Sunday, January 10, 2010


I drank a bottle of wine the other night that was fantastic as any bottle I've had. I should say right off that you will most likely not be able to buy this, should you wish to, and I know that can be annoying. It's a back vintage of a wine that is very expensive and difficult to find even when new vintages are released. But I want to share my experience with it anyway because it was so thrilling.

Malconsorts is the southern most 1er cru in Vosne-Romanée, right on the border with Nuits St. Georges. Directly to the north is the legendary La Tâche, the Grand Cru vineyard owned entirely by the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Some of the Malconsorts vines are actually located in La Tâche, almost surrounded.

Photo courtesy of Sylvain Pitiot & Pierre Poupon's Atlas des Grands Vignobles de Bourgogne.

You can see the small rectangular plot at the south-eastern end (south is left in this picture) of La Tâche - an arrow indicates that the plot is part of Malconsorts. The areas marked number 5 in black circles are the three parcels that together make up Les Gaudichots, a tiny but remarkable 1er Cru that used to be very large, containing much of what is now La Tâche. There are several great 1er crus in Vosne-Romanée, Malconsorts is just one of them. You can read more about these vineyards in the Vosne-Romanée Village Profile at Burgundy Report.

It's pretty safe to say that I will not anytime soon be buying and drinking La Tâche. But Malconsorts is not a bad substitute, and although it's way too expensive for me to purchase with any regularity, if I could drink one bottle a year I would be immensely pleased. I drank a bottle the other night, the 1998 Hudelot-Noellat, and it was absolutely amazing.

1998 Alain Hudelot-Noellat Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Malconsorts, $75 at auction, Old Vine Imports. The fruit is rich and dark and there complex spice aromas too, but these descriptions are two dimensional and don't do the wine justice. There is a thrilling amplitude and depth to the aromas. Thrilling as in thrilling. I'm not using a hyperbolic adjective for the mere sake of doing so. I was thrilled by this wine! The nose had so many dimensions, and such incredible clarity and detail. The palate is perfectly balanced, and still shows good acidity - it is not yet fully resolved, and this wine probably hasn't even peaked yet. This wine is a true gift, and I wish that anyone who loves Burgundy could have been there to share it.

It's wines like this that make me question everything about the way I bought Burgundy over the past three years. One bottle of the current vintage (if you can find it) costs the same as two bottles of some or other villages wine, but for me, this wine offers far more pleasure than those two villages bottles ever can. I would happily trade in all my villages wine for far fewer bottles of this Malconsorts, or bottles from other top 1er Crus. My new strategy: drink far less Burgundy of far higher quality, and buy great wine from other places when I'm spending $25-$45.


TWG said...

I'll go from memory, but I think you had this same thought before.

Brooklynguy said...

i know, you're right, but I'm really going to do it this time. Just watch.

Jack Everitt said...

My strategy is to buy old and older (red) Burgundy. Bonuses: Pre-aged and can be cheaper than current vintages.

Timothy Lock said...

I keep trying to tell myself the same thing, but my urge to drink Burgundy always gets in the way. If i just added up the number of ho-hum bottles I've drank over the last year i'm sure i could have condensed that into a few select rewarding experiences with excellent bottles, but it's just so make that call when the urge strikes!

i think there should be some sort of support group for this.

2GrandCru said...

When all is said and done, 75$ is a very good price for a back vintage of a Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru. Probably because 1998 never got the big scores.

Brooklynguy said...

jack - i feel the same way, but there are so few auction lots that are actually within my reach.

Timothy - i hear you, although many of my experiences are not what i would call ho hum. it's just that the really good stuff is so much better than the good villages stuff. would we be drinking villages wine at this support group, by the way?

2GrandCru - yes, and i think 98 rocks, by the way, the same wy 06 will rock later on.

2GrandCru said...

I am very fond of the 06's I've tasted. It's been a small sample so far but 2006 seems to be what the hard-core Burgundy fans call a "classic" vintage without being what the non-fans would call a "classic" vintage, if you know what I mean.

Alfonso Cevola said...

VR? you are getting closer to the holy grail...great stuff. Drink less of higher quality - good advice, amico!