Geoff and I live on the same road and we take turns to host wine tastings. Usually the wines are tasted blind so we have no idea what to expect. This most recent tasting – with the wine below, by remarkable coincidence, featured wines from the same region, made within a few kilometres of each other, not that I picked up on this.
‘Not pinot’ I confidently exclaimed. Certainly the colour – a pale clear red – was typical but the nose with lots of strawberry and raspberry led me to think it was a differently vilified southern french variety. In the mouth, rather firm and tannic, lacking complexity and without the flavour the vivacious smell led you to expect. But certainly moreish. Needless to say the wine was pinot. Perhaps I’ve tried too many New World pinots recently…
As you can see, quite a classy bottle. I leave Geoff to explain the geography.
[Geoff: Aloxe is the first Cote de Beaune village you come to driving south; it sits underneath the hill of Corton. Traditionally the wine has been thought of as having a fine bouquet but rather robust on the palate and I would say that is what we found. This wine was one of several different Burgundies I bought from M & S after they had been considerably reduced – to clear stocks – from the normal retail of £35. At full price it would definitely not have been VFM, as Richard’s description implies. It was good with some rich flavoured boeuf bourgignon, however.]
Vin Cognito is an on-line wine supplier who can both supply good quality wines and, nearly as important, write about them in an engaging way. But you have got to be in the mood to sit and read the cleverly crafted screed. The essay that accompanied Decelle Villa’s Bourgogne 2014 re-worked Jason and Golden Fleece fable, i.e. initial disappointment followed by a wonderful, last minute find of white Burgundy at a (just about) affordable price. And it was good, as we found on Sunday night.
A weighty-looking green with hints of lemon, the wine proclaimed youth – and body – but it was an initially shy youth. It started to come out 15 minutes after being poured (needed decanting, I thought) and started to reveal some very classy notes of lemon zest with a slightly creamy (oak?) aroma. This, to me, smelt of a quality white Burgundy – lovely. The flavour was intense, long and dry. All fresh lemons backed up with green hazelnuts, this wine was “not a sipper”, it needed food, the flavours were so intense. I thought it still had plenty of development to come and Richard later decanted it – but he can write about that. It was a very good for an entry level Burgundy
One small statement in Vincognito’s thesis about the wine was worth noting. They said of the producers Decelle Villa, “Well, here’s a producer whose wines defy that logic, at least for the time being, while they are making a name for themselves.” A touch of realism in the myth-making, perhaps?
[Richard: we’ve blogged on wines from Vin Cognito before and they are a reliable supplier, especially if you want something different. I purchased a couple of bottles of the above after getting an email saying how good the wines were, limited quantity, hurry, hurry, hurry, etc. Experience with The WS has taught me that such emails can often be a little over-enthusiastic – but not in this case. A classy wine which improved with decanting becoming rounded and creamier, as you would expect. Worth keeping the other bottle for a couple of years, I think.]
Some wines, like Chateau Musar or Vina Tondonia are generally easy to spot from the aroma. Another is (most) white burgundy. And so it was that I confidently pronounced this wine (Saint-Aubin Champs Tirant, 2014) as such, despite it being opened twenty-four hours and double decanted. As it turned out I’ve got a bottle, as yet undrunk, Geoff having picked up a few marked down in Waitrose. A classic supple, spicy nose, with a hint of struck match, rich smooth mouth-feel followed by a complex lemony taste. A bargain at the reduced price of £16.99.
[Geoff: I’m delighted to hear that Richard has another bottle – this wine was excellent and certainly a bargain. I’m becoming an advocate for decanting all wines, regardless of colour, as it certainly paid off with this wine. Pre-aeration it was closed, slightly reductive on the nose and dominated by lemony acidity. When tried 40 mins after decanting it became broader, livelier and had lost those dominating aromas and flavours. After enjoying it on Saturday night I returned it to the bottle where I vacuum sealed it with the result Richard has described. Decanting is a must]
The wines from this premier cru vineyard are described by Clive Coates as ‘rather foursquare’ and lacking the elegance found in other Volnay wines. Other critics, in 2016, have stated how it needs some development. I’d be blunter and say this wine was not overly enjoyable.
Decanted 40 minutes previous to tasting, the brown rim and medium intense colour pointed to age and a cooler climate. The overwhelming vanilla aromas masked the slightly past-its-best smell (Richard called it ‘vegetal’ and ‘leaf mould’) which was not appealing to me. I did not pick Pinot Noir at all.
The taste was dry, long and cherry-like with high acidity but it wasn’t a generous wine at all and, to be frank, disappointing.
Evidently, 2006 produced patchy wines in Burgundy and this was certainly proof of that opinion.
[Richard: a poor wine lacking any redeeming characteristics. No improvement over the evening. I placed a negative review on TWS website (not published because the wine is no longer stocked) and received an emollient reply, suggesting that the wine is out of it’s drinking window (2011-16) and had lost the ‘charm of youth’. This is doubtful in my view, not least because a similar wine from the same maker and vintage was much better. I’m reminded of a phrase an old friend uses when we ‘enjoy’ a similar experience – ‘another disappointing Burgundy’.]
The numbers reference the fifth bottle out of a case of six white Etienne Sauzet Puligny-Montrachet Burgundies Richard purchased “as a single man” (his words). We’ve blogged them all and Sunday was the turn of Les Combettes, a premier cru vineyard abutting the Meursault AC. The vintage was 2011.
A pronounced yellow, with a green tinge, in appearance, the wine showed some languid viscosity in the glass as it swirled. A nose of fresh lemons was the initial hit but the longer it sat the more smokiness came through. The palate was of medium weight, long, rich with a beguiling aftertaste of honeysuckle and fresh green hazelnuts. These wonderful flavours started coming through after about fifteen minutes sitting in a broad bowled glass; the warmish late-afternoon temperature certainly helped. A refined wine, certainly.
Burgundy’s high prices are well documented and this premier cru wine certainly was expensive. In a restaurant I suppose we may not begrudge spending £50+ for a really good wine but that is certainly a top price in the retail market, in my opinion. Our discussion spun around ‘value for money’ of these wines and whether the demand has put these excellent wines out of range of many wine lovers’ budgets. My estimation of this wine’s true price (if there is such a thing) would be about £35. That’s not denying its undoubted quality but “too much money is chasing too little product”.
[Richard: wines like this are the equivalent of what, in the sightseeing context, has been described as ‘worth seeing but not worth going to see’. I’m certainly glad to have tried top quality white burgundy – and prices are even more expensive now – but I can’t see I’d ever buy another bottle of premier cru. From the nose through to the taste this was clearly a very classy wine which Geoff had no trouble identifying. For me there was rather too much richness and not enough acidity although the many and varied smells and tastes made it a very enjoyable ‘vino da meditazione’, as the Italians put it.]
Tasted this (2012 Réyane & Pascal Bouley Volnay) blind with Geoff on Sunday and was not in the least tempted to wonder if it was a New or Old World pinot. Quite pale, typical nose, pure refined taste although rather raw and tannic on the finish. But savoury and mouth filling. Clearly Old World but my attempt to place the wine within the region was totally wrong in that I thought northern, rather than southern Burgundy.
[Geoff: I was delighted to share this with my drinking partner; it seems he is better at choosing between Burgundy and NZ Pinot than I am. Following a classic Pinot nose of sweet red fruits, this wine was quite lean in the mid-palate but none the worse for that. However, as Richard has commented, it came across a little too tannic at the finish which might suggest it needed more time. Or that it was a good village wine with no further pretensions. Which reminds me of that James Thurber line “it’s a naïve domestic Burgundy without any breeding, but I think you’ll be amused by its presumption.” Quite appropriate, in this case.]
Last Saturday I had the very great pleasure of opening a bottle of Pernand-Vergelesses Les Combottes 2012 from Roland Rapet. M & S were selling them off relatively cheaply and I had bought some in a mix with other Burgundies and some claret. When M & S do this there are bargains to be had because they also throw in 25% discount for 6 wines; this cost about £15.
PV is a village west of Aloxe-Corton and thus one of the most northern of the Cote de Beaune. It produces both red and white wines and represents good value for money – if that epithet can be applied to Burgundy wines at the moment. However, speaking personally, I’d rather have one of these bottles than two wines of average quality.
The colour was pale yellow, very slightly green, beautifully clear with some viscosity showing. The complex smell was lemon and quince, pungent, concentrated and slightly smokey. The abiding impression from the palate was one of power. The very long dry finish came after the lemon/lime mid-palate and a rich quality that was balanced by the acidity. Freshness, finesse and full of flavour were all the ‘fs’ I could think.
The white Burgundy characteristic I struggle with is ‘hazelnuts’. I could never apply it to Burgundy I had drunk – until I bought and tried some green hazelnuts (cobnuts). And there it was, that Burgundy note. So, roasted hazelnuts are not applicable but fresh nuts are. The PV had this quality. A superb wine from a good vintage.