Burgundy treachery

I can’t say I wasn’t warned. My path in wine is a well trodden one, from Cali to Old World…and, alas, ultimately (red) burgundy. I can still recall the epiphany about 15 years ago, from the pleasure of an older Dujac Clos de la Roche shared by a very generous friend. And there have been many other great ones, and merely pleasurable ones, along the way.

Of course this is “high beta” territory, so there are going to be some duds along the way. But lately I have had a really long streak of duds, and I can’t seem to discern any pattern: GC and 1er; from 1990 through 2008; from highly regarded producers in highly regarded terroirs; procured from a variety of reputable sources; all with reasonable fills and solid corks; and all resting in my 55 degree cellar for various periods of time. I should point out that none have been corked, but all have been flawed in some way – from imbalance, to stewed fruit, to just plain BLAH. Maybe the last 8-10 bottles. In this same recent time frame I have had numerous beautiful older bordeaux, barolo, riesling, rioja.

I am starting to regret having a good deal of this stuff. Is this simply the price of entering the kingdom of burgundy? Random noise? Have I just gotten spoiled? I know my problem is not unique. What say you?

This makes me feel better about being a bottom feeder in the Burgundy market.

Brave post (no sarcasm). I’m interested to see where the thread goes.

Just an unsolicited suggestion – you might get better answers if you give some examples of the disappointing bottles you’ve had recently. Maybe Burg people can tell you if the bottles were too young or too old, bad vintages, should have been great, etc.

Thanks, Chris. A few recent ones come to mind:

Ponsot CDLR 01
Remy CDLR 01
Jadot chambolle “Fuees” 02
M Gros vosne romanee “aux Reas” 02 (I know not 1er)

The Ponsot CDLR is likely still closed. takes a while to come around.

“When a man sees Burgundy, he tires of the world.”

I think, sir, you are tiring of Burgundy and need a makeover.

It would be really helpful describe what you find as being disappointing? That is a very open-ended term. Is it that they are not meeting your expectations you are not showing as well as you would expect based on notes others have posted? Please be as specific as possible. Cheers!

I am drinking Bordeaux while waiting for my Burgundies to mature
Now the pre 1995, 2000and 2007 Burgundy are OK to drink IMO

Don’t be ridiculous. We don’t need the actual wines for that. You opened them too young, from the wrong producers and from the wrong vineyards. Easy peasy.

Way to spoil my response.

None of those are producer/vineyard combos that I buy so I have no useful input other than to say that I’m not touching 2002s yet in general. But I’ve been liking 2001s.

Don’t wait long on Mugnier’s Chambolle Musigny, as it’s at maturity.

We opened a '90 Drouhin Volnay 1er Clos des Chenes last week and it was cooked, which makes no sense as it was bought at the Domaine along with other bottles that we’ve since drank and that were perfectly intact, so it was quite the confusing disappointment. Is it possible for ONE and only ONE bottle in a case to cook? Maybe the gods of Burgundy are just messing with us recently.

Are you sure it was cooked? I’ve had serious reduction issues with some 1990 Drouhins manifesting as intermittent sewage notes on the nose. Very disconcerting when it happens.

nah, it was just that sweet stewed fruit zero complexity thing. I’d have given my left pinky for it to have only been reduction, i like reductive wines!

How have you chosen your burgundies? Recommendations, scores, tasting at the Domaines? How about vintages?

The older I get, I view engaging on palate or cellar advice like I do love advice: No one ‘really’ wants my opinion, even if they might ask for it :wink:

I do feel like you’re asking in earnest, Kelly, so I shall share a few thoughts:

  1. Ever since my first older red burgundies I had as a teenager, red burgundy has always had both the reputation and the practical effect of being ‘beautifully inconsistent.’ Bottle variation, vintage weirdness, a bottle that Sings angelically followed by a wine from the same case that is ‘fine.’ This is a truism that Google could tell anyone about, but from my 20 years of various experiences, I have found it true. And I’ve never heard/seen of a true solution besides #KeepTrudging through the mediocre bottles for the brilliant ones (A not inexpensive task).

  2. Some of the best/most memorable bottles in my life have been Red Burgundies. Full stop. I’m not alone in that, obviously.

  3. I personally buy hardly any Red burgundy because of Price and variation, and in basic ‘moneyball’ concept: i buy wines by the six-pack or case that I believe will be awesome wines, period, but especially for the price.

  4. The most obvious thing (as others have suggested both genuinely and sardonically): List the wines, vintages, et al and your notes, and we can see who also has experience with those particular wines and we can see if it’s truly bad luck, bad timing, or mediocre (at least to expectations) wine. As my friends can attest, I have a very passionate desire against opening great wines too young.

  5. Just gazing around various old bottles or looking back through cherished wine evenings with great friends (some on here, some not, some no longer with us), I can think of bottles all 15-30 years old from basically all over Burgundy (Bonnes Mares, Vosne-Romanee, Beaune Teulons, St. Vivant, Echezeaux, Nuits-St. George) that have been special wines.

So, I’ve always viewed the best red burgundies as true gifts, but certainly never anything to be taken for granted… both because being in good health and around good friends is something special on its own, but also because truly special bottles of burgundy are breeds unto themselves.

My Burgundy epiphany was a Clos de la Roche too

For what it’s worth George and I had the Ponsot CDLR 01 some months ago and we both agreed that it has a ways to go

I suspect that you might have to go older to get the experience you’re looking for. But then the devilish thing about Burgundy is there’s always highly plausible excuses to be made

Great post Nick,
So true, my greatest wines and biggest duds have all come from Burgundy (and sometimes from the same case)

The Ponsot/Remy/Jadot are all in “early drinking”, which means a fair amount of air time and imagination are required, in my experience…and early drinking phases are prone to disappointments. Also, imo, red burgundy is better with less/no decanting, assuming it can be open enough to be enjoyable. White burgundy otoh is better with more decanting than less (i.e. more than you think). The adage ‘great bottles, not great wines’ esp applies here, esp red Burgundy. It’s frustrating to keep waiting, but waiting until they reach their maturity ‘plateau’ has different but fewer pitfalls. Reading cellartracker notes, and getting to know tasting note writers, can help a lot with figuring out when this occurs. I had an 01 l’Arlot NSG Clos des Foret a few months ago…the consensus was the remaining bottles should be drunk up. I took the remainder of that bottle home (more bottles than people, in the fridge over night) and it was better & more interesting the next day, so 5+ more years for the remaining bottles seems appropriate. So figuring out when the plateau begins & ends is tricky. At least burgundy isn’t boring :slight_smile:

You meant 2002 Anne Francoise Gros VR Aux Reas I think? Michel Gros only has Clos des Reas.

Bordeaux, Barolo & Rioja are all much more well mannered about how they drink during their lifetimes it seems.

Burgundy is somewhat unique in that the wines from different producers can taste very different from one another. Are you disappointed with wines from the same producers you have traditionally liked or are you trying different producers because you were experimenting or because prices on your favorite producers have gone up or for some other reason (e.g., an Envoyer email). For example, if you fell in love with Dujac, a Jadot wine is going to taste very different- the Jadot will be richer, more powerful, less complex and elegant.

Alternatively, Burgundy is a more elegant wine and less rich wine than many other wines. Some people report that their palates become less sensitive as they get older and that they begin to like richer wines. Could this be happening?

For example, next burg I’m likely to open is a '00 Jadot CSJ. It’s bit sitting sideways for months, but I may need to stand it up for the sediment to settle. Is this something you would decant merely for sediment purposes and serve right away? Or maybe it’s just a PnP.