The Grand Burgundy Tasting
A tasting of high-end Burgundies at the Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration 2014

 

It seems odd  to come all the way to Central Otago to taste Pinot Noir from Burgundy. But in some ways, it's a good context to do this: after being immersed in Central Pinot, it's useful to put a benchmark in there, and do some comparison. It's not that Central should strive to emulate Burgundy, or indeed the wines from any other country. It's more about a process of benchmarking.

This is an important element of the world of fine wine. Fine wine is an aesthetic system, and it is self-referential. So it's important to try wines like these, even if your purpose isn't to emulate them. For the gathered crowd, most of whom were local, this represented a great chance to do this, and there was a lot of buzz surrounding the tasting.

 

There were six wines. In three hours. Lots of chat, including a talk by Aubert de Villane of Domaine de la Romanée Conti: getting Aubert to visit Central was a real coup. But three hours for six wines, including a talk about the legal issues surrounding the acquisition of UNESCO World Heritage status by the Burgundy wine region (this was how they managed to get Aubert out) is stretching things a bit.

However, it was worth the long session just for the chance to drink two remarkable examples of Echezeaux. They were great wines to the point of being moving.

 

'Echezeaux is a vineyard that is quite special,' says Aubert de Villane. It's one of the larger Grand Crus in Burgundy. 'Uusually they are small,' he notes. 'Echezeaux and Corton are both quite large.' He points out that the parcellization of the vineyard is important. Historically it was smaller, but the political will in Flagey was quite powerful and it was extended to become larger. So when you buy a bottle of Echezeaux, you need to find out which bit of the vineyard it’s from. As if Burgundy wasn't already complicated enough!

THE WINES

Domaine Chevrot et Fils Maranges Villages Sur le Chêne 2010 Burgundy, France
Assertive fresh cherry and plum fruit nose with a savoury framing, and a bit of beetroot. The palate is fresh and grippy with pure raspberry and plum fruit. Very savoury and grippy: a structured wine with some oak evident. Nice fruit, but stern and a bit angular. 90/100 

Domaine Chevrot et Fils Maranges 1er Cru Les Clos Roussots 2010 Burgundy, France
Lots of clay on a table of limestone in this vineyard. Spicy, chocolatey edge to the nose. The palate shows nice cherry and plum fruit, but it's angular and grippy with firm structure. There's some elegance to the fruit but at the moment it's quite tough going because of the structure. Lovely vivid fruit. 92/100

Domaine Marquis d'Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Taillepieds 2008 Burgundy, France
Floral, herb-scented sweet cherry fruit nose. Lovely supple, fresh, elegant cherrry and plum fruit on the palate. Light, elegant and supple with nice balance. 93/100

Domaine Marquis d'Angerville Volnay 1er Cru 2008 Burgundy, France
Fresh and supple with nice bright cherries, showing some spicy detail. Dried herbs, some plumminess and a bit of structure. Supple with nice balance. Pure, mineral and precise. 95/100

Domaine Dujac Echezeaux Grand Cru 2008 Burgundy, France
There's some roast coffee/chocolate oak influence on the nose which is initially off-putting and dominates the sweet black cherry and plum fruit. But this disappears after a while revealing an incredible wine. The palate shows richness allied with elegance: it's very smooth, pure, textured and fine grained with seductive sweet cherry fruit. Quite profound, and when the oak settles down this will be close to perfection. 96/100

Domaine de la Romanée Conti Echezeaux 2008 Burgundy, France
The least expensive of DRC's collection of Grand Crus, this is a remarkable wine indeed. Amazing nose of spice, dried herbs, floral cherry fruit and some berry richness. Multidimensional. The palate is so supple and smooth, and immediately drinkable with a slight meatiness, lovely mouthfeel and amazing integration of flavours, all working in harmony with the sweet fruit. Annoyingly fabulous showing elegance and precision. 97/100

See also:

Central Otago Masterclass at the 2014 celebration
Visiting Central Otago, New Zealand (series)
 

Wines tasted 01/14  
Find these wines with
wine-searcher.com

 

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