Burgundy Brigade

by Chuck Hayward

Burgundy Brigade

Post by Chuck Hayward | October 11th, 2010

Some '06 Burgs, ready to taste

Getting wind of a Burgundy tasting sends most of us in the wine trade into a vinous tizzy. And so it was last week that we jumped across the bay to RN74, San Francisco's shrine to Burgundy and location for a tasting of assorted releases from the Vineyard Brands portfolio. Founded in 1971 by Robert Haas, a former New York City retailer, Vineyard Brands quickly became one of the country's top importers of quality Burgundy and we looked forward to exploring their collection of estates.

Rather than the new releases we were expecting, we were fortunate that Vineyard Brands had decided to give us another look at reds and whites from 2006. Four years after vintage, it was an ideal time to assess the development of these wines and get a feel for where they are headed. Upon release, Stephen Tanzer observed that the '06 whites were "rich, powerful wines, often high in alcohol. Their glycerol textures and often exotic tropical fruit character give them great early sex appeal." At the same time, Bruce Sanderson noted in the Wine Spectator  that "the young Pinots also amazed me, with their immediate charm, seduction and balance."

Always taking notes...

Among other highlights in the lineup of whites were the '06 Grand Crus from Vincent Girardin, a respected winemaker who makes wines from over 60 Burgundy appellations. The style of the vintage showed across all the whites presented that day with rich, almost viscous textures and excellent concentration of exotic fruit which fairly leaped from the glass. Each was also beginning to show the midpalate generosity that develops with some time in the bottle.

Vineyard Brands' Emmanuel Lemoine pours for legions of tasters

Of these, my personal pick was the 2006 Girardin Corton-Charlemagne, which highlighted the wine's unique terroir. The lean soils of the hill of Corton brings out a mineral component typical of the appellation. Combined with the richness of the 2006 vintage, this is a very complex wine that still has years of development ahead. By comparison, Girardin's Batard-Montrachet was richer and thicker, making for a very approachable wine that can be enjoyed today.

The reds from 2006 also showed uniform vintage character, with slightly reserved aromas of dried red fruits, hints ofsage and an almost rustic quality to the flavors. Once again, the Grand Cru releases showed their inherent breed with more concentration and complexity than the "lesser" appellations and once again, Girardin's wines were delicious. His Clos Vougeot was a classic representation of the vintage's characteristics but the Charmes-Chambertin stole the show with cleaner, brighter fruit presence and some additional complexity just beginning to emerge, surely a harbinger of excellence to come with additional age.

If you are interested in the 2006s from Vincent Girardin, contact your JJ Buckley sales representative or email us at info@jjbuckley.com