A dear friend and fellow wine nut recently wrote a short yet interesting piece on Burgundy, and I myself have been wanting to do the same for quite some time. As he says though it is a verible minefield, so where do I start? And so here I go. One of the wine clubs I attend recently held their AGM followed by an incredible Burgundy tasting. I have been involved in the trade for many years and know some producers, but not all. For choosing your bottle of Burgundy this is very important.
A note, when the owner of a vineyard in Burgundy dies, the vineyard is divided equally among the family, which over time has meant some plots in Burgundy are incredibly small, with some only owning a row or two. This has subsequently led to the growth of négociants, cooperatives and domaines (family owned wineries).
Anyway, this year the Dipsos (wine club for WSET diploma students & graduates) managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat and held a vertical tasting of one of the most coveted domaines in Burgundy: Domaine Anne Gros Clos de Vougeot Le Grand Maupertui (0.93 hectares in a single block). So rare is it to find a bottle in this country that the importer himself has, at times over the years, only been allotted six bottles, that’s six bottles for the entire country, so as you can imagine I was eager to see if all the hype was worth it.
We started with the 2000, which according to the importer (Conor Richardson, Burgundy Direct), was the weakest out of the ten we had. The nose was incredible, the palate was beautiful, so if this was the weakest then it was definitely going to be one incredible tasting. Each vintage was amazing and so completely different from the others, but with one common thread; all were elegant with great body and acidity. Meaning they could each be enjoyed now but equally they still had time left, such as the 1999 which was a stunner and had so much time left, but was a pure joy to taste.
Burgundy does seem to be coming back into fashion again and I would encourage you to grab a bottle next time you are in your local wine shop. Ask a staff member for advice as most will have tasted most of the wines they stock, so they can guide you through the winding and confusing road that is Burgundy.
Here are three I tried and adored:
Clos Vougeot Gros 2001
A truly beautiful nose, with a slightly seductive quality to it, there are some wonderful autumnal characteristics of bramble fruits such as blackberries & wild strawberries. Add a touch of damp vegetal aromas with leather and oak with a flicker of spice this nose is one that will romance you.
The silky smooth body combined with an excellent structure shows the true quality of this wine. Add the aromas with some overripe damsons, lightly toasted nuts and a wild earthy character giving a slightly meaty feel to what is a delicate wine with a smooth mineral finish.
This wine is drinking wonderfully right now but still has time.
Clos Vougeot Gros 1999
I actually wrote down ‘wow’ for the nose. It has such an enticing aroma with quite a bit of youth to it. The nose is complex with aromas of spice, red liquorice, oak, star anise, toffee and dry autumn leaves. Add some damp forest floor and some tea spice, you have one fantastic nose.
This wine has a lovely smooth body and a slightly quizzical flavor as there really is so much here determining each flavour is tricky. It is a streamlined wine with all the aromas from the nose gliding onto the palate along with some hints of leather. The tannin grips but dissipates quickly leaving you with the vegetal fruits which the high acidity lifts up beautifully.
Truly an intriguing wine that surprisingly has quite a lot of time left.
Domaine Anne Gros 2005
This wine has a fantastic nose with fruity, floral aromas such as red berries and violets. It also has a earthy vegetal aroma along with a leather undertone. The longer this wine is open the more enticing it becomes.
There is a clean, soft freshness to the body of this outstanding wine which has harmonious flavours of wild raspberries, strawberries and hints of figs. This wine is still so young and vibrant with a beautiful floral, fruity and nutty length.
Another fantastic example of Pinot Noir from this domain which can be enjoyed now but has so much potential to grow and become spectacular.
Conor Richardson has been importing amazing wines from Burgundy for the last 25 years and has imported vintages of Burgundy from 1985 to date. Add his annual trips to Burgundy to asses the wines he brings into Ireland and you can be sure whatever you buy will be fantastic. Check out his website www.burgundydirect.ie