Bruce Sanderson is in Burgundy tasting the soon-to-be-released 2007 reds and whites. The evaluations of individual wines below are score ranges, because most wines were tasted non-blind from barrel or tank, or had recently been bottled. Sometimes the tastings took place in cold cellars, giving the wines a harder, more angular impression. Final reviews will be based on blind tastings in Wine Spectator's New York office.
I spent Wednesday morning in Vosne-Romanée. My first stop was Domaine Jean Grivot, where Etiènne Grivot has been making the wines since 1982. He no longer uses herbicides in his vineyards and works 10 acres by horse. Over the years, his vinifications have evolved and today, these are some of the most elegant, pure wines in Burgundy.
The wines had finished their malolactic fermentations by summer and Grivot racked them in September, assembled them in tank and put them back into barrel. This reduced the large lees and the influence of the oak on the flavors. They will be bottled at the end of February, beginning of March, without fining or filtration.
"Balance and harmony are the most important features for this vintage," he explained. "The wines will age well, but it's a vintage with freshness that is accessible young, so I didn't want to extract too much."
Grivot's Bourgogne proves his point. Fruity and elegant, it's open and balanced and should be enjoyable on release (85-88). The Vosne-Romanée offered pure aromas of cherry, a silky texture and firm structure that should soften early (87-90).
Grivot did some green harvesting and removed leaves from the north side of the vines for better air circulation. On the sorting table, roughly 4 to 14 percent of the grapes were rejected because they weren't perfectly mature.
"It's an incredible vintage 2007, because the vegetative cycle started very early," Grivot recounted. "The harvest should have been ready at the end of August, but I saw that the acidity was good so I left the grapes longer to get more maturity."
The Nuits-St.-Georges Les Boudots was a bit more animal in aroma, but elegant and rich in the mouth with a black cherry flavor and nice length (88-91). The Vosne-Romanée Les Beaux Monts had lovely floral and cherry aromas and flavors, finesse and an extra dimension, ending long and refined (89-92).
At the grands crus level, the Clos de Vougeot was reticent aromatically and very firmly structured, with red cherry and blackberry notes building to a long finish (89-92). The Echézeaux exhibited more animal and spice aromas, with dark fruit and mineral flavors permeating the fleshy midpalate and turning more elegant on the finish (89-92). The Richebourg followed with its voluptuous profile—Asian spice, cherry and red berry notes allied to a silky texture. It was pure, dense and balanced, with fine length (90-93).
In 2006, François Pinault of Château Latour purchased Domaine René Engel, now called Domaine d'Eugenie, based in Vosne-Romanée. I met with Latour's president, Frédéric Engerer, and Michel Mallard, who manages the day-to-day operations, at the construction site of the new winery.
Engerer and his team now have three vintages under their belts, having arrived just before the 2006 harvest. It's a work in progress, and the domaine will be much better organized once the new facility is ready for the 2009 harvest.
"Now we have three vintages and we can see what we have to do in certain wines. There is still work to do," said Engerer. "You see the problems associated with different vintages more clearly in the vineyard each year."
The Vosne-Romanée, bottled a week ago, comes from three parcels: Aux Communes, Vigneux and Maizières. It was rich and round, with black cherry and a firm finish (86-89). The Maizières parcel was exchanged for the Clos Frantin that came with the house and cellar where the winery is under construction. It may be bottled separately in 2008, depending on the quality.
The Vosne-Romanée Les Brûlées showed ripeness and ample volume, with black cherry, spice and a roasted note. It had density and length, with supple tannins (88-91). The Echézeaux comes from the top of the slope. It started out rich, firming up on the palate and turning more linear, with a lovely black cherry flavor (89-92).
Two parcels of vines go into the Grands Echézeaux, one 25 years old and one 50 to 55 years old. There was more finesse here, more nuance and expression than the Echézeaux, matched to a voluptuous frame (90-93). The domaine's flagship is 3.4 acres of Clos Vougeot. Half destemmed and half whole cluster, the approximate blend was fresh, complex and refined, showing red and black fruits, spice and a firm backbone (90-93).
Kasey A Carpenter — Fort Worth, Texas — January 23, 2009 9:07pm ET
Bruce Sanderson — New York — January 24, 2009 4:10am ET
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