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

Circumstances of and Conclusion for this Tasting:
In September 2015 I took two of my Library Tastings to Central Otago,  with the encouragement of Blair Walter of Felton Road winery,  Antony Worch of Alexandra Vintners,  and the staff of Central Otago Winemakers Association and Central Otago Pinot Noir Ltd (COWA and COPNL).  The subject areas were the 2005 vintage in Burgundy for the serious tasting,  and for the other a more whimsical look back at the 1986 vintage for chardonnay,  in Australasia.

While in Otago,  I was fortunate enough to share in a tasting of some pinot noirs Blair Walter had recently accumulated,  as part of his ongoing study programme.  They included wines which so illuminated the 2005 pinot noirs,  I have simply combined the two tastings into this one review.  

For the 2005s,  a dozen wines can only hint at the totality of the vintage.  But having regard to the lofty reputation of the vintage,  this dozen were not a revelation.  The wines seemed still very youthful,  but even allowing for that,  they seemed too firm and too tannic.  Would they in the future easily achieve the lovely expressions of 'pinot noir' the wine,  or burgundy the winestyle,  which we have been led to expect,  tasters wondered.  Has the vintage been over-praised,  therefore,  was the question.  The first step towards answering that will hopefully be to present a second dozen,  next year.  Meanwhile,  further comment is included in the wine reviews below.

The Invitation,  and background information for the Tasting:
Burgundy is still the home of the finest pinot noirs on earth.  And in recent years most agree that the 2005s are the  finest wines from that district in our lifetime.

The Quality of the 2005 Vintage:
Jasper Morris,  MW,  in the now 'standard text' Inside Burgundy,  says:  For years I used to discuss the potential of a good new red burgundy vintage with Dominique Lafon,  and we would say 'yes, that's good, but not as good as 1978'.  However there was no such question over 2005 – clearly of greater potential than 1978 or anything else since – or indeed any vintage for many years before. Possibly 1959 ? The reds will be magnificent over the long term.

Elsewhere Tim Atkin MW wrote an article for the The Guardian titled:  Is 2005 the best ever year for Burgundy?,  and quoted Morris as saying:  "This is the most uniformly successful vintage I have seen in my career."  Across the water,  the Wine Advocate (R. Parker) vintage chart rates the Cote de Nuits 98 and Tannic,  the Cote de Beaune 96 and Tannic.  No other vintage in the span covered (from 1970) compares.  Wine Spectator is similar.

There seem few if any voices dissenting from these evaluations.  Jancis Robinson in an article on her website titled:  Burgundy 2005 - background to the vintage,  says:  The 2005 summer was quite exceptionally dry but the vines coped well ... Temperatures and sunshine hours on the other hand were generally lower than average ... so 2005 was no repeat of the heatwave vintage of 2003.  Thanks to the lack of water, the grapes may have been pea-sized with thick skins full of flavour, tannin and colour, but for most red wines anyway, yields were relatively respectable. Domaine Armand Rousseau managed an average of just over 40 hl/ha [ 5.2 t/ha = 2.1 t/ac ] which seems pretty general for Gevrey-Chambertin. "It's quite exceptional to have this combination of ripeness, fullness and quantity," Eric Rousseau told me.

Fred Mugnier of Domaine J F Mugnier, sees a contradiction in the 2005s because they have both the freshness of a cool vintage and the richness and texture more reminiscent of an overripe vintage. "This makes the wines very interesting," he assured me, "because they have great current appeal but also real potential for ageing."  If there is one dominant characteristic of these wines it is their thrilling combination of ripeness and acidity. In general all the wines are charming, truly succulent and they faithfully express their origins. Can one ask for more?

Allen Meadows / Burghound on the 2005 Cote de Beaune Wines,  in 2007:  The best 2005s from the Cote de Beaune are quite simply sublime burgundies that will be capable of exceptional longevity with 20 years being a given. As in the Cote de Nuits, it seems that each level of the Burgundian hierarchy transcends its usual quality category and ascends to the one directly above, which is to say that regional wines perform like villages wines, villages wines like good if not absolute top 1ers, good 1ers are like solid grands crus and the best examples of Corton grands crus are among the best that I have ever seen.

The average wine is firmly structured but not at all aggressive and for several reasons. First, there is abundant mid-palate concentration to buffer the structure; two, the structural elements are all quite ripe, which takes away any sense of aggressiveness from the tannins and three, the acid levels are in keeping with the ripeness of the tannins, which means that the acidity does not have the tendency to accentuate the perception of astringency; for example, less successful '04s seem more tannic than they are in actuality because of the firm acidity.

As I mentioned, the aspect that I admire the most about the '05s is the textural impact that they have in the mouth. There is a real sense of volume and punch but at the same time, no sense of undue heaviness. Indeed I would go so far as to say that the most successful '05s epitomize the intrinsic genius of a great burgundy's ability to deliver power without weight. Stated differently, the better '05s are gorgeously balanced wines with a real sense of underlying harmony as there is everything they need to age gracefully for years.

Allen Meadows / Burghound on the 2005 Cote de Nuits,  2007:  ... they're complete wines in every sense of the term. For starters, the wines are quite ripe without falling over the edge into surmaturité or even where the fruit begins to lose its distinctive site specific character. The aromas are also exceptionally clean and the only off notes that I encountered were a direct result of wine making flaws, not from rot, hail-taint or other maladies. The flavors are also clean, bright, precise and balanced and are generally wrapped in velvety finishes that coat the mouth on the vibrant finishes. The acid/fruit/tannin balance is consistently nigh on perfect as the tannins are ripe and while the acid levels are solid, they're less prominent than what one typically sees in the '02s but a bit more pronounced than in the '99s. My favorite aspect of the '05s though is the gorgeous mouth feel because there is a wonderfully tactile quality to them, which comes from having real mid-palate densities or real sève. To make the distinction clear, sève or sap is the concentration that comes only from the vineyard when yields are low. For example, the best 03's have ripe tannins and are dense as well but there is something mildly brutish about them whereas the '05s are sophisticated and refined. They are also built to age and some of the top wines will see their 50th birthdays without breathing hard. Even villages wines should enjoy a good run over at least a decade and 15 years is not out of the question for the more structured versions.

Meadows' nett impression of the vintage,  in 2007:  2005 is quite simply the best top to bottom vintage that I have ever seen ...

About the Library Tastings:  
For my Library Tastings the presentation is based on 12 wines all out at once,  so comparisons can be made.  I use smaller samples which both allows more wines to be reviewed,  and reduces the cost.  Please note therefore the pours are only 30ml,  which can easily be consumed before the wine is even tasted.  The logistics of bringing the wines from Wellington are such that I cannot have duplicate bottles for each wine.  For some,  there is not one.  So it will be just like a wine in your cellar:  in paying for the tasting,  participants accept the risk of corked bottles.  I will bring some reserve bottles,  so you will get 12 wines,  but the exact wines listed cannot be guaranteed.

The Wines:
Our tasting will include 3 grands crus and 3 premiers crus,  5 wines from the Cote de Nuits,  4 from the Cote de Beaune,  and 3 from New Zealand,  for perspective.  One of the grands crus is the highly-regarded Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche,  one of the greatest vineyards in Burgundy.  The New Zealand allocation was 6 bottles.  The current wine-searcher valuation is $NZ824.  For this bottle (alone) there will be a back-up bottle.  Otherwise,  there will be reserve bottles.  Background info in the notes below is mostly from Morris,  2010.  The price indication given for the French wines 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.

The twelve wines in the formal tasting will be:
2005  Domaine Denis Bachelet Gevrey-Chambertin Les Corbeaux Premier Cru
2005  Domaine Chandon de Briailles Corton Les Bressandes Grand Cru
2005  Domaine Joseph Drouhin Beaune-Greves Premier Cru
2005  Domaine Sylvie Esmonin Cote de Nuits-Villages
2005  Domaine Geantet-Pansiot Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru
2005  Domaine Gros Frere & Soeur Bourgogne Hautes C. Nuits
2005  Domaine Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche Grand Cru
2005  Domaine de Montille Pommard Les Pezerelles Premier Cru
2005  Domaine Nicolas Potel Volnay Vieilles Vignes
2005  Dry River Pinot Noir
2005  Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir Reserve
2005  Peregrine Pinot Noir

Morris,  Jasper 2010:  Inside Burgundy:  The vineyards, the wine and the people.  Berry Bros & Rudd Press,  656 p.
Norman,  Remington & Charles Taylor,  2010:  The Great Domaines of Burgundy.  Sterling,  288 p.
www.burghound.com  =  Allen Meadows
www.erobertparker.com  =  Robert Parker and increasingly the associates
www.jancisrobinson.com  =  Jancis Robinson and associates
www.winespectator.com     (when others lack reviews)

Scott Gray of Maison-Vauron kindly loaned the Meadows information.  Natalie Wilson of COWA coordinated both finances and attendance.  Blair Walter both invited me to share in some rare pinot noirs,  and made superb accommodation available;  Antony Worch of Alexandra Vintners and Brook and Lucie Lawrence of Aurum Wines contributed great logistical support vital to the success of the tasting evenings;  and Tracy Thomson and Sarah Lundon at Felton Road were constantly helpful.  Many thanks.  


#  An asterisk * denotes one of 8 wines from Blair Walter's pinot noir tasting,  added to illuminate the Library Tasting set.
#  Unless noted,  the prices given are the current wine-searcher value,  not the purchase price.

2005  Domaine Denis Bachelet Gevrey-Chambertin Les Corbeaux Premier Cru Vieilles Vignes Non-Filtré
2013  Beaux Freres Pinot Noir *
2011  Beaux Freres Pinot Noir The Beaux Freres Vineyard *
2005  Domaine Chandon de Briailles Corton Les Bressandes Grand Cru
2013  Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir Dundee Hills *
2005  Maison Joseph Drouhin Beaune-Greves Premier Cru
2005  Dry River Pinot Noir
2012  Flowers Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast *
2005  Domaine Geantet-Pansiot Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru
2005  Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir Reserve
  2005  Domaine Gros Frere & Soeur Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits
2005  Domaine Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche Grand Cru
2012  Domaine Jean-Marc Bouley Volnay Clos des Chenes Premier Cru *
2012  J Labet & N Dechelette Ch de la Tour Clos Vougeot Grand Cru *
2012  J Labet & N Dechelette Ch de la Tour Clos-Vougeot Grand Cru Vieilles Vignes de Plus de 100 Ans *
2005  Domaine de Montille Pommard Les Pezerelles Premier Cru
2005  Domaine Nicolas Potel Volnay Vieilles Vignes
2005  Peregrine Pinot Noir
2005  Domaine Sylvie Esmonin Cote de Nuits-Villages
2011  Willakenzie Estate Pinot Noir Pierre Leon Vineyard *

2012  J Labet & N Dechelette Ch de la Tour Clos-Vougeot Grand Cru Vieilles Vignes de Plus de 100 Ans *   19 +  ()
Vougeot Grand Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $ –    [ cork;  a €175 = $NZ279 bottle;  the Labet & Dechelette wines are the only ones to be completely made within the Clos.  This 200-case Vieilles Vignes bottling comes from part of the crop from a defined plot of c.1 ha planted in 1910.  It is made with a high % of whole-bunch,  and 100% new oak;  no website found. ]
Classic rich pinot noir ruby,  a gorgeous colour,  clearly above midway in the combined sets,  the deepest of Blair's wines.  Bouquet is deeply and darkly pinot noir varietal,  darkest rose grading to boronia florality,  black cherry the main fruit,  with an exciting aromatic lift developing with air,  faint suggestions of dark plum.  In bouquet terms,  this is about as ripe as fine pinot noir can be,  and retain florality.  Palate is sensational,   immediately tightening up back to aromatic black cherry,  not dark plum,  shaped by new oak but not as dominated by it as some of the 2005 wines.  Freshly opened this wine was demonstrably good, 18.5,  but bespeaking its youth,  48 hours later the floral and enchanting side of the wine,  the true 'pinosity',  had  become much more apparent.  This was especially noticeable against some of the more massive 2005s,  resulting in the score now allocated.  This is far and away the greatest Clos de Vougeot wine I have ever seen,  illustrating exactly what is lacking in so many of  the more tannic 2005s.  Cellar 10 – 30 years.  GK 09/15

2005  Domaine Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche Grand Cru   19  ()
Morey-Saint-Denis,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $824   [ cork 50mm;  lying between Gevrey-Chambertin and Chambolle-Musigny,  the 170 ha of Morey-Saint-Denis are perhaps the most overlooked high-quality terroir in Burgundy.  And the grand cru Clos de la Roche is one of its very finest sites.  Info about this domaine is sketchy at present,  due to family tragedy,  but I believe this bottle to be the work of Hubert Lignier himself – a winemaker rated highly by Remington Norman;  Christopher Cannan,  of Europvin:  Hubert Lignier is the reluctant star of Morey-Saint-Denis. He is a quiet, conscientious vigneron who until recently continued to sell half his crop to the negociants, despite the clamour at his door following Robert Parker's description of him as "a brilliant winemaker";  the wine-searcher value would appear to confirm these views;  the best info on the Net comes from Cannan and the American firm Rosenthal Wine Merchant,  the latter simply describing this wine as:  'the fabled Clos de la Roche';  average vine age c.40 years;  viticulture tending organic;  all de-stemmed,  5 days cold-soak followed by longish cuvaisons to 20 days or so,  all wild-yeasts,  new oak may reach 50% in good years for the grands crus,  with 20 – 24 months in barrel,  no fining or filtration;  Robinson,  not tasted;  Meadows,  2007:  [ Meadows gives the impression this is our wine exactly,  but at the time of tasting,  it was not bottled ]  As usual this is the best wine in the range with a simply gorgeous range of seductive if serious aromas that include both red and blue pinot fruit, spice notes, game and underbrush hints that continue onto the classy, pure and wonderfully deep and palate-staining flavors oozing with ripe extract that completely buffer the firm but ripe tannins. This is also built to age and should reward amply 12 to 15 years of patience. A stunner of a wine, from 2017,  92-95;  what exactly serious pinotphiles are to make of the following assessment will add interest to our tasting,  David Schildknecht in R. Parker,  2007:  Lignier’s 2005 Clos de la Roche – from three diverse parcels – smells of black cherry, blackberry, ginger bread and fruit cake, with its pungency of citrus zest and brown spices following on the palate. For all of its baked and roasted fruit and meat suggestions, and its underlying, oily textural richness, this holds a fine edge of fresh fruit, displaying subtly chewy fruit skin character. The long finish brings stony mineral, resinous herbal, and gamey animal profundities, but delightful primary fresh fruit is never far from the surface in this wine, the latest in an illustrious line and demanding of 12-15 years in the cellar,  94 – 96;  www.hubert-lignier.com ]
Good rich pinot noir ruby,  fresher than the Pansiot,  the fourth-deepest wine.  Needs decanting and air.  On  the night,  the bouquet was massive,  deep,  dark,  and to the extent you could tell,  pushing aside the thickets of oak,  deeply fruity.  It seemed more heavily oaky than the Pansiot.  24 hours later this wine too displayed a much better version of itself,  to such an extent that it now overtakes the Pansiot,  the dark cherry and plum fruit much more apparent,  with even suggestions of dusky florality and Cote de Nuits aromatics – exciting.  In terms of my concept of 'pinosity',  which I suspect is a good deal more floral,   enchanting and ethereal in interpretation than Allen Meadows' (who invented the term) useage,  I simply wish the wine were  fractionally less ripe / more floral.  And I certainly wish it had less new oak.  This must be a pinot in one of the old-school styles,  from a year like like 1919,  1945,  1959,  1990.  It is certainly built to develop for another 20 years,  and should cellar for 50 years from vintage.  To that end the quality of the 50mm corks appeared promising.  My hope is this wine will develop a much more floral and enchanting bouquet and palate,  once the tannins start to polymerise.  It is clearly richer than Charmes-Chambertin,  more on a par with the 100-year-old-vines Vougeot.  Dry extract must be well into the 30s.  As in many of these wines,  the given 13% alcohol is notional,  only.  Top or second wine for three tasters.  Cellar 10 – 40 years.  GK 09/15

2005  Domaine Geantet-Pansiot Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru   18 ½ +  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $268   [ cork 50mm;  tending organic in viticulture;  all destemmed;  20% lower yields in 2005,  no chaptalising;  15 months in 30% new oak,  without racking;  Robinson,  2007:  Very scented and relatively powerful nose. Super charming, but as though with a limp wrist. Certainly not the most concentrated-ever Charmes you will come across but super smooth and correct,  18+;  Meadows,  2007:  The Geantet wines tend to emphasize fruit rather than structure but in ’05 there is a more interesting balance between the two elements. 2005 Charmes-Chambertin: (from 50 year old vines). As ripe as the En Champs is, this is riper still yet it remains aromatically fresh and bright with intense cherry and raspberry notes on the spicy, pure and earthy nose where the spice and earth notes continue onto the delicious, rich and full-bodied flavors built on a base of concentrated fruit. This is classy if not overly complex at the moment but if the depth comes in time, my range could be conservative,  from 2015,  90-93;  www.geantetpansiot.com ]
Good rich pinot noir ruby,  some development showing,  the second-deepest wine in the combined sets.  This wine needs splashy decanting,  from jug to jug say four times.  Once aired,  it is quietly new-oaky,  with some varietal fruit too.  Given 24 hours,  however,  it has opened considerably,  to show the kind of vital aromatic dark pinot fruit that characterises good Gevrey-Chambertin.  The degree of dusky dark rose florals melding with the vanillin of new oak is now a delight,  the wine having gained 'pinosity' immensely overnight.  There are even hints of red fruits in the black cherry backbone.  Flavour brings one back in confrontation with the level of new oak,  which is basically too high for a variety as subtle and beautiful as  pinot noir ... yet the old-vine de la Tour above has 100% new oak …  The cherry fruit is mouth-filling and long in flavour,  even if elongated further by the new oak.  Winemakers liked this wine,  though noting the level of new oak.  With five first places and two seconds,  it was the most favoured wine on the night.  Cellar 10 – 25 years.  GK 09/15

2012  J Labet & N Dechelette Ch de la Tour Clos Vougeot Grand Cru *   18 ½  ()
Vougeot Grand Cru,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13.5%;  $ –    [ cork;  a €125 = $NZ199 bottle;  the Labet & Dechelette wines are the only ones to be completely made within the Clos;  this wine also has a high % of whole-bunch,  and c.50% new oak;  no website found ]
A fine medium pinot noir ruby,  less oak-affected than many,  just above midway in depth.  Right from the start,  this wine was fresh,  open,  and appealing on bouquet and palate.  It was one of the really floral wines,  pure red roses,  quite deep,  on red more than black cherry fruit.  Palate is fresher again,  clear-cut red to black cherry fruit,  and much less oak than most of the 2005s.  Even so,  at this stage there is a spicy component on the oak which is slightly disconcerting,  making the wine savoury in its red-fruit way.  This wine too was much more communicative after 24 hours,  and much more what one might expect from Clos de Vougeot,  relative to the astonishingly deep rich hundred-year-old wine.  A charmer,  cellar 5 – 20 years.  GK 09/15

2005  Domaine Denis Bachelet Gevrey-Chambertin Les Corbeaux Premier Cru Vieilles Vignes Non-Filtré   18 +  ()
Gevrey-Chambertin,  Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $254   [ cork 49mm;  much of this vineyard planted in 1920s;  100% de-stemming;  50% new oak;  Robinson has not had the 2005,  close-by vintages average c.17+;  Meadows,  2007:  A completely different nose that is more animale in character with more earth and crushed herbs as well that can also be found on the deep and exceptionally rich flavors that offer outstanding volume and sève on the palate drenching finish that goes on and on. This too is deceptively structured though the muscled, even robust finish does more than hint at the cellar potential,  from 2015,  90-92;  no website found ]
Lovely pinot noir ruby,  a little development,  right in the middle for depth of colour.  Bouquet is highly varietal,  deeply aromatic,  absolutely Gevrey-Chambertin,  still youthful,  initially a hint of marzipan.  Like the Lignier,  the florals are hard to discern in the oak,  but after 24 hours this wine too had much more to say.  Aromas of  darkest roses,  suggestions of boronia as in some Otago pinot noirs,  and rather more black than red cherry appear,  plus new oak.  Palate is much lighter than you would expect,  but not weak,  just a fresher expression of black cherry fruit than expected from bouquet.  This is a rich concentrated darkly varietal and highly typical Gevrey-Chambertin,  which once it loses some tannin will be exciting.  Cellar 5 – 25 years.  GK 09/15

2005  Domaine Nicolas Potel Volnay Vieilles Vignes   17 ½ +  ()
Volnay,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $65   [ cork 49mm;  it seems (not sure) the label no longer exists,  being reincarnated with the Maison Roche de Bellene;  vines > 50 years age;  10% whole-bunch;  6 days cold soak,  9 days fermentation,  5 days maceration;  11 months in 228s,  40% new;  Robinson has not had the 2005,  close-by vintages average c.16+;  Meadows,  2007:  Moderate reduction makes the nose difficult to evaluate but the moderately rustic and full-bodied flavors are frank, rich and direct, underpinned by rugged if not aggressive tannins on the supple but admirably dense finish. This is complex and the material is impressive enough though ... this won't win any prizes for elegance,  87-90;  David Schildknecht,  in R. Parker,  2007:  ... representing an inordinately large lot for him, and assembled from seven different parcels, some premier cru – offers aromas and flavors of lightly cooked cherry and blackcurrant tinged with vanilla, licorice and black chocolate. Quite full and imposingly ripe, it just lacks a bit for sap and juiciness, offering a relatively foursquare finish,  88
;  www.nicolas-potel.fr ]
Good medium pinot noir ruby,  some development.  Bouquet is more centred on red fruits,  with a hint of marzipan when first opened,  this breathing away with air.  There is some dusky rose-like florality,  red cherries,  and then red and black plum.  Palate has a simplicity of fruit relative to the Cote de Nuits top wines,  a linearity of red fruit flavours,  with more tannins showing than the bouquet suggested,  probably because it is older oak.  The dry dusty tannins are amazing for Volnay,  making the wine quite savoury,  within its Cote de Beaune styling.  Winemakers liked this wine more than I did,  four rating it their top wine,  and three their second favourite.  It is certainly bolder and more substantial than most Volnays,  and should cellar 5 – 15  years.  GK 09/15

2005  Domaine Sylvie Esmonin Cote de Nuits-Villages   17 ½ +  ()
Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  12.5%;  $57   [ cork 50mm;  viticulture tending organic;  new oak favoured,  ratio unclear for this wine;  Robinson,  2007:  This relatively evolved, open wine … jewelly nose. Charming, very fresh and lively – a real charmer, the product of 30% whole berry fermentation. Impressively long on the palate even though it doesn’t suggest it has the stuffing and structure for a very long life in bottle,  16.5;  Meadows,  2007:  [ maybe 50% stems ] A somber but complex nose of cassis and black cherry complements the exceptionally rich, mouth coating and earthy flavors that are punchy and carry almost no rusticity on the velvety and fresh finish. A delicious yet altogether serious wine that should offer 5 plus years of upside,  from 2010,  87-89;  no website found. ]
Rich pinot noir ruby,  some development,  the third-deepest wine.  This wine opened in a foursquare way,  even smelling of tannin and the oak seeming aggressive,  all suggesting a new-world winestyle,  several tasters said.  With air it gradually harmonised,  but betrayed its over-ripe styling by never becoming exactly floral,  instead being centred on faintly leathery red fruits.  Palate shows rich fruit,  carrying the noticeable oak,  and remarkable length and concentration,  relative to the appellation.  Like the Lignier,  you wish for slightly earlier picking / greater florality,  but the wine certainly has substance as a darker pinot noir.  The given 12½% alcohol is fanciful,  though.  One taster rated this the top wine (of the 12 in the formal tasting),  and five thought it the second best wine,  remarkable given the appellation.  Cellar 5 – 25 years.  GK 09/15

2012  Domaine Jean-Marc Bouley Volnay Clos des Chenes Premier Cru *   17 ½  ()
Volnay Premier Cru,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $ –    [ cork;  a $US100 = $NZ150 bottle;  hand-picked from vines averaging 45 years age;  cuvaison c.21 days;  20 months in barrel,  c.50% new;  www.jean-marc-bouley.com ]
Good pinot noir ruby,  a little above midway.  Bouquet is big,  ripe and fragrant,  and quite deep and dark for Volnay.  Florals are in the darkest rose category,  black cherry fruit,  a hint of dark plums,  subtle oak.    Complexity is lifted with trace brett,  nutmeggy phase.  Flavour shows good palate richness and structure,  black cherry fruit to perfection,  though obscured a little by the oak,  quite tannic at this young age.  A darker Volnay even,  than the Potel.  This wine seemed very dry and drying,  freshly opened,  but gained fruit and  succulence over 24 hours.  There is quite a lot of oak,  by usual Volnay standards.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 09/15

2013  Beaux Freres Pinot Noir *   17 +  ()
Williamette Valley,  Oregon,  USA:  13.6%;  $ –    [ cork;  a $US55 = $NZ83 bottle;  a small winery established in 1991,  low crops,  minimum intervention,  10 – 12 months on lees;  not filtered;  Robert Parker is married to the founder's sister,  and is a partner;  www.beauxfreres.com ]
Light pinot noir ruby,  in the lightest three.  Initially poured there was a shadow of clog,  which quickly cleared.  A fragrant light Cote de Nuits kind of pinot noir emerged,  with lifted buddleia to red-rose florals,  reminiscent of many Marlborough wines.  Palate is more substantial than the bouquet promised,  quite a depth of red currants,  strawberry (+ve) and red cherry fruit,  shaping tannins,  and subtle oak,  the tannins needing a little time to soften.  A highly varietal wine,  within its light styling,  fragrant alongside the 2005  wines,  intriguing in its clear New Zealand (parts of) kind of pinot character,  lacking the depth of the burgundies.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 09/15

2005  Peregrine Pinot Noir   17 +  ()
Cromwell Basin,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  14%;  $39   [ screwcap;  release price;  the season produced a small crop with small berries,  concentrated wines;  hand harvested,  destemmed,  5 – 7 days cold soak,  cuvaison c.21 days;  10 months in French oak 35% new;  no fining,  light filter;  Robinson,  not tasted,  but she gave the 2003 18.5,  a number she rarely allocates;  Wine Spectator,  2007:  Starts supple, with ripe black cherry, spice, pomegranate and intense stone flavors. Green tea and mineral accents weave through the fruit, underscored by cedar, tangy acidity and herb-tinged tannins. Drink now through 2011,  88;  Cooper,  2007:  floral, savoury and complex on the nose, with good colour depth. It's a well-structured, stylish red with rich, ripe, cherry and spice flavours. Well worth cellaring, ****½;  www.peregrinewines.co.nz ]
Pinot noir ruby,  older than 2005 burgundies,  right in the middle for depth.  On bouquet,  amidst the denser and more tanniny bouquets of the burgundies,  this wine smelt vibrantly floral,  aromatic and alive (despite the colour),  and clearly Cote de Nuits as a first impression.  Florals range from buddleia through lilac and roses to boronia,  made more aromatic by new oak.  In mouth the fruit is supple and charming,  red cherry perhaps more than black,  lightly aromatic,  but vitally lacking body and concentration alongside the good-year burgundies.  Pretty exciting wine all the same,  since there is the notion New Zealand pinots are three-day wonders,  whereas this is looking both good and varietal,  at 10 years of age,  and in tough competition.  Top  wine for one taster,  second for two.  Nearly half the tasters recognised this as New Zealand wine.  Will hold 5 – 8 years,  if you like older wine.  GK 09/15

2005  Domaine de Montille Pommard Les Pezerelles Premier Cru   17  ()
Pommard,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $154   [ cork 49mm;  organic since the mid-90s,  biodynamic since 2005;  high percentage of stems used in 2005;  20 – 30% new oak;  little or no fining or filtering;  the family believes 2005 is the best vintage since 1959;  Robinson,  2007:  Haunting, deep, autumnal flavours. Lovely round, pure flavours. Great stuff. De Montille on a roll! Gorgeous confidence,  18;  Meadows,  2007:  This is an extremely stylish wine that combines both elegance and purity with precise, supple and rich flavors underpinned by obvious minerality, all wrapped in penetrating and transparent finish. I very much like this and while it’s not overly dense, the purity and transparency are impressive,  from 2013,  91-93;  www.domainedemontille.com ]
Pinot noir ruby,  some age evident,  well below midway in depth.  Bouquet is much more evolved than most of the wines,  again a slightly leathery tanniny quality to the aroma.  Behind that are floral suggestions,  and red fruits with a browning hint.  Palate is quite different,  totally Cote de Beaune,  all red fruits,  almost raspberry (+ve) as well as red cherry,  the raspberry note holding hands with the leathery and older-oak tannins.  Tastes older than it is,  yet still has some juicy fruit,  so not tiring.  Shows the tanniny side of the vintage well.  One top place.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 09/15

2005  Dry River Pinot Noir   16 ½ +  ()
Martinborough Terrace,  Wairarapa,  New Zealand:  12.5%;  $77   [ cork 50mm;  release price;  careful viticulture optimising ripeness,  and aiming to crop below 2.5 t/ha (6.25 t/ac),  but small crop in difficult year;  includes vines up to 29 years old;  c.20% whole bunch;  up to 10 days cold-soak;  12 months in French oak c.20% new;  Robinson,  2009:  This looks so young it could be taken for a 2008! Mostly picked before the notorious rains of 2005. Complex bouquet already with a sumptuous, silky texture. Dry finish,  17.5;  the following review raises fundamental questions for me as to what pinot noir in fact should smell and taste like:  Lisa Perrotti-Brown,  in R. Parker,  2013:  Deep ruby-colored, the 2005 Pinot Noir offers mulberries, kirsch, anise and chocolate aromas with hints of spice box and menthol. With crisp acid and low levels of fine tannins, it has great intensity and still shows a lot of fruit through the long finish. It will benefit from 4-6 more years of cellaring,  92;  Cooper,  2008:  a deeply-coloured, medium to full-bodied wine with fresh, vibrant plum and spice flavours. A very refined wine, concentrated and supple, showing lovely density and poise, its still very youthful, open 2009 onwards,  *****;  www.dryriver.co.nz ]
Dense ruby,  undesirable depth for pinot noir,  some development,  clearly the deepest wine in both sets by a huge margin.  Bouquet is pure,  but showing considerable sur-maturité as pinot noir,  darkly plummy,  tanniny,  rich,  no florals,  the description 'porty' used by one taster.  [ That would be youngish vintage port. ]  Palate is interesting.  It avoids the tannin load some of the 2005 burgundies show,  and one might expect from the colour,  and is ultra-fine-grained having regard to the weight of fruit.  There is appeal in the total winestyle,  but it's not pinot noir in any classical sense.  Yes,  there have been odd de Vogue (for example) grands crus something like this,  and you can see a connection to some of the denser 2005 burgundies in this tasting.  But going back and forth in the tasting,  the burgundies though tannic do taste like pinot noir,  and the Dry River doesn't.  I see I described this wine as the best pinot noir Dry River had produced (in the context of their idiosyncratic interpretation of the grape) in my review of some of the wines in the Pinot Noir 2007 Conference,  though noting it still inclined to sur-maturité.  That makes sense now.  Hard to score in some ways,  some aspects of the wine have to be rewarded,  even if that achievement is more Chateauneuf-du-Pape in style.  It certainly has plenty of life left in it,  unusually so for 10-year-old New Zealand pinot noir.  Top wine for three people,  second for two,  recognised as New Zealand wine by a third of the group.  Cellar 3 – 10 years,  at least.  GK 09/15

2005  Domaine Chandon de Briailles Corton Les Bressandes Grand Cru   16 ½ +  ()
Aloxe-Corton,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $147   [ cork 50mm;  farmed organically since the 1990s,  and biodynamic from 2005;  all whole-bunch,  c.5% new oak;  Robinson has not had the 2005,  close-by vintages average c.17;  Meadows,  2007:  … average vine age c. 33 years ... the nose is more elegant though more reserved with refined red pinot fruit and obvious minerality that continues onto the sweet, rich, precise and firm flavors that possess good vibrancy and excellent finishing punch and length. This is very firmly structured and crafted in an understated, “built to age” style,  from 2015,  92;  www.chandondebriailles.com ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby,  quite marked development,  below midway in depth.  Tasters were divided on this wine,  two ranking it their top or second wine,  six rating it their bottom wine.  The latter thought this bottle (at least) showed some oxidation-related defects.  The 50mm cork showed no sign of an imperfect seal,  and seemed of first-rate quality.  On the positive side,  there are fragrant red fruits in the raspberry (+ve) / red cherry sector,  fitting in with Cote de Beaune,  but also an intriguing 'savoury' note reminiscent of oxo cubes.  Oak is subtle.  Flavours are soft,  rich and generous,  fitting in entirely with the bouquet,  though older than you would expect for this appellation at 10 years,  considering the quality of the vintage.  Finish is tending short and a bit furry,  with the oxo thought again – both these aspects fitting with the notion of premature oxidation.  Still be pretty good with dinner,  but meanwhile I await the next bottle eagerly.  Comment on the cellaring prospects should therefore be deferred until that bottle.  Score a compromise.  GK 09/15

2011  Willakenzie Estate Pinot Noir Pierre Leon Vineyard *   16 ½  ()
Williamette Valley,  Oregon,  USA:  13.5%;  $ –    [ cork;  a c. $US48 = $NZ72 bottle;  vineyard started 1991;  now a 20,000-case winery,  pinot noir predominant,  growing 11 clones some in common with New Zealand;  first used screwcaps 2001;  great website;  www.willakenzie.com ]
Lighter and older pinot noir ruby,  the palest wine of the 20.  Bouquet reflects light red currants,  strawberry (+ve)  and just-red cherry fruit,  reminiscent of lightweight pinot noir from the early plantings on light alluviums in the Wairau Valley,  Marlborough.  It is fragrant,  varietal,  but unsubstantial,  pretty rather than promising.  Flavours and textures in mouth are more weighty than the bouquet promises,  the same berry descriptors,  beautifully balanced new oak,  good length.  Small-scale Cote de Beaune,  in style.  Cellar 2 – 6 years,  but again,  will hold longer.  GK 9/15  GK 09/15

2005  Maison Joseph Drouhin Beaune-Greves Premier Cru   16 ½  ()
Beaune,  Cote de Beaune,  Burgundy,  France:  13%;  $116   [ cork 49mm;  farmed organically;  all oak air-dried three years,  up to 30% new;  bottling earlier than most producers,  seeking fruit;  the winery compares 2005 with 1961,  and used 10 – 25% stems in many wines;  Robinson not tasted,  later vintages average 17;  Meadows,  2007:  A deft touch of wood frames serious but not somber earth and mineral suffused red pinot and raspberry aromas that introduce dense, sappy and balanced flavors that culminate in a sleekly muscled and beautifully focused finish. This is a wine that should age for 20 years without any difficulty. In a word, impressive,  from 2013,  92;  www.drouhin.com ]
Light pinot noir ruby,  some age showing,  well below midway in depth.  Bouquet shows complex florality relative to the light colour,  roses and a suggestion of boronia,  but also some browning.  Underneath are mostly red fruits.  Palate is not in the usual Drouhin style at all,  showing the high tannins of the year even in this red-fruits setting.  The wine seems older than most of the 2005s,  and finishes a little leathery and foursquare,  again not the usual Drouhin style.  This wine did not achieve any responses at all,  on my whiteboard questionnaire chart,  a most unusual achievement.  It must therefore be a very representative pinot noir,  right in the middle of everybody's expectations for the variety.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  GK 09/15

2005  Domaine Gros Frere & Soeur Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits   16 ½  ()
Cote de Nuits,  Burgundy,  France:  12.5%;  $67   [ cork 45mm;  extensive replanting in recent years;  new oak favoured;  Robinson,  not tasted;  Meadows,  2007:  Yields down 50% in 2005.  This is quite ripe though not surmature with earth and mineral-inflected red pinot fruit aromas leading to rich, full, round and supple flavors that possess more volume than one usually finds with this appellation, all wrapped in a delicious and mildly rustic finish,  from 2008,  84-86;  Wine Spectator,  2008:  A spicy red, exhibiting some vegetal and cherry aromas and flavors. Starts out silky, with dense tannins emerging on the finish. Fine length. Best from 2010 through 2017,  88;  www.domaine-gros-frere-et-soeur.fr ]
Lightish pinot noir ruby,  below midway in the combined sets.  Initially opened,  the wine is reductive,  and needs splashy jug-to-jug aeration 8 – 10 times.  For this bottle however,  that treatment augmented threshold TCA also,  but not so much you couldn't see the shape of the wine.  There is a fair volume of red fruits on bouquet which would (most likely) have been fragrant,  but you can't be sure on this bottle,  followed by a gently old-oaked and quite rich fruit palate.  Again it is the richness,  against the New Zealand Peregrine wine,  for example,  which highlights why good burgundy is expensive.  This seemed the softest and most ready of all the 2005 burgundies,  but there is no hurry at all.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  Again,  I look forward to a fresh bottle.  Due to the TCA,  rated the least wine by most people.  GK 09/15

2012  Flowers Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast *   16 +  ()
Williamette Valley,  Oregon,  USA:  13.5%;  $ –    [ cork;  a c. $US45 = $NZ68 bottle;  all de-stemmed;  9 days cold-soak;  wild-yeast fermentation,  cuvaison c.20 days;  11 months in French oak 25% new;  www.flowerswinery.com ]
Light pinot noir ruby,  below midway in depth.  Bouquet has a real New Zealand character to it,  as seen in zones too warm for the variety to develop full physiological maturity,  such as Hawkes Bay.  It is counter-intuitive that a warmer climate gives a green-tinged fruit profile,  but in such places pinot noir simply does not achieve full flavour complexity,  similarly to apricots.  Diurnal variation is presumably a key factor.  So there is a clear leafy fragrance,  and red currants / strawberry fruit,  not un-burgundian in the sense of minor Beaune appellations in some years,  straightforward.  Palate is clean and sound,  gently oaked,  slightly stalky,  matching the bouquet parameters.  Cellar 3 – 8 years,  in its style,  since the richness / dry extract is quite good.  GK 09/15

2011  Beaux Freres Pinot Noir The Beaux Freres Vineyard *   16 +  ()
Williamette Valley,  Oregon,  USA:  12.9%;  $ –    [ cork;  a c. $US40 = $NZ60 bottle;  a small winery established in 1991,  low crops,  minimum intervention,  10 – 12 months on lees;  not filtered;  Robert Parker is married to the founder's sister,  and is a partner;  www.beauxfreres.com ]
Light and older pinot noir ruby,  below midway in depth.  Bouquet is relatively unformed,  tending slightly balsam-aromatic,  more fumey than the given 12.9% alcohol would suggest,  the herbes / balsam note growing.  It is fragrant,  but not exactly floral,  on red fruits only.  Palate however has remarkable fruit weight,  near-strawberry (+ve),  raspberry and red cherry suggestions,  soft oak,  juicy in a sense but bone-dry.  Very much in a minor Cote de Beaune styling on palate,  just the extraneous aromatics on bouquet letting it down.  Closest in style to the Gros Frere & Soeur,  but more new oak.  Cellar 3 – 8 years,  though given the richness,  will hang on longer.  GK 09/15

2013  Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir Dundee Hills *   16  ()
Williamette Valley,  Oregon,  USA:  13.5%;  $ –    [ cork;  a c. $US40 = $NZ60 bottle;  the Drouhin estate in Oregon started in the later 1980s,  and now amounts to 50 ha / 124 ac of vineyards.  All grapes are hand-picked.  Oak c. 20% new only;  www.domainedrouhin.com ]
Pretty but light pinot noir ruby,  the second to lightest wine in the 20.  Both bouquet and palate are pretty and pink and inconsequential,  reminiscent of candy floss – but in a wine setting.  Flavour follows in step,  red currants in a stalky way,  clean,  appropriately oaked,  but lacking in flavour,  depth and excitement.  Short finish too.  Disappointing,  having regard to the label.  Cellar 2 – 6 years,  though will hold longer.  GK 09/15

2005  Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir Reserve   15 ½ +  ()
Bendigo Terraces,  Central Otago,  New Zealand:  13.5%;  $114   [ screwcap;  release price;  first Reserve released for three years;  hand-picked clone 5 and Dijon clones;  15% whole bunch,  cuvaison 21 days;  11 months French oak 50% new barriques,  50% one year old;  Robinson,  not tasted;  R. Parker et al,  not tasted;  Wine Spectator,  not tasted;  Cooper,  2007:  full-coloured, firm and savoury, with cherry, herb and spice flavours showing excellent depth, ****½;  www.gibbstonvalley.com ]
Older medium pinot noir ruby,  the most developed of the wines,  just below midway in depth.  Bouquet is immediately time-travel,  being first and foremost acutely stalky,  then fragrant and floral at the buddleia level only,  on red currants / just-red cherry fruit.  New oak makes the bouquet more edgy.  Palate shows good juicy fruit,  but red-spectrum flavours only,  giving way to piercing stalkyness exacerbated by excess oak.  New Zealand wine judges and critics / writers were in earlier days not at all good at recognising  greenness in New Zealand red wines,  and this approach dates from the days when piling on the new oak won gold medals.  There is good physical fruit,  but too much of it was not ripe enough to produce quality pinot noir the wine.  Has the richness to hold some years,  in its style.  Over half the tasters recognised this as New Zealand wine.  GK 09/15