Some mature Burgundies

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A pleasant surprise from the challenging 1984 vintage

One of my favorite pastimes in Burgundy is tracking down mature wines. To my mind, older bottles offer incomparable insights into the character of the region’s terroirs and the families which translate them into wine. Their textural plenitude, aromatic complexity and sapid, gastronomic qualities are unrivaled. What’s more, I believe the great postwar vintages to be the true benchmarks for quality in Burgundy—a contention I shall argue at length in a future post—so I’m anxious to maximize my exposure to them. Here’s a sampling of notes on recent bottles that showed especially well.

Whites:

1969 Reserve de Vernhes Meursault Premier Cru Genevrières  This was a stunning bottle of mature Meursault from a Beaune négociant, bursting from the glass with notes of buttered apples, crisp yellow orchard fruit and pastry cream, with a touch of fresh field mushroom and iodine. On the palate the wine is pure, very texturally refined and concentrated, showing the sinews and concentration of the (ripe, powerful) vintage but without the overtly thick, muscular quality one might expect in, say, a Meursault Charmes. In fact, this really is textbook Genevrières: texturally silky rather than actively unctuous, mineral without being chalky—defined instead by elegance and harmony. 96/100

1973 Testut Chablis Grand Cru Grenouilles The Testut Grenouilles is drinking very well at age forty-four, with an expressive nose of lemon pith, lanolin, stone fruit pits, subtle buttered apples and a wisp of vanillin. On the palate, the wine is medium-full and shows lovely depth, underpinned by ripe acidity which gives the wine focus through the very creditable finish: elegant and complex. I’m happy to have more bottles. 93/100

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Domaine Testut’s 1973 Chablis Grenouilles

1979 Rapet Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru This is an absolutely superb wine, and among the greatest renditions of mature Corton-Charlemagne I have encountered. A bouquet of mandarin orange rind, confit lemon, fresh field mushroom, vanilla, dried white flowers and wet stones introduces a wine of superb intensity, depth and length, its textural gloss underpinned by tensile acids, finishing with sublime length and persistence. 96/100

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The limpid yellow-gold of Rapet’s 1979 Corton-Charlemagne

1982 Chevalier Père et Fils Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru Still on the youthful side, this Corton-Charlemagne was superb and reminiscent of the Bonneau du Matray wines in their heyday. Notes of lemon oil, iodine, chalky soil tones and white flowers, framed by a touch of hazelnut, are the prelude to an impressively concentrated, incisive wine with a bottomless core, lovely purity and a searingly intense finish. On tasting this, the lone bottle of ’78 resting in my cellar instantly became one of my more treasured possessions. This could continue to improve for several decades. 95+/100

1984 Yves Latour Meursault Premier Cru From a very challenging vintage, this 1984 Meursault is testimony to just how long-lived white Burgundy could be. A decidedly tertiary bouquet of singed tangerine, candle wax, field mushroom and vanillin is followed by a medium-bodied, acid driven wine which has managed to pick up some texture despite its lean format. No signs of oxidation whatsoever. 85/100

1985 Dureuil-Janthial Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru Les Champs Gains A textbook Champs Gains from my favorite white Burgundy vintage of the decade, this bottle burst from the glass with notes of confit lemon, chalky soil tones, dried white flowers and a touch of hazelnut. On the palate the wine was taut, concentrated and full-bodied, with lovely extract and grip on the penetrating finish. 92/100

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Great Puligny from Rully’s best Domaine

1986 Rapet Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru The 1986 Rapet is another classic from this rather overlooked Domaine. Notes of tangerine oil, confit citrus, honey, vanilla and dried flowers (seemingly showing some botrytis influence like many ’86s) lead into a glossy, fully-mature Corton-Charlemagne with great dry extract, perfect balance and a precise, lingering finish. Just magical with truffle pasta. This is still a very youthful, complex wine at the peak of its powers at a time when many 1986s are beginning to slide off the far end of their plateaus. 94/100

1987 Hubert Bouzereau-Gruère Meursault Premier Cru Cru Charmes A complex bouquet of tarte tatin, honey, crème brûlée, praline and a hint of iodine introduces a glossy, textural and very concentrated wine, underpinned by a bright core of acidity which lends this the energy it needs to carry its almost chewy texture. From a vintage of very little repute, this bottle makes me want to learn more about the Bouzereau family, as it is a very serious wine indeed. 94/100

1987 Chavy-Chouet Meursault Clos des Corvées des Cîteaux From a precocious site with deep clay soils, Chavy-Chouet’s Clos des Corvées des Citeaux is showing very well in the 1987 vintage, with a rich and complex bouquet of grilled apricot, oatmeal and ripe peach, and considerable concentration, texture and intensity. This is quite a big-boned wine, but one with considerable gastronomic potential. 90/100

1988 Rapet Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru Rapet’s 1988 Corton-Charlemagne, from a bottle direct from the Domaine, is an absolutely stunning wine which is still a decade away from the peak of its powers. A pure and youthful nose of lemon oil, white flowers, wet rocks and a touch of noisette introduces a deep, concentrated wine with bright acids and almost chewy extract. The tension and structure here are flawless and the balance pitch perfect. 94+/100

1989 Rapet Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru The 1989 Rapet Corton-Charlemagne is youthful and serious, even in this often rather rich and blowsy vintage. Though somewhat overshadowed by the profound 1988 which accompanied it, only the notes of petrol and poached pear which marry with the classic aromas of citrus oil, white flowers and wet stones indicate that this is a warm year. On the palate the wine is concentrated, focused and powerful, with great structure and volume but missing the perfect balance of the ’88. That won’t stop it cruising along in the cellar for many years to come. 93/100

1990 Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru Ruchottes This bottle of the 1990 Ruchottes was showing just a touch of oxidation in its complex bouquet, but the wine’s inherent vigor and depth make me suspect that this was simply a slightly advanced bottle, and that there are still pristine examples out there. The nose reveals lovely notes of confit citrus, iodine, beeswax and oatmeal, with hints of vanilla and fino sherry. On the palate the wine is ample and glossy, with great concentration and depth and lovely precision and grip on the long, focused finish despite the rather evolved character of the nose. A wine I’d love to encounter again. 91?/100

1992 Louis Jadot Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru Folatières Jadot’s 1992 Folatières is a lovely bottle of mature Puligny, with a complex bouquet of preserved lemon, honeycomb, wheat toast and brine, leading into a full-bodied, deep wine with nice balance and structural integrity, and no sign of fraying through the complex, lingering finish. Interestingly, the vintage’s often pronounced botrytis signature doesn’t stand out. 91/100

1994 Etienne Sauzet Puligny-Montrachet A reserved bouquet of confit lemon, tangerine oil, dried white flowers and frangipane leads into an elegantly glossy, full-bodied wine with a bright spine of acidity, good depth at the core and impressive tension and grip on the moderate finish. This is a really creditable showing for the vintage and appellation; a lovely bottle of mature Puligny. 90/100

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Sauzet before the deluge

 

Reds:

1947 Pierre Guillemot Savigny-lès-Beaune Premier Cru Les Serpentières Guillemot’s 1947 Serpentières is simply stunning, showing all the “solaire” generosity of the vintage but retaining beautiful energy and freshness. A glorious bouquet of griotte cherry and strawberry compote is complemented by bass notes of moss and dried ceps; the prelude to a silkily expansive, broad and intense palate impression. The product of minuscule yields. 96/100

1959 Gros-Renaudot Richebourg Grand Cru A bouquet of kaleidoscopic complexity featuring Agen prune, dried cherry, rich soil tones, truffle, Egyptian musk and ripe strawberry introduces a rich, powerful wine of striking authority, amplitude and intensity; expansive, detailed and penetrating, this Richebourg’s textural impact is underpinned by impressive reserves of tension and energy, with lovely freshness which belies the warmth of the vintage. This wine was made by Anne Gros’ father and uncle, who used a rather rudimentary destemmer, but the wine’s tannins are nicely melted now after all these years. 97/100

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1959 Sèrge Allier ‘Vin Fin de la Côte de Nuits’ A superbly youthful wine, this ’59 soared from the glass, expressive notes of ripe red cherry and strawberry mingling with autumnal soil tones and a touch of grilled squab. On the palate the wine was rich and full-bodied, its chassis of ripe tannins enveloped in a core of ripe fruit, its balance and length first-rate. 91/100

1961 Pierre Guillemot Savigny-lès-Beaune Premier Cru Les Serpentières While not quite so heart-stopping as the 1947 which it preceded, Guillemot’s 1961 Serpentères is another magical bottle of mature Savigny, bursting with aromas and flavours of sweet red fruit, sous bois and mushroom. There is still just a touch of light tannic grip on the long, sapid finish. 93/100

1964 Sèrge Allier Gevrey-Chambertin This was a textbook example of Gevrey village, bursting from the glass with a complex bouquet of red-black fruits, meaty soil tones, truffle and grilled squab. On the palate the wine was full-bodied, ample and concentrated, with lovely depth and intensity and a chassis of rich, melted tannins. While fully mature this bottle was not in the least fatigued. Frankly not at all inferior to Rousseau’s ’64 Gevrey village. 92/100

1967 Charles Noëllat Richbourg Grand Cru The ‘67 Charles Noellat Richebourg is fragrant and fully mature with an expressive bouquet of potpourri, spice, raspberry, Agen prune and savoury bass notes. On the palate, the tannins are fully melted and the wine velvety and deceptively rich. This is quite soft and delicate, and while there were no signs of fraying as it was enjoyed at a leisurely pace over lunch, I think it’s reaching the far side of its plateau—as might be expected of an elegant mid-weight vintage such as ‘67. 92/100

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Domaine Charles Noëllat’s 1967 Richebourg

1976 Louis Remy Latricières-Chambertin Grand Cru The 1976 Remy Latricières is a very powerful rendition of this climat, with a brooding bouquet of red-black fruit (cassis, singed plum), rich soil tones, roast game and a touch of cocoa and pot pourri. On the palate the wine is ample, concentrated and deep, with a firm chassis of tannin and acidity and good length and precision on the finish. In fact, this wine seems a full decade away from its apogee. 94+/100

1976 Jean Confuron et Ses Fils Côte de Nuits Villages From vines in Prémaux, this numbers among the nicest vinous surprises I’ve had all year. Notes of ripe strawberry, plum and blackberry mingle with nuances of tar and grilled meat in a boisterous bouquet. On the palate the wine is rich, ample and full-bodied, with a firm chassis of mostly melted 1976 tannin (and is its grip amplified by some of the tartaric acid that Max Leglise recommended growers add in this warm year?) enrobed in a sweet core of impressively pure fruit. A joyous wine. 92/100

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Utterly delicious red Burgundy

1978 Pierre Amiot et Fils Clos de la Roche Grand Cru The Amiot ’78 Clos de la Roche is a very pretty wine at its apex, bursting from the glass with a complex and expressive bouquet of dried red cherry, sous bois, fresh mushroom and potpourri. On the palate the wine is supple and mid-weight, with fully melted tannins and a beautiful mélange of sweet fruit and savory complexity. Despite its seemingly full maturity this help up wonderfully in the glass over the course of a long lunch. 93/100

1978 Louis Jadot Vosne-Romanée The Jadot ’78 Vosne is very fine, and certainly tastes as if some higher-appellation juice found its way into the assemblage here back in the day. A complex, old-school bouquet of black fruit, dried ceps, rich soil and complex spice leads into a deep, concentrated and expansive wine which is still very youthful and nicely firm at the core. 90/100

1981 Prince Florent de Mérode Pommard Clos de la Platière Opened with relatively low expectations, this bottle of Pommard was a lovely surprise, bursting with notes of sweet red cherry, wild berries, subtle spice and dried herbs. On the palate the wine was vibrant and acid-driven, but with enough fruit to cover its structural bones and an unexpectedly ample chassis of fine tannin. If this is indicative of the other Mérode ‘81s then they are worth pursuing. 91/100IMG_2952

1984 Joseph Voillot Volnay Premier Cru Les Fremiets A superb achievement in this difficult year, notes of wild berries, pot pourri, subtle spice and dried fruit burst from the glass, followed by a supple, open-knit and judiciously chaptalized wine with melted tannins, juicy acidity and nice depth and length. Pure and sapid. 89/100

1990 Chandon de Briailles Corton-Bressandes Grand Cru The Chandon de Briailles Corton-Bressandes is a great bottle right now, bursting from the glass with an explosive bouquet of red cherry, sweet dried berries, roast venison, rich soil and potpourri. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, ample and expansive, with a core of fresh acids and ripe, melting tannins, and a long, perfumed finish. Just lovely. 93/100

1990 Michel Lafarge Volnay Premier Cru As I understand it, this bottling is a blend of Mitans and Chanlins, and its 1990 rendition is beginning to drink very well. A mature bouquet of red and black plum, fig (showing a bit of 1990 torrefaction), cocoa powder, rich soil and bass notes of gamebird is followed by a rich, expansive wine, cut from quite ample cloth for this bottling, with just a bit of slightly hard tannin remaining on the back-end (a product of pysiological maturity delayed by hydric stress, or just an argument for a few more years in the cellar?) of what is otherwise a broad and textural palate. There is nice cut here, though obviously not as much as one would find in a cooler vintage. 91/100IMG_2609

1991 Prince Florent de Mérode Corton-Bressandes Grand Cru This was a delicious bottle of mature Corton-Bressandes, with a rich and complex nose of Agen prune, chocolate, roast venison and sweet sois bois. On the palate the wine is ripely tannic, full-bodied and powerful, with nice balance, concentration and depth. 92/100

1991 Michel Lafarge Volnay Premier Cru Clos des Chênes A classic rendition of this great wine, the ’91 Clos des Chênes opens in the glass with a complex bouquet of red-black fruit, cocoa nib, grilled game, wood smoke and a touch of pot pourri. On the palate the wine is rich and full-bodied, with a chassis of fine-grained tannins, bright acidity and lovely length and intensity. A wine that is more about complexity and quiet depth than drama or flamboyance. 93/100

 

 

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