Thursday, May 14, 2009

Four Red Burgundies from 2005

I promise to move on from Pinot Noir for a while after this. There are still a few 2005 Burgundies floating around the New Orleans area and I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to taste three from Louis Jadot and one from Domaine Newman.
I find the whites from Jadot, especially the upper end selections, unexciting and a bit rough around the edges. Reds offer much more pleasure even though they sometimes exhibit more tannin and structure than the fruit can support, at least in their youth.
Chris Newman, an American, lives in Beaune and returns home to New Orleans regularly for an extended stay around Mardi Gras. For years, his wines suffered from inconsistency, but lately they are much more enjoyable and reliable. He produces some of the best value Grand Cru Burgundy on the planet. Those of us who know him, smiled more naturally when tasting over the last five or six years and cheer him on for future success.
2005 received lots of hype as yet another 'vintage of the century.' Portland, Oregon worships local first and the Burgundy presence there dims in comparison to Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. Tasting a few 2005's with a bit of time in bottle was a nice treat. I found the 2003 vintage a bit overdone, huge amounts of fruit, and tannin too - perhaps too much. The balance of the 2002 reds appealed to me, and I think the 2005's offer more of the same, although they are generally bigger and may not age as well.
Jadot Savigny-Les-Beaune Guettes 2005 - Savigny, from the southern half of Burgundy, shows plush fruit in general, medium-body, and early accessibility. It is one of my favorite villages in the Cote d'Or for those factors and good value, although value and Burgundy rarely go hand in hand anymore. The 2005 from Jadot featured pretty, juicy, red fruit as one should expect from Savigny. Hints of deeper complexity exist, but the showpiece here is clearly the bright fruit. Guettes is a Premier Cru vineyard site and I find those wines slightly darker than other Savignys with more weight, muscle, and earth tones; the Jadot fit these to a tee. Not riveting, but well done. Importer - Kobrand $35-$40
Jadot Nuits-St-George 2005 - This village in the northern half of Burgundy often is considered to be one of the biggest, chewiest styles around. This version is full of attention getting grip and tannin, but good fruit balances it nicely. The palate is lively and I find this to be a textbook example of Nuits profile; again, well done but not riveting. However, if you ever wondered what Nuits gives you that other villages don't, try this and the Savigny, you will understand well. $36-$42
Jadot Gevrey Chambertin 2005 - The wines from Gevrey can be big and intense or more silky and supple. Unfortunately you must know the producer, true with Pinot Noir in general and Burgundy especially, to have a good idea of style before opening. This bottling toed the line between the extremes. Earth showed up on the nose, with a hint of tar. The fruit makes enough of a statement that balance became a word I repeated again and again. Clearly the most compelling Jadot of the day. Bravo. $37-$44
Domaine Newman Beaune Clos des Avaux 2005 - More often than not the wines emanating from the village of Beaune have very minerally palates and I find them challenging. The fruit tends toward the lighter, red berry end of the spectrum but the intense mineral structure sometimes makes them taste metallic to me. That being said, when they are good, they are lots of fun. This is the best Avaux from Newman yet. The fruit dances on the tongue and the minerality appears as a spice accent rather than a tongue drying grip. The sheer naturalness of the wine appealed to me more than anything else and I found myself wishing for a bottle, a roast chicken, some friends, and a quiet spot in a park. Delicious. Importer - Various, Wines Unlimited in Louisiana. $45-$55

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