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19/11/2019

2006 Burgundies "Never stop fighting till the fight is done"

by Guy Ruston (Managing Director Asia Pacific)

“…06 is a bit like Kevin Costner, what happened to him? where did he go? Who knows…” (Unnamed guest)

When assessing Burgundy vintages of late,  there has been one particular vintage conspicuously absent from discussions. Indeed, one may eulogize about the mighty 2005s or 2010s, the ripe and hedonistic 2009s or 2015s, the charming ‘01s or the crowd-pleasing ‘07s. On the flip side one may be critical of the ‘04s, or perhaps the ‘03s. 2006, in any context however, rarely ever gets a mention. In any wine region, the “vintage of a lifetime” is always a tough act to follow and in the case of Burgundy, the shadow of 2005 looms large to this day. While the growing season in 2006 wasn’t without its challenges, broadly speaking the whites and the Côte de Nuits were a success, if not attaining the same levels of ripeness, concentration and consistency as the previous year. Many vignerons likened the vintage to 2001; classic, cool and pure wines. Indeed, for the most part the wines were well-received by merchants and critics alike. Pitched as a “winemakers’ vintage” the wines sold well on release, or be it with a little more ‘selling’ required than the previous year’s campaign. However, despite a few ’10 Years On’ tastings back in 2016, the ‘06s have been largely forgotten about.

In the spirit of research, nostalgia and an excuse to drink a truck a load of pinot noir, a world XI of HK’s finest imbibers assembled to reflect on this forgotten vintage’s body of work. Like the filmography of a once global, superstar actor, should the 2006 vintage be confined to charity shop VHS/DVD bargain bins or is it deserving of a resurrection on a new-fangled streaming service?

Let’s take a walk through Kevin Costner’s back catalogue and some 2006 Burgundies and see…

The Bodyguard

This 1992 ‘classic’, largely a vehicle for the music career of the late, great Whitney Houston, saw Kevin Costner at the peak of his commercial appeal. That didn’t stop him from starring in the gigantic flop that was ‘Waterworld’  three years later, which was at the time, the most expensive movie ever made but its fair to say that Kevin, a heartthrob for middle-aged house wives the world over (including my mother) never quite reached those same heights of fame again.

The broad-shouldered 2006 Egly-Ouriet Grand Cru Millesime (in magnum) is positively oozing with commercial-appeal, rich, generous and laden with red fruit notes, this most-masculine of Champagnes would cause a few Kevin Costner fans to go weak at the knees too. The 2006 Salon Le Mesnil on the other hand, is cool, linear and crystalline, showing the dazzling purity and precision that the Chardonnay in Mesnil is capable of. Their very own bodyguard (see what I did there) the Philippe Colin Chevalier Montrachet, our first Burgundy of the night, is all steel at first but soon unfurls into a well-rounded Chevy, bright and zesty with a lovely backbone of minerality.

Wyatt Earp

The early ‘90s saw a renaissance of the classic ‘Western’ in Hollywood, with the likes of ‘Young Guns’ and ‘Tombstone’ rekindling America’s love affair for the Old West. However despite a cast that included Dennis Quaid and Gene Hackman, this 3 hour box-office-bomb arguably killed that renaissance stone dead.

Guaranteed to revive anything or anyone the Dujac Charmes Chambertin is the vinous-manifestation of exuberance. Full of pure, sweet, red fruits. Delicately spiced and a little firm, this is a down-right delicious way to kick off the reds this evening. The Denis Bachelet Charmes Chambertin however is an altogether different animal. Black cherry, violets with gorgeous spicy, gamey notes, the dangerous outlaw to the Dujac’s friendly local sheriff.  

  

Bull Durham

If you were a Hollywood casting agent, recruiting for a sports movie during the ‘80s and ‘90s, your first call would have been to Kevin Costner. 1988’s ‘Bull Durham’ was Kevin’s first big-screen encounter with baseball. It wouldn’t be his last…

Faiveley’s Chambertin Clos de Beze is given a tough assignment, served alongside Rousseau’s own iteration of this magical vineyard. While the Faiveley, all smokey, spicy and autumnal, initially holds its own, it is ultimately no match for the major league player in this corner of Gevrey. The Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze is simply glorious. Still quite primal but boy are these primary fruits tasty. It dances from wild, Japanese strawberry to an array of spices and just the faintest hint of cocoa. This is a killer wine.

J.F.K

Documenting one of the most infamous, contentious, symbolic and significant events in American history, boasting an all-star cast and directed by Oliver Stone, what’s not to like about this Oscar-winning classic?

What’s not to like about DRC’s Vosne Romanee Duvault Blochet? Textbook Vosne spice and DRC’s unmistakable silky, sweet mouthfeel. This is moreish with a capital M. Meo Camuzet’s Vosne Romanee Cros Parantoux however is a notch up and then some. This takes some coaxing but soon the full, dazzling array of Meo’s artistry is on show. Juicy black cherries with an incredible layer of minerality and a playful hint of white chocolate. Absolutely mega. This needs time but its potential is obvious.

Dances with Wolves

A masterpiece or a yawn-fest? Dances with Wolves cleaned up at the Oscars in 1991, including a ‘Best Director’ statue for Kevin. Give me ‘Last of the Mohicans’ any day.

Cathiard’s Romanee St.Vivant is a masterpiece in most vintages and the 2006 is no exception. This is a flamboyant, high-energy RSV, impossible to drink without smiling. Is it a little one-dimensional? “Intellect is overrated” Chris tells me. Hudelot Noellat’s RSV, usually a firm favourite of mine, is a little left in the shade tonight. A slightly cooler, more reserved RSV, though not lacking in the silky purity of the Cathiard but definitely a little shier about showing it. To be honest if you own either one of these wines though you should be feeling very pleased with yourself.  

The Untouchables

Great cars and an outstanding cast, with Sean Connery and Robert de Niro delivering some memorable quotes, this 1987 classic has stood the test of time.

Mugnier Musigny is a wine worth violating prohibition for! A magical nose of wild flowers, violets and red currants. So, so pure. Lovely rose petal notes with a depth that is staggering. The tannins are still on the chunky side but there is enough fruit here for this to age magnificently. The Comte de Vogue Musigny however, is reluctant to come out to play. “The Vintage Port of Burgundy” quips Chris, De Vogue is a notoriously slow starter and a wine that requires the patience of a saint. The power and richness is quietly brooding away and there is a genius lurking deep within this wine, but one wonders how long we’ll have to wait for this potential to be realized?

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Casting Kevin Costner and Sean Connery in the same movie is a guaranteed recipe for success, however in this box-office juggernaut, Alan Rickman’s camped-up, over-the-top turn as the Sheriff of Nottingham, absolutely steals the show.

Anne Gros Richebourg was a big disappointment at the ’04 horizontal but this 2006 is a stunning redemption story. Wow! The nose is so deep, rich even, with Rayas-esque notes of kirsch and roasted herbs. The palate is just as alluring, with a rich, wild fruit core, quite beautifully framed by precise and measured tannins. The DRC Richebourg, though victim to a slight taint, feels dare-I-say a little pedestrian alongside the Anne Gros. Albeit this minor taint however there is a beautiful floral quality to this Riche and some classic DRC razzle dazzle on the palate. Quite firm and grippy on the finish too, if you own some, I would wait a few more years before you start pulling the cork.

Field of Dreams

One of the great feel-good movies, in a decade full of them, 1989’s ‘Field of Dreams’ won the hearts and minds of adults and children the world-over, while turning on a whole generation to the romance of baseball.  

Our final flight of the evening is a brace of2006 DRC La Tache. Seems like a perfectly reasonable idea to me. Both bottles do not disappoint. The second bottle is showing better but boy are we blessed to get two bites of the cherry. A little shy and brooding at first but the texture is absolutely spell-binding. Pure, precise, with that unique ability to be both linear and spherical, La Tache is often a wine that defies physics. I would love to have another encounter with the ’06 in a few years time as there is undoubtedly a rich kaleidoscope of aromas waiting to come out to play. Even at this youthful stage however, its harmony is breathtaking.

 

Final thoughts…

Right at the start of the evening, in amongst the Kevin Costner chat, someone confidently declared that 2006 is the new 2001 for Burgundy. On tonight’s evidence I’d have to agree. Like the ‘01s, 2006 (for the reds) also seems to be an athematic vintage. There is no signature to ’06, this is all about the grower and the vineyard and amongst the myriad of growers and vineyards there are some remarkable wines in this forgotten vintage. Given where some of the more celebrated and remembered vintages trade, I would even go as far to say that some of these ‘06s are a little undervalued in today’s market. I would love to see them have a resurgence and find a new audience. As I would too for Kevin Costner.

Huge thanks to Mr.O who’s generosity knows no bounds, massive thanks also to my comrades who provided the La Tache and Meo. A pity the Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump impersonators who randomly turned up at the restaurant, couldn’t join us for a drink. Between us though I hope we helped to make 2006 great again.