Two weeks ago, this year’s edition of Decanter Fine Wine Encounter was held in London. It is the largest wine event held by Decanter. Some of the Masterclasses tend to be of particular interest; this year I attended a vertical tasting of Dom Pérignon with the winemaker Richard Geoffroy, and a tasting of wines from Henschke, where four vintages of their icon wine Hill of Grace were compares to the same vintages of Mount Edelstone. Other than these tastings, there is also the Grand Tasting, where there are many wines to taste; a lot more than time allows, even if I had skipped the Masterclasses and didn’t care about taking notes. In any case, I made sure to taste the managable range of Burgundy wines available for tasting, which were from the two larger houses Louis Jadot and Louis Latour, plus the Chablis producer Laroche. All three seems to be steady exhibitors, because they were also present at last year’s edition of the event, but then I didn’t try their wines. Can’t really say why, my “random walk” must have taken me elsewhere that time around.
Talking about random events, I almost lost my tasting booklet with all my notes from the two days of the Grand Tasting, which would have meant no blogging about it. There wasn’t that much room on the tables during the Masterclasses, do during the Henschke event, which was on the second day, I put my booklet on the floor under my chair to get it out of the way. During the Masterclass we got loose sheets to take notes on. After the Masterclass I forgot my booklet, and two minutes later, when I realised that I no longer had it and rushed back to the room, it wasn’t there anymore since it had fell victim to operation housecleaning to make the room ready for the next Masterclass. I managed to salvage it from a large transparent garbage bag that one of the cleaning staff was carrying around. My booklet had company from many abandoned tasting sheets and a few similar booklets, and I identified my marginally legible handwriting in the second booklet fished out of the bag by the young lady whose work was interrupted by a somewhat wild-eyed and distinctly blue-toothed person. There may be those who would think this whole episode proof that my intake of wine had robbed me of good sense, but that was not really the case. I’m always sufficiently absent-minded to be able to forget that I’ve put something under my chair, after I’ve been sitting 1,5 hours on that chair, while listening to a talk and taking notes. And if you don’t believe that, I’d also like to point out that such a fast trip to Australia – where everything is upside-down – and back naturally will make anyone somewhat dizzy.
But, now back to Burgundy! Louis Latour is one of the larger négociants, the wines of which I’ve encountered much more in Belgium than in Sweden. If I’m going to be honest, I haven’t been too impressed by entry-level wines in Louis Latour’s range. In my opinion, they aren’t of the same class as the corresponding wines in the range of e.g. Louis Jadot or Joseph Drouhin. I have also had wines from Latour that have been quite OK, and my impression is that they have a better reputation for their white wines. That said, this time they had brought some really good wines, where several of them fulfilled every expectation you can have of a Burgundy at the respective level! So I definitely left this event with a more positive view of Louis Latour than before, and I actually bought a Puligny 1er cru produced by them when passing by Heathrow on my way home.
Montagny 1er Cru La Grande Roche 2010
Montagny is in Côte Chalonnaise, i.e., south of Côte de Beaune.
Nose: apple, citrus, some white flowers
Palate: mineral with a minty feeling, discrete fruit, good acidity, minerally aftertaste.
Summary: firm, rather discrete style, rather young but works now. 87+ p
Beaune Blanc 2009
Nose: butter, pear, flowery and expresive
Palate: apple and pear, rather good mineral notes, good acidity, minerally aftertaste.
Summary: classiscal nose, a bit more firm and somewhat leaner on the palate than the nose indicates. Approachable now, 86 p
Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Truffières 2008
Nose: yellow fruit, strong notes of zest, some honey, flowers, discretely perfumed, mineral notes. Very elegant!
Palate: citrus and yellow apples, strong mineral notes, high but well integrated acidity.
Summary: elegant but not that heavy style, rather young but gorgeous already. 91+ p
Nose: honey, citrus and zest, yellow apple, some baked apples, discrete perfume notes, mineral. Elegant, a little more powerful in the nose than the Puligny 1er cru.
Palate: good concentration, citrus, some yellow apple, very clear mineral note, some spice, good acidity, minerally aftertaste.
Summary: firm and more mineral on the palate than the nose indicates, slightly developed but still rather young. 92+ p
All from Côte de Beaune
Marsanne Rouge 2009
Nose: raspberries, some cherries, slightly flowery
Palate: cherries (morellos) with a distincly sour berry impression, good acidity, slightly hard impression with some tannin.
Summary: young, 83+ p
Aloxe-Corton 1er Cru Les Chailots 2008
Nose: strawberries, cherries, some barnyard aromas
Palate: strawberries, rather good concentration of fruit, good acidity, medium tannins that are rather noticeable, some spice, some mineral notes.
Summary: young, 86+ p
Volnay 1er Cru En Chevret 2010
Nose: strawberries, some other red berries (including red currants), flowery
Palate: strawberries, sour berry impression, good acidity, medium tannins, sour berry notes in the aftertaste.
Summary: young, 86+ p
Château Corton-Grancey 2002
A blend from the Corton vineyards Les Bressandes, Les Perrières, Les Grèves and Clos du Roi
Nose: cherries, ripe strawberries, some zest, mineral, somewhat developed notes with undergrowth and decaying leaves, spice, some tar.
Palate: good concentration, ripe strawberries, very strong mineral notes, good acidity, some spice, well integrated and rather mild tannins, very mineral aftertaste.
Summary: excellent elegance and balance, very good minerality for a red wine. Developed, but can take much more cellaring. 93 p.
This wine played in a completely different division than the two young 1er crus, and definitely surpassed my expectations. Today, Louis Latour produces no less than five different red Cortons. This should be the second best, because they also have a Corton Clos du Roi (generally seen as the best vineyard for red Corton), but I’m not sure if it was produced in 2002.
Domaine Laroche is a Chablis producer that I’ve encountered rather often. An interesting anecdote is that a few years ago I noticed that the same entry-level Laroche Chablis was sold sealed with cork in some markets (Belgium) and screwcap in other markets (Sweden). I’ve found the wines of Laroche to be quite OK, and they performed on that level this time as well. I would say that their style is on lean, not too fruit driven side, with a very limited use of oak, although the wines below showed some stylistic differences.
Chablis typicity but on the fruity side, rather high acidity (but not really high for being a Chablis). 84 p
Nose: mineral, slightly developed notes, some herbs
Palate: very mineral, high acidity
Summary: some hints of development, classical firm style, 88+ p
Chablis 1er Cru Les Fourchaumes Vieilles Vignes 2008
60+ year old vines, 25% oak, steel vats for the rest.
Nose: citrus and zest, some flowers, som mineral notes, elegant
Palate: good concentration of fruit and good weight, citrus, high acidity, some mineral notes.
Summary: more fruity than the Vaudevey, rather similar to a firm and lean Côte de Beaune wine. Young, but approachable, 89+ p
Chablis Grand Cru Les Blanchots 2007
30% oak, steel vats for the rest.
Nose: mineral, some baked apples, discrete flowery notes
Palate: good concentration and some weight, mineral, green apple, high acidity.
Summary: some hints of development, still young, 90+ p
I plan to return to wines I tasted during the Decanter Fine Wine Experience in several blog posts to come.
The Swedish version of this post can be found here.