Domaine de Roally Mâcon-Village 2004

A humble Village Burgundy from the also-ran Mâconnais region of Burgundy. What makes this a bit interesting is its link to vigneron Jean Thévenet, who tends to employ unconventional techniques in the growing and vinification of his wines, including the occasional oddball inclusion of a portion of botrytised fruit.

This is the very opposite of a showstopper. It’s tendency towards self-effacement almost had me writing it off when I first smelled it. It’s not a matter of blandness, or lack of presence, but rather that its aroma and flavour profiles sink immediately into the kind of deeply comfortable place I associate with home cooking. For a cheap Burgundy from 2004, this still has plenty of fruit swirling around in its aroma, alongside some prickly honey and other evidence of the time it has spent in bottle. It’s round and gently inviting, possessing just enough freshness to present an edge alongside its plushness.

The palate is, as with the nose, surprisingly youthful. The entry is fruit-sweet and almost prickly in mouthfeel, playful if a bit simple. Intensity builds towards the middle palate, where complexity becomes greater and overall presence is more impressive. This really is a good wine given its age and price point. There’s a full spectrum of flavours, from intensely sweet to oddly savoury, all expressed with a relaxation that gently ushers the palate along. There’s too little light and shade as the line moves through the after palate and finish, although the flavour profile tilts more towards savouriness the further it moves along. Structure remains firm and drags satisfying texture across the tongue.

This wine could be plenty more — more intense, more complex, more varied — but its confident relaxation is very appealing and belies its lowly provenance.

Domaine de Roally
Price: $A28.05
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Domaine Dublère Puligny-Montrachet 2006

On reflection, I was rather too dismissive of this wine on first tasting for, although I clearly enjoyed it, I pegged it as a “drink now” wine, something it certainly was, but it’s now showing some bottle age to distinct advantage too. A wine not to be underestimated, then.

My earlier note stands, except now there’s both more volume and better integration. Any hint of restraint on the nose is gone; this is a minerally delight, complex and distinct and etched all at the same time. It’s still a lean wine in terms of its aroma profile, preferring angularity to flesh. There’s also a depth to it, in the way layers of glass can have depth as well as brilliance.

The palate remains powerful but has lost the boisterousness of three years ago that suggested a slight clumsiness of flow. This is now very much in the groove, with strong, clear melon fruit tumbling over firm acid and a range of savoury notes. The winemaking is here most evident, with a range of oak and lees derived notes, from oatmeal to cashews and more. The after palate fans out most pleasingly, and the finish is well extended.There’s no obvious bottle age here. The wine has simply relaxed and learned to express itself without angst, earning a sense of poise it lacked as a youngster.

Quite delicious.

Domaine Dublère
Price: $A63
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Retail

Domaine du Meix-Foulot Mercurey 1er Cru Clos du Château de Montaigu 2002

Cheap Burgundy. I can see you shuddering from here.

A lovely orange-red Pinot colour, not especially dense. The nose is really appealing and quite youthful considering the wine’s age and modest status. Prickly mushroom and fresh red fruits, some sap and minerality as well. The whole is laid back, a comforting blanket of nougat oak underlining the fundamentally quiet, almost cuddly aroma profile.

The palate is similarly constructed: light, nimble, pleasing flavours and a distinct lack of aggression. Entry is brightly acidic, flavours starting at red fruit and moving through to a more complex mix on the middle palate, then turning quite savoury through the after palate and finish. It’s a lean flavour profile, focusing on astringency and savouriness rather than fullness of fruit. I like it, but can see that it would puzzle some. Certainly, it would be misleading to call this wine generous in any way, but in a sense that is its strength and charm. It caresses the palate so easily, with such little effort, that its relative lack of stuffing matters very little. Its pleasures are to be found in its ephemeral presence on the tongue, the clarity of its components and the way it never forces any of its points.

A delicious, refreshing Pinot for not a lot of money. I think it has a few years left in it too.

Domaine du Meix Foulot
Price: $A42
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Domaine Jean Tardy & Fils Fixin La Place 2006

Ever chosen a wine because you liked its name? I was browsing through my “cellar” tonight, looking for pleasure, and came across a bottle of this. “Fixin,” I muttered to myself. What a funky village name. Equal parts slang and exoticism, I figured its catchiness was as good a reason as any to pop the cork. I have, in fact, pondered this wine before. It’s not a great wine by any means, and its value is questionable, but I still rather like it, perhaps even more in its slightly mellowed current form.

Largely, my earlier note remains valid. The nose is a curious mixture of the mellow and the coarse, lumbering nougat oak trampling over seductive, gamine red fruit. It’s the Noomi Rapace of Red Burgundy, petite frame disrupted by too-large boots and a generally put-on punkish demeanor. The palate is perhaps more attractive, and I especially enjoy the rough and tumble character of the tannin. Satin berries against spiky acid, sharp flavour atop blunt weight. This is, if nothing else, a clash of components and, whilst this could be read as a sign of coarseness, I find its discord exciting. The restraint I noted in my earlier impression has receded, and this is now flowing more freely than I remember. It’s all the more enjoyable for it.

Brash, clumsy and a good deal of fun.

Jean Tardy & Fils
Price: $A52
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Domaine Alain Chavy Saint-Aubin 1er Cru En Remilly 2007

I’m a fan of this label, having enjoyed recent vintages (2005, 2006) very much. Though Chavy allows a clear view into vintage conditions, there’s a delicate power that unites these wines; detail above impact, complexity above density. This 2007 is clearly the most forward of the last three vintages, a real surprise considering growing conditions, which generally led to whites rather higher in acidity than usual.

The nose retains En Remilly’s fundamentally minerally, high toned profile, with sparks of flint, wet wool and florals. Fruit, however, is broader than usual, showing hints of yellow peach where before there was only white. There’s less citrus than usual, and less talc, stonefruit flesh taking its place. To be clear, this remains a restrained, tight aroma profile, but certainly looser than in previous years.

The palate is far less tightly structured than the 2006 in particular, and even in its first year after retail release the peach is flowing freely. What’s wonderful about this wine, though, is the clash of site and vintage conditions, plus perhaps a touch more oxidative handling in the winery. This is what happens when a wine of fundamentally mineral character goes wild; it’s full of savoury fruit and sweet prickliness, of blunt faces and angular asides. Citrus, rather than invoking delicate grapefruit or lemon, tilts towards juicy orange. Do I prefer it in its more restrained, delicate guise? Perhaps, but this is fascinating too, in the same way a favourite artist’s least achieved work is still valuable for being an expression of something fundamentally worthy. And this is far from a bad wine; indeed, it’s constantly improving in the glass, gaining complexity and almost justifying its portly middle.

For enthusiasts (and the fools who love them).

Domaine Alain Chavy
Price: $A50
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Closerie des Alisiers Meursault Vieilles Vignes 2008

Onwards with my British supermarket wine odyssey. Last night I was browsing in a Sainsbury’s and gravitated to the “fine wine” section. Out jumped this little number, a village-level white Burgundy priced at a reasonable (in Australian terms) £20. Unlike the recent Tesco disappointment, this wine is not a house-branded wine.

An interesting nose, mutable and complex, showing by turns savoury minerality, rich peach syrup and lemon thyme. There’s a bit of marginally distracting sulfur that emphasises the savouriness of the aroma profile. Is it an attractive wine to smell? Not in a conventional sense; it’s too angular and too full of contrasts. But there’s a lot there and overall the aroma communicates a nice sense of sophistication.

The palate is shockingly acidic at first, and this acidity briefly masks an array of quite fabulous flavours. Things seem more coherent in the mouth than on the nose, due in part to a rounding out of each flavour component. The fruit is now juicy and fleshy, the nutty creaminess a much more significant influence. Add to this a buxom mouthfeel and the wine really starts to come alive as you work your way through the first glass. By way of criticism, intensity is only moderate, and this jars when placed against the plushness and weight of the wine. Also, the flavour profile as a whole continues to lack a sense of wholeness that one would ideally see, but each element is pleasing on its own terms, and I wonder whether a bit of a rest in bottle might bring things together.

Not bad at all.

Closerie des Alisiers
Price: £19.95
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Domaine Rapet Père et Fils Pernand-Vergelesses Les Combottes 2007

I’ve enjoyed my recent foray into affordable white Burgundy from the 2007 vintage, and this wine from also-ran village Pernand-Vergelesses is one of my favourites so far. It’s slutty in the way only Chardonnay can be, yet retains a measure of restraint and a streak of minerality that make it difficult to write off as pure hedonism.

The nose, in fact, has evolved a significant mineral component that sits alongside billowy peach, caramel and fresh herbs. The aroma is rich and somewhat obvious, the latter in no way detracting from its deliciousness. Curiously, there’s also the smell of unscented soap, though the power of suggestion looms large over this impression.

One thing the aroma doesn’t do is adequately signal the generosity of the palate. It’s here the wine comes alive with gushy flavour, helped along by a mouthfeel that in less kind moments I might describe as “pumped up” but which here I shall call “slippery” and “voluptuous.” Funny how a single element can come across well or badly depending on its context. Though there’s enough acid to keep a mound of peaches and cream in line, there’s nothing especially racy or fine about the way this moves through the palate. No, this is designed for immediate gratification and proves a wine that’s ready to drink young doesn’t need to insult one’s intelligence.

Delicious and worthy.

Domaine Rapet Père et Fils
Price: $A30
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Domaine Dublère Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru Les Peuillets 2007

Interesting wine, this one. Compared to the Alain Chavy and Giaconda Chardonnays I had the other day, this is a much funkier, more discordant wine. So that’s three out of three; three Chardonnays with strikingly different fruit flavour profiles, leading to three completely different wines. This is as it should be; what becomes interesting now is how (or indeed whether) one pegs the wines at different levels of quality.

Certainly, this lacks a little in the conventional quality stakes; it’s moderately intense, there’s probably a bit too much sulfur to consider its presence a stylistic conceit, its flavours tumble over each other and collide inelegantly. And yet it’s quite magnetic in its chaotic fashion, and with each sip I become more interested in what it will tell me, in how it will disintegrate and recombine, and whether or not I’ll love it or feel repelled.

The aroma combines lean oak spice with sulfur, vanilla, clumsy bubblegum notes and an amalgam of citrus and bruised yellow peach. It’s hot and mealy and heady in turn, and although I can’t honestly describe it as pretty or luxurious — it’s not that sort of wine — its effect on me is consistent: I just keep wanting to smell it over and over again.

The palate shows a more straightforward character with juicy peach fruit taking centre stage. It’s a bit hot, perhaps, and the level of spicy oak may challenge some drinkers’ feel for ideal balance. As with the nose, however, there’s a magnetism to its character that cuts through what is a relatively dissonant flavour profile and, on some level, brings an odd coherence to the style. The middle palate comes closest to the sense of luxe that many Chardonnay drinkers will value, but it’s fleeting and almost ironic in its transition to a much more sculpted, slightly bitter after palate and finish. A lovely mealy texture is surely a highlight.


Domaine Dublère
Price: $A40
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Retail

Domaine Alain Chavy Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles 2007

It’s new year’s eve and I’m cracking open the good stuff.

A striking mix of lean minerality, powerful citrus fruit and well-controlled winemaker input. The nose is reticent for now, allowing mere wisps of prickly slate, freshly cut pear, grapefruit rind and green nuts to escape its grasp. If drinking now, best not to serve it too cold; allow it to warm and release as much aroma as it is willing. I sense a slow strip tease, one that may unfold over several years and whose narrative will only resolve at some uncertain point in the future, if ever.

The palate confirms what the nose only hints at: this is a wine of confident power and effortless complexity. What’s immediately obvious is the sustained thrust of the fruit; it really explodes on entry and carries right through the finish. This is, however, a wine made in a restrained mould, so one doesn’t get slutty gobs of peachy fruit. Instead, there’s a crisp steel mineral line that underlines the whole, challenged and softened by citrus and white peach fruit that seems to float above the more angular flavour components, not exactly integrated but rather acting as counterpoint. This wine isn’t about harmony, but nor is it about noisy contrasts. It sits somewhere in between, each side of its character pulling and pushing the other, creating tensions right along the line and never letting go their grip of the drinker. In objective quality terms this wine has the stuff: intensity, structure, line. But it’s the aesthetics on show that fascinate me and that elevate this wine above others of a similar level of technical accomplishment.

A beautiful, challenging wine.

Domaine Alain Chavy
Price: $A78.50
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Domaine du Clos Salomon Montagny le Clou 2007

I tasted the 2006 edition of this wine, and on balance feel the 2007 vintage is more achieved. It retains the essentially funky character of the fruit while rounding out the style to a more generous level. Still an off-centre aroma profile, with prickles of sulfur introducing fleshy yellow peach, roasted cashews and Thai basil. It has really blossomed after a couple of hours in the glass, so don’t serve this too cold, and be prepared to give it time. It ends up in a gentle place; this is never going to knock your socks off with power, but it glows with nuance and character.

Some oxidative character not evident on the nose asserts itself in the mouth, quite pleasantly so. There’s an essential discordance to the flavour profile that I am enjoying, though I suspect it may turn some drinkers off. If, however, you can get past the idea that wines ought to be neat and tidy aesthetic experiences, you may value the clash of peach, grapefruit, bitter herbs and creamy nuts that tumble over each other as this wine rushes past the middle palate. The after palate and finish are more focused, concentrating on yellow grapefruit flavours and very fine, firm acid. Intensity does not rise above a moderate level, and there’s a nice irony, I think, to the quiet way in which this wine seeks to argue with itself.

A really interesting, smart wine for lovers of the offbeat.

Clos Salomon
Price: $A30
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail