From time to time I taste old Burgundies, but today it rare to taste or even find good genuine old Burgundies. So I rarely taste wines older than 1971, and therefore really have lost track of how the very old vintages perform these days.
With Rudy Kurniawan and his consorts floating the market with fake old bottles in the great vintages one becomes very suspicious about old bottles .. in some case rightfully so, in other cases perhaps not.
The case of the mysterious Musigny 1929
Earlier this week I tasted what appears to be a Musigny 1929 from the Remoissenet cellar – a negociant bottling presumably – vineyard source so far unknown.
The bottle is said to come directly from the private collection of Roland Remoissenet, the former owner of Remoissenet Pere et Fils – he sold the negociant business in 2005.
As the pictures below show there is no capsule nor a real label on the bottle, just a sticker indicating the content of the bottle. The bottle has been recorked at some point .. according to the info I was given around 1980 with a Remoissenet cork. The bottle itself is old and presumably not machine made, with loads of imperfections in the glass.
So .. all in all a pretty suspicious bottle …. regardless of the credibility of the provenance and origin. So let me unfold some detective work here … work still in progress.
Initial scan of the world wide web
Firstly one need to check Google thoroughly to find all available information regarding the bottle. My initial search yielded a few interesting results regarding a tasting that Director of Fine Wine, Joss Fowler, of the UK Merchand Fine and Rare had at Remoissenet in 2014 – see his comments and the photo at the Fine and Rare blog.
The bottles pictured on the blog post resembles the one we tasted in Copenhagen, and the bottles tasted by Joss Fowler was served by Bernard Repolt, the current head of Remoinesset. The tasting note of Mr. Fowler is not very explicit, but it sounds like he had more or less the same experience as me … I’m not that poetic though.
“The wine itself was remarkable in that it was still fresh, still alive. And, in the glass, it didn’t fall over and die: it came round like the genie coming out of the lamp. Traditional descriptors don’t really do the job here. The wine tasted of Musigny. These were not the days of pumping up Burgundy with a touch of Hermitage: this was almost certainly 100% the real deal. And the moment transcended the taste. We had opened more than a bottle of Pinot, we had opened a time capsule and, albeit with a fair bit of Burgundy inside me, all I could think of was the harvest in 1929: Le Musigny and the harvesters working it under clear and peaceful skies.”
So far so good … we have established that the Musigny 1929 can in fact come from the Remoissenet cellar, and that the “sticker label” have been used to identify other bottles in the cellar.
Given the provenance of the bottle, I would say that it is likely that the bottle tasted is from the same source as the wine Josh Fowler tasted.
If we accept this conclusion we can move forward to the wine in the bottle!
Tasting note Remoissenet Musigny 1929
The wine were tasted on April 30th 2015 – stemware used – Riedel Sommerlier Burgundy Grand cru. Previous wine was Remoissenet Beaune Chevaliers de l’Arquebuse 1969 – a fine old Burgundy in it’s own right .. a mix of Beaune Greves and Beaune Marconnets.
Remoissenet, Musigny 1929
The Remoissenet Musigny 1929 is fully mature but still fresh and vibrant, offering fine drinkability and pleasure. In my view it’s a wine in slow .. very slow apparently .. decline where the fruit gradually is retracting. It’s still youthful considering the age of 86, and thinking hard about this now … my guess would have been a top 1959 – if I have had this served blind in a tasting.
In the nose deep but slightly fragile mature red fruit .. orange zest .. orange notes .. sous-bois .. pure and quite vibrant. The minerality is energetic offering a lovely view to one of the best places in Chambolle. More and more sous-bois as it develops in the glass … after even more time in the glass more earthy and mushroomy notes appear with hints of truffle.
On the palate fresh and vibrant for a 86 year old wine … fully mature … deep but slightly fragile red fruit .. fine acidity, with a tremendous nervy and intense focusing minerality – classic Chambolle. After some time in the glass more fragile silky red fruits on the palate – hints of plum and earthyness. Tremendous depth and purity for a fully mature and very old Burgundy. After 30 min age starts to kick in ever so slightly with a hint of tar. Medium bodied, elegant and refined – very transparent and airy … this is flying … really really flying.
Rating old wines is both difficult and more or less pointless, since the bottle variation is large and the chance of finding another bottle is rather limited. I have furthermore very limited experience with the 1929 vintage … so the reference points are to say the least a bit blurred here.
Anyhow .. in my view this bottle is outstanding+ … and to the matching pointless points … (96p) … that being said the joy, pleasure and experience of tasting a wine like this could render the rating slightly conservative … but it’s very easy to get carried away by a great and fresh oldie from Burgundy.
So what were we drinking?
The wine was not tasted blind .. so a lot of bias and hindsight here .. the wine displayed all the trades of a great Chambolle terroir (red soil Bonnes Mares excluded) with a intense racy minerality. Musigny … not 100% sure … but realistically what could it otherwise be?
Two other very experienced tasters attending had enjoyed a Musigny 1929 from Seguin Manuel in 1995, and noted that this wine showed resemblance with the Seguin Manuel wine tasted 20 years earlier – although the Romeissenet is more developed with less body and fruit … showing more signs of age.
So my conclusion is .. definitely Chambolle .. most likely Musigny.
The second last question is then the age of the wine, and as mentioned it appeared old and in very slight decline. I would have guessed around 50 – 60 years old, but never have said beyond 80 years old.
So is it likely that a Musigny 1929 could show this level of freshness? … perhaps! – if it has been stored under ideal conditions and never transported.
If stored in the Remoissenet cellar for 86 years … it could be a 1929 .. but realistically I have no clue, as I have tested too few 1929s or older Burgundies in recent years to know the current state of these vintages.
The last question is the source of the grapes/wine … this will most likely remain unanswered … but I will try to explore further … about the history and origin of this mysterious bottle.
Regardless of the findings .. this wine was a treat, and a truly delightful experience – Thx!