Oeno-File, the Wine & Gastronomy Column

by Frank Ward

BURGUNDY 2006 – Some splendid reds & whites at the top end

May 2009


As everybody knows, 2005 was a magnificent vintage all over France, giving richly-coloured wines of great concentration, length, and (on the whole) balance. First reports on the following vintage, however, created the notion that the 2006s in Burgundy would be pretty mediocre. The winter had been harsh but flowering in sunny June went off without a hitch, and July was so hot that drought threatened. Then things started to go wrong.

 

August and the first half of September were cool and wet, and the ripening process slowed down alarmingly. Luckily, the sunshine returned, winds dried out the soggy vineyards, and ripening started up again. Not all of the fruit was fully mature, though, and it became essential to sort the grapes with extreme care, eliminating all that were unripe or rotten. Only the very best estates went to this length, of course. The Côte de Beaune, it seems, suffered heavier rainfall at the most crucial time and, on the whole, the wines from this segment of the Côte d’Or seemed to have performed less well – with the usual exceptions of course. This is the pattern that emerged from a tasting of over 50 wines from leading estates hosted by the Institute of Masters of Wine earlier this year.

 

 

WHITE WINES

 

The whites were consistently excellent, with plenty of fruit, excellent acidity, and fine balance:

 

2006 CHABLIS GRAND CRU LES CLOS (Domaine Joseph Drouhin) ** (*)

Fine, broad and buttery nose, with good concentration: honey, butterscotch, apricot. The medium full flavour is well-balanced, with a delicious, honeyed aftertaste, but there is a slight lack of elegance (it shows a faint, not disagreeable muskiness, not unlike a Pinot Blanc). 3 years to mature, then 3 of drinking.

 

2006 BOURGOGNE ALIGOTE (Pierre Morey) ***
This has a precise, elegant nose of grapefruit, honey, and melon. The flavour is smooth, round, and concentrated, sweet grapefruit and Grannie Smith, and swells out into a honeyed, faintly muscat-like finish that is most delicious. Drink over the coming 2 years.

 

2006 RULLY 1ER CRU (Domaine Eric de Suremain) **(*)
This very fat wine has a lovely floating scent of elderflower, honeysuckle, and grapefruit peel. In the mouth, lushly fruity, tasty if a little simple, with a longish finish. Not exactly elegant but satisfying. Drink in the coming 30 months.

 

2006 SAVIGNY 1ER CRU LES VERGELESSES (Simon Bize) ***
A vivid yellow-green, this has a floating, expressive aroma of grapefruit, orange, and apricot that’s very pure. The flavour, lush yet elegant, leads into an aftertaste that comes in ripples. Not extremely complex but harmonious and seductive, with first-rate acidity. Drink 2010-12.

 

2006 BEAUNE 1ER CRU CLOS DES MOUCHES (Joseph Drouhin) ***(*)
The green-gold colour has a lustre typical of old vines, while the intense, expressive aroma of kiwi, lime, pineapple, and acacia honey is quite superb. Orange blossom can be noted too. The flavour is even better, with exotic fruits intermingling with sweet apple on the intense, buoyant finish. Drink around 2011-15.

 

2006 MEURSAULT CLOS DE LA BARRE (Lafon) ****
The big honeyed nose is crammed with substance – clearly a wine of great potential. Orange blossom, peach, and apricot dominate. The peach evolves specifically into white peach on the palate, interwoven with pineapple and honey. The delectable aftertaste is very long, with the kind of mouth-watering acidity found in white peaches. A gorgeous wine. Drink 2013-19.

 

2006 MEURSAULT CHARMES (Lafon) ****(*)
Still richer in colour than the preceding, with a huge, blossomy cent of white peach, apricot, and honey, this is also weightier and more luscious. Though still in infancy – it needs keeping still longer than Clos de la Barre – it has an aftertaste of baked apple and white peach that’s delectable even now. A great wine, sure to evolve for a decade at least.

 

2006 CHASSAGNE MONTRACHET 1ER CRU MORGEOT CLOS DE LA CHAPELLE (Louis Jadot) ***(*)
A bit paler, this has a refined, precise scent of greengage, white peach, and sweet apple. The latter dominates on the palate, with the addition of grapefruit, and while fairly closed the aftertaste ripples with emergent sub-flavours. Drink around 2012-16. Excellent potential.

 

2006 PULIGNY MONTRACHET (Domaine Leflaive) ***
The colour exhibits that subtle green tinge so typical of Puligny wines, while the pure, soaring aroma, still in bud, gives out hints of peach, honeysuckle, and tangerine. The poised, feminine flavour is long and nuanced, with flecks of pineapple, honey, and peach. A lovely Village wine to drink (perhaps with sole) around 2012-20. (As regards longevity, the ‘92 is still in good shape).

 

2006 PULIGNY MONTRACHET 1ER CRU CLAVOILLON (Domaine Leflaive) ****The green tinge of Puligny shows in this wine too, only more so, and the aroma of peach, pineapple, and honeysuckle is big, round, and close-meshed. The flavour delivers a sensory repeat of this, with a long, chalky finish. Lots of minerality. At best around 2015-21.

 

2006 BATARD MONTRACHET (Domaine Leflaive) ****(*)
Still richer in colour, this masterful wine shows true Bâtard power on a rich, dense aroma of dried apricot, honey, and russet apple. A wine that’s at once buyoant and weighty. The flavour is chewy, intense, and persistent, with plenty of the finesse that’s a Leflaive hallmark. So great (and so young) a wine is inevitably very closed up; but you can’t miss the complexity of its constitution or the minerality of its aftertaste. No doubt many bottles will be drunk up long before true maturity; but those who wait until around 2015-25 will reap a rich reward.

 

Old “Père” Ramonet, a near-legendary Burgundy character, used to say that Bâtard Montrachet was the perfect accompaniment to lobster. How right he was. It also works well with langoustine, turbot, and brill.

 

2006 CORTON CHARLEMAGNE (Bonneau du Martray) ****
Paler than the Bâtard but just as intense, this has an incisive, very pure Chardonnay aroma, flinty and mineral, with apple in the ascendant. The forceful flavour has great volume and you can feel the taut structure within the fruit, like sinew inside muscle. On the palate it’s so closed up that you have to mash the wine between tongue and palate to make it yield up its vast but still latent riches. The steely structure guarantees a good 15-20 years’ evolution towards a maturity that will awe those lucky enough to drink the wine at that point.

 

 

RED WINES

 

I. THE COTE DE BEAUNE

 

2006 CHOREY LES BEAUNE LA PIECE DU CHAPITRE (Tollot-Beaut)**
A bright cherry red, this has good body, a fine Pinot Noir aroma, and a balanced, medium-long aftertaste. An excellent entry-level Burgundy to enjoy over the next 3-5 years.

 

2006 VOLNAY 1ER CRU SANTENOTS DU MILIEU (Lafon) ***
Promisingly dark, this has a big, sinewy aroma of damson and blackberry, with a medium full, longish flavour that’s slightly lacking in concentration. However, it is completely clean and without bitterness. This is customarily one of the most brilliant of all red Burgundies and may well be, quite simply, out of sorts. Should improve up to 2020.

 

2006 POMMARD 1ER CRU LES GRANDS EPENOTS (Michel Gaunoux) **
This paleish wine has a good Pinot Noir scent of red fruits, including wild strawberry, and a longish, quite haunting flavour with a hint of blackcurrant and wild berries on the finish. Light but not thin, this elegant red would go well with delicate items like quail, milk-fed lamb, etc.

 

2006 POMMARD 1ER CRU LES RUGIENS (Michel Gaunoux)
From the same producer and commune, this is much less satisfactory, showing thin and threadbare on the day. As Domaine Gaunoux will have accorded it the same care and attention, it’s likely that the sample is out of sorts.

 

2006 CORTON (Bonneau du Martray) ***
A solid purple, this has a velvety aroma of wild cherry, damson, elderberry, and blackcurrant. The oak, hardly noticeable, has been used with masterly skill. The flavour is a bit on the light side for a Grand Cru – more like a Savigny than a Corton in structure – but is very well balanced and quite long. A fine effort in what seems to have been a difficult vintage, it should take on body in the bottle, showing best around 2013-18.

 

2006 CORTON CLOS DES CORTONS (Faiveley) ***
Vivid in appearance, lushly fruity, this vital and balanced wine delivers a succession of ripe black fruits and berries on the palate and the smooth aftertaste is very sustained. Drink around 2014-19.

 

2006 CORTON BRESSANDES (Domaine Senard) ***
The weak colour made me expect a frail wine but the nose of plum and strawberry compote is full and dense, while the delicious flavour, if on the light side, is luscious and persistent. Gently ferruginous, it should peak around 2013-18.

 

2006 CORTON BRESSANDES (Chandon de Briailles) ***
This has a fine, expressive Pinot Noir aroma of plum jam, raspberry, and strawberry compote. There’s even a honeyed nuance. The delicate flavour has a haunting quality, with red fruits turning to the denser taste of prunes. Good ripe tannins give the grip needed to assure positive development up to around 2018.

 

 

II. THE COTE DE NUITS

 

2006 MARSANNAY LES LONGEROIES (Bruno Clair) *(*)
Well-coloured, this first representative of the Côte de Nuits has a fine Pinot Noir scent of black fruits and new oak vanillin that’s slightly flawed by something resiny. The flavour has balance and grip, with good tannins, but it’s hard to determine if it’s short or merely closed up. As Bruno Clair is a brilliant wine maker the latter is more likely. Drink around 2011-15.

 

2006 VOSNE ROMANEE 1ER CRU MALCONSORTS (Dujac:) ***(*)
This medium-dark wine has a lovely aroma – very Dujac – of great refinement, conjuring up raspberry, strawberry, red rose, and carnation. It’s an entrancing perfume, sensuous, velvety, and with real depth. The delectable flavour, gently ferruginous, is very long and full of nuances. A dream of a wine, to relish with quail or fine fish around 2013-19.

 

2006 VOSNE ROMANEE 1ER CRU BEAUX MONTS (Jean Grivot) ***(*) Somewhat darker, with a noble, dense aroma full of velvety allure: a range of ripe black fruits with a touch of raspberry. The excellent flavour is crammed with fruit, with ripe plum to the fore, and the aftertaste is given definition and freshness by the kind of acidity found in lush black cherries. So buoyant it floats out of the glass, this delectable wine will excel around 2014-20.

 

2006 GRANDS ECHEZEAUX (Joseph Drouhin) ***
The weakish colour is belied by a smooth, fine aroma redolent of cherry, strawberry compote, and orange peel. Round and harmonious, it is both subtle and forceful. The flavour is rotund and fleshy, with lots of vibrant fruit, with a succulent rush of nectarine on the finish. A hedonistic wine with sweep, if just a little nebulous on mid-palate. Enjoy with partridge or veal in the second half of the 2010s.

 

2006 NUITS ST GEORGES 1ER CRU AUX BOUDOTS (Jean Grivot) ***
This darkish wine has a vital concentrated aroma of black cherry, damson, and elderberry, with the kind of silky, voluptuous quality of Nuits wines grown close to Vosne Romanée (it’s exactly on the border). The fine flavour, gently sinewy, is longish but just a shade threadbare compared with earlier vintages. The gritty finish is woody but ends clean and decisive. To drink up to 2020.

 

2006 NUITS ST GEORGES (Henri Gouges) **
A typical Nuits both in colour (dark) and aroma (an assertive, untamed quality). Smelling of black fruits, liquorice, and pomegranate, it has a similar flavour which is, however, just a bit high in acidity. Should improve for at least 8 years.

 

2006 NUITS ST GEORGES 1ER CRU CLOS DES PORRETS (H. Gouges) ***(*)
Dark enough to pass for a claret, this has a big, brooding scent of red and black fruits, liquorice, and saltpetre. Full and forceful on the palate, it ripples with vinous muscles. Almost alarmingly dense and weighty, with real depth and authority, it’s a classic, concentrated Nuits with all the Gouges hallmarks. Superb. To drink around 2016-28.

 

2006 NUITS ST GEORGES 1ER CRU LES PRULIERS (H. Gouges) ***(*)
The nose is altogether different (great wine-makers let the vineyard speak for itself rather than impose their own style): richly fruity, gamy, with great volume – quintessential Nuits St. Georges. The rich, animalistic fruit on the palate is vitalized by fresh fruity acidity and ripe tannins. Not as clearly defined as the preceding but full of stuffing. Drink with game around 2014-25.

 

2006 NUITS ST GEORGES 1ER CRU CLOS DE LA MARECHALE (Frédéric Mugnier) ***(*)
This dusky wine has a fine, vigorous, very Nuits smell of black cherry, pomegranate, and liquorice – an aroma with a seamless quality. It’s so full of extract you could take it for an ’05! The flavour, both powerful and velvety, is so rich as to be positively malty, with hints of truffle on the long, harmonious aftertaste. A big, firm-fleshed wine that is, however, just a bit simple compared with some. Will easily live 15-20 years.

 

2006 CLOS DE VOUGEOT (Jean Grivot)
Neither of two samples showed well – both were farmyardy and rustic – so judgement is reserved.

 

2006 CLOS DE VOUGEOT VIElLLES VIGNES (Château de la Tour) ****
This deep-purple wine has a strikingly pure, distinguished aroma with real depth, suggesting plum jam, fig, chocolate, and blackberry. Full and fleshy, crammed with mellow ripe fruit, it shows great depth. This is confirmed on the palate, where the plum and cherry flavour quickly expands to include marron glacé and chocolate. The rolling aftertaste emits ripples that go on for a long time. Outstanding. To enjoy best around 2010-30.

 

2006 MOREY ST DENIS 1ER CRU CLOS DE LA BUSSIERE (Georges Roumier) ****
A limpid purple, this has an enticing, distinguished aroma of plum jam, strawberry, and marmalade. And that’s only the first sniff! A second inhalation brings hints of saffron, cinnamon, and truffle. The round, velvety flavour is in tune with this, if a little on the closed side, but you cannot miss the ample substance. At best around 2016-24.

 

2006 BONNES MARES (Georges Roumier) ***(*)
The voluminous, sweet, ripe aroma, redolent of cherry and plum jams, exhibits a striking roundness and harmony. Weighty yet buoyant, with a touch of oriental spices, it is closed on the palate, even faintly hollow, but that’s doubtless a phase it’s passing through – an aroma of this quality cannot lie. To drink with meats in elegant sauces around 2014-22.

 

2006 CHAMBOLLE MUSIGNY (Georges Roumier) ***
The elegant, very Chambolle nose conjures up wild strawberry, raspberry, and redcurrant, and is aerial and expressive, with a promise of substance too. The elegant, balanced flavour has ample fruit given precision by tinglingly fresh acidity of the kind found in tangerines. Drink over the next 10 years.

 

2006 MUSIGNY (Frédéric Mugnier) ****
This dark Grand Cru has a solid, old-style aroma (suggestive of foudre-ageing) of black fruit jams, molasses, smoke, and blackcurrant. The Pinot Noir fruit is wonderfully ripe, dense, and velvety, and has real weight (it’s perhaps the most full-bodied wine so far). The chewy flavour is rich and smooth, with great thrust, and has unmistakeable Grand Cru complexity but not specifically Musigny finesse (I could easily take it for a Latricières-Chambertin, tasted blind). Long, mouth-filling, and nuanced. At best around 2015-24.

 

2006 GEVREY CHAMBERTIN (Trapet) ***
This has a distinguished, very Gevrey aroma of plum jam, prune, leather, and chocolate. The flavour is full, smooth, and balanced, with good tannins and acidity on the persistent finish. Will improve for at least a decade.

 

2006 GEVREY CHAMBERTIN 1ER CRU CAZETIERS (Rousseau) ***(*)
The expansive aroma shows real refinement and subtlety, suggesting plum jam, orange peel, saffron and cherry. Red fruits dominate on the palate, which shows outstanding balance despite being closed up, and the spicy, very smooth aftertaste has a searching quality. The tannins are of exceptional delicacy. A poetic wine, very Rousseau in mode, to delight in around 2013-20.

 

2006 GEVREY CHAMBERTIN 1ER CRU CAZETIERS (Faiveley) **(*)
Vinous and weighty, with well-integrated oak, this polished wine has an expansive aroma of plum and strawberry, with a fine, chewy flavour to match. The earthy finish is just a bit blunt. A line of prose after one of poetry. Drink over the coming decade.

 

2006 GEVREY CHAMBERTIN 1ER CRU CAZETIERS (Bruno Clair) ***(*) Ripe plum and blackberry come to mind as one sniffs this glossy, poised wine with its core of ripe, brambly fruit. The flavour is both smooth and chewy, with superb balance, and the aftertaste is subtly spicy. Wait 5 years and drink it over the 6 that follow.

 

2006 GEVREY CHAMBERTIN 1ER CRU CLOS ST JACQUES (Bruno Clair)***(*)
The noble, distinctly plummy nose shows unforced power and density, and leads into a substantial, very round flavour from which a myriad sub- flavours lead off in all directions while remaining interlinked. Ideal tannins. A 20-year wine. Nominally a Premier Cru, Clos St. Jacques is a de facto Grand Cru.

 

2006 CHARMES CHAMBERTIN (Rousseau) ****(*)
The smooth, aristocratic aroma of plum, cherry, and liquorice exhibits the implicit sweetness of totally ripe grapes and promises real finesse. This quality is delivered by the beautifully elegant, intense flavour of exceptional complexity. The aftertaste is long, unfurling suggestions of wild strawberry, and raspberry as well as plum. The texture is silky, the finish sustained. Exquisite balance. Drink 2018-30.

 

2006 CHAMBERTIN (Trapet) ****
This dark wine has a typical Chambertin aroma – broad, concentrated, homogeneous – of black cherry, plum, liquorice, and prune. It holds out the promise of weight, power, and density. The excellent flavour is just a bit lighter than the nose promises, but the finish is long and full of nuances. The aroma promises greatness; the flavour delivers excellence. Wait 7 years and drink over the 8-10 that follow.

 

© Frank Ward 2009

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