A fuller and slightly more sober appraisal of these and the delicious 2007 reds to follow. Last Thursday me and a few other merchant types who rather love what is in the bottle tasted and then drank our way through twelve 2011 white Burgundies and the same number of 2007 red Burgundies.
I’d been looking forward to this. The company is exceptional, for a start. Guys whose lingo I speak. And after the last tasting of 2004 reds and 2004 whites, I was looking forward to some pleasure, a trait not synonymous with 2004 reds at least (though some of the whites are rather good).
The great thing about these tastings is that they show you where you got it right and wrong from barrel. I rated 2007 reds from barrel whilst many dismissed them as light. My “elegant” take was occasionally taken for salesmanship but time has shown that these are lovely wines. And pleasure is what Pinot is all about. Yum.
But what about 2011 whites?
I don’t really get vintage variation in white Burgundy, and didn’t really have much to say about the 2011 whites (in 2012) other than they were rather good, but didn’t carry the stamp of the vintage. 2011s don’t taste of 2011 more than they taste of anything else. There is no vintage hallmark, unlike vintages like 2009 and 2007. Most 2009s, for instance, are a little on the chubby side; most 2007s distinctly muscular. And I like both chubby and muscular in the right quantities.
Of the wines tasted last Thursday there was a lot of precision, and a lot of waif-like purity, but I’m not convinced that this is a sign of the vintage, maybe more a sign of the times. It’s winemaking, not weather-making. It’s him as opposed to Him. And what some were short on was pleasure.
What is the point of white wine? Indeed what is the point of wine? Pleasure. Some of these substitute pleasure with style. And there are a few that might be technically correct, score a few points but, in my view – and this is hardly ground-breaking stuff – the measure of a wine is how much you want to drink it. By that rather simple criterion, the winners here are the Leflaive Combettes, the Clos Blanc de Vougeot and two of the Roulots.
2011 Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru, Combettes, Henri Boillot
Clean and precise. Edgy. Very stony. Like sniffing clay. Whispers of something more to come. And this follows in the mouth. A kind of fruitless minerality sits on top of the fruit, with something almost tannic underneath. This is good, though gives the impression of precision at the expense of pleasure.
2011 Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru, Combettes, Leflaive
More here and a typical party-trick Leflaive nose. Some fruit under the toast. Enticing. And follows in the mouth. This is lovely, and very Puligny. Depth here, and pleasure too. No lack of precision but this is delicious. About as good a Leflaive as you could wish for, comes the comment from the floor. Excellent.
2011 Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru, Caillerets, de Montille
Pear drops on the nose and a tangible weight to this. There is almost a texture to the nose. Clean with just a touch of confection. Zip. Very precise in the mouth with pin-sharp, almost painful acidity. Some dry extract follows the acidity and the fruit finishes. Rather good, very tight. Piercing.
2011 Meursault, Roulot
This seems a little more genuine, which is to say the product of terroir rather than winemaking skill, on the nose, and a little less confected. Then a touch of party-trick struck match on the nose. Easier, and this follows in the mouth. This is very impressive, very lovely, ready to go and seductive. Let’s go to the bedroom now, shall we? Svelte and very pretty. My note reads: Kiera Knightly with a bit of fat. But on reflection this is Sienna Miller in Layer Cake.
2011 Meursault, Vireuils, Roulot
Clean and pretty on the nose. There is some melody here. Some cool crushed fruit. A hint of minerality in the background (which is where it should be). Quite chunky in the mouth. A solid polished steel weight to it. Compact, and not dancing tonight. There is more to come from this; closed up tight today. Very good. Steely.
2011 Meursault, Tessons, Buisson-Charles
A bit more open “zip” on the nose. A bit more open. Wide … there is “width” as opposed to “breadth” about this, like one of those Brittany beaches where you walk a kilometre out to get up to your knees in water. It lacks depth. And this follows in the mouth: it’s shallow water. This is decent though gives the impression of the dog that doesn’t know the tricks and is a little scruffy to boot. Good, but not great. No Bonio.
*on reflection, and after some mild protest from the man who made it, I’m not convinced that this was a good bottle. I’m going to try this again.
2011 Meursault 1er cru, Perrieres, Ch. de Puligny-Montrachet
Clean, but not a great deal here behind it. Paper smoke and some meat? It might just be the kitchen. Something saline. And this follows in the mouth. Clean, mineral and attractive with a hint of Meursault fruit. This isn’t particularly special, but there is nothing wrong with this. Excellent restaurant white Burgundy if you want to neck, rather than knock, your Meursault.
2011 Meursault 1er cru, Perrieres, Darviot-Perrin
A not unsimilar nose. Lift, and the hint of more to come. Ghostly. Saline minerality in the mouth.. Very clean and there is more depth here. Serious, but still that diaphanous character. No weight in the curtains.
2011 Vougeot 1er cru, Clos Blanc de Vougeot, Domaine de la Vougeraie
Open, punchy and fat. Some oily weight and some character here. Broad fruit, weight and depth. All here. Sophie Dahl. Lots here. Length and power. Maybe lacks a little class, a little edge, in the finish (but this is relative, and maybe not the point) but this is very, very good. Punchy. Excellent. Another bottle, please.
2011 Corton-Charlemagne, Lequin-Colin
Who? Clean but closed. And a definite saline edge in the mouth. And the salinity sort of fights with the minerality. A touch of sweet oak. Decent but unexceptional. Stifling a yawn.
2011 Meursault, Coche-Dury
Restrained, and not as big as the Vougeot but the nose is clearly Coche. Edge, and some fruit floating on the lift. In the mouth the style is all over it, almost covering the fruit. Saline. This is very good, but tastes of the style rather than the fruit. This doesn’t taste of Meursault, it tastes of Coche. Not necessarily a bad, or good, thing. Nice wine, but I’d rather drink the Clos Blanc de Vougeot. Twice over.
2011 Meursault 1er cru, Clos des Boucheres, Roulot
This is a little more playful, a little less aggressive. The fireworks are more intricately arranged. Lots of pretty lights rather than a few big bangs. Cool and lovely in the mouth. More pleasure here and there is something vinous underneath the tricks. Some terroir clearly here. Seriously good wine. Yum plus points. Very very good.
Medlar was, of course, excellent. And full, as it should be. That this place lacks its star is a joke. And only one of our group could be heard from downstairs…