So today I went to the Goedhuis Burgundy en primeur tasting. It was excellent: lots of really good producers, and a lovely setting in the Philip Mould Gallery in Dover Street.
I tasted 80 wines, which at this level is enough for a day. Let’s face it: with top Burgundies, we are talking about fine discriminations of quality. If you taste too many wines, you get olfactory adaptation (you screen out frequently encountered aromas), and your palate is negatively affected by exposure to too much tannin. For broad discriminations of quality – when you are tasting wines ranging from simple to high-end – you can still perform even when your palate is fatigued, assuming you have experience. But for those small differentiations that we fuss about with fine wine, care must be taken not to try too many wines in a day, or the results are compromised.
The overall impression I came away with from my second brush with 2012 is that it is a good vintage, but quite a variable one. I found some lovely wines, both white and red. But also some ordinary ones, and nothing is cheap in 2012. Burgundy is now properly expensive. En primeur, the 2012s are more expensive, in some cases, than 2005s on the shelf.
Pricing aside, I’m interested in the wines, and what’s interesting is how much stylistic differences among producers are showing – even eclipsing terroir and vintage effects. For me, it’s about finding producers whose style I like – those who I trust to make honest, authentic wines. With these producers, vintage and terroir differences suddenly become points of interest. I don’t want a perfect wine: I want an honest wine – one that tells me a story of a time and place.
Of today’s wines? I really liked the J-P Fichet white Burgundies, which were all interesting and detailed. The village Meursault was brilliant, as was the Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Referts. Jobard’s Meursault 1er Cru Purozots was a stand-out. The Etienne Sauzet wines were brilliant, but I especially liked the matchstick tinged Puligny villages and the Puligny 1er Cru Champ Gain. Hubert Lamy’s St Aubins are great value with lovely appley, citrussy fruit and good complexity.
On to the reds. A real standout was the offering from Domaine Fourrier. All the wines showed incredibly purity and elegance, and are approachable at a young age. I find these wines so thrilling and natural.
I wasn’t keen on Denis Mortet or Cathiard (really over-oaked, simple samples), but I was thrilled by the Chambolles of Gislaine Barthod, which are just brilliant in 2012 – floral, fresh, perfumed and elegant. The Hudelot-Noellat wines were also classically elegant, although somewhat over-priced. They are light, expressive and elegant, but it’s only when you get to the Grand Cru level (Clos de Vougeot, RSV and Richebourg) that they have real concentration and structure allied to the elegance.
De L’Arlot’s wines are modern and pure, but also have some seriousness. Tollot-Beaut is one of those domains where the house style almost (but not quite) trumps terroir: there’s a distinctive herby, spicy quality allied to the sweet, bright fruit. The Comte Armand wines (Auxey Duresses 1er Cru, Volnay, Pommard 1er Cru des Epeneaux) all showed amazing concentration, firm structure and vivid fruit, and were quite compelling. A nice surprise was Domaine Joseph Voillot, with three Volnays and a Pommard all showing lovely detail, freshness and elegance, in a more traditional style.