Burgundy 2011 Day Five: Pulignys in Pommard, masterclass in Volnay and mature bottles

Our last day in Burgundy was much more about getting home to our respective families before the weekend than it was about wine tasting, but we did manage to squeeze in a couple of tastings in the morning, and very nice they were too.

Lay & Wheeler En Primeur, Burgundy 2011

First stop was Jean-Marc Boillot’s house in Pommard to taste his range of Puligny-Montrachets (confusing, isn’t it?). Jean-Marc is a very loveable character, passionate, articulate and very thorough in his responses to our insightful questions. Oh yes, and he also has fabulous vineyards inherited from the original Sauzet estate (his Grandfather’s) from which he makes some of our favourite whites in the entire Côtes de Beaune. His wines are most impressive for the terroir expression, lifted aromatics and precision they show, and choosing a favourite between the tense, precise and mineral Réferts, the fat, creamy and opulent Combettes, and the exotic fruit, mineral finish and brilliant length of the Truffières is very hard indeed.

Domaine Michel Lafarge was our last visit of the week. It really is a treat to visit this domaine, partly because the Volnays here are among the very best, but also because the combined experience of father and son means that one always leaves a little more knowledgeable about Burgundy. The Volnay village was a model of purity, the Mitans reinforced our newly-found love of this vineyard, and the Clos des Chênes demonstrated just how powerful a wine can be whilst remaining lifted, complex and elegant. Pretty much as good as wine gets!

A quick stop in the local bakery to pick up the ingredients for our lunch on our way to the airport, and we finally had a chance to reflect upon our visit. 2011 Burgundies, from the great addresses we work with, is particularly interesting for the purity and freshness of the fruit. It does not boast the sort of intensity and concentration of 2009 or 2010 but the elegance and pretty nature of the wines means they will have a deserved space in any Burgundy amateur’s cellar, especially as they won’t require quite the same level of patience as its predecessors before they hit their peak.

Our final thoughts as we started the long way home lingered on the few bottles of mature Burgundies we were lucky enough to try during the week. The 2001 Latricières-Chambertin at Rossignol-Trapet; the 1979 Vosne-Romanée Aux Beaumonts at Domaine Georges Noëllat, and the vertical tasting of Chambolle-Musignys (’95, ’96, ’99, ’00, ’01 and ’02) at Maison Roche de Bellene. These bottles showed us, as if it was needed, why it is worth investing time, energy (and, let’s be honest, money) in Burgundy. Whilst the barrel samples are delicious in good vintages like the past three, the complexity, liquid velvet texture and mind-blowingly intricate flavours these wines develop with age are just fabulous, and any of these bottles would have been quite enough, we feel, to convert any non-drinker of Burgundy into a die-hard aficionado. We went home full of renewed enthusiasm for the region and a common resolution to drink as much old Burgundy as our livers and wallets will allow.

Ludovic Surina

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