White Burgfest 2011: An update on 2011 White Burgundies

White Burgfest 2011: An update on 2011 White Burgundies

Tuesday 23rd September 2014
by Hew Blair

It will soon be my 40th Burgundy vintage with Justerini & Brooks this autumn, but for now I look back on the Burgfest review for the 2011 white wines tasted earlier this year. 

THE TASTING

* 3 days of blind tasting by 8 top worldwide wine buyers and journalists Neal Martin and Dr Neil Beckett.
* 250 wines tasted in 29 flights.
* 1ers and Grand Crus from the Cotes d’Or’s main wine producing villages and for the first time St Aubin and Chablis.
* Discussion was entered into after each flight pre and post disclosure and at the termination of the tasting.

THE RESULTS

Chablis 2011 proved to be ultra mineral (a good thing) , but the palate puckering style made it  difficult to see into some of the wines. Consequently top names such as Dauvissat were very closed and backward. Others with a richer style were considerably more open, the Grand Crus of William Fevre and Moreau-Naudet.  The overall range of Jean-Marc Brocard received the best reviews being taught, focused and with exquisite balance.

For a debut at this tasting the St Aubins’ in these two flights were of a consistent high quality. The energy , minerality and complexity amongst the best was impressive. The top Domaines , such as Lamy , Chateau de Puligny and Marc Colin are taking this appellation into new heights of quality.

Of the five flights of 1er Cru Meursault, Genevrieres proved to be the most consistent and with real outstanding performers headed by Domaines des Comtes Lafon - a brilliant example - “ wild flowers , limestone teasing complexity “  Dominic’s Perrieres and Charmes were also top notch .Other over achievers were Michel Bouzereau , Ch de Puligny and Bernard Boisson Vadot.

The 2011 vintage in Chassagne crystallised the difference in style and quality between the higher and lower 1er Crus. Outstandly good examples came from Grandes Ruchottes, La Romanee and Caillerets on the upper slopes exploited by Paul Pillot , Bernard Moreau and several Moreys. The middle and lower 1er crus were as to be expected richer with more density but very fine Vide Bourse of Marc Colin and Chenevottes from Jean Noel Gagnard showed what can be achieved showing energy and minerality.

Amongst the five flights of 1er Cru Puligny’s there were few disappointments and many superb wines which showed the outstandingly high quality of the 2011 vintage in this village . Great wines across the board from the high flying Domaines headed by Sauzet, Leflaive and Bachelet Monnot. It would be tricky to choose the outstanding vineyards of the vintage, but Folatieres and Pucelles are my pick.

The Corton Charlemagnes were split into three flights East, West and Ladoix. No particular advantage was perceivable. The West flight was headed by Remi Rollin’s dynamic , brooding  age-worthy example, the East by Patrick Javillier’s delicious roasted nut and butter example and Ladoix exquisitely balanced wines of Franck Follin-Arbelet and Oliver Leflaive.

The Grand Crus centred on Montrachet were tasted in four Flights. The wine of the whole tasting was the Le Montrachet Comtes Lafon, breathtaking intensity power and balance, closely followed by an ethereal Montrachet from Marquis de Laguiche. Other outstanding wines were the Batard and Chevaliers of Domaine Laflaive and the cool restrained ageworthy Batards’ of Sauzet and Bachelet Monnot.

The 2011 White Burgundies were a pleasant surprise in many ways. There were few if any corked bottles, which shows growers are taking quality control of corks more seriously. There was no sign of any premature oxidation, perhaps a combination of fine acidity and lessons learned both in vineyard and cellar. Overall I would be confident and more than happy to have these wines in my cellar and be in no rush to pull the corks. The 2011s from these top Domaines will provide great pleasure and in many cases exceptional quality drinking.