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.
I was trying to explain to a colleague why I prefer wine to spirits and cocktails. The two aspects of wines which I find most interesting are subtlety of flavours and its evolving quality. For me, as nice as a cocktail is on first tasting, I think that’s it, I understand it and like it – or not – but it will be the same for the next sip. Spirits likewise but I am ignorant of these drinks and recognise the gin market is now so popular that there must be more to it than I’m realising. Whilst uninteresting wine is wine that never changes or has no depth and subtleties, good wine changes in bottle and glass making the next taste different to the previous one. This dynamic quality compels me to pay attention and think about what I’m experiencing.
Puligny-Montrachet’s subtle and changeable qualities were in very much evidence in Sauzet’s PM 1er cru Champ Chanet 2011. The lemon colour, tinged with very pale green hinted at acidity and freshness and the nose continued that theme. Melons and matchsticks were the immediate impressions but that moved to a slight oakiness the longer it sat in the glass, whilst it still maintained its citrus appeal.
The layers of flavour came through in the palate. Fresh, soft lemons, very slight oak with good length this was a wine worth sipping. The overall impressions were of refinement, delicacy and balance – three lovely qualities.
[Richard – the fourth of the (increasingly expensive) bottles from a mixed Sauzet case. All the others have been blogged. Of the four I was least impressed by this one. Good but not great, rather forward with just a bit too much ripeness for me.]
Another pre-Christmas blind tasting held at No 14.
Colour: light ruby, medium alcohol, brick red rim.
Nose: bold, smoky, ‘forest floor’, sweet red fruits, some vegetal notes.
Palate: cherry/raspberry reds, long, soft tannins, savoury, light in weight. Ready for drinking.
The pinot noir qualities were obvious on the nose and yet not so dominant on the palate. I plumped for French burgundy and, because of its softness, ventured Beaune rather than further north. It was a well-made wine, very pleasurable to drink on its own; I think care would be needed with the accompanying food because of its delicacy.
This was Beaune 1er cru Les Teuron 2009 (Dmne. Gay)
A pleasure to drink – happy New Year.
[Richard: another from Yapp, around £30. Well made with some character. Sutton’s own ‘Mr Burgundy’ spot on with the identification.]