Every 1st Monday of the month sees a group of 10-12 like-minded wine enthusiasts assemble in the cellars under the 5 star St.James guesthouse, Rodwell House.
Each month a member presents the wines and the aim is to taste, in-depth, through 8-12 wines over the course of 2 hours. The wines are all carefully chosen and can vary in their telescopic reach from larger less differentiated areas such as Oregon Pinot Noir to more focussed tastings, such as Single vineyard Barolo’s or microscopic tastings such as a line-up of Meursault 1er Cru Perrières from different growers or vintages.
The objective is to gain a greater understanding about the subject of the evening, engage in vigorous debate, have plenty of fun and have a slap up meal afterwards.
To achieve this we taste all the wines BLIND and score them out of 20.
As a group we have been going since 1st October 2007 and my purpose is to bring you all the tastings in the future to life along with some of the more memorable tastings of yesteryear.
We kick off with our last tasting where we looked at the perfumed charms of Premier Cru Chambolle-Musigny. One ringer was thrown in.
Background: Only 30% of Chambolle’s vineyards are owned by Chambolle residents, which was one of the first in the Côte d’Or to protect its vineyards from encroaching development. The roles of Chambolle vintners had changed dramatically since 1970 with domain bottling’s having risen from a mere 8 per cent to around 50 per cent currently. Together the Premier Cru (44.09ha) and commune Chambolle-Musigny (99.3ha) cover 143.4 hectares. The five-year average production is 65,200 cases.
Style: The wines tend to be some of the most delicate wines of the Côte de Nuits with a seductive vinosity and exceptionally elegant aromas. The best gain a rich, velvety elegance rivalling the finesse of Vosne-Romanée or the power of Gevrey-Chambertin. There are two Grand Cru Vineyards, Le Musigny and Bonnes Mares (in part), and some exceptional premier crus worthy of promotion such as Les Amoureuses and Les Charmes. Other Premier Crus include: Baudes, Les; Beaux Bruns, Aux; Borniques, Les; Carriéres, Les; Chabiots, Les; Châtelots, Les; Combe d’Orveau, La; Combottes, Aux; Combottes, Les; Cras, Les; Doix, Les Hauts; Echanges, Aux; Feusselottes, Les; Fuées, Les; Grands Murs, Les; Grange, Derriére la; Groseilles, Les; Gruenchers, Les; Lavrottes, Les; Noirots, Les; Plantes, Les; Sentiers, Les
of which we shall taste; Beaux Bruns; Charmes; Combe d’Orveau; Gruenchers and Groseilles.
Tasting: We tasted through 9 wines in 3 flights with the first flight showing three 2002 wines; the second flight focussing on 2 vintages of Ghislaine Barthod Aux Beaux Bruns and the ringer, also from him; and the last flight showing two producers from the 2005 vintage. Both the 2002 and 2005 are excellent vintages and overall the tasting showcased well the differing producer styles.
Results: The wine of the tasting was the enticing Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru 2005 from Domaine Bertheau with its penetrating aromatics, subtle power and myriad of flavours. This comes from 3 different premier cru vineyard sites hence it is labelled simply premier cru. Joint second came his elegantly structured single vineyard 1er Cru Les Charmes from the same 2005 vintage along with the finely textured, pure fruit flavoured Fourrier’s 1er Cru Gruenchers from 2002 and the more savoury, finely structured Barthod 1er Cru Aux Beaux Bruns also from 2002.
Following on was the ample, fleshy black-fruited 1er Cru Les Charmes 2002 from Lucien Le Moine; the more restrained, smoothly textured 1er Cru Groseilles 2005 from Digioia-Royer; the ethereal, sprightly 1er Cru Combe d’Orveau 2002 from Anne Gros; the sumptuous, more extracted darker fruited 1er Cru Aux Beaux Bruns 2005 from Ghislaine-Barthod; and finally Ghislaine-Barthod’s fragrant, savoury Bourgogne Les Bons Batons.
For more in-depth notes I have taken the liberty of including my personal tasting notes below:
Domaine Anne Gros: Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru La Combe d’Orveau 2002
Rather light ruby with slight brown-orange rim suggesting 8-10 years age. An upbeat rose perfume with red plum, raspberry and a curious ginger note. Delicate, silky textured with sprightly acidity and plenty of red fruit, the wine had long length and supple tannins. Graceful, almost waiflike this is inimitable Chambolle-Musigny without the bells and whistles. 15.5/20 RJK.
Domaine Fourrier: Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Gruenchers 2002
Light ruby-crimson. Pronounced perfume/floral tones with red cherry, cranberry, strawberry and chocolate flavours. Finely textured palate with lovely mid palate weight augmented with decent acidity (02/04), creamy mocha characters, clove and plenty of ripe red fruits, this wine shows a purity and definition of a great year (02/05). Surprisingly chalky tannin yet lack of richness points more 02. Delicious 17/20
Domaine Lucien Le Moine: Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Charmes 2002
Bright medium ruby. High-toned, ethereal, nose with cherry and cranberry fruit. However, the palate showed a more muscular wine with black fruit, spice, more fleshy, copious wine (grower/vineyard?). Gutsy, velvety textured and minerally acidity with undergrowth tertiary notes suggesting some age (8-10 years). Weighty, extracted (fruit worked more?). A long finish this wine was less graceful than some and less obviously Chambolle yet eminently drinkable 16/20.
Domaine Ghislaine Barthod: Bourgogne Les Bons Batons 2005
Light crimson red oranging rim. Fragrant with more developed tertiary aromas: forest floor, mushroom. Refreshing acidity, smoothly textured, light in body with white pepper, savoury stalky notes and iron oxide character along with some red fruit. Less sensuous and more simple (perhaps village level?) with a chalky tannin and reasonable length of flavour. 15.5/20. This was the ringer!
Domaine Ghislaine Barthod: Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Aux Beaux Bruns 2002
Light ruby core and some orange on rim. Less floral perfume but plenty of red fruits: Redcurrants, red cherry and particularly strawberry, almost cough syrup. A distinct savoury character suggested some age (8-10 years). Elegantly structured with good extract this wine had depth of flavour although the alcohol was a tad protruding. A riper style with complexity suggesting a decent, perhaps warmer year? (03/02) 15.5/20
Domaine Ghislaine Barthod: Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Aux Beaux Bruns 2005
Light to medium crimson. Attractive, penetrating perfume with chocolate, red and especially black fruits. Sumptuous with plenty of extract and sinewy tannin which is adequately complemented by blackberry, black cherry, bitter chocolate Lindt 90%! and crushed rock/mineral flavours. Long finish although alcohol noted. 16+/20. Need time.
Domaine CM Digioia-Royer: Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Groseilles 2005
Bright, ruby-red. Intense perfume with a touch of reductivity. Restrained, subtletly powered wine; smoothly textured, rich with red fruits: raspberry, red cherry veering a little to boiled sweets, gutsy tannin, reasonable length. 15.5/20
Domaine Bertheau: Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru 2005
Mid ruby red. Hauntingly penetrating aromas. Rosewater, aniseed, plum, strawberry and more… Subtlety powerful, this fleshy wine showed great depth of flavour, is silkily textured and completed with ripe fruit: white pepper, mocha, spice, raspberry, cranberry, black cherry. Complex, layered, supple tannins, very long length, this wine opened up beautifully in the glass. Top year. Very enticing! 18+/20
Domaine Bertheau: Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Charmes 2005
L-M ruby. Fabulous perfume: floral, red plum, raspberry, spicy new wood. Elegantly structured, ripe, lush with great flavour depth, this wine seemed to sing along with pure fruit flavours: Cranberry, raspberry, strawberry, chocolate and a touch of resin (new wood). Plenty of material with fine grippy tannins, massive length not dissimilar in style to previous wine (same producer?) Very engaging, complex wine which needs a little more time to show its best from classic year (05?) 18/20