TN: White Burgundy from the 80s

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Alan Rath
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TN: White Burgundy from the 80s

#1 Post by Alan Rath » September 4th, 2019, 4:55 pm

Notes from a (single) blind tasting. I was able to follow the wines over about 2 hours. A very fun tasting, nothing corked, and only one wine showed even a hint of oxidation (certainly not premox at this age). I know, not very exciting notes, I don't normally post from these blind tastings. But this one was so good, and fascinating for the quality of these older white Burgs.

1986 Dancer Lochardet Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru La Romanée - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru (9/4/2019)
Starts with a slightly skunky nose, not obviously oxidized, but a bit off, and just slightly unpleasant. Never really recovered.

1985 Madame François Colin Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Demoiselles - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru (9/4/2019)
Light on the nose, decent depth and intensity, good acidity, slightly woody, pleasant but a bit unexciting. (88 pts.)

1982 Jean Noel Gagnard Bâtard-Montrachet - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru (9/4/2019)
Light on the nose, some nice floral notes appear with air, fairly rich, floral, just a tinge of honey, there's some obvious age here, but nothing oxidized or over the hill. Quite beautiful, really. (93 pts.)

1986 Michel Colin-Deléger et Fils Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Vergers - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru (9/4/2019)
Slight signs of oxidation on the nose, but there is so much rich fruit on the palate, nice intensity, maybe not the most pristine cork seal, but still a very nice wine. (91 pts.)

1982 Madame François Colin Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Vergers - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru (9/4/2019)
Nicely medium rich, very fresh and youthful, with air this gets more interesting and complex, with fabulous minerality. Really delicious, a wonderful bottle. (93 pts.)

1985 Madame François Colin Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Vergers - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru (9/4/2019)
Next to the 82, this is even better, with similar medium richness, excellent overall balance, nice minerality, wonderful flavor and intensity. Beautiful. (94 pts.)

1986 Madame François Colin Chassagne-Montrachet - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet (9/4/2019)
Opens with a little sulfur skunk on the nose, though that cleans up with some air time; quite rich on the palate, still youthful for its age, strong minerality, just a slight hint of bitterness on the finish that may have been due to the initial skunk. (90 pts.)

1988 Jean Noel Gagnard Bâtard-Montrachet - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru (9/4/2019)
This took some time to open up, initially somewhat reserved, even a bit woody, but with air becomes beautifully medium rich, with subtle minerality and complexity, very elegant and fresh. The wood notes are still there, but have subsided a bit, a lovely, youthful wine. (93 pts.)

1985 Michel Colin-Deléger et Fils Chassagne-Montrachet - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet (9/4/2019)
Bit of toast on the nose initially, nicely rich fruit, touch of wood, some slight bitterness, but solid for a 30+ year old Chardonnay. (90 pts.)

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Last edited by Alan Rath on September 4th, 2019, 5:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: TN: White Burgundy from the 80s

#2 Post by Jud Reis » September 4th, 2019, 5:01 pm

Ah, the good old days... thanks for the notes.

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Re: TN: White Burgundy from the 80s

#3 Post by Howard Cooper » September 4th, 2019, 5:12 pm

Great notes. Very interesting. Thanks.
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Re: TN: White Burgundy from the 80s

#4 Post by Chris Seiber » September 4th, 2019, 5:32 pm

Great notes. What’s the history on the bottles?

Also, and here’s the tough question — overall, what do you think was the payoff on aging these 30+ years? What was your enjoyment compared to drinking a bunch of 2014s of similar quality?

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Re: TN: White Burgundy from the 80s

#5 Post by Yao C » September 4th, 2019, 5:42 pm

Chris Seiber wrote:
September 4th, 2019, 5:32 pm
Great notes. What’s the history on the bottles?

Also, and here’s the tough question — overall, what do you think was the payoff on aging these 30+ years? What was your enjoyment compared to drinking a bunch of 2014s of similar quality?
I too am really interested in the answer
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Re: TN: White Burgundy from the 80s

#6 Post by Alan Rath » September 4th, 2019, 7:16 pm

These bottles were bought on release, and stored well by the original owner who supplied them for this tasting. I don't know the exact storage history, but for the last 20+ years (maybe more) they've been kept in passive storage in a house on the cool bay area coast.
Chris Seiber wrote:
September 4th, 2019, 5:32 pm
Also, and here’s the tough question — overall, what do you think was the payoff on aging these 30+ years? What was your enjoyment compared to drinking a bunch of 2014s of similar quality?
That's a good question, Chris. Many of these were very, very nice wines, drinking beautifully. But I personally find that reds develop and age to something more profound than white wines, as a general rule. I do think the aged versions are "better", but note that I wasn't drinking young white Burgundy when these were released, so I don't know how "drinkable" they were then in comparison to what we see today on release. Today, I suspect that I would get almost as much pleasure from many (though not all) young white Burgs as I will when properly aged. So I try to do a little of both :)
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Re: TN: White Burgundy from the 80s

#7 Post by Chris Seiber » September 4th, 2019, 8:56 pm

Alan Rath wrote:
September 4th, 2019, 7:16 pm
These bottles were bought on release, and stored well by the original owner who supplied them for this tasting. I don't know the exact storage history, but for the last 20+ years (maybe more) they've been kept in passive storage in a house on the cool bay area coast.
Chris Seiber wrote:
September 4th, 2019, 5:32 pm
Also, and here’s the tough question — overall, what do you think was the payoff on aging these 30+ years? What was your enjoyment compared to drinking a bunch of 2014s of similar quality?
That's a good question, Chris. Many of these were very, very nice wines, drinking beautifully. But I personally find that reds develop and age to something more profound than white wines, as a general rule. I do think the aged versions are "better", but note that I wasn't drinking young white Burgundy when these were released, so I don't know how "drinkable" they were then in comparison to what we see today on release. Today, I suspect that I would get almost as much pleasure from many (though not all) young white Burgs as I will when properly aged. So I try to do a little of both :)
Thanks. It's true that the pre-premox white Burgs were generally much less approachable young than the ones of today, so these bottles probably benefited a lot more from aging (and had much better odds of holding up through aging) than current releases would.

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Re: TN: White Burgundy from the 80s

#8 Post by alan weinberg » September 5th, 2019, 12:28 pm

cool tasting. 86 had some Botrytis that was interesting, 85 a bit more stern.

Not sure I agree that aged reds beat aged whites. Ever have a 20+ year old Ramonet Montrachet?

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Re: TN: White Burgundy from the 80s

#9 Post by Jerry Hey » September 5th, 2019, 1:26 pm

The JN Gagnard wines from the late 70's and 80's were special. And also the Madame Colin les Demoiselles

IMHO, from my dinners, a great white burgundy almost always is the WOTN besting red burgs or Bordeaux. After 4 hours they just seem to start to open up, about time when most dinners are long over.

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Re: TN: White Burgundy from the 80s

#10 Post by c fu » September 5th, 2019, 1:38 pm

Jerry Hey wrote:
September 5th, 2019, 1:26 pm
The JN Gagnard wines from the late 70's and 80's were special. And also the Madame Colin les Demoiselles

IMHO, from my dinners, a great white burgundy almost always is the WOTN besting red burgs or Bordeaux. After 4 hours they just seem to start to open up, about time when most dinners are long over.
Yeah, it feels like old white wines take longer to open up than old red wines. Is there more sulfur in the bottlings?
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Re: TN: White Burgundy from the 80s

#11 Post by Fred C » September 5th, 2019, 2:47 pm

Jerry Hey wrote:
September 5th, 2019, 1:26 pm
The JN Gagnard wines from the late 70's and 80's were special. And also the Madame Colin les Demoiselles

IMHO, from my dinners, a great white burgundy almost always is the WOTN besting red burgs or Bordeaux. After 4 hours they just seem to start to open up, about time when most dinners are long over.
Put me in the camp that feels a great aged white burg will almost always beat a great red.
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Re: TN: White Burgundy from the 80s

#12 Post by Alan Rath » September 5th, 2019, 4:12 pm

alan weinberg wrote:
September 5th, 2019, 12:28 pm
cool tasting. 86 had some Botrytis that was interesting, 85 a bit more stern.

Not sure I agree that aged reds beat aged whites. Ever have a 20+ year old Ramonet Montrachet?
Interesting about 86 and botrytis, that might explain how those three wines came across.

I have not had a 20+ year old Ramonet Montrachet (though I did pay 2 kids tuition to college instead ;)), but I have had a few older Ramonet. They can be outstanding, of course.
Jerry Hey wrote:
September 5th, 2019, 1:26 pm
The JN Gagnard wines from the late 70's and 80's were special. And also the Madame Colin les Demoiselles

IMHO, from my dinners, a great white burgundy almost always is the WOTN besting red burgs or Bordeaux. After 4 hours they just seem to start to open up, about time when most dinners are long over.
At this age, it's about each bottle, I guess. I had high expectations for the Demoiselles, this bottle fell a little short.

Now, I didn't say I don't think white burgs can fantastic - I personally drink white wines of all kinds probably 3:1 over reds. What I was trying to say is that I think the delta between a young and old white is less than the delta between young and old red. It's rare to find a young red that drinks anywhere near as well as what it will become properly aged. But I often drink young-ish whites that are pretty spectacular as is. Still, for me, I think a great, aged red burgundy is something really special, and a bottle I would probably value more than a great aged white. Just personal preference.
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