2007 Burgundy tasting – Coutts Wine Society

As the 2011 Bordeaux en-primeur campaign starts rumbling, we jumped at the opportunity to get our last fix of fine Burgundy for the next couple of months by presenting a 2007 Burgundy tasting in Coutts’swish office on the Strand. 

The 2007 vintage in Burgundy saw summer conditions in the spring (over 30 degrees in April) followed by a very wet and cold summer which had winemakers really worried by August 15th. However, an uninterrupted spell of warm and dry weather through the autumn completely saved the vintage, producing soft, rounded and approachable wines with a streak of zingy acidity. These wines’ early drinkability (and their very sensible prices) was the main reason for the theme of that tasting, and we were extremely pleased by just how well both reds and whites showed. 

 The typically well-behaved and knowledgeable audience of the Coutts Wine Society were “treated” to a (hopefully not too) lengthy introduction on Burgundy and on the 2007 vintage in general, before delving into the wines. We tried to pick the wines to provide interesting comparisons: village Puligny-Montrachet in a lean and elegant style against 1er Cru Chassagne-Montrachet from a similarly elegant vineyard but from a producer reputed for generous wines; one of the very best producers in Volnay against one of the very best producers in Pommard to see the stylistic difference between the villages; a red Chassagne-Montrachet from an iron-rich soil (more typical of the Côte de Nuits) against a delicate Chambolle-Musigny; and finally, in a battle of the Nuits, a 1er Cru Vosne-Romanée (velvet glove) against a 1er Cru Gevrey-Chambertin (iron fist).  

 The evening was a resounding success and the wines sparked much debate, with the room nicely divided between all the wines when it came to deciding everyone’s favourite wine of the tasting. We came back with only two questions in mind: is there enough Clos-St-Jean left for both of us to have a few bottles, and will either of us have the patience or discipline to age it any longer?

If you too are looking for drinking Burgundy to consume over the next 3-5 years, do have a look at our selection of 2007 Red Burgundies and 2007 White Burgundies, they are very much worth a try. 

 Wine # 1: 2007 Puligny-Montrachet, Etienne Sauzet
The fresh, clean and precise nose of this Puligny was followed on the palate by surprising richness and maturity already, although the streak of minerality and fresh acidity were still very much present. Many tasters’ favourite white for its elegance, this was a great way to start the tasting. 

Wine # 2: 2007 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru « Les Caillerets », Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot
In comparison, Jean-Marc Pillot’s 1er cru Chassagne definitely wears its colours proudly. The nose faithfully announces the rich, buttery, spicy and complex style of the wine. The length of flavours was great and in this taster’s opinion, the combination of a terroir reputed for producing mineral, elegant wines, and the know-how of a winemaker who likes to produces round and generous wines yielded fantastic results and great balance of flavour, with the mineral spine of acidity offering a superb backbone for the creamy, fat and delicious mid-palate.  

Wine # 3: 2007 Volnay, Domaine Lafarge 
This showed beautifully, with a super pretty nose of red berry fruits, lovely floral notes and showing real vibrancy and energy. As we had hoped, the palate showed Volnay’s typical elegance and grace. Relatively high, refreshing acidity, pure fruit and lacy tannins. Drinking perfectly now and an excellent example of how good Volnay can be.

Wine # 4: 2007 Pommard 1er Cru, Domaine du Comte Armand
Again showing well, the 2007 Comte Armand 1er cru Pommard shows much more concentration than the Volnay, with plenty of attractive dark berry fruit and a slightly gamey note. Really plush texture, but the tannins are certainly making their presence felt at this time. In contrast to the more elegant and refined Volnay, this classic, masculine Pommard needs time. Two very contrasting styles of wine, both showing off what great wine can be found in the Côte de Beaune. 

Wine # 5: Chassagne-Montrachet rouge 1er Cru « Clos-St-Jean », Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot
Chassagne-Montrachet is much better known for producing Chardonnay than Pinot Noir. The white wines of Chassagne-Montrachet command higher prices and are in much more demand than the red wines. However the majority of soil in Chassagne is iron rich clay, which is actually better suited to Pinot Noir. This means that Chassagne can be a source of excellent and seriously undervalued red burgundy. Jean Marc Pillot’s Clos-St-Jean is about the finest example of red Chassagne and the 2007 shows exactly how good it can be. The bouquet is simply magnificent; glorious raspberry, cherry and intensely floral aromas leap from the glass. Showing excellent concentration, the colour is nice and deep and the palate rich and intense, yet harmonious and very burgundian. At approximately half the price of an equivalent quality red from the Côte de Nuits, 2007 Clos-St-Jean represents incredible value. 

Wine # 6: 2007 Chambolle-Musigny « Cuvée des Cigales », Domaine Ponsot
 Laurent Ponsot’s habit of picking later than most in the Côtes de Nuits really paid off in 2007, thanks to the long spell of dry, sunny and warm weather in the autumn. This Chambolle-Musigny is an excellent example of the style of the commune, with its beautifully floral notes and delicate, silky texture. It really lingered and stood up to the power and persistence of the 1er Cru Chassagne very well indeed.

Wine # 7: 2007 Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru « Clos des Réas », Domaine Michel Gros
Michel Gros’ « Clos des Réas », a monopoly vineyard (only one owner for the whole vineyard rather than the multitude of parcel owners, courtesy of Napoleonic inheritance law, that are the norm in most of the region), could very much aspire to Grand Cru status in its best years. Our cunning plan to pit the velvety richness of its produce against the masculine, spicy and full-bodied 1er cru Gevrey-Chambertin worked perfectly. This Vosne was just stunning, with juicy, very pure flavours of raspberry liqueur and hints of violets, the whole beautifully framed by unobtrusive yet firm structure. If Clos-St-Jean deserved the title for best value for money, surely it is hard to argue against Clos des Réas being the most ‘moreish’ (and perhaps best?) wine of the evening.

 Wine # 8: 2007 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Le Craipillot”, Domaine Humbert Frères
Of course Manou Humbert would probably be the one to contest that statement. Having swapped places with his brother over a decade ago, leaving (though never for very long) his beloved vines to take the helm at the winery, he really knows how to make a delicious wine in the style that has made Gevrey-Chambertin’s reputation. His Craipillot, made from 65 year-old vines in what Manou would describe as a more “feminine” style of Gevrey, was still endowed with great power and concentration. Its cocktail of rich, red fruit compote with white pepper and a burst of white chocolate on the finish was simply stunning and a perfect conclusion to what had been a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Ludovic Surina and Al Luffingham

 

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