The build-up to the 2009 Burgundies has been long and hard-sell. Even last year, at the showings of the 2008s, producers had a 'you wait and see' expression on their faces when they mentioned the 2009s. A year of perfect ripeness and fabulous wines, we were told to expect. (And fabulous prices, we thought.)
And now they're here, on view to the London trade and customers of several importers. Just recovering from flu, I've been to two tastings so far, of wines shown by Louis Latour and by Goedhuis & Co. The Latour tasting, last Friday, was very civilised, three tasters and 37 wines. The whites showed attractive and forward, with good acdities and fruit occasionally verging on the tropical. My attention wasn't fully engaged till I reached the Puligny-Montrachet 1ers Crus. And they're not cheap. The Truffières and Folatières both had a level of complexity the others lacked, and the Bâtard was a brute, with power, intensity and lovely, stony acidity.
Among the Louis Latour reds (still pasteurised before bottling), the Mercurey was a perfumed, inexpensive delight. The Beaune Vignes Franches had glowing raspberry fruit. Then it was on to the Grands Crus for real pleasure. Particularly the poised, elegant Echézeaux, the surprisingly elegant Clos Vougeot, the fresh, candied, accessible Charmes Chambertin, the opulent, ample Chambertin and the intense, delicate, balanced Romanée St Vivant Les Quatre Journaux.
The Goedhuis tasting today was bigger and busier. I concentrated on the reds, over 100 of them, jostling my way to the bottles. Jancis Robinson kindly gave me a cardboard cup to spit into. Personal spittoon. Good. Pleasure came early, with a clutch of Drouhin-Laroze Grands Crus. A dense, rich, supple Clos de Vougeot, a dark, plummy, chocolatey Bonnes Mares and a rich, sumptuous Chambertin Clos de Bèze. There were some lovely Gevrey 1ers Crus from Géantet-Pansiot, a pure-fruited, precise En Champs and a candied, sweet-fruited Poissenot. Then a thick, brooding, opulent Charmes-Chambertin.
Then odd wines from different growers gave pleasure. An opulent, ultra-ripe, leathery Charmes-Chambertin from Dominique Gallois, an elegant, penetrating Gevrey 1er Cru Clos St Jacques from Fourrier, and a dense, firm Chambolle 1er Cru Baudes from Serafin. Then, some really consistent growers, Ghislaine Barthod from Chambolle, Louis Boillot from Gevrey, Hudelot Noellat from Vougeot, Sylvian Cathiard from Vosne (prices on application!), Jean Grivot from Vosne, and more mixed bags from Méo-Camuzet, Roche de Bellene (Nicolas Potel's newish negociant business) and Domaine de l'Arlot. A hurried rush through Chandon de Briailles and Comte Armand, and we were politely ushered out into a greying Vauxhall.
My highlights were a pair of grands crus from Hudelot Noellat, a big, bright, poised Clos de Vougeot and an understated, balanced Romanée St Vivant. All the Jean Grivot wines were excellent, with marks roughly according to their status. A trio of sensational reds from Méo-Camuzet, Clos de Vougeot, Corton Clos Rognet and Vosne-Romanee Aux Brulées. Clos de la Roche and Clos de Vougeot from Roche de Bellene. And Volnay Premiets from Comte Armand.
More Côtes de Nuits successes than Côtes de Beaune, you will notice. And a general feeling that the good growers have made the most of a generous year. The reds are lovely already, and the best will last well. The best whites are already seductive, and are probably best enjoyed in their youth. Gather ye rose-buds, as the old song goes.