One of my favourite words: paucity. And there has been a paucity of new content here, despite a glut of unfinished drabble. I’ve been busy. So, back to work. Well, sort of.
A winemaker is a little like a tailor in that neighbours may well be working with pretty much the same cloth but can come up with wildly differing styles. I am of course going to write about Burgundy but examples of this are everywhere: Haut-Bailly vs Smith-Haut-Lafitte. Sandrone vs Mascarello. Artadi vs Tondonia. I’ll keep my opinions to myself but the differences here are arguably stylistic rather than qualitative.
So, one tailor, one vineyard. Vineyard first: Vosne-Romanee, Les Beaux Monts. A fairly big premier cru at just over eleven hectares, situated at the top left corner of Echezeaux as you look at it (looking at the Vosne vineyards is the very best way of understanding them) with Les Brulees to the left of it. My understanding is that Clive Coates rates this as the finest of the Vosne premier crus, and I can see his point.
The tailor: Etienne Grivot. If Vosne is Savile Row then Mr Grivot is Gieves & Hawkes. This is impossibly well cut stuff. Nothing too swanky, nothing too flashy, just impeccable Vosne. Etienne has been making the wine here since the early 1980s and over three decades has developed a style that to me is simply what Vosne is all about: you can’t taste the winemaking – you can just taste Vosne. It took him a while to get there – the early wines can be a little patchy (though 1992 Clos de Vougeot last Friday was rather good) and they started to get seriously good in the mid-nineties. Since 2005 or 2006 I would say that this is quite possibly the finest address in the village (though everyone will have an eye on Mr Engerer at Domaine d’Eugenie). Herewith my barrel notes from the past few years:
Tight on the nose but considerable “Vosne” perfume. Very voluptuous though still with structure. “Beaux Monts que je l’aime” says Mr G.
This seems much more in tune (than the Nuits-St Georges Les Pruliers that preceded it). Nothing at all sticking out. Very powerful and focussed. Very good indeed.
All good . The sturdiness of the style rather than the purity of the vintage. V. good. Chunky. Structure. These will keep. Unforced.
Lovely perfume. And beautifully soft with a lovely delicate structure. All here. Very good. I prefer the Brulees today but this might be the better wine from a technical point of view.
This really is quite beautiful and lifted on the nose. Purity. Piercing. And just exceptional in the mouth. Stunningly pure. I want some. Not far off perfect. A higher level.
A little reduced again. All packed very tight indeed though some clear class here. Very pure. There is real depth here though it’s so compacted it’s difficult to see it. Very, very good. Concentration without being heavy.
And a couple from bottle, in November 2006:
This is rather voluptuous, though still with that Beaux Monts structure. Mr G really likes his 04s: “tres, tres Pinot”. This is very good indeed.
Sweet fruit on what is a very complete nose. Closed in the mouth, maybe a little too cold. Needs time. Focussed and concentrated. Smooth. Balance. Yes.
The weakness of the notes is all mine. The excuse is that they are for me – an aide-memoire – rather than an audience. The success is that collectively they capture the vineyard: structured, big wines but with no lack of fruit or finesse, and also capture the impeccable tailoring of Mr Grivot. The tip is simple: buy this man’s wines. His 08s are still very easy to find and are very much wines for those that know their kit rather than those that like to show their kit off.