With the arrival of a New Year one’s thoughts turn to Burgundy and, indeed, burgundy, the one being the region, the other the wine.
I was in the region in November and those who haven’t yet read my report can find it here. That of Richard Watton – veteran of twenty vintages spent living in Hong Kong and longstanding friend of Bowes Wine – can be read here.
I confess that I travelled to Burgundy with concerns in my mind about what we would find during our stay. My 2018 trip to taste the 2017s had been rife with comments relating to the climatic conditions during the latest growing season. Extreme heat had been a sustained feature, leading to stress in the vines’ vegetative cycle.
Those that have read my burgundy musings in the past will know that I favour the cooler vintages, in Burgundy and elsewhere. My repeated mantra is that terroir is carried within the freshness of a wine; that wines lacking in freshness tend to lack character and individuality. So…were we to be met with ripe wines that all tasted the same?
In truth, I was very pleasantly surprised: astonished, even. In the course of our tastings we encountered extravagantly beautiful wines - both red and white - of exceptional purity and, in most cases, bags of character.
That is not to say that these qualities were ubiquitous. It was clear that 2018 was a vintage that required a great deal of thought from vineyard to winery. There were cellars from which I will not be buying this year; ranges that simply did not offer the interest or excitement we found elsewhere.
At its best, 2018 has produced overtly beautiful wines. At Lafarge and Lamarche I do not think I have tasted better. And it was the same at several other addresses we visited.
I have secured allocations of wines that really lit my blue touchpaper, more of which soon. But I wanted to start with some wines of the house of Bouchard Père et Fils. These I tasted in London the other day and it was a highly rewarding experience.
Alas, burgundy is no longer a bargain, but these are very special indeed:
2018 Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrières, Bouchard Père et Fils
£336 in bond per 6
£261 in bond per 300cl
Nose here is a touch reserved, but there are delicious-smelling notes of nut to the pretty apple fruit garlanded by floral scents. Fruit in the mouth is Golden Delicious apples flecked by toasty nuances. This is long and orange-y; could be enjoyed relatively soon. It has a very orange flavoured aftertaste, with green orange acidity emerging at the back. This is really good stuff.
"Wafting from the glass with notes of pear, white flowers, orange oil and fresh pastry, the 2018 Meursault 1er Cru Genevrières is medium to full-bodied, satiny and textural, with lively acids and a long, mineral finish." William Kelley
2018 Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières, Bouchard Père et Fils
£366 in bond per 6
There’s an airiness about the nose here. It’s a reserved and mineral-scented thing, showing touches of spice to the crisp orchard fruit aromas. There’s an almost sucrous ripeness to the fruit. Superficially, this seems quite laid back, but held within is a clay-like dense paste of structure right at the core. This is something really special.
"The 2018 Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières unwinds in the glass with a crisp bouquet of citrus oil, crushed chalk and nutmeg, followed by a medium to full-bodied, racy and incisive palate that's tight-knit, tensile and mineral." William Kelley
2018 Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, Bouchard Père et Fils
£690 in bond per 6
Really properly steely aromas to this, showing lemon fruit, the whole beautifully defined. Really dense and backward wine, lasting and sustained. It needs quite a bit of time for everything that is currently internalised to emerge. It will do so with aplomb. Great drive and stuffing. Superb.
"This is a Corton-Charlemagne with a promising future." William Kelley
2018 Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru, Bouchard Père et Fils
£636 in bond per 3
Wisp of wood showing on this, besides which it offers cool and contained aromas. This is a dense, busy, serious wine with a very mineral, clay-like core. It’s all stunningly well sustained, right to the full and busy ending that is absolutely stuffed: concentrated and fabulous.
"On the palate, it's full-bodied, deep and layered, with a broad attack that segues into a ripe core of nicely concentrated fruit, underpinned by lively acids." William Kelley
2018 Chevalier Montrachet La Cabotte Grand Cru, Bouchard Père et Fils
£840 in bond per magnum
£1,710 in bond per 300cl
A steely aspect to a nose that shows wonderfully defined aromas of nut and spice to the mixed orchard and citrus fruit. In the mouth, this is denser, richer and more energetic than anything that has come before. Great density to this drily mineral palate. There's a sustained limestone clay texture to the structure within this wine. Real presence...and real energy too. Superb.
"The Cabotte can almost match the amplitude and voluminousness of the Montrachet this year—and it's racier and more vibrant—so it gets my nod as Bouchard's finest white wine this year." William Kelley
2018 Le Montrachet Grand Cru, Bouchard Père et Fils
£1,446 in bond per 3
Magnums and also available - ask
The nose here is quite closed up, but there are distinct and complex aromas emerging, including ginger and other spices along with a mix of citrus fruits. The whole impression is dry. There are floral aspects to the fruit on the palate. Nut also runs through this BIG mouthful. It is backward, direct and very mineral and offers that extraordinary peacock’s tail effect as it goes into the mouth and simply spreads out. Fabulous. And so it should be!
"...it's full-bodied, fleshy and enveloping, with a deep and concentrated core that's layered and textural, underpinned by lively balancing acids and concluding with a long, expansive finish." William Kelley
2018 Volnay 1er Cru Les Caillerets Ancienne Cuvée Carnot, Bouchard Père et Fils
£321 in bond per 6
Very dark, very wild plum fruit on the nose, garnished with floral scents. The fruit has a pastille density to it across the tongue and this is structured right through, with big and highly credible architectural limestone tannins. A backward wine and a busy one. Great dimension here. Fabulous red burgundy.
"Another of the high points of this year's range..." William Kelley
2018 Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Les Cailles, Bouchard Père et Fils
£414 in bond per 6
Superbly tangy dark plum skin nose. This is just such a credible thing. There’s such lively energy combined with stunning density and definition. Serious tacky tannins abound, and the finish is just out of sight. I absolutely love this. Stunner.
"On the palate, the wine is medium to full-bodied, velvety and layered, with beautifully refined tannins, ripe acids and a generous core of fruit." William Kelley
2018 Beaune 1er Cru Grèves Vigne de l’Enfant Jésus, Bouchard Père et Fils
£432 in bond per 6
Delightful fresh snap about the aromas here. The fruit is red and wild and there’s a hint of thyme about it. It goes in the mouth fleshy, ripe and dense. And then the super-energetic tannins kick in. There’s sustained limestone grip leading into the long term to a superbly busy death. This is really superb.
"On the palate, it's medium to full-bodied, deep and concentrated, with a muscular core of fruit, ripe tannins and a long, expansive finish." William Kelley
2018 Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru, Bouchard Père et Fils
£741 in bond per 3
N.B. This is a négociant wine rather than domaine.
This is a touch closed, although rich and dense, dark fruit aromas emerge with swirling, dotted with floral notes. This is really pretty backward: a highly grippy wine giving up both wild and domestic fruit of plums and raspberries. It shows lasting drive and structure to a mineral, almost painfully intense ending. I find this most impressive.
"Overt vanilla and stones, with a core of red-cherry fruit, lots of spicy, peppery tannins and extract. Intense and youthful. A touch of warmth on the finish, but there’s a lot of the ingredients now that should come together quite nicely." jancisrobinson.com
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