A text comes through on Saturday lunchtime, “there is a “tasting” on Monday evening and your presence is required!”. Now when this comes from one of the chaps on this special trip to Burgundy all you do is clear the diary and hope that there is nothing crucial planned for Tuesday. The theme was 2004 and we were on Bordeaux with the odd interloper from California, Burgundy and Champagne. The venue was one of “the chaps” houses with splendid cellar and even more splendid wife who cooked up exactly what was needed to set us up for the evening.
|The dinner wines…|
The format was to start with some Champagne and then white Burgundy before embarking on the reds. All the wines with one exception later in the piece are from 2004 which following on from a tasting back in june of Burgundy 2004 ten years on was likely to be very interesting. Ten years is the accepted time to “look in on” a Bordeaux vintage and 2004 has a reputation for being medium in weight, traditional and possibly a little under appreciated. Following the “freak” that was 2003 and then being overshadowed by the excellence of 2005 was always going to be an issue! All the reds were double decanted before serving.
As the team assembled a bottle of Laurent Perrier 2004 vintage was consumed in quick time. The vintage is a good one in Champagne and this was very typical of the style, taught but not closed, youthful but enjoyable now. The white wine was then Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Combettes, E.Sauzet – a couple of bottles of – both showed well. There is a lovely mid-age maturity here, still some citrus and shortbread as well as a little white fruit then a lovely nuttiness on the palate, a lovely time to drink it. Such a good site.
We decided to start the reds with two St.Emilions – Chapelle de Ausone & Troplong-Mondot – the former was mellow and soft, very complete, soft red and black fruits and certainly not more than medium body, a little bit of what I’ll call “good greenness” that added freshness, I assume from young vine fruit. The Troplong – an estate I have often found to be “too much” in terms of oak and extraction – was quite toned down. A gentle wine making approach was key in 2004 and this was on good form. Blacker fruited and weightier. There was a small discussion on price and certainly the Chapelle does not warrant 3 times the price. A good start.
The next commune up was St.Estephe. Ormes de Pez & Cos d’Estournel were the representatives here. The Ormes had a nose of slightly reduced beef stock and then after a couple of swirls it mellowed to show more fruit. The palate had red fruits and good freshness with acidity and a little pencil led, an interesting wine and at the price very good value (ranks with Phelan Segur and Lafon Rochet for me). Cos was a more serious package altogether. Deeper and darker fruited with classical cedar elements to a quite savoury nose, grown up and young at this stage, good balance and a promising future…impressive.
Now we popped over the atlantic and had – Dominus & Stag’s Leap, Artemis. There was contrast here between the Artemis’ opulence, density and open fruit and the more restrained, arguably more elegant Dominus. There was a split vote I think on this. The Dominus would be exciting to own but you also can’t knock the easy pleasure and value of the Artemis. These two were certainly as young in developmental terms as any of the Bordeaux…
And now downstairs to the cellar for the St.Juliens – Lagrange & Leoville Poyferre. Lagrange was very “proper”, a balance between decent enough fruit and a savoury side, neither a disappointment nor exciting, a “steady” wine. The Poyferre was very typical of this estate, quite extrovert and open, rich but not heavy and archetypal cool vintage Cabernet fruit, neither too young nor is there a rush to drink this, open and ready now, unpretentious but that is not to say simple at all. Good.
Briefly back on the original planned line-up it was Pauillac time – Clerc Milon & Pontet Canet. May be it was the class of the Cheval Blanc and Poyferre that preceded it but the Clerc came across as a little crude and “blunt”. Absolutely nothing wrong with it but a little foursquare and hard. The Pontet Canet was one of the most obviously young wines of the evening, rich and black but not over the top in extraction. Good but it left you feeling it will repay a couple more years.
There was a comment at some stage in the evening that we had omitted Margaux as a commune so our host took up the challenge and opened a bottle of Palmer. This had a serious and smokey nose as well as a persistence of red black fruit, not quite the elegance of the Cheval but I think given a few more years the smokiness will meld into the wine and this will take on the Margaux fragrance. It is certainly a good deal more serious than the 2007 I has recently. Very good, quite serious.
So with one wine to go, the non 2004, what did I think of the vintage? Well these wines had all clearly been well stored and we had no cork issues whatsoever which is always a relief. I was impressed, I expected the wines to have less in common with each other but there was a similarity of weight and stage of development. The wines did not seem too light but at the same time there was no over-extraction. The wines were all appreciable now but I think they will age nicely before ultimately mellowing gracefully. I think that if you own the wines you’ve got classical claret to be enjoyed from now on.
As talk turned to the trip that might follow the Burgundy Bonanza, mentioned above, our host had one last trick up his sleeve – Yquem 1994. This was decadent and full, not as sweet as Yquem can be, I think blind I would have had it as 80’s rather than 90’s. There was a creme brulee richness and some apricots as well as spice. A brilliant evening of many laughs…
If only every Monday…
|Only the Yquem 1994 was is missing…|