If there is something I’ve come to realize these past few years, it’s that a wine fair is never just a wine fair. Off-wine fairs, producer meetings, private tastings, evening events… There are so many levels and facets of an important wine fair nowadays one might think one was at a good natured high school prom, but I digress as always.
During the Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne last week we were invited to a tasting of the 2014 vintage at Bouchard Père et Fils in the middle of Beaune. Bouchard Père et Fils started as a firm trading in cloth in the 18th century before starting to trade in vineyards and sell wines. The company was owned by the Bouchard family all the way up to 1995, when it was sold by a myriad of cousins to the champagne house of Henriot.
2014 seems to have been like so many other of the recent vintages. The winter wasn’t as cold as one could have hoped – a little too cloudy, a little too wet. Spring arrived quickly, and the vineyards were touched by hail. After the hail the climate changed, and Juli and August were quite typical as a good vintage goes. In 2015 there was a big difference between Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuit. In Côte de Beaune grapes, the pinot noir was very concentrated with thick skin, lots of color, lots of tannin. Because of this the maceration period for these wines was reduced to 10-12 days. The Côte de Nuit skins were more delicate, thinner and juicier and received a softer maceration.
When asked about 2014 contra 2015 the new winemaker Frédéric Weber explained that 2014 is a bit more classic while 2015 will be richer and more powerful. In regards to the coming 2016 season the months following harvest haven’t been nearly cold enough and have lacked the necessary level of frost, so there is quite an imminent danger of insects. As if that were not enough the vines have already started to bud, so any frost-bites from here on might well be devastating.
But enough about the latest vintage. We were offered the possibility of tasting 16 wines from 2014. There has been a lot of praise heaped over this vintage at the wine fair, and with all right. The wines have generally been elegant and refined, showing mature fruit and a good potential for aging. Not knowing Bouchard Père et Fils very well I didn’t quite know where to set my expectations, but even though some of the wines lacked that little extra length or finesse I must say that on the whole I was positively surprised. And I would definitely not say no to a couple of bottles of the Meursault Perrières Premier Cru or Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Cailles Premier Cru…
Savigny-les-Beaune Les Lavières Premier Cru
Direct and immediate aromas of strawberries and other red berries. Medium acidity, a slight bitterness and medium length with a rustic finish.
Beaune du Château Premier Cru
Dampened red hue and a direct, fruity nose. A good deal of dry compounds, integrated acidity and medium length. Needs time.
Beaune Clos de la Mousse Premier Cru
Discreet aromas with an herbaceous hint. Austere, with a seemingly overlong maceration time.
*Beaune Grèves Vigne de l’Enfant Jésus Premier Cru
Starts off with a nice juicy kick of acidity reminiscent of under-ripe red berries. Tight structure, but will open up in a few years.
Volnay Caillerets Ancienne Cuvée Carnot Premier Cru
Transparent hue in the glass with aromas of pencil, wild raspberries and carrot leaves. Juicy acidity and even firm tannins. A bit tough at the moment but will soften in the future.
Le Corton Grand Cru
Slightly smoky aromas of bramble and red currants coupled with tobacco and a metallic hint. Unbecoming bitterness. Medium length, somewhat sharp tannins and aromas of underbrush. One of the weakest wines of the tasting.
*Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Cailles Premier Cru
Clear aromas of sloe berry and pine needles. Lovely enveloping tannin structure. Medium to long length. Quite enjoyable.
Echezeaux Grand Cru
Rich and slightly spicy aromas with a luscious acidity. A bit unbalanced in the mouth with spotty tannins. A good enough wine, but hardly worth the price.
Chambertin Clos-de-Béze Grand Cru
Quite anonymous on the nose. High viscosity. Extremely young and difficult to read, but has a huge potential.
Meursault Les Clous
Pale color. Lightly exotic with a noticeable dash of oak. Nice acidity and mature fruit, just give it 2-3 years to let the oak integrate.
*Beaune du Château Premier Cru
Mild apricot aromas linger together with candied mint. Very focused, short, with reoccurring hints of stone fruit and white stones and a nice acidic kick in the finish. Young. Bouchard owns 10 hectares in total here in divided amongst five different plots. Devilishly delicious with about 15% new oak.
Meursault Genevrières Premier Cru
Pale yellow with light hints of gray. Aromas of artificial lemon-juice and moth balls. Lightly bitter hint, rich mouth feel, medium-sized somewhat uneven tannins. This wine did not show well at all today, but perhaps it was a weak bottle.
*Meursault Perrières Premier Cru
Aromas of dry crackers, peach and red apple peal. Nicely integrated acidity and good, cold and linear structure. Still has its oak lid on, but there seems to be a lot of latent power there.
Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
Unbalanced nose with aromas of brioche, toast and fruit all pulling in different directions. Rich mouth feel, a bit of oaky bitternes, difficult to decipher right now.
Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru
Aromas of toast and physialis. Very concentrated, tight, lacking but at the same time lacking in structure.
Montrachet Grand Cru
Bouchard Pere et Fils own 0,89 hectares of Montrachet. The aromas are mellow, and a bit faded – like the wine in a glass you’ve forgotten the day before. Hints of green apple and kumquat. Good structure – austere but focused – and fresh fine tannins show off the wine quite well.