MS 2006 Red Burgundy Tasting

MS Red Burgundy 2006 1

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.”

MS Red Burgundy 2006 2

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.

What’s in the glass tonight March 27th – Various reds

Escarpment Pahi PN 2010

From the Cellar: Escarpment Pahi SV Pinot Noir Martinborough 2010 – $$$

G came around tonight for dinner with L and I. As promised, I cracked a bottle of Pinot Noir from the cellar to match the bottle he bought for our wedding last year. It was, alas, not up to the occasion…

…Vegetal, stalky, angular & thin. A true cool climate example, but showed light fruit, less than ripe, certainly not luscious, and showed green. A MAJOR disappointment. I do recall, at the 2012 tasting from which I bought this wine, that I was charmed by the floral femininity of the wine, but that I was the only one in the room thus charmed…therefore; lesson: note the ‘ wisdom of crowds’ in future…

82 points

Te Mata Various reds - Graeme N

Te Mata Woodthorpe Vineyard Syrah Viognier Hawkes Bay 2003

G supplied two bottles for dinner, ex an auction he had recently bought at. What a treat!

This wine was savoury and spicy, with white pepper notes, sweet ripe fruit, balanced tannins and fruit. Yum. A total delight!

94 points

Te Mata Woodthorpe Vineyard Merlot / Cabernet Hawkes Bay 2006

An upfront nose of vanilla and baking spice. Balanced fruit, structured tannins, licorice and cocoa. Dense and flavoursome.

91 points

Ata Rangi Tasting with Helen Masters

Ata Rangi tasting 2013

I attended an excellent wine tasting at Regional Wines on Thursday night. It was hosted by Alistair, and the tasting was led by Head Winemaker at Ata Rangi, Helen Masters.

I am a huge fan of this producer. Over the years I’ve loved drinking their pinots and Celebre and Summer Rose. I’ve got some good bottles in the cellar too, so was real excited about this tasting.

Ata Rangi’s vineyards lie close to, and north of, Martinborough village. The raised ancient seabed that formed the South Wairarapa plain is exposed to the south and sea, so it is surprisingly a cooler climate than Central Otago. The barrier mountain range on the western edge collects most of the rain from the prevailing winds so the climate is dry. Drying winds are a factor, and extensive shelter belts are needed to protect the vines. It is springtime in the vineyard at present, with bud burst approaching, so frost is a concern. It’s an expensive business flying those choppers around keeping the air circulating on still cold nights.

The vineyard was established in 1980, so some of the wines are coming off vines 32 years old. Helen uses fine French oak barrels with a medium toast.

Two flights were presented – whites and reds. I won’t claim to set any serious scores, save to say they all tasted pretty good to me…

Whites Flight:

Riesling Craighall 2009 – 27yr vines from the Craighall Vineyard (was part-owned for a time with Dry River), handpicked, 80 cases made. Light straw colour; leggy; volatile nose; bracing acidity; lovely texture; some citrus, some stonefruit, definitely green apple/apple skin; age-worthier. 4.5

Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – Coolest year since 1993, a hand-picked sav! Helen told us she was after a neutral fruit expression, and used small tanks, lees contact and indigenous yeasts for the ferment. Same colour as the Riesling. Again leggy. Grassy, herby nose but not big with it. Dry and tart. Good Martinborough varietal examplar. I liked it. 4

Pinot Gris Lismore 2013 – A classic Martinborough summer. Fermented in old barrels for texture. Pale yellow. Lightly floral, lightly spiced, in an Alsace style. 8gms residual sugar. Luscious pears, lively sweet with lovely lemonade flavours. One taster thought it was a bit dumb in the bottle yet (2013) but will improve. 3.5

Chardonnay Craighall 2011 – from the eponymous vineyard, vines planted 1983 with the Mendoza clone. This clone is called the ‘hen and chicks’ for the large and small berries produced, with lots of flavour and concentration. Wine is light gold colour. 13.5%. Honey and butterscotch bouquet; ripe fruit taste, balanced with the acid, peaches, stonefruit. Restrained at the moment but will deepen in a few years. 4

Chardonnay Craighall 2008 – Wonderful. Mid gold. 13.5%. I loved the funky smell. Developed, smooth, integrated, the acidity was gone; lashings of unctious butteriness. Yum. Oh why wasn’t the KR Mates ‘08 like this…? 5.

Chardonnay Craighall 2005 – Purity of fruit presence was remarkable in this old kiwi wine. It was deep yellow, but not oxidised. It was funky and rich and luscious. Amazing to see fruit and oak and acid integrate in a bottle. Worth the price of the ticket alone. 5

Reds Flight:

Pinot Noir 2011 – the big ‘un. In 2010 this flagship wine of the company was honoured with the inaugural Tipuranga Teitei o Aotearoa or “Grand Cru of New Zealand“. It is made in a burgundian style with the typical Martinborough savoury olfactory and taste profile. Helen told us it doesn’t go down too well with American consumers who have been raised on Oregon pinots, so Ata Rangi’s main markets are the UK, Oz, Japan and China. The wine is pinot ruby in colour. 13.8%. Floral. Ripe and fruity, grippy, good palate weight. It lingers. Structured, should age well. 4

Pinot Noir 2008 – I loved this. Pinot ruby browning. 13.5%. Mushroom and forest floor bouquet. Ripe berries. Softened. Integrated. Magic. And I’ve got one in the Pool Room. 5

Pinot Noir McCrone 2008 – Younger (2001?) vines. Less shroomy. Pinot Ruby. 14%. Younger, tauter, a bit austere still? Later vintages should be a looker. 3.5

Pinot Noir 2006 – Pinot ruby browned off. 13.5%. Odd, tasted younger than it should have. Some grippy-ness, with bright fruit. Packed with wonderful flavour. 4

Syrah 2009 – 100% syrah. 40% new oak.  First one out of the blocks. Deep magenta. 13.5%. Bit of funk on the nose with white pepper. Savoury edge. Elegant. Fruitful mouthful, fine tannins. A delightful way to end the tasting. Some attendees contended that the wine deviated from type, but I wouldn’t kick it out of bed… 4

After an evening supping quality drops like these, I was replete. The length of the reds were astounding. I still had taste echoes from them in my mouth an hour afterwards.

What’s in the glass tonight July 7th

CJ Pask Syrah 2006

From the cellar: CJ Pask Gimblett Road Hawkes Bay Syrah  2006 – $$$

L was returning from her skiclub working bee for a Sunday dinner at mine of slow-cooked beef shin and mushrooms with bay, cinnamon and star anise. Here was another good bottle from winemaker Kate Radburnd to enjoy with our meal…

CJ Pask is one of the pioneers of the Gimblett Gravels, the sub-region or terroir in the Hawke’s Bay wine region that produces great NZ red wine. Chris Pask was the first to plant here back in 1981.

I don’t know yet whether this style of wine should be drunk young, for florality and fruit acid, or be kept to settle down to a level of easy smoothness like this has…

Deep dark ruby, with light spicy floral notes on the nose, and a touch of forest floor. It is medium-weight, and still fruit dominated with black plums and blackberries. Some ageing complexity stops the wine from being too simple, as it may have been in its early days. Dry, soft and smooth. 4

The weight of their bottles gives an impression of quality. The downside is that I think the bottle still has some wine left in it, when alas it doesn’t..