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Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews
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Independent reviews of some local and imported wines available in New Zealand, including earlier vintages.

BRIEF IMPRESSIONS OF SOME 2004 DROUHIN RED BURGUNDIES


In the latest Regional Wines & Spirits winemaker-series of tastings,  Raymond Chan presented a selection of the 2004 Drouhin red burgundies to Wairarapa winemakers.  Alana Estate in Martinborough was the venue,  on 14 December 2006.  

2004 was a unremarkable year for red burgundy (Decanter ***,  Wine Advocate 79 – 86,  Wine Spectator 85 – 89).  From our point of view as an emerging pinot-producing country,  the key thing about these modest-year French pinots is that they still smell of ripe red fruits.  There may be a little stalkiness on palate,  but the wines do not smell green or taste green,  as some unjustifiably be-medalled New Zealand pinot noirs in recent years have done.  

In contrast to the excitingly rich 2003 Drouhin red burgundies,  these 2004s are not for long-term cellaring.  They still illuminate the floral beauty and subtlety of pinot noir the grape,  however.  Drouhin’s style has always been understated,  putting the floral subtleties and delicacy of the variety first,  with oak and winemaker influences very much in the background.  This bracket of wines did not perhaps show the technical consistency of the best years chez Drouhin.

Administrative details for these wines are taken from the superb documentation Raymond presents with all his tastings,  or from my 2003 vintage Drouhin review (18 March '06).


PINOT NOIR

2004  Drouhin Beaune Greves
2004  Drouhin Bonnes-Mares
2004  Drouhin Chambertin
2004  Drouhin Charmes-Chambertin
2004  Drouhin Clos de la Roche
2004  Drouhin Clos de Vougeot
2004  Drouhin Echezeaux
  2004  Drouhin Grands-Echezeaux
2004  Drouhin Griotte-Chambertin
2004  Drouhin les Amoureuses
2004  Drouhin Musigny
2004  Drouhin Savigny-les-Beaune
2004  Drouhin Volnay Clos des Chenes


2004  Drouhin Griotte-Chambertin   17 ½ +  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $181   [ cork;  a Drouhin domaine wine;  c. 18 months oak;  Wine Direct the NZ agents;  www.drouhin.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  but like the Charmes,  well above halfway for depth of colour.  This is the 'wildest' of the three Chambertins,  not exactly bretty,  but it is gamey and dark-mushroomy,  even a hint of black truffles.  Palate has clear red cherry,  and even some suggestions of black cherry (one of the few),  and the savoury flavours persist attractively.  A little richer than the Charmes,  but not as pure.  Great food wine.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 12/06

2004  Drouhin Grands-Echezeaux   17 ½ +  ()
Vosne-Romanee Grand Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $238   [ cork;  a Drouhin domaine wine,  average vine age 25 – 30 years;  hand-harvested,  fermentation and cuvaison in open wooden vats 18 – 20 days;  c. 18 months in barrels understood to be about 1/3 new;  Wine Direct the NZ agents;  www.drouhin.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  below midway in depth.  This is one of the pure wines,  with beautiful varietal florals on red cherry fruit,  petite in size but very neat.  Palate has both cherry and blackboy fruit,  a little more juicy and riper than the Charmes,  but not quite as aromatic.  Cellar 5 – 12 years.  GK 12/06

2004  Drouhin Charmes-Chambertin   17 ½  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $146   [ cork;  c. 18 months oak;  Wine Direct the NZ agents;  www.drouhin.com ]
Medium ruby,  a typical European pinot noir colour,  yet one of the darker ones in the set.  Bouquet is complete pinot noir,  real boronia and lilac florals on aromatic cherry fruit,  beautiful purity,  highly varietal.  Palate has some juiciness and texture,  crunchy cherries,  oak extending but not dominating the flavour,  cherry to the finish,  a little acid,  but not stalky.  A medium-sized wine at best,  but well-proportioned.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 12/06

2004  Drouhin Bonnes-Mares   17 +  ()
Chambolle-Musigny Grand Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $238   [ cork;  a Drouhin domaine wine,  average vine age 25 – 30 years;  hand-harvested,  fermentation and cuvaison in open wooden vats;  c. 18 months in barrels understood to be about 1/3 new;  Wine Direct the NZ agents;  www.drouhin.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  in the three deepest.  Bouquet is complex,  with violets and boronia florals,  but also savoury / gamey / bretty at a level several tasters objected to.  Palate is one of the richest ones,  red and black cherries,  very aromatic on the gamey notes,  long-flavoured.  Some tasters thought the level of brett will shorten the cellar potential for this wine.  The Bonnes-Mares might have been the richest and finest in the set,  if it had been purer.  Cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 12/06

2004  Drouhin les Amoureuses   17 +  ()
Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $231   [ cork;  a Drouhin domaine wine;  c. 18 months in oak;  Wine Direct the NZ agents;  www.drouhin.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  one of the lightest.  A fragrant but different bouquet on this wine,  with lighter red fruits hinting at strawberry and raspberry,  tending new-world.  Palate is richer and riper than the bouquet suggests,  more satisfying than the Volnay or the Musigny,  but not as floral as the latter.  Elegant delicate wine,  a little acid,  to cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 12/06

2004  Drouhin Chambertin   17  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $246   [ cork;  c. 24 months in new oak;  Wine Direct the NZ agents;  www.drouhin.com ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  clearly the darkest wine in the set.  And initially opened,  it is the biggest bouquet too,  its eloquence amplified by academic VA,  which highlights  the cherry fruit rather than floral complexities.  Palate has good weight,  and seems bigger than the Charmes.  Many rated it their top wine.  For me,  there is also a stalky note creeping into the tail,  which detracted a little.  Could marry up in cellar,  and is probably the best cellaring prospect in the set,  5 – 15 years.  GK 12/06

2004  Drouhin Musigny   17  ()
Chambolle-Musigny Grand Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $262   [ cork;  a Drouhin domaine wine,  the vineyard adjoining Clos Vougeot,  average vine age 25 - 30 years;  hand-harvested,  c. 18 months in oak;  Wine Direct the NZ agents;  www.drouhin.com ]
Light pinot noir ruby,  one of the paler ones.  This is pinot noir at its most finessed,  fine and floral and very delicate,  the rose-like florals leading into red cherry fruit.  Palate is lighter than the top wines,  the faintest thought of stalkiness creeping up on the finish.  Lovely,  as far as it goes.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 12/06

2004  Drouhin Clos de Vougeot   16 ½ +  ()
Vougeot Grand Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $169   [ cork;  a Drouhin domaine wine,  Wine Direct the NZ agents;  www.drouhin.com ]
Rosy pinot noir ruby,  right in the middle for depth.  There is something Volnay-like about this,  just fragrant redfruits pinot noir,  not complex,  but with explicit varietal character,  light florals,  clear red cherry.  Palate is pure,  crisp,  another with a hint of stalkiness,  lightish.  Uncomplicated pleasing drinking,  once it mellows a little.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 12/06

2004  Drouhin Clos de la Roche   16 ½ +  ()
Morey-St Denis Grand Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $146   [ cork;  named for the limestone outcrop in the vineyard;  hand-harvested,  fermentation and cuvaison in open wooden vats 18 – 20 days;  c. 18 months in barrels understood to be about 1/3 new;  Wine Direct the NZ agents;  www.drouhin.com ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby,  the second lightest.  Like the Clos de Vougeot,  this is straightforward red cherry pinot noir.  There is a pleasant varietal bouquet hinting at florals,  and good red fruit on palate,  let down by some stalks to the finish.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 12/06

2004  Drouhin Volnay Clos des Chenes   16 ½  ()
Volnay Premier Cru,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $76   [ cork;  a Drouhin domaine wine,  Wine Direct the NZ agents;  www.drouhin.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  in the middle for depth,  but really quite light.  As Volnay so often is,  this is explicit redfruits pinot noir,  red cherries,  maybe some buddleia florals,  very pure.  Palate is exactly the same,  crisp like eating the fresh fruit,  not oaky,  faintly stalky,  eminently quaffable.  That's the rub with these 2004s,  they lack size and substance.  Cellar 5 – 8 years.  GK 12/06

2004  Drouhin Beaune Greves   16 +  ()
Beaune Premier Cru,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $61   [ cork;  a Drouhin domaine wine,  Wine Direct the NZ agents;  www.drouhin.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  the second darkest of the set.  This is one of the bigger bouquets,  but mainly because it is tending clumsy,  the older oak a bit varnishy.  Behind that is clear redfruits pinot.  Palate shows fair fruit,  nearly a red plums hint in the red cherry,  but tannins are obtrusive.  Straightforward sturdy pinot noir,  which should mellow in cellar 5 – 10 years.  GK 12/06

2004  Drouhin Echezeaux   16  ()
Vosne-Romanee Grand Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $150   [ cork;  a Drouhin domaine wine,  average vine age 25 – 30 years;  hand-harvested,  fermentation and cuvaison in open wooden vats 18 – 20 days;  c. 18 months in barrels understood to be about 1/3 new;  Wine Direct the NZ agents;  www.drouhin.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  midway in depth.  Unusually for Drouhin,  this wine opens a little reductive.  It needs splashy decanting.  Fruit smells and flavours are dulled down by the entrained sulphur,  and the wine is hard and short,  recognisably varietal,  but losing the magic of the variety.  The actual quantity of fruit is quite good.  It is not a hopeless case,  and should look better in five years.  Cellar to 10 years.  GK 12/06

2004  Drouhin Savigny-les-Beaune   15 ½  ()
Savigny-les-Beaune,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $42   [ cork;  Wine Direct the NZ agents;  www.drouhin.com ]
Light pinot noir ruby,  clearly the palest of the set.  Bouquet is light yet fragrant,  with almost a gamay-like simple sweet-pea fragrance on red fruits.  Palate is much lighter,  however,  simple red fruits more red currants than cherries,  light clean stalky and wholesome QDR pinot.  Cellar 3 – 5 years.  GK 12/06