An evening of Burgundy with Germany’s famed Ernst Loosen

Two weeks ago, I enjoyed an outstanding tasting of red Burgundy with the legendary Ernst (‘Ernie’) Loosen of Dr. Loosen fame. There were seven of us, all in the wine trade except our host’s congenial wife, Natalie. Our host was Michael de Maar, of whom I’ve written in a previous post, and we were at his charming home. Loosen was in town for the Riesling Rendezvous (he is a partner/consultant to Chateau Ste. Michelle).

Although Ernie is known as Germany’s premier Riesling ambassador, he is a big Burgundy fan and collector. I can see why. Like Burgundy, great Riesling is all about subtlety and balance – not about attacking you with giant wines possessing tons of dry extract.

Ernie is a very entertaining and charming personality, full of great stories including his two hilarious encounters with a celebrated, iconic producer from Piedmont (I might talk more about this later but I promised discretion!). With Ernie, there is no pretension, artifice nor self-importance -he’s a really likeable guy!

Anyway, here are the wines we tasted, with some notes (I’m recalling them as best as I can from memory):

2004 Joseph Roty Mazys Chambertin Grand Cru

Very oaky and disjointed. Needs a lot more time but is the fruit there? No obvious nose of Grand Cru either. The least favorite wine of the night by unanimous vote. By the way, this Grand Cru is also spelled Mazis and Mazy. Perhaps it should have been decanted for a few hours.

2003 Comte de Vog__ Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru

Very ripe (almost cooked) fruit on the nose, a telltale sign of a (very) hot vintage. Likewise, full, rich and round -what Clive Coates might describe as foursquare – on the palate with low acidity. A guilty pleasure, as this is not a more typically refined wine from Chambolle’s greatest producer.

2002 Comte Armand Pommard 1er Cru Clos des ‘peneaux

This was outstanding; rich yet refined with excellent depth and complexity. However, to be fair, this monopole* was the only wine to be decanted.

2001 Denis Mugneret Richebourg Grand Cru

Wow. This, and the Armand, were the wines of the night. Denis and his son Dominique sharecropped this parcel from Liger-Belair. A typical full, rich, intense Richebourg with aromas of violets and complex flavors of toffee and black berries.

1995 Daniel Rion Chambolle-Musigny

Daniel’s on Patrice made this wine. It was beginning to show its age, holding up pretty well for a village wine. The fruit of medium red berries was delicate but still many faceted.

1990 Claude Dugat Gevrey Chambertin

This showed impressively well for a 20 year old village wine. Like the Rion above, delicate fruit but still showed Gevrey’s firmness and animale aromas.

1990 Louis Latour Volnay 1er Cru Leds Santenots

Frankly, we were apprehensive about this wine, coming from a large n’gotiant house with a middling reputation. Wine snobbery? In any case, we were pleasantly surprised because it held up well and still showed tasty light berry fruit.

* a monopole is a rare, single-owner vineyard. Most vineyards in Burgundy have multiple owners.

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