Now I’ve had some fun Grand Cru Burgundy days in my time but this is right up there. We originally planned to have a dinner for Sylvain Pitiot as he retires from his position as head of Clos de Tart (it’s been covered in the press a fair bit). Then, we got to thinking let’s welcome Jacques Devauges, who is being passed the baton, at the same time, oh and why not a tasting of all the vintages of the “Pitiot era”. So after a bit of organising from the team the day arrived…
All bottles were opened and checked at around midday and I tasted between two and three pm. There was no decanting. All the wines had been delivered direct from the Estate in the week leading up to the tasting. The tasters were given the choice of which order to taste in, I went old to young as that follows the “order of Sylvain” which after all was the overriding theme of the day. With each vintage I have included the Domaine’s own notes of the vintage conditions in italics and then my note and score.
Degraded sweetness but precise enough, a dash of tangerine, nice wine with just enough fruit to flesh out the feeling that this is a little skinny. In my own biased way i’d love to have seen what 1996 could have been had it been 20 years later in terms of the site and winemaking (applies to too many 1996s). For all this faint praise it is every bit 17 (all scored out of 20) and for drinking now and over the next 5+ years.
I love 1999 as a vintage – far more than the other good nearer vintage of 2002 – this is both good and a little atypical for me in not being ready. Deeper, darker, more serious, more richness, good acidity and tannin. 17.5-18. Be patient, look again in 2-5 years.
I’ve not tended to have the easy joy from 2000 red Burgundies of which others speak (more a 2001 chap me), but this is different. Deep but fresh, lovely, “1997 with knobs on”, deliciously good, lovely wine, open and easy but correct enough not to be too easy. Could drink a lot of this. 18-18.5. Drink now…what more are you waiting for?
A dash of highness, very good depth, palate is taut and a little tighter than the 2000. Well defined and long. Impressive definition, serious. 18-18.5 but for classical reasons compared to 2000. Try again in 18 months or so.
Deep, more masculine, quite serious, deep (can’t get away from that works here) and fine with a little red fruit pepping through and some black fruits and spice on top. For the future but very promising. 18.5 +, give it 3-5 years.
Longest note I wrote. Bold, inky, a nod to the Northern Rhone with the sweetness of the Southern Rhone. Spiced and decadently delicious. Bold intense, glycerol texture with hedonism written all over it. Sweet expressive and luscious in the extreme. You’d need to be in the mood but what a wine. If I had some I’d have a bottle every 18 months, could well be fabulous in old age. score is pointless really but 18-18.5 (if I have to) but you could score it 15 in one mood and 19.95 in another. When to drink it? When you feel like it!
Well after 2003 and before 2005 is never going to be a good spot to “lurk”. This is not a bad 2004. It is a little stalky and slightly thin but correctly proportioned and not over worked (a massive potential error in 2004). It is a little spiky and acidic. 15, Drink.
Superb, all the good bits of 2003 but then with a grace and a salinity, rich cherry notes but balance, classical hedonism. I imagine this has just woken up. Refined acidity and good tannins. Loved it. 19-19.5. Now (just) and over the next 25 years+
In some other reports of this tasting you may not see the 2006 this is because the second bottle was corked (the only one in the tasting or dinner). Rich, full, mulled fruit, more beef, less refined but very good. I loved this but it is a bit of a Hermitage of a Burgundy, deep, very savoury, masculine. Vin de Garde. 18.25-18.75. Leave for 5 years and try again.
2007 Despite a gloomy summer season, the earliness of the growth cycle combined with a stringent annual work on the vines (de-budding, thinning and green harvest), the return of sunshine and dry weather from August 20th on, all these factors enabled us, after a drastic sorting out, to vat very ripe and healthy grapes.
Slight whiff of tuna? Odd bottle may be? But actually that clears up, like a good 2004 with more flesh. I like this though it is may be a little under powered. Graceful. 17-17.5. Now onwards.
I think this could be the underestimated wine of the tasting. Almost green spice, pepper, delicious but clearly spiced. Lifted and with precise red fruit behind the spice. This is fine tuned, no unnecessary fat but with deliciousness, like a long distance runner. White pepper on the finish. One to follow closely I may be being conservative in score. 18-18.25+. Try again in 2-4 years, if flesh gets added this could be quite something.
With air this comes alive. It is a refined 2009 but has great sweetness. The weight it lovely, you keep expecting saturation and sun fruit but it never quite comes which is a part of its refined attraction. The tannins are there and are moreish. I anticipate this will gain flesh and it could well be really pretty special. Seems to have been made with a light hand…less is more. 18.25-19+. if you own it have a bottle now and then not for 5 years (my view).
So airy and lifted, jumps out of the glass, so unlike the 2009. Very fragrant indeed, there is a strictness about it however once in the mouth, as with 2009 when the flesh comes this could be very special.As with a lot of the 2010…not a waste to try even now. Long term wine ultimately though. 19+ one bottle now but basically 5-10+ then try again.
indicating a good phenolic maturity. The direct consequence: the smallest yield since 1969.
A little reduced, taut, dense and tight. Intense deep and serious. Almost better than the 2010 for pure fruit but then it is silly to compare them. This will be fascinating to follow. Smart, actually smart plus. 18.5-19. Try in 2-5 years but I have feeling this is a keeper.
Fresh, fresh, fresh. Red fruit. So feminine and refined next to the Masculine back-rower that the 2012 may prove to be. More ballet than “dark arts”. Vivacious would be a good word. Hard to judge as it is only just in bottle. Lovely definition. 17.75- 18. I imagine this will be approachable early but it’d be a mistake not to take it seriously.
Then having “allowed” both Sylvain and Jacques a brief rest we hosted a small “family and friends” dinner, in the offices.
The way to start is almost always with Delamotte Blanc de Blancs NV from magnum, drinking as well as ever…just lifted freshness.
|Rather lovely line up!|
Olive oil poached salmon with bloodymary, cucumber jelly and Dorset crab with sough dough wafers
With Clos de Tart not making any white wine what were we going to do? Well, here I had one of my rare good ideas…Nuits-St-Georges Blanc Clos de l’Arlot 1er Cru Monopole Domaine de l’Arlot 2011. The decision based on the fact that this was the first vintage that Jacques did at Domaine de l’Arlot before moving to Clos de Tart. The wine showed superbly on the night, opulent richness but never too much. The “Blanc” in Nuits-St-George 1er Cru only accounts for 6 hectares of the communes 150 hectare total. As this showed it tends to be generous wine…I’m tempted to squirrel away a few bottles.
From now we were focussing on the Clos de Tart and that started with two vintages of La Forge de Tart – 2001 & 1999. Whether “Forge” is made or not is a decision based on blind tasting alone. The basic premise is a simple one – the best sort of premise – that is a wine “is” Clos de Tart then that is where it goes. If it is not quite “Clos” but close than there will be a Forge. As a run of recent events and to give the idea there is no Forge in 2013, 2012, 2010, 2009 and there was one in 2011, 2008, 2006, 2001, 1999. I found the 2001 Forge to be generous and quite rich, restrained decadence if you like, really lovely to just drink and enjoy. 1999 was an all together more serious scenario, a shade reductive, still coiled tight, lovely and very promising but quite serious.
So with the main course we had what you could call the main wines. Clos de Tart 2002 and 1996 which was obviously an exciting proposition. The 2002 was what Sylvain described as a “Power wine”…big and rich but with lovely classical proportions, clearly one to follow, great potential to make wonderful “old bones”. The 1996 lives on its acidity a little more than the structure but I feel strongly that it is a 1996 that has “resolved” and mellowed, some haven’t, remaining excessively stern. Sylvain said of 1996, which was made months after he joined, that it was a vintage of “healthy grapes, slow maturity and requiring patience”.
To bring a splendid evening to a finale we had a mystery magnum. The home team knew what it was but Sylvain, playful as ever, wanted it to be a competition so each table elected a spokesman and the guessing (sorry considered thoughts) began. I was slightly dreading my table getting it right as I am only just getting over the fact that “my” table was correct in assessing that a blind Romanee Conti was the 1965. My fears came home to roost when they revealed they felt it was 1988.
So the wine? Well it was delicious which sounds hideously vague, there is a degraded decadence to it and I would not say it is more than in second gear, a mature but not old wine. Elements of soy and spice but an overriding impression of rich yet supple drinking. It was both bold and good of Sylvain and Jacques, who both spoke well through the evening, to choose a vintage that pre-dated the Pitiot Years.
It was just one of those dinner that I’ll remember for a long time, Sylvain’s modesty, Jacques’ energy and nervous anticipation about the future…special times ahead I think…