Any other day, I would have jumped at the chance to taste wines from Leflaive, Bruno Clair, Lafarge, and other noted producers, but the enormity of the event and palate fatigue conspired to limit me to the following brief, impressionistic notes of wines I was most keen about trying. I have no doubt that I missed other great wines, and I trust that these will be duly described by others who attended the event.
Flight 1 - Laroche (4 notes)
It seems as though the quality drops off significantly below their top wine, the Reserve de l'Obedience.
Flight 2 - Christian Moreau (4 notes)
Variable, some with too much wood in evidence.
Flight 3 - Vincent Dauvissat (4 notes)
The last 3 wines are pretty iconic examples and must be amongst the top Chablis of this very strong Chablis vintage.
2010 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos
Same weight as the Preuses (i.e., not huge). All bright, dry citrus and mineral with higher acidity than that wine. Whoa, incredible length and drive. Exciting and seemingly endless. This should be an all time great. Not as interesting breadth of flavors currently as the Preuses, but it will get there.
Flight 4 - William Fevre (4 notes)
Flight 5 - Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey (4 notes)
I don't drink enough Cote de Beaune white to know exactly where Colin-Morey stands in the overall hierarchy, but I do know that what I've tasted over the past couple of years from him has been brilliant. The high end wines have amazing acidity and typicity, and his handling of St. Aubin seems nothing short of miraculous.
2010 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Bâtard-Montrachet
Creamy, complex, lactic. Some faint citrus fruit and a deft touch of wood. Rich without the least bit of heaviness, terrific length. Sigh-this is right up there as one of the best Grand Cru Cote de Beaune whites I had over the course of 2 days of tastings.
Flight 6 - Lafon (3 notes)
2010 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault 1er Cru Charmes
Much lower pitched than the Clos de la Barre. Bigger, creamier and much greater depth with discrete, tolerable (to me) oakiness. As opposed to the other Charmes I tried today, this was the only one that had Grand Cru size and still retained its Meursault roots.
Flight 7 - Drouhin (4 notes)
Flight 8 - Jean-Marc Bouley (3 notes)
I'm all for a core of bright fruit (see Fourrier below), but these were the ripest, most obvious reds of the tasting. In retrospect, fun to taste, but at the expense of clarity and complexity.
Flight 9 - Robert Chevillon (4 notes)
Chevillon seems to have the Midas touch in recent vintages, and so it was with these wines, except for the Cailles, which was not having a particularly good day.
Flight 10 - Arlot (4 notes)
Disappointing except for the Suchots.
2010 Domaine de L'Arlot Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots
Floral, supple with a really attractive set of red fruit aromatics. Less overwrought than either Nuits. Approachable, silky feel and a tad of earth on the finish. This was the only wine in the range that had much appeal. "Come hither" style, for the near term rather than significant aging potential.
Flight 11 - Faiveley (4 notes)
2010 Faiveley Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Cazetiers
Excellent concentrated red fruit and great balance of this fruit with acidity and earth. Round, extremely harmonious wine with great equipoise and potential going forward. This is not the biggest or most powerful wine I tasted today, but the seamlessness was striking, even in the context of some of the superstars in the overall line up.
2010 Faiveley Mazis-Chambertin
Same weight as the Cazetiers, but much more tilted toward soil on both the nose and palate. More back of the mouth structure, less giving than the Premier Cru, yet it finishes very well-no question that it has the underlying material to blossom, but essentially backward and for the next decade, as it should be.
2010 Faiveley Corton-Charlemagne
As opposed to the impressive, well balanced reds, this was atypical for the vintage in being ripe, a bit tropical, lush and woody. Hard to see any underlying grip here. Pass.
Flight 12 - Mugneret/Mugneret-Gibourg (4 notes)
All of these wines shared an impressive, uplifting core of acidity and terrific distinction of site. The Clos Vougeot was substituted for the Grands-Echezeaux, so this was the second time tasting this wine at La Paulee events.
2010 Domaine Georges Mugneret/Mugneret-Gibourg Clos Vougeot
Serious, more brooding style with classic black fruit. This was the only Mugneret wine in which I detected any wood, but it is certainly not at an objectionable level. Round, harmonious and easy to appreciate now, but there is a lot that is buried in reserve for the long haul. All four wines that they showed had beautiful fidelity to their respective sites. This is not quite as fine as the Echezeaux but also should be outstanding in a more frankly powerful style.
Flight 13 - Eugenie (4 notes)
Seriously impressive from bottom to top, and like the Mugneret wines, also high fidelity to the various sites.
2010 Domaine d'Eugénie Echezeaux
Red and black fruit mixture on the nose. Same weight as the Brulee but a more delicate feel due to more acidity. Blacker fruit in the mouth than that wine. Finesse and balance.
2010 Domaine d'Eugénie Clos Vougeot
The most serious, backward, brooding wine in the Eugenie line up. Quite woody base, but really wonderful material that overcomes this and makes it deep, long and harmonious, if not at all ready for prime time. This should make a lush, rather fleshy Clos Vougeot down the road. Outstanding potential and I'd guess that it has enough to absorb the wood. Interestingly, second time tasted in 2 days and this sample was more open.
Flight 14 - Hudelot-Noellat (4 notes)
This may have been the sleeper set of the tasting for me-elegant and lovely. I only wish I could afford a bottle or two of the RSV-what a beauty!
2010 Alain Hudelot-Noellat Clos Vougeot
Slightly bigger than the Suchots. Deep black fruit and a strong thread of soil. The earthiest and most tannic of the Hudelot wines and a bit more rough and tumble than the Eugenie Clos Vougeot. Truly excellent but may not turn out to be quite as good in its class as the Suchots.
2010 Alain Hudelot-Noellat Romanée St. Vivant
Gorgeous fresh strawberry nose, extremely fragrant already. Light, supple, just packed with flavor. Superb sugar/acid balance, very long. This is totally seductive and won't require as much delayed gratification as the Clos Vougeot.
Flight 15 - Fourrier (4 notes)
The essence of fruit purity (without soupiness or overextraction), ravishing aromatics and gentle, carressing texture. A great range of Gevreys this year.
2010 Domaine Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin Vieille Vigne
Explosive, bright red fruit leaps out of the glass. Supple, pliant, lovely texture in a light package with good acidity and a dash of earth. Fantastic village wine and what a great introduction to the very stylish style of this producer. Hell, it is so achingly delicious that it provides a tremendous snapshot of what we love about red Burgundy.
2010 Domaine Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St. Jacques Vieille Vigne
Again, stunningly forward, bright red fruit aromatics. Sappy, silky and long with a touch of soil and strong back end acidity. Approachable but much time in hand to fully blossom. The class of the group. Whereas at last year's tasting, the '09 Fourriers left me scratching my head, the 2010 Gevreys left me salivating and licking my chops.
Flight 16 - G. Roumier/Christophe Roumier (4 notes)
Profound, complex and much more soil and mineral driven than just about any other set of reds at this tasting. Only the Ruchottes left a bit to be desired.
2010 Domaine G. Roumier / Christophe Roumier Ruchottes-Chambertin
Of all the Roumier wines, this has the most obscure fruit. At this early point, it is soil filled and soil driven. Same weight as the Chambolle Cras but a bit less palate impact. If given the opportunity (which I won't be), I'd pick the Cras hands down over this wine, and it is not just a preference for Chambolle over Gevrey, but one of balance and potential.
Flight 17 - Dujac (4 notes)
Particularly nice village wines. The Clos de la Roche was a little harder to read today.
2010 Dujac Fils et Père Chambolle-Musigny
Fantastic quality village wine, not too shabby for a negociant bottling! Light, crisp and typical Chambolle. Beautiful red fruit with bright balancing acidity. No crime to drink now but room for improvement over 5 years.
2010 Domaine Dujac Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Aux Combottes
Ripe, berry like, mostly red fruit and earth. Lighter, feminine style, but I was surprised that it did not eclipse the stuffing of the 2 village wines by a wider margin. Yes, it has more incipient complexity but not enough to justify the significantly higher price.
2010 Domaine Dujac Clos de la Roche
Herbs and black fruit on the nose. Medium weight, peppery, tannic and lightly stemmy. Backward and currently dry on the finish. Not lush now but a hidden deep core. I went back again to try it from another bottle and found more of the beautiful Dujac texture, so I am willing to say that it is merely shut down now and give it the benefit of the doubt. One way or another, it will need a lot of time to resolve its structure.
Flight 18 - Miscellaneous Whites (8 notes)
Flight 19 - Miscellaneous Reds (3 notes)
2010 Louis Jadot Clos de la Roche
Spicy, tart red fruit and smokiness on the nose. Lighter weight. Ripe entry, some woody base, excellent acidity. Not entirely convincing for Grand Cru level wine.
So, what is the overall impression of 2010 red Burgundy (not enough of a sample size to generalize about the whites)? I would sum it up by saying that as a rule, the wines have terrific equilibrium, beautifully expressed fruit and wonderful freshness. Everything is just straight down the middle. The aromas lean toward red fruit, and lighter red fruit at that rather than deep black cherry. As importantly, the wines are distinguished by what is not there-neither overripeness (with rare exceptions) nor cool, green attributes. The weights seemed typical and never heavy, and the acidity deep but never extremely tart (as in a vintage such as 1996). What surprised me was the tannic structure, which was not nearly as forbidding as reviews led me to expect. I wonder if they will go through a prolonged closed period but cannot imagine that they will be as slow to open and evolve as the 2005's. When I try to compare it to other Burgundy vintages within my drinking lifetime, there are relatively few good fits; both 1978 and 1985 come to mind, but the analogies have their limitations. I believe that the '78s were harder and the '85s less concentrated and more short to medium term wines, but the balance and concentration of 1978 ring true to me.
Two other aspects strike me as I reflect back on the wines. First, the basic village cuvees of the great producers were often tremendous, so the excellence is not only at the top. Yes, the prices are not what they used to be, but bottles such as Fourrier's Gevrey VV or Dujac's Chambolle will undoubtedly give great pleasure and also provide a nice window into the greater bottlings that may not affordable at all. I will seek these out. Will the high end wines reach the heights of other truly great vintages? We'll see. Second, ranges such as the Mugneret or Eugenie wines demonstrate clear differentiation of the wines by site of origin. I suppose this illustrates Meadows' concept of "transparency", and it is a beautiful thing to taste such well defined wines.
All in all, this tasting left me very impressed and excited to buy and drink as many of these wines as I can.