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Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Wine tour operator, wine writer and lapsed physiotherapist. "Nature abhors a vacuum. I personally hate dusting."


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Volnay Versus Pommard - French Burgundy tasting

Last Thursday night, I was to found at a local French wine importers for a tasting of eight French Burgundies i.e. Pinot Noir.
These were divided into two flights – 4 from Volnay and 4 from Pommard.  At $NZ 70 per person it was still a rare chance to sample some of France’s most famous red wines.  And while I do describe myself as a wine enthusiast I am certainly not an expert.  Thus I make no claim to be any authority on French wines, although I have tasted quite a few over the years.  So this was an educative experience.

Spoiler Alert:  I really couldn’t bond with any of them.  They were wildly tannic, dry, rustic and gamey.  We were told that they would benefit from at least another 5 years ageing, probably more.

Anyway, Volnay and Pommard are two small villages located in Burgundy in the southern end of the Cote du Beaune, more famous for its oak aged Chardonnays than its reds.
Still, some of the Pinot Noirs are rated as Premier Cru.

The first flight of 4 wines from Volnay.  These are regarded as more feminine, perfumed  wines, compared to the muscular reds from Pommard.
Lafarge Volnay  2007    Smoky aromas with red berry fruit.  Astringently dry and tannic, young and edgy.
Lafarge Volnay  Premier Cru Clos des Ducs 2004   Brick red tints of colour indicating an older vintage.  Herbal and muscatel aromas.  Softer tannins. Palate of sour cherry, plum pudding.  My over-all favourite.
Montille Volnay Premier Cru Les Champans 2007  Savoury, smoky, gamey and spicy with ripe cherry fruit flavours.
Montille Volnay Premier Cru Les Taillepieds 2007  Less ripe than the Champans.  Savoury and spice flavours with plum and cherry.

Then to the bigger masculine reds from Pommard – described by mine French host as more of a rustic ‘truck driver’ style of wine. 
“Zeese wine weel not leap into your lap, and say take me ‘ome,” he explained.
Muzard Pommard Les Cras 2007 Overpowering  aromas of tar and dare-I-say-it, creosote.  Plus gamey herbal and carnation.  Me no like.
Courcel Pommard Premier Cru Les Croix Noirs 2006  Pot pourri aromas, flavours of cassis and cherry.  Big tannins.
Courcel Pommard Premier Cru Grand Clos des Epenots 2006 Again Pot pourri, cherry, black currant and wildly, wildly tannic.
Montille Pommard Premier Cru Les Rugiens 2004  Showing the benefit of age.  Floral pot pourri and gamey aromas. Flavours of beetroot, cassis, ripe plum and still very grippy tannins.

As a regular drinker of NZ Pinots, I really think we have extremely good value wines, particularly those from Martinborough and Waipara. Considering that the wines I tasted were around $NZ 160 a bottle, I think we are getting excellent value right here, right now!

Phil runs not for profit wine tours in Auckland Noo Zeelaand, baby!

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