Every end of the year I compile a short list of the best wines I had in that year. Every year seems to bring new surprises and experiences. Long may that continue. The more wines I drink the more the mystery of the Burgundy terroir widens. I’m sure scientists will call it the geological make up of the soil, or something like that. But taste these wines and tell me that it’s that. Like some things on this Earth, I believe that there are things we are not meant to understand. The mystery of the terroir is something that is on another dimension of understanding. The maximum we can do is continue to appreciate what nature’s giving us and just enjoy it. Thank you for contributing to what was a fantastic year for us. We have the best job in the world and thanks for being part of it. Happy New Year. – Adam.
10. Crotet Vosne Romanee “Les Raviolles” 1996 (made by Henri Jayer) – At the Hostellerie de Levernois just outside Beaune, you can eat good food. And drink perhaps even better. After going through a good few bottles already, I asked if there were any gems in the cellar not on the menu, and shortly after the manager came back with a few bottles. One of which was a wine I’d never seen nor heard of. The previous owner and founder of the Hostellerie – M. Jean Crotet – had a small parcel of Vosne Romanee “Les Raviolles”, a small site which borders Nuits. Each vintage was farmed and vinified by Emmanuel Rouget. However in 1996, the manager reliably informed me that Henri Jayer made the wine in that vintage. If I wanted it, it was their last bottle and was 150 Euros. Tough sale, I thought… The wine was fantastic, very concentrated with beautiful red fruit. It had a real joie de vivre, velvety texture and plenty of Jayer mid-palate power and length. A joyous wine, and certainly a rare bottle I doubt I’ll come across again.
9. Domaine d’Auvenay Meursault “Pre de Manche” 2004 – I bought this bottle based on how good the d’Auvenay Meursault Chaumes de Perrieres 2004 was. Very rare d’Auvenay bottles, and only a barrel made each vintage. Sometimes they are blended together when the yield isn’t large enough to make a full barrel. This wine was a winner in all aspects. Full throttle Meursault aromatics, vibrant energy and wonderful acidity. This only got better and better as the evening went on. If you ever see this or the Chaumes de Perrieres, take it!
8. Coche Dury Meursault 1er Cru Perrieres 2009 – The night before we drank a Comte Lafon Perrieres 2009 (Yes, Beaune and it’s young wines on the restaurants menus) which we thought was excellent. And then we drank this. Off the chalk-board menu at Auberge La Miotte in Ladoix-Serrigny. A killer of a wine, decanted it was no harm in drinking now. Just in another league and in a class of it’s own. This had incredible depth and a never ending length. So long I could still taste it by the time we were at our next Domaine appointment. Crystalline purity and bursting with that flinty Coche character, the 2009 is a great success. I would love to follow this beauty over the next 30 years.
7. D’Auvenay Meursault Narvaux 2001 – Yes I’m a sucker for Meursault, but all the best white producers are there and that’s a fact, plus it’s a bit better than Puligny ;). Drank on Daniels birthday and decanted – this was an incredible, incredible bottle, pure liquid gold. Everything was in perfect harmony in this rich and seductive village. Certainly love at first taste!
6. Ramonet Montrachet 1985 – A complete Montrachet. This was incredibly complex, fresh and possessed mind-boggling depth. A regal and majestic Montrachet, a completely wow wine.
5. Vieux Chateau Certan 1900 – The moment I smelt the wine I instantly connected the unique terroir of Vieux Chateau Certan with the other more modern vintages I’ve drank. It was that signature of the terroir, that VCC, that connected it with the 1959, 1989 & 2000 I drank in 2013. How wonderful. The wine was very Pomerol, honest and pure. Here was a beautiful 114 year old wine, packed with red berry fruits very much alive. It’s amazing that only when you drink a very mature wine do you see the wine as naked as it can be. The wine was exposed and told it’s story with great expression and vibrancy. It was not massively complex but we appreciated the wine for what it gave, not what it was lacking. Drank at Taillevent and paired to their signature dish of épeautre with black truffle.
4. DRC Richebourg 1985 – An extraordinarily multi-layered wine that was magic in a glass. Powerful, masculine with outrageous depth. I adored it’s unadulterated richness that didn’t hide it’s massive complexity – this really was an epic wine. Drank at La Trompette.
3. Henri Jayer Echezeaux 1985 – This was served before the Richebourg. Two masterpieces in one evening. This was ‘elegance vinified’, if I could make up a word. I loved the mid-palate concentration, and modest grace of the wine. So feminine and enchanting. Both this and the Richebourg had that calming effect only great wines carry. Velvety textured and remarkably intense, this was simply beautiful.
2. Faiveley Musigny 1906 – Drank at Taillevent, how many bottles if any can be left in existence? Only half a barrel is made each year… This was Mr Audoze’s bottle, and as such he ‘Audozed’ it! So like every bottle at the lunch this was opened a few hours before. 1906 was apparently a great vintage for Burgundy, but we weren’t into the wine thing back then. Immense complexity, a seamless palate, pre-phyloxera like tropical flavours and aromatics and a bewitching energy. This was one of the most unusual and rarest wines I’ve had. The tapestry of tropical fruits was utterly fascinating. The palate was completely Musigny. A grand grand wine – power without weight at it’s finest. This felt it could last another 50 years or so with ease. Again that complexity, was pure Musigny, and layer upon layer upon layer without end. A joy to drink such a wine.
1. A. Rousseau Clos de la Roche 1947 – Drank at Taillevent, side by side with the Faiveley Musigny 1906. To date my best ever wine. There’s no denying the immense complexity of the Musigny, but the aromatics on this bottle were unbelievable. Something to hold onto and cherish. I have never smelt a wine like it, and doubt I ever will. Is this what Clos de la Roche gives after 60 years?! The aromatics were wholly and purely Burgundy – nutty, wild and earthy, all supercharged and flowing with energy. There was almost little point in actually tasting the wine. It possessed a great tranquillity, and was such an original wine – no copy of anything else. The wildness of the wine made it so original. Here we saw the secret of the terroir, in its element exposed to us. A profound and humbling experience.
Nearly made it:
Billecart-Salmon 1961 Magnum – At Taillevent and matched to asparagus and black truffle, or vice versa. A recent release from the Domaine. A joy to smell, this was very very fresh, opulent and carried a perfect balance with a fine cut of acidity – matching perfectly to the dish. I won’t normally say a 1961 was too young to drink but this could have done with an extra 10 years. A fantastic Champagne and one of only 200 produced.
D’ Auvenay Chevalier Montrachet 2000 – The first Leroy/d’Auvenay wine I’ve had that was all terroir and barely any signs of the famous Domaine signature. This was the purest form of Chevalier you could have. From Chevalier direct to the bottle, no middle-man. It was a massive, bone crunching wine. It would be very high on the Top 10 had it’s intense youth not make it almost a crime to drink now.
Honourable mentions – Clair Dau Clos St Jacques 1976, Rousseau Chambertin 1987, Roumier Bonnes Mares 2001, Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet 1983, Gabriel Jouard Batard Montrachet 1966, Rousseau Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru 1980 & Domaine Leroy Corton Renardes 2002, DRC La Tache 1980