Bouchard Père & Fils dinner tasting, mainly 2009s

Lavandou Restaurant, Washington D.C.
Tasted Monday, January 16, 2012 by PanosKakaviatos with 565 views

Introduction

A few Washington D.C. based wine lovers gathered at Lavandou last month to taste a series of wines from the great Bouchard Père & Fils producer in Beaune. Thanks to owner Henriot, we were able to sample several bottles from the 2009 vintage, which is not without some controversy. In spite of rather splendid weather, some naysayers claim that it was too sunny for Pinot Noir. That journalists and wine hacks like yours truly hyped it up far too much for its own good. When I reply that it is easier to find 2008s than 2009s, these same people say that it is my fault. Or, at least, the fault of the hypers. Whatever the case may be, the 2009s I have tasted so far have been on a general level very delicious. Will they last as long as the more structured but also quite ripe 2005s? Probably not. Can they be a bit jammy? A bit rich? Sure. That may turn off some traditionalists. But consider this: given a basic Burgundy or even a village level wine, I'll generally take the 2009 over the 2008, because the 2009 will have more ripe fruit. When it comes to certain premiers and grands crus from top producers, I can see why there is a discussion, why some could prefer 2008 (or 2010 for that matter) over 2009.

But let's get to the wines...

Flight 1 - Champagne

Pierre Gimonnet 2002 'Special Club' Champagne. A superb blanc de blancs Champagne that apparently comes from a special cuvee – the Special Club – that is bottled by other Champagne houses, but the aging is different according to the house. This was aged 8 years on its dead lees before disgorgement. Its 6 grams of sugar per liter is very well integrated. Smooth and dry and rather seamless on the palate. Fresh and mineral like with citrus aspects as well as red apple. Lingering finish. A Champagne to seek.

Bertrand-Delespierre Champagne Brut Premier Cru 2002. This is a Dan Kravitz selection, and a good one, too. I have met Dan and he is very careful about what he buys. Much fruit and richness here, but leaves the impression of being a bit less Brut when compared to the Gimonnet bottle, which I preferred.

Flight 2 - Whites - Bouchard

Overall the whites were better than expected, given the relatively warm vintage, but they perhaps lacked the precision of, say, the 2008 vintage. Still, I was rather pleased particularly with the Bouchard Pouilly Fuisse 2009, which displayed fine ripeness and a good backbone. The Meursault Les Clous 2009, a wine I had often served while being a sommelier on Nantucket Island’s Chanticleer Restaurant in ‘Sconset, did not disappoint, exhibiting ripe red apple and a certain richness, while the Clos St Landry proved to be a touch too thick, but perhaps will resolve itself with time in bottle.

Meursault Les Clous 2009
Pouilly Fuisse 2009
Clos St. Landry 2009

Flight 3 - Whites - Pair of Germans and a Puligny Montrachet

Dr. H. Thanisch Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Spätlese 2001. This was an absolutly lovely wine, clean and fresh, just a hint of sweetness, displaying fruit and almond flavors. With so much acidity that the residual sugar is very well balanced. 8.5% alcohol.
Schloss Schönborn Hochheimer Hölle Riesling 1991. Some liked this more than I did. There was a bit of band-aid that blew off, and then more subtle flavors came to the fore. Fine.
Etienne Sauzet Puligny Montrachet Champenot 1er Cru 1995. Served quite cold, so that the bit of heat was rather masked, this wine conveyed lovely herbal notes and a fine richness. Somewhat abrupt on the finish.

Flight 4 - The reds of Bouchard: the main event

I had enjoyed the Bouchard Père & Fils Monthelie Les Durreses 2009 over dinner with a couple of friends recently and it proved delicious and decadent, with very ripe fruit expressions. It was ripe and smooth at this tasting as well, although some tasters found it a bit too jammy.

The Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune du Chateau Rouge 2009 proved itself yet again, and it seemed to exude greater balance, displaying also some crackly red fruit as well as darker hues, and a very smooth palate. I recall enjoying the 2008 tasted at the château but here is an example where the 2009 is just a better wine, more complete and coming across as more fruitfully balanced.

The Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune Clos de Mousse 2009 displayed ripe black and red cherry aromas with richness, and yet an Old World freshness, too, reflected in the palate. A pleasurable wine.

The Bouchard Père & Fils Volnay Clos des Chenes 2009 proved a clear step up aromatically, with an added dimension of floral aromatics albeit with just a slightly rich and heady aspect. A very pretty nose, with a bit of vanilla on the finish. Perhaps still coming from the elevage?

Bouchard Père & Fils Volnay Les Caillerets 2006. Fine nose of red and ripe berries, although just a touch stolid, slightly monolithic overall, but it may have been – as fellow taster Ken Brown had suggested – the wrong time to try this vintage.

The Bouchard Père & Fils Volnay Les Caillerets 2002 conveyed much more sap and fresh acidity, quite balanced in its expression of warmth and verve. Also rather precise, it was my clear preference among the three Les Caillerets we enjoyed over dinner.

Bouchard Père & Fils Volnay Les Caillerets 1998. Some found greater depth here than with the 2002, and although the palate was indeed medium plus intensity, the 1998 was not – to me at least – nearly as charming or as pretty as the 2002.

The Bouchard Père & Fils Le Corton 2009 exuded precise notes of sweet red cherry and yet was buoyed by plentiful – and smooth – tannins. A sommelier present suggested that this may not be a long distance runner, but I think that was a minority opinion. Along with other tasters, including fellow wine blogger Kevin Shin, I get the impression that this wine will be open for a while and it includes the stuffing to last many years. Bouchard winemaking director Philippe Prost compared this to the 1959 vintage… Considering how good the 1959 tasted over dinner in Beaune with Philippe a couple of years ago, this is no small praise.

Finally, the Bouchard Père & Fils Vigne de l’Enfant Jesus 2009, coming from magnum, thanks to Calvert Woodley, seemed to convey more foreboding tannin than the Le Corton, and was not quite as remarkable, to me at least, but it certainly displayed a very smooth texture and much depth of flavor. Perhaps just not quite as precise as Le Corton?

Flight 5 - End game: Sauternes and Auslese

JJ Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese 2001
JJ Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese 1988
Two superb German later harvest wines. While the 1988 was at least very good, the 2001 was nothing short of magnificent, very lively with grapefruit like freshness and youthful in aspect in spite of over 10 years of age. The 1988 was also quite youthful for its age, but not quite as dynamic on the palate.

Château de Fargues Sauternes 2003. An excellent and rich Sauternes. Coming from a rather cold soil, this estate was well suited to the vintage.

Closing

All in a all, a great event and chance to ascertain the quality not only of the 2009 vintage across various appellations but also that of Bouchard Père & Fils. Thanks again to Henriot for the samples.

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