The very nice chaps at Pol Roger invited me to their tasting of the 2014 Burgundy vintage from Domaine Joseph Drouhin, for whom they are the UK agent. This is the second or third time I have attended this tasting, and it is always a favourite. Not only are the wines presented by the charmingly modest Veronique Drouhin, the samples are always immaculately prepared (though they did go missing for a few days last year) and the ambience is one of civilisation.
Whereas Bordeaux vintages can be easily staggered, or ordered, in terms of quality (average, good, very good, great), my view is that Burgundy vintages are more about style. Judging them from a qualitative view is flawed, and very difficult because technical quality in youth does not always equate to pleasure in age. 1999s, for example, are still quite tricky. 1996s are still waiting for the jury to come back in. 2007s, on the other hand, are quite, quite lovely despite being perceived as rather light, even weak, when first released. The lesson here? Buy the wines that you like every year, and profit from the fact that you might get a better allocation in a year where the trophy buyers are sitting it out.
Domaine Drouhin is in the upper tier of quality of the great Burgundy houses. The style, I find, is a gentle one. Sensual. And the house isn’t so big that their wines become anonymous. One gets the sense that, whilst this isn’t “grower” Burgundy, it’s not far off. And it has character.
I liked the reds from the bottom up; my notes on the more serious wines are below:
2014 Beaune 1er cru, Clos des Mouches
A touch of caramel on the nose. Glossy, with some punchy fruit underneath. This is slightly marked by the barrel today though there is some serious substance underneath which gives the impression of a rather strict, serious wine. One for the cellar.
This is ever so slightly reduced, though you can get through the reduction and there is some substance and some charm here. Sweet fruit and elegance. Lovely in the mouth: lifted, precise and very delicate. This is very lovely and rather good. Classy.
This is a little more reserved, a little stricter than the Charmes, which is as it should be. This follows in the mouth, which is all about structure. A structure that seems to surround the fruit rather than underpin it. Marked a little by the barrel, this is a masculine, austere Mazis. All as it should be and the fruit will more than stand up to the wood.
2014 Vosne-Romanée 1er cru, les Petits Monts
This is a rather special vineyard that sits above Richebourg, in between Reignots and Cros Parentoux. Veronique talks about it like it’s her favourite child. There is a clear touch of Vosne to the nose: that lift you get from Vosne at the top of the slope. A touch of barrel here, though that elevated, ethereal Vosne character prevails. Lovely. This is stuffed tight and is one for the cellar.
2014 Clos de Vougeot
Drouhin have two parcels in the Clos: one top-right by the château; the other at the bottom. The juice from the latter is usually sold off in bulk. This is clean, fresh, lifted and has some spice to the nose. A hint of real depth, and of Vosne (though the vineyard is closer to Musigny). Some length here – this is rather good.
2014 Grands Echézeaux
A touch of reduction. This is all here though a little severe today and not the easiest to judge, though the class does penetrate in the end – this finishes exceptionally well. Needs time.
2014 Bonnes Mares
Sweet, energetic fruit on the nose with a savoury edge to it. There is some obvious power to this, some punch. This follows in the mouth though there is a gentle cushion to the power. It gets softer in the finish, which goes on and on. Good.
A touch austere today, though the ingredients of greatness are all here. Closed, and clearly in a tricky state, though the class is clear. This is Musigny. It’s wings are tucked at the moment but there is a hint of the span, and this tastes of the vineyard more than anything else. Juice like this makes itself. On and on. Excellent.
On this showing 2014 looks like a decent vintage to me though, as ever, it’s all about buying from the producers you like, and I like Drouhin. The quantities here are so tiny that the wines will invariably sell out whatever the verdict: for those whose spend doesn’t get them an allocation of Petits Monts or Musigny (ha!) then the wines are very good at all levels, it’s just that my notes on the village wines, and most of the premier crus, are in the chocolate teapot league and do not do the wines justice. A couple of picks would be the Beaune Grèves and the Nuits St Georges 1er cru Procès – the latter worth a mention if only because it’s a NSG from the south of the town that I actually liked.