frère & Soeurs, Fixin
Medium, medium-plus cherry-red. The nose is a little more subdued than the Côte de Nuits Villages but becomes ever more intense and impressive – tight red fruit of some depth. The palate has good acidity, just a little less tart than the ‘Villages’, rounder and longer too. Much less oak spice but I have to say that today there’s a little less personality too – that said the underlying material is better here. There’s a black aspect to the fruit here too, but less so than the last wine – a rather polished Fixin but one that didn’t ignite the spark of excitement, despite that, I think it’s clean, well-made and will improve over the next 5 years.
2002 Georges Mugneret, Gevrey-Chambertin
From the young vines of their Ruchottes-Chambertin. Medium, medium-plus cherry-red. The ebullient nose still has an extra edge of oak derived vanilla, but behind, swirling releases truffley, high-toned, red fruit. The palate has lovely acidity that pushes the vanilla-tinged finish ever longer – in fact very long. Lovely fruit, this is a nicely textured, medium bodied wine and one that I’m very pleased to have (a few) in the celler.
2002 Mugneret-Gibourg, Vosne-Romanée
Medium-plus cherry-red. High-toned, dense red fruit. The palate is sweet, concentrated and shows lovely acidity, acidity that pushes the vanilla-tinged finish ever longer. It’s a wide rather than deep expression and is a first-class villages.
2001 Mugneret-Gibourg, Vosne-Romanée
Medium cherry red. Again a quite high-toned nose with dense red fruit. The palate is a world away from the 2002, elegantly proportioned but much more austere and less sweet. Excellent balance, fine tannin and a slightly dry finish – one to leave while you’re raiding the 2002’s!
2000 Domaine Pavelot, Savigny les Beaune
Drank directly after Robert Gibourg’s Morey. Medium, medium-plus ruby red. Again high toned but much more fruit on the nose. A step-up in concentration, but after ten minutes taint starts to dominate the palate before creeping into the nose too. Bottle two was not so obviously high-toned as the first but still relatively so. Colour and density were the same as bottle 1. Still a step-up from the Gibourg, but just missing a little sweetness. It compliments food, but doesn’t make a completely satisfying solo drink, like many 2000’s today it is hiding its charm.
1996 Daniel Rion, Nuits-St-Georges Les Grandes Vignes
Deep ruby-red, not 100% bright. The nose betrays what must have been a fair whack of oak in this wine’s youth, but it’s coming together now – just a little creamy with smokey, dusky black fruit. Fresh, mouthwatering acidity, fine density to the mid-palate and a lingering finish. Perhaps it’s just a little tart to be described as very well balanced, however, very enjoyable though it’s my last…
2003 Charles Thomas, Nuits Saint Georges
Medium-plus cherry red. The nose is a mix rubber and sulfur. The sweet palate shows grainy tannin but becomes quite interesting from the mid-palate onwards – unfortunately I didn’t like the nose or the entry…
2002 Jean Boillot, Puligny-Montrachet
Medium lemon-yellow. A forward and interesting nose of white blossom and a really inviting, slightly woody depth. Crisp and clean with wonderful acidity and real steely concentration – this is really my type of wine. The finish is medium-plus in length, still with a nod more towards the barrel-maker’s art than Puligny, but this is without doubt a repeat-purchase wine. Excellent villages.
2000 Jean-Marc Boillot, Puligny-Montrachet
Pale gold. The nose takes a while to do what’s expected of it as it’s rather diffuse to start with. Time brings out a little fat and finally sweet and slightly buttery fruit that more than hints at Puligny. This is nicely balanced with good fruit, good-enough acidity and reasonable length, but vs Jean-Marc’s 1997, 1998 & 1999 it’s currently a little harder to find that extra Puligny dimension. Tasty and still a nice wine.
1997 Domaine Germain, Pernand-Vergelesses
Golden. The nose starts in a healthy way with tight, clean, mineral and citrus aspects, though becomes much more diffuse as it warms in the glass. It’s an almost sweet and sour experience, the ripe fruit providing the sweetness and the rustic acidity giving the sour aspect. The weather was hot and this was drunk to the end. Overall I’d say almost good, but keep it chilled.

1er CRU WINES
2003 Robert Arnoux, Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Les Procès
A brooding, tight nose matches the deeper colour. The palate is less fat and shows another (higher) level of tannin. The fruit is up to the challenge, but this is a much fresher wine. Also medium length.
1998 Robert Arnoux, Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Corvées Pagets
Less expressive on the nose, linear with a herbal note. The entry is understated, but there’s really impressive burst of fruit from the mid-palate onwards. Very good acidity and there’s the perception of something green on the finish.
1993 Robert Arnoux, Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Corvées Pagets
There’s a dense core of fruit that’s a more roast expression than for 98. Sweeter and more intense palate, even the mid-palate has more intensity – though less fireworks. Better length, and that green note is there again – it’s more easily identifiable this time as fresh mint. Interesting, vs the 1998 this has more of everything – except charm! No worry about waiting another 5 or so years to see if it mellows, but drinking today I prefer the 1998.
1998 Robert Arnoux, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Suchots
Purer and denser nose than the 98 Corvées Pagets, higher toned too. The palate is fresh and is one of those crescendo wines that builds with intensity. Still primary but very, very long and understated – I’m quite impressed by this.
1997 Jean Boillot, Volnay Les Fremiets
Impressively deep colour – quite ruby, no amber at the edge yet. The nose is equally deep, red fruit with a black edge, also hiding in the background is a little toasty oak, but it’s all-but gone. The palate has sweet, fat, ripe fruit, it’s dense, and certainly quite intense. The black aspect on the nose is a little stronger on the palate – good complexity and tannins that hint more to 98 than 97. If there’s a bug-bear it might be the acidity, it seems a little too much to the fore. It’s reasonably fresh, and I’ll leave the last couple for another 3 or 4 years before revisiting.
2000 Maurice Ecard, Savigny les Beaune Les Narbantons
Medium, medium-plus ruby. The nose is heaviliy influenced by spicy oak – initially the palate is similarly affected. The palate is just a little sweeter and denser than the other 2000’s drunk in this report with an interesting creamy burst in the mid-palate. Really needs a couple of hours in a decanter to show it’s style. This 2000 is a nice wine but a couple of levels below Pavelot’s Dominode from the same vintage.
1998 Forey Père et Fils, Vosne-Romanée Les Gaudichots
Medium-plus red, more ruby than cherry, gently fading at the rim. The nose is quite forward but also rather dense; red fruit and an underlying cedar/mineral note. The palate starts in a very understated way almost to the point of there being something missing, but the intensity builds into quite an impressive mid-palate and very long finish. The acidity is a touch bright in the finish but there is nothing at-all astringent about the tannins. I wine that I felt lacking at the start, only to finish with me lamenting a lack of wine! Very good and I think better than the 2000 I’ve previously tasted.
1993 Domaine Fourrier, Gevrey-Chambertin Combe aux Moines
Medium-plus colour. The nose starts almost corky/high-toned but blows off to reveal a more earthy and eventually classic 1993 dried cranberry/raisin fruit. Nice balanced concentration with lovely acidity, fine fruit and a hint of rusticity to the grainy tannins. Made by Jean-Marie’s father in a much earthier style than you find today.
1998 Jean Garaudet, Beaune Belissand
Medium ruby-red. The nose is a lovely bright pinot, high-toned sweet red cherry, though eventually a hint of volatility comes through. A fresh, sweet palate with a lovely burst of interest on the mid-palate and no harshness to the tannins. Lingers mouthwateringly into the finish. This is a tasty, well-made and very drinkable wine that’s just lacking that nth dimension to reach the very highest level.
1998 Jacques Germain, Beaune Le Cras Vieilles Vignes
Younger, deeper ruby-red colour than the Garaudet that preceded it. Where the Garaudet’s nose was high-toned and fruit driven, this is much deeper and more savoury with an edge of oak. Very fresh palate, the tannins show in a grainy fashion but not drying. There is a long and creamy finish, the fruit is tight and linear with a black-olive edge – doesn’t show the friendly face of the last wine but has plenty in-hand for the future.
2000 Hospices de Beaune Beaune 1er Cru, Gigione de Salins
Reserve of the Hospices. Medium, young colour. The nose jumps out of the glass with very bright and red-fruity notes, then after a time closes a little. The palate shows sweet, ripe fruit. There’s a nice character to this wine, a little ‘tender’, not high acidity for sure, but still mouthwatering. The tannins are in the background with just a little grain. Medium-plus length – a tasty and well mannered wine, particularly for 2000 Côte de Beaune.
1990 Comtes Lafon, Volnay Santenots du Millieu
Deep colour. Herby notes, high-toned. Tons of tannin, still with some astringency. The tannins are well matched to the acidity and fruit that bursts across the mid-palate. The main aspect today is the tannin, but I think this young wine has a great future – I’m amazed how muscular this wine is!
2001 Francois Lamarche, Vosne-Romanée Malconsorts
Medium cherry-red. Interesting nose, depth, sweetness and a dark but creamy edge – quite forward.Very good acidity and finely textured tannins. At best this is only medium density but shows way above average interest and length. Very tasty and enjoyed.
1996 Albert Morot, Savigny les Beaune La Bataillière
Not so deep colour or nose, however, it’s wide pure fruit becomes more and more redcurrant – a wine to sniff and sniff. The palate is lower volume than the last wine (Lafon’s Volnay) but it’s balanced and shows bright acidity and there’s absolutely no rush to drink. Nice wine.
1999 Domaine Pavelot, Savigny les Beaune Les Gravains
Deep colour, the core is ruby but the rim looks very young. Depth on the nose too, red and black fruit – neither dominates. Real concentration with an intensity thats exacerbated by the acidity. No rough edges, the tannins are well to the background. Really excellent potential for this wine.
2002 Nicolas Potel, Aloxe-Corton Les Boutières
Medium-plus, purple-tinged cherry-red. A fresh coulis of black-skinned fruit greets the nose. The smooth palate shows nicely intense fruit – again black-shaded. There is plenty of tannin, but it’s currently very well wrapped in the fruit extract. Nice balance from the acidity and a really pleasing finish. If I can keep my hands of this wine I think it has quite some potential, not drinking these could be difficult. Not as exuberant as when tasted in barrel but a very good wine all the same.
2002 Nicolas Potel, Vosne-Romanée Petits Monts
Medium, purple-tinged cherry-red. A wine that should be decanted right now as to start with there’s not much to find, but given a little air… A lovely, complex if slightly diffuse nose, high and low-toned, but wide rather than deep – who needs focus when you can find so much? Not especially dense but there’s a real intensity to the fruit which leads to the piece de la resistance for this wine; it’s long and very tasty finish. It’s all about elegance and I really love it.
1993 Pousse d’Or, Volnay Caillerets
Deep colour. Equally deep nose of undergrowth, turned-over leaves, black fruit and black olive. Mouth-wrapping tannins, tons of black fruit that gets purer with time in the glass. I think I would have guessed Gevrey. Really interesting.
2002 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru A bright, medium cherry-red colour, just a shade lighter than the Echézeaux that stands by it’s side. A quite lovely nose that begins with a suggestion of torrefaction and sweet powdery fruit. Swirling releases a much more prominent and precise red-fruit note. Medium bodied, this wine shows an elegant balance between the fruit and acidity, the tannins showing a grainy edge and just a hint of dryness. There’s a serious aspect to this wine and whilst it’s shallow in the context of the DRC line-up in 2002, it’s certainly not shallow in the context of the appellation indicated on the label. I expect this wine will be a great investment, regardless of how you choose to use that word.
1995 Serafin, Gevrey-Chambertin Cazetiers
Much cleaner fruit on the nose (than the 93 Fourrier Combe aux Moines), pure redcurrant – very nice. Lovely sweet palate with a burst of interest on the mid-palate onwards. Still a little earthy with grainy, forward tannins – very 95-esque. A big and interesting wine.
1996 Serafin, Gevrey-Chambertin Cazetiers
Vs the 1995 a little nicer texture to the tannins, but otherwise a very similar wine – drunk after many others so no real note.
2002 Charles Thomas, Vosne-Romanée Malconsorts
Medium cherry-red. The nose is wide and complex – really interesting. The palate is well balanced with astringent, chewy tannins and very nice length. There’s more density than the colour would suggest. Good and ineteresting. A very young Malconsorts that needs at least 6-7 years.
2002 Jean Boillot, Puligny-Montrachet Clos de la Mouchère
As a comparison, I opened this directly after the 02 Jean Boillot villages Puligny. The same medium lemon-yellow. The nose is tighter and less expressive, still deep, but without doubt finer. The palate likewise is a little tighter, with a little more citrus. Where this wine transcends the villages is the haunting finish, it really does go on and on. There we have it, less boisterous than the villages, but with much more finesse and length.
2002 Jean-Marc Boillot, Montagny 1er Cru
Pale yellow. The nose is fresh, slightly citrus over dense fruit base. Likewise the palate is fresh, showing an almost Chablis minerality. The acidity is mouthwateringly good, but there’s a slight harshness to the palate – I can’t decide if it’s down to the acidity or an oak artifact – anyway it’s certainly not a bad wine but with it’s long but slightly saccharin finish I’ll look elsewhere.
1996 Pierre Boillot, Meursault Gouttes d’Or
Golden colour. High-toned nose initially hints at oxidation but blows off to reveal quite exotic, ripe fruit. The palate has nice, clean, citrussy fruit and some minerality. A quality wine of good length.
2000 Bouchard Père et Fils, Chablis Montmains
Pale yellow, indeed still a hind of green. The nose is a little diffuse and sweet. The palate is very fresh – carried along on a wave of tasty acidity, good mouth-watering length. Quite simple but with currently unexpressive concentration. Almost good in itself and very good when taking account of the price.
1992 Carillon, Puligny-Montrachet Perrières
Medium-pale golden colour. The nose is quite wide, but not as exciting as the Remoissenet Montrachet that preceded it. However, fatter, denser, riper than the last wine. Less fireworks and complexity but still a very good length. Probably about it’s apogee.
2002 Francoise et Denis Clair, Saint-Aubin Murgers des Dents de Chien
Already a deep yellow colour. The nose is sweet, a little spicy and slightly dense. The palate reflects the nose in that it’s dense and tight, only hinting at an extra layer of compexity. In this phase I’d like a hint more acidty to carry that density along, but it’s clean and very tasty. Hopefully it will move onto the next level as it unravels. Good.
2000 Hospices de Beaune Meursault 1er Cru Genevrières, Philippe le Bon
Hospices reserve. Medium golden colour. A deep, waxy and quite exotic nose. The palate shows a super waxy-smooth texture, depth and interest coupled with a real mid-palate punch. This wine is very long too. I had to take a second glass – super.
1996 Pierre Matrot, Meursault Charmes
A pale but bright gold. Strange, there’s almost an aniseed aspect to the nose. Nice textured palate, good acidity. This wine takes quite a while to blossom in the glass and also on the nose – would have been better decanted – really blooms into a nice wine.
1996 Niellon, Chassagne-Montrachet La Maltroie
Medium yellow colour. A ripe nose which grows and grows in stature – super. Wider palate than many, with a sweet core of fruit, hints of honey too. Super acidity. This is a lovely bottle.
1990 Etienne Sauzet, Puligny-Montrachet Les Referts
Golden colour. The nose fills the glass; deep, dense and a little nutty with old wood. Excellent acidity, very linear/narrow palate but super length. Still needs time to sort out that tight palate, but very nice wine.
1994 Etienne Sauzet, Puligny-Montrachet Combettes
Younger yellow colour vs the 1990 and just a little hazy. Very different nose, high-toned over melon. HIgh-toned fruit in the mouth too. Similar to the first wine as this is quite constrained and tight in the palate but yet again with very good length. A good performance for the vintage and certainly no rush to drink.

GRAND CRU WINES
2003 Robert Arnoux, Clos de Vougeot
From the ‘Quartier des Marei Haut’. Some freshness on the nose, sweet, ripe fruit – but not overly so. Fresh palate with dense but beautifully textured tannins and plenty of fruit extract to balance them. Like almost all 2003’s this is very ripe, but still manages to offer a ‘classicly’ balanced wine. Very good.
1995 Robert Arnoux, Echézeaux
The deepest colour of all these wines. A brooding raspberry and black cherry nose. Dense palate with staining flavours. Very long with a little rasping texture to the tannins. A rough and ready wine that falls short of elegance but has undoubted eloquence. Really very, very good.
1991 Robert Arnoux, Romanée Saint-Vivant
What an interesting nose, open, forward and effusive, Slowly evolving, it has both width and depth and is savoury and meaty rather than fruit driven, undergrowth too like turning over piles of brown leaves. Understated entry but then there’s an explosion on the mid-palate before slowly fading into the finish. For me this is an unusual but rather compelling RSV, certainly not the greatest I ever tasted but very fine for all that – I’d be rather pleased if I found a bottle or two in my Christmas stocking!
1996 Denis Bachelet, Charmes-Chambertin
Very deep colour. The nose starts with a little pine and then beautiful intense red fruit – reminds me of the 99 de Vogüé Amoureuses – a superb ‘sniffers’ wine. The palate is young and athletic – too young – but very balanced. A wine in waiting, but aromatically wonderful.
1988 Faiveley, Clos des Cortons Faiveley
Medium-pale ruby red. Sweet older nose of complex red fruit and wood. There’s also a fabulous burst of fruit on the palate. Despite good acidity and tannins, nothing seems to be melding together all that well – nice parts but not a team performance.
1999 Domaine Clos du Frantin, Clos du Vougeot
Medium-plus red, still with a cherry-red rim. The nose has a rasping mineral, indeed earthy note, behind there’s a lovely deep red fruit aspect – very good so-far. There’s some of that earthy aspect on the palate too (geosmin?) but the fruit is splendid behind, as is the overall balance. I’d like a little more length but this has very good base material – I’m concerned about that earthy aspect, but not enough to stop me buying a couple more for reference.
1976 Camille Giroud, Clos de Vougeot
Fabulously young colour. The nose unfortunately starts like fabric clear – I think it might be the glass rather than the wine as the next pour is altogether better; faintly spicy oak and sweet fruit that takes on exra dimensions with time. The acidity has (perhaps) a little too much bite but it’s quite refreshing. Long lived in the glass as well as the bottle – really needs food, but compliments it very well.
1971 Camille Giroud, Charmes-Chambertin
There’s certainly a similar style to this wine as the Giroud Clos de Vougeot. More closed on the nose but with a significantly longer finish. The fruit – and there’s still plenty – has a bitter-sweet edge and slightly dry tannin is still to found in the background. Overall it’s a shade less friendly than the Clos de Vougeot but again works wonderfully well with food.
1996 Etienne Grivot, Clos de Vougeot
Deep colour. Dense, deep nose with hints of earth, focused black fruit and hints of pepper and cedar. Good concentration with a fabulous burst of black fruit and mouth wrapping tannins. Very young and very much enjoyed.
1964 Jaboulet-Vercherre, Romanée Saint-Vivant
Lovely old, brown-tinged but vibrant colour. The nose is alive and exciting. I hoped to be transported to another place – not quite – but this is lovely and it’s held together by a really fine seam of acidity. A lovely old lady.
1991 Domaine Thomas-Moillard, Romanée Saint-Vivant
Disappointed then impressed, then disappointed again. Disappointed that I’ve opened this too young, impressed by how young this wine still is, then disappointed because of taint. The colour still shows a little cherry-red hue to the deep core, moving to ruby at the rim. The nose starts both wide and deep, reminiscent of the 2001, but soon turns a little metallic and slowly an edge of taint develops. Palate is both nicely balanced and deep – but taint for certain.
2002 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Échézeaux Bright medium, medium-plus cherry-red. The nose jumps out of the glass just a little less athletically than the 1er Cru – there’s a hint more spice and a deeper, tighter, more precise aspect to the fruit. There’s a real step-up when tasting this wine, almost reminiscent of the Montrachet and it’s ebullient acidity. Intensity and a real burst of excitement from the mid-palate onwards. Nicely handled tannins. This is a very good effort, certainly more intense than the 1er Cru but I’m not sure if it’s any longer.
2002 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Grands-Échézeaux There’s a little haze to the wine from this bottle and slightly paler colour vs the Echézeaux. The nose has a little extra lift vs the deeper Echezeaux, also shows an extra creamy edge. This wine really distinguishes itself by the intensity of its finish vs the previous two reds. It doesn’t give the ‘rush’ provided by the Echézeaux’ acidity but instead provides a warmer, denser aspect to the extract. The tannins have similar volume to the Echézeaux, but with finer structure. Lingers excellently on the palate.
2002 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Saint-Vivant The last 4 wines served together have virtually identical colours. Another panoramic nose, this time with hints of coffee and caramel. Swirling releases a burst of red fruits, not the ultimate in precision, but very nice. I love RSV and this wine typifies why; it’s warmer and more effusive than the GE, has gorgeous fruit that comes at you from all directions. The tannins are mouth-wrapping but dry only for an instant – like the kiss from a dusky maiden – sorry ladies Without the ultimate intensity, but this wine still delivers an excellent finish – bravo. What can the last 3 wines do to counter that!
2002 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Richebourg A very low yield this year, not much more produced than Romanée-Conti. It’s a rather narrow nose compared to the others, but it’s like cliff-diving, it’s just so deep. Swirling fills some of the gaps, as does extended time in the glass – it never loses that depth though. Whilst I loved the RSV I have to say that this wine is frankly a tour-de-force in the mouth; nothing hard, great balance but every aspect is on a fantastic level – from first impression right through the mid-palate to the finish. In both 2000 and 2001 I preferred the RSV and despite my ‘bias’ in this respect I have to give the rosette to this wine in 2002 – bravo – fabulous, measured concentration…
2002 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, La Tâche. The nose is wider and almost as deep as the Richebourg, swirling initially, and surprisingly tightens things up – still it’s a deep, dark, well of fruit. I seem to be running out of superlatives… In every dimension this wine at least matches the Richebourg and in overall concentration seems its better. This is quite stunning (an over-used word but accurately used in this context), there’s a perceptible extra width. It’s not a fabulously spicy La Tâche but comes across as a complete wine – is it really possible to improve on this?
2002 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti. The nose is rounder still than La Tâche, matching the width and depth but with extra high-tones at the top. Another wine whose nose strangely reduces in amplitude when swirled. Versus both the LT and the Richebourg there are less fireworks and a less obvious ‘look at me’ personality. This wine is tighter but does still have the edge in density. There’s no extra burst, but that tiny gap between the mid-palate and the finish is filled with more ‘command’ than any other wine into a spellbinding finish. Today, and in these glasses the overall experience is a notch below both the Richebourg and the LT but (directly comparing) well above the RSV. For the future there is extra promise but I really think I will need multiple bottles of each for further research!
1988 Armand Rousseau, Charmes-Chambertin
Medium ruby red. Quite a diffuse nose of high tones over a denser fruit base. There’s certainly a nice burst of fruit on the mid-palate and the almost resolved tannins show good texture. Very nice, but I was left wanting given the grand cru status
2000 Charles Thomas, Clos de Vougeot
Medium-plus colour. The nose is deep with ripe fruit that’s even a little jammy. Grainy tannins and reasonably good acidity. The finish is long and a little astringent, but this is showing in a very young way. Not amazing quality but potentially not bad – give it another 3-5 years before trying again.
1971 Camille Giroud, Montrachet
Amazingly young colour, still only a medium yellow. The nose is very high toned perhaps with a hint of taint. The palate is amazingly lithe, linear and tight, initially no cork here but slowly it released its venom…
1983 Louis Latour, Montrachet
Golden. Deep and sweet nose with butterscotch and lanolin. The palate is intense without weight. Very nice acidity though lower than some – but that doesn’t seem to have harmed it. Overall a very impressive wine that has depth and still plenty of ripe fruit, but just missing an extra zip for the absolute top prize.
1996 Domaine Leflaive, Bâtard-Montrachet
Medium yellow colour. Heavy musky nose, a little cream and still plenty of oak. There’s gorgeous acidity and a very impressive length. Beautiful texture – lovely. Concentration without weight – gorgeous and very young.
1995 Domaine Leflaive, Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet
Versus the Bâtard the colour is a little deeper – more golden too. The nose is higher toned and a little less burly, riper though still with plenty of oak. Despite this wine being decanted an hour earlier it’s another hour in the glass before the nose reaches its peak. Overall this is a fantastic wine that just doesn’t quite show the precision of the Bâtard but anyway very fine.
1989 Olivier Leflaive, Corton-Charlemagne
Starngely orange in colour. The nose is very starnge – almost menthol, then corked…
1988 Remoissenet, Le Montrachet
Medium golden colour. Very high toned and somewhat volatile, estery notes dwarfing a ripe, deeper and interesting core. Initially disappointing in context, but this wine improves leaps and bounds as the volatile edge leaves the scene. Wide, panoramic palate with an extra burst on the mid-palate. Long and very interesting. I don’t think the valatility will aid longevity, but the show’s pretty good today.
1991 Remoissenet, Le Montrachet
Golden. Real depth on the nose, but initially it’s a little diffuse – certainly vs the two Domaine Leflaive wines, hints of butterscotch. Where this wine excels is in it’s length, certainly longer than the Leflaive wines, but without their overall class and texture. Still a fantastic wine by ordinary measures.
2002 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Montrachet
Less than half the production of Romanée-Conti. Pale gold. Gives up a wide, indeed panoramic nose with a medium butterscotch depth and a spicy – though not detracting – wood note. The most striking aspect of this wine (for me) is the sweet, almost gushing, acidity; you’re washed along the rapids (my wife points out that it’s cheaper to go white-water rafting) followed by a momentary lull before the wave that is the finish hits you. It’s a really fit wine, no added fat – all my analogies seem to involve speed – like a racehorse and one that sprints rather than slows to the line. The finish lasts fully 2 minutes, this is a special experience.
1998 Maison Verget, Chablis Bougros
Medium golden colour. The nose showcases high tones over a deeper, ripe base. Very long in a brûlée way. Ripe with a nicely shaped palate, seems to have some age and maturity but no rush. Bought for a song in a sale, but tested too late to re-stock. This was a really lovely.

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