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

By way of preamble,  this tasting served to highlight the notion that for those who presume to judge wine,  or write about wine in New Zealand,  a duty that befalls them is to constantly monitor wine achievements and wine quality from the classic wine areas of the world.  And further,  having tasted such wines it is then important to monitor what internationally recognised wine authorities have to say about the wines,  and how they score them.  This means people such as Stephen Spurrier,  Jancis Robinson and John Livingstone-Learmonth (for syrah) in the United Kingdom,  and in the United States Robert Parker sensu stricto for Bordeaux and the Rhone,  and James Molesworth too for Bordeaux.  Neglecting to takes these steps invariably results in parochialism in both wine assessment and wine scoring,  with typically,  local wines being vastly over-praised.  One needs only to look at Australia,  and the often-bizarre wine assessments that emerged from that extraordinarily parochial country particularly in the 1980s and 1990s,  to confirm this proposition.  It is something we in New Zealand should strive to avoid,  the moreso because we seek to make wine exports an important and growing part of the industry.

Accordingly therefore,  when Auckland wine-men Ken Moon aided and abetted by Graeme Cavanagh offer a tasting of the 2005 red burgundies in their on-going library tasting series,  and one reflects that some English authorities consider that 2005 is the first year in Burgundy to compare with the post-war absolute benchmark-vintage 1978,  and one further considers that pinot noir is by far New Zealand's most important red wine export variety,  then winewriters and wine judges should be conspicuous by their presence at such a tasting.  One can never tune up too much on pinot noir.  But sadly,  this was not the case ...

Turning to the wines,  the first thing to say about them is that the two grand cru wines were the lightest of the 12 in colour.  Contrary to received opinion in red wine assessment,  colour is rarely a good index of quality,  in pinot noir or burgundy.  Since however neither were among the top wines,  the picture immediately becomes a little clouded,  but it is worth emphasising that quality in pinot noir is measured by the quality,  florality and complexity of bouquet first,  and then by flavour,  texture and length of fruit on palate.  In this tasting the least wine was the fourth darkest wine,  and the darkest wine of all came in as next to bottom.

The second point of interest is how different this table of 12 wines was from 12 glasses of good 2005 New Zealand pinot noir.  The French wines have an extra dimension to them which one may call a savoury quality,  one reminiscent of cooked portobello mushrooms and fine casseroles.  I am not referring to brett complexity,  here.  Twelve quality 2005 New Zealand pinots would have a more singular fruit quality,  greater apparent purity of fruit on the one hand,  but less bouquet and palate enticement (in this mouth-watering savoury sense) on the other,  and certainly less body and palate length.  British wine writers do often comment on this simplicity of New Zealand pinot,  notwithstanding its delightful varietal fruit quality and purity,  and to a degree they have a point which we should not dismiss.  Correlated with this is the observation that a number of these 2005 red burgundies are still coming together,  whereas 12 samples of 2005 New Zealand pinot noir would be mostly past their prime.  Both vine age and cropping rate are pivotal to this issue.

In the following notes,  the price given is the current wine-searcher international valuation expressed in New Zealand dollars,  to which must be added the cost of bringing the wine to New Zealand,  duty etc.


2005  Domaine J J Confuron Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Fleurieres
2005  Domaine Dugat-Py Gevrey-Chambertin Coeur de Roy Tres Vieilles Vignes Non-Filtré
2005  Domaine Sylvie Esmonin Clos Saint-Jacques
2005  Domaine Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin Les Goulots Vieille Vigne
2005  Domaine Geantet-Pansiot Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes
2005  Domaine Jean Grivot Nuits-Saint-Georges Aux Boudots
  2005  Domaine A F Gros Chambolle-Musigny
2005  Domaine Jayer-Gilles Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Hauts Poirets
2005  Domaine Lucien de Moines Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes
2005  Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret Echezeaux
2005  Domaine Rousseau Clos de la Roche
2005  Domaine de Vogue Chambolle-Musigny

2005  Domaine Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin Les Goulots Vieille Vigne   18 ½ +  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $298   [ cork 48mm;  vines 49 years old;  new oak never more than 20%;  not fined or filtered;  www.burgundy-report.com/autumn-2003/profile-domaine-fourrier-gevrey-chambertin ]
Pinot noir ruby,  below midway in depth.  Bouquet epitomises the concept of florality in pinot noir,  violets,  darkest roses and boronia all pouring from the glass,  in red and black cherry fruit.  There is also a wonderful spicy complexity to which cedary oak contributes,  yet it is scarcely identifiable.  Flavours in mouth are potentially velvety,  lovely texture,  good length,  with complex fruit in which the florals persist in mouth,  the oak still to meld in.  Lovely modern wine to cellar 5 – 15 years,  maybe longer.  GK 04/15

2005  Domaine Geantet-Pansiot Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes   18 ½  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $84   [ cork 49mm;  new oak 30%;  www.geantetpansiot.com ]
Classic pinot noir ruby,  right in the middle for depth.  Bouquet is nearly as floral as the Goulots,  wonderful red and black cherry pinot fruit,  with slightly more new oak apparent.  There is a purity to the fruit and oak here reminiscent of some top Individual Vineyard Mt Difficulty wines,  but the savoury play of fruit on palate is longer and more complex.  This too is squeaky-clean modern wine,  to cellar 5 – 20 years.  GK 04/15

2005  Domaine Jean Grivot Nuits-Saint-Georges Aux Boudots   18  ()
Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $84   [ cork 49mm;  vines 40 or more years old,  planted at 11,000 vines per hectare;  5% whole bunch;  ratio of new oak varies with the appellation,  30% or more for premiers crus;  www.domainegrivot.fr ]
Slightly older darkish pinot ruby,  as if more oak influenced,  the third deepest.  There is a thought of leafyness initially,  but this is a wine that expands in the glass with time.  There is rich red cherry fruit and rather a lot of potentially cedary oak,  not yet melded-in.  Flavours include savoury red and black cherry fruit with considerable brown mushroom,  and this clear extra savoury dimension,  perhaps in this instance including an academic level of brett.  Still a baby,  and deceptively rich,  a wine to cellar 10 – 20 years.  GK 04/15

2005  Domaine Dugat-Py Gevrey-Chambertin Coeur de Roy Tres Vieilles Vignes Non-Filtré    17 ½ +  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $192   [ cork 49mm;  average vine age 65 years,  all organic;  new oak percentage varies with appellation,  may be up to 80 – 100% for premiers and grands crus,  and 16 – 18 months;  no website found. ]
Very deep for pinot noir,  more syrah in colour,  the second deepest wine.  Bouquet also shows suggestions of syrah character,  clearly spicy rather than floral,  lifted,  complex.  Flavours are more black cherry,  a lot of oak just in balance,  very savoury,  great length.  This will be dramatically different and a finer wine once it has crusted in bottle.  Real cellar wine,  for 10 – 25 years maybe,  perhaps underestimated here.  GK 04/15

2005  Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret Echezeaux    17 ½  ()
Vosne-Romanée Grand Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $294   [ cork 52mm;  c.16 months in barrel,  up to 75% new oak;  www.mongeard.com ]
Older ruby and garnet,  the lightest wine of the 12.  Bouquet is very much in the ethereal Chambolle-Musigny camp,  showing heightened florality much lighter than the Goulots,  more English tea roses and suggestions of buddleia and sweet peas in style.  Palate is red fruits only,  maybe a thought of stalks firming the wine up,  good but not exemplary richness and length on palate.  A clear illustration of the (Allen Meadows) concept 'pinosity'.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 04/15

2005  Domaine Lucien de Moines Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes   17 +  ()
Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $158   [ cork 51mm;  more a negociant-eleveur than a grower,  only a barrel or two of each appellation;  emphasis on maturing wine on the lees;  no filtration;  www.lucienlemoine.com ]
Ruby and some garnet,  right in the middle for depth.  Bouquet is red cherry pinot,  but there is just a hint of something plainer I can't put my finger on.  Fruit richness in mouth is well ahead of the A F Gros,  all red fruits,  quite a lot of new oak,  good mouthfeel,  not yet totally harmonised.  The doubtful note on bouquet may simply reflect a wine still in awkward adolescence,  so it could well score higher in five years.  Cellar 5 – 15  years.  GK 04/15

2005  Domaine A F Gros Chambolle-Musigny   17  ()
Chambolle-Musigny,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $102   [ cork 45mm;  the 'booklet' on the website is slow to load,  and once achieved,  has little info specific to each wine,  and no technical content,  coupled with much charm;  www.af-gros.com ]
Ruby and garnet,  one of the lighter wines,  clearly below midway.  Bouquet is lovely,  a sweet pink-roses florality on red cherry fruit,  subtle oak,  and again the savoury dimension.  Flavours are a size smaller,  however,  a clear stalks quality as if a whole-bunch component in fermentation,  the oak and stalks interacting negatively to make the wine seem short.  The bouquet is a delight,  though,  again real 'pinosity'.  Cellar 3 – 12 years.  GK 04/15

2005  Domaine Jayer-Gilles Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Hauts Poirets   17  ()
Nuits-Saint-Georges,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $152   [ cork 55mm;  average age of vines 50 years,  planted at 10,000 vines per hectare;  c.18 months in barrel,  up to 100% new in years like 2005;  no fining or filtration;  www.lechaiprive.com ]
Model pinot noir ruby,  scarcely any hint of age (in the sense of garnet) showing.  Bouquet reflects a wine to be taken very seriously,  at this stage showing a lot of new oak,  with fair fruit but you can't tell much about it.   Flavours are oaky too,  but there is good richness of cherry pinot with some darker shades to it underneath,  no florality as such,  but the potential to open up with time.  Seems tight now,  on the oak,  and hard to read.  Cellar 10 – 20 years,  noting the exceptional corks.  GK 04/15

2005  Domaine Rousseau Clos de la Roche   17  ()
Morey-Saint-Denis Grand Cru,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $520   [ cork 50mm;  some whole-bunches in the fermentation;  up to 22 months in one third new oak;  www.domaine-rousseau.com ]
Lighter ruby and garnet,  the second to lightest.  Bouquet is lightly floral,  and clearly oak-affected,  the oak masking the fruit in this bottle.  Flavours in mouth are fractionally riper than the de Vogue,  but the oak load is greater,  making the wine seem short and tannic at this stage.  Actual fruit richness is quite good,  so this is another wine in the set which may look better with more evolution in bottle,  coupled with some softening of the tannins.  Worth noting I rated this wine 19 in Nov 2008,  noting it as 'wonderfully succulent',  and others have marked it similarly.  This seems a very different bottle.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 04/15

2005  Domaine de Vogue Chambolle-Musigny   16 ½ +  ()
Chambolle-Musigny,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $240   [ cork 49mm;  average vine age over 30 years;  includes some premier cru components;  not much info on this site,  nothing better found;  www.dreyfusashby.com/wine.php? ]
Lighter ruby and garnet,  the third to lightest wine.  Bouquet is beautifully floral,  English tea-roses again,  seemingly a hint of chaptalising,  very Chambolle-Musigny.  Palate is less,  another wine suggesting whole-bunch fermentation,  clear stalks and a shortening of apparent fruit length,  even though the amount of fruit is in fact quite good.  The level of oak exacerbates the stalks here,  too.  Cellar 3 – 12 years.  This is the kind of burgundy which makes many New Zealand pinot noirs look both remarkably like the real thing,  and great value besides.  GK 04/15

2005  Domaine Sylvie Esmonin Clos Saint-Jacques   15  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $346   [ cork 50mm;  80% whole bunches in the ferment;  up to 80% new barrels;  no website found. ]
Deep ruby and garnet,  the darkest wine.  One sniff of the pruney,  malty,  glacé figs aroma and this is pinot noir from Langhorne Creek,  not Burgundy,  hopelessly over-ripe,  and showing a trace of brett.  Flavour adds much new oak,  and caramel.  There is no hint of florality,  no suggestion of cherry fruit or even plum,  even though plum in pinot noir normally presages sur-maturité.  Within its own remarkably rich parameters it is clean and well made apart from the tannin load,  it is far more alcoholic than the label indicates,  but this bottle (at least) has little in common with fine burgundy.  Again,  this wine has earned high praise elsewhere.  Cellar 10 – 25 years,  as such.  GK 04/15

2005  Domaine J J Confuron Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Fleurieres    13  ()
Nuits-Saint-Georges,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $54   [ cork 49mm;  organic viticulture;  whole bunch only in ripest years,  up to 50% new oak even in village wines;  no website found. ]
Rich ruby,  well above midway.  The aroma is hopelessly old-fashioned,  a sulphide-laden wine already complexed to mercaptan,  so essentially irretrievable by decanting / aeration.  Apart from brett nothing else can be deciphered on bouquet.  The reduced sulphurs make the wine bitter in mouth,  even though there is reasonably rich fruit.  There is even more oak,  and an enormous tannin load,  so the nett impression is tarry.  This has nothing to do with fine or modern burgundy,  and is not worth cellaring.  GK 04/15