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Burgundy 2003  

En primeur cask sample tasting held by Bibendum Wine, London, 11 January 2005

In common with many classic European regions, Burgundy experienced an exceptionally warm 2003 vintage. In Bordeaux, where decisions about the relative merit of a vintage are taken absurdly early, in the March following harvest, 2003 was feted as a great year by many critics. With Burgundy, it is traditional to take a little longer to decide: these wines are only now being shown as cask or tank samples, before bottling but a little further on in their lives than the poor Bordeaux wines that present themselves to the world for assessment some six months after harvest, while they are still in barrel and unblended.

So how did Burgundy 2003 turn out? On the basis of this limited sampling, it seems it’s not a classic year, with rather atypical wines. I don’t think there are many wines here I’d be anxious to buy, partly because the prices are high for what’s on offer. The value for money award goes to the Nuits St Georges from Chauvenet.

Note/caveat: these are cask/tank samples of young wines, therefore the scores are only approximate and should not be taken too seriously. Because this was a consumer tasting, we were given pretty small pours – in some cases these were so small it was hard to gain a proper impression of the wine.

Prices in brackets are in bond per case. To get final bottle price, add £14 duty and then add 17.5% VAT on top of this, then divide by 12.

Domaine Mark Colin 

Bourgogne Blanc La Combe (£85)
Ripe and full with a spicy edge. 88/100

St Aubin Fontenotte (£115)
Minerally, spicy smoky edge to the rich fruit on the nose. Lovely richness to the fruit and effective oaking on the palate. 91/100

St Aubin 1er Cru Charmois (£150)
Rich and toasty but with nice definition. Soft, open, rich fruit. 90/100

Domaine Morey Coffinet

Chassagne Montrachet (£170)
Rich, toasty, spicy, minerally nose. Soft, ripe and full on the palate – a very rich style with lots of ripeness. 90/100

Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Les Caillerets (£260)
Toasty, spicy, slightly minerally. Rich fruit with good definition and just about enough acidity. 91/100

Vincent Girardin

Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Folatières (£325)
There’s a lemony freshness to the otherwise rich fruit on the nose. Concentrated and dense on the palate. A modern stye. 89/100

Corton Charlemagne (£385)
Very nice nose – complex and aromatic with well judged oak. Good concentration on the palate and nice definition. Tasty in a rather modern style. 91/100

Nicolas Potel

Potel says, ‘for me, this is a great vintage’. He says that Burgundy can do vintages like 2003, even though it was exceptionally warm.

Beaune Greves 1er Cru (£175)
Nicely defined rich fruit but with a good minerally, spicy edge and good acidity. Structured. 90/100

Volnay Clos de la Chapelle (£290)
Taut, refined spicy nose. Palate is chewy, spicy and struct
ured. There’s a hint of bitterness on the finish. 90/100

Nuits St Georges Chaignots (£220)
Spicy, structured, firm and tannin. Hard to tasted now. Austere. 89/100

Vosne Romanée 1er Cru Les Chaumes (£250)
Full fruit. Again, hugely structured. Tight, spicy, dense and savoury. 89/100

Gevrey Chambertin Les Champeaux (£245)
Quite aromatic, with clean, pure fruit. The palate is elegant and full with tight spicy structure. Promising. 92/100

Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Combe aux Moines (£250)
Chocolatey, spicy richness to the nose. Palate is well structured and quite elegant with good acidity. 91/100

Corton Les Renards (£290)
Appealing taut, spicy savoury fruit backed up with lots of structure. Tannic and full. 88/100

Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru (£420)
Clean pure spicy fruit on the nose. Lovely elegance on the palate with smooth but firm tannins and good acidity. 91/100

Clos de la Roche Grand Cru (£420)
Chocolatey, spicy edge to the clean, pure red fruit nose. Full palate has lots of fruit with good structure. 90+/100

Domaine Jean Chauvenet

Big wines but lovely expression. I was impressed by these.

Nuits St Georges (£155)
Lovely pure aromatics on the nose. The palate is concentrated and full, with rich, expressive fruit. Lovely stuff. 93/100

Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Les Damodes (£265)
Nice pure, rich summer fruits nose. Voluptuous but well defined. Concentrated, rich, elegant palate showing lovely fruit and plenty of structure. 93/100

Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Rue de Chaux (£265)
Lovely elegance of fruit on the nose. The palate is ripe, full and expressive with really fine definition and structure. 92/100

Domaine David Duband

Quite silky, rich wines that are very generous, but there’s a slightly bitter finish on all three.

Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Les Pruliers (£245)
Rich, ripe and spicy with very ripe fruit. There’s some fruit sweetness here and grainy, spicy tannins. 89/100

Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Aux Thorey (£245)
Ripe, curranty nose is sweet, rich and spicy. Quite tannic and full on the palate. A very rich style. 90/100

Echezeaux Grand Cru (£475)
Very dense, rich and spicy. Concentrated, full and quite tannic on the palate with very ripe spicy fruit. Good density and structure. 91/100

Domaine Ghislaine Barthod

‘2003 was a wonderful, exceptional wine year’, says Ghislaine, ‘because of the richness and concentration of the wines’. I’m not so sure: I found these wines structured and a little hard, to be honest.

Bourgogne Rouge (£99)
Rich spicy and well defined with a cherryish fruit character. Savoury and quite structured with good acidity. 89/100

Chambolle Musigny (£245)
Quite firm and tannic with lovely concentration. Spicy, chocolatey edge to the well defined fruit. Hint of plummy bitterness, but nice acidity. 90/100

Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Beaux Bruns (£395)
Perfumed nose of cherry, spice and chocolate. Palate shows good density. Quite firm and tannic with a slightly plummy, damsony edge. A big wine and quite hard to judge. 92/100

Domaine Drouhin Laroze

Gevrey Chambertin (£185)
Lovely purity of fruit with a minerally backbone and some nice tannins. Good wine. 89/100

Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru (£225)
Quite structured, with savoury, spicy fruit backed up by good acidity. 89/100

Latricières Chambertin Grand Cru (£395)
Perfumed, open nose. The palate is firmly tannic with spicy structure stamping its mark on the bright fruit. Tough, but promising, with lovely fruit quality. 91+/100

Chapelle Chambertin Grand Cru (£410)
Lovely ripe, rich perfumed nose: pretty stuff with nice aromatics. Rich, ripe and dense on the palate with good concentration and structure. Very promising. 92+/100

Bonnes Mares Grand Cru (£460)
Very ripe, full and perfumed, with lovely fruit purity. Firm, spicy structure with bright fruit and a slight bitterness on the finish (perhaps from high alcohol?). Nice though. 91+/100

Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru (£460)
Very pure, ripe blackcurrant and red fruit here. Elegant and full. Lovely spicy, smooth silky structure on the palate. Very ripe fruit, but firm tannic structure backing it up. 94+/100

Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru (£500)
Very rich and ripe with almost new world-style fruit. Backed up with firm tannic structure and good acid. A little hard at the moment but still classy. 92+/100

Domaine Jean Grivot

Vosne Romanée (£225)
Traditional style with nice spicy structure and good acid. 88/100

Vosne Romanée 1er Cru Aux Brulees (£450)
Nice savoury, spicy, chocolatey richness to the nose, perhaps with a slightly baked character. Rich fruit on the palate with a spicy edge. Minerally, tannic but perhaps also a bit alcoholic. 89/100

Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru (£545)
Richly perfumed, spicy, chocolatey, oaky sheen to the pure fruit on the nose. Refined and aromatic. Rich, ripe structured palate is quite full – it’s firmly tannic but retains some elegance. 91/100

Domaine Rene Engel

Vosne Romanée
Herby, spicy edge to the savoury fruit. Midweight, expressive and nicely balanced. 88/100

Vosne Romanée 1er Cru Les Brulées
Elegant, open, expressive nose, much more typical red Burgundy than most of the others here. Palate is elegant and slightly herby, with an undergrowthy edge. Traditional style. 89/100

Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru
Very pretty nose is ripe, open and perfumed. The palate is soft, rich, ripe and expressive. Traditional style. 91/100

Domaine Hubert de Montille

Volnay 1er Cru (£285)
Very ripe, expressive nose with lovely open, pure fruit. The palate is impeccably balanced with ripe, open fruit and just enough structure. An early drinker. 92/100

Volnay 1er Cru Taillepieds (£455)
Ripe, aromatic, pure and expressive on the nose. The palate shows a lovely elegance of soft fruit and impeccable balance – more structure, but not too much. 93/100

Pommard 1er Cru Pezerolles (£430)
Pure, ripe, expressive with bright fruit. Perfumed and fine. The palate shows good structure to the pure fruit with a savoury edge. I like this a lot. 93/100

see also: tasting notes of Burgundy wines; pictures of Burgundy

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