On 7 January, I went to what was my first – and probably last – Burgundy 2008 en primeur tasting of 2010. The offices of Goedhuis & Co are just up the road from my flat, though the extraordinary recent weather here in London meant that a ten minute walk took close to 20 minutes.
Johnny Goedhuis and his enthusiastic staff have as good a selection of Burgundy as anybody in the UK; if I were to attend only one tasting, then this was as useful as any. Although I got my initial wine education at Haynes Hanson & Clark and had the privilege of working with Anthony Hanson MW, author of the brilliant but now outdated Faber title Burgundy, I still find the region and its wines labyrinthine in their complexity. I simply don’t know enough about it to be a good judge of young, fûts de chênes samples of red and white Burgundy. You have to be dedicated to it, like Johnny Goedhuis or Jasper Morris are, to really understand it.
My overall impression of the wines tasted chez Goedhuis was that the whites were on the whole a bit better than the reds, though that could be to do with the varying difficulty of judging such young wines. I found that the whites became crisper as they moved up the scale (or hillside!) – the best premiers and grands crus for me had a snake-like acidity that was forceful but utterly clean. “Purity” is essential to fine Burgundy. The best wines here were, in the words of Sylvia Plath, “as pure and clean as the cry of a baby.” But they are very expensive.
The lesser village and regional wines were for me fatter but that is not a problem – you just drink them sooner! No wine or producer stood out but I found the Jobard wines particularly challenging to my early morning and part-frozen palate.
Some of the red grands crus were very impressive for their richness and structure – Drouhin-Laroze’s Chambertin Clos de Bèze was a biggie, massively structured and very rich. Others were more difficult, such as Clos des Lambrays, which is often inscrutable when young.
The Goedhuis printed offer for its 2008 Burgundies was as informative as always. I noted with interest that Laurent Ponsot has initiated a “complex authentication system for all of his 1er and Grand (sic) Crus… Following issues with counterfeiting.” Readers of my reports on fine wine auctions and the secondary market – there must be at least one of you! – will recall that some Ponsot lots consigned to Acker Merrall & Condit by Rudy Kurniawan at its April 2008 auction were withdrawn at the last moment due to Ponsot’s objections. Bravo Laurent for being so stringent; not so bravo for most fine wine producers who give a Gallic shrug when confronted with the issue of forgeries. This issue is like an oil slick on the oh so smug pond that is the world of fine wine. With growing Chinese interest in wine, the problem will only become worse.
The Goedhuis gang is such a nice bunch of people that they can be forgiven for the solecistic “wonderous” on the back cover of the offer. Perhaps it is a US spelling.
The Berry Bros & Rudd 2008 Burgundy catalogue was also entertaining. What other merchant would have a “Fine Wine Sales Advisor” with the surname “Gossip”; a “Cellar Plan Manager” called “Cave”; and have its “Fine Wine Director” Simon Staples describe – apparently with a straight face – Jean-Noël Gagnard’s Bâtard-Montrachet as having a “majestic girth”? I suspect that the delightful Simon Berry would have approved the copy with a knowing smile.