Our take: Burgundy 2008

(by susie)

With the current hype surrounding the 2009 Burgundy vintage leading to a lack of availability and inflated prices, we thought it was time to take another look at the less lauded 2008s.

Peter recently posted a review of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s 2008 reds and what follows is my report from this year’s Institute of Masters of Wine Annual Burgundy Tasting at Vintner’s Hall.

These tastings offer an excellent opportunity to assess a vintage after the hurly burly of the primeurs tastings has died down and the wines themselves have settled in bottle.

Seventeen producers took part and a total of 60 wines were available to taste.  One of the disappointments of the day was the lack of whites.  Only 15 of the 60 were white, yet those 15 demonstrated what an excellent vintage it is proving to be for whites and it would have been wonderful to have been able to taste more.

The Vintage

2008 was a difficult year in Burgundy with poor weather throughout the spring and summer.  The vintage was deemed to have been ‘saved’, however, thanks to excellent conditions from mid-September onwards.

This led to whites with very high acidity combined with ripe fruit that, in early tastings, often sat rather awkwardly together.  These characteristics now seem to have mellowed and harmonised in the best examples, and two of my top wines of the tasting yesterday were white.

The reds were less good overall on initial tasting, but the most significant issue was (and still is) the variation in quality.  Given severe sorting was required to produce decent red wine in 2008, it is the individual producers, rather than specific appellations, that stand out from the crowd.

A note on Chablis.  When I first tasted the 2008 Burgundy vintage it was Chablis that most impressed me.  However, having recently tasted a couple of top producers’ wines, it appears they are going through a dumb phase and need to be left alone for a while.

Tasting notes

NB: prices, stockists and availability can be found using wine-searcher or by contacting importers and merchants directly. Some of these producers are stocked by merchants including Berry Bros & Rudd, Corney & Barrow, Justerini & Brooks, Roberson and OWLoeb.


Meursault, Clos de Barre, Domaine des Comtes Lafon – A sensational wine that begins subtlety with an enticing hint of the nutty complexity that is to come. As it opens in the mouth it is the most harmonious and thrilling mix of spine-tingling acidity with flavours of lemon curd, roasted nuts and melted butter.  Gorgeously complex and lingering.  9/10

Corton-Charlemagne, Grand Cru, Domaine Bonneau du Martray – Delicious, savoury, nutty aromas.  Shot through with a streak of steely acidity the palate shows mealy minerality along with flavours toasted hazelnuts and cream.  Structured, multi-layered and impressively long. 9/10


Rully, Les Préaux, 1er Cru, Domaine Eric de Suremain – I include this lively little Rully because it is so delightfully fruity and easy to drink.  Packed with flavours of summer berries and violets it is eminently gluggable.  7.5/10

Volnay, Santenots-du-Milieu, 1er Cru, Domaine Comtes Lafon – Restrained but beautifully perfumed, red fruit style.  Multi-layered with fresh acidity and hints of toast and truffle.  Very elegant with a subtle exotic note to the finish. 8.75/10

Pommard, Les Rugiens, 1er Cru, Domaine de Montille – The first of 3 wines from this producer.  All were extremely elegant, light and lifted in style, with very fine texture. A soft and attractive wine that is drinking superbly now.  Full of warm, plummy flavours it has an appealing leafy note to the finish.  8.75/10

Corton, Grand Cru, Domaine Bonneau du Martray – Gorgeously scented with earthy, blackberry aromas – wow.  So concentrated, complex and seductive.  Earthy, truffley, Autumnal, perfumed, exotic… need I say more? 9/10

Corton, Clos du Roi, Grand Cru, Domaine de Montille – Very pale and full of fragrant, leaf and spice aromas.  Not hugely concentrated but so very elegant and drinkable.  Classic red Burgundy that is full of intriguing flavours and a delight to drink. 8.5/10

Vosne-Romanée, Les Malconsorts, 1er Cru, Domaine de Montille – Intense, leafy aromas and a lovely, exotic palate feel.  Delicate rather than concentrated, but with a terrific mix of savoury / sweet flavours. 8/10

Vosne-Romanée, Les Beaux Monts, 1er Cru, Domaine Jean Grivot – Leafy and peppery, red berry aromas.  Multi-layered with plenty of ripe fruit and gamey complexity.  Impressive stuff. 8.5/10

Nuits-Saints-Georges, Aux Boudots, 1er Cru, Domaine Jean Grivot – An even better wine from Jean Grivot.  This is warm and spicy with flavours of fresh and dried fruits.  So inviting, so seductive, so drinkable – a near-perfect example of Nuits-Saints-Georges. 9/10

Bonnes-Mares, Grand Cru, Domaine Georges Roumier – Delightfully fragrant, ripe and spicy.  Good concentration of rich plum fruit along with elegant, leafy layers and an enticing, exotic note.  A beautifully structured, long-lived and stylish wine. 8.75/10

Chambolle-Musigny, Domaine Georges Roumier – A smooth and seductive Chambolle with an attractive lightness of touch.  Fragrant and delicate with flavours of ripe summer berry fruit, this is a pretty wine for short-medium term drinking. 8.5/10

Chambolle-Musigny, les Feusselottes, 1er Cru, Domaine Méo-Camuzet – Bright blackberry and floral aromas lead the way in this vibrant young wine.  Appealing savoury undertones lend weight and complexity. The tannins are still relatively firm and it will reward further cellaring. 8.25/10

Mazis-Chambertin, Grand Cru, Domaine Faiveley -Fragrant and powerful with meaty, peaty aromas, this is a wine with impressive depth of flavour.   Sappy red fruit is matched by fine tannins and pleasing length. 8/10

Latricières-Chambertin, Grand Cru, Domaine Trapet – Although the nose is currently a little dumb, this is a beautifully elegant and complex wine.  Superbly textured with smooth, warming flavours of red plum and cinnamon spice, it shows appealing restraint as it invites you in with a whisper not a shout. 9/10

Chambertin, Grand Cru, Domaine Trapet – A little richer and with more power than the previous wine.  Smooth and full-flavoured with ripe red fruit and a hint of spice. 8.5/10