Tag Archives: Cote d’Or

Bentleigh Tasting Group – Morey-St-Denis

The Bentleigh Tasting Group met again recently, and this time the theme was a particular appellation in the Cote-d’Or of Burgundy; Morey-St-Denis. Not unlike the first tasting, it was incredibly hard to source wines for this tasting, particularly as it was a single appellation, and the wine also had to be younger 2008 or younger. On a fixed income the $100 price tag was a bit tough, but at the end of the day it was worth it to be able to taste not one but 10 outstanding examples. Also like the first tasting and limited access to wine there were two bottles that were the same, and again through bottle variation looked different. Here are my notes from the tasting. Continue reading

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So good they named it twice (Cote de Beaune, France – Day Two)

The famous village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape wasn’t always named as such, it was renamed from just Chateauneuf after the Papal regime had all of their best vineyards here back in the 15th century. The association with this important period in history was strong enough to change the name of the village, thereby highlighting the importance of viticulture, and today it is the largest single appelation in France. This isn’t the only village in France that has changed its name to signify the importance of viticulture, some of the most famous are in Burgundy. Within the Cote d’Or, villages that neighboured the best grand cru vineyards began to take the name of the vineyard to lift their profile. Gevrey became Gevrey-Chambertin, Chambolle became Chambolle-Musigny, Vosne became Vosne-Romanee and Aloxe became Aloxe Corton. Arguably the most famous white wines in the world come from the Montrachet Grand Cru vineyards which are between the villages of Puligny and Chassagne, and thus they both took the name of the vineyard and became Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet respectively. In a way this is like a seal of approval or a sponsorship, but in the same way that a sponsorship from Pepsi doesn’t guarantee that The Spice Girls are good, just because the fruit comes from a classified vineyard it doesn’t mean it will be the same style or the same quality. This is one of the problems with the appelation classification system, is that it is merely for a place and not for the human influence, and two wines from the same vineyard but a different producer can be very different. As I always say, trust the producer first and the rest will follow.

Barrels and bottles

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A Beaune to pick (Cote de Beaune, France – Day One)

Something that amazed me when I first came to Burgundy back in 2010 was how small the region was compared to how important it was, particularly in comparison to Bordeaux which is as big as it is important. The Cote d’Or stretches for about 40 kilometres from North-East to South-West, and is as narrow as 500 metres wide in such places as Premeaux-Prissey. The amount of wine that is produced can’t be that much considering the yields of only a few tonnes per hectare, and yet you can find Burgundy all around the world. Despite the relatively small size of the region there are a lot of differences between each part, particularly between the Cote des Nuits and the Cote de Beaune. The Cote de Beaunes starts in Aloxe-Corton, stretches north of the town of Beaune (the heart of the Cote d’Or) and continues past it all the way to just past Chassagne-Montrachet. I was always confused by the claim that the red wines of the Cote des Nuits were more feminine than their counterparts further south, whereas I (and several of my fellow students at university) felt the opposite was true. Pinot noir from the Cote de Beaune is first and foremost lighter, more pure and fresh, shows the minerality better and most importantly is more approachable sooner. I much prefer the red wines of the Cote de Beaune for all of these reasons, but it is also the chardonnay wines that distinguish this part of Burgundy as supreme, with the Montrachet Grand Cru parcels producing arguably the best white wines in the world. I was thrilled to visit three producers today that all exemplify the style of the Cote des Beaune yet have their own unique expression of it.

Ma Cuisine, one of the best dining experiences of my trip

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Domaine Bruno Colin – 11/12/2012

Chassagne-Montrachet 2011
Brisk very bright and crisp, sharp biting citrus notes. Quite creamy in texture actually, very gentle and supple, quite sexy, supple, lovely and round and approachable, wonderfully appealing style with just a little cheekiness.

Charmois Saint Aubin Premier Cru 2011
Moving into a melon area, a little rich and creamy on the nose. Soft gentle supple and subtle, some creamy sweet texture, a little nut characteristic, round and opulent but not heavy or fat. Quite rich and ripe though, good acidity but perhaps lacking in precision.

Les Chaumees Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru 2010
Smoky toasty ripe peach lemon, creamy richness, very intense and fine. Generous and rich again, nice and ripe, white peach moving into some pineapple and lime, very supple and generous, a hands off approach but not the same crispness and high acids as previous producers. Texture good.

Les Maltroie Chassagne-Montrachet Premier 2010
Bolder concentration, very heavy mineralics and florals, ripe dense stone fruit, full expression. Generous again, subdued, lacking a little intensity and character, the wines are on the simple side for now, they may improve with age. I’d like to see some funky things being done on the wines. Perhaps fining them or fermenting in tank is not the way to go, too modern?

Les Maltroie Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru 2008
Honey lemon floral mineral, a little waxy, a little cheesy. Very bright and fresh, nice intensity, some zing and bite to it, much better expression, high acids and freshness, appears younger and more exuberant than the 2010 somehow.

Chassagne-Montrachet Vielles Vignes 2010
Dark intense fruits, black olives, a little spice and brambley characters. Dark and extractive on the palate, full robust and not-subtle tannins, quite biting and a little aggressive, thankfully not heavy or too long. But a bit of a work-out. Right decision to move towards stainless steel tanks.

Domaine Bruno Colin

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Domaine Blain-Gagnard – 11/12/2012

Chassagne-Montrachet 2011
Bright crisp fresh citrus, quite flinty mineralic and zingy, some burnt toast. Dense and compact, good level of ripeness adding some weight and structure, not too tense or aggressive, supportive acids. Approachable but with lots of character.

Clos St Jean Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru 2011
Quite aromatic but not too exuberant, friendly but elegant and fine, nice minerality, fresh and forward. Quite light and fresh, very precise and direct, a little but more density and structure, more length as well. Complex but tight for now, needs another year in the bottle. Balanced with good personality.

Boudriotte Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru 2011
Denser darker mineralic quality, black limestone granite, less fruit and less floral. Extremely tight and closed, much longer and more complex on the palate, heavy mineral qualities, density and structure, compact but still very elegant and well balanced.

Morgeot Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru 2011
More aromatic, richer and denser nose, floral ripe stone fruit characters, very intense and flinty. Deeper and richer, very round and certainly a much more contemplative wine. Opulent and rich without being fat and heavy, some creamy texture but still retaining freshness acidity and minerality on the palate.

Caillerets Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru 2011
Intense flinty seashell citrus floral notes, bright and fresh yet concentrated and full. Soft and generous, forgiving but firm, quite dense in structure, round and rich but focused, great purity and longevity, Approachable but deserving of cellaring, sits in the perfect spot, wonderfully balanced.

Criots Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2011
Quite complex and intense, very deep and brooding, still quite charming with floral and nice ripe stone fruit characters, but showing very assured minerality. Astonishingly subtle, deep complexity, exceptional length, expressive but elegant, some freshness but much more serious, and more deserving of cellaring.

Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2011
Not as expressive and open, certainly not in a floral vein, brooding and complex, quite stoic in fact. Just a hint of salty caramel and some green elements. More subtle and complex but without the same structure, less intensity of minerals, fresh but very quiet and lacking a little character. All on the mid- and back-palate.

Le Montrachet Grand Cru 2011
Very seductive but also very mysterious, lots going on all in harmony so nothing really stands out, there are some interesting lanolin characters though. Intense balanced broad yet focused, the best length of all. Really not expressing much at all, extremely mysterious and slightly confusing wine. Amazing though, needs time.

2011 Chassagne Montrachet
Lovely bright red fruits some spice and a little earthy. Wonderful purity and minerality, freshness and acidity but all about the red fruits, soft fresh tannins.

2011 Clos St Jean Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru
Bright fresh red fruits on the nose but also a little smoky and stalky, on the brown characters, Soft round opulent and silky tannins.

2011 Morgeot Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru
Slightly darker in colour but still very light and pure. A little more savoury and ripe vegetal characters. Fresh but more intense and rustic, density and better for aging, more masculine and robust. Expressive but the tannins are pretty strong now, the fruit isn’t expressing very much.

2011 Pitures Volnay Premier Cru
Bright fresh and intense, red fruits with a little but of blood orange as well. Dense and a little tannic, perhaps needs a little more ripeness in the fruit, certainly more time in bottle. On the rustic side, certainly long.

2011 Champaux Volnay Premier Cru
Much darker fruits; blackcurrant black berry blueberry, black olives on the nose as well. Better structure fuller and rounder, soft but firm tannins, much better balance and expression.

2011 Pommard
Nice fresh bright clean expression of the dark fruits and earthy masculinity rusticity of the appelation. Nice and soft and generous which has a lot to do with the vintage.

Domaine Blain-Gagnard

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Marc Morey – 10/12/2012

Bourgogne Aligote 2011
very tight fresh green citrus, a little citric tropical notes too. Nice and full flavoured, very fresh with good acidity, friendly and balanced, nothing wrong with it at all, just a good dry young drinking white wine with some texture and length.

Saint Aubin Charmois Premier Cru 2011
Classic chardonnay, bright rich ripe citrus and peach, good minerality on the nose. Dense and ripe, taken to good point of ripeness, perhaps some skin contact or perhaps the lees contact, richness depth and length, ripe and full on the palate, some length but not super long.

Chassagne 2011
A little richer and soapier on the nose, more minerality coming through, a little leesy but very mineralic. Wonderful purity and density, good depth and extension, long and straight but in a few will open out a little.

Les Chenvottes Chassagne Premier Cru 2010
Much more complexity on the nose, showing the seashell characters, some sweet smoky notes, a little toasty brioche. Very rich creamy but not fat, quite delicate with great finesse, nice ripeness and lines, round on the palate, plenty more time to develop. Good density and intensity of minerals.

En Virondot Chassagne Premer Cur 2009
Very open mineral nose, crush sea shell elements, a little rubbery, perhaps closed. Very delicate ripe tropical notes. Volume and weight but already shifting backwards on the palate, more alcohol and viscosity, but well handled, good balance and freshness, nice integrated oak and plenty of acidity.

Les Vergers Chassagne Premier Cru 2008
Very intense, already ageing very well, concentrated tight vintage, fruit characters fleshing and opening out a lot. Picking up some developed richness from some age, round rich and creamy, developed fruit and minerality, showing even some sweet caramel notes. Full but soft texture, very long and complex.

En Virondot Chassagne Premier Cru 2008
Very intense, very quiet, very complex. Extremely complete chardonnay. Simply stunning. Nothing more to say.

Morgeot Chassagne Premer Cru 2006
Dark and deep, black fruits and black olives. Very young for its age. Quite full and intense but not heavy at all, nice and fresh and precise, good purity and finesse, ripe and intense yes but not at the sacrifice of elegance and approachability. Sitting in a nice place.

Domaine Marc Morey

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Ballot-Millot – 10/12/2012

2011 Meursault
Surprising amount of minerality, a little green, a little flint. Nice and straight, good texture, nice mouth feel, good savoury components, not too rich or fat or heavy, ot creamy quite crunchy, not what I imagined Meursault to be.

2011 Les Criots Meursault
Toastier and more intense burnt minerals, almost magma-like, deeper and broader also richer in texture, but still not heavy fat or too creamy, not over ripe, plenty of good savoury flavours and textures. Deserving of cellaring.

2011 Narveaux Meursault
Softer and quieter, more complex, less vibrancy, needs more time. Fine straight, a little creaminess, quite closed for the moment, needs a little more time.

2011 Meursault Charmes Premier Cru
Denser riper yellow floral and citrus notes, very intense scratchy minerality, Rich rolling ripeness, tall on the palate, straight and focused but lifted and dense at the same time. Nice balance and extension, a little citrus pith note.

2011 Meusault Genevrieres
Volumous bold and rich, very intense smoky flinty minerality. Very rich ripe and complex, broad but also focused, very gentle texture, creamy but not fat or sweet, round and rolling, still bright with some floral notes.

2011 Meursault Perriere
Green vegetal smoky minerality, tight linear citrus lime notes. Denser and a little too tight on the front, a biting acidity almost tart, perhaps too much tartaric acidity. Definitely needing more time.

2011 Chassagne Morgeot
Closed but complex, very shy and unassuming, Soft and light but really building on the palate, like a coiled spring waiting to explode, very intense and serious, wonderfully rich and mineralic but needing time.

Volnay Santenots 2010 Premier Cru
Nice tight bright classic Cote de Beaune nose, red cherry with some stalky elements as well. Fresh pure but inense, good ripe red fruits, approachable and balanced with finesse elegance and mouth filling soft tannins. Couldn’t ask for more.

Volnay Taille-pieds 2010 Premier Cru
Soft quiet delicate nose, long and elegant, some brightness but not the same intensity. Perfect silky tannins, very elegant and long, still fresh and bright, a touch of warmth on the end. Soft and haunting.

Pommard Charmots Premier Cru 2010
Light and fruity, quite candied and fresh, very bright but also soft. Soft silky ripe round, nice dark red sweet fruits, very delicate with some nice supporting minerality and savoury texture.

Pommard Pezerolles Premier Cru 2010
Darker fuller and more roust with floral notes. Richer and fuller, a little bit heavier and denser but still amazingly delicate and rich compared to other appelations and producers. Wonderful purity and depth, round and long with silky tannins. I do love silky tannins.

Domaine Ballot-Millot

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Benjamin Leroux – 10/12/2012

Bourgogne Blanc 2011
Lovely and bright, crisp and fresh, very minimal oak, malo or lees influence. Great citrus purity. Wonderfully fresh, clean and balanced, just enough complexity from the work in the cellar, but in no way interfering with the expression of the terroir and the variety. Zingy and zesty for now with a hint of sweet ripeness, approachable but very fine and elegant. Good start.

Saint-Aubain Premier Cru 2011
A little smokier and toastier, more struck-match, tighter more mineralic but still bright attractrive fruit. A little richer and more intense on the palate, rounder and warmer. Denser and more structure, a little darker and more powerful, much more aging potential.

Vireuils Meursault 2011
Much richer creamier and more buttery in youth, finer sweeter smoky minerality, Very mineralic in structure and texture, intense and warm, creamy and rich but not at all fat or too round. Quite harmonious and contained, fine and elegant but still expressive.

Narvaux Meusault 2011
Noticeable influence from fossilised sea-shells as it has that oyster clam shell aroma. Richer but a little bit greener herbaceous vegetative influence. Totally different aromatically to the previous wine. Purity and finesse, very compact in the middle and also focused, but really opens out beautifully at the back. Has some creaminess that will continue to evolve over time.

Puligny 2011
Quite intense minerality, very smoky struck match flinty notes, a little lees influence, crisp bright citrus notes. Very fine and quite closed on the front but gradually opens out building complexity and is exceptionally long on the palate, lasts a long time. Beautifully integrated and balanced, wonderful restraint and respectful winemaking.

Embazees Chassagne Premier Cru 2011
Pure fine elegant, a little richer and riper, moving from citrus to a little topical, some crunchiness and depth. Fuller rounder more volumous, bolder but still very elegant and fine.

Tete du Clos Chassagne Premier Cru 2011
More flinty and more floral, lifted and less density on the nose. More expressible on the front palate, denser and more masculine somehow, dirtier and more textured, grainier and more deserving of cellaring. A little wilder in character.

Clos de la Cave du Duc Volnay Premier Cru 2011
Dark and deep, but firm and structured, balanced and approachable but very young with plenty of time ahead of it. Great structure and expression, but volume and length, soft yet firm tannins.

Champeaux Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru 2011
Brighter tighter spicier, darker and earthier, ruby characters. Bolder and more forward, powerful expression of fruit and terroir, earthy masculinity, full and unctuous but very focused and pure.

Hautorey (?) Nuits-St-Georges Premier Cru 2011
Darker colour and aroma, quite stinky in an almost reductive way, still settling down, starting to think this is also terroir derived. Full yet soft and voluptuous, very complex and long, nice balance of fruit earth and savoury green notes.

Grillotes Chambertin Grand Cru 2011
Very shy and closed, very intense and brooding, stoic style of burgundy. Wild and intense on the palate, powerful yet fresh and soft, really intense on the mid-palate, big expressive and a little bit of sweet dark fruit, but intense and integrated. Far far too young.

Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru 2011
Wild herbaceous cherry stalks, deep spicy notes. Intense but bright and fresh, not overtly rich fruit, spice and very intense tannin structure.

Benjamin Leroux

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What goes around (Cote des Nuits, France – Day Three)

Now that winter has arrived I feel like I’ve come full circle in Europe because I arrived mid January in Paris. Back in February when I was in Germany you may remember that the temperature dropped well below zero and there was quite a bit of snow in regions like the Mosel, Rheingau and Franken. The morning of my third day in the Cote d’Or I awoke to falling snow that continued all morning and covered the cars, houses and buildings quite beautifully. It also made driving a little more challenging both for visibility reasons but also as the road was a little slippery. Seeing this just reinforces the fact that these wine regions North of the Loire Valley really are very cool-climate, and you would very rarely see snow in any regions in Australia, even further south in Tasmania. These cold temperatures and snow or frost are of course the reason that grape vines go into dormancy by turning brown and into canes, to protect themselves. It’s a shame that humans can’t develop a hard exterior that perfectly protects them over the winter, we would save a fortune on heating expenses, warm clothes and car problems. My final day in the Cote des Nuits I visited three small producers all with a different approach and expression.

Nuits-St-George vineyards under snow

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Expressions of interest (Cote des Nuits, France – Day Two)

One of the true revelations of my journey has been to discover the four components of what makes a great wine which must all be present and in balance. The first is the vine (obviously), but more importantly the right variety for the place. The place is the second component; for lack of a better term the terroir or the environment, which includes the climate but not the weather. The weather is a part of the third component which is the vintage, and how the specifics of the entire year can influence the character. The final component is the influence that people have, which includes everything viticulturally, oenologically, philosophically, spiritually and financially. All four components have their own influence on the character of the wine and to be a great wine they must be all working together, however one or more of the four often stands out more than the others whether intentionally or not. The most common component to dominate is the human influence of winemaking and something I am beginning to realise is that this is true in every region, even here in Burgundy. Winemakers whether deliberately or not want to impart their signature on the wine through anything from skin contact, use of oak, fruit sorting, ripeness of fruit at harvest and even the type and amount of filtration. So even within a single vineyard you may have slightly (or very) different expressions of the other three components. My day consisted of three appointments, all north of the village of Nuits-St-George.
Water is an important resource for wine production

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