Grands Cru on a Monday night (Cote de Nuits tasting)
In my wine world, Burgundy Grand Cru is the cream of the crop, the barometer by which all else is measured. The Cote d’Or is a remarkably small sliver of magical land – it’s under 30 miles long and less than 3 miles at it’s widest points.
It’s been a while since I wrote about Burgundy so please forgive my incessant gushing – but it’s not until you’ve visited the region that you can truly understand the amazing patchwork of vineyards, fragmented ownership and just sheer beauty of the place.
So I can imagine quite a few worse tasks on a Monday night than tasting some of the finest red wines the region has to offer; I postponed washing my hair until Tuesday this week!
This tasting, held at the ever-superb West London Wine School, focussed on the red wines of the Cote de Nuits. The “Golden Slope” is split into two sub-regions; the southern section of the Cote de Beaune is home to the majestic Chadonnays of Meursault, Chassagne- and Puligny-Motrachet, as well as some of my favourite Pinot expressions from the Premier Cru vineyards of Volnay and Pommard. The northern section, the Cote de Nuits, is the spiritual home of Pinot Noir and a drive up or down the N125 will take you under 20 minutes… If you were mad enough not to stop in Nuit St George, Vosne Romanee, Vougeot, Chambolle Musigny Morey St Denis and Gevrey Chambertin. These are the birthplaces of some of the finest liquid known to mankind.
Over the course of the evening we tasted one Village wine, 4 Premier Crus (1er Cru only represents 10% of Burgundy’s output) and 5, yes 5, Grand Crus. Now Grand Cru accounts for only 1.5% of the total Burgundy production, so when I say crème de la crème, boy do I mean it…
Jimmy, our host, kicked the proceedings off with a £15 bottle of Pernard-Vergelesses Blanc – I didn’t take down the details but it was full-bodied and plumptious, creamy with plenty of peachy fruit – not red and not from the Cote de Nuits, but a great start!
Now onto the main event:
Albert Bichot Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Les Crots 2008 (Humble Grape £40)
Elegant red cherries and red currants on the nose with a gentle hint of minerality – quite delightful. The palate is light in body and bright with acidity. This wine is all about the fruit and the sour cherries and wild strawberry juice is extremely drinkable. This is about as delicate as the Cote de Nuits gets but perhaps just missing the degree of structure and balance you expect from a 1er Cru. Very decent 91 points
Jean Grivot Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Aux Boudots 2008 (Fine & Rare £70)
Slightly over-extracted nose of park plums and a hint of dried fruit – seems to be a lot of development here as well as plenty of spicy oak. Ooh but the palate works; good acidity and medium body, with big but nicely integrated tannins. The fruit is bright raspberry with a lovely touch of smoke from the nicely judged oak. Much better on the palate and a very good wine indeed. 92 points
Gros Frere et Soeur Vosne Romanee 1er Cru 2006 (N/A UK £75)
Not from a single vineyard but certainly no less enjoyable because of it. Delightful sweet red fruit on the nose with plenty of clean minerality and just a whisper of leather. It’s nicely concentrated, yet very elegant – delightful. Bright acidity is balanced by a delicate tannic structure; the texture is wonderful and hosts the moody red fruit and delightful sweet spice beautifully. Plenty of years left for this gorgeous wine – I love the balance of elegance and power and the finish sure sticks around for a while. Lovely. 94 points
Domaine de la Vougeraie Gevrey Chambertin Les Evocelles 2001 (N/A UK £45)
It may not have the 1er Cru stamp but what a wine! I love the 2001 vintage right now (I even wrote a post about it earlier this year) and this is another fine example of how well the vintage is drinking right now. Great concentration of dark cherry with a touch of roasted meat, spice and earth – the wonderful aroma of aged Burgundy. So soft and easy of the palate, still showing lovely bright acidity, raspberry and cherries and some dried porcini, sorry cepe, earthiness. Another belter from 2001. 93 points (Best value wine of the night)
Lucien Le Moine Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Charmes 2001 (Fine & Rare £75)
Smokey plums and elegant hints of violet, smoke and mushroom– there’s lots going on here; in a nutshell it smells of Autumn. Fresh attack with lots of body and texture, smoky and oaky, but without hiding the bright raspberry fruit. Quite robust for Chambolle but very enjoyable. 2001 strikes again! 92 points
Great stuff so far… and now the Grand Crus; the Big Daddies!
Francois Lamarche Eschezeaux Grand Cru 2002 (Fine & Rare £120)
Great concentration of sweet red fruit – so clean, so mineral – the nose is all about the purity of the fruit. On the palate it’s clean and fresh; the raspberries, red currents and sour cherries jump onto and dance on your tongue and there is a lingering earthiness and minerality backing it up beautifully. Delicate, elegant, pure and damn delightful. 95 points (wine of the night)
Domaine de Vougeraie Bonnes Mares Grand Cru 2003 (Berry Bros £160)
The severe heat of the 2003 has been well documented and the delicate Pinot Noir suffered more than most.. The nose is massive; dark, roasted fruit and smoky oak and there’s also some truffle and earth hidden in there too. The palate is ever so sweet and the body is big, but there isn’t the requisite acid to support and the alcohol bludgeons through. Even this fine winemaker and wonderful vineyard couldn’t handle the heat of 2003. 89 points
Jean Grivot Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2002 (Berry Bros £160)
Concentrated by also nicely elegant with plenty of breezy red cherries and red currants on the nose. On the palate there’s big body and fresh acidity with ripe red fruit, but the whole thing is just doesn’t come together as one. Not Grand Cu level, but isn’t it often the case with Clos de Vougeot? 87 points
Bouchard Pere et Fils Chapelle ChambertinGrand Cru 2005 (Fine & Rare £97)
Back on it! Still so young and takes an age to open up on the nose. There is some big, ripe blackberry and cherry hiding in there, along with some smoky oak and the merest hint of roasted meat and truffle. Wonderful body and delicious acidity just coats the mouth with the dark cherry fruit. So much to come from this wine and I have no doubt that it would be wine of the night in most company in 5 to 10 years time. One to hold on to; great stuff. 95+ points
Faively Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru 1995 (Handford Fine Wine £130)
It’s with a tear in my eye I have to tell you that we weren’t able to enjoy this 18 year old beauty as the bottle was faulty; oh how wine can be a cruel master!
For details of upcoming tasting at West London Wine Schools, click this link.