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Albert Bichot Vosne-Romanée Les Malconsorts 1989

Having spent the last few days in Burgundy, experiencing some great wines and learning an immense amount about the vineyards, it is only naturally that this week's wine comes from that region. Perhaps this trip will be the spark that reignites my interest in Burgundy, and maybe I should try and make a little more room for it on this site in the future? It wouldn't be a huge deviation for me - although the strengths of this site today are Bordeaux and the Loire, when it all started nine years ago Burgundy was a major feature, and for the first year my weekly featured wine was always from this most famous of regions. Since then I have ignored it somewhat; that is something I think maybe I should put right.

Albert Bichot Vosne-Romanée Les Malconsorts 1989And so without further ado let's get our teeth into Vosne-Romanée, one of the villages of the Côte de Nuits. Sandwiched along with the vineyards of Flagey-Echézeaux between the famous Clos de Vougeot to the north, and Nuits-St-Georges to the south, the village has - in keeping with the rest of the Côte d'Or - ancient origins; early references to the village date back as far as the 6th Century. Four hundred years later the secularisation of the land was well underway with the establishment of the priory of St-Vivant, and the vineyards continued to grow until the Revolution, when all the vines in the ownership of the church and nobility were sold off as national assets. Since then the vines have in many cases become more parcellated, leaving us with the patchwork of vineyards, many (although not all) with multiple owners, that we have today.

Les Malconsorts is a premier cru vineyard that lies at the southern end of the commune, contiguous with Les Boudots in Nuits-St-Georges. It is directly adjacent to one of the commune's six (eight if you include Echézeaux and Grands-Echézeaux next door - they are often lumped together) grand cru sites La Tâche, perhaps one of Burgundy's most famous names, which lies just to the north. Closer to the route nationale and thus a little further down the slope is Les Chaumes, whereas up the hill it is village appellation Vosne-Romanée only. It is the proximity to La Tâche which no doubt draws the gaze of many onto Les Malconsorts; if a little of the glory of the former's wines can be transplanted into those of Malconsorts then that would make them a very good proposition indeed. Indeed, there are some locally in Burgundy who would support the elevation of the vineyard to grand cru status, although naturally such opinions might be expected from those with a vested interest in the vineyard; the wines of grand cru sites can of course be sold for many times the price of those from premier cru sites.

The vineyard itself amounts to just over 5.8 hectares, and is naturally divided between a handful of owners including Hudelot-Noëllat, Sylvain Cathiard and Thomas Moillard, although the latter sold many vines in this and other appellations to Domaine de Montille and Domaine Dujac. Interestingly, some of these vines actually lie within the stone walls of the adjacent clos of La Tâche, a good illustration of the precision of the demarcation of these cru appellations. In this case, however, the wines are those owned by the Domaine du Clos Frantin, a property in the ownership of négociant Albert Bichot. The wine - which has clearly lain in a dark and mouldy cellar for close to two decades - had a perfect cork in a very healthy condition. In the glass, the colour was rich, fine and mature, bricking at the rim but still very vibrant in terms of hue. The nose was similarly evolved, with a fine perfume, akin to violets, purity and remarkable freshness, alongside the characteristics of maturity including rust, iron filings and a meaty richness. On the palate it has a brilliant freshness, substantial and yet elegant, ripe and yet well polished. The fruit and structure are nicely integrated, and the finish seamless and very long. An excellent wine, remarkable for its lively personality at an admirable age. 18.5/20 (23/3/09)

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