Back to school for Burgundy… Grand Cru tasting
The second part of this week’s Burgundy love-in took me to a fabulous tasting of Grand Crus at the West London Wine School. As usual Jimmy had put together a superb array of fine wines as well as an informative, interesting and amusing history lesson on the great wines of the greatest wine region in the world. Seriously, if you do get a chance then check out the fine wine tasting diary (West London Wine School) and book your place; you won’t be disappointed.
The tasting included Chardonnays from Chablis and Corton, while the Pinot Noir selection took us on a tour of Gevrey Chambertain, Morey Saint Denis and Vougeout. You all know by now how much I adore the wines of Burgundy but this was serious stuff, and as you’ll see the scores for the wines reflect this… Nothing under 90 points!
But before the detail, let’s give this tasting some context. Grand Cru wine accounts for a mere 1.4% of total wine production in Burgundy. This is one of the reasons for the often astronomical prices – it’s simple supply and demand. However don’t be fooled into thinking this is the only reason for the prices, because as with most things in life, you get what you pay for… I just wish I could afford to pay for some of these magnificent specimens!
Domaine Pascal Bouchard, Chablis Grand Cru Vaudesir, 2006 (Waitrose £29.99)
Lots of stones and mineral on the nose but also plenty of green apple fruit. There is also a delicious savoury element here, reminiscent of almonds, marzipan even. On the tongue its clean, fresh and wonderfully acidic. Tart green apples and lovely minerality. The finish is generous with a touch of bitter almond right at the end. Clean, elegant, fruity, mineral and savoury. Very good. 91 points
Domaine Laroche, Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos, 2004 (Millesima £65)
Much richer aromas than the Vaudesir – intense, creamy and toasty with plenty of red apple and white peach fruit. On the palate its rich and buttery with a good blast of peach. Also a nice hint of spice and a delicious toasty finish. I’d like a bit more fruit and acidity, but still a good wine. 90 points
Maison Nicolas Potel, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, 2005 (Exel Wines £60)
Oh my this smells amazing. Oakley, floral and delicate, with plenty of white peach and sweet vanilla. In the mouth there is a wonderful streak of acidity – really zesty green apples and wonderful ripe peaches. The oak is beautifully integrated and kisses your tongue, providing a lick of vanilla. This is elegance personified and amazing fruit, oak spice and toast that lingers and lingers and lingers… 94 points
Domaine Armand Rousseau, Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru, 2000 (Jeraboams £195)
How many times can I say wow?? Wow! There is so much fruity aroma here, with red, even dried cherries and wild strawberries, backed up by a light, savoury meatiness, forest and truffle. There is so much red fruit on the palate, with sour cherry and wild strawberry at the fore, providing amazing acidic freshness, making your mouth water for a very long time. So much fruit, so bright and so, so elegant. More Chambolle than Gevrey but that just suits me fine… Incredible! 97 point
Domaine Ponsot, Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, 1998 (Fine & Rare £174)
Intense, almost stewed red fruit and lots of meat and leather on the nose. Very earthy, lots of mushroom and bit of a black pepper hit. The earthiness continues onto the palate and is backed up with lots of tannic structure… Then the freshness of the acidy kicks in and the balance in there. Dark cherries and black spice but very smooth at the end… Eventually! Still some time to reach its best I think but still quite superb. 93 points
Domaine Maume, Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru, 1999 (not available in UK, Approx £140)
Lots of roasted meat and wild mushroom aromas – this ally is a brooding beast. Lots of pepper, clove and very dark fruit. This is a full bodied Pinot with lovely whispy tannins. The fruit is redder than the nose suggested but then you get the dark spice and roasted meatiness. Very powerful, very intense, almost brutal. 92 points
Domaine Drouhin-Laroze, Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru, 2004 (Fine & Rare £57.68)
The first bottle was lean and green but not to worry, Jimmy had another in reserve! Smoke, oak and chocolaty aromas, with hints of roasted meat and plenty of black fruit. The fruit on the palate was more redolent of red cherries but masked a bit by lots of oak and lots of tannin. Powerful, structured, but not elegant. Needs more time I think (most of the wines had been open for over 3 hours so maybe a bit unfair as it was drunk as soon as the second bottle was opened). 90 points
Domaine des Lambrays, Clos de Lambrays Grand Cru, 2005 (Goedhuis £138)
This was the wine I was most looking forward to and it didn’t disappoint. Sweet cherry nose, with a touch of roasted meat and a heady mix of sweet and black spice. Still lots of tannin and plenty of power here, but the acid is there in abundance providing a beautiful balance. Sweet red fruit is there in the background and I would love to try this wine again in another 10 years. Fruit, tannin, power, everything… You just have to pay… And wait! 96 points