Last week I went to a fascinating tasting. Fascinating because it was rather good but also fascinating because it was bizarre and rather inconclusive. Allow me to right away to declare a caveat – I do not know red Burgundy very well and my experience with 1999 is virtually non-existent. My expectations, at the same time, were dangerously high.
The line up:
- Boillot Pommard Jarollieres, 1999
- Potel Pommard Epenots, 1999
- John Tardy NSG Bas de Combe, 1999
- Girardin Chambolle Musigny Amoureuses, 1999
- M.Gros Vosne Romanee Clos des Reas, 1999
- Rousseau Gevrey Chamrortin Cazetieres, 1999
- Dujac gevrey Chambertin Combottes, 1999
- Geantet-Pansiot Charmes Chambertin, 1999
- Esmonin Griotte Chambertin, 1999
- Esmonin Mazis Chambertin, 1999
We started with tasting the first and second wine, relying on the similarity of Pommard. The opinions of the 18-20 people in the room split right in the middle: half preferring the first wine, not tasting much on the second and half calling first one too forward and the second one more elegant. You see, I have a problem with that. The wine needs to taste of something. 1999 Burgundy worth close to and over 100 quid a bottle needs to taste of A LOT. I understand the concept of elegant and non overpowering but if you can barely smell the fact that it is Pinor Noir – it’s a waste of my sniffing power and money! Boillot had all the typical Burgundy stuff going on; red fruit, farmyard, wet leaves, with very pronounced intensity on both nose and palate. Potel had much less on the nose, and not much yet (or already) on the palate with only tannins remaining and lingering. The conclusion was drawn that Potel was probably too young and a new discussion erupted – which one would you rather buy? The one that is still closed after 15 years, which is likely to last longer, or the one drinking well already? I have a problem with this as well. We are not talking of the vintage of a century here, and if after 15 years the wine is still apparently not there, where is the guarantee it will ever be there? If still in doubt, my preferred choice was Boillot.
John Tardy was unanimously decided to be good and pleasant, but not complex enough. It had some red fruit on the nose and not unpleasant mouldy, cellar-y smell. The tannins were soft and ripe and the finish very long.
Number four Girardin was meant to be compared with number five M. Gros. Girardin was just great. It had one of the best noses ever; very complex, and apart from all the usual Burgundy characters, had a rather strong burnt sugar and smoke character. It had a spectacular palate – a bit on a sweeter side with a lot of vanilla, sweet spice, toast and mushrooms. The finish was long and lingering. It got 20 out of 20 on my silly scale, where I never give anything below 10. M. Gros on the other hand was corked, which gave Girardin an easy victory.
Rousseau’s Cazetieres was paired with Dujac’s Combottes and this is where the plot thickened. Quite a few tasters (including me) thought that Dujac had no nose. None. Absolutely none whatsoever. And, except for some harshness, very little going on on the palate. The other half of the tasters thought Dujac had the most spectacular nose and palate so far. Yet, it was confirmed that the wine was poured out of the same bottle. I sniffed the glasses of others and with very little little left in the glasses could not smell much more than what I smelled in my own. I struggle to find any scientific explanation for this and will gladly accept your theories!
Cazetieres on the other hand was excellent. Similar to Girardin it had a pleasantly burnt nose and sweeter palate. I scored it a solid 19 points with just one wish to have even more of everything!
The three Grand Crus came last.
Geantet-Pansiot was UNBELIEVABLE. Fantastic, very pronounced, extra complex nose with mushrooms, farmyard, my favourite horse-arse aromas and still quite a bit of fruit. All of it repeated on the palate and resulted in an everlasting finish. Everything was there and a bit more. I gave it 21 out of 20, because 19 and 20 were already taken, which made me think I may need to recalibrate my scale.
Esmonin Griotte Chambertin had a much lighter nose, rather elegant, with tea leaves aroma. On the palate similarly elegant and subtle, but hardly complex enough for GC standard.
Esmonin Mazis Chambertin scared me. It had catastrophic smell of something pungent, which I could not get past. My tasting neighbour suggested it was sulphur. Once I got over my fear to put that stuff in my mouth, it was surprisingly fine and smooth. However, without the nose, the palate just does not add up. Shame!
After counting the votes Dujac won by a landslide with Girardin coming second and Geantet-Pansiot third. I was one of the unlucky ones who could not appreciate the Dujac, so my favourite was Geantet-Pansiot with Girardin being second and Rousseau third.
2 Grand Crus did not live up to expectations; out of 10 – 2 wines had faults and 3 wines were deemed to young or just not good enough.
The biggest highlight was being able to polish off the glasses of the ones, who did not attend the tasting. And I made sure I picked the wines from my top 3!