On Monday 10th October the WING group met to taste 2005 Red Burgundy, led by Kim and Laurie.

2005 Red Burgundy has been feted since the outset, and as recently as last year was still scoring highest of all the 21st Century vintages (followed most closely by ’09, ’02 and – very unevenly – ’10). Initially thought to show a combination of ripeness and structure, the trouble-free vintage was likened to 2002 “but with more minerality”. Early estimates of maturity showed a drinking window, for the level of wines we are to taste (£20-£42), commonly centred on 2009-2013, but when that period arrived the wines still seemed firm and slightly closed. Now the wines are 11 years old and may have reached the start of their predicted peak. Is that so, or are do the wines still have time to go? More importantly do the wines give pleasure?

Here are my notes:

VOLNAY (Buffet)
Still very bright in colour, with a light nose of farmyard and plummy fruit. Palate is also light with a dashing redcurrant / raspberry acidity, but a rather fleshy plum note underneath the lifting acidity. I rather liked this, showing Volnay lightness of touch with some underlying richness, still not at peak I don’t think – but not far off…

This too was bright, but darker with a tinge of mature brown-ness to the rim.This was more pungent with dark pickled-onion and compost underneath a more ethereal floral hint. Palate is more savoury with a definite plum set of flavours and a tannic backbone. Still not quite ready(?) but good.

SAVIGNY-LÈS-BEAUNE (Rollin)                                               
This was faulty with a cork taint that was almost imperceptible on the first nose, but clear on the end-palate and taking over the nose with time. A pity, I had checked another bottle from the same batch only 10 days earlier – which, from memory, was quite similar to the previous wine but with slightly heavier tannins and spicy character and definitely not fully mature – though excellent with roast dinner!

SANTENAY 1er CRU CLOS ROUSSEAU (Potel)                   
This showed a meaty nose with floral hints too, though to my nose a little more rustic, but also more evolved scents… The structure is quite brawny with dark black fruit on the palate to give a quite tannic finish. Quite well balanced, pleasurable and nearly ready, but – to me – a little rustic.

Nose of black fruit with an initial dark brooding earthy tone. Dense palate with strong, but supple, tannins – an over-ripe plum hint among black fruits and a line of acidity. Balanced, long and very good (it is nearly twice the price of the average of the first four wines). I think this is young but the balance and depth makes it enjoyable now – still a couple of years from peak I reckon, but – for very different reasons – my favourite alongside the Volnay.

NUITS-SAINT-GEORGES (Jean Chauvenet)                         
This is dense, with farmyard blackberry and liquorice notes and a hard, inky note… The palate is all that too – firm with high acidity and recessed fruit leading to a dark chewy tannic finish. There is power and density to the wine which needs … 5 (?) years.

So quite an interesting and complex set of issues with these wines. First the maturity – the wines are showing signs of opening, none were too old but are not at their peak yet either,  IMO. Also notable is how uneven and diverse are styles and winemaking even allowing for already complicated village divergences.  Burgundy shows the subjectivity of wine to the highest degree….  and (apart from the corked example) all the wines had supporters. Even though the status of the vintage showed in the high class of the wines, the old adage of Burgundy is writ large – “unless you know what you’re getting you might get anything”!

Until next time…