Blind Tasting of Primarily 1999 Red Burgundy with the Burgdogs

I  was invited to donate some New World Pinot Noir pirates to a blind tasting of highly regarded 1999 red Burgundies. The participants, called the Burgdogs, were all big-time red Burgundy collectors who obviously enjoy these wines. The flights of six wines were all served blind in random order.

We preceded the tasting with five white Burgundies, all of which were above average. I rated all of these wines between 85 and 88, with my favorite being the 1999 Fontaine-Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet Les Caillerets, which had more minerals as well as delineation. I also enjoyed the exotic 2000 Sauzet Puligny Montrachet Les Combettes. However, none of these wines were concentrated or exciting.

Flight 1: The winner of this flight was the 1999 Dugat-Py Chambertin, followed closely by the sumptuous 1999 Robert Groffier Chambolle Musigny Les Amoureuses. The surprisingly strong 1994 Dehlinger Pinot Noir 20 Year Old Vines outperformed the very good 1999 Dujac Clos de la Roche, a horrible 1999 Confuron-Cotidot Vosne Romanée Les Suchots (totally devoid of charm and character), and what must have been an off bottle of 1999 Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche (muted and thin).

Flight 2: This group of red Burgundy addicts thought the 1998 Martinelli Pinot Noir Reserve to be a wine of great finesse, aromatic complexity, and finesse. It was the wine of the flight. For the future, I would put my money on the 1999 Dugat-Py Mazis Chambertin as it is enormously concentrated, but rustic and overly extracted. The 1999 Robert Groffier Bonnes Mares did not show as well as the Chambolle Musigny, but it is probably needs more time as the wine is loaded in the mouth. Rebourseau's 1999 Chambertin was pathetic, and the 1999 Comte de Vogüé Musigny Vieilles Vignes was compressed, compact, and attenuated, with no depth. The harsh, astringent 1999 Confuron-Cotidot Echézeaux was, frankly, disgusting.

Flight 3: The star of this flight was the 1999 Pernot-Minot Charmes Chambertin, a beautifully made wine with considerable upside. A close second was the 1999 Roumier Chambolle Musigny Les Amoureuses. Obviously I cannot comment on the Belles Soeurs, but I will say it did not measure up to the other top wines of the flight. After enjoying a number of top-notch bottles, the 1996 Marcassin Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast was a disappointment. This bottle revealed notes of volatile acidity as well as an overly mature style ... surprisingly, since it came from my cold, damp cellar. The most disappointing wine of this flight was the 1999 Château de la Tour Clos Vougeot Vieilles Vignes, a bizarre, overly-oaked vinous concoction.

Flight 4: The wine of the flight, and possibly the wine of the night was the spectacular 1999 Claude Dugat Charmes Chambertin. This flight had no disappointments, with the domestic wines showing exceptionally well, and the French wines also top-flight. The Dugat towered above all the competition.

Flight 5: Everyone agreed that the two top wines in this flight were #4 and #5. I was surprised by the number of Burgundy aficionados who did not guess the two pirates from Oregon. The other surprises were the Henri Boillot 1999 Volnay Les Fremiets (a great wine, and one of the most reasonably priced of the 1999 red Burgundies), and the 1999 Peter Michael Pinot Noir Pisoni Vineyard, which tasted better than I remember. Altogether, this was a strong flight save for the ghastly 1999 Confuron-Cotedot Vosne Romanée.

Flight 6: The blockbuster wine of this flight, and one of the finest wines of the tasting was the 1999 Martinelli Pinot Noir Blue Slide Ridge. Most tasters mistook it for a great grand cru from the Côtes de Nuits. Remember, these are people who spend their money and lives drinking Burgundy. This is not the first time I have seen this wine perform in such a spectacular manner, so I was not surprised. The 1999 A. F. Gros Richebourg was top-notch, and the 1999 Confuron-Cotedot Charmes Chambertin was disappointing. The 1999 d'Angerville Volnay Clos des Ducs was lean, attenuated, acidic, and a surprisingly poor effort from this highly renowned producer. Even worse was the disgustingly thin, washed out, hard, angular 1999 Clos de Tart. There was no doubting the 1999 Kistler Pinot Noir Cuvée Catherine was New World in its ripeness, high extract, and obvious toasty oak, but the wine was big, rich, young, and vigorous.

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