Claire and I visited Nuits St Georges during our recent Burgundian holiday. The D974 skirts the small, rather quiet shopping area which is given over to private shops and cafes; I guess most people are pulled to Dijon to the north or Beaune to the south.
The vineyards rise gently on the western escarpment and flatten to the south and east. Nuits has no Grand Cru (top Burgundy vineyard) but 147 hectares of Premiere Cru and 175 ha. of village Nuits vineyards. Jasper Morris’s Inside Burgundy describes the classic Nuits style as ‘chunkier’. We tasted Dmne. Chauvenet’s village Nuits (13% abv) from the difficult but lately proclaimed 2010 vintage.
Brown rimmed but with a core of medium intensity red, the wine had the aromas of cooked black cherries These tertiary notes suggesting bottle age; there was also an aromatic maturity to the nose. The mouth feel was soft, the tannins identifiable but not obtrusive being accompanied by a light acidity. It had an attractive sweet/sour then dry finish but the full flavours I would describe as tight rather than generous. A lovely wine, not particularly complex, but quite in keeping with Morris’s description.
I find these pinots more interesting than the NZ because of their restrained quality but I can appreciate why they cause not a little frustration. Over to you, Richard.
[Richard: from TWS whose offer brochure said ‘lovely dense and soft Burgundy offered at a remarkably low price basically because of the sheer volume he has to sell. He has over 6ha of this wine! Take advantage!’ The last sentence, being, I assume a translation of ‘profitez-en’, often seen in French supermarkets under special offers. £18 in bond which is indeed a reasonable price for village burgundy. I’ve sometimes thought that WS tasting notes prefer enthusiasm to accuracy but ‘dense and soft’ sums it up. Not especially varietal but unmistakably pinot noir and nice to try one that didn’t disappoint. On a hot evening the wine started to become ‘soupy’ but 15 minutes in the fridge when halfway down the bottle helped considerably, something I can remember a Beaune restauranteur doing during the 2006 heatwave.]
I’ve never been quite sure about the kind of wine drinker Decanter Magazine is aimed at but one thing is sure. It’s not people who buy wine from supermarkets. However even wine merchants, critics and plutocrats can’t drink first growths and grand crus every day so there is a column at the back which reviews a handful of ‘everyday’ wines, a few of which are widely available.
One such was a Jura chardonnay, from J Sainsbury’s, at £11. Wines from the Jura region of France are rarely seen in the UK. The WS list a few, but no chardonnay, which is not a preferred grape in the area.
So we thought it worth a punt. Not tasted blind. Pale lemon colour, typical of the grape. Typical nose too – just about – but rather hard and coarse. No oak which some may prefer. A rather ordinary one-dimensional taste, quite short (only 12%). For me there wasn’t enough varietal character.
[Geoff: I did not find it as ‘hard and coarse’ as my mate (bit austere maybe?) but it certainly wasn’t complex. Its light lemon notes were refreshing (only 12% abv) and it went well with some chicken piece and salad later. Certainly not a vin du garde, I can imagine it being swilled back quite easily in this eastern region. Full marks to J Sainsbury for finding it ‘off the beaten track’ – good value at £11 because of this fact alone. Try it.]
Richard’s passion for ‘a good sherris sack’ (Falstaff, Henry IV part 2) is well-documented on these pages. The Wine Society recently promoted, at the relatively high price of £24, a manzanilla made by Bodega Alonso named ‘Velo Flor’. Sherry, like champagne, is chiefly about process rather than the raw materials and part of that process is the marketing. As the photograph shows, this wine was dressed in a low-shouldered bottle with a waxed cork stopper, quite different from the more conservative look.
The wine had a light gold colour, some viscosity and was bright and clear. The usual floor polish smell along with roasted nuts was obvious on the nose, as was the relieving fresher lemony high notes. We had the impression of an intensity, more so than normal. The palate showed the difference from previously tasted manzanilla styles. Yes, it had the trademark dry saltiness but this was rounder, richer and very long. A bigger flavoured wine than normally is the case, this could not be called a fresh style from the taste alone. (It had been opened 72 hours)
To return to Sir John F. (in The Merry Wives of Windsor). ‘Wilt thou, after the expense of so much money, be now a gainer?’ It’s a fine drink, but I question its VFM.
(Exeunt stage left)
[Richard: one of the golden rules of fino or manzanilla drinking is that it should be consumed as quickly as possible after opening, because of the speed of oxidation. This wine was unusual, in that it improved after three days in the fridge becoming more aromatic, more full flavoured. A very classy manzanilla, I’ve seen it suggested it is a pasada (older) style – which it tastes like – and that it is en rama, but neither is claimed on the label.
Clearly vinified with care but I did wonder if it was made up to a price – cork closure not a stopper, waxed capsule – very rare, unusually shaped bottle with a designer label. At £15 throughly recommendable but at £24 I think I’ll be sending my other bottle back.]
Richard is much more prepared to try different wines than I am. Recent Sunday tastings have involved organic and biodynamic wines from France in particular and this was another of those. Tout Nature Sans Soufre Ajoute (transl. Totally Natural No Added Sulphur) by Xavier and Mathieu Ledogar is a wine from the Languedoc, classed as a Vin de France – the lowest classification. Vintage 2014, it’s a blend of Carignan, Grenache and Mourvedre and has 14.5% abv.
That’s the intellectual part dealt with – how did it fare sensually?
Opaque (fine sediment) with a slightly purple/red rim, it had a high viscosity and was an intense colour. The nose was pure, with no varietal qualities and very slightly oxidised. Considering it had been opened only the day before – as well as having 14.5% abv. – perhaps the lack of stabilising sulphur means it ages prematurely. Highly tannic and fresh fruit notes of unripe plums and damsons, it had that fresh quality which shone through the oxidised notes. This freshness is the hallmark, to me, of organic wines.
Whether it’s worth the price paid, I’m not so sure.
[Richard: we often talk about wine tasting better on day 2 – this one tasted worse, despite vacuum sealing and storing in the fridge, although there was no change three days on from that. So Geoff didn’t taste it at it’s best. On opening it was fruity, vibrant and quite complex. An enticing wine which Angie really liked. Value is a always problem with natural wines – they are invariably more expensive – this was £20 (Buon Vino) – and, as Geoff suggests, you could do better for the money, although I’m glad I tried it.]
I taste and drink a lot of wine in a professional as well as unpaid capacity. I enjoy many, dislike fewer and can’t remember most of them. Occasionally – and it is occasionally – some stick in the vinous memory. These are individual bottles that evoke an immediate ‘wow’ response followed by ‘This is good!’. Sunday’s wine was one such wine. Trimbach’s Clos St Hune 2004 was generously supplied by Richard and tasted blind.
Piss-coloured with some viscosity, it sashayed round the generously sized goblet releasing the subtle Riesling nose. I had a sense of restrained power and richness with lovely floral hints. (Why is it that excellent wines encourage extravagant – or overblown – language?)
The palate was a meld of furniture polish, beeswax, honeysuckle and jasmine flavours but overladen with a wonderful acidity which kept all fresh and prevented the cloying that the richness could bring. An extremely long finish and medium-heavy weight were my other noted qualities. In one word – superb.
Clos St Hune is a Trimbach estate in the Grand Cru Rosacker area in Hunawihr, north of Colmar, Alsace. The ageing potential is 10 – 20 years, which accounts for the restrained power this wine had. 04 was a bit of a challenge, being very wet, but it takes a good wine-maker to make good wine in a poor year. Thank you Richard – and Trimbach.
[Richard: we’ve tasted this before, in 2015. That review has a lot more information about the wine. Three years on, I felt it was heavier and more powerful. Another lovely drink on a summer evening.]
Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
Domaine de Sandar 2017, purchased by Geoff in the region.
Pure Gamay nose, distinctive and identifiable even as the wine was being poured, bright, clear ruby red, supple mouth feel, juicy, some length. Perfect summer red.
[Geoff: Yes, purchased from a roadside wine outlet (Cave Mathelin, resembling a converted petrol station) in the southern Beaujolais area. The range of choice was quite remarkable and it could have been an expensive visit. This wine was made by the family who owned the outlet so I felt duty bound to buy some of their wine. I also bought a Beaujolais (Gamay) Rose and wished I’d bought more of it – really flavourful and nicely dry. I thought the above wine was great value and fuller than the light, bubble-gum flavoured wine I associate with the area. I also bought some Moulin au Vent and Cote de Brouilly which I’m sure we’ll blog about.]
Both our spouses were at an outdoor ‘concert in the park’ last Saturday so Geoff and I got together for some food and drink. No notes taken.
Is there anything more pleasant than drinking a quality white burgundy, in the garden on a warm summer evening? This was the last of a mixed case by Sauzet, all of which have been blogged previously. Took a while to come out but when it did it was very classy.
The chianti accompanied some homemade pissaladiere and lamb pide, done in a Big Green Egg and was very good being flavoursome despite a pale appearance. Even better on day 2.
We also ate some scallops in pancetta and a cured cod dish with butter beans and chorizo. The Finca Racons was a great accompaniment having enough character to stand up to the strong flavours.
Finally, the Pink Pound, by Patrick Sullivan, a natural low sulphur, vegan wine. Mainly Pinot Noir with Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurtztraminer. Naturally cloudy and not to everyone’s taste but I enjoyed it – at base an uncomplicated rosé.
[Geoff: Many thanks, Richard. Lovely food cooked in the barbecue accompanied by some distinguished wines. The Sauzet Puligny Montrachet 1er cru ‘Les Folatieres’ (to give it its full moniker) was gorgeous. Sauzet’s vineyards have been farmed organically since 2006 and bio-dynamically since 2010 (according to Jasper Morris’ Inside Burgundy book). Sauzet own parts of the Folatieres plot and supplement with grapes from other growers in the same plot. It’s interesting how the French inheritance laws massively complicate the vineyard ownerships which are incredibly fractured.]