Burgundy Masterclass – Hosted by Philip Rich

Reviewed 28 August 2011


Dr Brendan Jansen

Philip Rich is a specialist wine importer and highly knowledgeable wine columnist with the Australian Financial Review. So when news of this tasting masterclass reached me, I was keen to attend.

Philip is indeed a European, and Burgundian in particular, wine aficionado. In the tasting he presented three brackets of Burgundy (2 of white, and 1 of red, all from the 2009 vintage) and a bracket of Barolos from the 2007 vintage in Piedmont, Italy (an appropriate accompaniment to Burgundy, as he described Piedmont as the Burgundy of Italy).

Here is a list of the wines:

Bracket 1 (White)

  • Jean-Marc Pillot – Chassagne Montrachet – 2009
  • Jean-Marc Pillot – Chassagne Montrachet – Baudines – 2009
  • Jean-Marc Pillot – Chassagne Montrachet – Vergers – 2009
  • Jean-Marc Pillot – Chassagne Montrachet – Morgeots – 2009

Bracket 2 (White)

  • Henri Boillot – Bourgogne Blanc – 2009
  • Henri Boillot – Meursault – 2009
  • Henri Boillot – Meursault – Charmes – 2009
  • Henri Boillot – Corton Charlemagne – 2009

Bracket 3 (Red)

  • Hudelot Noellat – Bourgogne – Rouge – 2009
  • Hudelot Noellat – Chambolle Musigny – 2009
  • Hudelot Noellat – Nuits St Georges – Murgers – 2009
  • Hudelot Noellat – Clos de Vougeot – 2009

Bracket 4 (Barolo)

  • Mauro Veglio – Barolo – DOCG – 2007
  • Mauro Veglio – Barolo – Arborina – DOCG – 2007
  • Mauro Veglio – Barolo – Castelletto – DOCG – 2007
  • Mauro Veglio – Barolo – Rocche dell’ Annunziata – DOCG – 2007

Without going into detailed tasting notes of each wine, I will leave you with my general impressions of the tasting, and highlight a couple of the wines which were particularly impressive, for quality and/or value for money.

Firstly, the rise in quality as we moved from Village to Premier Cru to Grand Cru was quite apparent, manifest especially by both greater palate persistence and intensity.

Secondly, the whites in particular were all in a linear, more angular style. I for one prefer my white Burgundy in this style – no excessive oaking or buttery malolactic and leesy characters. In fact the 2 Meursault wines, though with more sinew and body than the Chassagne Montrachets, were nowhere near the plump examples I have tasted before, and I may have found it difficult to pick them as Meursaults in a blind line-up. Though partly a feature of the 2009 vintage, I suspect Philip has sourced wines with a more slender and elegant expression of white Burgundy – for which I am personally grateful!

My favourite of the first bracket was the Baudines (18 pts), which had a lovely texture and mouthfeel to accompany its superb acid. In the second bracket, the Corton Charlemegne (18.5 pts), though still young and closed, spoke of richness and balance on the palate, guaranteeing it a long life ahead.

Of the Red Burgundies, the Hudelot Chambolle Musigny (17.25 pts) displayed more funky, feral and undergrowth characters than the other wines – which I usually enjoy, but in this case possibly indicated some premature aging – it just tasted older than it should. The Nuits St Georges Murgers (18.25 pts) was cleaner and “purer’ with tight tannic structure and backbone. The Clos Vougeot was very young, and its scents had to be coaxed from within the glass. Nonetheless the palate already shows amazing depth, length, and complexity (including cherry fruit, liquorice and clove) (18.75 pts)

The Barolos, bar the first bottle (which I thought had too much volatility to represent a non-faulty bottle), were exemplars of the tar and roses/violets and ripe tannins of the appellation. The fourth (Roche dell’Annunziata – 18.5 pts) was my favourite, and even had some Barbaresco-esque spicy complexity.

To end, a special mention of the Vilmart Champagne, described by Tom Stevenson MW as being the ‘greatest grower Champagne I know’, which was served at he beginning of the tasting. This was a superb, perfumed, elegant and complete NV Champagne, and set the tone for a great tasting! (18.5 pts)

Ciao for now!

Brendan Jansen

Editors Note