Today's event takes place in the buildings of the BIVB (Bureau Interprofessionel des Vins de Bourgogne) in Chablis, called Le Petit Pontigny. Beautifully restored buildings from the Middle Ages that once belonged to the Abbey of Pontigny.
With around 90 exhibitors present it is completely impossible to taste everything. But I tasted a lot of wines from several different producers, which gives a good insight in the 2006 vintage in Chablis. The producers told me it was quite a hot summer in Chablis in 2006. Conditions were apperantly better here than further south... It comes as no surprise that in '06 the wines are a bit more round and full then normal in Chablis. But in general the wines have a nice minerally backbone, and good acidity. They are still very "Chablis" in character. I think 2006 is a very good vintage here!
One of the highlights of the events is the tasting of the "Union des Grands Crus de Chablis". Of all 13 members a wine from the 2006 vintage is present. A nice line-up! Although the wines are very young and will need a few years to be at their best, some wines are already showing real Grand Cru character.
My number one is William Fevre's Bougros "Cote Bouguerots". Lots of intensity and grip, nice balance and lenght. I also like Chateau Long-Depaquit's Moutonne (very tight and minerally, very long) and Pascal Bouchard's Les Clos (full and juicy, with a tight, steely finish).
With around fifty exhibitors, there is plenty of good stuff to discover. Although I must say a lot of wines seem a bit difficult to taste. They are often recently bottled and therefore a bit closed.
The "star of the show" is Anne Gros. Not just because of the quality of her wines: a lot of Asian visitors want their picture taken standing next to Anne, as if she were a famous rock-star! Fun to watch!
Apart from Anne's wines my personal favourites are the wines of Bruno Clavelier: very pure, fresh and elegant. Very honest wines, without any "make-up".
Other producers worth mentioning: Bizot, Domaine d'Ardhuy (great Clos Vougeot!), Thibault Liger-Belair, Domaine Jean Tardy.
I am a bit disappointed about La Grande Rue '06 (soft, but not a lot of depth, and a bit marked by the oak), I like the other wines presented by Lamarche better. The biggest disappointment, in my humble opinion, is Louis Latour's Romaneé-Saint-Vivant (Les Quatre Journaux ). Three consecutive vintages are presented (2004, 2005 and 2006) but they all taste the same: simple, blut, with little depth or complexity. I fail to see Grand Cru quality here.
After a nice lunch buffet ("finger food" the french way) I'm on my way to the Morey-Saint-Denis/Chambolle-Musigny tasting. This is held in Gilly-les-Citeaux, in a big barn called Grange de Saulx. Not only is it quite dark in this barn, but also very cold (thus, the wines are cold and difficult to taste). The spittoons aren't emptied in time and are overflowing.
But worst of all: at 2.00 pm a lot of wines are already "sold out" (the event is supposed to end at 5.00 pm): the Clos de Tart stand is already empty, at Dujac I'm given the very last drops of Clos de la Roche and then all there is left is white Morey 1er cru. When I arrive at Groffier they tell me it's fini. Ghislaine Barthod -reluctantly- pours the tiniest drops of wine. And so on. So, pretty soon I decide to call it a day...
But not after having tasted nice wines from: Hudelot-Baillet, Digioia-Royer, Hudelot-Noëllat (Vincent Meunier doing a fine job here pooring wine with just one hand, his other arm is in a cast) Mugnier and Raphet.
For the Mâconnais 2006 seems to be a very good vintage. In general the wines have a solid body, with good freshness and minerality.
I'm less optimistic about the reds from the Hautes Côtes and Ladoix etcetera. I worked my way through a lot of these wines, and the majority of them are a bit rustic and harsh, and lacking fruit. But luckily there are some exceptions:
From the Hautes Côtes I like Naudin-Ferrand, Olivier-Gard, Debray and -of course- Anne Gros. From Ladoix etcetera: Ravenaut, Maratray-Dubreuil, Maison Champy, Baptiste Gay, Louis Chenu and Laleure-Piot.
And I save the best for last: Domaine Pierre Guillemot. They have a lovely white Savigny-les-Beaune made for 70% of pinot blanc (not the same grape as in Alsace, but a pinot noir mutant). But especially the reds are terrific! Classis wines with a long life ahead, but already very seductive with lovely fresh fruit. For me, this is what Burgundy is all about.
The Côte Chalonnaise is often neglected, or considered inferior to the Côte d'Or. Unrightfully so, as I am finding out on today's tasting in Mercurey. Lots of pleasant surprises here!
First surprise: Mercurey. I tasted a lot of nice 2006 reds here, '06 is a pretty good vintage for this appellation. Nice pure wines, with lots of fruit, elegance and minerality. And real Burgundian character. I tried nice wines chez Luc Brintet, Jean-Pierre Chartron, Patrick Guillot and Chateau d'Etroyes. And my personal favorite: Domaine Philippe Garrey. Philippe took over the very small family domaine (3,5 ha) in 2002, and this year completed the conversion to bio-dynamics. He makes very honest, fresh wines that are just delicious!
There are some whites made in Mercurey as well, but for whites I would rather look at other appellations. Like Rully. Red Rully can be good also, but especially the whites here are very convincing. For instance from Anne Debavelaere, Jean-Baptiste Ponsot or Jacqueson. Other nice whites come from Stephane Aladame in Montagny.
From Givry I like both white and red, particularly from Domaine Masse. If this name sounds familiar to you: this is indeed the nephew of Hospices de Beaune regisseur Roland Masse. I guess wine making talent runs in the family.
Now that we are on that subject: Pierre de Benoist is the nephew of Aubert de Villaine, and he is the winemaker at his uncle's domaine in Bouzeron. He made a very fine Bouzeron 2006, quite concentrated and ripe yet with a lot of freshness and minerality. His Bourgogne blanc "Les Clous" and Bourgogne rouge "La Digoine" are very nice as well.
A bit to the west from Bouzeron we find the appellation Côtes de Couchois. Leading producer in this little known area is Alain Hasard with his Domaine les Champs de l'Abbaye (working en biodynamie). His red Couchois "Les Clos" '06 will be hard to find, but is worth looking out for! He also produces nice Rully blanc, red Côte Chalonnaise and Mercurey.
2006 seems to be a good vintage for Volnay. In general the wines are true-to-type Volnay, elegant, silky, with lovely fruit and a minerally edge. My favourites are De Montille (nice to see that Hubert Himself is present) and Comtes Lafon (presenting 2005 here) closely followed by Pousse d'Or and d'Angerville.
Kudos also for Huber-Verdereau. I never tasted anything before from this little known producer (a domaine of 5 hectares en biodynamie), but I like this wines a lot! A suivre!
I have to confess I had some difficulties tasting the wines of Lafarge. I am aware that he produces wines for the long haul, that can be tannic and rustic in their youth. Tannic and rustic is exactly what these wines are. Overly so... Are they ever going to be drinkable, let alone enjoyable? I doubt it, but then again I have no experience with aged Lafarge wines so hopefully time will prove me wrong.
A lot of the Big Names from Puligny and Chassagne are not presenting themselves here, an exception being Louis Carillon: great wines, that live up to the expectations.
I have my first encounter with the wines of Jean-Louis Chavy and I like them a lot! Lots of intensity and minerally grip, and each of the four premier cru's is showing a beautiful expression of its terroir. Tres bien!
Other pleasant surprises: Domaine du Chateau de la Creé, Jaffelin, Hubert Chavy and Maison Michel Picard.
Often when the younger generation takes over a domaine, things change. A new label, more modern winemaking techniques, wines that are more modern and accessible. Not at domaine Gerbeaut! Francois (4th generation) keeps the "old fashioned" labels, and continues to produce wines in a classic style. A bit hard in their youth, earthy and tannic, but with pure fresh fruit to match. Nice!
Nice wines also from: Philippe Bouzereau (Chateau de Citeaux in Meursault), Rollin Pere et Fils (beautiful Corton-Charlemagne!), Sebastien Magnien, domaine J.P. Bony and Rebourgeon-Mure. Last but not least: domaine Rene Lequin-Colin. Terrific Batard-Montrachet here! An absolute baby, but already lots of depth and intensity, and incredible length!