On Monday importer Iida Wine organized a fairly sizeable wine tasting showcasing wines from different French regions. There were many from Burgundy as well and since I am teaching a six month course about Yonne and Côte d’Or, and since I love this region, I decided to focus on these.
I came back home with many good impressions. First, the Chablis from Domaine Vrignaud was a pleasant surprise: the 2016 is very “Chablis-esque”, light, chalky and crispy; more rounded (obviously) the 2015 Fourchaume, but interesting to notice that this domaine makes both an oaked (slightly richer, same 2015, Vaupulant climat) and an unoaked (fresher) version of this Premier Cru.
Vrignaud wines were very well defined and typical, but in general many wines in the event were pleasant showed a lot of personality, with evident style differences for each village. I was a bit surprised by the lightness of Domaine Tortochot: Gevrey Chambertin Les Jeunes Rois 2014 is very pale on the eye and quite acidic in the mouth, with the Clos Saint Jacques 2014 slightly deeper, but still lighter than I expected. The proximity of these two vineyards to the Combes Lavaux (and a consequent cooler mesoclimate) may offer an explanation for their style.
Different impressions for the two Morey-St-Denis from Georges Lignier: both his village 2014 and the Premier Cru Clos des Ormes 2014 are quite solid and four squared, but the latter seems uplifted by a floral component that is less evident in the former. Both of them are quite spicy and peppery, pale garnet in color.
Then there were one Morey-Saint-Denis and four Chambolle-Musigny made by Amiot Servelle. Now, the two village cuvées (respectively 2012 and 2014) are both convincing: the Morey-St-Denis is even more floral than that from Lignier, with ripe (but not baked) red fruit, some vanilla and toast, cloves, deep, but still showing high acidity. The Chambolle offers a white peppery and light stalky profile, flowers, ripe red fruit, a touch of smoke. The difference between the two is clear, with the Chambolle a bit leaner and more savory, and they reflected more or less my expectations. So far so good. On the other side I tasted the three Chambolle-Musigny Premier Crus (Les Plantes 2011, Les Charmes 2014 and Derrière La Grange 2013), but I will not rate them: someone please explain me the meaning of bringing to a tasting event wines that will be sold in such tiny quantities. For one of them (Derrière La Grange), the importer has just 12 bottles in stock, another one 24: as a result, the importer staff was pouring something like 5 ml of wine in the glass, maybe even less. I cannot properly assess a wine with such low quantity! I cannot spend over ten or twenty thousands yen for a bottle at these conditions! Just don’t bring them if you have so few!
Jean Tardy‘s Hautes Côtes de Nuits Cuvee Maelie 2014 is ok, supple, but less defined than the previous wines. His Fixin La Place 2013 is fruity and supple as well, with irony nuances, but less “stinky” than other Fixin that I have had in the past. Grippy mouth. I think this is good. On the contrary the Vosne-Romanée Vigneux 2015 is stonier than I expected (mineral, if I can say this word), floral and lightly white peppery. At that point it was also the “densest” wine I had tasted, which was a good change after all that acidity.
The first white after the three Chablis was a Michel Gros Hautes Côtes de Nuits Blanc Fontaine St Martin 2015. Very solid structure, clearly oaked, though still retaining some freshness. Not exactly cheap (4,850 yen), but it shows good quality. There were seven reds for this same producer: the red Hautes Côtes de Nuits 2015 was probably the least convincing, well defined, but not very intense and a bit lacking in complexity, while the Hautes Côtes de Nuits Rouge Fontaine St Martin 2015 is a bit more penetrating, though similar in profile (especially the stalkiness). Riper in its red fruit, a bit of vanilla, but also savoury stony character.
The Chambolle-Musigny 2014 from this domaine was probably one of my favorite wine of the event: complex, lots of nuances (red fruit, white pepper, spices, a bit of stalk) and a very evident stony minerality (more defined than previous wines from the same village). Not powerful, but showing very well the typical style of Chambolle-Musigny. It is also quite expensive: you don’t see often a 10,000 yen price tag for a village wine which is not even single vineyard. This was followed by the Morey-St-Denis En la Rue de Vergy 2013: compared to previous Morey wines this is a bit more elegant, though not as savoury as the Chambolle. Cinnamon, red fruits and a touch of mint for a lighter style of Morey, both in the nose and on the palate. I was less happy with the Nuits-Saints-Georges 2010: it was for sure one of the most structured of the lot, but I am not exactly a fan of oxidative bottle ageing aromas: too much of them make the wines lose typicity and by now this is a bit over my threshold. I would have better enjoyed it a couple of years ago.
Just to be clear: I do not “hate” aged wines, but there is a lack of grace in the way this has aged. For example I appreciated much more the 2003 Pommard Premier Cru Le Clos Micault by Jacques Parent. This was really one the best of the day: still vibrant, giving both red and black fruit, spices, toast, coffee, a graceful earthiness. Broad on the palate as well, with a light aftertaste of vanilla and (slighlty baked) red fruit. A gem.
Next I tried two Vosne-Romanée Premier Crus: Aux Brulées and Clos de Réas. The former is really dark. The fruit here enters the black spectrum (cranberry, blueberry) and is complemented by vanilla, toast and balsamic nuances. Substantial and very structured when you drink it, leaving a lingering aftertaste. The latter shows more elegance and earthy, stony profile. Fruit is redder and brighter, uplifted by nuances of medicinal herbs. Again, quite a persistent finish.
The section dedicated to the Côte de Beaune was much smaller, but offered good examples of Burgundian variation. Thumbs up for the Meursault 2011 from Michel Caillot: quite Meursault-like especially in the nose, broad, floral, generous, with some nuts and vanilla and not really showing his age. A bit more citrusy and zesty in the moith, but structured nonetheless. Not the most elegant Meursault I had, but not the heaviest either. On a mid ground. Caillot’s Meursault Tesson 2011 is slightly fuller, but not so much. Long finish for this one.
The Pommard 2011 from this same producer is interesting. The difference with the Pinot Noirs from the Côte de Nuits is very clear and the nose reminded of iron, toast, white pepper, but less bright fruit then the northern counterparts. The palate is also thicker and the wine generally sturdier.
On the other side, the Chassagne-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes Rouge 2013 by Jean-Claude Bachelet is much more similar to Côte de Nuits Pinot Noirs: brighter, pungent, reminding of cloves, with just some iron and stalks. Light, but graced by an interesting personality.
I already talked about the Jacques Parent Pommard above, so the last missing is the 2008 Beaune Premier Cru Les Epenots. This one is not exceptional, but good anyway and still more “alive” than the Nuit-Saint-Georges from Michel Gros I described before, despite being older. Dried leaves, dried rose, slightly dried red fruit and cedar aromas testified the age, but there was a menthol-like freshness lifting up all the profile. It was also quite light, with light tannins, fresh acidity and medium body.
You don’t always have the chance to taste so many wines from all over Burgundy at once. Looking at the progression of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Chablis down to Chassagne-Montrachet has been extremely interesting.
Some of the wines were very convincing, others less, but in general they showed well what each producer is capable to do on different terroirs. Two hours well spent.