Fresh, bright red berry fruits which carry to a sweet, fruity concentration on the palate make this wine so very appealing. Beautifully pitched, with a fresh pinot noir clarity, depth and persistence of flavour.
A region large geographically, stretching from Auxerre in the north to Mâcon in the south. Despite its size there are few large domaines or châteaux, in contrast to Bordeaux. France's Code Napoléon has forced the fragmentation of vineyard ownership with the passing of each generation so that, as a consequence largely of inter-grower marriage, the typical producer today will maintain small plots but of numerous different vineyards. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay rule, with red and white wines in roughly equal proportion. Whites are typically barrel-fermented and both red and white will be aged in barrel until ready to bottle: oak is therefore an important flavour character. In the past most wine was bottled by merchants with cellars in the principal towns; since the 1970s the region has seen a growing movement towards estate bottling, under the name of the individual grower. As a consequence the most demanded producers have found their wines enjoying a dramatic premium for scarcity.
2007 - Burgundy
The growing season had got off to an excellent start, with April and much of May being warm and sunny. Cool, overcast skies dominated much of July and August, a feature that slowed down growth to the point when by mid-August growers were in genuine fear of experiencing a vintage of mediocre standards. Then, around the 22nd August, the wind altered direction and began blowing from the north, the change bringing with it sunny skies that kick-started the maturation of berries. Ripening during the end of August and early September was rapid and potential alcohol rose rapidly. One grower commented that sugar levels in his Pinot Noirs increased by an extraordinary three degrees in ten days.
Although the blessing of this fine spell of weather transformed the potential of the vintage, this is only part of the key to success in the 2007 vintage. Conditions during the summer prompted vigorous vine growth and it was crucial to dedicate as much as double the usual level of vineyard work during this period to keep excessive vegetation in check. Those who chose to follow this course of action have reaped the rewards in the resultant high quality of their wines; those who decided against this investment have, by and large, made weaker wines. The other crucial factor (applicable to the reds) was to take the risk of delaying the harvest to allow fruit to reach optimum ripeness.
The finest Pinots are marked by their gloriously pure aromas and juicy, ultra-fruity flavours. Marie-Christine Mugneret describes many of the wines as being croquante (crisp, refreshing), whilst Manu Humbert used the descriptive friand – ‘appetising’. Whilst not as consistent as the region’s white wines, the majority of the Côte d’Or’s top addresses have made seductively fruity and, at their very best, luscious and generously rich wines. By and large, tannins are ripe and without aggression, allowing the delicious fruit, so obvious at this stage, to dominate both scents and flavours. Several growers refer to their 2007s as being vins de plaisir and clearly they will be approachable before the more muscular 2005s and, at many domaines, in advance of the 2006s. At this moment in time, it appears that cuvées of village level will be ready for drinking two or three years after bottling.
We were particularly pleased with many of the wines we tasted in the Côte de Nuits: from Nuits-St-Georges to Gevrey-Chambertin and taking in Chambolle-Musigny, Vosne-Romanée and Morey-St-Denis along the way. We have prioritised these communes in our purchasing list in 2007. However, throughout our visits it was apparent that there is no regular pattern in the wines from cellar to cellar, even within the same village. It really is a question of who dedicated time in the vineyards and who correctly called the harvest.
No doubt there will be diverse comments published in the media about the 2007 red burgundy vintage. Taken as a whole, quality was indeed diverse. But generalised comments hide the detail, the news that the premier division estates have achieved good to very good results, a consensus of opinion shared by professional tasters. There are hidden gems in 2007, wines which will give genuine pleasure to consumers who appreciate red burgundy with pure, natural, elegant characteristics.
The reputation of the red wines of Burgundy rests squarely on the shoulders of Pinot Noir. At all levels above Passtoutgrains, where Gamay is blended with it, Pinot Noir alone is employed. Hardly an easy grape to ripen even in its homeland, the thin-skinned variety offers the potential of delicacy, complexity and refinement, and perhaps better than any other grape anywhere in the world could do, it holds a mirror up to each of the region's varying appellations, subtlely reflecting the characteristics of each. And when grown on the great slopes, despite its apparent fragility, Pinot Noir is capable of producing wines of penetrating presence, a heavenly affinity to oak and with tremendous ability to age. Pale in colour, it offers the scents of red berry fruits when young, a crisp, satisfying acidity and a captivating lithe body-weight. With maturity the flavours evolve into complex notes of game, undergrowth and spice. Around the world, winemakers have sought to emulate Pinot Noir's success in Burgundy. It is found in both Sancerre and Alsace where it makes a fragrant wine, though new wave versions aged in barrel are found. And in neighbouring Germany, as Spätburgunder, it produces a delicate red, almost rose in colour. It can be found today in the cooler regions of almost every wine-producing country of the world, from Italy to South Africa and New Zealand to the USA. In the latter, it is the state of Oregon that claims the greatest success to date. Pinot Noir is a key component of many sparkling wines, most notably in Champagne. Here it is usually blended with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, however many Blancs de Noirs styles depend exclusively on the variety.