Jean-Claude Boisset Tasting
Noel Young Wines - Trumpington
16 April 2008
Tasting run by Noel Young Wines in Trumpington HIgh St, Cambridge. Its the first time I've been to a tasting in NY Wines, its not exactly smack in the middle of Cambridge you see, getting there and back is rather complicated. However, this tasting was really excellent, I ran out of superlatives at the end of it. Prices are retail at NYW.
The speaker, Gregory Patriat, is the head winemaker at JC Boisset; a man who knows and obviously loves his wine, is an excellent and captivating speaker (with jokes I really shouldnt repeat in a public domain such as this). He started off working in the vineyards, gradually moving up to become winemaker. JC Boisset used to be thought of as a run of the mill kind of winery, making basic and overpriced Burgundies; but this has changed under Gregory. They now make small parcels of many different wines, focusing on the true and pure expression of the terroir; they dont own much land themselves, instead choosing to buy in parcels of fruit from all over Burgundy. They are very involved in the actual grape growing (they are foremost a wine grower, not a wine maker - nice soundbite eh?). This is rather important as wine growers tend to have a farmers' mentality, that is, trying to make as much fruit as possible as they get paid by the tonne; this unfortunately makes poor wine as the fruit will be flavourless, diluted, and very often under ripe - farmers get real twitchy at the sight of bad weather near harvest time, so left to their own devices, they would rather harvest early and secure the crop. By forging long term relationships with the wine growers, JC Boisset has the pick of the crop and they say in the actual wine growing; in many ways this is a good business model. If its a bad year, they simply make less wine and only buy fruit from areas which performed OK; in good years, they just buy more fruit and make more wine. Hence they have a massive portfolio of different wines produced in very small quantities, ranging from 600 to 10,000 bottles, which is nothing compared to the massive negociants in Burgundy. Enough background, on to the drink itself.
Bourgogne Chardonnay 2006
The entry level white from JC Boisset, they tend to think that the entry level wine is where most of the big negociants get it wrong: its normally overpriced and/or rubbish. Here, we have a fruit-driven wine, full of white fruits, peaches and citrus peel; its very fresh, with crisp minerality and light acidity. There is some tartness towards the end, lending to a balanced, perfectly acceptable mouthfeel. I felt that this was a good wine to start a tasting, awakens the tastebuds with its light, tingly flavours. Its not one to keep, but a few years wont hurt it at all. I think its wonderful if you just wanted to show what a properly made white Burgundy should taste like. Value isnt bad either.
Marsannay Blanc 2006
From vineyards just north of the Cotes de Nuits. This was sort of the entry level, taken to the next step. The purity of flavour and fruit-dominated palate is similar to above, but this wine had a slightly heavier mouthfeel; it was more expansive, just slightly more fulfilling. Whereas the first wine above was light and tingly, this was more assured and lingered for a while, enticing you a bit. I loved the balance and togetherness of the wine. This may keep around 5yrs if you could keep it that long.
Saint-Aubin 1er Cru Sur Gamay 2006
Despite the name, this wine is all Chardonnay, from an up and coming area (Saint-Aubin); the 2002 vintage won an IWC white burgundy trophy some time back, The main distinguishing feature from the two above is the weight on the palate, this one feels creamier, heavier, larger and fatter. A slight departure from white fruits, into more developed complex notes. There are more attarctive secondary characteristics, here I detected some organic chemistry-related notes (turpentine etc); the wine itself doesnt slip through quickly, it almost beckons you to stop and take notice. This will most certainly develop in the next 5-10yrs. Absolutely lovely, balanced and complex.
Meursault 1er Cru Les Charmes 2005
The most expensive white on tasting tonight, but not my favourite. There is an overriding acidity that will supply the backbone for aging, but now, its just a bit too aggressive and cutting; its also almost tannic (yes, I know it sounds weird). Dont get me wrong, its still wonderful, there is a creamier, buttery and largeness about it that I just know will be perfect in due course. Fruit wise, we're moving from citrus to grapefruit and lime. At the moment, its a bit too exuberant and lively for me, its not yet 'together' flavour wise; the different aspects (acidity, fruit, weight and motuhfeel) are still pulling the wine in different directions. I have no doubts thil will develop very well with time; its not short on class either. Keep 10+ yrs.
Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2006
Entry level red from JC Boisset, made much in the same spirit as the white. Its an honest Burgundy, made properly from decent grapes. Its dominated by light red fruits; tartness reminiscent of cranberry and raspberry. Tannins are a bit out of place for my liking, I like my Pinots to be smooth and rounded, this one had some edge to it. Its a vibrant and happy wine, to be had with food (pork or even lamb). Drink now, no dont think it'll keep.
Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits 'Les Dames Huguettes' 2006
This I thought didnt express itself well during the tasting; it may be on a bad day. It seemed rather closed and astringent, which I thought was strange. There is some red fruits though, but the tannins just needed some time to soften and develop. My rating reflects the hope that it will get better with time, perhaps 5yrs just to open a little?
Santenay 1er Cru Grand Clos Rousseau 2006
The appearance of this wine was lightly darker than the prvious two, an indication as to its flavours as well. There is certainly greater concentration of flovaours in this wine, red fruits still readily apparent with a sprinkling of secondary caharcteristics of wood / herb. The mouthfeel was slightly heavier and larger and the finish just that bit classier. It should keep, the tannins could do with some time 5-10yrs.
Beaune 1er Cru Les Greves 2005
Another potentially great wine which didnt perform during the tasting. My lasting memory of this was how tightly wound this wine tasted, the tannins were astringent almost to the extent of being raw, grips like tyres on a hot tarmac. The shame is that there are great secondary flavours here: light spices, licorice and floral nose were all there, the fruit was hidden behind the tannins. I'm told by the winemaker that this wine has a tendency to enter a 'closed' phase where it just shuts down for a few years and he wasnt surprised that this wine tasted like it did. Time should take care of it though. I'm sure this tasting note would look different in 5yrs time; maturity and full complexity wont be till 12-15yrs time. Once won the IWC Burgundy trophy, cant doubt the pedigree.
Chambolie Musigny 2005
This was a really serious wine, from the first sip you could tell it meant business. The concentration of flavours, even at this stage, was impressive; the nose was strong yet delicately perfumed. Taninns are present but not harsh; there was a hidden power behind this wine that you could feel will serve it very well in due course. There is a layered, structured feel that is so seductive; the savouriness is just brilliant. I apologise for being so abstract, but I absolutely adored this wine even now; I shudder to think what greatness could be expected in, say, 10yrs time; maturity probably after 15yrs.
Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 2005
Alright, this cost twice as much as the previous one but I honestly cannot say it was twice as good. The good points from the wine above are obviously here, I couldnt detect much difference bar the fact that this wine was drinking better now, compared to the Chambolie Musigny, hence the grade difference. Whats notable is the layered palate; the hidden power and structure is appealing; the finish is slightly more sustained. Maybe 5-10yrs to start tatsing interesting bits; 15yrs for maturity. Honestly though, I'd rather get two bottles of Chambolie Musigny.
Incredibly impressed with the JC Boisset portfolio. All wines showed pedigree, they didnt muck about with the grapes; there was no excessive oak treatment, whatever oak they used was tasteful and elegant. The clarity anf purity of expression of the terroir is absolutely first class. I honestly cannot say anything bad about the wines here. Notable white was the Saint-Aubin, as probably guessed from the notes, for its balance and expression. Notable reds were the Bourgogne Pinot Noir, for its value; the Chambolie Musigny for its elegance and potential.