Tuesday, 22 December 2009

CUWS Michaelmas 09 – Les Hospices de Beaune

28th October 2009

A selection of wines from the famed (and I’m told, rather picturesque) charity Les Hospices de Beaune; tasting was led by Anthony Hanson MW, Burgundy expert and Senior Wine Consultant at Christie’s.

A short intro into Les Hospices de Beaune: founded in the fifteenth century as a hospital to the poor and needy, it has now become Burgundy’s most famous charity. Through many years of generous benefactions, they now own plenty of vineyards throughout Burgundy, most of which are classed Premier or Grand cru. The wines are then sold by the barrel, only a few weeks after vinification, in an annual auction in the middle of November – a must attend for the players in the Burgundy wine scene. Christie’s have handled the auctions since 2007; the last one in 2008 sold 553 barrels and contributed almost 3 million euros to the Hospice.

Unfortunately, no price estimate is available for the wines tasted this evening.

Pouilly-Fuisse Cuvee Francoise Poisard 2006

Light and lively nose of citrus and limepeel, some chalky minerality too. Old world in style, but very clean and is fleeting on the palate; body is rather thin, fruit and acid in balance. A charming little wine.

Meursault-Genevrieres 1er Cru Cuvee Phillippe le Bon 2006

More developed nose: quite yeasty, bready, mushroomy in character, almost like vintage Champagne; some white peaches too. Oak treatment on palate shows, a more substantial food wine; creamy, savoury notes fills the mid palate very nicely. Acidity will allow aging, but even now its drinking nicely. Mid to long finish, plenty of class.

Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru Cuvee Francois de Salins 2006

Lively and fruity nose, plenty of white fruits, green apples too; stony minerality also shows – all very inviting. At the moment, a bit out of sorts: fruit still lively; acidity is filling and minerality also pronounced, making it feel like a rather burly, confused wine. At the moment, it’s a bit lean and tight, only giving glimpses of potential. This wine will give lots of joy for those with deep pockets and plenty of patience, definitely for the long haul. Best white among the three tonight, by quite some distance.

Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru Cuvee Arthur Girard 2005

Lively Pinot aromas, jumps out really. Good red fruits on the palate, albeit slightly outshown by the green tannins and out of place acidity. Feels a bit tight and awkward, not showing well, perhaps needs a few years to really settle down. I think theres more to this than what it showed.

Beaune 1er Cru Cuvee Dames Hospitalieres 2005

Lifted nose, almost floral. Drinking very well – soft and elegant mid palate, showing crushed red fruits, damsons and ripe cherry. So generous on the palate, with the soft acidity holding everything together, really shows what a good Burgundy should be. Not for long haul, but why would you when its giving so much now?

Pommard-Epenots 1er Cru Cuvee Dom Gablet 2007

Very unusual colour: its light, almost Madeira like, amber / burnt copper. Nose is quite alcoholic, red fruits, sour cherry and even a touch of aniseed. Palate is light and fleeting, sour cherries and raspberries dominate; perhaps a bit short on body and mouthfeel, its just a bit too light for me. Great wine to drink on its own, though.

Volnay 1er Cru Cuvee Blondeau 2003
B(+), possibly B(++)

Rustic nose, farmyard greenness and slight cigar box spice; some deeper mysterious notes here, kirsch and chocolate were even mentioned during the tasting. Very well structured on the palate, proper tannin balanced by some piercing acidity; coats the mouth well. A bit too young to drink now, needs to settle down a bit, certainly tannins need time. Glimpses of brighter future ahead.

Corton Grand Cru Cuvee Charlotte Dumay 2002

Lovely nose, ticks all the boxes for proper Burgundy: rustic earthiness is there, so is some wood and touch of smoke. Deeper red fruits, even kirsch. Perfume already indicates class. Tannins quite drying towards back of palate; still lots of red fruits on the fore and mid palate. Everything holding together very well, but I suspect given time, this charming little number will have plenty more to offer.

Clos de La Roche Grand Cru Cuvee Georges Kritter 2005

A move up in quality from the reds so far in the tasting. Nose here is deeper, slightly more developed. Classic notes of smoke, wood and some spice are all there, along with darker currants. Still too young to show its true colours; tannins a bit too grippy at this stage. Mouthfeel and concentration of flavours is remarkable though, it literally coats every part of your palate; I have no doubts this will be an outstanding wine. One for the long haul.

Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru Cuvee Madeleine Collignon 2003

Un Pinot-like nose; almost meaty and Bordeaux like. Deeper darker fruits, maybe even licorice in there. Very unusual and quite hidden, makes you work a bit. Solid dark fruits on the palate, really full bodied wine; nice firm intensity of flavours. Tannins need to soften out, at the moment its dominating the finish too much. I’d put it in the same class as the Clos de la Roche above – another one for the long haul.

I must say that it was truly a joy to taste these fantastic wines; burgundy may not be cheap but if you get it right, nothing comes close.

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