At the end of this dinner, at the excellent Medlar, one of the more senior attendees said something like this:
“When I first started doing these, it was about getting together with like-minded people and enjoying some special bottles. Now all you lot are sitting there writing your notes like schoolboys. That’s not the point.”
Bit of licence there but that was the gist. Good point, well made. I love Burgundy. Love it. The same man, many years ago, once questioned my passion for the subject. What I should have said (as opposed to just thought – might have got the job) is that passion is a much over-used word, particularly in job interviews and on CVs. Passion hurts. It’s the etymology of the word. You love something so much it causes you pain. That’s how much I love Burgundy. You can set light to everything else, but just every now and then I drink some Pinot Noir that makes me want to cry. I’m getting weepy just thinking about it.
2007 is a vintage that, if not dismissed on release, was hardly regaled. No ticker-tape en-primeur parade, more – certainly where I was working – of a drill: you and your team work on this lot, we’ll shift that lot. And a couple of years’ later the wines were in the January sales.
Yet it’s a vintage that is what Burgundy is all about. Burgundy isn’t about scores, Burgundy is about pleasure. And 2007 is pleasure. Wines for glasses, not for notebooks.
Volte-face, here are the notes.
2007 Volnay 1er cru, Coche-Dury
“This is Burgundy. Sweet nose, a touch of savoury meat and some development. Broad. Clean. I want to like this and I do. Sweet Volnay fruit in the mouth – very sweet. Soft and pretty. Charming and ripe and ready to go. I think it’s delicious and could get through a lot of this, though much of the rest of the room think it a little too sweet.”
2007 Pommard 1er cru, Clos des Epeneaux, Comte Armand
“This is much, much tighter as one would expect. A little more grown up, serious. Some structure, though maybe a tad lean. All here and this is very pure. Serious yet restrained. This is rather good though could do with a little more stuffing and/or a bit more time.”
2007 Morey St Denis 1er cru, Clos de la Bussière, Georges Roumier
This rather split the room. Or maybe just the room and me. I think some found the typical Roumier “flashiness” a little too flash. Personally I thought it lovely, if a little tarty.
“Some character here, and a balance between sweet fruit and savoury meat. A saline finish to the fruit. And a cashmere texture. Delicious. A touch of Roumier flashiness. Really lovely, if a tad on the flashy side. Very good. A bit tarty, though, and falls away a little at the finish.”
2007 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru, Les Corbeaux, Denis Bachelet
Denis Bachelet is the gardener of Gevrey: there are few other vignerons who take so much care of their vines. And his wines are always a nap in the “non-blockbuster” vintages. As such this one was a bit of a surprise.
“More weight to this, fatter. Austere? Stemmy? Yet with some lift. And ever so slightly dirty in the mouth. A bad stage? Not sure. Should be better.”
2007 Vosne-Romanée 1er cru, Les Suchots, Sylvain Cathiard
Cathiard is one of the growers of the moment with a reputation for sweet, upfront, glossy and quite delicious Vosne. Detractors suggest that the wine is a little too flashy. Whilst I’ve never had anything other than spectacular bottles of Malconsorts, this bottle of Suchots struck me as being more about the style than the terroir: it tasted more of the winemaker than it did of the vine.
”Sweet, ripe and glossy Cathiard nose. Like a shell: a solid eggshell polish. Caramel. And sweet, initially too sweet in the mouth. This is attractive but too much of that caramel edge. Style over substance.”
2007 Vosne-Romanée 1er cru, Les Malconsorts, Cuvée Christiane, de Montille
This is one of those wines that is supposed to be a bit special. From a parcel of Malconsorts just underneath La Tâche, and one that Etienne de Montille chooses to vinify and bottle separately from his other parcel of Malconsorts. And it’s seriously good. 2007 is the vintage where I think Etienne really started to get into gear, and on the evidence of this wine, I’m right.
“More here. More structure, more depth. And in the mouth too. Very correct, very proper. Silk, cashmere, and there is more to come from this. Depth. This is very, very good. Lovely, and a character – something here – that I can’t quite pin down. This might just be excellent. A league apart from the Cathiard.”
2007 Clos de Vougeot, Grivot
I’m a broken record on Grivot. The vast majority of opinion on his wines is based on those from the mid-eighties to the turn of the century. My view is that Grivot has been absolutely top-notch since 2005 or so. His spot of the Clos is at the bottom, by the road, and you can maybe taste that but the winemaking and viticulture here is spot on.
“A touch of Christmas cake here, and a touch of clay. Almost Pomerol-esque. Lifted crunch in the mouth. Fresh. Maybe lacks a bit of the depth of some real terroir but this is delicious. Young, fresh, vibrant, precise. Very good.”
2007 Chambolle-Musigny 1er cru, Les Cras, Georges Roumier
This had the flashiness of the Morey, though with a little more substance. Top stuff.
“More depth and weight to this and some mocha gloss. Seductive velvet. Chinchilla. This has depth though maybe lacks a little complexity. A touch tarty, though not without substance. Better and very seductive going back to it. Good.”
2007 Charmes-Chambertin, Aux Mazoyeres, Georges Roumier
“There is definitely something here but this isn’t jumping from the glass. There is some restraint. And again the same impression in the mouth. Either this isn’t the greatest bottle or, more likely I think, the wine is having a bad day. Improving in the glass, but still lacking some energy.”
2007 Charmes-Chambertin, Denis Bachelet
After the poor showing of the Corbeaux, this was right back up there, and had something that is key to great wine: character.
“Meatier here. More stuffing. And much, much more in the mouth. Depth and meat and character. And this goes on and on. Broadens out in the mouth. Proper. Serious kit, and whips the Roumier. Very serious wine. Alive. Excellent.”
2007 Ruchottes-Chambertin, Rousseau
The annoying thing about Rousseau is this: they are always brilliant. A bit like a race meeting where the favourite romps in at every race. And, unlike Cathiard or Coche-Dury (white), the style doesn’t dominate, because the style, if this is possible, is perfection.
“Restrained, almost austere, sweetness on the nose. Clean with a touch of smooth mineral lift. Pure. That mineral, clean polish. Very lifted. Delicious. A touch of restraint. Not the plush fruit of the Clos St Jacques but very lovely.”
2007 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru, Clos St Jacques, Rousseau
“In style the profile is similar to the Ruchottes: pure, sweet, polished. Though this has much plumper fruit to it, more weight, more chunk, more richesse. This is the epitome of Clos St Jacques, which in turn is the epitome of Gevrey. Quite, quite lovely and, in terms of pleasure, flawless.”
A final thought: as a committed contrarian I am always mildly irritated by just how well the wines from Domaine Rousseau ALWAYS show. Always.