Monday, December 15, 2014

Willamette Valley 2013, Argyle

Its America, so the Willamette Valley has not yet evolved its own style. It's not possible to say "Oh, that's an old school Willamette pinot." The reference points aren't there yet. So each wine from the valley is a surprise. This pinot noir from the Willamette Valley is aiming for elegance and achieves a lightness of being. Its more ethereal than elegant. A (too) light pinky red, transparent robe leads onto a nose of cranberry, raspberry and white watermelon flesh. A touch of sweet licorice. Fresh, tangy berry fruit driven on the palate, with no waist to speak of or much flesh. So a big contrast to some of the alcoholic, busty monsters from nearby producers. Whilst I prefer a lively, elegant syle over something heavy and viscuous, this has pushed the concept too far. Scores 19/30 for a Willamette Valley.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Auxey-Duresses 2010, Domaine Bzikot

I remember during the annual Burgundy tasting trip in 2013 my friend Jenson Buttonhurst appeared at my house in Puligny at 9am looking pleased as punch. It transpired that en route from his hotel on the village green he had snuck into Domaine Bzikot for a pre-9am tasting. Call it dedication to the cause from Jenson. And what admirable hospitality from M Bzikot whose family emigrated to Puligny in the early twentieth century from Poland. The domaine's wines also fall into the "friendly" category. This Auxey has a pleasing nose of plum and cherry, singing the story of the riper 2010 vintage. Whilst I doubt this was aged in new oak there is a significant toast note on the nose. Lively, tangy, yet ripe berry fruit on the palate with a good sour-savoury kick on the finish. This is a cheeky chappy of a wine. Well made but not something for a collector of labels. Scores 20/30 for an Auxey and will evolve well for another 2 years.   

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Beaune 1er Cru "Grèves" 2011, Michel Lafarge

This Beaune 1er Cru from the Grèves lieu-dit featured in my week long Thanksgiving food and wine fest. Not being a turkey fan we dined on wild mushroom parcels, duck and pork pate en croute, rack of lamb with an Ottolenghi herb, soy and red wine vinegar marinade and a gorgeous apple tart. And that was just for breakfast! Onto this wine: dark cherry almost plum colour, looks older than a 2011, lovely ripe berry nose of strawberry and raspberry, floral and very pretty; tremendous style on the palate with a layer of ripe berry fruit, a layer of aniseed and wildflower honey, complimented by an elegant tannic structure. This is delicious stuff... knocked off its perch only slightly by a dry tea finish which is a 2011 vintage characteristic from the hail-affected Cote de Beaune. Scores 22-24/30 for a Beaune 1er cru and I am sure will age gracefully. Thank you Gandalf. Here is the tasting note for the 2010 vintage of the same wine which was showing far better than the 2011 when tasted at the domaine in Volnay.   

Friday, November 28, 2014

Volnay 1er Cru "Les Santenots Du Milieu" 2008, Arnaud Ente

Arnaud Ente's domaine is a classic small-scale Burgundy operation. With just a handful of appellations he emphasizes the rarity value of his wines with a label that informs one that this bottle is one among "826 bouteilles et 60 magnums". This Volnay 1er Cru has a sombre, intense dark cherry colour. Brooding. The aromatics have moved on to nutmeg, aniseed and cinnamon spice with an undertow of baked blackberries and roast duck. This is a serious wine with surprisingly thick tannins, hefty plum and cherry fruit -- definitely on the stone fruits not the berries. Mouthfilling and savoury with some over-stewed black breakfast tea tannins. Possibly affected by the 2008 hail which has resulted in a mouth-puckering dryness on the finish. Surprisingly -- given other 2008s have been very open since 2013 -- this wine needs another 3-4 years to fully express what I am sure will be an intriguing bouquet. Already an ideal companion for duck and prok pate en croute and rack of lamb served at our Thanksgiving feast. Scores 21-22/30 for a Volnay 1er Cru.         

Monday, November 24, 2014

Beaune 1er Cru "Les Sizies" 2011, Domaine de Montille

Domaine de Montille is one of the top Volnay producers and Hubert de Montille's adult children own Deux Montille and the Ch de Puligny-Montrachet -- my neighbour in Puligny. It has been a while since I tasted one of the wines from the domaine and this Beaune 1er Cru is line with prior bottles. The emphasis is on elegance over power. Deep ruby red colour, transparent, good berry nose, black tea, fine berry fruit on the palate dominated by red cherry and wild strawberry. Not terribly exciting. Needs another 2 years to express more interesting aromas. Definitely a food wine with its lively acidity and blood orange edges. I'm afraid 2011 is not showing itself as a fun vintage at this stage. The 2011 vintage was classified as 14/20 by the Guide Hachette for red Burgundy but so was the amazing 2008 vintage. This Beaune scores 18-22/30 for a Beaune 1er Cru.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Chambolle-Musigny Vieilles Vignes 2011, Domaine Collotte

The only problem with the Chambolle appellation is that it is too small (152 ha compared with 410 of Gevrey) and therefore prices are often too elevated. Most of the wines are tremendous, whether village quality or grand cru. This Chambolle-Musigny, produced by the Philippe Collotte domaine based in Marsannay has a proud, deep ruby colour which is nevertheless transparent. A gentle nose of fresh wild strawberry and red cherry backed up by floral aromas of roses and rosehips. Background oak barrels. Good fruit texture and structure on the palate. A feminine structure with soft tannins on the finish. Pleasant to drink now but not showing much leg. Representative of the lighter 2011 vintage. Like a hermit crab, I feel this Chambolle has concealed itself in its shell, typical at the three year mark, and needs another two years to open up. Scores 19-23/30 for a Chambolle. Domaine Collotte should not of course be confused with the "sans-culottes" being toasted in this image by Louis XVI.  

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru "Morgeot" 2011, Domaine Morey Coffinet

This domaine is located in Chassagne, the only appellation that has good pinots and chardonnays aside from Beaune itself. Good rich plummy colour, thick rather than bright, some opaqueness is creeping into the transparent pinot liquid. Mélange of strawberry, cooked rhubarb and custard. Not a terribly distinctive nose. Think Eton mess. Full and dense plum and cherry fruit on the palate. Good impact. There are edges. There is alcohol. Substance. Matter. Spices lurking in the deep. Like many good red Burgundies, this Chassagne 1er Cru is in the shade of its evolution three years after its birth. Give it 2 years and there will be much more expression on the nose with rich fruit to back it up. Scores 23-26 / 30 for a Chassagne 1er cru rouge.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Marsannay 2012, Domaine Trapet Père & Fils

A couple of years ago we had a wonderful tasting with Mme Trapet at the domaine. What a character she is. And Marsannay has a special place in my heart as I fondly remember a Bacchanalian Tournante de St Vincent in 1993. The 2015 tournante will be the 900th anniversary! Beguiling nose of vanilla, blueberry, cassis and lilac. Floral and fresh. Wonderful berry fruit, raspberry, ripe cassis and cherry. Lively and wildly expressive pinot. There is a hint of stalk on the nose reflecting the northerly location of the appellation. A soupçon of green bell pepper flavour and oak. This Marsannay squeezes everything out of the pinot grapes available in 2012. It is slightly undone by the vintage -- Marsannay only really sings in warm years. Scores 25/30 for a Marsannay. Check the tasting note for the 2004 vintage.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Maranges 1er Cru "La Fussière" 2007, Bruno Colin

Being almost half Scottish I can get enthusiastic about bargains, this Maranges 1er Cru 2007 from the respected Chassagne-based producer Bruno Colin is a bargain indeed. This cheeky little pinot, from the fresh 2007 vintage has evolved wonderfully. A very fresh, lively nose, more on the berries than on floral notes reveals cranberry, juniper, pigeon and rosehip aromas. After several hours of evolution there is more chestnut and cinnamon. Flavours of raspberry, red currant jelly, tobacco, cooked orange and arrow root. Bright and tangy finish but shows off a plump edge at the finish. Starting to dry out on the fin de bouche -- a touch of tobacco. Will be good for another year then the fruit will fall away. Scores 27/30 for a Maranges.  

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Pouilly-Fuissé 2013, Joseph Drouhin

Familiars of Le Bourgoblog will know that I am no fan of the négoces. There are few tasting notes of their wines. Not because they produce bad quality wine, in fact, the good négoces very rarely produce bad quality wines. My tendency not to buy from them is more about the lack of audace. The lack of desire to thrill. The wines tend to be safe. There are notable exceptions. But this Pouilly-Fuissé 2013 from one of the most impressive négoces is not one of them. Attractive white gold colour, nose of preserved lemon and vanilla. Some orange and gala apple. Fruit-driven on the palate, very fresh, rather tight and linear. Not much in terms of length. Salty, lemony finish. This wine is correct for a white Burgundy. But one would be very hard pressed to identify this as a Pouilly-Fuissé tasted blind. Where are the apricots, the melons, the peaches and bees wax? Due to this lack of typicity I score it as 19 / 30 for the appellation with the hope it will rise to 22/30 in 2 years time when it becomes more expressive. Nevertheless pleasant to drink and a fine companion to roast organic chicken with potato matchsticks cooked with juniper berries.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Volnay 2010, R Dubois & Fils

I am constantly amazed that after 21 years of serious Burgundy tasting I can still find producers whose wines I have (probably) never tried before who nevertheless have an expansive portfolio. And this is the case with Domaine Dubois based just outside Nuits-Saint-Georges. This Volnay is a transparent medium to light red colour. Nose dominated by oak aromas, cranberry and loganberry. Some good spices in there, cinnamon, vanilla, coriander seeds and a touch of nutmeg. After 15 minutes smells like crushed cherry stones. Its a lean nose in what was a ripe year. Tangy raspberry, blood orange, lots of blood orange, aniseed. Very bright: prunus cerasus not prunus avium. This could be interesting in the future but there doesn't seem to be much substance to it. Compared with the top Volnay producers this is significantly lacking in finesse and richesse. Scores 19/30 for a Volnay.   

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bourgogne Blanc 2009, Bruno Colin

People who work in financial markets seek alpha, wine-tasters seek declassified white Burgundy sold at appetizingly low prices in the guise of Bourgogne Blanc. This bouteille from Bruno Colin (part of the Colin clan in Chassagne) goes some way to meeting my wish but not close to the Oligocene from Javillier. This is a well-evolved bourgogne blanc, it has that clarity and freshness of pear juice that I find most often in Saint-Aubin, still on the fruit on the nose and no hint of complexity due to the ripeness of the vintage (which idiots still think 2009 is a majestic white burgundy vintage?). Very pleasant to drink, no edges, full, gouleyant, an apple and pear lozenge on the finish. A hint of marzipan on the final nose and a touch of hay which made me think of the wonderful white horse ridden by Bruno. Enjoyable for sure and good value. Scores 22/30 for a bourgogne blanc. btw look at the dock on that animal!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Chassagne-Montrachet "Les Chaumes" 2012, Morey Coffinet

For some bizarre reason I have never tasted at Domaine Morey Coffinet which is located in the fair village of Chassagne. Given the attratctive portfolio of whites and decent number of reds they offer this omission must soon be corrected. This Chassagne rouge is a good example of the punchy 2012 vintage. Lovely full cherry colour, the nose is slow to open up, starting on floral notes, and then proffers cranberry, raspberry and ripe red currant. After some evolution there is a touch of menthol. Definitely needed to be aerated to tell its story. Solid Chassagne rouge structure on the palate with equal doses of ripe berry fruit, tangy orange sanguine acidity and chewy (for a pinot!) tannins. This is an elegant wine for a Chassagne A/C, finely wrought and wonderfully balanced. I am sure will be tremendous on 4 years time with pigeon roti or a mousse de canard. Scores 26/30 for a Chassagne rouge. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Savigny-les-Beaune "Dessus les Vermots" 2010, Domaine de la Douaix

The back label tells me that Domaine de la Douaix was founded by Belgians called Moustie in 2006. Ripe cherry nose, verging on cassis coulis, jammy. Full on fruit. Pleasant ripe cherry, ripe plum and black berry fruit. Some good fruit acidity buzz on the finish. So ripe it makes one smile, like a brunette colleague you don't know at work showing a little too much cleavage. As one plunges in, there is vanilla and raspberry. Good structure despite the "push up" style on the nose, ripe tannins and a bonne charpente. Overall, a very enjoyable Savigny. Honest and fruity! Scores 25/30 for a Savigny A/C. Allez les Belges! 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Saint-Veran "Les Rochats" 2011, Domaine de la Croix Senaillet

I have always had a penchant for Saint-Veran wines after visting the region in the early 1990s when the Maconnais was emerging from the dark ages. This 2011, produced by Richard and Stephane Martin, has a soft orange and clemetine nose with a hint of honeydew melon. It is subtle, too subtle. Good ripe citrus fruit on the palate. A fresh finish on the back of the tongue. Pleasant, easy-drinking and faultless, lacks edge. Scores 21/30 for a Saint-Veran. 

Monday, October 06, 2014

Gevrey-Chambertin "Clos Prieur" 2013, Frederic Esmonin

This could well be the first bottle I have tasted from this domaine which is based in Gevrey. It appears to be one of those Grade B domaines, which often appear in wine merchants but rarely make it into the major Burgundy books. Admittedly this could be an act of infanticide but its worth tasting the new vintage early and of course this is very early to be buying 2013 in the US in October. The wine announces itself with a good red/plum purple colour; nose is fairly open on red cherry, licorice, rose hip. Interesting yet lacking in potency. Hints of briar and rhubarb once it evolves. Taut and tangy on the palate, its lively but tastes a tad astringent like drinking liquidized bramble leaves. Will it fill out in 3 years time? "Peut etre" as Francois Bertheau would say, with a wink of his eye. At present though I will err on the side of not being impressed. Scores 19/30 for a Gevrey A/C. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Chassagne-Montrachet Vieille Vigne 2009, Jean-Charles Fagot

Earthy and brambley nose with medium intensity. Blood orange, fresh, tannin-laced. Tastes a tad over-oaked. Not a lot of oomph. Baking tray, limestone gratings and dried mussel shell. Surprisingly astringent. Not showing its full potential now, I hope it improves because a Cote de Beaune 2009 red should be rich, plump and showy like a Venezuelan beauty queen. Scores 21/30 for a Chassagne.  

Auxey-Duresses 2007, Henri Darnat

When I last tasted this wine in August 2010 I noted that it was 'more Socrates than Rabelais'. But now, the cheeky side of this wine is coming to the fore although not with a Gargantuan structure. Lovely mature white Burgundy nose of truffle, buttered leeks, warm hay and almonds. Very fine, fancy even. This Auxey-Duresses, once linear and tight, has really filled out on the palate. Savoury, nutty and succulent. Flavours stroke and linger on the cheeks. This is wonderful old school Burgundy which many would enjoy but few would truely understand. Scores 27/30 for an Auxey-Duresses. Drinking now for another 2 years and I am glad I still have a small stock left! As I taste deeper into the bottle this merits 29/30. Stunning.   

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Eola-Amity Hills 2012, Montebruno

Wikipedia informs us that "The Eola-Amity Hills AVA is an American Viticultural Area located in Polk County and Yamhill County, Oregon. It is entirely contained within the Willamette Valley AVA, and stretches from the city of Amity in the north to Salem in the south." So transferring this to Burgundy-speak the appellation is "Eola-Amity Hills" in the region of the Willamette Valley (roughly equivalent to the Cote d'Or). The wine has a rich dark red colour, somewhat reminiscent of Peterhouse Red. A vibrant nose of blueberries, black currants and huckleberries with background green pepper. Decent fruit breadth, still on the blacks and blues with a savoury touch, a pleasant feature for an Oregon pinot which I find can often be too jammy. Well-balanced and flavourful this Eola-Amity Hills has good complexity on the nose and lacks only more length and interest on the palate. Scores 24/30 for an Eola-Amity Hills.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Saint-Romain 2010, Olivier Leflaive

I have been stung into action by soft criticism from Ammar Al Gevrey relating to the complete lack of tasting notes since late 2013! I am afraid that having moved to Manhattan and been separated from my Burgundy cellar I have lost the glugging habit. Good for the health, bad for the temperament. This Saint-Romain from the successful 2010 vintage has a light, steely colour. I was not impressed to see a plastic cork on this wine having had some bad experiences with Capitain-Gagnerot wines enclosed with the same. An initial whiff of flint stone gives way to citrus and Cox's apple. The flint evolves into a chalky note. The aromatic profile is flat. Medium plus acidity, dry and linear. This Saint-Romain is taut, tangy and short like a Chinese gymnast. Too evocative of celery and apple to be considered a flag bearer for the appellation and not on a par with the likes of "Fat" Alain Gras. Serve with caesar salad, walnuts or leek fritters. Scores 21/30 for the Saint-Romain appellation.