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Seeking the Essence of 2005

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Feb 5, 2007 1:40am ET

Two stops on this trip, one at a domaine, the other at a négociant, illustrated the purity, complexity and balance of Burgundy's 2005 vintage particularly well. Although all the domaines and houses I visited last week have made excellent and, in some cases potentially magnificent, wines, I was particularly impressed with the clarity and sheer beauty of the wines I tasted at Domaine G. Roumier in Chambolle-Musigny and Maison Joseph Drouhin in Beaune.

“I’m a little concerned about people’s image of 2005,” began Christophe Roumier, after we sampled his elegant Bourgogne Rouge. “It’s not what they think. The wines are not powerful and rich; they are very classic, with long aging potential. You see it in the range of aromas and flavors.” He reiterated this point at the end of our visit.

Indeed, Roumier’s 2005s show detail and a transparency that reflects their individual terroirs. The Morey-St.-Denis Clos de la Bussière, from lower on the slope, is on the robust and chunky side, with denser tannins and a black cherry flavor. The Chambolle-Musigny Les Cras reveals finesse, supported by a firm, mineral countenance; the flavors are more delicate blackcurrant and violet. The site is higher on the slope, where the soil is thinner and stonier.

The Charmes-Chambertin is round and forthcoming, offering cherry and red currant notes, an altogether more tender and silky example. The Ruchottes-Chambertin, by contrast, is denser and more tightly wound, very structured with a pronounced mineral streak.

Roumier’s Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses was not revealing much. Very tight and closed, the wine gave a sense of its intensity and concentration, but not the nuance of flavor. This is an example of the pitfalls of tasting from barrel. Some days, for whatever reason (needs racking, just racked and sulfur added, just bottled, etc.), wines don’t always reveal their full potential. Yet, Les Amoureuses is a great site. Judging from the other wines in the cellar and the quality of the vintage, I have faith that this will be a great wine.

The Bonnes Mares is dark, dense and brooding, displaying black cherry and mineral flavors, plus the class, complexity and length one expects from a grand cru. The Musigny, from the southern end of the commune, exhibits floral and red fruit notes, a hint of citrus and wild berry, all on a refined, elegant frame.

Drouhin’s 2005s were bottled primarily in December, with the grands crus bottled two weeks ago. Only the Corton-Bressandes and Montrachet are still in barrel. They show all the character of the vintage—ripe fruit, bright acidity, suave, mouthcoating tannins and balance—in the elegant Drouhin style.

The flagship Beaune Clos des Mouches red features very ripe cherry and raspberry flavors, with a hint of flowers, combining intensity and harmony. It ends with a long aftertaste of blackcurrant. The Chambolle-Musigny Les Baudes is dense, yet supple, with crunchy berry notes backed by mouthcoating tannins. The finish shows its potential.

The Grands-Echézeaux has depth and structure setting the stage for the black cherry, plum and licorice flavors. The Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses, unlike the Roumier above, shows all the finesse and silkiness of the cru, along with the range of floral, cherry, raspberry and mineral notes.

Drouhin’s Musigny, made with 25 percent whole clusters, echoes the finesse of the Amoureuses, with berry, spice and mineral aromas and flavors wrapped in a silky texture. Finally, the Griottes-Chambertin possesses a core of sweet fruit, mainly wild cherry, with an elegant structure and licorice, spice and mineral emerging on the finish. It was fermented with 15 to 25 percent whole clusters.

“Overextracting was easy to do in 2005 because there was so much tannin,” explains Frédéric Drouhin, president of the firm. However, it appears that he and his team, including new enologist and technical director Jérôme Faure-Brac, interpreted the vintage well.

Among the whites that stood out were the vibrant and minerally Meursault-Perrières, reserved and monolithic Corton-Charlemagne and majestic, complex Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche, with citronella, honey and mineral flavors.

Elwood Reid
February 5, 2007 11:44pm ET
Bruce, thanks for the great notes. The 05 vintage is going to be rough on the wallet. Roumier is a domaine that makes great village wines. Will the 05 vintage yield good wines at that level? I ask because the 1er crus I normally focus on are already expensive and I can't buy as much as in past vintages and therefore will be looking to put some dollars into the village wines.
Bruce Sanderson
New York —  February 6, 2007 3:57pm ET
Elwood,One of the marks of a great vintage is that the wines are excellent at all levels. From barrel (and bottle in some cases) tastings in the last week, I have not had a bad 2005. It is good and more often than not, great across all appellations. Roumier's village Chambolle, as well as the Chambolle Combottes were impressive. And this is also a vintage where you can buy a number of Bourgognes rouges with confidence, not for the long haul, but for enjoying Pinot Noir at its best.
Don Ciaramella
March 21, 2007 2:47pm ET
Hi Bruce -As someone with little palate experience when it comes to Burgundy, (without breaking the bank) what would you suggest as a 6-pack sampler with regards to the 2005 vintage?Thanks and best regards,- Don
Bruce Sanderson
New York —  March 23, 2007 10:18am ET
Don,I recommend you try to find Bourgognes from producers that you like (or those recognized as quality-conscious growers). Also look for less famous appellations from top negociants, like Chorey-l¿Beaune, Savigny-l¿Beaune, Pernand-Vergelesses, Marsannay, Fixin, etc.

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