It’s been a rather manic last few months of the year – good in many ways. One of the downsides is that I just never quite felt I had the time to write up any blogs. I promised myself that I would only “do” this blog if I wanted to and when I wanted to, so not writing has only been an irritation, nothing more. With a good couple of days of eating and drinking behind me and a game of tennis to play later now seems the perfect window to write-up a cracking Monday night dinner.

This one was generously hosted by Mr P and featured a few of those at his 50th as well as blog-stalwart Jordi and a certain Neal – he tastes, writes and drinks (and listens to a lot of music) as well as anyone! The venue was 67 Pall Mall and the time was Guy Fawkes’ night. As a complete accident, or maybe not, we ended up with the southerners on one side (which actually was the southern side as it goes) of the table and the midlanders on the northern side.

We started with Salon 1997 – a wine I know well. From the recent occasions I have had it the bottles and magnums seem to be behaving as each other. This bottle was lovely, crisp, elegant and focused with the tell-tale saline edge. A couple of magnums in the last year have been more open and “gourmand”. This 1997 is classic Salon.

A pair of blind whites started us off. It was a pair of Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru from Domaine Leflaive. It was intriguing:

2008 – I can be slightly “blamed” for this wine as I have commented to Mr P that I feel many white Burgundy 2008s aren’t as good as they promised. It was a vintage that had a lot of hype at the time in terms of the whites*. I remember it well as I spent a whole week tasting. This was quite lactic on the nose, hedonistic at the same time, definite elements of botrytis and a little ginger. The finish is a little dry, the wine is, to my mind, mature. There are notes of both citrus and toffee. *Many reds appear to be out performing the perception of the vintage at the time.

1996 – This was a tad reduced, I love that. Tightly coiled, classily restrained, there is plenty of resolve. Harder to describe, as mature wines are. An elegant citrus to the colour, lighter than the 2008. I thought this a very good wine, crisp but with expression, a fine bottle.

As a pair it was fascinating, possibly more differences than similarities. And so to red, here were were served a trio within a foursome! Now we – those who were blinded – can’t pretend for a moment that we nailed anything here. Of the 2012s, we knew we were in the top league, we knew it was a good to great vintage and the three wines were simply delicious. My notes are here.

Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos Saint-Jacques 2012, Domaine Rousseau – Pungent nose, a little exotic, lovely grace developed, like this very much, delicious, the nose evolves in the glass very well, a CSJ character seems to develop (self-fulfilling prophecy?), poised with gentle weight behind. Classy.

Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2012, Mugneret-Gibourg – Refined, airy, a good lift, both expressive and saline. Nicely complete, nothing missing but does have character. A more savoury edge developed, very proper and very good. Becoming more and more impressed by M-G the more bottles I have.

Romanee-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru 2012, Domaine de La Romanee-Conti – Pepper, dark pepper, stems(?), then real pleasure deep yet elegant. Embraced the air the most. Great wine. RSV from DRC is fast becoming a standout to me. Lucky as I am to taste the wines each year (the 2016s will be my 20th vintage) the character of RSV has never lost its class or appeal but is starting to see added gravitas and depth.

Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 2005, Domaine Ponsot – A slight element of wet meat (fyi – a good note from me but a specific identifier) then a seductive nose. Good drive. This is a wine, unsurprisingly, from a different winemaking style as well as a different vintage. More lavish in extraction but not too much.

So what did this foursome teach me? Well looking at the 2012s I think it re-assures me that in many cases these top names of red Burgundy should be sampled and enjoyed young as well as with age. I think it used to be apt to say they “can be” but I now firmly believe they “should be”, at least in part. Difficult (painful may be a better word!) to do, particularly with the advent of the (dreaded but essential) three-bottle case, but so worthwhile. The wines show that 2012 is a very classy vintage. I would go so far as 4.5 stars, it isn’t quite 2010 but is so very “proper” with an essential elegance.

This was a lovely format of evening, good chat, a lovely number of wines and very generous. Thank you Mr P!