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1999 Red Burgundy: hip or hyped?
1999 Red Burgundy tasting
Tuesday April 4th 2001
La Vigneronne

The 1999 red Burgundies have been massively hyped in recent months as merchants have been releasing their en primeur offers. From this small snapshot of the vintage, it seems that some of this hype might be justified. Although it is foolish to extrapolate too far from such a small sample, I was impressed by the density and ripeness of these wines. In particular, the cheaper wines from the less grand appellations are currently showing superbly. Burgundy, normally a minefield for consumers, might even be a bit safer in vintages like this. Although it's fantastically difficult to assess decent Premier Cru and Grand Cru wines so early in their life, this tasting reminded me why Burgundy is such a captivating wine region. And compared with Bordeaux, it isn't fantastically expensive, either.

1999 Nuits St Georges 'La Perrière', Gouges
Before we get to the reds we have this rare beast: a rare white wine made from a white mutant of the Pinot Noir grape. This shows a smoky/fruity nose with some toasty new oak. It's rounded, fruity and balanced on the palate with noticeable oak. Quite a modern style; interesting stuff. Very good

1999 Côtes du Nuits Villages, Jean Marc Millot
A deep coloured wine, this has a lovely full sour cherry nose with some sweet fruit and a touch of bacon fat. The palate shows a nice savouriness, with firm tannins and lovely rich fruit. Delicious stuff. There's almost a resemblance here to a perfumed Côte Rôtie from the Northern Rhône. Very good/excellent (La Vigneronne £12.50)

1999 Mercury 1er Cru Les Vasées, Raquillet
Deep coloured wine with a lovely perfumed nose: complex, herby and savoury with a nice meaty edge. Delicious, full palate. This is a nice savoury, chunky wine that's drinking beautifully now. Very good/excellent (La Vigneronne £12.95)

1999 Mercury 1er Cru Les Puillets, Raquillet
Full sweet nose of raspberry and cherry fruit with a herby edge. Not as savoury as Les Vasées, with bright cherry/raspberry fruit on the palate: tastes quite youthful and primary fruit-dominated. Very good+ (La Vigneronne £12.95)

1999 Mercury 1er Cru Clos l'Évêque, Raquillet
Full coloured wine showing bright cherry fruit with a nice herbiness. Firm acidity and fresh fruit on the palate; youthful, with firm tannins. Needs time to show its best. Very good+ (La Vigneronne  £12.95)

1999 Savigny-Les-Beaune, Pavelot
This is a bit of a monster! Ripe, herby and slightly smoky -- it's complex and beguiling. There's high acidity on the very savoury palate, with some noticeable tannin. Lovely stuff but probably best with food. Very good+ (La Vigneronne £13.50)

1999 Gevrey-Chambertin, Groffier
The pungent, medicinal nose is complex and full (perhaps a tiny bit volatile?). The palate shows firm tannins and high acidity. This is a big structured Pinot Noir with medicinal, herbal fruit and some nice spicy undercurrents. It's a style I appreciate, and this is pretty impressive for a village level wine. Very good/excellent

1999 Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru 'Les Suchots' Jean Marc Millot
There's a distinct caramel edge to the nose; otherwise this is a little bit closed. The palate shows rounded, sweet fruit with notes of caramel, leather and tea -- there are no rough edges. It's very hard to assess this wine at such an early stage, but there's enough length here to suggest this may be very fine in time. At the moment it's not as compelling at some of the less grand wines in the tasting. Very good (La Vigneronne £25.00)

1999 Chambolle-Musigny 'Les Sentiers' Groffier
The full, herbal, medicinal nose is nicely perfumed and shows some meaty fruit. The palate is tannic, savoury and youthful, with pungent fruit. Although it's no crime to drink this now with food, it will no doubt improve in bottle for a decade or so. Very good/excellent

1999 Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes, Dominique Laurent
The lightest-coloured wine in the tasting. A herby, perfumed nose leads to a palate showing light herby cherry fruit, with relatively firm tannins. Not a big wine, but may develop nicely. Very good+

1999 Echézeaux Grand Cru, Jean Marc Millot
It's so hard to assess wines like this when they are just babies. Quite deep coloured. Nose of warm, spicy cherry fruit with a caramel edge. Quite soft palate showing firm tannins; impressively rounded, long and balanced. Currently not as sexy as some of the other wines here but will no doubt reward patience. Very good+ (La Vigneronne £35)

1999 Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru, Jean Marc Millot
Deep nose, showing some herby pungency. Tannic palate is currently very youthful with good acidity, nice length and a touch of that caramel character again. Chunky stuff, it's a bit of a crime to drink this so young when it's hardly beginning to show what it's capable of. Very good+ (La Vigneronne £40)

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