Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Domaine Georges Mugneret-Gibourg 2009
Whatever they’re technically called, this by far our favourite Domaine to visit every year. Combine absolutely stunning wines with really nice people and good conversation and it’s a winner every time. Both Marie-Andrée and Marie-Christine (sisters) share the duties, watched carefully by their formidable mother, Jacqueline. There is a wonderful harmony and equilibrium to the wines and they have become a reference point for top-class red Burgundy.
Marie-Andree first updated us a bit on the recently completed 2010 vintage – generally good quality, but overall volumes down by about 30%. Not such good news as the wines are already on strict allocation to us, but at least there is the slightly more plentiful 2009 harvest first.
For 2009, they were really happy with everything – most of the wines have a PH of around 3.4 and there’s a great balance between tannins and acidity. Alcohols have been well nurtured and range from 12.5% to 13.5% with well defined ripeness backed by dense structure.
At this address, even the “basic” Bourgogne is a treat. The 2009 had the hallmark “fresh” fruit and a lovely balanced finish. The 2009 Vosne Romanee had lifted spices and flowers on the nose, but good concentration and depth of fruit on the palate. The Nuits 1er Cru Chaignots was denser and chunkier with more black-fruit character and a hint of chalkiness – and great concentration. The Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Feussellotes is my favourite wine every vintage – and the 2009 didn’t disappoint. It was understandably closed and so didn’t reveal much of the classic elegant “feminine” style it normally exhibits, but showed great elegance and a long, long finish. In contrast, the Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru 2009 (younger vines planted in their plot of Ruchottes Chambertin) was meatier and smokier with savoury characteristics and a hint of cloves. A recent bottle of the 2002 we had back in Ireland was stunning.
We then dived headlong into the Grand Crus – the Echezeaux was classically dense, but in terms of “weight” vis-à-vis other examples, it had suppleness and subtlety that clearly hallmark it in a “refined” category. The Ruchottes Chambertin Vieilles Vignes was back to a meatier, more roasted style of fruit and minerals at the back of the mix. Amazing length. Finally, the Clos Vougeot was much more reserved, with a hint of spices and very fine tannins hidden below a thick core of black fruits.
Across the range, not one of the wines is aged in 100% new oak – they range from 30% to 70% - and again (in my opinion at least) this adds to the purity of fruit. Given our long discussions about acidity with the producers in the Cotes de Beaune, the subject came up again, but in the context of red wines. Freshness is definitely a hallmark of the Mugneret wines, and early harvesting also keeps alcohol levels down. But there’s a fascinating twist. Even in a “ripe” vintage like 2009, they will usually chaptalise – i.e. add sugar! Marie-Andree was so animated and excited when describing the process, you could see it’s something they consider an integral (and very positive) part of the process. Almost the equivalent of cooking – adding that last luxurious bit of sugar to a jam mix of fresh fruit and stirring the warm, bubbling pot. They will add a hint of sugar to the must prior to fermentation to bring the alcohol level up by a maximum of 0.5% - not because they necessarily need to bring up the alcohol, but because it adds extra complexity and a hint of a unique flavour to the wine. Listening to her describe the amazing aroma of warm, almost bubbling, grape must and stirring in the sugar slowly was wonderful.
Real proof that preconceived ideas about processes that are regularly chastised are often very wrong!
Anyway, back out into the rain…..!