Issue #73  6/19/2004
Wine Notes: 2002 Burgundy Tasting and Other Recent Bottles

Along with photography, you have to be able to enjoy other sensory delights. One of my favorites is a good wine. As a founding member of the non-existent International Photographic Wine Club, I thought I would share some of my recent tasting with my fellow members. One of these days, we might actually hold an actual tasting here or in Paris.

One of the better Burgundy producers, especially for the money, is Daniel Rion. According to early reports of the 2002 Burgundy vintage, this will be an erratic group of wines. Some producers frankly had problems from the 2003 heat wave, which hurt some of those who could not keep their cellars cool. But if Daniel Rion's wines are any indicator, some of the Burgundies from this vintage will be the best since 1995, or even 1990. They are loaded with fruit, with great length and balance. The tannins are there but in the better wines barely noticeable. The purity of Rion's top two wines is astonishing. The wines of Cote de Vougeot reportedly did much better this year than the Cote de Beaune.

From a tasting of 2002 Daniel Rion Burgundies (the prices were for pre-arrival, so they might be a few more dollars on actual release):

Haut Cotes-Nuits-Blanc, Rating 86, decent clean and a great value for a "house" white wine ($12).

Cotes-Nuits-Villages, Rating 83, Smoky and simple, but quite drinkable and at $18 a decent, but not spectacular value.

Vosne Romanee, Rating 89, More candy and more complexity ($30).

Chambolle-Musigny Les Beaux Bruns, Rating 92, Nice balance and ph, good purity, the best value of the mid-price range. I considered buying this one ($32).

Nuit St. George Vielles Vignes, Rating 90, More reticent on the nose, more noticeable tannins, but very good ($32).

Vosne Romanee Les Beaux Monts, Rating 91-92+, Quite nice, big nose, very long in the mouth ($44).

Vosne Romanee Les Chaumes, Rating 91-92+, Very similar to the Beaux Monts, very long ($44).

Nuit St. George Haut Pruliers, Rating 92-93+, Very tasty and a definite step up in the tasting ($44). I bought this wine.

Nuits St. George Les Vignes Rondes, Rating 90, My least favorite of the bigger wines, but still excellent, just not as interesting as the other fine wines in this tasting ($44).

Echezeaux, Rating 93+, Beautiful purity and balance. Delicate not heavy, but a bit of tannin at the end, with good length. Meant for the long term. My second favorite wine of the tasting, and I bought this wine ($65).

Clos Vougeot, Rating 94, The very best wine of the tasting. Balance, fruit, great length in the mouth (this wine just goes on and on, like the Energizer Bunny), super nose—just wonderful overall. A solid, exciting wine that is even drinkable today or can easily be cellared for the longer term. I bought this wine ($75).


1991 Pesquera Reserva. Pesquera is always a great value in good years, and 1991 was a very good year in Spain and for Pesquera (as was 1985, 1994 and 1999-2001, actually there were even some good 1995s and 1998s; Spain is much like California this way: most years are decent if not great). I have had great simple crianzas (about $20-25/bottle now for current vintages) and reserves (about $35-45/bottle) from this old Spanish house. I prefer to skip the very top of their offerings (Gran Reserva), which sometime get a bit too much wood for my taste and are just too pricey (close to $100/bottle) to justify the extra expense. The crianzas and reserves are the real "buy" here. The wines almost always seem to drink well after about 12-15 years. Four years ago, I had a 1985 crianza that was still drinking very well indeed (Rating 91), even with a leaking cork. The 1991 reserva is drinking extremely well right now but still has plenty of stuffing left to cellar for at least another 10+ years. I have often found leaking corks from Pesquera for some reason (probably shipping, but possibly bad corks), but astonishingly the wines do not seem to have suffered from it. This one is lovely, with just the right touch of acid to make it interesting, but a lowly low ph mouth feel with lots of fruit. A big wine, make no mistake about it, but its concentration adds to the interest. The nose floats from the glass with just a whiff of eucalyptus, but dark fruits as well. Oddly the nose closes down a bit as time goes on, perhaps indicating a future time where the wine may close down again. Unlike some Spanish wines, this one seems to have the fruit to go the distance. But why wait when it is drinking so well now. Good purity and length. Rating 94 and an excellent buy.