Burgfest 2008: An update on Beaune, Volnay & Pommard

Burgfest 2008: An update on Beaune, Volnay & Pommard

Wednesday 28th September 2011
by Hew Blair

In a secluded location in Beaune over the late August bank holiday the most recently bottled vintage of Pinot Noir was put under the microscope. 

The UK's top Burgundy buyers plus specialist Burgundy wine writers and publishers Clive Coates and Neil Beckett made up a select team of nine tasters. A high sense of high anticipation proceeded the blind tasting of the 2008 vintage (bottled some 6-10 months earlier), with a line up including over 300 Premiere and Grand Cru Pinot Noirs from the Cote d'Or's top Domaines and Negociants. 

The wines were tasted in flights village by village over three days, 1er Crus followed by Grand Crus.

Earliest impressions of the 2008 vintage are one of consistent freshness and a pure expression of Pinot Noir.  Wines defined by a cooler vintage that had ample acidity, concentrated by cool north winds and bought to perfect ripeness by warm cloudless days and cool nights

Over the coming weeks I shall be giving a more detailed analysis of each of the appellations tasted. To begin with, Beaune, Volnay and Pommard.

Beaune; Three flights of Beaunes kicked off the tasting. The sandy soils of Beaune inevitably result in precocious styles and 2008 Pinots were for the most part no exception. This was predominantly a flight of easy well balanced wines with pure racy Pinot definition. My pick of the first flight was the most structured wine of the appellation, Clos des Mouches from Joseph Drouhin. Packed with firm yet explosive dark fruits and exquisite balance, it will benefit with a further five year's cellaring. Also very pleasing were the pair of Tollot Beaut Beaunes; Clos de Roi, polished and seductive and Greves, all dark red berries, lovely fruit and oak tannins. 

Volnay; There are some senior Domaines based in Volnay making superb Pinot Noirs yet the extraordinary vines of Dominic Lafon's Volnay  Santenots du Milieu regularly provides my favourite premier cru of the tasting. The 2008 received my highest mark with ripe damson and blackberry fruits, polished and profound tannins with wonderful old vine complexity and length. Yet there are many others that have the potential to challenge for top spot as they shake of their youthful structures. The Domaine Marquis d'Angerville trio were the most profound from any estate with potential to mature into fabulous svelt examples in 3-7 years; The Fremiets, high toned ripe dark berry fruits; The Champans, silky textured sweet damson fruits and refined vibrant tannins; The Clos des Ducs, structured and backward, but with underlying complex multi layered dense blueberry and blackberry fruits. A Domaine to watch out for and on good form in 2008 is Pousse d'Or where the revival of a less extracted style than in recent vintages is resulting in pure intense Volnay.

Pommard; Pommard is my least favourite of appellation and we only tasted two short flights the second being all Rugiens. This is the exceptional 1er Cru of Pommard where the terroir is so powerful all the wines are marked by great power and complexity, some say of a Grand Cru level . For style however the high toned and ethereal quality of Etienne de Montille's Rugien is my choice to age most successfully.