Glad to be up at 10am for a Burgundy seminar organized by Sopexa Singapore and Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne (BIVB) in conjunction with Wine For Asia. Glasses sponsored by Lucaris which is the premium crystal-made line from Ocean Glass. I admit I’ve never heard of it prior to this but the quality is pretty good and priced very competitively.
The seminar was hosted by Lee Chee Wee and Thomas Ling, both Official Burgundy Wine Instructors accredited by BIVB. Mr Lee has definitely been in the wine scene in Singapore for a while, being in various distributors here while Mr Ling is from Malaysia and is a consultant in the F&B industry.
The speakers knew their stuff and the wines for tasting did, as a whole, express the terroir of Burgundy, not just from Côte d’Or but from Côte Chalonnaise, Mâconnais and Chablis as well.
An interesting thought came to me as the speakers were asking the attendees on how we would describe the wines. Usually when I think of tasting notes, I always think of Paul S. A personal friend of mine and someone I respect in the amateur wine circle here (which undoubtedly can be more professional than the trade circle), he is rather well known for his passionate notes posted in CellarTracker (CT).
Incidentally, I was looking through his CT page recently and noticed that he has outdid even himself with one of his latest tasting note on the 2000 Nicolas Potel Romanée St. Vivant. Clocking in at 396 words, it definitely qualifies as one of his magna opera (I just discovered that this is the plural of magnum opus):
“… like a young girl caught in the moment between slightly surly, awkward adolescence and beautiful mature womanhood.” – Paul S
Opened for about 45 minutes before I got to it, this kept evolving in the glass, so that it divided opinions amongst those of us who tasted it at different times. I thought it was excellent though, a wine that was both impressive and interesting – a real Grand Cru experience. It had a very expressive nose for a start. Rather overly woody at first, but this subsided with time and melded into a deep, rich, seductive melange of dark cherry and blackberry aromas, lush undergrowth notes lined with seams of metallic mineral, doses of Vosne wood spice and vine stems and, finally, a lovely perfumy waft of fresh cut flowers. Lovely, conplex stuff. There was just a hit of glycerol in there somewhere, but barely enough to disturb the overall package. After that bouquet, the palate came across as still being very young and slightly awkward on first blush. There was clearly Grand Cru depth and length, and this was wed to surprisingly fresh, almost zippy acidity that caused the wine to almost dance across the mouth with a lovely amount of energy. Very surprising for a 2000 on that count. This was accompanied by some wonderfully delicious, rather pure flavours of dark cherries and strawberries that tumbled out of the glass on the attack and layered the midpalate with a soild show of depth. for all that though, I could not get past the feeling that there was just so much hidden behind that, just waiting for time to draw out. Not to say that this was exceptionally tight or unyielding – there was certainly complexity even now, with little bits of orange peel, smoky wood spice, earth, mineral and flowers floating like a halo around the core of more pirmary fruit, all making for an absolutely pleasurable drink. It was just that there was something a bit gawky and shy behind that, like a young girl caught in the moment between slightly surly, awkward adolescence and beautiful mature womanhood. All in all though, this was a lovely wine, with each sip calling out for another – delicious enough so that I could not keep my hands off the glass. No harm drinking it now I would say, but it was such a nice bottle that it really deserves a lot more time in the cellar – a decade or so before peak maybe.
Even more incidentally, this wine has been tasted by several other luminaries of the international (and local) wine circle including bloggers like Keith Levenberg and Richard Jennings, trade enthusiasts like Grape Juice, and professional reviewers like Allen Meadows and Stephen Tanzer. I find it interesting to compare their styles of writing as they encompass the majority of tasting note styles.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Richard Jennings likes to keep things factual and concise without excess fat. However, it almost impossible to know whether he actually likes the wine, other than from the score itself. The style is rather similar to Jancis Robinson except that she tends to be cryptic at times.
Medium, slightly bricking, cherry red color with clear meniscus; brett, cinnamon, iron and tart red fruit nose; tart red fruit, brett, cinnamon and strawberry palate with green notes; medium finish
Keith Levenberg, meanwhile, tends to be more figurative, though this is an unusually concise one from him:
A beauty. Supple and seamless, the kind of wine that seems to pamper the palate. And very interesting to compare to the DRC since this one actually shows better today.
Grape Juice interestingly ends his notes with a buy (or maybe, or not) recommendation though more recently he seems to have moved to the traditional score based rating:
This is simply stunning and steal the show among all the red wine. 2notches up compare to the Echezeaux. While the nose is not as expressive as the Echezeaux, it show better depth. Broad, wide nose of seductive VR spices- anise, cloves, fragrance with rich dark Pinot fruits core that is creamy, and polished. The refreshing palate show that this is a wine that flirt with finesse and harmony. Super creamy mouth feel with layer and layer of lush, sweet dark Pinot fruits that is so pure and charming along with seductive, refined VR spices and violet that quickly fill up the mouth. The polished structure is buried under the silky fine tannin, fine acid spine and huge dry extract which resulted in very smooth mouth feel, elegance texture that flow on to the persistent long finishing with spices and mineral nuances. A top notch RSV. Buy – Yes.
Allen Meadows’ is a good balance between factual and figurative. He likes to use “zen” or “wow” to describe exceptional wines. The last sentence of his notes is usually a kicker, a summary which kind of makes the decision for you:
“… lacks the requisite density to be great.” – Meadows
Definite new oak notes merge with black, spicy, elegant fruit and wonderfully rich flavors. There is not a lot of structure here however and though this is very complex, rich and seductive, even sexy, I would be inclined to enjoy this for its youthful charms, rather than put it in the cellar and forget about it. There is much to admire about this wine and it’s classy in its own way but ultimately, it lacks the requisite density to be great.
Finally, Stephen Tanzer definitely more towards factual, often with some background information:
Ruby-red. Cool, noble aromas of black raspberry, minerals, violet, bitter chocolate and coffee. Dense and sweet but vibrant, with a penetrating minerality framing and extending the concentrated flavors. Finishes very long and juicy, with fine tannins and a strong note of sweet oak. Like Bonnes-Mares, this is always a complete wine, says Potel, and never really dominated by the character of the vintage. These top crus from the Cote de Nuits show more pristine flavors than most of Potel cuvees from the Cotes de Beaune.
Other than those, there’s also the Droplets of God style where imagery describes the wine. The most famous example being 2001 Château Mont Perat being imagined as a performance by the English rock group Queen. But thus far, I have not seen a full-blown version of such tasting note anywhere else. This is definitely the most entertaining to read, though might not be useful for making a decision.
So which is the style you like most and what is your own style of writing?
For comparison, here are my notes for the event:
- 2007 La Chablisienne Chablis 1er Cru Vaulorent – France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru
Softly perfumed nose reminiscent of a Puligny. The palate meanwhile, was clearly Chablis and surprisingly ripe for the vintage. Good intensity coupled with high acidity and ending with a saline finish. Despite the ripeness this still had precision though the minerality was at the background. Quite enjoyable. (86 pts.)
La Chablisiènne is actually a large cooperative marketing up to 33% of all Chablis production. The Vaulorent lieux-dit is a section of the Fourchaume Premier Cru which directly abuts the Grand Cru climat of Les Preuses, hence it is no surprise that it was rather good. This particular wine was not really a crowd-pleaser at the event due to its rather high acidity, giving the impression of leanness.
One thing that I did pick up from this seminar is that technically there is only one Grand Cru in Chablis as the AOC is just Chablis Grand Cru. This is similar to Corton where there is also a single AOC and multiple climats within it. So just as one can find a wine labelled Corton Grand Cru (made from a blend of different climats within), one can technically also find a Chablis Grand Cru label, rather than Les Clos, Les Preuses, etc., though I’ve never seen it done before. Actually if you follow on with this technical argument, then there’s only one Premier Cru in Gevrey, Vosne, etc.
- 2008 Eric Forest Pouilly-Fuissé Les Crays – France, Burgundy, Mâconnais, Pouilly-Fuissé
Oaky nose and rather fruit-forward. Juicy intense lemons on the palate laced liberally with oak. Good freshness but short finish. Made in a crowd-pleasing style. (83 pts.)
- 2008 Domaine Tupinier-Bautista Mercurey 1er Cru En Sazenay – France, Burgundy, Côte Chalonnaise, Mercurey 1er Cru
Lemony, peach and vegetal on the nose. Decent intensity on the palate but short finish. A rather simple juice. (83 pts.)
There are both red and white versions of Sazenay chez Tupinier-Bautista.
- 2008 Bouchard Père et Fils Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Champs-Gain – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru
Rather restrained at the moment. Vigorous swirling brought out the Puligny aromas coupled with notes of honey. Very mouth-filling on the palate. Medium-bodied with staining intensity. Quite oaky but no doubt will be absorbed by the extract in time. Very good but not particularly distinguished. (86 pts.)
Champs-Gain is located very high up on the slope of Puligny, around the altitude of St. Aubin.
- 2008 Domaine Theulot Juillot Mercurey 1er Cru Les Combins Côte Chalonnaise – France, Burgundy, Côte Chalonnaise, Mercurey 1er Cru
Definitely made in an Old World classic style. Smoky, red cherries and some pretty flowers on the nose. Rather simple on the palate but nicely balanced. Quite delicious! (85 pts.)
- 2009 Jean-Claude Boisset Beaune 1er Cru Les Grèves – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Beaune 1er Cru
Deep earthy nose. Dark fruit dominated. Ripe on the palate but not particularly seductive. Quite flabby giving the impression of little depth. Rather anonymous at the moment. (83 pts.)
Boisset might not be a common name among Burgundy drinkers here but they are one of the largest wine conglomerates in France and even listed on the stock exchange. Domaine de la Vougeraie is the Domaine part of the group and is definitely better known in this part of the world. The Maison part of the business is labelled as Jean-Claude Boisset. Several other traditional Domaines were acquired by them too in recent times such as Antonin Rodet, Jaffelin, Bouchard Ainé, etc.
- 2008 Domaine Chevalier Père et Fils Aloxe-Corton 1er Cru Les Valozières – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Aloxe-Corton 1er Cru
Alluring red-fruited nose leads to a pure and balanced palate with fresh acidity and lovely fruits. Not as austere as I expected from an Aloxe. An elegant and perhaps gentle, feminine wine with a decent finish. Lovely and definitely an impressive little wine. A wine of grace. The 2008 vintage at its best. (87 pts.)
Les Valozières lies directly beneath Corton-Bressandes. Not too sure why this Aloxe is as elegant as it is when typically they are austere and a little four-square. Jasper Morris noted that their strength is in the whites though there is only a Corton-Charlemagne, a Ladoix 1er and a Ladoix villages.
- 2007 René Cacheux et Fils Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru
Deep nose and barest hint of spices. Austere, acidic and very lean. Tastes a bit diluted. Not sure whether this will flesh out with age. Relatively long finish though. Rather disappointing for a Les Suchots. (85 pts.)
A relatively obscure Domaine in the international market. René is the brother of Jacques Cacheux and now both Domaines are run by the next generation.