Tuesday, 29 November 2011

John Averys November case notes

By John Avery MW, Chairman

It is some time since I last wrote my case notes. As usual I have had such an exciting time lately travelling, judging, sourcing wines, visiting suppliers and customers that I have now been asked if I would start them again for our blog.

November 2011 has been a busy month. On the first of the month I went to London to attend the 15th anniversary dinner of the London Branch of the Commanderie de Bordeaux which was held in The Vintners Hall which is familiar territory for me having had the privilege to have been The Master of the Vintners 6 years ago. The dinner featured wines from the 1996 vintage which are now mostly ready for drinking. Ch Leoville Barton was included and Anthony Barton himself came over from Bordeaux for the dinner.

Monday, 28 November 2011

2010 Burgundy...

By Matthew Hemming, Fine Wine Manager

If you are a fan of Burgundy – white or red – and are yet to taste the 2010 wines then you should prepare to be excited.  Perhaps very excited.

The 2010 vintage in Burgundy combines much of what makes this such a special wine region.  Wines of both colours are impressively intense, with lifted aromatics, purity of fruit and marked terroir definition.  In 2010 you can taste the distinction between Gevrey Chambertin’s mineral-tinged grip, Chambolle Musigny’s scented elegance, Vosne Romanee’s spicy perfume and Nuits St George’s muscled density as clearly as you can see the borderlines drawn on a map.

Following the ripeness, power and weight of the 2009s, 2010 is a very different sort of vintage.  This year, the emphasis is clearly on the wines’ precision, perfume and clarity of expression.  From my first tastings, back in November last year at the Hospices de Beaune, it was apparent that the whites had a focus and minerality that is absent from the majority of ‘09s.  This year’s whites have an energy and snappy, high-tensile acidity that wakes you up at an early morning tasting and demands your attention.  I’m particularly excited by the impeccable line up of whites from Domaines Bachelet-Monnot and Jean-Michel Chartron; both Remoissenet and Roche de Bellene have produced very good value village Meursault.
The 2010s I tasted…are very exciting. An irregular flowering reduced yields and served to concentrate the energy of the vines on a lower crop load. At the same time, the long, cold growing season gave the fruit considerable acidity. This is going to be a fascinating vintage to follow. Right now, I am very optimistic about the 2010s.  – Antonio Galloni writing about the 2010 whites in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.
The joy of the reds in 2010 is that they are fresh, silky and finely balanced.  After the concentration and richly tannic textures of ’09, these wines are positively lacy yet they have the balance and intensity required to evolve well in bottle.  A curious feature of some Burgundy vintages is that the reds never ‘shut down’ and undergo a dumb phase – I suspect that 2010, like 2006, will always be an attractive vintage to drink.  The downside is that yields were extremely low, generally due to millerandage which results in small, undeveloped berries within bunches reducing the overall crop.  At the worst-hit domaines, our allocations have been slashed by up to 80% of last year’s volumes, although a reduction of about 33% of an average year’s crop is about the average across the board.

The low juice, high solids of the millerandes has bestowed an über-classic purity and intensity to the best wines – like the best of 2008, only better. – Bill Nanson www.burgundy-report.com

The low yields mean that, more than ever, it will be important to act quickly to secure wines from your favourite estates.  From the vibrant red fruit of the Mercureys of Domaine Racquillet to the majesty of Etienne Grivot’s Richebourg, these are wines Burgundy lovers will want in their cellars.  Fans of Domaine Drouhin-Laroze will be glad to know that this estate is continuing its march toward the forefront of quality in Gevrey Chambertin, with another very high quality range.  Philippe Drouhin’s daughter, Caroline, is maintaining the high standards set by her micro-negociant range in its first two vintages – look out for some delicious Grand Cru wines from Laroze de Drouhin in our 2010 offer.

Having already started my tastings of the 2010 vintage in Burgundy and the Rhône, I must urge those of you who like wines from these two great French wine regions to try to put a bit of money aside (ha!) to invest in the 2010s from them.  – Jancis Robinson MW (www.jancisrobinson.com