As the year draws to a close, I have made my list of my favourite wines I drank. 2013 has been an excellent year for us – as a young company we have grown remarkably. Our traditional values – pride of ownership, personal service, efficiency – have been the forefront of our growth. Even before the huge spike in interest in Burgundy we continued to emphasise buying and drinking these wonderful wines.
When I began my adventure in wine, I spent enough effort on discovering other regions. Looking, trying, exploring. There’s nothing wrong with that. But the path only led one way. I soon realised that this exercise was unavailing. No disrespect to growers in the other regions! It is just that the wine is not Burgundy. Maybe I have drank enough Burgundy to become so accustomed that any other wine is largely dismissed because it is not Burgundian. But no, I do not find those secret nuances, that overriding feeling that this is the chosen wine, that this is how wine is meant to be.
That is not to say that all the Burgundy wines are worth drinking. Choosing the producers you like is basically a reflection on your own taste, and at the beginning of your journey in wine, what the critic says. Finding your taste in wine, and believe me it is different to everybody else, is wonderful. I can guarantee it will change and develop from those first years you started drinking wine. Engulfed in each wine is a part of the wine-makers personality, perhaps his character, or the energy of the cellar the wine ‘grew up’ in. As for wines, we look too often at the score and then the style. It would be a whole lot easier for consumers if the main wine critics included in their note for each wine a few words on the style. I think that would help a lot of people find the wine they prefer, and save them money in the process, so they wouldn’t have to discover the hard way.
When I completed this list below I looked at each wine and thought what sets apart a very good wine from a great one. It is not just enough making the wine, which most Domaines do in pretty much a very similar way. It is that the very best wines, the ones that really move you, have an inner mystery.
This inner mystery will be masked under the energy, purity and truth of the wine. A bottle of wine is very much a living thing. It needs the right elevage, then in the cellar of the owner the right condition to come to its maturity. In life I see similarities. A child with a strong, supported upbringing will be stable and balanced in adulthood. People are attracted to people with good energy. Good energy heals. Purity of heart and soul. Truth. In a world filled with new found technology and money, we can sometimes leave behind the truth. But it is always there, within us. Being true and honest to myself is how I try to live my life. It is perhaps why I love to drink the wines I feel so connected to. You can find what you seek in them and you can delve deeper into your soul and ask if you see truth.
Top 10 Wines of the Year
1. Jacky Truchot Clos de la Roche 1990 – it is quite extraordinary that this ranks as one of my best ever wines but that most people even drinking Burgundy for a long time have not even heard of Jacky Truchot. A wonderful, beautiful wine, so seamless. It was more akin to having an Enya song swirl around your mouth. So memorable, so much joie de vivre. Drank at my favourite Italian in London, Bottega Prelibato.
2. Coche Dury Corton Charlemagne 2005 – An incredible white wine, and a lot more than that. I think it is better than the 1996, and had so much it is hard to really describe what really went on! To date my best white ever. I was lucky enough to drink two bottles this year. It really needs at least 3 hours of decanting.
3. Leflaive Batard Montrachet 1983 – This is a killer Batard! You could easily guess it blind as a Montrachet. Opulent, hugely energetic and just damn delicious. And 2 hours in the decanter only did good. Thank you I!
4. A. Rousseau Clos St Jacques 1971 – this is still around 5 years from peaking, which is really impressive for a 40+ year old 1er Cru. So very Gevrey on the nose, and well structured, it had wonderful length and character. A real treat to drink mature Rousseau. Thank you Richard!
5. Jacky Truchot Charmes Chambertin 2002 – so much truth, modesty, expression here. A real charmer and joyful wine. Outclassed many supposedly bigger wines on the night.
6. DRC Romanee St Vivant 1971 – drank alongside the Clos St Jacques 1971. This was perhaps more ‘delicious’ with a wonderful core. Was certainly at the ideal time to drink. A beautiful old lady, majestic and elegant.
7. DRC Richebourg 1976 – drank in Shanghai. Vitality and composure. A super Richebourg still with plenty of time ahead.
8. Henri Jayer Vosne Romanee 1988 – guessed blind as a Grand Cru. Amazingly this put on weight in the glass and developed so nicely. The magic of Burgundy! Gets the nod ahead of the 1990.
9. Henri Jayer Vosne Romanee 1990 – a real privilege to drink, very Vosne and certainly not village level…!
10. Raveneau Chablis Blanchots 1990 – very, very explosive and a real thoroughbred. Preferred to Les Clos 1990 on the day.
Top 5 Surprises:
1. Dujac Clos de la Roche 1997 – Quite a massive and structured wine – I thought it was Chambertin! Woops. Nothing quite like blind tasting. At least I got the vintage. Thank you J&J!
2. A. Rousseau “Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru” 1978 – this would have made the Top 10 list had the palate matched the wonderful aromatics. Its slight lack of complexity indicated it must have been either Lavaut St Jacques or Cazitieres, but not Clos St Jacques. Perhaps a blend? Nutty, earthy, aromatics, very seductive.
3. Paul Misset Clos Vougeot 1953 – what a surprise from a producer I didn’t know previously ! Not only alive but very fresh and up for the challenge. Behaved more like a a top 70’s than a 50’s Burg.
4. Mommessin Bonnes Mares 1969 – impressive 1969, well balanced and composed.
5. Arlaud Charmes Chambertin 2007 – the only modern-day producer whose wines remind me of Truchot. Will be the next big thing in Burgundy.
Top 3 Young Wines:
1. DRC La Tache 2005 – A Titan of a wine. Kaleidoscopic, never ending finish. Wait and you will be rewarded, big time.
2. A. Rousseau Chambertin 2010 – 4/4 preferred 2010 to 2009. An EPIC wine!
3. Liger Belair Vosne Romanee 1er Cru Brulees 2012 – always nice to taste wines that are not commercially released. Packed with a lovely array of Vosne aromatics. A really stunning wine. If only I could get a magnum…!
Top 5 Disappointing Wines
The wine mantra goes – “There is no great wine just great bottles”. The following bottles were all technically fine – i.e no oxidation, cork taints etc. But of course other bottles would have to be tried to prove an inconsistency. Wines like DRC do bring a lot of expectation but you can’t help feeling that in the same way a well-paid footballer has to perform, so does an expensive wine. Which isn’t always the case!
1. DRC Montrachet 1999 – would really avoid! Was more like a very good 1er Cru rather than a DRC Montrachet.
2. DRC Grands Echezeaux 2004 – Would also avoid unless you just really want to go label-drinking.
3. Leflaive Batard Montrachet 2005 – Inconsistent vintage for Leflaive, as is 03,04 and 06. Back to ruling Puligny with 07.
4. Raveneau Chablis Montee de Tonnerre 1996 – Expected a lot more, two bottles were just dull.
5. DRC Romanee St Vivant 2001 – Big expectations for what’s meant to be one of the best RSV’s of recent years.
Top Non-Burgundy Wines
I can only really remember Latour 1982 being special and yes it is very true what is said about this wine!
Top 3 Value Wines
1. A. Jobard Bourgogne Blanc 2009 – my house wine. Love it, a mini-Meursault.
2. Coche Dury Monthelie 2005 – Coche Dury’s reds are so delicious. It is scary to think what he would do with a Cote de Nuits 1er Cru. If you ever see any of his reds, don’t hesitate you will never be disappointed.
3. D. Leroy Bourgogne Rouge 2009 – a nice taste of Leroy, its only fault being you can’t pin point to a certain village. But if you’re doing that for a Bourgogne rouge…!
Nearly made it…
Clair Dau Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru 1979 – this should really be in the top 10, a real stunner from one of my favourite vintages of 70’s. A difficult time for the Domaine didn’t affect this wine, which had bucket loads of complexity, game and character. A throw back to the good old days of real old school Burgundy. Clair Dau’s reputation was on par with Roumier and Rousseau as the top producers in Burgundy. Sadly the Domaine was dissolved and parcels sold in the 80’s.
Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze 1993, Auvenay Auxey Duresses 2004 & Raveneau Les Clos 1985
Rousseau Chambertin 1990, Auvenay Folatrieres 1999, Roulot Perrieres 2004, DRC Grands Echezeaux 1980, DRC Romanee St Vivant 1976 Rene Engel Grands Echezeaux 1993, Coche Dury Meursault 2000, Coche Dury Corton Charlemagne 2000, DRC Echezeaux 1995, Rousseau Clos de la Roche 1990, Ponsot Clos St Denis 1983, Leroy Corton Charlemagne 2001, Rousseau Clos St Jacques 1993, Leflaive Folatrieres 1996, Raveneau Les Clos 2000.
Thanks for listening. Here’s to another great year ahead.