2009 Burgundies: a first look

In the last several weeks I have had my first real look at 2009 burgundies in bottle.  Overall, I’m a bit disappointed given the hype that this vintage was going to be great.  Comparisons to the terrific, structured 2005 vintage that you may have heard are unwarranted in my opinion.  So far, the 2009s I have tasted remind me more of 2003, one of the hottest years in recent memory, which resulted in atypically ripe red burgundies.

I dipped my toe into the 2009 pool with a few bourgognes from Joseph Voillot and Dominique Gallois.  I found the wines to have a slight roastedness to the fruit flavors – not to the extent of full-on jamminess, but enough to give the red fruits a distinct cherry cough syrup flavor, which reminded me more of gamay than pinot noir, to be frank.  I would consider these two producers to be unexceptional if solid, so I didn’t worry about it too much.

A few weeks later I had the opportunity to taste a range of wines from Bouchard Pere et Fils, a large producer whose wines in the post-2000 period have been among the mainstays in my Burgundy collection.  While I found the wines to be lush, with a lot of fruit-forward deliciousness, I also found them to be a tad overripe, again with a roasted fruit character in almost all of the wines.  This was not severe enough to mar the higher-level bottlings, but this aspect was enough to make me decide that I would prefer to backfill 2005 red burgundies if I could find them at comparable prices to the 2009s.  That’s not to say there weren’t some terrific wines – in particular, the Vosne-Romanee Les Suchots 1er cru and the Beaune Vigne l’Enfant Jesus were gorgeous, complete wines, and some of the lower-priced bottlings like the Savigny-les-Beaune Les Lavieres and the Beaune Clos de la Mousse will provide lots of early-drinking pleasure for fans of opulent and lush pinot noirs.

As for the 2009 Bouchard whites, I was surprised to find them quite fresh, strikingly unlike the reds.  The white wines were restrained for the most part, leaning a shade toward greenness even, with good freshness and balance overall.  However, the wines don’t have the electricity of the 07 burgundy whites, or the tensile acidity of other vintages like 2008 that may appeal to die-hard burgophiles.

My impressions here are based on a very limited sample of course, but based on these first tastes I believe that in the long run, 2009 will be viewed as a good vintage for both reds and whites, but not a great vintage to rival 2005 as much of the early buzz for this vintage claimed.  For the reds, look to them for pleasurably lush early drinking, but not freshness or long age; for the whites, ageability is more promising, but the greater and perhaps unsolved problem of premature oxidation in burgundy whites may render the point moot for many buyers.

Here are my full tasting notes below.  Cheers to all!  -Alan

  • 2009 Dominique Gallois Bourgogne– France, Burgundy, Bourgogne (8/21/2011)Dark – more purple than ruby. A bit spicy and rustic. Ok, but wouldn’t buy again. (85 points)
  • 2009 Domaine Joseph Voillot Bourgogne Vieilles Vignes– France, Burgundy, Bourgogne (8/15/2011)A decent bourgogne, but the slightly roasted character to the fruit worries me a bit about this vintage overall. The extreme ripeness results in cherry cough syrup flavors, that make me think more of gamay than classic Burgundian pinot noir. This is lush and approachable, but unlikely to age well in my estimation. Not a big flaw for a bourgogne, but makes me wonder about the village, 1er cru and grand cru levels in 09. (87 points)
  • 2009 Bouchard Père et Fils Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Les Lavières– France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru (9/14/2011)Nose a bit estery at first, but comes around with air. Perfumed and pretty, yet rustic with a slight roasty sense. Palate is medium dense, fairly velvety, and fuller feeling than you might expect from a Savigny. Really quite perfumed for the appellation. 88-89+ (89 points)
  • 2009 Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune 1er Cru Clos de la Mousse– France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Beaune 1er Cru (9/14/2011)Has a funky, flinty earthy aspect to the nose, with slightly roasted red fruit and sweet oak apparent as well. As it opens up, the nose gets quite pretty, if on the ripe side. On the palate, shows the roasted character. Concentrated, but a shade overripe. However, there’s a lot of deliciousness here. 90, pushing 91. (90 points)
  • 2009 Bouchard Père et Fils Chambolle-Musigny– France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambolle-Musigny (9/14/2011)A slightly stinky mineral funk on the nose dominates over sweet fruit underneath. Very smooth on the palate, with some unctuousness but also apparent acidity. Feels a little light. Decent. Arguably better on the palate than the Savigny Lavieres, but nothing more than decent for a Chambolle village wine. (87 points)
  • 2009 Bouchard Père et Fils Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Cailles– France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru (9/14/2011)Much like other wines in the range, this is opulently tasty. Fairly dense, smooth (relatively for an NSG) if less fine than some of the other wines. Pretty but not complex at this point, but very good NSG 1er cru nonetheless; enjoyable and about worth the asking price.
  • 2009 Bouchard Père et Fils Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots– France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru (9/14/2011)More power immediately apparent on the nose than the Savigny Lavieres and the Chambolle village. Exotic spice leads the way on the powerful but balanced nose. A touch of cola in the ripeness here too. Sweet oak and fruit show in a dense and textured palate. Easily the most complete wine of the tasting so far. Pretty, structured but balanced. With air, a hint of an orange blossom not develops on the nose to add interest to the increasingly perfumed nose. 92-93+ (93 points)
  • 2009 Bouchard Père et Fils Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Cazetiers– France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru (9/14/2011)A dark, deeper nose than the Suchots; brooding rather than perfumed; portends power. Oak shows on the slightly airy alcoholic nose as well. Palate is surprisingly smooth, has prettiness – more harmonized than the early wines in the tasting. Closer to the Suchots in that it has a harmony and sense of completeness, but in a way lacks impact for me – doesn’t have a distinctiveness or defining characteristic. A solid 1er cru Gevrey though. With air, the high degree of ripeness shows a faint citrus blossom note like the Suchots or even a Rhys – an indication of the almost New World style of this vintage. 92+ (92 points)
  • 2009 Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune 1er Cru Grèves Vigne de L’Enfant Jesus– France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Beaune 1er Cru (9/14/2011)Affectionately called the “Baby J” by the company rep pouring this, definitely has the same very ripe and alcoholic profile to the nose, as well as powerful dark fruit and some mineral funk in the expressive and perfumed nose. Very smooth, with opulent sweet fruit on the palate. A very together wine, a pretty Enfant Jesus, but the same slightly overripe, very California feel here nags at me. Delicious but not my favorite style; has structure to age somewhat. I prefer the style of the more balanced 2005 as far as rich vintages go. 93 (93 points)
  • 2009 Bouchard Père et Fils Corton-Le Corton– France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton Grand Cru (9/14/2011)Nose is perfumed and has power; most structured of all of these wines perhaps. Feels less California than some of the wines in the range. A very pretty wine, very smooth and balanced, but I worry that these wines will be a bit simple. Pleasurable for sure, for those who enjoy hedonistic wines. I prefer the Vigne l’Enfant Jesus as a bit more perfumed and pretty, which is not the way I go in all vintages. 92-93 (92 points)
  • 2009 Bouchard Père et Fils Volnay 1er Cru Caillerets Ancienne Cuvée Carnot– France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Volnay 1er Cru (9/14/2011)Shows a lot of ripeness, perhaps overripe. A perfumed wine with a touch of smoky burnt quality to it. Very Volnay, lighter on the palate than many of the other wines in the range, with a little sweetness to the fruit. I feel a bit of alcoholic burn on the palate upfront, but the sweet fruit manages to linger on the finish. Quite decent for the price, but a bit overripe for me. 91-92+ if you like the style, but fans of taut, acid-laden wines may want to look elsewhere. (91 points)
  • 2009 Bouchard Père et Fils Chassagne-Montrachet– France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet (9/14/2011)Clean, crisp, light nose – leaning toward greenness; almost feels like a sauvignon blanc more than a chardonnay. This feeling is not borne out on the palate, but this is light and somewhat crisp nonetheless – I would not have guessed this to be Chassagne if served this blind; like a Meursault, almost. 87-88 (87 points)
  • 2009 Bouchard Père et Fils Meursault– France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault (9/14/2011)Surprisingly fresh considering how ripe the 09 reds are; controlled ripeness, good acidity. Slightly leans toward green but a good balance here. 88-89 (88 points)
  • 2009 Bouchard Père et Fils Meursault 1er Cru Charmes– France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault 1er Cru (9/14/2011)More opulent than the village Meursault, with some butteriness on the nose and palate. Has some herbal/green-leaning characteristics, not just a ripe butter bomb. I like this a lot. 91-92 (91 points)
  • 2009 Bouchard Père et Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrières– France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault 1er Cru (9/14/2011)Not as rich as the Charmes, more restrained. Don’t quite like it as much as the Charmes.
  • 2009 Bouchard Père et Fils Corton-Charlemagne– France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru (9/14/2011)Like the other whites in the Bouchard range, this Corton Charlemagne is pretty, crisp, and not only not showing nearly as (over)ripe as the 09 reds, but actually a shade on the side of unripeness. Fresh, but not as good as the 07s. 92-93 (92 points)

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