Monday, October 19, 2009

1991 Domaine Billard-Gonnet Pommard 1er cru “Les Bertins”

We only have 1 bottle in stock of the 1991 Domaine Billard-Gonnet Pommard 1er cru “Les Bertins” at $49.99 and I’m hesitating between trying to sell it or just open it to taste it.

Established in 1766, the Domaine Billard-Gonnet has been passed down through the generations from father to son. Over the last centuries, the domaine slowly acquired portions of vineyards. Thus, in addition to the Pommard village appellation wine that they produce, Domaine Billard-Gonnet also crafts wines from patch of vines planted respectively in 8 of the 28 most recognized "climats" (name locally attributed to a delimited area like a parcel or a vineyard) classified as Premier Crus of Pommard (listed below).

  • Pommard
  • Pommard 1er Cru "Les Rugiens" (one of the most well-known 1er Cru)
  • Pommard 1er Cru "Les Bertins"
  • Pommard 1er Cru "Les Poutures"
  • Pommard 1er Cru "Les Champonnieres"
  • Pommard 1er Cru "Clos de Verger"
  • Pommard 1er Cru "Les Pezerolles"
  • Pommard 1er Cru "Les Jarollieres"
  • Pommard 1er Cru "Les Charmots"
Unfortunately, nothing in 1er Cru "Les Epenots" which is also one of the best "climats" of Pommard and consequently happen to be one of my favorite.

Although, the main grape variety used for the wine production in Pommard is evidently Pinot Noir 9like in the rest of Burgundy for all red wines), Pinot Gris (also called Pinot Beurot) and Pinot Liébault are also used in tiny quantity in the non 1er Cru and generic wines. The AOC Pommard only produces red wines, no whites at all.

The quality of the soil in the diverse vineyards and the age of the vines only allow for very low yielding and limited production yet insure concentration, complexity and depth. Vinification and ageing process are done in the most traditional way. The grapes are carefully hand selected and fermented in temperature controlled open oak vats. Once the fermentation is done, the wine is put into small oak barrels for 18 months (or longer if necessary).

Although, I didn’t try it, I can’t imagine this wine to be alive anymore. Surely it will be an interesting experience to open it and demonstrate if this wine has survive (for so long), especially when 1991 vintage wasn't as good as some of the previous vintage.

On release, the 1991s red Burgundy possessed fine fruit, medium-bodied profile, bright acidity, firm tannins, and a slight "resinous" streak through the middle that made them fairly unenjoyable to pull corks on over their first couple of years of life. Their austere and somewhat rustic attitude evolved after about 3-4 years in the bottle. Although they never reached the richness and length of the 1990 vintage, once the tannins were a bit more integrated, the fruit came back to life and the same unfriendly 91s were suddenly opening up and drinking beautifully about a decade after bottling, with the secondary and tertiary aromas of maturing Burgundy beginning to emanate from the glass. 1991 red Burgundy wines were considerated as “sleepers” coming right after the 1990 vintage, but I'm not so sure if this particular wine from Billard-Gonnet was one of them or not.

It has been kept in the temperature controlled room at “Heights Chateau” for at least the last 5 years or more. Collectors and amateurs may find an interest to buy it and try it; or if we can sell it, we may end up open it and drink amongst us at the store.

I’m open to any comments on this particular wine, if you could help me find out how does it taste.


LeDom du Vin,

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