Back IN REVIEW: The Fine Wine Experience Burghound Symposium Masterclasses, with Allen Meadows

Published on 21 April, 2015
Island Shangri-La Hotel, Hong Kong, Saturday 18th April 2015. © Linden Wilki



Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru and Grand Cru That Chambolle stands for elegance and delicacy is fair, began Allen Meadows, but not the full story. Better, to understand the village in its spectrum from the top of its slope where the wines are leaner, racier, and more mineral, but no so fleshy, down to the bottom by the route nationale where there is pretty good soil depth, where there can be more richness, less elegance and more rusticity.

We set out this afternoon on a tour of those vineyards, Chambolle-Musigny’s premiers crus, and we were given a very informative tour. “Fortunately,” continued Allen, “all but one of the 1er crus comprise only one lieu dit (the exception being Feusselottes), so when we are looking at a Chambolle 1er Cru we are looking at something mostly homogenous.”

With maps in hand and vineyards circled on the projector screen in front, we began our tour. The tasting notes below are mine, but I have tried to convey some of what Allen spoke about for each vineyard in italics.

Allen’s depth and breadth of knowledge was impressive, and as he described each vineyard you could see him mentally walking the vineyards and describing them.

2011 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru ‘Les Lavrottes’, Olivier Bernstein (LW 91)

Bright, still youthful appearance; sweet, fresh, with a distinctly nutty Coche-Dury-like oak note, some meaty-sausage and sage-like flavours over crystalline red cherry on the nose; juicy, focused and fresh on the palate, zippy acidity, luminous fruit, nutty-oaky notes, fine grippy tannins. Stylish, modern. Promising bottle.

A ‘commercial monopole’ for Bernstein, meaning they are the only ones to market it. Traditional vinification including use of stems. “Size, weight and muscle”.

2011 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru ‘Les Amoureuses’, Joseph Drouhin (LW 94)

Bright, clear mid-depth of colour; open, beautifully scented, red fruit, a touch of earth and beetroot, lovely lavender-like florals; very fine, juicy, with sapid fine extract coated tannins, transparent and perfumed, very long elegant finish with sinewy-like strength. Superb.

By far the clear unequivocal first choice for elevation to grand cru status in Chambolle and the market reflects the sentiment. For long ageing and elegance.

2010 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru ‘Les Charmes’, Domaine Bertheau (LW 92)

Fine, moderate to light depth, with a touch of colour fade at the rim; cool, with a hint of mint/menthol, sandalwood, there is a wonderfully refreshing tone on the nose; detailed on the palate, succulence, restrained in style yet open aromatically, red fruit, with small herbal details, very fine tannin. Tastes very clear and natural – zero ‘make up’. Very good.

Only a ‘7 iron’ shot from Amoureuses, but what a difference here. ‘Charming’ is correct, drinks earlier, and not as long lived as some other 1er Crus, and the Bertheau style emphasizes this point.

2010 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru ‘Les Cras’, Domaine G. Roumier (LW 93)

Clear, deeper shade here compared to the Bertheau 2010, ruby core; fresh, aromatic, a touch spicy; lovely core of morello cherry and raspberry scented fruit, spice and oak lavishness, but the impression is dominated by concentrated luminous fresh fruit, very tightly delineated and precise wine. Lovely.

An extension (via Les Fuées) of Bonnes Mares, but there is some complication in Les Cras. The side of Les Cras next to Les Fuées is much like Fuées, but west of a fault that runs through the vineyard, it turns west-facing and the wines can be leaner. There is also a ‘village’ rated part of the vineyard at the western edge. Roumier’s piece of Les Cras is in the Fuées end.

2009 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru ‘Les Fuées’, Domaine J.-F. Mugnier (LW 93)

Full ruby; fragrant, quite floral and perfumed, with savoury counterpoints on the nose; lovely precision, detail, spice, fruit, perfume, but this is also quite fleshy-middled, fine velvet tannin. This shows the generosity of 2009, lovely fruit, but also perfumed, detailed, and fine.

This vineyard is an extension of Bonnes Mares and is a mineral-driven 1er cru. But while we might call Bonnes Mares ‘ rugby players’, Les Fuées are ‘gymnasts, not weight lifters’. The wine needs long ageing. Allen said Freddie Mugnier considers this his favourite vineyard.

2009 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru ‘Aux Beaux-Bruns’, Domaine Ghislaine Barthod (LW 92)

Fairly deep ruby, clear; fresh, quite sweet nose, dark roses in the scent; beautiful, fresh, dark rose-scented fruit, fresh acidity and minerality, great cut, but also gently sumptuous fruit, fairly grippy tannins. Earthiest, stickest and most sumptuous of the three Barthod ‘09s tasted.

Another split-rated vineyard, with some Beaux-Bruns being village level AOC. Barthod’s is 1er Cru. A fleshier, more approachable Chambolle, that can sometimes have a little rusticity.

2009 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru ‘Les Chatelots’, Domaine Ghislaine Barthod (LW 92)

Fine, lighter colour than the Beaux-Bruns; lifted aromatics, slightly exotic, roses, potpourri, really quite floral, slightly spicy too, a very pretty nose; bright, fresh, very elegant and taut with more mineral grip compared to the Beaux-Bruns. Bright red fruit, gentle style. The most “feminine” of the three.

Similar to Beaux Bruns but is a little lighter, earlier drinking, and mineral.

2009 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru ‘Les Véroilles’, Domaine Ghislaine Barthod (LW 93)

Bright clear, fuller colour; floral and a touch of licorice, lavender; real depth on the palate, with pewrfume aligned to real fine velvet sapid grip of fine tannins, feels long term, perhaps the most interesting of the three Barthods tasted, but the least accessible today. Very fine. .

A monopole vineyard, elevated from village level to 1er Cru in 1987. But be careful as there is also (not from Barthod) village level Les Véroilles. Can be lean, austere, mineral and needs bottle age to flesh out. 2009 compensates well for this strict terroir, otherwise we might expect this to be less accessible.

2008 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru ‘Les Feusselottes’, Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg (LW 90)

Fine, mid- to light appearance, clear; lifted, zippy fresh red fruit, touch grilled nut oak; fresh red fruit, very clear and racy and fine. Elegant, not especially fleshy but very juicy. Attractive.

A pet favourite vineyard of Allen’s – elegance, complexity and achingly beautiful.

2008 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru ‘Les Gruenchers’, Domaine Fourrier (LW 89)

Fine hued, mid-depth; ripe nose, mineral, with ample fruit and spice, touch of leafy freshness; juicy, fleshy, piquant acidity, a touch too taut / pinched, but good flesh.

Fleshy, generous and easy to like 1er Cru. “While some 1er Crus you might meet at a party would make you come to them and do all the work, Gruenchers would come up to meet you. It’s prepared to be friends with you.” But while it does the ‘Charmes’ bit, it is also ageworthy and develops complexity.

2007 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru ‘La Combe d’Orveaux’, Domaine J. Faiveley (LW 90)

Clear, touch colour development; leafy piquant candied raspberry nose, savoury notes, oak-nut, open and accessible aroma; juicy, amply fleshy, with an attractive savourymorish juicy-fruity finish. Very drinkable now.

La Combe d’Orveau is actually a triple-rated vineyard. Domaine Jacques Prieur’s portion got upgraded to Musigny. There are four owners of 1er Cru level Combe d’Orveau, but there are also village level Combe d’Orveau wines. 1er Cru Combe d’Orveau is not quite as impressive as Musigny, but ‘under the radar’ relatively speaking. Allen made special mention of Bruno Clavelier’s version.

1999 Bonnes Mares, Domaine Groffier (LW 91)

Still plenty of depth in the colour, development right at the edge; sweet nose, fragrant, slightly leafy/minty, touch of licorice, earth, quite fragrant with prompting; sweet fruit, some oaky-gloss to the style, well-integrated now, but adds a touch superficial sweetness. Lovely fruit, touch earth and mineral, fine grip. Delicious.

If you start at the bottom left and go to the top right – that line divides Bonnes Mares into two soil types – ‘terres rouges’ (below) and ‘terres blanches’ (above). Some producers, such as de Vogüé (by far the largest owner) have both soils, but others are often in one or the other. Roughly speaking ‘terres rouges’ is richer, more powerful, and ‘terres blanches’ less so.

Bonnes Mares is one of the least understood grands crus in the Côte de Nuits because it is also one of the ones that needs the longest ageing, but Allen would put it in the top ten grands crus of the Côte.

2001 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru, Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé (LW 87?)

Fine, good depth of colour, fine hue; some lovely fruit on the nose, but also a touch of volatile acidity masking the aromatics; juicy and bright on the palate, but the VA is both prickly, and masking the flavor. Dark fruit with florals, fine texture. With vigorous swirling this blows off a bit. Good mineral depth on the palate. Hard to tell if this is just an aberration.

‘Declassified’ by de Vogüé from the Musigny AOC it is entitled to, to 1er Cru, which is the next level down. The domaine does this for wine from young vines in order to protect the ‘Vieilles Vignes’ designation of their Musigny