April 1, 2011
Burgundy:The Big and Small of It
Post by Chuck Hayward | April 1, 2011
Tasting 2009 Whites at Louis Jadot
Our trip to Burgundy has been a spectacular vinous pilgrimage on a number of fronts, but most importantly, we accomplished our mission. Trekking the holy trail that leads south from Dijon through the Cotes-de-Nuits, we spent a couple of days getting up-close-and-personal with winemakers and current releases, as well as assessing what lies ahead. Afterwards, we headed to Beaune and invaded the offices of Louis Jadot where we encountered a positively knee-buckling line-up of wine, including some pretty amazing older vintages.
In addition to getting insight into the wines themselves, these few days also highlighted one of Burgundy’s great polemics. It goes something like this:
The Vineyards Of Romanee-Conti
With the idea that smaller is better, industry pundits and connoisseurs typically hold large wineries and negociants in lesser esteem (sometimes in outright contempt) than small, farmer-winemaker estates. The romantic story of the noble vigneron tilling his vineyard and fighting the large, soul-less city-based firms just to get the mortgage paid speaks to the “little guy” in all of us. But is personal passion inherently superior to corporate pursuits? Critics of big business think so, alleging that large firms lack a unique voice, producing dumbed-down wines aimed at an audience that doesn’t know any better. (more…)
March 29, 2011
Will the real Burgundy please stand up?
Post by Chuck Hayward | March 29, 2011
Before team JJB descends on Bordeaux for En Primeurs 2010, a few of us are laying-over in Burgundy to have a look at the acclaimed 2009 vintage. Coincidentally, recent articles by Eric Asimov (New York Times) and Charlie Olken (Connoisseurs’ Guide), as well as a seminar at the World of Pinot conference have placed a unique frame around the pinots we’ll be tasting during our stay.
Which way, which way?!
At issue? High alcohols, particularly in domestic pinot. Without rehashing the content of these articles (and without taking sides), it is safe to say that the debate remains as active and contentious as ever. Certainly the matter is certainly far from settled.
In another article, and one particularly germane to our trip, The Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin examines the differences between the 2008 and the 2009 Burgundy vintages. While he doesn’t seem to have a dog in the aforementioned fight, his preference is clearly for the 08′s, and he alludes to the debate between the more classical, restrained styles of that year vs the riper, more forward examples produced in 09.
He is not alone in his assessment. Many industry insiders have proposed that the riper 2009′s are not “typical” of Burgundy, ergo not as good as the more subtle and, as Martin calls them, “transparent” 08′s. It’s no great mystery that the cooler climate of many European wine regions results in vintage variation and some years are going to produce riper Burgundies than others. What is fascinating here is that what Mother Nature has given us has somehow become a topic of concern, where the “authenticity” of an entire vintage is put on trial. (more…)