Last Saturday night, sitting at home deciding if I should open a bottle or Coravin a few, I opted for the latter and settled first on a 1999 d’Angerville Volnay Clos des Ducs. I have had his wine a few times over the last five years, having bought the wine originally En Primeur many years ago. In truth, on prior tastings, I have always been disappointed and found it lean with a hard edge to the tannin. So I took up the Coravin and drank a glass after allowing an hour for the wine to open up. It was magnificent with a beautiful rose and spicy nose, and a lovely finish; beautifully balanced with a length that let me know that this wine would be around for a long time to come (97+ points) — still five years away from being at its best. Later, I Coravined a glass of their 1999 Volnay Champans. Same story — this ugly duckling of a wine has changed beyond all recognition (95 points).
Here is the point. I can taste young Bordeaux from the barrel and can guess pretty accurately how the wine will turn out. I can even tell you the critics’ score within 2 points — Parker, Neal Martin etc., no problem. Guessing how young Bordeaux wines will turn out is easy: simply look for the balance Make sure that there is enough fruit, ripe tannins, non aggressive use of oak etc. and then judge the balance to know how it will turn out. I, by the way, am certainly not alone in this skill. Many in the wine trade can do the same.
Burgundy is different. I find it almost impossible to judge how young Burgundies will turn out. They all start off incredibly sweet and hard to discern and understand. This makes what Allen Meadows (Burghound.com) does even more amazing. He is the only critic I feel who truly understands how these wines will turn out. Parker, Coates and all the rest seem to struggle to be really consistent. Time will tell if Neal has got it right but he might well do, as may Antonio Galloni.
So I retain the view that right now, when it comes to Burgundy there is only wine critic who always seems to get it right. Allen Meadows just seems to have the knack — in addition to a vast amount of experience. I now trust his judgement completely having seen his scores of young wines turn out to be accurate when they put on weight and sweetness with age. Frankly I am in awe. Maybe one day I will get there.