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.
I tasted this inexpensive red Burgundy a few months ago at a dinner party, and remember enjoying it. Last night, I had the opportunity to taste it at leisure, so am able to provide more concrete impressions.
Nice, savoury expression of Pinot Noir. The nose shows dark aromas of sous-bois and only a hint of the beetroot-rhubarb fruit that can dominate some New World Pinot styles. There’s perhaps a bit of rubbery reduction too, which blows off after some of air. As with a number of other wines I’ve tasted lately, I’m interested in the tension between sweet, seductive fruit and savouriness or even a degree of challenging funkiness. It seems an especially difficult thing to pull off successfully, but I like watching wines (and winemakers) try.
The palate seems quite resolved and approachable. It shows a similar balance of sweet and savoury to the nose, and is moderately intense. What I like most about it its sense of balance and easygoing drinkability, which it achieves without being at all simple. In fact, given its price and provenance, it’s surprisingly sophisticated, with well integrated flavours and a finely textural mouthfeel that helps it to cut through food (ok, take-away pizza) one may not naturally pair with this kind of wine.
A very drinkable, well-priced Pinot, ready now. Quite sophisticated too.
Domaine du Prieuré
I had to leave this wine overnight as, on opening, it seemed excessively sulphurous, to the point of being undrinkable. It’s better tonight, although there is a hardness that seems reluctant to depart. I’m not enough of a guru to know whether this is a technical fault or a function of fruit, so I’ll just call this wine as I find it.
On the nose, softly fruited with quite luscious plum and strawberry characters. There’s also an edge of minerality and an underlying hardness that speaks to me of woody stalks. It’s actually becoming less expressive as it sits in the glass, although what’s there is interesting in an elusive way. The entry shows similarly contradictory characters. There’s a thread of the same juicy fruit, but it’s almost completely overwhelmed with hard, savoury characters. Things remain thin through the middle palate, with a thrust of bitterness that obscures pretty much everything. There’s a bit of joy on the after palate, with some sweetly floral characters, before an astringent, hard finish.
I’m not really getting a lot from this wine in terms of enjoyment, though I will persist with it through the evening to see where it goes.
Domaine du Prieuré
I’ve popped the cork off a Pinot Noir in anticipation of a good match with roast duck this evening. The bird is resting, so I’ve a few minutes to swirl and sniff my way through this reasonably priced Burgundy from Savigny-les-Beaune. A very Pinot-esque purple/red/orange hue that is pretty and not especially dense. Colour’s one of those things I tend to gloss over a bit; with Pinot, though, I enjoy the paradox of a red wine that can often lack colour density but which, when it’s good, is intensely aromatic and powerful in the mouth. One of the charms of the variety, I guess.
A really nice aroma here. It’s pretty, floral, a bit confected perhaps, but this latter aspect goes to accessibility rather than quality. Fruit character is pretty straightforward. There’s a nice spicy edge too, and the whole is very perfumed and rewarding to smell, if not especially serious or challenging.
The palate is very pleasing. I’m getting a decent amount of astringency that appears to be whole bunch related and, being a sucker for some stalk, am enjoying it very much. It’s a light bodied wine, quite acidic, with accessible berry fruit flavour and spice. Perhaps a bit thin, the wine remains a light experience along its entire line, never filling out or becoming especially fat. But that’s ok, it seems to be a stylistic thing as much as anything else, and begs for food. There’s some complexity in terms of the flavour profile, and one would probably gain some satifaction by tasting more analytically. For me, though, this is a great bistro-style Burgundy that I’d be happy to throw back with mates over a good meal.
Update: on the second evening, a mellower wine, diminished in terms of fruit richness though still fresh-tasting. Drink now.
Domaine du Prieuré
Village-level white Burgundy. I’ve not tried any whites from Savigny-les-Beaune and I understand it to be an appellation that produces mostly red wines, with a mere thirty eight hectares of white plantings. So I was particularly interested to get my hands on this one.
I must admit, I’ve struggled to get a lot from the nose here. There’s maybe a little bit of nuttiness crossed with minerality. It light, delicate and powdery in character. On the palate, a lot more substantial. This wine has a very attractive flavour profile comprising light peach notes and more nutty characters. It just feels right and tastes good, even though it’s far from the last word in complexity or sophistication. Quite mouthfilling although not overly intense, this wine moves cleanly along its line and modulates continually between different flavour components. There’s a slight lack of coherence between elements, but this is not overly distracting. On the after palate, more vanilla and almond type flavours, certainly not overpowering but still noticeable. The finish is quite textural, with an almond essence twist and some astringency taking advantage of good length.
This isn’t a worldbeater but I must admit I am enjoying its flavour and easygoing structure very much. Good value for what’s on offer, I think.
Update: I left half the bottle overnight and restated at length. On the second day, an altogether superior wine, with a more integrated set of flavours and basically more of everything. I do enjoy the flavour profile very much, which is abundantly mealy without masking clean, juicy peach fruit. My kind of wine.
Domaine du Prieuré
Date tasted: November 2008