This was an epic trip to Burgundy, unrepeatable I’d say. If it had a sponsor it might have been “Rennie”. The combination of wines, food, people and location was exceptional.

Wednesday 14th May
I actually missed the very start as the team – EW, EB, JW & FVDB – all got cracking the night before we left.

DINNER – Oxfordshire
Obviously I can’t supply tasting notes for wines when I wasn’t there but the wines as a point of record were cleverly chosen by our prime co-ordinator FDVB! 

Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevieres 2004, Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey (PYCM)

Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Caillerets 2006, PYCM
Griotte-Chambertin Grand Cru 1998, Ponsot
Chambertin 1998, Trapet

It sounds as though they all went down very well!

Thursday 15th May
A quick flight over the channel was nicely accompanied by Ruinart, Blanc de Blancs Halves – good if very youthful, creaminess on the top of white fruits. As soon as we landed our driver/fixer (Daniel, photo below) picked us up and straight off to lunch we went.

LUNCH – Le Chambolle, Chambolle-Musigny
Very good simple food and nice service all very relaxed. A list with younger good value vintages from many big names. A very enjoyable first meal to get everyone settled into the routine, the “banter” already in full flow this was going to be quite a trip. There was a slight feeling children on Christmas eve…

St.Aubin 1er Cru Charmois 2011, Mark Colin – the first of many good St.Aubins, lovely vibrancy but not without substance and great texture.

Chambolle-Musigny Villages 2009, Roumier – very good, dense fresh black fruits, good balance of opulence and refinement.

Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru 2008, Mugnier – featured high on my list of wines of the 
whole trip, uber-elegant, crisp red fruits but with structure there if effortlessly hidden. Delicious.

Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru 2008, Roumier – More depth and texture than the Mugnier at the expense of a little freshness, a different “shape” to the Mugnier. Promising.

Beaumes de Venise, good with the apple tart!

After lunch and en route to tasting at de Vogue we stopped off at both Bonnes Mares and at Musigny to have a nose around and get a feel for the terroir…so rare to be able to drink a wine then look at exactly where it was from.

TASTING – de Vogue
We were greeted by Francois Millet and tasted the 2013’s from barrel. They were at the pre-malo stage so a tricky tasting but there was real personality to the different Crus. The 2013’s were picked late – October 5th – with the entire crop in by the 13th October.

Chambolle-Musigny Villages 2013– Pure ruby colour and very clean bright cherry and crimson fruit, feminine but with real focus.

Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru 2013 – A bit deeper in colour, red fruits again though, raspberry and pomegranate, then on the palate more pungent darker fruits and some black pepper.

Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses 2013 (older oak) – Really cleanily persistent, very long, just four barrels, poise and focus to the cherry fruit. Impressive.

Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses 2013 (100% new oak) – Redder fruit with a sweeter attack but a drier palate, a darker colour, a little nutmeg, less energy.

Bonnes Mares Grand Cru 2013– A rounder shape and as Francois put it a “brother of Chambertin”. This has bigger shoulders and is darker, blueberries and cloves.

Musigny Vieilles Vignes 2013 – Very complex, delicious but at the same time very hard to define, quite a bit of grip and very very long, depth, impressive.

From De Vogue Daniel took us to drop our bags at Hotel Le Cep a good spot with everything you need and good for walking to any of the restaurants we had booked in Beaune. A couple of beers slipped down nicely while we waited for our table at dinner…

DINNER – Ma Cuisine, Beune
Good dinner, great list of epic depth, no corkage allowed (we tried!). There was a very funny moment when JW did see fit to return to a coke zero as it was not “full fat”!! The ceremony of JW trying to have a coke at the start of a few meals became a point of smirking from there on…

Meursault Villages 2007, Lafon– Citrus and some opulence, very “Lafon”, good elegance to match the richness, nice wine that pushed the Coche hard!

Meursault Villages 2007, Coche-Dury – Very refined but a dash less “Coche” than I might expect, a good showing and perfect to drink from now onwards.

Gevrey-Chambertin Villages 2010, Rousseau – Excitingly pure and good, a great vintage and a great producer, so much to like. The 2010’s are amazing in being very proper but at the same time gorgeous now.

Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos Saint Jacques 2006, Bruno Clair – A decent wine but not as exciting as what went before. The vintage is not one that I “go to” as it can be a 
little muddied, this was fine but slightly clumsy and lacked the drive it needed.

Beaune Clos du Roi 1959, Chanson– Some real sweetness, I liked this, very much alive and well, pepped up with something when it was made? Bovril edges and then a little mint and almost eucalyptus. Heather and spice. Long and not “browned off”.
Friday 16th May

Having resisted the red wine at breakfast and survived the rather taxing buffet layout we headed, promptly, up the road north to Gevrey-Chambertin… 

TASTING – Trapet
We were met by Mdme Christine Trapet a lovely, charming and energetic host. After a good tour around the cellars we had a tasting of four 2011’s.
Gevrey Chambertin Villages 2011– Elegantly red fruited with a backbone, I really liked this, has precision and makes me think of good Volnay with a darker fruit profile, can drink now.

Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Capita 2011– A combination of 3 different 1er Crus. A deeper darker fruit and will reward a few more years.

Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru 2011– Taughter, tighter and larger, lovely berry fruits but black, quite serious.

Chambertin Grand Cru 2011 – Silky richness, volume of darker fruits, mulberry fruits also. Splendid!
Having bid Trapet good bye we had a little time to drive to our next visit via Chambertin to have a look at the vineyard.

TASTING – Clos de Tart
Sylvain Pitiot was a great guide here at the Domaine he runs. The tour was fascinating from seeing the vineyards to the winemaking and onto the cellars and a tasting. The improvements here, over 10 years or so, are staggering. There are 23 separate plots that then make up 7 parcels for the final blend.

Clos de Tart Grand Cru 2013 (Parcel 1)– Very cherry fruited and precise with some apple like aromas (pre-malo).

Clos de Tart Grand Cru 2013 (Parcel 4)– Deeper more blackcurrant in fruit style.

Clos de Tart Grand Cru 2010 – From bottle this is absolutely splendid and very very refined but at the same time bold and with some force…I think a potentially very great wine. 

LUNCH – Restaurant Simon, Flagey-Echezeaux
A cracking restaurant. They took a little while to warm tyo us but once EB had visitied the chef and assured him he could have some Yquem they allowed us to do Yquem 1990 vs Yquem 1989…Foie Gras all round then!

Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos-St-Jean 2011, Amiot – I really liked this but sadly didn’t make any notes, it had a green apple acidity from memory.

Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru 2008, Groffier – This was a more “made” wine that either of the Grand Cru 2008’s at Le Chambolle a little forced and slightly disappointing.

Yquem 1989 – Superb, has the richness, opulence and intensity you expect but with real drive and definition.

Yquem 1990 – A more rancio style and more developed, very good but not as poised as the 1989, more of a tarte tatin also. Goof with the sweetness of pudding.

There was potential for our time keeping to slip here but with impeccable discipline (hich oddly remained with us all trip) we headed off just in time… 

TASTING – Chateau de la Tour & F.Labet
A wonderful 2 hours spent with the very engaging Francois Labet, first tasting 3 wines from Francois’ Negociant business (not to be under-rated). Then a very generous line up from Francois’ brilliant – and very on form – Chateau de la Tour Clos Vougeot (his is the largest holding). There was then much discussion about hunting…most of which went over my head. This visit really embodied how generous the Burgundians are. Francois managed to resist our plea to join us for dinner… 

The wines:

Beaune 1er Cru Marconnet Blanc 2012, Francois Labet – A generous wine with fruit that stops just short of being tropical, mellow structure with a nicely sensitive use of oak, just adds a little weight and spice.

Beaune 1er Cru Marconnet 2012, Francois Labet –Richness and violet fruit with nice depth, an easy wine to enjoy.

Beaune 1er Cru Coucherias 2012, Francois Labet – Darker fruit and has a lightness as well as quite saturated fruit, then good grip, lovely.

Then on to the Chateau de la Tour (the most extensive tasting of this great property that I have done):

Clos Vougeot Cuvee Classique Grand Cru 2012 – Complete, has a dark fruit core,
With big bold tannins, richness, masculinity, savoury with good grip. A keeper!

Clos Vougeot VV Grand Cru 2012– Pungent and powerful, very impressive, real density but without leaving the Pinot Noir aromas behind. A real Vin de Garde.

Clos Vougeot Cuvee Classique Grand Cru 2009 – Wrong time to taste this wine (for which we were to blame as we had taken it with us), all the parts are there but it’s a sleep now. (When re-tasted the following day it was loosening up).

Clos Vougeot Cuvee Classique Grand Cru 2008 – Degraded fruit, richness then bold, a little leather, give it 3-5 years more, impressive.

Clos Vougeot VV Grand Cru 2008–Just a step up in refinement, then more power, good acidity, high quality.

Clos Vougeot VV Grand Cru 2007– Really, really delicious, quite feminine for this estate and for Clos Vougeot, has poise and balance, will age well but delicious now.

Clos Vougeot VV Grand Cru 2002– Really, really decadent but with good freshness for 2002 (I often find this lacking in 2002 generally). Sweet fruit and just very complete, I don’t see it closing down so if you own this then try a bottle and enjoy it over the next few decades. So good that one of our party proclaimed “this is love!”

It had been a very good day, a little “rest” and then…

Bistro L’Hotel de Beaune, Beaune
Very nice setting with a cracking wine list, good friendly service (they thought I said a bottle was corked and had a replacement ready instantly – it wasn’t) and some traditional French dishes. Not small portions! (see below). I look forward to going back.

Chablis La Forest 2011, Dauvissat– Good, very Chablis, in honesty impressive but way to young.

St.Aubin 1er Cru En Remilly 2012, P-Y C-M– Very nice, nervous balance with a bit of richness that will come out.

La Forge de Tart 2004 1er Cru, Clos de Tart– Good especially for a 2004, a lightness of fruit and a gentle hand which is a good approach.

Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er cru Les Vaucrans 2007, Chevillon – Good, quite dense for a 2007, nicely “Nuits” in style, good earthiness.

Volnay 1er Cru Taillepieds 2010, d.Angerville – Very good indeed, really energy drive and poise as well. Another prime example of what I said about 2010 at Le Chambolle. Just beautiful now at what seems like infanticide.
Not small!! 

Deep sleep and no late night drinks…

Saturday 17th May


En route to Chassagne-Montrachet for the tasting below we decided to stop off at “Combettes Corner” to have a look at things – Meursault to the left and Puligny to the right etc. We then went to the top corner of Le Montrachet (pic below) to have an early morning loosener  Krug 1988, deliciously decadent, rich but not overly heavy – while then walking across the bottom of Le Montrachet and on towards Chassagne. To accompany this stroll we had a bottle of Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2011, Bonneau du Martraywhich showed some real poise and elegance, balanced white fruit and strangely not too young but still very youthful (if that isn’t a contradiction). A quick hop back into the “van” and we were at our tasting.

TASTING – Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey (PYCM)
A brilliant tasting it was too, a really up and coming producer and very nice man, he has a lot of drive and makes wines with some richness but mainly a real focus and length that lean more to elegance than power. His desire to use 350 litre barrels where possible also shows he wants the oak to be subdued.

St.Aubin 1er Cru En Remilly 2012, P-Y C-M – Lots of texture, a nice bit of nervousness, serious.

St.Aubin 1er Cru En La Chateniere 2012, PYCM – From 2 different sires in the same vineyard, very refined, may be not the density of the En Remilly but a very steely core.

Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Baudines 2012, PYCM  – Very generous, good bite of citrus, almost opulent nose, perfect in 3-4 years, very good.

Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Caillerets 2012, PYCM – Very mineral, fine almost Chablis-esque.

Meursault 1er Cru Les Charmes 2012, PYCM – More roundness but still clean and focussed. Will be generous wine, just a matter of the time.

Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevieres 2012, PYCM – More refined than the Charmes, may be longer lived, just has a little more lift.

Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2012, PYCM – Broad and powerful, just what you want from Batard, so much texture, very good indeed.

Santenay VV 2012, PYCM  – I think this is the only red P-Y does. We tasted one older bottle (open 4 or 5 days) at the tasting then took a “fresh” one to lunch. The opened one was nice, the fruit a tiny bit bruised but good.

We then wanted to open and taste 2 wines to leave with P-Y.
Passopisciaro, Contrada Sciaranuova 2009 – delicious, openly, grainy tannins (in a good way), nice fruit, red with dollops of black.
Comte Armaund, Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Epeneaux (1mag) – This was showing really well, more sweetness than I associate with either 1996 or with Pommard, lovely and very open but not loose, delicious. The other bottle is the aforementioned Clos Vougeot 2009.

Le Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet
Wonderful meal, good list and they allowed us to take many wines in (after Daniel and EB had done their negotiation). This was very kind as it was all the wines that were open from tasting with P-Y C-M.

The top corner of Le Montrachet on a beautiful morning!

Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2009, PYCM – This was chosen to go alongside the 2012 Batard. It was very in check for a 2009, richness and generosity with a saline butteriness. Very good.

Santenay VV 2012, PYCM  This was far fresher than the one we had at the tasting and a very impressive wine, dark fruits. The site is just below the 1er Crus. Nice.

La Tache 2007, Domaine de la Romanee Conti – Now you might on the face of it see this as infanticide but it isn’t, delicious, poised fruit and so much focus, I am a massive fan of the 2007’s and this is one of the very best. There is structure and acidity but neither show over the fruit. Just lovely.

Clos de La Roche Grand Cru 2005, Rousseau – Getting a little lax on the note taking at this stage other that the fact that my book says “delicious” a wine with a real texture and potential, far nearer infanticide than the Tache, mighty fine though.

Rieussec  1978 – Very good and quite like the 1975 Rieussec’s I have had, very full, not over sweet, quite rancio flavours, a good wine.

With brief respite and a little shopping or the odd beer and it was time for dinner…in honesty the system was starting to feel it but the energy was still there…just

DINNER – Bissoh, Beaune
Great list of value options, a really good list to explore. The food also was good but the service really quite slow. After a series of bigger French meals this does work well though…

Aligote de Bouzeron 2012, A&P de Villaine A choice that I made here, I wanted to show the Aligote grape and also maker another link to DRC, albeit through Aubert de Villaine’s own estate, a gooseberry wine with great attack, a livener…

Chablis Grand Cru Valmur 2010, Raveneau– I’ll be back to buy this again at a meagre 115 Euro (the 2011 was 105 Euro) this has a little bit of everything, really rather refined, textured and just delicious.

Meursault Les Narvaux 2011, Roulot– Probably a dash too young, the acidity will mellow but a good bottle of refined and focused Meursault.

Morey-Saint-Denis 2002, Dujac– Really enjoyable, generous but not a degraded 2002 which many can be. The fruit is quite black but the freshness balanced well.

Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Les Chaffots 2008, H.Lignier – This was higher-toned than the Dujac but still good, darker fruit a bit of structure and acidity. Best in 2-3 years but good.

Le Corton Grand Cru 2009, Bonneau du Martray – Very good, a different “shape” from the MSD’s. The roundness is nice and the 2009 takes away the sometimes crude “Corton-ness” you can get from this vineyard.

All in all a very “memorable” day.

And that, as they say, is that…very nice flight back (no Champagne drunk) and a very memorable few days behind us…where to next year?

Quite an outfit…not mine!