Systembolaget, the Swedish alcohol monopoly, although never offering free tasting of any products or any tastings during opening hours, do arrange paid after-hour tastings of wine and other beverages in some of their shops, and those tastings can include some very high-class liquids. I got a tip from one of their employees, Marcus, that he would lead a tasting of grand cru-classed red Burgundies at their “wine cellar shop” in Stockholm, and ge hinted strongly that it would include some bottles that had been put away for tastings rather than just bottles currently available on their shelves. To be more precise, it turned out that not a single bottle was available in their shops, but some of them had been available for online booking some months back; this is their new way of allocating wines that used to sell out during the first day. Of the seven wines featured in this tasting, four were from producers that Clive Coates counts among the 17 very best in Burgundy, and thus have been rated *** by him, and one was from a producer rated **. I also note that there was no Corton in the lineup, so the cheapest grand cru had been avoided.
The wines were served blind, and I add a few comments about my guesses, in particular where I was surprised.
Anne Gros Échézeaux Les Loachausses 2010
Appearance: medium red, lighter edge.
Nose: ripe cherries, ripe strawberries, some blueberries, rather strong spiciness, strong flowery notes, hints of mineral, the nose hints at “acidity” rather than “sweetness”, elegant style.
Palate: cherries giving quite a sour impression, some spice, medium tannin, minty mineral impression, very light bitterness. Aftertaste with mineral and sour berries.
Summary: elegant and young, developed in the glass. 92+ p.
Sylvain Cathiard Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Aux Malconsorts 2009
Appearance: medium to dark red
Nose: ripe, sweetish red berries – cherries, strawberries – some impression of candied berries or cocktail berries, strong spice notes, flowery, rather strong oak barrel notes. Somewhat hot impression, elegant.
Palate: somewhat sweetish strawberries and cherries, good berry concentration, good acidity, medium tannin, pronounced and almost salty minerality sets in mid-palate, and lingers long, together with some zest in the aftertaste.
Summary: young, but accessible, and easy to like. 93+ p
Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses 2010
Appearance: medium red, lighter edge.
Nose: ripe red berries, zest, discrete herbal notes, flowery, some oak notes, discrete animal notes. Nuanced and elegant.
Palate: rater ripe strawberries and other dark berries, fine fruit and elegant taste but no “blockbuster”, a hint of bitterness, light to medium tannins, slightly short.
Summary: less powerful nose and slightly thinner fruit than the two previous. But it improved in the glass and gained in elegance. 91+ p.
I considered this a little thinner than the previous, but still very elegant, so I thought it would either not be a top vintage or not a top vineyard. It didn’t quite come across as a wine from the newest vintage.
Comte Georges de Vogüé Musigny Cuvée Vieilles Vignes 2008
Appearance: medium red col, paler edge. Lightest core of this flight, possibly some hints of maturity.
Nose: red berries, in particular relatively ripe strawberries, rather strong flowery and perfumed notes, some zest, some spice and oak.
Palate: red berries including strawberries, strong sour berry impression, some citrus, high acidity, rather light tannins, elegant minerality.
Summary: somewhat discrete in similarity to the Mugnier wine, but more perfumed style and lighter berry notes and with a hint of maturity. Young, with the palate younger than the nose. Came across as more acidic/sour berry-dominated with time in the glass, probably closed and has entered the “tunnel”. 91+ p?
I didn’t think this would be a Musigny grand cru, but rather a Chambolle-Musigny 1er cru. I also didn’t belive that it was a wine from de Vogüé, since they are usually more powerful than this. I’m fairly certain that this wine has started to close down, and probably was more expressive on release some two years ago. Not an uncommon phenomenon at four years of age; at this stage, let it become at least 8-10 years before uncorking if you want value for you now.
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Échézeaux 2o09
Appearance: medium to dark red, slightly paler edge.
Nose: rather ripe red berries, including strawberries, a hint of green or herbal notes (that become weaker in the glass), some smoke, spice, rather noticeable oak, possibly some emerging maturity with some earth or truffle notes and some animal notes.
Palate: sweetish red berries (strawberries) with good concentration, strong spicy notes, good acidity, medium++ tannins, good minerality. Long aftertaste with berries and mineral.
Summary: quite concentation, rather young but with some maturity, 95+ p.
It definitely came across as more traditional in style than the rest, but I guess that it would come from a more powerful appellation, such as a grand cru from Morey-Saint-Denis or Gevrey-Chambertin, and have a few years of age. I tried this wine half a year ago, together with other DRC 2009s, and this time it came across as heavier and more powerful, even better and strangely enough with some hints of maturity. I don’t think I can have been that much distracted by the different “company” the wines had, so I think it really has changed.
Lucien le Moine Clos de la Roche 2007
Appearance: medium to dark red colour, paler edge with some brick.
Nose: ripe, or almost overripe strawberries, some mature notes with decaying leaves and some decaying strawberries, some zest, strong spicy notes, minty notes with mineral. Wonderful nose.
Palate: sweetish red and some dark berries, good concentration, strong spice also with spices from maturity, quite good acidity, medium(+) tannins, some mineral. Aftertaste with sour berries and tannins.
Summary: rather mature, can develop more. 93 p.
I thought this wine was several years older than it actually was.
Tortochot Chambertin 2002
Appearance: medium to dark red, paler edge with brick
Nose: rather noticeable volatile acidity, decaying leaves, red and some dark berries with rather ripe fruit notes, mild spices.
Palate: slightly sweetish red berries, rather spicy, rather strong acidity, fairly noticeable tannins with some dry character, some bitterness. Tannic aftertaste with sour berries.
Summary: not just mature but “over the hill” with lacking harmony and surprisingly powerful tannins, almost some Nebbiolo vibes. 88 p?
My guess was that this was a wine with significiant age, such as the 1980s or 1970s? I was very astonished that it was only 10 years old, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered so much developed notes in a red Burgundy from a good appellation at this age, and apparently the bottle hadn’t been stored at too high a temperature either. The producer Tortochot doesn’t count among the best, and the wines aren’t too expensive for their appellation, but this was odd. I woudn’t rule out some bottle variation here.
A fascinating lineup of very classy Burgundies, and interesting that I overestimated the age of several wines – the other way around is more common at this level. The last wine had me somewhat surprised and worried. 2002 is a really good Burgundy vintage, and a high-end grand cru such as Chambertin shouldn’t be quite mature yet rather than showing signs of serious decline. (Compare this to the 1989 Chambertin, also a top vintage, that I recently uncorked – much better and more preserved, despite being a wine from a non-famous grower.) The reason I’m worried is that earlier this year, I bought some bottles of grand cru and premier cru Tortochot wines from 1999 and 2005, based on some good scores by Allan Meadows over at Burghound. I now see that they only quote his scores continuously from the 2005 vintage, so perhaps they did a turnaround in the early 2000s? Definitely needs checking up further in the near future by means of a corkscrew…
The Swedish version of this post can be found here.