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bruce sanderson decanted

Musings on a Monday in Meursault

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Jan 20, 2009 1:30pm ET

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 nonblind 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.

It’s been raining since I arrived in France. Not nonstop; it has cleared each day in the late afternoon. Needless to say, it has been miserable, although much warmer than the deep freeze of the previous two weeks.

My visits began in Meursault, where I was greeted by Dominique Lafon to taste the range of wines from both Domaine des Comtes Lafon and Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon.

The Mâconnais wines from Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon are already bottled. It’s a fresh, elegant range of whites, the Chardonnay picked late to achieve ripeness. The Mâcon-Villages is crisp and appley (84-87 points on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale), the Mâcon-Milly-Lamartine verging on peach flavor, with a hint of mineral (86-89). It culminated with three single-vineyard cuvées: the floral, elegant Mâcon-Villages Bussières (87-90); citrus- and mineral-infused Mâcon-Villages Clos de la Crochette (87-90) and the rich, sappy Mâcon-Milly-Lamartine Clos du Four (88-91).

“I thought 2006 would be better in quality, but now, tasting 2007, I think it might be even better, more elegant, fresh,” said Lafon.

From the domaine’s range, the Meursault was round and toasty with a hazelnut flavor (86-89). The Meursault Goutte d’Or showed floral and honey notes matched to a rich texture (87-90). The Meursault Charmes revealed ample volume and a honey flavor, expanding on the finish (88-91).

The Meursault Perrières was a beauty, its breed displayed in the refined texture, which set the stage for complex citrus, smoke and mineral notes (90-93). It may only be surpassed by the racy Montrachet; though higher in alcohol than the Perrières, it features fresh lime, hazelnut and mineral flavors and a long finish (91-94).

Among the reds, the Volnay (declassified Santenots du Milieu), showed pretty violet and black fruit notes and supple tannins (87-90). The Volnay Champans, a masculine style of Volnay, offered deep cherry and mineral elements with a more powerful, tannic structure (88-91). Volnay-Santenots du Milieu offered fine depth with black cherry and blackberry flavors, all refined and long in the mouth (89-92).

“The 2007 vintage was like two separate vintages,” recalled Lafon. “It was ripe and early for Pinot Noir; late and lean for Chardonnay.”

My afternoon appointment was with Jean-Marc Roulot of Domaine Roulot. Roulot began bottling his 2007s last week and will continue through the beginning of March.

“The 2007 vintage reminds me of 2004, but it’s more approachable,” he said of the whites. “The acidity is high, but lower than ’04, and the yields are lower too, but it was necessary to wait to harvest.”

Roulot’s Bourgogne is always a solid Chardonnay. He has extended the maturation in barrel and tank and, rather than bottling it before the harvest, it will be bottled in early February. It was fresh and long, with lime and nut flavors (86-89).

The Meursault Les Luchets showed some fat, with a round, full profile offering citrus and peach notes (88-91). Meursault Les Tillets evoked floral flavors in an elegant frame (88-91). The Meursault Les Tessons Clos de Mon Plaisir was rich and ripe, exhibiting peach and apricot notes (88-91).

From the premiers crus, Roulot is proud of Le Porusot. His first vintage was the 2003, but a lease agreement still in place gave him no control over the vineyard and only one-third of the crop. With the 2007, he managed the farming and got 100 percent of the harvest. Though rich and round on entry, it showed fine structure and length, with a mineral streak (89-92).

The Meursault Charmes revealed a more forward style, rich and fleshy, yet with bright acidity focusing the honey, hazelnut and peach notes (88-91). The Perrières was superb, intense and long, with floral, peach and mineral flavors in a refined profile (89-92).

“It needs a long time to find its place,” explained Roulot. “For a long time the Charmes was flattering, but now the Perrières is beginning to show.”

Steven Sherman
san francisco —  January 21, 2009 12:53am ET
Just tasted the 2007 M¿n-Milly-Lamartine Clos du Four vs. the 2006 and the difference was incredible. The 2006 was so much richer, with lower acid, with almost a lemon custard quality, whereas the 2007, was much more mineral and crisp, showing a bit more stone fruit, with some citrus and bright acidity. PS also did the 2005 M¿n-Villages Clos de la Crochette which was stunning, with an almost smokey, flinty quality and a wonderful lushness. When you can get quality like these wines from a producer of this stature at resonable prices - Yeah!
Sandy Fitzgerald
Centennial, CO —  January 21, 2009 11:47am ET
Are most of these barrel tasting? Are you not concerned with bottle shock, tasting wines bottled last week or so recently? Seems to me these wines shouldn't be tasted for ratings for at least 3-6 months to allow them time to get over bs! Or do you not be in bottle shock?
Bruce Sanderson
New York —  February 11, 2009 3:33pm ET
Sandy: After 10 days of tasting, I can tell you most of the wines were either in barrel, or assembled in tank ready for bottling. Provided they had not just been racked, dosed with SO2 or on finings, they are in good condition to taste. Where wines had been bottled, some showed well, others less well. In the most difficult cases, I reserve judgment, so the wines are not rated. As with all our reviews, the official ratings are from blind tastings of finished samples in our offices. Tastings from barrel, tank and newly bottled wines always have a score range to take into account that they are unfinished, recently moved or bottled.

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