Fine Wines Outlook – Apr 2015

(Ploughing just the few rows of vines in Domaine Leflaive’s Montrachet.)

So what’s new since our last Outlook? The Bordeaux ’14 En Primeur (EP) tasting week has come and gone. My twitter feed was jammed with the trade having what looks like a good time being wined and dined in the various Chateaus. An insightful blog article from Jamie Goode (one of the rebels amongst the critics) sums it up well, “… the very same people travel dutifully to Bordeaux every year, and the same complaints are made, and the whole circus repeats itself endlessly.

For us at WEA Wines, we don’t see the purpose of Bordeaux EPs at this point in time when the fine wines market is saturated with plenty of older clarets. If you are looking for some aged Bordeaux for drinking or further cellaring, drop us an email. We will gladly suggest a list of wines which you do not need to wait 2 years to collect (and 10 years to drink) and are priced as competitive as any of the recent EPs. On our side, we will also ensure the pristine fine wine bottles are not marred by any superfluous adhesives.

The 2010 Brunello EP which ended recently, is another thing altogether. Many of the wines are well-priced and it is really a great vintage for Sangiovese in Tuscany. We rarely sell Brunellos so this is a totally independent view. We do not profess to be specialists in Brunellos so I would gladly encourage you to procure some from other merchants who might be offering them.
On our end, we stick to what we do best. Our first batch of 2013 Burgundy EP are scheduled to be shipped later this month and will arrive in early June, making them one of the first 2013 Burgundies to reach our shores. The past week has also been all about Germans. From reds to sweet Rieslings to dry Grosses Gewächs (including the revered G-Max). Most are sold out already so we will go back to Burgundies for the rest of the month. Exciting times ahead!

*Stop Press*
Burgundy’s Grande Dame, Madame Anne-Claude Leflaive has passed away on 6th April at age 59. She is survived by her husband, and three daughters. Together with Madame Lalou-Bize Leroy, she was a strong proponent of the biodynamic way of winemaking since the early ’90s. Under her direction, Domaine Leflaive has gone from strength to strength and is arguably one of the top, if not the top Domaine for white Burgundies.

I am fortunate to have been able to taste a wide range of their wines from the Bourgogne Blanc to the Chevalier-Montrachet (except for their unicorn Le Montrachet which is in my bucket list), and the wines are singular in their purity and expression of terroir. I attended a lunch several years ago where Madame Leflaive was supposed to be in attendance but unfortunately she was ill and could not attend. Nevertheless the wines that day showed extremely well and provided a benchmark for which I will always judge white Burgundies by. I know what I will be drinking this weekend.

What WEA have been drinking…
We hosted our first wine tasting of the year early in March. Great to see both old and new faces! The tasting started with NV Cheurlin Coeur de Famille (Blanc de Noir) which was clean, lightly red-fruited with tremendous minerality. Also that was the first time we showcased the R&V Bérêche Côte Premier Cru (Blanc de Blanc from base year of 2007 and disgorged June ’14), and the salinity and power was obvious. I can see the Selosse influence. 2012 Mongeard-Mugneret Fixin was rather unyielding and truly showed its deep robust potential the day after. 2012 Gerard Mugneret Vosne-Romanee was dark and very serious, like the man himself. 2012 Duroche Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Champeaux was the crowd-pleaser for the day with seductive plummy notes and ultra-refined tannins. 2012 Heresztyn-Mazzini Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Goulots had noticeable stem influence in its elegant and pure flavors. The Morey-St-Denis 1er Millandes from the same producer and vintage was riper and more robust and arguably the one most like Clos de la Roche. Lastly, the 2008 Jean-Marc Bouley Pommard 1er Rugiens showed why Rugiens is a candidate for an upgrade to Grand Cru status. I’ve had it several times, and each time it showed a different aspect. This time it was more restrained and serious.

On another occasion, 2006 DRC Grands-Echezeaux was regal, with show-stopping presence yet so calm and poised. 2008 Bruno Clair Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Clos St. Jacques was beautifully spicy, precise and balanced for this high acid vintage. 2004 Dom Pérignon was fairly approachable now with its nutty, toasty character. NV Cheurlin Noëllat Brut Rosé was just bursting with raspberries but so easy to drink and almost gulp-able. It has a tinge of sweetness for those not a fan of extra brut bottlings. 2005 Michelot Meursault 1er Perrières was a producer I’ve not heard before and unfortunately it was a little anonymous for this esteemed vineyard. 1988 Pavelot Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Aux Guettes was surprisingly youthful for a Savigny. Do not underestimate this village as many great wines came from there. 2000 Font de Michelle Châteauneuf-du-Pape was quite bretty and barnyardy. Probably needs more air to open up. 2012 Fourrier Bourgogne Blanc tasted more like a Riesling than Chardonnay with Hints of petrol and ripe peaches. 2011 Heymann-Löwenstein Winninger Uhlen Reserve “R” Roth Lay  (what a mouthful) was understated but the finish lingers with extreme minerality. 1996 Michel Noëllat Echezeaux was a little odd, much too advanced for the Grand Cru and vintage. 2003 Joseph Roty Gevrey-Chambertin Les Champs-Chenys showed well with its tell-tale low acidity of the vintage but clearly the pedigree was there – from the refined tannins to the admirable length.

One of our wine dinners in March was the portfolio tasting of the 2012 reds of Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret at Restaurant Absinthe. We started with the 2011 Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits Le Prieuré (blanc) as an aperitif. More mineral than fruit, this was crisp, dry and very refreshing. The dinner started proper with a pair of Vosne-Romanee 1er Les Orveaux and Nuits St. Georges 1er Les Boudots. The former was quintessential Vosne, spicy but light for the vintage, betraying its higher altitude roots. Boudots as usual was more concentrated, darker fruits and more unyielding. The next flight raised the standard further. Echezeaux and Clos Vougeot side by side where the extra complexity was evident from the first whiff. Echezeaux was qualitative similar to the Orveaux in terms of Vosne spice while Clos Vougeot was more similar to the Boudots with its weight and concentration. Orveaux and Echezeaux can be enjoyed now while the Boudots and Clos Vougeot are candidates for long-term aging. The last flight was the Grands-Echezeaux which was absolutely stunning in its breadth and width. Very very classy and refined. To cap things off was the ever-dependable 2005 Rieussec. Already slightly evolved, this had toffee, caramel and dried citrus flavors – ending with a refreshing bittersweet note on the finish. A great dinner and everyone had a great evening.