Friday, March 18, 2011

2009: A Bounty From Burgundy

2009 is supposed to be an excellent vintage in the Burgundy region, offering wines which are ready to drink now, yet which also will age well.  These are supposed to be more approachable wines, offering plenty of pleasure now but with the promise of much potential.  I have previously tasted a number of 2009 Beaujolais (which are produced in Burgundy), and was very impressed with them, finding the wines to be some of the best Beaujolais I have tasted in a long time.

Thus, I was very interested in attending the recent 2009 Burgundy tasting hosted by Frederick Wildman & Sons, Ltd., a wine import company, to ascertain how the other wines from this region fared.  In short, the Burgundy region grows Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Gamay but with its diverse terroirs, these grapes can take on many different flavor profiles.  There were 8 producers at the tasting, offering Beaujolais, Chablis, Meursalt, Pouilly-Fuisse, Red Burgundies, and more.  

My favorite producer of the event was Domaine Armand Rousseau, which was founded in the early 20th century by Armand Rousseau.  The winery owns about 35 acres of vineyards, nearly all of it located with Gevrey and more than half of it is grand cru. You'll find many old vines, low yields, strict selection and green harvesting here. This is a winery aiming to produce very high quality wines, and they definitely have succeeded in that regard.

The 2009 Gevrey-Chambertin Village had a compelling nose with subtle red fruit and spice notes. It was elegant, fairly complex and very approachable.  An excellent entry-level red Burgundy, this should have wide appeal.  The 2009 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos Saint-Jacques was another compelling wine, yet it presented an earthier profile, both on the nose and palate, with rich red fruit and some minerality.  It was silky smooth, complex and with a lengthy finish. I really enjoy this style of Red Burgundy and would strongly recommend it.  The 2009 Charmes-Chambertin Gran Cru was more similar to the style of Village but of higher quality. It was elegant, with a more subtle and complex palate, as well as some floral notes. It was almost ethereal in nature, with a long and satisfying finish. The 2009 Chambertin Grand Cru was clearly the king of the tasting, a sublime and decandent wine that possessed a powerful elegance, with some intense red fruit and spice. A wine to slowly savor over dinner, carefully relishing each sip.   

All of these wines were very approachable now, but showed the potential to age for years too.  An impressive producer with top notch wines from an excellent vintage.  These wines will not disappoint Burgundy lovers.  I should note that these wines are not yet available for sale, and that the 2008 vintage will be released in the late Spring of 2011. 

Potel-Aviron is trying to produce some fine Cru Beaujolais, relying on sustainable viticulture, old vines and classic Burgundian techniques. Their wines which are labeled “Vieilles Vignes,” are old vines which are at least 40 years-old.

The basic 2009 Beaujolais-Villages had lots of bright red fruit and was a smooth, easy drinking wine.  Simple but delicious, and with more character than many wines at this price point. The 2009 Fleurie “Vieilles Vignes” was more elegant, having some juicy red fruit flavors as well as more floral notes, some vibrant violets.  The winner of their wines though was the 2009 Morgon Cote du Py “Vieilles Vignes,” that had a muted nose, yet a very expressive palate. Concentrated, intense black cherry and raspberry flavors, with some earthiness and spice notes. Complex, well-balanced and a lengthy, pleasing finish. A highly recommended wine, and was favored by several of my friends as well.

Domaine Faiveley, which has been around since 1825, owns about 120 hectares of vineyards, which includes 10 hectares of grand cru and 25 hectares of premier crus.  The vineyards are located in various regions within Burgundy, and the winery continues to purchase additional, premium vineyards.

Probably my favorite white Burgundy of the event, was their 2009 Bienvenues Batard Montrachet, a complex wine with an intriguing blend of citrus flavors and minerality.  Excellent acidity, a lengthy finish and a bright freshness yet showing the potential for aging. Would love to try this with seafood or a light chicken dish. 

As for reds, I tasted a number of wines that I enjoyed from this winery.  The 2009 Volnay 1er Cru Fremiets had plenty of earthiness and spice notes, all working together well with some black fruit flavors. More rustic than elegant, I would love to pair it with some lamb, venison or other game meat. Their 2009 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Cazetiers was more elegant in style, with lush red fruits and mild spiciness. Plenty of complexity, silky smooth and it lingered long on the palate.  The 2009 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru La Combe aux Moines was very similar in style, and equally as good as the Les Cazetiers.  My favorite of their reds though was the 2009 Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley, also a wine of elegance, silky smooth, with more subtle and complex flavors.  A quietly seductive wine, it benefits from slow savoring, relishing each delighful taste.

My experiences with these 2009 wines have been very positive, and the wines are seeming to live up to the hype. If you enjoy Burgundy, then you should try the wines of this vintage and I am sure you will be impressed with what you find.

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