2011 White Burgundy Tasting

A group of wine trade colleagues and customers convened once again for a horizontal Burgundy tasting last week at Medlar Restaurant. It was the turn of the 2011 vintage for White Burgundy and it threw up some interesting conclusions.

The 2011 whites were as I expected, showing lovely, pure fruit with underlying acidity which gives the wines freshness. There were obviously some exceptions, but this was due more to the winemaking, not the fruit that the vintage produced.  The wines were generally well received by the group and though it is not a great vintage for White Burgundy, it is certainly a vintage I can recommend buying and drinking over the next few years if you like fresh and pure Chardonnay.  

We tasted a total of 12 wines in flights of two wines. Please find my notes below:

We started with Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Combettes, Henri Boillot 2011 which was true to Henri Boillot form and showed the tell-tale oaky, buttery nose I always get from his wines. I wasn’t that impressed with this, feeling that the winemaking has hidden the core fruit and the tannins from the oak has given the wine a slight bitter note. On the other hand, the Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Combettes, Domaine Leflaive 2011 was outstanding. It had an incredibly fine nose of white flowers and spice with lovely stone notes behind it all. The palate was supremely well-balanced with real breadth of fruit but was also focussed, finishing very long with a minerality you find only in Burgundy. Excellent. This is worth trying to find.

The next flight started with Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Caillerets, de Montille 2011 out of magnum. The nose had steely, stoney fruit on the nose and though it was balanced on the palate and showed classic Burgundian fruit, it was frankly, a bit boring. Well made but not interesting. The next wine was very different indeed. Already showing some mature notes of spice and nuts on the nose, the Meursault, Roulot 2011 had a beautiful palate with ripe, soft white fruits balanced by fresh acidity and chalky, fine tannins. Very good and already drinking fantastically.

We then moved on to the Merusault Vireuils, Roulot 2011. This was a fascinating wine in that it initially smelled of apricots and lime but then closed up as it was exposed to the air, becoming more mineral and steely. It was very different from the Meursault Villages as it wasn’t giving nearly as much pleasure on the night but the palate was impressive, combining fresh fruit with a hint of caramel on the finish. This will be very good indeed in a few years’ time. The Meursault Tessons, Buisson-Charles 2011 was unfortunately a disappointment after the Roulot as I don’t think it was a perfect bottle. The nose and palate were disjointed and though it had some fruit character, it tasted much older than it should have. It is unfortunate as I have heard very good things about Buisson-Charles so I will have to find another bottle to try.

Next up was the Meursault 1er Cru Perrieres, Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet 2011 which had apple and citrus fruit on the palate. The palate was limey and chalky with good balance and fruit but was sadly, a bit boring. A well made wine without fault but sadly, lacking character. We then had the Meursault 1er Cru Perrieres, Darviot-Perrin 2011 which did not show much on the nose except for some white pepper notes. The palate showed more with good grip and fruit character with a chalky finish. This will probably turn out to be better in the future but was unfortunately a bit reductive on the night.

I was very excited about the next flight as we started with Meursault, Coche-Dury 2011. As expected, it was lovely, showing deft use of oak and spicy, citrus fruits. The palate was both expansive and focussed with great balance and a long finish. One of the group thought it was too marked by the Coche-Dury style but I don’t think this is a bad thing. The joy of great Burgundy from a top grower is that it has the signature style of the winemaker combined with the character of the region. This is what wine is all about – I want it to have that signature or otherwise all wines from a specific vineyard would taste the same. Next we had Meursault 1er Cru Clos des Boucheres, Roulot 2011. The nose had peach fruit with a hint of caramel and the palate was ripe but finished minerally. This was very good indeed and I thought probably better than the Coche-Dury for overall quality but not quite as much fun to drink on the night.

Finally, we had two wines I had never tried before from any vintage so was interested to see what they were like. First we had the Vougeot 1er Cru Le Clos Blanc de Vougeot, Domaine de la Vougeraie 2011. This was excellent, a contender for wine of the night. The nose was very ripe with notes of lime, oak and sherbert. The palate was rich (the first time this descriptor has been used in this tasting) and full of ripe orange and lime fruit. It was nothing short of lovely. The last wine we had was the Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, Lequin-Colin 2011 which was not that characterful on the night but had classic aromas of citrus aromas and stones. The palate was well put together but lacked excitement. A well made wine but maybe too young to drink now.

As always, thank you to all the members of the group for being so generous with their wines and knowledge and to Medlar Restaurant, who helped make the night a success.

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