Monday, 24 June 2013

White Burgfest 2010 - a blind tasting of the Top 1ers and Grand Crus

Posted by Giles Burke-Gaffney, Buying Director
I felt honoured and excited to join the White Burgfest tasting 2010 earlier this Spring. The event offered a rare chance to blind taste all of the top 1ers and Grand Crus white burgundies, from one vintage, over two and a half days. There was a crack tasting team of 10 people, made up of the UK’s top Burgundy buyers, aficionados and journalists. We tasted 162 wines, all from the famed 2010 vintage, in flights grouped by commune and then by vineyard or terroir.

Overall 2010 proved itself to be an excellent vintage. There will always be disappointments and variability in a one-off tasting of this magnitude, but by and large the standard was high. The brilliant quality of the tasting’s best wines in mind match anything we have seen from recent white Burgundy vintages. At time of release the vintage was famed for its mix of ripeness and racy intensity. Whilst acidities were high, they were nothing like as searing as in 2007, some wines performed better the longer they were open and will certainly benefit from being decanted but that said the tasting was far from tough-going. There was more evidence of botrytis and overripe fruit in the wines than I remembered from my barrel tastings, but in many cases this lack of “typicity” as some would call it did not bother me at all, where the wine was properly in balance. In fact I found this fruit exuberance extremely seductive.

My overall impressions were as follows:

There were 5 flights of Meursault, a big commune and therefore variable, but there were lots of very good wines, Roulot Michel Bouzereau, Boisson Vadot and Ente all shone, but pick of the bunch, and arguably producer of the tasting was Domaine des Comtes Lafon, his Montrachet was the top wine of the entire tasting and his Meursault Perrieres was the highest placed non Grand Cru. More generally, Genevrieres and Perrieres were a cut above the other vineyards

There was a big difference between the quality of the high, stony Chassagne vineyards where there were some excellent wines and the slightly more cumbersome, lower clay-dominated ones. This was the first year that the group had tasted St Aubin, the flight highlighted what outstanding value for money this less coveted area can offer and in general it was a more exciting line up than at least 3 of the 5 Chassagne flights.

In Puligny-Montrachet Pucelles, Caillerets and Combettes excelled, as should be expected, but there were also some good perfomances from Perrieres and Referts. Bachelet-Monnot, Jacques Carillon, Sauzet, Michel Bouzereau, Ente and most surprisingly of all, Vincent Girardin, were the best producers in my view. In fact Vincent Girardin performed consistently well throughout the tasting.

Next up were 22 Corton Charlemagnes, overall rather disappointing. However there was one wine more interesting than the rest, by a country mile, that of Domaine Rollin. It was so complete and harmonious, brimming with ripe fruit, mineral complexity and requisite freshness, a class act indeed – Remi and Simon, please take a bow!

The rest of the Grands Crus offered much more of what was hoped for, largely exhibiting that extra step of depth, intensity and refinement. Unsurprisingly the most exciting wines of all came from Le Montrachet and Chevalier-Montrachet. Lafon, Laguiche and Jadot's Chevalier Demoiselles were the best wines we tasted.