During the Terroirs & Signatures de Bourgogne Tasting in Houston last week, local wine trade and media professionals had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the wines of Burgundy. The day started with a seminar on the age ability of Burgundy wines from less than perfect vintages led by BIVB Marketing and Communication Chairman, Francois Labet and Jay Youmans, Master of Wine.
Jay Youmans led the tasting while Francois Labet shared his first hand experiences making wine during the years from which the chosen wines came.
2004 was a more normal year with good ripening due to good weather prior to harvest. It was a better year for whites in the Maconnais, while most whites from this year have either peaked or are nearing that point; there are still some good ones to be found.
- 2004 Chateau de Beauregard Pouilly-Fuisse, Vers Pouilly – Still fruity with lemon citrus, nutty with mushroom. Balanced, round, long rich smoky finish.
1998 had heavy early rain but finished dry and it had higher than normal yields for whites which can lead to lesser quality. Many white wines have reached their peak from this vintage as it is 16 years old but some vineyards produced wines that are still evolving in surprising ways. We tasted two examples of this, one from the north and one from the south, each interesting in completely different ways with no loss of quality.
- 1998 Domaine Trouillet Pouilly-Fuisse, Aux Chailloux- fresh aromas of yellow apple with honey, surprisingly young tasting, crisp, long finish.
- 1998 Domaine Louis Moreau Chablis 1er Cru, Les Fourneaux- Very evolved, mushroom, citrus, clean, nutty finish.
2003 was hot and sunny leading to rich, ripe wines with lower than normal acidity, atypical for Chablis in particular. Considered more of a drink now vintage at its time, it is still fresh and interesting over 10 years later.
- 2003 Domaine Alain Geoffroy Chablis 1er Cru, Fourchaume- Clean, ripe peach aromas and flavors, white pepper and mineral finish.
The Reds from the Handpicked Selection of Old Vintages
- 2006 Maison Albert Bichot Gevrey-Chambertin, Les Murots- this wine breaks the rules of the vintage as it was very structured, very masculine with “more shoulders” per Jay. Rich berry flavor, black tea and a long finish.
- 2005 Domaine des Remparts Irancy, Les Cailles- black potting soil, cherries and minerality.
At ten years old, the 2004 red wines of Burgundy are considered ready to drink now. This more normal vintage has crafted very aromatic and balanced wines. Francois called it a “grower’s vintage”.
- 2004 Domaine Henri de Villamont Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru, Les Baudes- Dried fruit with a slight cured meat nuance, interesting, less ripe and more tannic than the others. Of this wine, Jay said that “texturally there is more there”. Francois said this wine seemed to be aging more quickly and cited August hail damage to the grapes.
- 2004 Domaine Georges Lignier Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru, Les Combottes- Red berries and baking spice, smooth finish.
2003 was an early harvest after a hot year and it created a unique vintage of red wine. Fuller bodied with lower acidity, the wines are aging surprisingly well.
- 2003 Domaine Capitain-Gagnerot Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru, Les Charnieres- no notes
- 2003 Chateau de Santenay Beaune 1er Cru, Clos du Roi- Raspberry, minerals, smooth finish.
- 2003 Domaine Meo-Camuzet Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru, Boudots- Strawberry, cherry and black tea with a long finish.
2002 was a fantastic year which created great Pinot Noir wine that is showing well now according to Jay Youmans. It was very dry with a cool summer and had ideal conditions at harvest. The wines we tasted from this year were some of my favorites. Francois says these wines are perfect for aging or enjoying now.
- 2002 Domaine Chanson Beaune 1er Cru, Clos des Feves, Monopole- Sweet, ripe strawberry aroma and rich flavor, supple, bit of earth and mineral, long finish. Upon tasting, Francois Labet remarked that it was “drinking marvelously with huge livability” and the group consensus at my table was that it was “difficult to spit.”
- 2002 Maison Louis Jadot Santenay, Clos de Malte- smooth, red berries, very drinkable.
- 2002 Domaine Parent Pommard 1er Cru, Les Epenots- fresh cherries, more tannic structure but still easy drinking.
2001 brought a mix of conditions, a cool frosty spring with a wet summer followed by a heat wave leading to a longer harvest. The grapes were in good condition and the wines created were balanced and structured with a range of aromas.
- 2001 Domaine Rene LeClerc Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru, Combe aux Moines-Cherry, black tea and baking spice.
- 2001 Maison Lou Dumont Corton Grand Cru- “power, richness and strength mellowed by age” per Francois Labet. Balanced structure, cherries and mint.
1999 was an ideal year though slightly warmer than normal which led to a higher volume year. It also helped to create very rich and aromatic wines.
- 1999 Jean-Philippe Marchand Gevrey-Chambertin, Vieilles Vignes- Fresh red cherries and berries, leather and spice. Ripe and structured. Jay felt it was fully mature now and Francois felt it could still go on to be even more. I would choose to have it both now and later.
1998 brought heavy rains and hail to some areas but a dry September led to a successful harvest.
- 1998 Domaine Taupenot-Merme Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru- Surprisingly fruity and tannic. Pronounced aromas and flavors of black cherry with leather and spice, smooth finish. Francois Labet says that it isn’t quite ready to drink now despite its 16 years but our table felt it could easily be enjoyed.
The BIVB certainly showcased the age ability of the wines of Bourgogne with this seminar and tasting. We experienced some fantastic older Burgundies and learned that you shouldn’t be afraid to buy a bottle with some age even from a less than perfect vintage. Jay summed it up with this final thought, the wine of Burgundy “doesn’t need to age to be good but you are rewarded if you wait.”
related post: Last Month's Chablis Tasting in Houston