The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2012

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Page 22 of 124

STEVEN SPURRIER'S LETTER FROM LONDON Out and About in London B PHOTO: DECANTER urgundy lovers will have, over the past dozen years or so, come to know the name of Nicolas Potel. Son of the charming and understated Gerard Potel, who managed the Domaine de la Pousse d'Or in Volnay to such elegant successes until a too-early death, Nicolas was brought up in a serious wine tradition, to which he brought his own passion and joie de vivre, to create Les Vins Nicolas Potel in the mid- 1990s, a fledgling négociant company with tiny vineyard holdings, but more importantly a great relationship with the major domaines in the Cote d'Or. Following an eventually unsatisfactory merger with a larger négociant, Nicolas left to create another private venture—Domaine de Bellene—with cellars and offices at the back of back of Beaune, contracting to purchase grapes to vinify himself, or parcels of wine post-fermentation, which he would "elevate" and bottle. And over the last few years he has been putting together the Collection Bellenum (Bellene was the Latin name which became Beaune), which he unveiled at Berry Bros. & Rudd in London last month. Over five flights comprising 50 wines, a small group tasted an incredible range of crus and vintages from bottles and magnums that represented to perfection every aspect of Burgundy. Nicolas and his small team have tasted over 2,500 wines from well-known and unknown cellars to end selecting just 150, all of which remain at the individual domaine until shipment in case by case quantities under the Collection Bellenum label, while still retaining the original cork. Purchases of between 300 and 3,000 bottles or magnums have been made from 26 domaines, and the collection now numbers 7,000 cases, an astounding range of different winemakers, but all true to the vineyard's origin. The first flight, all premiers crus, covered the best vintages from 1990 to 2006, my two top wines being 2005 Pommard Rugiens and 2003 Chambolle-Musigny Derrière la 22 / the tasting panel / june 2012 Grange, followed by a 2005 Volnay Clos des Chênes, run close by a 1999 Volnay Vieilles Vignes and a 1990 Chambolle Derrière la Grange from magnums. The second flight alternated the Grands Crus Clos de la Roche and Latricières-Chambertin from 1989 to 2005, the 1995 and 2005 heading my list for the former and 1993 and 2003 for the latter, each of the ten wines being superb. The third flight compared Le Chambertin from 1988 to 2005, all in magnums, my top mark going to 2005, then a beautifully-textured 1989. White wines took up the fourth flight, from a 1959 Meursault, still fresh at 52 years old, to a 2006 Le Montrachet of supreme gran- deur. Finally, over lunch, the stars were 1993 Meursault-Perrières, 2002 Clos de la Roche, 1989 Clos de la Roche and 1976 Latricières- Chambertin. (This treasure trove of wines are distributed in California by Chambers & Chambers, U.S.-wide by Loosen Bros.). Difficult to match this, but Michael Broadbent's invitation to join him and nine other guests at the 65th anniversary din- ner of the Bordeaux Club at Brooks's Club managed to do so. On arriving, a deliciously creamy Pol Roger 2000 led to a precisely- poised Dom Pèrignon 1996; with mock turtle soup came an amber-brown 1937 Sercial Pereira d'Oliveiras, bottled in 2007, very rich with its typical searing acidity; three magnums of claret followed with the rack of lamb: Lafite 1990, Mouton 1990 and Mouton 1975. Double decanted at 6 p.m., a show of hands over three hours later voted 7/4 in favour of the absolutely classic Lafite against the more exotic Mouton, but the Mouton 1975 surprised us all with deep Pauillac richness from a lean and hard vintage. A quartet of 1927s—Michael's birth year—accompanied the cheese and dessert: a perfumed, rich and refined Rivesaltes Domaine Borj; an amazing Tokaji Eszencia, full of power and energy, incredibly long; Sandeman Vintage, red-tawny and still vibrantly sweet at 85 years old; and finally, with coffee, Vieil Armagnac de Goudoulin, another perfect piece of history.

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