A year ago, winded by the second week of January during which on some days there were no fewer than five different primeur burgundy tastings, I wrote to the British wine trade press pleading with UK merchants to stagger their tastings a bit. Did they all have to be squeezed into the same week? Or at least, could more of the tastings be on Monday or Friday?
This year the tasting diary is more crammed than ever:
Monday – 2 tastings
Today – 7 tastings
Wednesday – 6 tastings
Thursday – 4 tastings
Friday – 1 tasting
Madness! Thank heavens that at least Julia and I can share the load a bit. I already have notes on nearly 300 mainly-great burgundies from my week in the region in December and hope, transcription permitting, to publish our entire set of tasting notes on purple pages next week, even before my overview in the FT and free for all here on Saturday, Jan 20.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of tasting 2005 burgundies chez Howard Ripley and Genesis. I thought in general Ripley's reds were looking much more exciting than the whites, and was particularly impressed by the consistency of this vintage. It's by no means every year that Bourgogne Rouge tastes as generally good as it does in 2005 – and I was even impressed by some Bourgogne Passetoutgrains in my tastings in Burgundy, which takes some doing. This is all good news with a vintage in which prices have risen by an average of around 25 per cent by some calculations.
I was struck by this particular pair of delicious Bourgogne Rouges, both being sold in six packs by Howard Ripley. It seems to me that not only are they excellent in their own ways, but they would provide an excellent demonstration for anyone in any doubt about the differences between the typical silky, perfumed Côte de Beaune style (Darviot Perrin of Monthelie) and the much more upright, savoury, more concentrated wines of the Côte de Nuits (Robert Arnoux of Vosne-Romanée). Of course there are wide variations within areas as extensive as these two Côtes but I believe these two wines are worthy and typical representatives of each.
In fact both of these producers appear to be on top form in 2005, although it is difficult to think of a recent vintage in which Arnoux has disappointed.
Here in advance are my notes on these two particular wines.
Dom Darviot Perrin 2005 Bourgogne Rouge 16 Drink 2007-09
Very winning perfume – so Côte de Beaune! Sweet and gentle and just bursting with fruit. Tasting this wine is like crushing ripe, whole berries in the mouth. Charmingly fruity and apparently short term, although there is great persistence on the finish, and some fine tannins well hidden underneath.
Dom Robert Arnoux, Pinot Fin 2005 Bourgogne Rouge 16 Drink 2008-10
Much more 'manly' and savoury than the Darviot Perrin Bourgogne Rouge tasted immediately before it. Crackling texture, very fresh fruit. Lovely and round and yet very upright and crisp – excellent example of Côte de Nuits style. The fruit comes from vineyards between Nuits-St-Georges and Prémeaux apparently. Good territory in the hands of a master.
(Note please how misleading scores can be. These are not top scores but I put my hand on my heart and thoroughly recommend these wines at these prices.)
Unfortunately, as things stand at present, these wines are unlikely to be shipped before early 2008 because both producers make relatively reserved wines in the higher echelons and like to release everything together. This seems a bit of a shame to me, particularly as far as the Darviot Perrin is concerned - it's already so delicious. But it should not disappoint in 12 months' time; there is certainly a bit of fine tannin there as well as all that charm.
Ripley is charging, per six bottles in bond, £51 and £54 for the Darviot and Arnoux respectively. To this UK buyers will have to add excise duty (currently £15.50 per dozen bottles), then VAT at 17.5% and some delivery charge unless they order more than £600 worth of wine.
These wines are likely to be offered by many other retailers around the world. For the moment winesearcher identifies one other UK retailer for each of these wines, each charging £110 a dozen bottles, but I am sure more retailers worldwide will emerge before too long so am inserting the following links which I hope will be useful.