2004 Burgundies Revisited: How are they evolving?

The 2004 red Burgundies have now been in the bottle for about four years. How are they evolving? What should Burgundy enthusiasts expect in terms of drinking pleasure? In a recent tasting conducted with importers John and Dominique Otterbeck of J.A.O. Imports, the International Wine Review tasted twelve red Burgundies from the 2004 vintage. The producers included: Follin-Arbelet, Jacques Cacheaux et Fils, and Jean-Jacques Confuron. All three are top producers who follow organic practices in their vineyards and modern winemaking methods in their cellars. And in 2004, based on our tastings, they each produced some stunning wines.

The red Burgundies from the 2004 vintage have been overshadowed by both the 2003 and 2005 vintages. Generally speaking, 2004 was a difficult year with lots of rain and odium (powdery mildew). However, toward the end of the growing season, weather conditions improved and ultimately enabled the top growers to pick clean and phenolically ripe fruit for their wines. Although the wines reviewed here are somewhat less concentrated than either those of the hot “California” 2003 vintage or the successful 2005 vintage, they have taken on weight since they were bottled and are showing ripe fruit, elegance and finesse with good levels of acidity.

Domaine Follin-Arbelet

The Arbelet family has been an important vineyard owner in Aloxe-Corton since the 19th century. Franck Follin, is currently in charge of the vineyards and winemaking, having taken over from his father-in-law in the early 1990s. The Domaine Follin-Arbelet produces wine from some of the finest parcels on the slopes of Corton.

Domaine Follin-Arbelet 2004 Aloxe-Corton 1er Cru Les Vercots ($56) 89

The Aloxe-Corton is medium ruby garnet in color and offers light fragrant aromas of cherry fruit, forest floor and sandalwood. It is lightly flavored on the palate with dried cherry, spice and stem notes. Very accessible with mature tannins and a long finish.

Domaine Follin-Arbelet 2004 Corton-Bressandes Gran Cru ($82) 91

Aromas of earth and cherry emerge from the glass of the Corton-Bressandes. Sourced from 50 year-old vines, it is soft and velvety on the attack and shows good volume and depth in the mouth with spicy cherry flavors on the palate. The tannins are gentle but bracing, and the finish is long and pleasant.

Domaine Follin-Arbelet 2004 Corton Grand Cru ($82) 90

The dark ruby garnet Corton exhibits aromas of dried cherry, earth, baking spice and toast. it is slightly more masculine in style than the Bressandes and shows more oak than fruit at this stage of development. It has mature tannins and an excellent finish. While not showy, it is great with food.

Domaine Follin-Arbelet 2004 Romanée St. Vivant Grand Cru ($293) 94

This is a superb wine combining elegance and power. Medium dark ruby to the rim, it displays aromas of plum, cranberry, and toast. It has a silky texture on the palate with lovely depth of flavor, mineral notes, and excellent balance and structure. A youthful wine, powerful and seductive that will continue to evolve. While delicious now, it has the potential to improve further.

Domaine Jacques Cacheux et Fils

The Cacheux family has been working the land in Vosne-Romanée for four generations. Jacques Cacheux began making wine in the 1950s. In 1994 he retired and handed over the reins to his son Pascal who manages the estate with his wife. The domaine has 5 hectares of vines in Vosne Romanée, Echézeaux and Nuits-St-Georges.

Domaine Jacques Cacheux et Fils
2004 Vosne-Romanée Village Aux Réas ($52) 90

This village wine reveals a ruby garnet color and aromas of rich earth, leather, and minerals. On the palate it is silky smooth and shows good depth of dark compote-like fruit flavors and toasty oak. The tannins are still firm yet the finish is delicate. Sourced from 60 year old vines and spends 18 months in new oak.

Domaine Jacques Cacheux et Fils
2004 Vosne Romanée 1st Cru Les Suchots ($84) 91

The Les Suchots is an absolutely beautiful wine with outstanding purity of fruit. Medium dark ruby garnet in hue, it exhibits aromas of perfumed fruit, a touch of smoke, underbrush, and spicy dark plum. It has a sweet attack of lovely integrated flavors combining silky elegance and power on the palate and a long finish. The wine is sourced from 25 year old vines.

Domaine Jacques Cacheux et Fils
2004 Vosne-Romanée 1st Cru La Croix Rameau ($119) 93

This superb wine shows incredible purity of dark fruit aromas including plum, black cherry and black raspberry. Dark ruby to the rim it appears fresh and youthful and offers sweet and smoky ripe dark cherry fruit with minerals on the palate. Spending 18 months in new French oak, the wine finishes with quite firm tannins and peppery spice. This is a wine of Grand Cru quality with only 900 bottles produced.

Domaine Jacques Cacheux et Fils 2004 Echézeaux Grand Cru ($100) 94

This is a wine of elegance, delicacy and refinement. It has a ruby garnet hue and is very aromatic with aromas of red berries and smoke with an elegant velvety palate and good depth of red fruit, all done in a somewhat understated fashion. Nicely structured with still firm tannins. Sourced from 35 year-old vines and spends 18 months in 100% new oak. Offered at a terrific price.

Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron

Owned and operated by Alain and Sophie Meunier, Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron is located at Premeaux-Prissey close to Nuits-Saint-Georges. The domaine has eight hectares with twelve appellations of the Côte de Nuits. The Confuron wines reviewed here are sourced from outstanding 1er Cru and Grand Cru sites in Chambolle-Musigny, Nuits St. George, and Romanée St. Vivant.

Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron 2004 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru ($87) 90

The Chambolle-Musigny displays a light ruby core with a garnet rim and aromas of wild red berry fruit, earth, underbrush, and notes of barnyard. On the attack it has a silky texture with light dried cherry fruit, earth and mushroom. It is generally light on the palate with good acidity and finishes with firm tannins and persistent flavors.

Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron
2004 Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Les Chaboeufs ($84) 90

This is a light, shapely and elegant wine from the northern end of Nuit St. Georges. It reveals a ruby red color with light and delicate red berry fruit aromas. Very focused and elegant on the palate, it shows beautiful balance, soft round tannins and a good finish.

Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron
2004 Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Aux Boudots ($98) 93

The Aux Boudots is a wine of great purity and length. It has a spicy nose of cranberry and raspberry fruit and a sweet, fruit attack with prominent notes of loam. There’s lots of sweet on a silky palate, and it finishes with great purity and length. Made from 60 year old vines and aged in 50% bew oak for 18 months.

Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron Romanée St .Vivant Grand Cru ($296) 94

This medium ruby Romanée St Vivant Grand Cru has intriguing aromas of roses, raspberry and red cherry. On the palate it is nuanced and elegant with pure ripe cherry fruit and earth notes and great purity of flavors along with incredible structure and balance. Sourced from 87 year-old vines and aged for 18 months in new French oak. The finish goes on and on.

Written by Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler, January 2010