Tim Hart hosted an interesting tasting at his eponymous Nottingham restaurant on Thursday 31st March. The theme was “White Burgundy – is it worth it?” and a tasting of 8 wines was followed by a three course supper and two more wines.

A very convivial, pleasurable and interesting evening centred on four pairs of wines tasted blind – each pair comprising a famous white Burgundy ( Chablis – Puligny – Chassagne  – Mersault) and a New World Chardonnay. To be fair Tim had selected quite Burgundian examples – nothing too oaky, sweet or rich… although that tendency might help distinguish the wines..

Here are my Notes:

Chablis 1er Cru Beauroy 2013 (Laurent Tribut)   v
Uco Valley (Arg.) Chardonnay 2014 (Riccitelli).
The first wine had a heavy nose(both in the sense of slowness emerging and then heavy flavours) and some saline and mineral notes. The palate has quite ripe fruit (peach?) with a lemony citrus acidity – giving warmth and length.
Wine B had a more open nose, seemingly more evolved with clear citrus, Palate shows hints of burnt nuts, a sweetish caramel note and some oak tinge, rounder and less dry.
Wine A was the Burgundy, Wine B the New World!

Puligny Montrachet 2013 (Boillot) v 
Santa Barbara Chardonnay (Calif.) 2013 (Au Bon Climat).
Wine C had a very vegetal nose with a sweet fruit hint underneath. Palate has a long acid line, but the fruit is forward and slightly sweet and the finish slightly tapered off.
Wine D had an open nose with wood notes, but palate is slightly drier and longer and a more enduring finish.
The closest pair, I thought, but Wine C was Californian and Wine D – Burgundy.

Chassagne Montractet 1er Cru Les Blanchotes Dessus 2013 (Coffinet Duvernay)  v 
Tokara Reserve Chardonnay 2012 (Stellenbosch, SA).
Wine E has a light nervy nose with a hint of greengage, with a lifted lean clean palate, with great length and subtlety… very pleasing.
Wine F starts with bready, yeast and nut pungency. Palate is rather big, with a heavy earthy note and a soft vanilla-accented finish. Warm (both spice and alcohol) and a little coarse.
Wine E was – of course – Burgundy, and Wine F New World.

Mersault Les Tessons 2010 (Bouzereau) v 
Hunting Hill Chardonnay 2009 (Kumeu River, NZ).
Open nose with a quite soft, and slightly exotic, fruit on Wine G, very New World in style. Sweetish tinged palate with the fruit echoing the nose.
Wine G has lemon citrus with stoney and melon hints on the nose, palate is very ripe but with a long citric acid line – takes some time but then balanced, long and satisfying.
G was NZ and H was Burgundy, of course…

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After the tasting and before the wines were revealed we were asked to fill in a sheet of guesses as to which of each pair was which: New World or Burgundy. 16 people (nearly a quarter of those present) got each pair correct – of which, I am proud to say, I was one. Although some pairs were harder than others. In the end I found two factors guided me – one was: (ignoring everything else) which wine was drier? The other (in all cases giving the same answer): which do I prefer?  The drier / preferred wine is then the Burgundy! It worked on this occasion! Although I wasn’t the one pulled from the hat to win the prize!

We then proceeded to a three course supper, and I kept a little of each wine to accompany the food. They all improved a little in that context but most notably the Mersault, though that may be time more than food. That wine and the very first – the Chablis, were marginally my favourites, but all 8 were very good to excellent.

With the food, there followed a Macon Uchizy (Talmard) 2013 with a first course (root vegetable salad or salmon) which is a very acceptable wine with good food-friendly acidity but after the preceding offerings seemed a little simple. Then an Argentinian Pinot Noir 2014 (Gougenheim), which had the lightness and fruit to follow on from all the Chardonnay but not enough depth to cope well with a lovely Guinea Fowl and mushroom / spelt risotto. For me, the gamey hint of the meat and the earthy mushroom flavours would have welcomed something with some earthy or vegetal  notes – a Chinon or a Douro perhaps?

But this is a very minor cavil following a exceptional evening… Thanks so much to Tim Hart…

I’m looking forward to the next one >>>>

The next tasting is on a Tuesday – 10th May, when Soave flagship winemaker Andrea Pieropan will present the Estate’s Wines.

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Although famous for Soave (there are several with at least 2 single vineyard wines) the Estate makes a sparkling Rosé, a dried grape sweet wine and a basic and Amorone Valpolicella. I don’t know what we will taste but I’m confident there will be a couple of reds among the wines. An attractive opportunity! See you there?

Until soon…

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