2010 Burgundy vs 2009 Burgundy

The 2009 and 2010 Burgundy vintages aren’t quite the “unidentical twins” that the Bordelais speak of, though maybe that reflects more on the Bordeaux marketing machine than it does on the wines from either region.  That said, they are similar to their Bordelais counterparts in that they are both vintages of the highest quality, and both vintages that split opinions.  Having spent much of the day arguing with Ian about the possible merits of blending across vineyards in Burgundy, the quality of the wines of Piedmont (Monfortino in particular) and the overall quality of Krug, we made our way to the excellent Zucca for a tasting of nine pairs of Burgundy, three white and six red, from these two excellent vintages.  More to argue about…

Whites first:

2009 white Burgundy is derided by a few and unfairly so.  It was all about when you picked.  2009 is a ripe, ripe, vintage and whites that were picked late can be over-ripe and even flabby in some cases.  Those that were picked on the earlier side, though, are rich rather than fat and the very best are pin-sharp, muscular wines.   2010 white Burgundy is even more tricky.  Rated by some – Ian included – as a one of the great white Burgundy vintages, others – myself included – find 2010 a heterogenous vintage, one where many of the wines are overly strict and joyless in style.  The three pairs were as follows:

2009 Meursault Porusots, Maison Deux Montille

Not a bad start.  The nose is open, ripe and almost pungent.  There is weight and breadth here, and the same theme follows in the mouth.  This maybe lacks a little definition, and is a little marked by oak, but is attractive and easy.  Decent wine.

2010 Meursault Porusots, Maison Deux Montille

This is tighter, and clearly more precise.  Tangible acidity.  Surgical in its precision.  This is very well made, though lacks a bit of energy.  Good, slick and very, very clean though could be more exciting.

2009 Meursault, Genevrieres, Boisson-Vadot

This is markedly darker than the 2010.  Very, very clean on the nose, which is a little tight.  Very nutty  - “nut-juice”, says Ian in a rare moment of being spot-on.  There is some development to this, with some minerality underneath.  This is very, very good.

2010 Meursault Genevrieres, Boisson-Vadot

Very, very clean and very, very precise.  Crystalline.  Very edgy, and there is energy to this; a buzz.  The Boisson style – all edge and concentration – is all over this and it is getting better, and more vinous, in the glass.  Impressive wine.

2009 Meursault Genevrieres, Coche-Dury

And this is the real deal Holyfield.  This is instantly Coche, and isn’t trying to be anything it isn’t.  It is complete.  Clean, pure, edgy.  Positively struck-match in style on the nose, yet brilliantly so.  Long, poised, completely “together”.  A quite brilliant wine.  Excellent.

2010 Meursault Genevrieres, Coche-Dury

This bottle wasn’t right.  A shame in so many ways.

The reds:

2009 red Burgundy was hailed as a great Burgundy vintage from the moment it was picked, with some of the more enthusiastic growers suggesting that it matched even 2005.  Then the 2010 vintage came along and 2009 was sent to the back of the bus.  2010 red Burgundy was seen as classier, more complex, more precise and generally more grown up.  But the 2009s are delicious at the lower end, and brilliant at the top.  It is easy to describe the 2009s as simple, and easy to say that the wines are marked by the ripeness of the vintage, but they do give an enormous amount of pleasure, which is rather the point.

2009 Volnay, Champans, Lafon

Weight, meat and spice on the nose.  Provencale.  Meaty, glossy, rich.  And this follows in the mouth.  Juicy and punchy.  Delicious, though there is an argument from the floor that this isn’t Volnay, isn’t Pinot, isn’t Burgundian.  It is certainly dense, weighty and rich.  I like it, though it is a bruiser of a Volnay.

2010 Volnay, Champans, Lafon

This is more open than the 2009 and more defined, more precise.  And this is much more “Volnay”; this is Burgundian.  Purity of fruit is the key here, and I have a feeling that this will be quite excellent with some time in the cellar.

2009 Volnay, Champans, Marquis d’Angerville

Much, much lighter in colour than Lafon.  This is much more “Burgundian”, with some very well-executed gloss to it: softly polished.  In the mouth this is lovely, rich and poised.  And that lovely gloss again.  Very, very good.

2010 Volnay, Champans, Marquis d’Angerville

This is similar in style, though much more together, and distinctly punchier.  There is more stuffing to this, more structure of fruit, more poise.  This is excellent, and I would love to put this against the 2010 Lafon in five, or ten, years’ time.  A touch of the chalkiness of the vintage.

2009 Pommard, Clos des Epeneaux, Comte Armand

This is big, rich, fruity and a little bit slutty, though that is no bad thing.  This is Burgundy for points and, in the same way as the 2009 Lafon, isn’t immediately Burgundian.  Someone from the floor is suggesting it’s Rhône-like, though I’m thinking Pomerol – there is a touch of chocolate and clay.  A bruiser.

2010 Pommard, Clos des Epeneaux, Comte Armand

This is very, very serious.  More lifted and much fresher.  Clean and precise, this is the more complete wine, and is very impressive, though the 2009 has more meat to it.  Very good and one for the cellar.

2009 Ruchottes-Chambertin, Rousseau

Something special here on the nose.  Lift, yet a rich lift.  There is some depth here, some intrigue.  Lovely and pure and lifted in the mouth.  Pure and very classy.  I want to drink this.  And it gets better and better.  Very Rousseau in that utterly perfect sort of way.  Flawless, with a lick of Rousseau gloss at the finish.

2010 Ruchottes-Chambertin, Rousseau

And this is even better.  More depth, more lift, more focus, more complete.  Seriously good wine, this is quite perfect.  That eggshell Rousseau polish to it.  A great wine.

2009 Gevrey-Chambertin, Clos St Jacques, Fourrier

Sweet richesse to this on the nose.  Punchy.  Ripe, like a Brie.  Heavy.  Then quite funky and savoury in the mouth, and reminiscent of the 2003 (which is rather good in a juicy kind of way).  Falls away a little at the end and there is a touch of Fourrier fizz to this.

2010 Gevrey-Chambertin, Clos St Jacques, Fourrier

This is cleaner – hospital clean.  Leaner and lifted.  Pure.  There is depth here, and this is very tight, but it’s a struggle to get past the gas, and a “Fourrier shake” is pretty hard when the wine is in the glass already… the rest of the room loves it.

2009 Clos de Tart

This is fresh and not without lift.  Tight.  And there is some purity, and a distinct lack of gloss to this.  This, and the 2010, may well have shown better at the beginning of the flight.

2010 Clos de Tart

This has character and lift again.  Purer than the 2009, longer, with a touch of spice.  Very good, though again might have shown better at the beginning of the flight.

The verdict:

For both white and red, the 2010s walked it according to a show of hands after each pair.  The 2010 Coche-Dury wasn’t right, and the two vintages of Ruchottes split the room, but the vote was otherwise unanimous in favour of the latter vintage.  In terms of character, though, 2009s have a great deal to offer.  There is certainly more immediate pleasure in 2009s and this will be a fascinating tasting to replicate in ten years’ time, when, I have a feeling, that the 2009s might show a little more class as their ripeness ceases to dominate.

The two wines of the night, the 2009 Meursault Genevrieres and the 2010 Ruchottes-Chambertin, are both genuinely great wines.  In second place, and eminently more affordable, were the 2010 Meursault Genevrieres, Boisson-Vadot and the 2010 Volnay Champans, d’Angerville.

As ever, the company was impeccable, and I thankfully had someone sitting between me and Ian.  The food, service, ambiance – everything – at Zucca was as flawless as it always is.  My favourite restaurant in London and I will be heartbroken to see it go.