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Burgundy en primeur 2013 Berry Brothers & Rudd Tasting

En primeur season is upon us again. BBR host one of the most comprehensive Burgundy tastings which I recently attended with wine brother & Burg aficionado Stuart Grostern.  Stuart’s palate & knowledge of the region is fine & deep so we are delighted to share his detailed tasting notes here as contributing editor. Burgundy Harvest

Tasting notes from the Burgundy 2013 en primeur hosted by Berry Bros & Rudd (BBR), held at One Great George last week Tuesday Jan 13th.

Quite a range of wines on taste, and I arrived early enough to partake in many of the grand cru reds. In summary, the tasting really turned out to be very pleasant, maybe it was a fruit day in the biodynamic calendar, or maybe these wines are just tasting great at this stage. Either way, the vintage is very beautiful and characteristic of place.

For the reds, wines showed beautiful perfume that took you quite immediately to their places of origin. Tannins were fine, with great acidity, ripe fruits, few green flavours and little over extraction. Most of the wines were mid to lighter weight in the villages and premier crus, and concentration is good in places. The Grand Crus showed even more character but in line with expectation, were a little more closed and less forthcoming.

In white, more powerful ripe and concentrated wines have been made, and they felt more like 2010 whereas reds reminded me more of 2007 but with greater fruit. Everything I tasted in white had ripe fruit, strong acidity and varying degrees of concentration that became more pronounced the better the site. On the whole, the whites take this vintage over the reds for depth, concentration and probably relative ageability (meaning the whites will age longer for whites than the reds) but for pure charm and for medium term drinkability, the reds are lovely and many will reward 5 years in cellar. Vosne and Chambolle are the standout appelations in the Cote de Nuits for me. DSC00980

My one complaint is prices but then again, this was not a big vintage. However, despite a strengthening GBP against the Euro, prices are up in the premier and grand cru wines. Villages wines are on par if slightly down year on year. You have to wonder why you would want to buy this vintage in any quantity at the premiers and GC levels given average landed price to consumers for minimum 6 bottles is £50-£70 per bottle for premiers and anything from £80 upwards for GCs?

Here’s the list of wines tasted on the night (42 in total). Generally, my ratings describe nose in first sentence, followed by taste starting with fruit, acidity, tannins, balance, and length. I have arranged by appellation below, (generally) north to south for white, and south to north for reds. Ratings are Good (G), Very Good (VG), Very Very Good (VVG) and Excellent (E) – not very scientific but reflect the overall experience of each from a small tasting pour (with a couple of exceptions where I poured myself). Tasting conducted over the course of 2.5 hours.


Dominique Lafon, Bourgogne Blanc Smoky, not showing a lot of fruit. Nothing special. G  

Jean-Phillippe Fichet, Bourgogne Blance Vielles Vignes Heard a lot of people talking about Fichet wines well before I got there. I found out why. Smoky, lemony nose. Super concentrated fruit with honey and mineral notes. Great concentration and depth. VVG

Sylvain Loichet, Ladoix, Les Grechons 1er Cru Apple and mandarin nose, unusual. Good lemon fruit attack and big acidity, medium concentration. VG

Dominique Lafon, Meursault Smoky, sweet lemon nose. Medium weight, good intensity of lemony fruit and high acidity. Very persistent. VG

Jean-Yves Devevey, Meursault Les Vireuils Chalky sweet lemon nose. Sweet fruit, mid weight. Good concentration balanced by acidity. Good length. VG

Bouchard Pere et fils Meursault Les Perrieres 1er cru Green apple, but otherwise closed nose. Intense lemon and mineral with great acidity, concentrated sweet fruit and finish, just hinting about what’s underneath. Very impressive. E     (I bought 6)

Jean-Phillippe Fichet, Meursault Les Gruyaches Super smoky nose, a little unyielding. Very tight, great acidity, very concentrated but hard to taste. Very very long. Wow but not very pleasurable. On feeling, this is VVG.

Jean-Phillippe Fichet Meursault Les Tessons Sulfuric and woody and mineral nose, very intense, a bit gluey and quite typical from the many times I’ve tasted Tessons from other makers. Reassuring. Super concentrated fruit, ripe apples, mineral with a very very long finish. Very impressive. E  

Michel Bouzereau &fils Meursault Les Perrieres 1er cru Lovely nose, light yet concentrated. Acidity very apparent, good concentration but not intense. Very balanced. VG

Patrick Javillier Meursault Les Tillets Subdued nose of lemon and apples. Good acidity and intensity, very nice balance. Good depth and concentration with mineral finish. VVG

Patrick Javillier Meursault Tete de Murger Closed nose, unyielding. Concentrated full mouthful with puckering level of acidity, hints of honey. A full plush, silky wine, very balanced and very long. E

Antoine Jobard Meursault Les Poruzots 1er Cru Big smoky charred nose with lifted white flowers. Very tart acidity dominated at this stage so impossible to taste. VG or better?

Jean-Yves Devevey, Chassagne Montrachet Richer fatter fruit nose, lemon and honey. Tart lemon, high acidity but not very sweet and a little hot. Lingering finish. G

Jean-Noel Gagnard, Chassagne Montrachet le Cailleret 1er cru Pretty white flowers and stone fruit, vanilla and light passion fruit nose. Great fruit concentration, mandarin, apply. Really long. VVG

Chateau de Puligny Montrachet Puligny Montrachet Les Folatieres 1er cru Sweet lemon, pure mineral and whiteflower nose. Intense linear lemon fruit, concentrated, great acidity and balance, great elegance. E

Domaine de Montille Puligny Montrachet Les Caillerets 1er cru Lemony fruity nose with mineral. Very intense, tart apple and lemon, mineral and very concentrated. VVG

Domaine de la Vougeraie Clos Blanc de Vougeot 1er cr An unusual offering which I’ve tried in the past, a white from the Cote de Nuits made from very old vines. Sweet fruit, lemon and mineral nose. Wonderful concentrated fruit, very deep but also achieving great balance and a lightness. VVG


Comte Armand, Volnay Intense floral nose, reminiscent of Barolo including roses and violets. Wonderful balance, mid weight with dark fruit character and good length. VVG

Domaine de Montille, Volnay Taillepieds 1er cru Repressed fruit, cinnamon and pepper nose. Slightly harsh tannins masking fruit. Hard to taste. Not sure.

Benjamin Leroux Volnay Clos de la Cave des Ducs 1er cru Interesting nose, definitely Volnay perfume with Pommard fruit and some animal essence. Mid weight palate, black fruit, taut acidity and good concentration. Good length. VG  

Comte Armand, Pommard Clos des Epeneaux 1er cru Dark fruit nose, violets, animal. Strong dark fruit intensity but quite closed. Dryish tannins but good intensity and concentration accompanying the tannins. Long. VVG

Domaine de la Vougeraie Nuits St Georges Clos de Thorey 1er cru Animal, strawberries, spices, vanilla, slightly confected. Lovely lifted fresh sweet cherry fruit, not overly complex but good balance and length. VG JF

Mugnier, Nuits St Georges Clos de la Marechale 1er cru Strong black liquorice and vanilla nose. Dark fruit showing, slightly overripe, or maybe overextracted. Tannins rough. Very concentrated. OK but not to my taste at this stage.

Domaine Jean Grivot Nuits St Georges Les Pruliers 1er cru Lovely perfumed nose of strawberry and roses. Very tannic, slightly harsh but then softened. Good core of fruit, with a medium finish. VG

Domaine AF Gros Vosne Romanee Aux Reas Great perfume, very Vosne with tea, rose, and spices. Very characteristic. Sweet lifted fruit. Mid weight. Lovely and complex already. Beautiful. VVG

Domaine AF Gros Vosne Romanee Maizieres Darker fruit here, savoury, with tea, almost bloody. Tart dark cherry fruit. Good persistence with tannins in check. Very long. E

Jean-Luc & Eric Burguet Vosne Romanee Les Rouges 1er cru Ripe dark fruit, a little jammy and spice nose. Dark, tart but ripe fruit. Refined tannins. Super concentrated, nice persistence and medium length. VG

Domaine Lamarche Vosne Romanee Les Chaumes 1er cru Slight cola, spice, vivid cherry nose. Sweet fruit, vanilla, with intense acidity and very tough tannins. Very intense wine with sour cherry dominant. A lot there. Good length. VVG

Domaine Lamarche Echezeaux grand cru Majestic nose of dark fruit, perfumed roses and plums, tending to black currant. Dark fruit with high acidity, tannins already integrated. Growing intensity in this wine, very balanced with excellent concentration. VVG

Maison Roche de Bellene, Echezeaux grand cru Concentrated grape juice nose, perfumed blackberry and darker alcoholic fruit in abundance. Very balanced, fruit overwhelming acidity but mid palate a little hollow. Medium bodied and length. VG

Domaine Lamarche La Grand Rue grand cru Beguiling nose, super perfumed, the essence of beauty and elegance defined. Very ripe fruit (too ripe?) with blackcurrants and dark cherry. Great balance. Very long and persistent. Very special. E

Domaine Jean Grivot Clos de Vougeot grand cru Dark fruit nose with animal scents. Cherry fruit, with a good core of concentrated materials, quite deep with a long finish. VG

Domaine de la Vougeraie Clos de Vougeot grand cru Very sulfuric nose, with dark cherry and kirsch nose. Sweet brambly fruit but quite closed. Some banana too. Dryish tannins with a darker fruit finish. Good length. VG

Domaine AF Gros Chambolle Musigny Quite dark for a Chambolle. Sulfur and sweet confected strawberry nose, a lovely perfume. Sweet ripe lifted fruit. Very balanced. VVG  

Domaine Michele and Patrice Rion Chambolle Musigny Les Cras 1er cru Beautiful floral nose, light strawberry essence. Sweet cherry, good persistence without heaviness leaving a slight bitter aftertaste. Lovely overall and quite complex. VVG  

Ghislaine Barthod Chambolle Musigny Exotic nose with spices and perfume. Slightly sour cherry, Asian spice, some peel character, light ethereal body with a medium finish. VVG  

Ghislaine Barthod Chambolle Musigny Les Baudes 1er cru Initial hint of horseradish (I’ve experienced this in her 2004 Chatelots), strawberry but not giving away much. Sweet strawberry fruit with raspberry. Intensely fresh with beaming acidity and integrated tannins. Quite intense wine. VVG  

Louis Boillot Gevrey Chambertin Assembled from 7 different parcels with average vine age of 60 years. Lovely dark cherry aromas, fresh and perfumed. Sweet cherry, almost lavish with very refined tannins, good acidity and balance. VVG

Louis Boillot Gevrey Chambertin Les Evocelles Dark and meaty with sandalwood nose. Cherry fruit, tart acidity, giving the cherry a sour edge. Bracing acidity, tannins good, a real mouthful. VG

 Dujac Fils & Pere Gevrey Chambertin Red cherry and cinnamon, with sandalwood nose. Cherry fruit, but woody. Mid weight with good concentration and medium length. G  

Jean-Luc & Eric Burguet Gevrey Chambertin Mes Favorites Lovely mid cherry and strawberry with great perfumed rich nose. Great nose. Fantastic balance of fruit, acidity and tannins. Quite closed but very good persistence into back of throat indicating there is a lot of matter here. Very good length. E  

Benjamin Leroux Gevrey Chamertin Les Champeaux Very perfumed for a Gevrey. Quite closed but dark fruit and grapey character. Tannins ripe and mid weight as well as concentration. Is this Gevrey? G

Stuart posts on the Wine Spectator forum as BirDungy

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Grand Cru and Premier Cru Burgundy tasting

Winter warmer burgundy and boeuf bourgignon. A fantastic evening hosted by Stuart Grostern.

Round 1:

  • Jean Chauvenet Nuits St Georges Les Damodes 1er Cru 2001
  • Jean Chauvenet Nuits St Georges Les Damodes 1er Cru 2002

The 2001 was a little oxidised, either a faulty bottle or past its best, the 2002 fresher.

Round 2:

The hearty bourgignon was served with a Louis Jadot premier cru Savigny les beaune les vergelesses. I’ve tried this yearly since what I thought was a disappointing start. This was beginning to open up and reveal the benefits of being patient, something I don’t possess in abundance, as Kiran kept reminding me!

Round 3:

  • AC Bourgogne Olivier Leflaive with a premier and grand cru
  • Drouhin-Laroze Chappelle Chambertins Grand Cru 2002
  • Nicolas Potel, Clos de la Roche, Grand Cru 2003
  • Hubert de Montille Pommard Les Pezerolles 1er Cru 2003
  • Ghislaine Barthod Chambolles Musigny les Chatelots 1er Cru 2004.

For me, this evening demonstrated the unpredictability of burgundy. You may have something knockout with an animalistic almost hormonal quality you can’t put in words. It may be fresh, fruity, raspberry, black cherry. It may be pure horseradish or tinned asparagus. Mushrooms/earth,compost, wet mouldy cloths, moss.

I suppose that’s the beauty of it .

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Farr Vintners Christmas tasting

Held at the rather grand Vintners Hall on Upper Thames St, this was a great tasting with over 80 wines on show being served by some great winemakers, including Antony Barton of Leoville Barton and Jean-Charles Cazes of Lynch Bages.

Best wine of the evening was either Krug 1998 (not usually a big champagne fan, but this is extraordinarily complex and delicious), or Lynch Bages 2000, which had a heady nose of wood, bakery and sweet fruit, and followed through with a concentrated, complexity and real lasting depth (sadly £1250 IB).

Disappointments for me were Palmer twofold, as the Alter Ego 2007 and 2002 were light and thin, and not nearly as good as the 2008s I tried at the April UCG tasting, where they so impressed me. And by the time I got to the table someone had nicked the last bottle of 1996, which others said was great!

Also the Pichon Lalande 2005, 2004 and 2001 were all a bit insubstantial (thin according to the lady I was standing next to). The 2001 was best, so perhaps they need time to develop?

All the Leoville Barton and Langoa Barton impressed me, including both 2007s at £340 and £280 in bond (IB) respectively, confirming the oft repeated statement that Mr. Barton manages fantastically high consistent quality. I would go for the 2001 Langoa at £275 IB, which was earthy and mushroomy with plenty of fruit and tannin, or the 2004 Leoville at £395 IB, which was tight, lots of cassis and should develop over many years.

Not only was the Lynch Bages great, but so was the Les Ormes de Pez 2003 and 2005 at £220 and £240. I overheard a group of gents busy telling Jean Charles what great value his wines were and had to step in and put a stop to it.

The CNDP Dom de Senechaux 2007 they own was also lovely, full of sweet sticky figs and long, delicious. But a slight fear it might be a bit one-dimensional, or perhaps just young from a great vintage.

I was impressed by the Verget white burgundies, having recently had a great trip there sampling lots of good wine. I have been feeling a bit stung by the general level of prices and the generally poor 2007 reds.

The various Chablis 1er Crus from £135-£195 were all of great quality, tight minerally and with depth. For me ‘Vaillons’ and Fourchaume VV de Vaulorens’ were the most tasty. But I would and may go for the Meursault ‘Tillets’ at £210 IB, which was tight, fresh, stone fruits with a light woody touch and core of minerals. I’d be interested to find out how it might age.

Top value for early drinking (this time confirming Adam’s general view) were the new world wines:

Kumeu River Estate and Hunting Hill Chardonnays at £130 and £150. Made to develop over 2-6 years. Exciting, oaky but totally balanced, and simply delicious.

Craggy Range, the Merlot Cab Te Kahu at £120 IB was gorgeous and will apparently age well (no chance of that at my house as it will be polished off pronto). The Merlot Cab Franc Sophia at £190 was also ***+ wine, and the Syrah Le Sol at £295 IB (so a £30 a bottle wine) was so refined and balanced that it concealed its 14% alcohol completely. It’s the heaviness of a lot of NW wines that I find hard to enjoy.

The mystery wine a Phelan Segur 2005 at £300 as case was also very good indeed.

More info from Farr Vintners.

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Burgundy trip September 2009

Recovered from fantastic tour of Burgundy. Highlights were:

  • last day of the harvest
  • great parties in the vineyards
  • Domaines Varoilles older wines in Gevrey Chambertin
  • lovely sensuous wines of Oliver Leflaive in Puligny Montrachet
  • food (not service) at Ma Cuisine