Last night here at Flatiron Wines we hosted a small group to taste through a bunch of Volnays. The idea was to educate ourselves on this great Pinot Noir village by tasting wines from all the top producers, many of the best premier crus, and vintages spanning four decades.
The conclusion, as Dan noted, was “Volnay is good”. But we learned some other interesting details along the way. Here was the line-up:
D’Angerville, Meursault Santenots 2008 – This Chardonnay was the closest thing we could find to a “white Volnay”. Some found this a little chunky. I liked it well enough, but it did remind me a little of an Anjou Blanc!
Comte Armand Volnay A.C. 2010 – Loads of fresh red fruit. Some complained of barrel tannins that need a few years to integrate.
Lafarge Volnay A.C. 2009 – A great showing for a young 2009, without any of the heavy notes often associated with the vintage.
De Montille, Champans 2008 – A great showing, with lots of pure red fruit and a big step-up in complexity from the village wines. Really expressive. This made a number of tasters’ top-three lists.
d’Angerville, Champans 2008 – Also incredibly expressive for a young Burgundy. Interesting to drink this side by side with the de Montille as it really shows d’Angerville’s quieter more understated style. I really liked this and wish I had some to cellar! A number of the tasters’ second or third choice for wine of the night.
d’Angerville, Champans 1998 – Corked!
de Montille, Volnay 1er Cru 1993 – There was every reason to think that this would be a tannic wine: the old de Montille style, the vintage, and vines from the Pommard end of the village. And it was — it came off a little bit Piedmontese. But there were some interesting floral and herbal elements to this, and I liked it well enough.
Lafarge, Clos de Chene, 1987 – Corked!
Pousse d’Or, Clos de la Bousse d’Or, 1987 (a bottle that had been cellared chez Nicolas Potel) – Just a great showing, especially for a so-called off-vintage. Still lovely fruit and vigorous structure, but this was at its apogee. There was a slight vegetal note that reflected the problems with the vintage, but everyone agreed that this had integrated perfectly and actually enhanced the wine. This was my personal second favorite and was ranked third over-all by the group.
Lafon, Volnay Santenots de Milieu 1979 – This was a beautifully healthy bottle of old Volnay, oozing tertiary flavors that seemed to weave seamlessly with the bit of forest berry fruit that was left. Everyone loved this. My favorite and the group’s over-all favorite as well.
H. Boillot, Les Angles, 1978 – This looked and at first tasted much more tired than the Lafon. But it seemed to wake up with a little air and soon showed nice red berry fruit! In the end this was a number of tasters’ first choice and ranked second over-all.
One of the many lessons learned is that Volnay can be pretty good at just about any age. People spend a lot of time worrying about when the right time is to open Burgundy. But we drank delicious bottles last night that were young, middle-aged, and old. Yes, maybe time would have helped with the tannins in the 2010 Comte Armand or the 1993 de Montille, but even those wines on a normal night would have impressed, had they not been lined up against the beauties we had open!