I hate tasting wine. Love drinking it; hate tasting it. But love it when I’ve done it.
I think it’s about pleasure, and about exams. Learning is brilliant. Being tested isn’t. And when you’re tasting properly, you’re essentially putting a wine, or a number of wines, through an exam. And exams aren’t about pleasure, and wine is. And environment adds and subtracts. A bottle of wine is made to be drunk. Ideally with friends and food. More pleasure. Happiness.
Whilst the 2004 reds that I tasted had me grimacing all the way back home, the 2004 whites are actually quite decent. The vintage isn’t great but there were a couple of great wines, and one absolute humdinger. Here we go.
2004 Macon-Verze, Domaines Leflaive
Clean and some oily weight. Development. Bit of toffee and some waxy richesse. Same in mouth. Toffee again and this is a little over the hill. Bananas, and in texture too. Impressive but too late. Past its best but I bet this was a relative cracker in its youth.
2004 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er cru, La Romanee, Fontaine-Gagnard
Bit more bounce here and a bit of edge. Bit of limey zing. Bounce, energy. And all here in the mouth. This is developed: the flower is opening. And rich and sweet and edgy and lovely. Very good. A point.
2004 Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru, Clavoillon, Leflaive
Rich glossy toffee struck match toast on the nose. Burning paper. And this is what dominates. A hint of something slightly cooked underneath. And follows through in the mouth. This doesn’t taste of grapes; it tastes of wine-soaked cardboard. Very edgy and in a way this is technically impressive but Manzanilla bone-dry and joyless. Not for me. Some debate as to whether or not the bottle is correct.
2004 Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru, les Perrieres, L. Carillon
More life here and a touch of fruit to the nose. Lots of very lean edge to it. Clean paint. And not the power of the Leflaive in the mouth. Restrained and a little melon-like. Some oil. Some muscle and a hint of something metallic. A bit too much and again there’s not much pleasure here. Decent.
2004 Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru, Les Enseignieres, JF Coche-Dury
Clean and tight. Apple skins. There is some muscle and some matiere here. Something hiding. Already coming round in the glass. That Coche nose coming out. And all here in the mouth though again this is very tight. Tight, tight, tight. Though gives the impression that it will unwind. Still tastes very young, and not unlike (very good) still Champagne. Edgy. And still opening, and long. This is good but wants more time. Proper wine says the Third Man (who has probably bought more white Burgundy than most).
2004 Meursault Tessons, Clos de Mon Plaisir, G. Roulot
Some edge here and some very inviting fruit. “Come on in..”. Limey sherbet. Texture. Clean. And in the mouth the edge remains with some more of that sherbet bounce. Attractively sweet yet muscular and serious at the same time. A graphite edge. Mineral. This is very good though does stop a fraction short as Boy Wonder rightly points out. Very good, particularly for a village wine.
2004 Meursault 1er cru, Poruzots, F. Jobard
Mmm. Jury out. The rest of the table more or less wrote this off. Parsnips, cardboard, drains: that sort of thing. But if I had some in the cellar I’d wait and see what happened. A butterfly might well come out of the cocoon. Maybe.
2004 Meursault 1er cru, La Goutte d’Or, Domaine d’Auvenay
Comedy popcorn nose. Almost a caricature of itself. “Screams Leroy” says Boy Wonder. Very, very appealing. This makes me smile and I want to jump in. Very, very intense. And more again in mouth. This is a firecracker. Bounce. Rich. Weight. Meat. And that butter popcorn nose. Grand Vin. The nose is still doing the same thing. Fresh. And I want to drink, drink, drink this. Possibly the best white I’ve had in the past twelve months. Stunningly good. Can-can dancers. This is the show, the full shebang. Brilliant.
2004 Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet, L. Carillon
So hard for this to follow the d’Auvenay. There is some clean class here; this is very well cut. Clean and edgy. Then loose banana fruit in the mouth. Sweet. This is good but I just don’t like Bienvenues… A little lift in the finish. This is probably better than I think it is.
2004 Batard-Montrachet, M. Colin
This is clean and poised but again the d’Auvenay is still singing in the background. Austere. Serious. And this has structure and more: a straight back. Serious and complete and a wine of stature. Muscular and steely. Yes. Focus. TGV-like power and direction.
2004 Corton-Charlemagne, L. Jadot
Mmm. This is a step down. Steely peachy fruit though lacks a little focus. And it does have an air of bourbon about it, or JD and coke. Gets better in the mouth. There are a few different instruments playing here – there is some complexity – though not all playing the same tune. A lot going on. A touch hot at the end. Would do much better under less academic circumstances, I think.
The moral of the story? I’m not sure at all. I would have liked to have drunk a few of these, which is more than I can say for the reds. And I have to thank Boy Wonder for the d’Auvenay: a firecracker of a wine.