As to be expected with 66 tasting wines (all in verticals) and 8 dinner wines, there were some delicious wines to be had.
Here was the line up:
Jean-Paul Droin – Chablis Le Clos Grand Cru – 2006, 2005, 2003, 2002
Jean-Marc Boillot – Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Champs Canet – 2007, 2006, 2004, 2002
Jean-Philippe Fichet – Meursault Tesson – 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002
François Jobard – Meursault 1er Cru Genévrières – 2006, 2004, 2002, 2001
Bonneau du Martray – Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru – 2006, 2004, 2003
Jean-Marie Fourrier – Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St Jacques – 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003
Louis Boillot – Gevrey Chambertin Evocelles – 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003
Christian Sérafin – Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru – 2002, 2001, 1999, 1998
Domaine des Lambrays – Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru – 2006, 2005, 2004
Domaine Ponsot – Clos de la Roche VV Grand Cru – 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997
Ghislaine Barthod – Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Beaux Bruns – 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998
Nicolas Potel – Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru – 2006, 2005, 2004, 2002
Domaine de l’Arlot – Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Clos des Fôrets – 2006, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001
Tollot-Beaut – Beaune 1er Cru Les Grèves – 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002
Joseph Voillot – Pommard 1er Cru Rugiens – 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000
It would take pages if I commented on each of these wines, so I’m taking the short route and writing of the highlights. It first must be said that all growers presented some excellent wines. On the night, certain wines sang in operatic voices, others in more melodic soft tones. As with most wines, there were occasionally some variations between bottles.
The Reds: Ponsot showed a tremendous range of wines which showed the depth and breadth that Clos de la Roche can achieve. The 2000, though not a long ager, was notably appealing and savoury. Quite a few people’s favourites were Domaine des Lambrays wine (notably the 2005 & 2006), though Christian’s Serafin’s reds were just unbelievably appealing and open, giving their all. It cannot be denied that Domaine de l’Arlot’s Nuits St Georges were also strutting their stuff so to speak with impressive velvety tannins and youthful vigour. Ghislaine’s Beaux Bruns didn’t disappoint and her 2002 was at the top of its game (the 2000 didn’t show as well on the night but pulled up its bootstraps the following day. I’m still drinking it and smiling!). Voillot and Tollot-Beaut found a new set of fans as they were unknown to some while some clients deemed Nicolas Potel and Jean-Marie Fourrier to have some “˜wines of the night’.
The Whites: Many people were thoroughly impressed with BenoÃ®t Droin’s wines (and those who did not know him well were pleasantly surprised). Jean-Philippe Fichet had an excellent assortment of wines. His 2002 Tesson showed like a bright constellation (with the 2002 Chevalières at dinner), clearly indicated that 2002 was a superb vintage for him. Jean-Marc’s Boillot’s wines were beautifully balanced. My favourite was the 2004 which was refined and fresh with notes of lemon zest and butterscotch. Though impressive with concentration, the Bonneau du Martray was probably the least impressive. I am a fan of their Corton Charlemagne generally, but they didn’t shine as much as I was expecting.
Chablis Grand Cru Valmur Droin 2005 – This wine was rich and ample with lots of spice and heady orchard fruit. Subtle gunflint (“˜mineral reduction’) on the nose. Despite its intense personality, it remains fresh, particularly on finish. Lots of minerality and still quite tight. This is Allen’s personal favourite Chablis vineyard and he does not feel that it is less great than Le Clos.
Meursault Chevalières Fichet 2002 – A spectacular beauty which was refined, focused and silky. On the palate, it offers fresh lemon juice, pear, almonds and lightly toasted brioche. Unbelievable freshness. Allen commented on how Jean-Philippe likes to “˜shape’ his wines with minerality. Couldn’t be truer here. My favourite from the whites.
Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru Bonneau du Martray 2000 (en magnum) – This wine got mixed reviews. Some people complained about light oxidation. Luckily, our table did not experience this problem. If there was any issue with the wine, it was that it was too young and as a result perhaps a bit awkward (a bit of decanting would have probably helped). The wine was fleshy, rich and round and quite powerful with notes of macadamia nuts, petrol and oatmeal. It was not as poised as other vintages but one couldn’t fault its concentration. Lots of minerality on the finish.
Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Fonteny Serafin 1999 – This wine too had a bit of bottle variation. Some suffered from some “˜bretty’, animal flavours while others less so. Nonetheless, it was a wine appreciated my many. Velvety and ample, this was full-throttle Gevrey at its best. Allen described it as “˜classic pungent Gevrey with lots of density’.
Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru 1999 – Perhaps the star of the evening, the 1999 was aromatic with dark and brooding notes of blackcurrant and blackberry. The palate was sweet and dense. Delicious through-and-through with lots of potential to age. Allen discussed the history of the vineyard (since 1365!) and described the 1999 as “˜genius in its elegance’.
Chapelle Chambertin Grand Cru Ponsot 1999 – This wine had a bit of bottle variation – the 3 bottles I had were all slightly different. The finest one was the last one which showed a velvety plump core or red and blackberry fruit, some brown sugar and subtle aniseed. Quite powerful and still a bit backward. This bottle would have benefited from a bit of decanting. Towards the end of the evening, it just blossomed in the glass.
Corton Grand Cru Tollot-Beaut 1996 – Allen described 1996 as “˜the vintage of the North Wind’ as the wind kicked up before harvest concentrating not only the sugar but the acidity as well. It also made the skins thicker. For this reason, many were not sure how long the wines would need to come round. This 1996 was definitely in this category. Still superbly young, its palate was notably tight with notes of pink grapefruit, savoury meat and spice. With all this in mind, it tasted fantastic 2 days later once it had time to open up! Decanting highly recommended (or further cellaring).
Volnay 1er Cru Fremiets Voillot 1983 – The most controversial wine of the night, Jean-Pierre Charlot wanted to present a wine that many deemed “˜undrinkable’ in its youth due to its high acidity and enamel-stripping tannins yet evolved into something ethereal and elegant with age. This wine may have had the most variation (or people’s tastes in wine are significantly different!). I have heard certain negative statements saying that they felt the wine was “˜dirty’ and “˜way over the hill’. The bottle at my table was very different. It offered notes of sweet leather, dried berry fruit and the ubiquitous “˜forest floor’. Its acidity was pungent and mouthpuckering – no doubt about that – but it was also super silky and poised with incredible length. No where close to death. Beautiful, classic old Burgundy.