Halfway down the stairs is a stair where I sit,
There isn’t any other stair, quite like it.
I’m not at the bottom, I’m not at the top,
But this is the stair where I always stop.
These words were sung by Kermit the Frog’s nephew, Robin. And it reminds me of the entry level pricing of Burgundy. Every other wine region has entry level wines at an inexpensive price (Chile for example) or at an absurdly high price (Britain!), but Burgundy is just in the middle. In the staircase of pricing, Burgundy is only halfway down.
And this is the problem with Burgundy. They are a major wine producing region, not like the UK which is a minor one and can ‘justify’ a high entry price point, and as a big region, they should be producing cheaper wines to get people interested in the region. But they don’t. And our first stop on day two of the roadtrip through France’s wine producing regions took us to Burgundian producer Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret. This wonderful producer isn’t halfway down the stairs, it has barely set foot on the staircase and is still suffering from altitude sickness.
We started off with a 2007 Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits ‘La Croix’. Retailling at around £19, it is a bit expensive. There is some wild raspberries and some nice wild berries with mint and herbs on the nose, with a palate of simple, fresh blackberries and strawberries. It is a little Beaujolais-esque, but with some darker elements thrown in – reminds me a bit of Brouilly! It is a nice wine, don’t for one moment think it’s not, but it should be under £15. 7.5/10
The 2007 Fixin Village was wonderful. Polished wood aromas, a touch of pinot noir stink and some pomegranite. The palate has a lovely up front sweetness, a full wine with plum skin flavours and a long, finish. There is tannin gripping softly, and altogether an outstanding wine. 8.5/10
Next up was a 2006 Savigny les Beaune and it was all about wild raspberries, some sweet cherry and some meaty elements on the nose. The palate had a lovely texture, soft which then let through grippy tannins, with lovely wild raspberries, but then you get a lull just before the finish and this scores it down. 7.5/10. This then lead on to the 2006 Savigny les Beaune 1er Cru ‘Les Narbantons’ which had aromas of plum, strawberry, raspberry and faint cassis. It was a real delight to stick your nose into. The palate then had dark chocolate, dusted in cocoa and then lots of dusty berries which kept on going and going and going. I really like this wine. 9/10
I love Nuits St Georges and their 2006 ‘Les Plateaux’ was not a disappointment, but didn’t blow me away like I’d hoped it woud. Wild raspberries, some cocoa on the nose and then a tasty, leafy fruit palate was all good, but it had a significant wobble in the transition to the finish which really marked it down. I’d started writing 9.5/10 when it hit, and then scribbled it out and put 8/10. It was that damaging to the wine.
Moving on to Vosne Romanee (it really is a hard life!), we had the 2006 Vosne Romanee ‘Les Maizieres Hautes’. A lot of perfumy polish, some aniseed and clove mixed with cherry skin. The palate had a bit of booze, some nice dark leather and stalky raspberries. It needs a bit of age, that is for certain, bit it has a lovely long finish that tastes of grape seeds! 8/10
Two vintages of the Vosne Romanee 1er Cru ‘Les Orveaux’ came next. The 2004 vintage was all veggies – some dirty new potato skin, boiled and with fresh mint was what I got from the aroma. The palate was super, nice structure, good fresh mint and a very elegent wine with a veggie and plum flavour. Dried figs were all over the finish, and I scored it 8.5/10. My question mark over this wine was more to do with it’s £50 price tag, but it is worth it. Just.
The 2006 Vintage was a bit bigger, with rich, sweet cherry and dark liquorice coming right out of the glass and not showing the lighter fresher characters of the 2004. The palate was rich with nice sweet cherry and liquorice, with these flavours just dissipating very slowly. Crunchy apple acid mixed with raspberries and some cassis skin round of this big wine. 8.5/10
The last two wines were the 2004 Grands-Echezeaux Grand Cru and the 2006 Echezeaux Grand Cru. The Grands-Echezeaux again had the potato skin element of the Vosne Romanee, but had some horse poop and pomegranate seeds. Sweet and savoury flavours mingle in your mouth, with some nice spice (mild chilli or paprika, I’m not certain which) and lots of cranberries, plum and cloves. A very long, gentle, yet punchy wine. 9/10.
Finally, the Echezeaux, which had boot polish, sweet fig and cranberry on the nose, leading to a wonderfully textured, dried cranberry and leather flavour. Dry with soft tannin and some spice adding depth, this is a lovely wine but hideously young. 8.5/10.
All the wines were lovely, very well made and with some outstanding wines, and if the claims that 2009 is going to be the best year since 1959 are true, I’ll be stocking up on ’09 Mongeard-Mugneret. I don’t care if the cheapest wines they stock are further up the staircase than Kermit’s nephew Robin.