Oeno-File, the Wine & Gastronomy Column

by Frank Ward

BURGUNDY INTERLUDE

July 2010

 

Burgundy’s many vineyards are mapped and defined with more precision than those of any other French wine region. Each vineyard has its own name which stands for a unique terroir – a term that encompasses geology, microclimate, gradient, soil permeability, drainage, and much else. All these characteristics combine to produce a wine that is recognizably different from its peers, even though made from the very same grape and often by the same person.

 

In short, each of Burgundy score or so Grands Crus and hundreds of Premiers Crus has its own inimitable imprint. Take two Grand Cru wines that lie side-by-side on more or less the same gradient: Chambertin and Chambertin Clos de Bèze. Where one stops the other begins. At that very point each takes on a subtly different personality. Chambertin is always the more powerful and voluminous; Clos de Bèze invariably shows more delicacy and finesse.

 

Vineyard personality can even override commune boundaries.

 

Burgundy has six Grand Cru whites. Four lie within the confines of their respective communes. But two straddle two communes: Bâtard Montrachet and Le Montrachet are partly in Puligny-Montrachet and partly in Chassagne-Montrachet. Even growers with plots in both communes aren’t sure if there’s any measurable difference. What is certain is that a Bâtard or a Montrachet from either side is a Bâtard or a Montrachet first and Puligny or Chassagne second.

 

To bring this into greater relief let’s take a quick look at how they arrange things in Bordeaux, hundreds of kilometres to the southwest. There the name of the property, the Château, is paramount. It is, in fact, a brand name. A given château can buy plots from neighbours and incorporate the wine thus acquired into its own grand vin. Thus a bit of Château X can be fused with the production of Château Y with few being any the wiser. Only a minority of Bordeaux estates are in one piece (Château Montrose is one example). Some châteaux have plots of vines scattered all over their commune, often a kilometre or more distant. Some even own small holdings in neighbouring communes.

 

A small portion of Château Pichon Lalande (a Pauillac), for example, is situated in Saint Julien. Château Lafite, also a Pauillac and for many the greatest claret of all, owns a few vines in Saint-Estèphe. The resultant wine can with perfect legality be incorporated into Lafite’s grand vin (though in their case only if it will improve it).

 

 

But back to Burgundy. My first visit is to Perrot-Minot in Morey Saint Denis, which obtains its grapes from the domaine’s own vines and those of two neighbouring estates. Every one of a huge range of 32 different wines is vinified by Christophe Perrot-Minot, a young man of athletic build with thick, greying hair that does nothing to diminish his youthful appearance. He has an asset of incalculable value: almost all of his vines are old or very old indeed : more than any other red grape, the Pinot Noir gives of its absolute best when the plants are old and the yields low.Perrot-Minot’s wines have been described in the Revue du Vin de France as “rich, dense, exuberant, and intensely perfumed, evoking the finest successes of Henri Jayer”. Given that Jayer was one of the greatest Burgundy wine-makers of all time, the equal of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti or Domaine Leroy, this is high praise indeed.

 

The tasting of 2008 wines showed that, if the simplest village wines are not especially exciting, those from better sites attain real excellence; and, in some instances, greatness. An ’08 Gevrey Chambertin had real Gevrey character but was a bit pallid, but a Morey Saint Denis village (from a distinguished plot called En La Rue de Vergy) had a great deal more depth and concentration – and yes, terroir character. It’s an expressive wine with ample fruit, to enjoy around 2014-18.

 

From now on it only gets better.

 

2008 VOSNE ROMANEE “CHAMPS PERDRIX” ***

Though only a “Village” this tastes Iike a Premier Cru. But then it does lie just above La Grande Rue (a Grand Cru) and Les Gaudichots, which borders La Tâche and is looked upon by some as of the same quality.Well-coloured and with an intense, refined aroma, very Vosne, of lush black fruits and truffles. Richer and fuller than the Morey, it shows great precision. An excellent wine to enjoy between 2015 and 2020.

 

2008 MOREY SAINT DENIS 1ER CRU “LA RIOTTE” ***

This soft, purply wine has a refined, flowery aroma with elements of cherry, raspberry, and cinnamon – a precise, complex nose with centre. The fruity flavour is a meld of black and red fruits, prune, and truffle, the finish nuanced and expansive. Should outlast the Champs Perdrix.

 

2008 VOSNE ROMANEE 1ER CRU “BEAUX MONTS” ***(*)

A Premier Cru always outranks a Village, no matter how good the latter.This brilliant example is from a choice enclave called Les Hauts Beaux Monts and has a broad aroma, deep and complex, full of luxuriant Vosne fruit, fusing truffle and morel, black fruits, and leather. It turns chocolaty on the palate, with lovely acidity, and the finish is highly mineral. A 15-year wine.

 

2008 CHAMBOLLE MUSIGNY 1ER CRU “COMBE D’ORVEAU” ****

This vivid purple wine has a big, expressive scent of damson, black cherry, and smells weighty and dense. The black-fruit flavour is dense, harmonious, and luscious, with lots of minerality on the finish (‘08 seems to be a particularly mineral vintage). Long. At best around 2016-24.

 

2008 NUITS SAINT GEORGES 1ER CRU “LA RICHEMONE” ****

The kind of glowing deep scarlet you get in stained-glass windows, this has a rich, earthy nose crammed with black fruits and chocolate. Weighty in the mouth, with truffle starting to show, it has plenty of real finesse but power too. Wait 7-8 years and drink over the following 8-10. Lovely wine.“La Richemone” is only 50 or so metres from neighbouring Vosne Romanée.It exhibits an enticing meld of Nuits earthiness and Vosne sumptuousness.

 

2008 CHARMES CHAMBERTIN ****(*)
This noble Grand Cru has all the charm and finesse its name leads us to expect, with a refined, complex scent of red rose, cherry, and carnation. The fruit is both tender and intense, and so full of nuances, of subtle sub-flavours still in bud, that it takes time to take it all in. The lovely acidity is of the crystalline kind one finds in the best wines of Chambolle. The long, haunting finish is both delicate and sinewy. Drink 2017-25.

 

2008 MAZOYERES CHAMBERTIN **** (*)
From one of Burgundy’s most seductive Grands Crus to one of the most muscular and assertive. Duskier to the eye, weightier to the nose, it has a rich scent of black and red fruits. Within the rich viscosity of fruit you feel the grainy tannins which give structure and tautness. Once again, subsoil minerality is well in evidence and the finish is long and sweeping. A 20-year wine.

 

2008 CHAMBERTIN CLOS DE BEZE *****
This nearly made my hair stand on end. The nose is big, complex, and buoyant and strikingly round and voluptuous. A difference in terroir shows in an aroma of pomegranate, plum and plumstone. The long, balanced flavour is very intricate. A wine with the power and volume of Chambertin and the grace and subtlety of Clos de Bèze. This will be truly great around 2019-29.

 

Christophe Perrot-Minot has been making spectacular wines from the start of his career, in the early 1990s. At the turn of that decade he showed a weakness for over-extraction but for some years now has given ever-growing attention to subtlety and finesse – to balance. The wines he is making now are the best he’s ever made.

 

 

Until now I’ve only ever tasted one wine from Domaine Hubert Lignier and it left a lasting impression. It was a Morey Saint Denis, sampled in a local restaurant, from the oven-hot 2003 vintage. I’d been very struck by the way they’d managed to extract all the vibrant fruit of super-ripe grapes without letting any of the potential jamminess of the vintage intrude. I’d resolved to visit them at the first opportunity – and now, here I am, doing precisely that.

 

The Domaine is found on Morey’s Grande Rue – a short thoroughfare leading down to the Route Nationale, lined on both sides by the facades of quite a few famous wine estates (usually with closed gates and tiny signs showing, with apparent reluctance, the name of the Domaine).

 

Like many of their confrères they own small, sometimes miniscule plots in a whole range of vineyards, ranging from humble generics like Aligoté and Passetoutgrain (a blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir) through a series of Premiers Crus and culminating in two Grands Crus, Clos de la Roche and Charmes Chambertin. It also transpires that they own a tiny pocket of a third.

 

2007 CHAMBOLLE MUSIGNY **(*)
From 50-55-year vines, this has a lovely, very pure aroma of red cherry, raspberry, and strawberry. The excellent flavour is crammed with sweet Pinot noir fruit, with a touch of pomegranate. The flavour is full and nuanced, and slightly earthy. Best 2015-19.

 

2004 MOREY SAINT DENIS **
Quite dark for a “Village” (and an ’04), this has a smoky, ferruginous aroma that leads into a medium full, slightly pruny flavour. Faintly truffly, this should drink well for several years.

 

2008 MOREY SAINT DENIS “LES BLANCHARDS”
This has a clear purple colour and a vivid aroma of red fruits and lemon. Very closed up and hard to judge. From a small strip of vineyard parallel with the prestigious Grande Rue.

 

2008 ECHEZEAUX ***(*)
This bright crimson wine has a fine, elegant aroma of raspberry and redcurrant with a special, understated flavour of considerable subtlety and finesse. Though it’s very closed up one recognizes the wine’s great distinction, and it’s sure to develop brilliantly in the years to come. The plot must be exceptional: though the vines are only just over 20 years’ old the wine exhibits a mellowness and originality normally associated with much older vines.

 

 

At Domaine Dujac I enjoy my usual exchange of gossip and views with Alec Seysses, son of the Domaine’s creator, Jacques Seysses (the estate’s name means “Domaine du Jacques”). I’m almost distracted from the wines which soon, however, exert a magnetic attraction.


2008 MOREY SAINT DENIS Blanc **
Pale but brilliant, this smells of greengage, honey, and wild flowers, and is distinctly perfumed. Good acidity imparts vitality and precision. Best around 2012-14. These Village whites from Dujac evolve extremely well over several years.

 

2008 MOREY SAINT DENIS 1ER CRU “MONTS LUISANTS” ***
As befits a Premier Cru, this is richer in colour, fatter, and has more body. A slight waxiness I found in the previous wine is more pronounced here. Good flesh combined with ample fruit and Iively acidity promise steady improvement up to around 2017-18.

 

2008 MOREY SAINT DENIS Rouge ***
With a seductive, very fresh scent of sweet wild berries and lush cherries, this balanced, medium-bodied wine has all the customary Dujac elegance and grace one could wish for. Will repay keeping 3-4 years and should drink well for another 2-3.

 

2008 GEVREY CHAMBERTIN 1ER CRU “COMBOTTES” ***(*) A vivid purple, this has a very round aroma laden with fruit, a silky texture, and a tautness due to ideal tannins. This is borne out by the flavour (pomegranate in the ascendant), which is smooth, full, and long. The plum and raspberry aftertaste Iingers. Given that the ‘02 has still not peaked, it would be a shame to broach this in less than 5-6 years (unless you have plenty of bottles!).

 

2008 CHARMES CHAMBERTIN ****
The solid aroma of black fruits promises both volume and buoyancy and the flavour delivers both qualities in ample measure. This is a wine with volume, depth, balance, and length. It will be very complex when fully mature, in 12-15 years’ time.

 

2008 CLOS SAINT DENIS ****(*)
If there is one Grand Cru of Morey that sums up the quintessence of the commune it’s this one. And it excels in this vintage. The lovely scent of bilberry, sloe, and violet is pure aromatic poetry – flowing, flowery, and expressive. The aftertaste, while firmly closed, is very long indeed, the perfect tannins in counterpoint to the exquisite fruit. A great C.S.D. to exult over around 2018-33.

 

This wine made me think of the ’78, one of the greatest Burgundies I’ve ever drunk.

 

2008 CLOS DE LA ROCHE ****
This growth, always more muscular and overtly structured, has a vivid colour and a firm, focused aroma of black cherry and Iiquorice. The flavour, as befits this Grand Cru, is concentrated and masterful. The aftertaste is long and purposeful, with exceptional structure, finishing on a note of damson and sloe. A great C.D.L.R., of striking minerality, which will live into the 2030s.

 

2008 BONNES MARES ****(*)
Habitually the greatest of them all: the very colour promises optimum concentration and depth, something confirmed by an expansive nose of great complexity, with luscious, mellow Pinot Noir fruit. The refined flavour is compact and persistent. A great Bonnes Mares to hold on to for many years.

 

2007 CLOS DE LA ROCHE ****
Light in colour but intensely perfumed, this has a soft, many layered aroma of great voluptuousness. The soft, elegant flavour is full of pomegranate and plum fruit and is very long. A lovely wine to enjoy over the coming 10 years or so.

 

2006 CLOS DE LA ROCHE ****
Darker, more vital on the nose, this expresses the more savage, gamy side of the Pinot Noir grape. The flavour suggests strawberry compote, cloudberry (an Arctic berry), and fig. A structured wine that, while impressive now, will not show its best for a number of years.

 

Alec and his family consider that ’08 resembles ’06 and ‘01 – two vintages that were underestimated early on but continue to grow in repute as the years go by. This tasting confirmed my growing impression that ‘08 has produced some truly great wines.

 

*

 

Eating an agreeable dinner at the unpretentious Chez Guy in Gevrey-Chambertin, I ordered a bottle of 2002 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Poissenot from Domaine Humbert – a producer whose wines I have enjoyed in the past. This was a huge disappointment, not least given the excellence of the vintage. Wholly lacking in vitality, distinctly flat, it even showed some volatile acidity. I’d have enjoyed a good Beaujolais Villages much more – and at a fraction of the price.

 

*

 

As I follow the Route des Grands Crus from Morey to Gevrey Chambertin – which has its own tale to tell about the terroir – I register the effects of the recent heavy downpour. The rainwater has produced muddy puddles that are dyed a rich indian red – a colour bled off from the ruddy soil of the Grand Cru vineyards above. This reminds me of an old Burgundy saying: “lf our soil weren’t the richest it would be the poorest.” This is an allusion to the fact that the soil that gives such sublime wines would be wholly unsuited to normal agriculture.

 

 

At Domaine Armand Rousseau I have my first tasting of Burgundy from the great 2009 vintage. They picked relatively early here, I was told, so as to preserve the grapes’ indispensable acidity – which would have plummeted had the fruit been allowed to get too ripe. They succeeded brilliantly in this endeavour, at one stroke ensuring that the grapes were both at optimum ripeness while still having enough “nerve” to guarantee good balance and freshness.

 

2009 GEVREY CHAMBERTIN 1ER CRU “LAVAUX ST JACQUES” ***
Still in chrysalis, this has a vivid crimson “robe” and a strikingly pure, precise aroma of red fruits. The flavour is vibrantly fruity, very fresh, and fuIl of energy. Will develop well.

 

2009 CHARMES CHAMBERTIN ****(*)
A broad, complex, mineral aroma of various red fruits and smoky oak. It’s incisive, even steely, on the palate, and the minerality is confirmed. There’s a rolling quality to this wine – Iike a locomotive on rails. It will roll into the future, expanding all the time. Maturity is years away – an ‘05 Charmes opened by me a few days ago was utterly closed for three days, only showing some of its huge volume on the fourth!

 

2009 CLOS DE LA ROCHE ****(*)
Darker and weightier on a nose, which emits a whole gamut of richly fruity scents. Again, one is struck by the phenomenal purity and precision. A brooding wine, very closed, but immensely long. Will improve for decades.

 

2009 CLOS DES RUCHOTTES ****
The “biggest” so far: a round, expansive aroma of ripe plum and allspice berry, with lots of minerality and the promise of perfect tannins. The massive flavour, plummy with discreet spice, has an acidity that’s perfectly in harmony with the fruit and tannins. The patient will be amply rewarded around 2022-37.

 

2009 GEVREY CHAMBERTIN 1ER CRU “CLOS ST JACQUES” ****(*)
This de facto Grand Cru is the most richly-pigmented so far. The glorious aroma, still in bud, is lush and opulent, yet disciplined too. On the palate it’s chewy and mouth-filling, with plenty of viscosity, and opens up briefly (like a misty landscape) to hint at infinite depth and length. As with all these ’09s, there’s a feeling of great rectitude and precision.

 

A 30-year wine – though one that will doubtless be accessible within a decade.

 

2009 CHAMBERTIN “CLOS DE BEZE” ****(*)
Still darker, this aristocratic wine has a dense, complex nose of damson, crème de framboise, and ripe plum. The luscious fruit is really seductive, even at this early stage, the flavour sumptuous. A truly glorious Clos de Bèze with a rare meld of sensuousness and rectitude. Ideally, it should be hidden away for 12-14 years then enjoyed for 15 or so.

 

2009 CHAMBERTIN *****
As always, Chambertin is tougher, more masculine, than Clos de Bèze. This is an archetypical example. The nose of plum, strawberry compote, and Iiquorice (a typical Chambertin trait) is massive, aggressive even, and crammed with red and black fruit. Rich and surging on the palate, a river of wine in full spate, it has a long, stony aftertaste with many rivulets of sub-flavour. A great wine that needs decades of cellaring. Great.

 

This was a difficult tasting, because 2009 has produced wine of exceptional power, volume, and depth. They are Iike sculptures whose form has been roughly hammered out but whose details still have to be chiselled in by time – that greatest sculptor of all.

 

 

I’m now on my way to an estate I’ve never visited before – Domaine Frédéric Mugnier in Chambolle-Musigny. I have at least tasted some of the wine previously, most notably their Bonnes Mares and Musigny from the 2006 vintage. I was so impressed by them both that I immediately resolved to come here at the earliest opportunity.

 

And here I am.

 

The Domaine is housed in Château de Chambolle-Musigny, an imposing 18th-century building right in the heart of the village, but invisible until you pass through the entrance gates. It is run by Frédéric Mugnier, a reserved but courteous man who, it seems, started out as an engineer.

 

Until quite recently the Domaine was of very modest size – a mere four hectares. But in 2003 it expanded to almost 15 hectares when it regained full ownership of the prestigious 10-hectare Clos de la Maréchale, a Premier Cru in Nuits Saint Georges. The Clos had been operated en fermage for many decades by the negociant Faiveley.

 

Even for so big a firm as Faiveley (they own 120 hectares) the loss of 10 hectares of so high-quality a wine must be a blow. But to so small a Domaine as Mugnier it is a colossal gain; more than a tripling in size.

 

Its earlier, smaller holding, though, was entirely composed of la crème de la crème: a whole hectare of Le Musigny, half a hectare of the delectable Chambolle-Musigny “Les Amoureuses”, just over one-third hectare of Bonnes Mares, a plot in Chambolle 1er Cru “Les Fuées”, and a little Chambolle Village.

 

M. Mugnier began the tasting diffidently but is quickly drawn in by the sheer excellence of his own wines – on which we find ourselves in complete agreement. As he pours out the first sample he states unemphatically: “we’re very pleased with the 2008s.” I quickly see what he means.

 

2008 CHAMBOLLE MUSIGNY **
The nose is clean-cut and precise, with plenty of raspberry fruit and orange-peel spice. A very typical Chambolle – the commune that gives Burgundy’s most delicate and refined wines. The same qualities show on the palate. A classic Chambolle to enjoy over the coming decade.

 

2008 NUITS SAINT GEORGES 1ER CRU “CLOS DE LA MARÉCHALE” ***
This has a fullish, slightly savage aroma of wild berries, smoke, and orange peel. A smoothness of texture belies the underlying structure, and the wine expands continuously, the aftertaste showing hints of ripe berries, orange, and clove. Will improve for at least a dozen years.

 

2008 CHAMBOLLE MUSIGNY 1ER CRU “LES FUEES” ***
The noble Pinot Noir scent is nuanced and full of Chambolle finesse. It soon unfurls suggestions of wild strawberry and raspberry and is extremely round. The flavour is smooth too, but discreetly structured, and there’s an impression of crushed rock on the finish. At best around 2016-22.

 

2008 CHAMBOLLE MUSIGNY 1ER CRU “LES AMOUREUSES” ****
If not deep, the colour is vivid, while the nose is of great intensity, with a surging scent of wild strawberry, raspberry, and saffron. It’s an expressive, even poetic aroma, lusciously fruity and very taut. In the mouth, succulent and sinewy, with an immensely long red-fruit finish that’s delicate but firm. While drinkable young it will age well. This rare Premier Cru commands Grand Cru prices.

 

2008 BONNES MARES ****(*) The nose is big and assertive, fusing power with mellowness and depth. Cherry, pomegranate, camphor, and Iiquorice can be detected. Full bodied, all of a piece, the wine has a long, slightly chocolaty flavour that is at once subtle and assertive. A great Bonnes Mares that will evolve beautifully for 20 or more years. B.M. is one of the Côte d’Or’s more sinewy growths (Latricières-Chambertin and Clos de la Roche are two others).

 

2008 MUSIGNY *****
The entrancing nose suggests wild strawberry and pomegranate, with a touch of violet too. It’s an awesome aroma, with all the Musigny scope and finesse one could wish for. Few wines achieve this degree of grandeur. The intricate flavour is as full of detail as the facade of a gothic cathedral: subsidiary flavours expand, intertwine, merge. The aftertaste goes on forever. The fine tannins provide structure, keeping the wine within bounds until it evolves into a vinous masterpiece in 20 years or so.

 

This wine justifies Musigny’s reputation as the most refined of all Burgundy’s Grand Cru reds.

 

2007 NUITS SAINT GEORGES 1ER CRU “CLOS DE LA MARECHALE” BLANC ***
This rare Côte de Nuits white has a globular aroma and flavour of grapefruit and melon with a touch of honey on the finish. Fine acidity gives definition and vitality. A racy wine to enjoy over the coming 2-4 years.

 

2006 BONNES MARES *****
A vivid deep purple, this has a broad, concentrated aroma full of energy, exhaling black fruits, cherry, and exotic spices. Opulence is the word, and that quality is confirmed on the palate, which is rich, complex, and very long. A shake of the glass coaxes forth new sub-flavours, to which there appears to be no Iimit. You are simultaneously uplifted by the sheer grandeur of the wine, and daunted by the thought that full maturity is such a long way off. Some rich collectors will drink this in youth. The very wise will wait 15 years at least. The very lucky will revel in it in 20-25 years.

 

2007 NUITS SAINT GEORGES 1ER CRU “CLOS DE LA MARÉCHALE” ***(*)
You can’t miss the fine balance on the nose, which is round and full of ripe Pinot Noir fruit. The flavour, instantly acessible in this precocious year, is lusciously fruity (damnson and plum) and very persistent. A seductive wine which, like many ’07s, is for mid-term drinking. A vin gourmand as the French say.

 

One thing is sure: Domaine Frédéric Mugnier belongs to the elite of Burgundy domaines – properties where gifted wine-makers do their utmost at whatever cost, to make the very greatest wines that nature allows.

 

 

This time I make only one visit on the Côte de Beaune, but it is to one of the very best estates, that of Etienne Sauzet in Puligny Montrachet. The estate is built around a 9-hectare Domaine but their own grapes are supplemented through purchases from several other growers. Everything is vinified by Sauzet’s moving spirit, Gérard Boudot, who has now made well over 30 vintages. I myself have visited the property over many years and have tasted at least 30 vintages direct from the barrel.

 

Gérard Boudot is as close to his wines as any vigneron I know.
He never tires of describing the various character traits of each and every one of his many plots in Village, Premier Cru, and Grand Cru appellations. “This Puligny Village is from a plot called “Les Enseigneurs”. Though it’s only “ViIIage” it lies, in fact, only ten metres from Bâtard Montrachet… this Puligny “Referts” is from 55-year-old vines on the middle slope, with very deep soil… this Folatières grows on terre blanche – white soil – on a steep slope…”

 

The 2008 vintage was an immensely difficult one, he tells me, with yields down 20% due to heavy rains and grey rot. “We had to work Iike Trojans to remove all the rotten grapes, leaving only healthy ones. I was sorting grapes in my sleep!” He mimes the action, with waving arms and writhing fingers. He laughs ruefully. I laugh in empathy.

 

2008 BOURGOGNE BLANC *
This smells and tastes of apple and pear and is extremely fresh and crisp, with a steely finish that promises 2-3 years’ improvement. Has an almost Riesling-Iike vitality.

 

2008 PULIGNY MONTRACHET ** (from 7 plots of 40-45-year vines)
A vibrantly fresh aroma of apple, greengage, and elderflower leads into a crisp, vital flavour, quite rich, with enough concentration and balance to guarantee 5-6 years’ improvement (for comparison, the very good ‘04 is still not at its peak).

 

2008 PULIGNY 1ER CRU “CHAMP GAIN” **(*)
The nose is precise and facetted, with ample grapefruit and apple fruit and a blossomy aspect. Chlorophyll can be picked out on the longish, mineral aftertaste. To enjoy around 2014-19.

 

2008 PULIGNY 1ER CRU “REFERTS” ***
A noble aroma with many facets and a distinctly chalky feel. Pear, chlorophyll, and honey intermingle and there’s a lime-like cut to the persistent finish, which is both steely and mineral. At best 2016-21.

 

2008 PULIGNY 1ER CRU “FOLATIERES” *** (Puligny’s biggest Premier Cru) The nose is flowery and intense, as is the flavour, which has a lovely Iinear quality. There’s good viscosity too, on the haunting aftertaste of apple and elderflower. Will easily live a dozen years.

 

2008 PULIGNY 1ER CRU “CHAMP CANET” ***(*) (vines close to 60 years)
This archetypical Puligny has a broader, fuller aroma of apricot and apple, with a long, rich flavour whose excellent acidity gives tension and definition to the ample fruit. A wine with sweep. Drink around 2016-20.

 

2008 PULIGNY 1ER CRU ”COMBETTES” ****
This heavyweight Premier Cru (it lies close to Meursault) has the richest and most intense colour so far – a shiny green-gold – and a voluminous aroma of greengage, pear, and elderflower. You can taste chalk on the long, masterful flavour which finishes with a flourish. A superb wine that won’t open fully in less than 8 years and should then improve for 6-8 more. “Combettes” habitually comes close to the Grands Crus in terms of volume and power.

 

2008 BATARD MONTRACHET ****(*) (50/50 Chassagne and Puligny)
Even more intensely coloured, this has a round, expansive aroma of real grandeur, with a blossomy aspect and great tension. The flavour, while closed, has great volume and considerable complexity. The aftertaste is rich and nuanced. This is a great Bâtard, to enjoy around 2020-28.

 

2008 CHEVALIER MONTRACHET *****
As befits a Chevalier (the most refined of all white Burgundies), this has an exceptionally precise aroma full of flowery scents and carrying hints of pineapple, William pear, and acacia honey. The rectilinear flavour, as facetted as cut glass, is long and very complex. This will be truly great around 2010-32.

 

*

 

Back in my home I learn that we’ll have a live lobster for dinner. My wife poaches it and serves it simply, with melted butter. Many full-bodied white wines go well with lobster but possibly the best match of all is a Bâtard Montrachet. In a shadowy corner of my cellar I find the following, which proves to be the perfect partner to the lobster:

 

1999 BATARD MONTRACHET ****(*) (Etienne Sauzet)
In our dining room, with its low-key Iighting, the wine’s brilliant green-gold colour has an almost luminous glow, with daffodil highlights. The nose is vast, conjuring up pistachio, apricot, and fig, with honey for good measure. This is a classic Bâtard – full, masterful, of noble proportions. It’s unctuous in the mouth, rich and luscious yet with tonic dryness and minerality. Marzipan and apricot, orange and chlorophyll soon make their presence felt. The texture is fabulous – smooth and viscous yet with a firmness at the centre, like the stone of a ripe peach. This is a really great Bâtard – full, weighty, and authoritative. It harmonises perfectly with the lobster and also goes well with a ripe reblochon cheese at the meal’s end.

 

I raise my glass to Gérard Boudot.

 

© Frank Ward 2010

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