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1999 Red Burgundies 30/05/2004 TNB

A few of us got together recently and contributed an example or two each of the above. What is one to make of the vintage? The short answer is that we loved the wines, but perhaps one has to take some account of the fact that we were drinking from the best producers - or at least those good enough and good enough value that we had invested in them. Most of them were drinkable now in fact as young Burgundy can be. One of our number told me later he had woken up in the night worrying that perhaps they were too forward but I don't think I am that worried myself. Certainly the fruit is easy-going, succulent and generally very gluggable - less austere than 93 and not tending towards cooked in the way that some 90's are. They seem less backward than the 96's too. On the whole, perhaps this vintage is slightly less good than any of those but not be a huge degree.

We started with a couple of village Gevrey's - Rousseau's and also S. Esmonin's Vieilles Vignes. Both had the high-toned, appetising fruit that we became attuned to during the evening. The first drinking now and the second with a bit of extra depth and structure that suggested some improvement over the next couple of years. A sign of the quality was that these wines still showed well on returning to them after the posher stuff that followed.

Clavelier's Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru La Combe D'Orveaux was by far the most backward wine of the evening - deep, tannic, brooding - demanding rather than just suggesting some cellarage. I think it will come good, probably very good, as it certainly should do given that the vineyard is nicely situated just by Le Musigny. Ambitious winemaking here, from a domain that I haven't much experience of - worth looking out for, provided they don't slip into overdoing it. H. Lignier's Morey St Denis 1er Cru Les Chaffots was by contrast completely balanced, relatively easy-going wine wirth excellent raspberry fruit. It does exactly what it says on the tin - in fact rather more. Continuing this theme, Lamarche's Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru La Croix Rameau was just completely sexy, forward Burgundy - little scope for improvement but terribly voluptuous and an absolute pleasure to drink now. I did not at all like our other Vosne - the Aux Brulees 1999 from the fashionable Grivot. I found it dominated by charred, smoky notes from (I guess) clumsily handled new oak, much more marked than the nuances you might expect from the name of the vineyard. Others found it less objectionable, but it was significant that this was the only red of which a lot remained in the bottle at the close of proceedings.

It was clear we were moving up a level with Fourrier's Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Combe Aux Moins - a splendid raspberry nose (as many of the wines had) just did not prepare us for the explosion of flavour on the long and thoroughly lovely, complex palate. A brilliant wine from an estate whose reputation can only go up. Rousseau's Grand Cru Charmes Chambertin was a touch more forward (although I am sure it will age well) and had beautiful, long, sweet fruit. Easily worthy of its designation, and as good as the Fourrier wine although my personal taste tends a bit towards the first wine's slightly more intellectual style.

This is a vintage that I am pleased I have a few bottles of in cellar - indeed, I wish I had a bit more. There's still some good wine around and perhaps I'll buy some - it certainly beats paying silly prices for untasted 2003 Bordeaux!

added to Fine Wine Diary 30/05/2004   Return to top