2004 Vintage White Burg Assessment Dinner and Premox Check-Night One

On February 15, 2012 I hosted night one of my seventh annual White Burgundy Vintage Assessment and Oxidation Check Dinner series. As most of you already know, each year we normally comprehensively taste a single vintage of white burgundies at 7.5 years of age. So the subject of this year’s dinners is the 2004 white burgundy vintage.

The venue for night one was the private event room at Chinois on Main (one of the Wolfgang Puck empire of restaurants) in Santa Monica California, where general manager and part-owner Bella Lantsman did a fabulous job of orchestrating the food and the wine service for the event. I think everyone’s favorite course was the Wild Striped Bass served with the third course. Fabulous flavors and texture. If you think Chinois can only manage Asian fusion – think again! Bravo Bella!

The twelve attendees at the night one dinner were: Kirk Calhoun, Mike Fitzgerald, Ron Greene, Jerry Hey, Ed Ikuta, Gordon Lee, Thomas Landry, Ron Movich, Terry Taketa, John Tilson, Michael Zadikian and me (Don Cornwell). On to the wines…

Appetizer Course
Passed Hors d’oeuvres
1990 Pommery Cuvee Louise Champagne (magnum)
Light/medium gold color; biscuit and light honey nose with some citrus background; a concentrated citrus and mineral palate that struck me as ever so slightly sweet but didn’t finish that way. The finish was more of a citrus and mineral finish. It was decent champagne but not that exciting. Like most ‘90 Champagnes now, I liked them better a year or two ago. 92

Flight One-Chablis (served single blind)
Dungeness crab cakes atop Maine scallops, lemon grass lobster sauce

#1 [Raveneau Chabls Valmur]
Light yellow color, but a bit cloudy; light gooseberry and oyster shell aromas; light, very bright Chablis with more structure than flavor at this point—some very subtle lemon fruit underneath and a lot of minerals piled on top; minerally finiksh. This needs time. Group Rank: Tied for 21st, 0 pts 93+

#2 [Billaud-Simon Chabls Clos]
Light gold color; quite floral and sweet green fruit aromas –must be Billaud-Simon; clearly softer than #1, more forward, more full-bodied than #1; lots of fruit and this is made in a showy, flamboyant style with an almost spicy finish. The style seems just a bit over the top to me. Group Rank: Tied for 21st, 0 pts 91

#3 [Ravneau Chabls Montee De Tonnerre]
Light gold color; not very open wine – quite tight citrus; some citrus, flint and oyster shell aromas; very tight citrus – quite clean – and minerally; a surprisingly long minerally finish for such a tight, structured wine. Group Rank: Tied for 18th, 1 pt (0/0/0/0/1) 93

#4 [Dauvissat Chabls Clos]
Betweeen light and medium gold color; some green melon aromas; bright citrus flavors with very good acidity and a slightly phenolic texture; a long lime and mineral finish. Group Rank: Tied for 10th, 4 pts (0/0/0/2/0) 94

#5 [Dauvissat Chabls Preuses]
Light gold color; sweet green apple aromas; crisp green apple flavors with bright acidity that get suppressed by phenolic finish; this should improve. Group Rank: Tied for 18th, 1 pt (0/0/0/0/1) 92+

#6 [Raveneau Chabls Clos]
Light gold color; a little key lime and oyster shell aromas; this has some nice concentration hiding under very good acidity and a touch of phenols; there is a surprisingly nice lemon/lime and mineral finish. Lots of material here. Real grand cru weight. Group Rank: 4th, 18 pts (1/2/1/1/0) 94+

Flight Two-Meursault (served blind)
Sautéed Santa Barbara Prawns with Pad Thai noodles, Tamarind Sauce

#7 [Roulot Meursault Poruzots]
Light gold color; light lemon-lime fruit aromas with some white flowers – quite youthful; bright lime citrus flavors, quite concentrated with a lot of underlying minerality—again very youthful for 7.5 years old; a super long mineral and fruit finish on this wine really stands out. Really nice wine. Group Rank: 9th, 5 pts (1/0/0/0/0) 94

#8 [Lafon Meursault Charmes]
Light gold color; this is more forward than # 7 in the aromas—distinctly sweet key lime/lemon citrus – like key lime pie; sweet key lime flavors, concentrated, almost fat, doesn’t have the acidity to match #7; long sweet key lime finish without the minerality of #7 Group Rank: Tied for 15th, 2 pts (0/0/0/1/0) 92

#9 [Roulot Meursault Charmes]
Light gold color; some classic hazelnut and citrus aromas; not as overtly fruity as #8—pear and light citrus with a light hazelnut element; this is quite tight and structured, yet there is evident underlying concentration which fantails out a bit on the back of the palate and then gets tighter again on the citrus and hazelnut finish. Group Rank: Tied for 12th, 3 pts (0/0/1/0/0) 93+

#10 [Henri Boillot Meursault Charmes]
Very bright light gold color; lemon zest and citrus aromas; very tight lemon sherbert flavors with modest minerality. [NB Seems very youthful for Boillot—a good sign] Group Rank: Tied for 15th, 2 pts (0/0/0/1/0) 93+?

#11 [Roulot Meursault Boucheres]
Medium gold color-noticeably darker than the rest; overripe apricot and buttery aromas – almost popcorn; quite fat, seems a bit overripe/butterscotchy on the palate too; distinctly sweet finish – not a very good wine and likely advanced. Three tasters felt this was oxidized; and a good number of us thought it advanced or perhaps heat damaged. Group Rank: Tied for 18th, 1 pt (0/0/0/0/1) 90?-advanced

#12 [Coche-Dury Meursault Rougeots]
Light gold color; lots of matchstick reduction at the outset, later more evident citrus and white flowers; citrus and subtle hazelnut element with great concentration on the palate – layered and has very good depth; as I kept coming back to this what struck me was the concentration. Impressive. My fifth ranked wine of the night. Group Rank: Tied for 5th, 17 pts (2/1/0/1/1) 94+

Flight Three-Meursault Perrieres (served blind)
Wild striped bass, cauliflower puree, Riesling wine sauce (the consensus favorite food course)

#13 [Le Moine Meursault Perrieres]
Light yellow color; lemon citrus aromas; relatively fat, forward and showy on the palate with sweet lemon drop candy flavors but not a lot of minerality. I would have guessed Meursault Charmes, but there aren’t any in this flight. Group Rank: 8th, 10 pts (0/1/2/0/0) 92

#14 [Colin-Morey Meursault Perrieres]
Light gold color; very restrained aromas – with some swirling I got white peach; tightly structured wine on the palate with good acidity and minerality and a dollop of fruit peeking out; very nice fruit and minerals finish. Group Rank: Tied for 12th, 3 pts (0/0/1/0/0) 93

#15 [Lafon Meursault Perrieres]
Light gold color; some SO2 (reduction), hazelnut and lemon citrus on the aromas; this wine has considerable concentration and powerful lemon and minerals. This has a lot more density than the first two wines in this flight. Group Rank: Tied for 12th, 3 pts (0/0/0/1/1) 94

#16 [Matrot Meursault Perrieres]
Between light and medium gold color; lemon citrus aromas; viscous, lemon custard flavors; also more concentrated than the first two wines; rich finish with some minerality [NB notable to see a Matrot that is not oxidized or advanced, though the color is more advanced than the others] Group Rank: Tied for 10th, 4 pts (0/1/0/0/0) 94

#17 [Roulot Meursault Perrieres]
Light yellow color; citrus and white flowers aromas ; concentrated lemon-lime and minerals flavors with some notable phenols; this is quite viscous and long but the finish is tight and slightly phenolic. A great future here. My fourth-ranked wine of the night. Group Rank: Tied for 5th, 17 pts (0/1/3/1/2) 94+

#18 [Bouchard Meursault Perrieres]
Light gold color; citrus and hazelnut aromas; lemon-lime fruit with a creamy texture yet very apparent acid and structure; this is quite concentrated and yet quite racy. Really long minerally finish. This is a fabulous MP and my favorite wine of the night. Group Rank: 7th, 11 pts (2/0/0/0/1) 95+

Flight Four (served blind)
Shanghai lobster with crispy spinach and curry sauce

#19 [Henri Boillot Corton Charlemagne]
Light gold color; this was a bit reduced and it was difficult to coax the aromas out of the glass—pears and white flowers are there with some work; concentrated pears/green apple flavors with good acidity and some modest minerality at the end. Might improve with time. [NB A youthful wine but didn’t seem to match up to the superlative initial reviews in my view, but others liked this better than I did.] Group Rank: 3rd, 22 pts (3/1/0/1/1) 93+?

#20 [Girardin Corton Charlemagne Quintessence]
Between light and medium gold color; pear and faint anise aromas; nicely balanced pear and citrus flavors. This is a very concentrated old-viney Corton, which just keeps pushing outward – reminds me a lot of Coche in its texture and concentration; amazingly long slightly minerally finish. Very impressive wine. My number two wine of the night. Group Rank: 2nd, 24 pts (1/3/2/0/1) 95

#21 [Drouhin Corton Charlemagne]
Light gold color; aromas of pear and light citrus; some pear flavors and faint minerals; needed a little better mid-palate density; not in the same class with the first two wines in this flight Group Rank:Tied for 15th, 2 pts (0/0/0/1/0) 92

#22 [Bouchard Corton Charlemagne]
Light gold color; pear, citrus and light hazelnut aromas (did somebody sneak in a Meursault?); really good concentration and yet great acidity and structure; sneaky depth here; this is powerful, youthful Corton with an absolutely amazing fruit and minerals finish. My number three wine of the night. Group Rank: 1st, 29 pts (2/2/2/2/1) 95

#23 [Bonneau du Martray Corton Charlamagne]
Between light and medium gold color; some lemon citrus and butterscotch aromas; advanced butterscotch and lemon zest flavors despite notable phenols and good acidity. Five of the twelve tasters on the panel thought this was outright oxidized. The rest of us agreed it was advanced but not yet showing the classic sherry or “cornflakes” aromas and sherry-like flavors that usually mark outright oxidized wines. Group Rank: Tied for 21st, 0 pts 88-advanced

#24 [Jadot Corton Charlemagne]
Light yellow gold color; some green apple aromas but with an advanced butterscotch overtone and a whiff of chemicals at the end; some pear fruit but with a layer of butterschotch/marzipan flavors at the end. Very hard to reconcile the advanced aromas and flavors with the light color unless someone at Jadot has been playing around with hyperoxidation and under-sulftiing the wine. Group Rank: Tied for 21st, 0 pts 89-advanced

#25 [2004 Rara Avis Chardonnay]
Light yellow color with hints of green; floral and lime elements in the aromas; light citrus flavors with a lightly viscous texture; a very nice wine that is very youthful for 7.5 year old California chardonnay. This was a ringer provided by Ed Ikuta, one of the tasters on the panel and a superb winemaker who is justifiably famous as California’s best home winemaker. Group Rank: Tied for 21st, 0 pts 93

Dessert Course
Sweet treats
1983 Gysler Weinheimer Holle Spatburgunder Rose Berenauslese
I loved this wine when we last tasted it a few years ago, but it didn’t impress me on this occasion. Seemed a bit light and dull although quite sweet. Not oxidized however. 87?

The technical report on the wines:
Oxidation–0/25 0%
Corked – 0/25 0%
Advanced-3/25 12%
Oxidized plus advanced =3/25 12%

Some post-script thoughts
2004 is a vintage characterized by good acidity and high levels of phenols. The latter really became apparent on the seond night (the notes for which will shortly appear in a second post). For those of you not quite familiar with what I mean by a high level of phenols, I’m referring to the somewhat astringent almost-tannin-like components that can coat the back of your tongue and your mouth. 2004 is a vintage that has noticeably astringent phenols in a clear majority of the wines. So, in effect, its like tasting a vintage of white wines with tannins. Low phenol levels due to changes in pressing practices is one of the factors that has been pointed to as likely contributing to premature oxidiation. Most of the 2004s are not short on phenols, but we also ran into several wines over two nights (most from the usual suspects) that were either advanced or premoxed. My sense is that the best wines of the vintage will outlive their counterparts from 1999 and 2002, but at this point I think few will reach the heights that the top 1999’s and 2002’s did.

The wines for night two are reviewed in a separate thread located here: 2004 Vintage White Burg Assessment Dinner and Premox Check-Night Two - WINE TALK - WineBerserkers

Thanks Don for the comprehensive notes, and of course having to do the “hard work” of checking in on the vintages as the years progress. Cheers.

Thanks Don…love these reports! 2004 is my favorite 2000’s Vintage for White Burg…and have had really good luck with it so far! Alarming about the BdM Charlie…as I just bought a case recently…had one last month that seemed poxed upon opening, but wasn’t…and turned out to be spectacular. I know you responded to my tn on this wine…did you ever get the chance to discuss this issue with someone from BdM at Le Paulee?

First bottle of a case…I was REALLY worried when I popped the cork and smelled it, and in the bottle…seemed a little advanced??? Son-of-a-bleeeeeeppp! Man I hope this isn’t poxed! Well…I let it sit in bottle for 4hrs…first pour…Ahhhh…bright white gold color!!! Sniff…ahhh…minerals and lemons!! Whew…we’re good! This wine is bright and tight with crushed minerals and acid…yet has enough ripe white peach, pear, apple fruit to make it spectacular! I’m a HUGE fan of '04 White Burg…love the taut nerve…and this wine epitomises that. To go along with the great structure…it has tasty subtle smoky creamy oak, flint, hazelnut…as well as beautiful floral lime blossoms and some ginger honey. I’m in sippers Heaven here! Love this! (94 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

I did get to discuss the subject a little with Jean-Charles at Le Paulee. While he thanked me for brining attention to the problem of premox and said he would be happy to discuss the subject with me and provide detais on BDM’s wine making and sulfiting regimen if I would come visit him in Burgundy, he didn’t feel it was the appropriate place for such such discussion in San Francisco. He did share with me, however, his belief that the primary problem lies with the declining quality of corks.

For my part, I have trouble explaining why BDM and a relatively small group of other producers produce consistently premoxed wines vintage after vintage (in the case of BDM every single vintage of note between 1995 and 2004) while there are other producers who have virtually no premox. Surely all of the best corks don’t go the same addresses year after year while BDM manages to buy the worst ones. It is interesting that Jadot’s explanation for the overwhelming amount of premox in their wines beginning with the 2000 vintage is also to blame the corks. However, unlike BDM, Jadot had one of the lowest incidences of premox from 1995 through 1999.


Thanks for the great night with some very good wines. My only suggestion to these nights would be to vote on the wines of each flight BEFORE they are revealed. Otherwise I think some wines are given favorable group ratings based on the producer.

Thanks Done,

A fabulous reference point and interesting notes as well.

Thanks again for this…


No 2004 Raveneau in my cellar unfortunately, as I arrived too late for that party, but the results seem about what one would expect. Your mentioning of phenolic edges in the Dauvissats were slightly disconcerting initially, but as it seems to be a vintage rather than oak-driven phenomenon I’ll just let my 2004 Dauvissats rest.
Again, sad to see yet another sub-par bottle of my former darling BdM…


In other words they’re blaming others for the problem.

I have no dog in this race, and far be it from me to tell Don how to best conduct his important annual check-up on the white Burg scene, but Jerry’s suggestion would seem to make a lot of sense. Has this series always been done this way - reveal first, then name favorites?


We vote only on the five overall favorites of the night, ranked one to five no ties. To do what Jerry suggests we wouldn’t be able to reveal any of the wines until the very end of the dinner, after everyone had voted. I made that suggestion one year and several people strongly objected. They basically want to have the wines revealed at the end of the flight, before we go on to the next flight.

Don, I would want each flight to be revealed as well, while the wines are fresh in my memory, and still some in my glass.

Thanks for the notes Don. Very valuable. Great showing for Bouchard. Have you by chance had their 04 Monty?

Hi Roger,

Not Don, but I will answer.

Had the '04 Montrachet twice last year, one bottle was very advanced, really on it’s last legs, the other one was so young, light and tight, it was a bit like wine flavored water. Hard to judge where it will go, seemed typically '04 lemon citric with a touch of sherbert, decent length and power and quite precise. If you get it at the right time, it will no doubt show very well, but exactly when that will be, I have no idea…

I also had a case of the '04 MP, 3 out of the first 4 were oxidised/advanced, so I dumped them. Perhaps a shame in retrospect, but I kept the case of C/C, so I might have to look at one soon.

Thanks Paul…Guess I better try one of my two bottles sooner rather than later…

We just had it on Wednesday night as part of the final “Mostly Montrachet” dinner. The wine wasn’t advanced at all, and it was excellent, I just found it was a little lighter/more diffuse than say the 1999 and 2002 which I thought were super. I wasn’t as youthful as the one wine Paul described, but it wasn’t advanced by any means either. I’ll be publishing the notes shortly.


If each flight were voted on before unveiling it would take the label out of play. I think that some of people’s preferences are influenced by the producer. You could still vote on everyone’s favorite five at the end of the night. It seems like if you are going to taste blind, you should vote blind also…just my $.02 worth.

These nights are very informative and eye opening - thanks, Don.

Also more great work on the Rudy fiasco!!

+1 on what Jerry said. Especially the Rudy part!

We always vote for favorites from each flight before the wines are then revealed…

More interesting and fairer that way.