Rather like the the first cuckoo of the spring or the changing of leaf colour in the autumn, the spring tastings of the new wines are a marker of the time of year. Caviste’s Burgundy festival is an opportunity to taste the latest offerings, in this case from the 2008 vintage. Eight growers, nearly all there in person, showed 37 wines in the comfort of the splendid games room at Ashe Park. I say comfort because Caviste had taken the wise step of cancelling the marquee and sheltering from the unseasonably cold spell indoors.
In contrast to the enormous trade tasting at Lord’s which I attended in January, at this smaller sample it was the whites which really stood out. Bruno Colin’s St Aubin is an excellent value white, 100% Chardonnay like all the rest. The Premier Cru La Charmois, at £140 per 6 bottles (all prices per 6 bottles duty paid), shows the continuing value of this appellation. Vincent Bouzereau’s wines also shone: simple, unoaked Bourgogne Blanc shows lovely, lively and quite complex fruit with a bit of minerality at a very reasonable £78 per 6 bottles. The village level Meursault has a great balance between freshness and richness (£145), while the two Premier Cru, Les Gouttes d’Or (amazing concentration, the density of fruit currently only showing in the after taste) and Charmes, both £225 are correspondingly grander.
But the highlight of the day was undoubtedly meeting Christian Moreau himself and of course tasting his great wines from Chablis. The family firm which carries his name is now run by his son, Fabian, but Christian genially presides over the wines as though they were his own grandchildren. His seems a happy lot. After many years of putting his name on the map, he can simultaneously take pride in the wine which continues to be of the highest quality and have the relaxed look of a man who knows that somebody else is reliably doing the hard work.
Having tasted the 2007s at the London Chablis trade tasting earlier in the year, this was a chance to check out the 2008s. Both are very good vintages in the whites, 2008 if anything even better than 2007, certainly more approachable and so can be drunk earlier. Four quality and price levels:
- ‘basic’ (but floral and mildly mineral) Chablis, £80 (all prices per 6 bottles duty paid)
- more restrained, dense fruit in Premier Cru Vaillons, oak aged, needs time, £118
- lemon and lime fruit, great minerality and length in Grand Cru Valmur, 40% vinified in oak barrels of which only 2% is new, £195
- similarly Grand Cru Les Clos, more rounded, oak more evident, £195
- and from the historic heart of Les Clos, Grand Cru Clos de Hospises, rich, exotic, floral and fruit notes on the nose, gorgeous fruit, so complex, £260
- And yes, there were some reds, but not that many. The wine to drink now is Lignier- Michelot’s Gevrey Chambertin with wonderful accessible fruit (Cuvée Bertin, £178). And then there was the chance to taste the otherwise unreachable. Although it seems a shame to reduce the already tiny numbers of bottles of Grand Cru wines by tasting them years before they hit their prime, few are going to turn down the opportunity to try Clos de la Roche (Lignier-Michelot, superb texture, sweet ripe fruit, £450) or indeed the white, Lequin-Colin, Batard Montrachet (very closed but with an amazing rich texture, £615). The 2008s are well and truly launched.