“Drink Burgundy every day – new 2008s” was the subject line in a recent email from Roland Peens of Cape Town wine brokers Wine Cellar, his contention being that due to “classic” 2008 potentially being overshadowed by “flashy” 2009 and the strength of the rand, his new consignment of 2008s offers excellent value. When an invitation to taste a selection of these wines was extended, I didn’t hesitate to accept.
Weather conditions during the 2008 summer in Burgundy were generally poor although a sunny period in September just before harvest meant that the vintage was not a write-off: the wines are typically medium bodied with relatively high acidities.
A wine that you might really consider consuming pretty often if not on a daily basis is the Bourgogne Rouge 2008 from Vougeot based producer Hudelot Noellat. It shows red cherry fruit on nose and palate, almost tart acidity and firm tannins. Some might consider it a bit lean, but I thought it was clean and fresh and imminently drinkable. Price per bottle: R125. My score (blind): 15.5/20.
A step up is the Gevrey Chambertin 2008 from Louis Boillot, who makes his wines in the cellars he shares with his wife Ghislaine Barthod, the rising star of Chambolle-Musigny. This particular wine has a somewhat shy nose but a great purity of fruit on the palate along with fresh acidity and fine tannins. Layers of flavour – cherry, spice, some meatiness – but perhaps what impressed most was its poise. Great value at R290 a bottle. My score (blind): 18/20.
The absolute knock-out wine of the evening for me, however, was Liger-Belair Vosne-Romanée 2008. At R590 a bottle for a Village wine, not cheap but, man, do you get bang for your buck.
Domaine du Comte Liger-Belaire is a very recent undertaking begun in 2000 by Louis-Michel Liger-Belair, descendant of Louis Liger-Belair, Napoleonic general, who originally acquired the Chateau of Vosne in 1815. Land in Liger-Belaire family hands became greatly reduced over time and until Louis-Michel’s intervention wasn’t even directly farmed by the family. Vosne-Romanée is however the epicentre of top quality red Burgundy and not entirely incomprehensible why he passed up on a military career as his father, a general in the army, had wished for him.
Total production of Liger-Belaire Vosne-Romanée 2008 was 2 900 bottles of which Wine Cellar has 17 left. It shows typical Pinot Noir perfume along with red fruit, some meatiness and wood smoke on the nose. The palate is intense yet not weighty and there’s great balance between fruit, acidity and oak. I scored it (blind) 19/20 and can only wonder what Liger-Belair does with his little patch of La Romanée Grand Cru.