This was the first tasting of the Magnum Society that I could manage to get to this year. And it was a heavy hitter as well. The reason why I joined in the first place…Six wines…Four Grand Cru, one Premier Cru and a Village. Unlikely to repeated, due to the exorbitant prices being demanded for current vintages of these wines…
The wines we tasted were:
- 2006 Cathiard Vosne-Romanée, Malconsorts
- 2006 Dugat Py Gevrey-Chambertin, Coeur de Roy
- 2006 Drouhin-Laroze Bonnes Mares
- 2006 Henri Boillot Clos Vougeot
- 2006 Humbert Freres Charmes-Chambertin
- 2006 Rousseau Ruchottes-Chambertin, Clos des Ruchottes
The tasting was ably presented by HD, and I have taken the liberty to crib from his excellent tasting notes:
Cathiard Vosne-Romanée, Malconsorts – Aux Malconsorts [ ] is regarded as an exceptional Premier Cru vineyard, for example it is rated by Jasper Morris MW as one of his three favourite Premier Cru sites in all of Burgundy.
This is the flagship wine of the domaine, even though the Romanée St-Vivant may theoretically be even grander. It is a hauntingly lovely wine with a depth of flavour unmatched by Cathiard’s other premiers crus, and exceptional persistence.
Dugat-Py Gevrey-Chambertin, Coeur de Roy –This Villages level wine is made from 3 ha of vines of 50 to 95 years of age situated throughout Gevrey-Chambertin in Epointures, Combe du Dessus and Les Marchais. The wine was aged in 65% new oak and vinified with 50% of the stems.
Meadows’ latest review (2009) says, “Interestingly given its exposition, this is notably ripe with an expressive cool red berry and pungently earthy nose that slides into rich, full and distinctly serious middle weight flavors that offer an appealingly textured mouth feel on the velvety and slightly floral finish that is admirably persistent. This too delivers outstanding quality for its level.”
Drouhin-Laroze Bonnes Mares – Bonnes Mares is one of the most historic and famous climats in Burgundy. Of the total vineyard, 13.54 ha lies in Chambolle-Musigny and 1.52 ha in Morey-St-Denis. Morris says, with its complex terroir, Bonnes Mares is a hard vineyard to get a handle on. He says it does not taste entirely like a wine from Chambolle-Musigny, probably it has more kinship with Morey-St-Denis, giving it a wilder streak.
Meadows’ review of a barrel sample is, “Here there is more aromatic breadth with a pure and enveloping nose that combines red and blue pinot fruit plus lovely floral notes, particularly violet, before introducing rich, full and serious flavors that are detailed, fresh, powerful and distinctly austere on the impressively deep and long finish. This is a really lovely Bonnes Mares that offers a bit more elegance than normal but plenty of taut muscle as well.”
Henri Boillot Clos Vougeot – The Boillot was made with purchased grapes. It has not been possible to trace from what part of Clos Vougeot it was sourced. (Since at least 2008 Boillot’s Vougeot has come from a 0.34 ha parcel in Grand Maupertuis, next to Anne Gros plot. However, the pre-2008 wines seem to have come from another parcel).
Meadows (2008) reviews it very favourably, “A superbly complex and notably ripe nose of earthy red berry fruit and attractive floral notes where there is also a bass note of something slightly sauvage that continues onto the intense, detailed and unusually fine flavors that don’t lack for power, depth and excellent length. Still, this is on the refined side for a young Clos de Vougeot with less finishing austerity than one usually finds. Terrific.”
Humbert Freres Charmes-Chambertin – Charmes-Chambertin is often regarded as the weakest of the Grand Crus. Morris attributes this to the sheer size of the climat. With a total area over 30 ha, Charmes-Chambertin is too diverse to be a homogeneous block. This wine is from 60 year old vines located in a 0.2 ha vineyard in Mazoyères-Chambertin. Mazoyères-Chambertin wines are usually labelled as Charmes (as here), or they can be labelled as Mazoyères.
Meadows (2009) rated the Humbert highly, “This is clearly the ripest wine among these ’06s with an exceptionally pretty nose of fresh red pinot fruit nuanced by notes of dried flowers, game, warm earth and underbrush that is also picked up on the supple, sweet and detailed flavors that possess a really lovely mouth feel on the muscled and beautifully long finish. This is not robust but it knocks on the door while keeping all the individual structural components in perfect balance. Recommended though note that patience will be required.”
Rousseau Ruchottes-Chambertin, Clos des Ruchottes – The 3.3 ha Ruchottes-Chambertin divides into the 1.1 ha upper part (Clos des Ruchottes) and the lower part. The Clos des Ruchottes is a monopole, entirely owned by Domaine Armand Rousseau. The ‘Rouchottes’ name is believed to be a corruption of rochots (little rocks). The Clos has a stony, thin topsoil above oolitic white marlstone. Morris observes that this soil typically yields a wine light in colour and full of subtle nuances, rather than overpowering weight.
Meadows in 2011 said, “An ultra-elegant and high-toned nose speaks of cool and almost aloof highly refined aromas of truffle, mineral, floral hints and red pinot fruit that merge seamlessly into precise, intense and tautly muscled medium full flavors that deliver excellent depth and length. This is really a lovely effort as the balance is impeccable and the length is flat out superb.”
In summary, HD writes, “Quality 2006s have begun to fully express themselves and show well. The better examples, like those we are tasting, are pure, finessed, precise and crystalline, with refreshing but not over-prominent acidity. Tannins are typically fine grained. The vintage is relatively transparent, potentially allowing the terroir and the winemaker imprint to show through in the better wines.”
And so to the wines…
2006 Humbert Freres Charmes-Chambertin – Dark carmine tending brick – floral, with depth intensity and power, still pretty on the nose. Freshness and intensity carries through on the palate; there is a lovely sparkle of acidity at the back, secondary flavours balanced with spice, red cherries and red apple skin fruit flavours. Mouthwatering. Sweetness emerged with the supper. 94 points
2006 Henri Boillot Clos Vougeot – Dark carmine tending brick – Light and feminine, some stem, perfumed with spice. Elegance, grace and balance to taste. Fine tannins. Secondary flavours, red cherries, & a bright acid line. Minerals. Iron. 87 points.
2006 Dugat Py Gevrey-Chambertin, Coeur de Roy – Deep dark carmine tending brick – opaque colour – aniseed and vanilla and oak bouquet, warm and soft. Delicious dark red fruit, still primary, rich and taut, with acid brightness; dry finish and persistent. 89 points
2006 Drouhin-Laroze Bonnes Mares – Deep carmine colour. Initially dumb in this company. I had to work hard to get an impression of this wine on the nose. In the mouth there was elegance of style, deep ripe fruit, power and intensity. Softer than the first three wines tasted. 92 points.
Cathiard Vosne-Romanée, Malconsorts – Deep bright carmine colour. This was showing the second most development of the flight. Deep fruit, taut structure, sweetness on bouquet. Rich and fine, tight and taut. Persistent and packed with deep fruit flavours for savouring. Lovely, just lovely. My wine of the night. 94 points.
2006 Rousseau Ruchottes-Chambertin, Clos des Ruchottes – Lightest carmine colour. Another dumb wine at first look. Quite advanced, most tertiary. Age was starting to peek through and disrupt the fruit flavours. A ripe and beautiful wine, lightness and finesse, fine fine tannins. Delicious with food. 93 points.
My own thoughts on the tasting were firstly, that the wines showed great freshness at the 10 year mark. This is an obvious testament to the care taken in the winemaking and cellaring, the quality of the grapes, and the fine terroirs. The wines showed wonderfully with food – they softened, filled out, became totally charming as a group.
I also saw what the fuss was about these wines – these vaunted examples of Burgundy. They showed wonderful purity and strength of fruit, persistence and grace. They were memorable.
On the downside, however, two of the wines opened for the night were corked. One in six. A poor result really. These wines were expensive, and were carefully cellared for years. Only to then be binned as faulty?!
And finally, the high prices demanded for these wines did not tally with the pleasure given by them. I know it is a consequence of scarcity, and is to be expected in a global marketplace, but it’s a sad day that these wines can only be afforded by most enthusiasts to be tasted irregularly, in small quantities and ever-so carefully and formally, when they deserve full, splashy glassfuls, dipsily sloshed around the dinner table over a rich roast chook.
I guess that are what Rhones are for, now.