Following on from a few other tastings (2010 Whites, 2001 Grand Cru & 2003 1er Cru reds, 2008 Whites) with this same group we found ourselves in front of a selection of 2004’s. Now reputation would have you believe that the whites are really pretty exciting and the reds a weak vintage, may be the weakest since 1997 or 1994 depending on your view of the freaky 2003’s.

The format was a good one with the whole tasting co-ordinated and hosted by Mr Laing. We did the whites pre-dinner and a couple of reds then the remainder of the reds with a good dinner at Launceston place. There were some very amusing comments about some of the wines, some repeatable and several not!

2004 Mâcon Verzé, Domaines Leflaive
In theory a humble start but an interesting one as this is the very first vintage of Macon Verze from Anne-Claude. The nose was balanced and not showing the reduction it did in youth. It loosened up with time in the glass. The best approach would be nicely chilled. A good wine that has mellowed slightly beyond interest but is still balanced. 15
2004 Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru La Romanée, Fontaine-Gagnard
A dash of reduction. A lovely waxy texture after an expressive and slightly high-toned nose. Quite bold and showy with a little unctuousness. This just stops short of being “OTT” and is impressive for it. 17.5
2004 Puligny Montrachet 1er cru Clavoillon, Domaine Leflaive
Reduced a touch, good fruit with the gunsmoke, quite opulent and almost decadent on the nose…the palate didn’t quite follow it through, lacking a touch of class and being a little clumsy. I feel I’ve been a little harsh. 16.5
2004 Puligny Montrachet 1er cru Perrières, L. Carillon
Yeasty, decent, very old school, old oak in style, all about the texture. There is a slightly melony note. The palate is long and has some complexity. In many ways the opposite of the Clavoillon. 16
2004 Puligny Montrachet Les Enseignères, J-F. Coche-Dury
Quite mellow for Coche, I may be unfair in expecting a little more focus. There is though a citrus liveliness to the body of the wine and lots of energy and length. I think my only problem with this wine was that I expect so much from Coche, in short for a Lieu dit from anyone else I’d be heaping on the praise. Well received in the room. 18
2004 Meursault Tessons Clos de Mon Plaisir, G. Roulot
A little bit of brine on the nose, a tight and taut wine. I expected more of the 2004 whites to be like this. Very impressive. There was a grapefruit core with a long finish that had a very classical “proper” profile. Some people were less excited but I thought this had real class. 18.25
2004 Meursault 1er cru Poruzots, F. Jobard
Not pleasant, pencil-led, unbalanced mineral flavours. This wasn’t corked or obviously oxidised just not very nice. One taster suggested “it might be made from Parsnips”. 11
2004 Meursault 1er cru Charmes, Domaines des Comtes Lafon
2004 Meursault 1er cru Goutte d’Or, Domaine d’Auvenay
By substantial consensus one of the white highlights and a few peoples wine of the night. Shame that only 1200bts were made. Had a lovely reduced, gunsmoke nose with the weight that could only be Meursault. Opulent but persistent, generous but with no lack of focus. Exciting. 18-18.5.
The score is a cop out because I wouldn’t always want to drink this over the Roulot or Coche.
2004 Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru, L. Carillon
Nice mellowed nose, subdued but with balance, not exciting Grand Cru quality, gentle and slightly non-descript if perfectly decent. 16.5
2004 Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru, M. Colin
A little lemon merangue-ish. More volume in the way you would expect from , broad shoulders. Bold, unctuous and long. Lacks for a little refinement. 17.5
2004 Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, L. Jadot
Odd and disjointed. I thought it had a peaty Islay Whisky note (someone suggested “JD & Coke”). There was also a bruised apple yeasty note. May be not a great bottle. Not undrinkable but not pleasant. 12 (though judgement reserved)
2004 Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru, D. Bachelet
A Chunky chap. Pencil-led, good dark fruit, masculine. Has the cool vintage minerality you would expect with a little pine resin also. Not skinny but not over-extracted very herbal. I can’t help but feel a nod to the northern rhone here. Nice now. 17 
2004 Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru , A. Rousseau
Red fruit, lovely delicate nature, a dash of dryness but then a lovely finish. Drink soon I feel as the red fruit is attractive. So different to the Bachelet. 17
2004 Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru, C. Serafin
Nice clean nose, simple but good, a little cheesecloth whiff, very easy. Not very 2004 except for a slightly dry and hollow mid palate. Safe if a little non-descript. 16
2004 Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru, Dujac
A whiff of chlorine to start, dry and forced, grippy with too much winemaking. “Cheap brown bread”. A disappointment. 15
2004 Griotte-Chambertin Grand cru, L. Ponsot
A little but warm, high-toned with the smell of high acidity. Stewy and a little forced if not dry. Lacks purity. 15
2004 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru Clos St Jacques, A. Rousseau
Nice wine, very Rousseau – poised red fruit but with persistance, has good balance. Not lush and may be a tad lean to be anything but 2004 but a nice drink. 17
2004 Clos Vougeot Grand Cru, A. Hudelot-Noellat
Slightly gamey nose with degraded sweetness. At the same time some very good acidity. A good effort. 16.25
2004 Clos Vougeot Grand Cru, T. Liger-Belair
Ribena, bacon fat and frazzles. L;ush but shallow, the taste of dried blood also. The palate is a little hollow also. Odd wine, OTT in everyway, strikes me that it is a bit of a “throw everything at it and see what sticks”. 15
2004 Clos de la Roche VV Grand Cru, L. Ponsot 
Beef stock, Bovril. A little stewy, gamey with high acidity that sits over the wine not in it. Quite tannic, not that clean. 14.5
2004 Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru, N. Potel
“Cabbage and dirty rags” not a good bottle. No Score
2004 Bonnes-Mares  Grand Cru, de Vogüé
A good balanced and slightly elegant if muted nose, no faults but may be no excitement either. Overall a simple, understated and good wine but either needs time or just doesn’t have the ingredients needed. 16
2004 Musigny VV Grand Cru, de Vogüé
Poised red fruit, nice palate, good energy. Lifted and elegant, has very good balance and purity. Strange that this shows more than Bonnes Mares. 16.75-17
2004 Echézeaux Grand Cru, J. Grivot
Nice red fruit, poised and quite fine. A dash stringy but that lean freshness is no bad thing. Pure. 16.75-17
2004 Echézeaux Grand Cru, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti
By popular consensus the wine of the night(by a little distance in the reds). Escaped any 2004-ness. Really poised, delicious texture that combines some good fruit weight (75% red) with a little sweetness. Very good. 18-18.25
So what was the view on the 2004’s?
My feeling was that I expected more of the whites to be exciting. They were more consistent than the reds for sure, but there seemed to be two schools. Too lean or too voluptuous. On the reds I was not as disappointed as I feared (and to answer the question I nearly posed at the top I would buy 2004 over 2003) but clearly it was a vintage when the less you tried to “make” a wine the better. The lean red fruit and decent acidity can be a strength. I feel this is a weak vintage and in general terms I feel it lags, for red and white, a good point or two behind the 2007’s. It was a very good tasting and as ever no real surprise to see DRC, Rousseau, Roulot, Coche-Dury and d’Auvenay near the top.
Our host, kindly, then got 2 wines from his cellar, both a treat:
1996 Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Clos de Foret St Georges, Arlot (Magnum)
Served at the perfect temperature. Really delicious and without a harsh texture or acidity (which can happen in 1996). I was well beyond writing many notes at this stage but this was very impressive. 17.5-18
1966 Volnay 1er Cru Santenots, Collection Bellenum, Roche de Bellene
Truffle and mushrooms, a little savouriness on the palate but with good degraded sweetness and acidity. This is an old wine but the sweetness means that the sherry and Bovril flavours work well. 16-17

There were post tasting emails about the same thing next year with the 2005’s, now that will carry a weight of expectation for the reds and opulence for the whites…