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A & B Vintners Tasting: Part 1, Burgundies

A & B Vintners are a mail-order/internet merchant who specialize in (and concentrate almost exclusively on) wines from the Rhône, Languedoc-Roussillon and Burgundy. The good news for customers is that smaller merchants such as this can cherry pick the smaller production wines that simply aren't made in big enough quantities to satisfy the larger retailers. And A & B (otherwise known as John Arnold and Ken Brook) have done a pretty good job in putting together a focused, well chosen list of wines at reasonable prices. It's worth getting on their mailing list because a lot of the more sought-after wines tend to sell out en primeur and never make the regular list, although the wines shown at this tasting are mostly still available.

I'm dividing my write-up into three parts: the Burgundies, the Rhône wines and the Languedoc-Roussillon. It was a well-run tasting, with decent Riedel glasses, plenty of room, and self-pouring (this tends to be rare in consumer tastings, but it makes the whole process a lot quicker and more convenient). 

See also: part 2, the Rhône; Part 3, the Languedoc-Roussillon

White Burgundies

Domaine de Roally Mâcon-Montbellet 1999
Henri Goyard has just 3.5 ha, and takes quite a traditional approach; his wines are very highly regarded among those in the know. This one's quite a deep colour with a slightly evolved nose showing some butterscotch and honey notes. Quite rich palate with a nice mouthfeel: the creamy fruit is in good balance and shows good concentration, but I'd be tempted drink this up sooner rather than later, even though it's supposed to be very long-lived. Very good+ (£9.70)

Henri et Paul Jacqueson Rully 1er Cru 'Gresigny' 1999
There's a sweet crème brulée and honey edge to the nose, with some minerally character. There's quite a lean, taut edge to the high-acid palate. Nice traditional stuff. Very good (£11.16)

Marc Morey Rully 1999
This is quite serious for a village level Rully, showing a rich, toasty nose with a slightly vegetal, herbal edge. The palate is full, rounded and attractive with rich nutty fruit and a soft fruity texture. A bit showy, this is a big flashy number. Very good+ (£9.70)

Domaine de la Soufrandaise Pouilly-Fuissé Vieilles Vignes 1999
Nicholas Melin owns 6 ha of vineyard, and this wine is made from vines with an age between 25 and 75 years. The old-fashioned nose shows honey and butterscotch notes. The palate is medium bodied with some minerally fruit and good acid. An interesting but older-style wine; not really my thing. Very good (£13.12)

Marc Colin Saint Aubin 'La Fontenotte' 2000
Tight, slightly muted nose on this firm, mineral-dense wine. Tastes youthful, with good acidity and some nutty, lemony fruit. Very good (£12.13)

Jean-Claude Bachelet Puligny Montrachet 1998
A good old fashioned white Burgundy. Shy nose with some bright lemony fruit and a touch of honey poking out. Gives way to a taut, nutty, lemony palate. Quite classy but a bit understated. Very good+ (£18.50)

Michel Morey-Coffinet Chassage-Montrachet 1er Cru 'La Romanée' 1998
There's a lovely vegetal/herbal edge to the nose, which shows attractive, lifted toasty oak notes, but avoids being showy or blowsy. The palate is quite serious, with good balance between the tight fruit and well integrated oak. Great concentration. Very good/excellent (£24.38)

Red Burgundies

Bernard Morey Chassagne-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes 1999
A red wine from one of Chassagne-Montrachet's star performers, this has a forward nose with some medicinal cherry fruit . Attractive cherry fruit on the palate with some tannin and acid to provide balance. A bit primary. Very good (£14.60)

Robert Groffier Gevrey Chambertin 1998
There's a nice medicinal edge to the cherry fruit here, with some complex herby notes. Nicely balanced, savoury palate with good balance between the fruit and the herby, spicy notes. Drinking well now, this is a very tasty well balanced Pinot Noir. Very good+ (£20.47)

Gerard Mugneret Vosné-Romanée 1998
Delicious stuff for current drinking. Quite a pale colour with an attractive, savoury nose with rounded strawberry and cherry fruit, spice and caramel, together with some undergrowthy complexity. There's nice balance and complexity on the medium-bodied palate. There's some tannin and good acidity. Very good/excellent (£19.00)

Robert Arnoux Vosné-Romanée 1999
Youthful colour and nose, showing bright red fruit and a touch of spice. Quite firm tannins and good acidity on the palate. Quite elegant, but needs time to really develop complexity. Very good+ (£23.40)

Darviot-Perrin Volnay 1998
Striking nose of bright, juicy raspberry fruit: very intense. Poweful, juicy palate with very primary fruit, demonstrating good concentration and high acidity but as yet no real complexity. Very good+ (£18.51)

Violot-Guillemard Pommard 1er Cru 'Clos Orgelot' 1995
Rare to find mature Burgundy on sale that's at all affordable, so it's nice to see this delicious wine being offered. It's a pale colour, with a lovely complex nose of herbs, mushrooms, caramel and sweet fruit. Lovely, soft, complex palate with a delicious spicy finish and good balance. It's a classy red Burgundy, nicely poised. Excellent (£25.85)

Bernard Maume Mazis-Chambertin 1994
The colour is showing the wine's age, starting to fade a little at the rim. The nose is quite serious, showing evolved, ripe sweet fruit with some complex herby undertones. Medium bodied palate with herby fruit, spicy tannins and nice balance. Quite chunky for a seven year old wine. Very good+ (not available, but other vintages are)

Contact details:
A&B Vintners
John Arnold/Ken Brook
Little Tawsden
Spout Lane
Kent TN12 7AS
Tel: 01892 724977  Fax: 01892 722673
E-mail: info@abvintners.co.uk

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