A pinot noir benchmarking is not complete without some Burgundy – the single red varietal grown so widely as a monoculture north of Beaune.
But there is a smidgen of chardonnay there too and this variety I would never belittle.
Sommelier Australia guys Ben Edwards and Dan Sims had herded a few 2008s from various appellations, and fortunately some included a good section of grand cru properties.
After all if one cannot document what the pointy end of Burgundy did in this difficult year, there is little point in recording any overall impressions.
What must be said is that all wines showed well-there was no cork influence (for a change), eight out of eight perfect corks is a record in my presence too. Three wines were grand crus.
More importantly there were no wet vintage effects in these wines: 2008 was a year of poor fruit set, cold summer temperatures, early September rains, parts with botrytis, then a golden spot of sunshine and a big requirement on bunch and berry selection-the norm rejected being around 30%.
With the exception of the small heat-induced 2003 harvest, it is 10 years since the harvest was so low. As for red wines, with the equivalent of 60 million bottles (-6 %), there had not been such a small harvest (with the exception of 2003) since 1984.
Echezeaux 2008 (Ligier-Belair)from Flagey-Echezeaux, 13.5%; (USD 425); +++++; looked tremendous, light colour, cherry actually, lots of skin maceration nose, bilberries fruit spectrum, oak out there, sweetness of fruit abounds, perfume also, wine has fineness now, all the bits are integrated; it comes out of that taste spot on the middle palate with big fruit and big weight, all flavour and some minerality. Good to drink now but the easy aging window is 2011-2020.
Romanee-St-Vivant 2008 (L’Arlot) from Vosne-Romanee, xx%; (USD 425); +++++; has good colour yet no great intensity, cherry dominates, lots of whole bunch smells, lot of fruit lift saying that this is good, new oak pervades for a second, then the fruit intensity returns, the taste follows the aroma in the same order as described, all the flavours are lined up, heavy on alcohol, the final impression is some tannin restraint overtaken by fruit sweetness. Not drinking well yet, little edgy, aging window 2013-2025. AXA owned.
Clos de la Roche 2008 (Dujac) from Morey St Denis, (USD 295); ++++; just cherry-red, closed, monster wine, leafy, square, monster wine, tannic but sweet, the oak filtering out is outstanding, just a wine muscled up for the future, made in the old style burgundy mould where structure dominates fruit and aromatics, not to drink now, aging window 2015-2020.
Chambertin Clos de Beze 2008 (Bruno Clair) from Gevrey-Chambertin, (USD315); +++1/2; pink-cherry, lots of syrup references from high ripeness, then flowers for pinot, very bright and fresh, modern pinot, quite clean and taut on tasting, lots of minerality coming in, warm meaning hot alcohol on the end, subtle and young, drinking window 2013-2016.
The last grand cru was from the previous vintage: Bonneau du Martray 2007 from Corton, (USD 180); +++++; light cherry, perfume lifts from the glass, is it a simple nose?no, oak char, gaminess from lees aging effects, swirling reveals a very fine palate, linear and layered, mineral, sweet, the palate goes on with elegance, the final flavour is sweet fruit. Drinks well, aging window 2011-2020. Reflects the extra year in bottle.
Les Vaucrains (Chevillon) 2008 1er Nuits St Georges (++++); La Justice (Alain Burget) 2008 Gevrey-Chambertin (++++); and Clos des Chenes (Glantenay) 2008 Volnay (+++).
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