Yesterday we (self + Xina) attended a special tasting in the notorious
Society of Tastevins, Helsingborg Charter. The theme was originally Old
Burgs, it had then been re-named old Pinots - but I´ll stick to the old
The MC is a guy who squanderd his family fortunes in the 70´s, buying
Bourgogne, which at the time was fairly cheap and in low esteem. He
continues buying in auctions etc. According to himself, he drinks old
Bourgognes about twice a week, which has not made him richwer, but decidedly
happier; also, apparently, his wife refuses to drink any Burg less than 20
years old ...
In his presentation he repeatedly referred to a US commentator, name of
Barker, Narker, Porker, or similar - according to whom any Burg, including
the Grand Crus, should be drunk between 8 and 12 ys old. To stretch it,
maybe 15 years. But rather 8-12 ys. Including GC.
The MC , to put it mildly, disagreed. After the tasting, so did I.
First flight, pinot-dominated champagnes:
1. Veuve Cliquot ordinaire.
[N] Citrus, pinot, steel
[P] Acidity, a little bitterness.
Overall impression: A glimpse of light, then all is, again, darkness
2. Basserat de Bellefon Rosé 1964
[C] Ripe apricot
[N] Intense, madeira like, root vegetables, bread
[P] Very intense and fresh acidity, an attack of sweetness, possibly coffe
Overall impression: Two bottles were opened, and the difference was
remarkable, the other being much fruitier and with breadth on palate
3. Same as 1.), only 40-50 years older ... from a magnum
[C] Rind of oranges, or bitter oranges
[N] Chocolate, wood (birch?), copying fluid, leather
[P] Apples, citrus, grape fruit, overripe fruits
Overall impression: A splendid reason for forgetting a bottle of VC
somewhere in the cellar, and finding it 40 years later ...
1. Beaune 1er Cru Greve (Maillard) 2001
[N] Raspberries, strawberries, cold cuts, smoke
[P] Oakey tannins, good fresh acidity
Overall impression: In any other circumstance, I´d have said this was a good
one to lay down for a few years
2. 1971 NStG 1er Cru Nuit-Les Pruliers (Court)
[C] Light brick
[N] A moving target! A panoply of smells: mussel shells, iodine and sea
spray, meatiness, smoked cold cuts, cow stable, wood mushrooms ..
[P] Immensely forceful, youthful and exuberant, very muscular with tannines
and fresh acidity, ended on notes of bitter chocolate
Overall impression: My favorite. No way would I have expected thsi to be a
wine more than 30 years old. No way!
3. 1973 Clos Vougeot (Gautiére)
[C] Darker than 2.)
[N] Cow stable or barnyard, chocolate, dried fruit, dried venison, bitter
[P] Spicy, cummin (caraway), fresh acidity
Overall impression: Very pleasant wine, which many thought the best in the
4. 1961 Volnay (Guilhem) from magnum
[N] Madeira, or sherry, leather
[P] Attack of sweetness, acidity, a breadth of tastes but very hard to
Overall impression: While Xina was very pleased with this wine, it was the
one I liked the least. I think I miss something here.
5. 1957 Bonnes Mares (Givelet)
[N] Low intensity, smoke, cream, fudge
[P] Intense sweetness, acidity, herbs (thyme), earthiness, great persistance
ending on creaminess. Elegant.
Overall impresion: This wine is _close_to_50_years_old!! 8-12 years? I,
don´t, think, so.
As an extra, we were offered a very rare treat:
1929 Santenay (Grivot)
[C] Very dark, close to black, turbid
[N] Acidity, barnyard, sea spray
[P] Attack of fine-limbed tannines, bitter cherries and cherry pits
Of course, questions were asked. Like, what about corked wines? Answer: less
than in modern wines. Beware re-corked bottles. Frequency of corked bottles
in these old ones according to MC about 5 %, modern bottles perhaps 10 %.
MC claimed that the bad thing was that in the 70´s, old low-yield clones
were replaced with high-yield ones - high-yield clones that are then by
green-harvest etc made to yield less. Quoth he: therefore modern Burgs will
not hold like these old ones, they will not develop for so long (various
maledictions concerning over-oaked wines, catering to immature tastes, use
of potassium, etc, is deleted for reasons of propriety).
Question asked: So then, Mr Norker may be right about the 8-12 years?
This question was not answered, except the MC darkly hinting that he had a
deep cellar with lots of other old bottles.
After this tasting, I am leaning towards the opinion that old Burgs never
die, and they hardly fade away ...
Disclaimer: All opinions except the taste notes are the opinions of the MC
or the persons making questions, where not explicitly stated.
Any copyright belonging to Mr Barker is the property of said person.
- posted 16 years ago