WA96-97: Roumier vinifies separately and later assembles the fruits of white chalk and red (iron-rich) parcels that inform his 2005 Bonnes Mares. At the time of my visit he had retained one pure barrel of each component as an investigation into terroir and the results were as fascinating as the blended wine is fascinatingly and profoundly beautiful. The ferrous lot (55% of the final assemblage) displays ripe blackberry and raspberry berries, along with (red soil-born) pungent smokiness, Chartreuse-like herbal and floral essences. A liqueur-like presentation of black fruits temporarily overshadows the mysterious (white rock-born) meld of chalky minerality and beef marrow that wells up gradually on a creamy palate with tannins of utmost refinement. The tension and energy are riveting – lending the wine a dynamic, fleet-of-foot impression for all of its manifestly huge extract – with incisive brightness of palate-staining fruit and vibrant minerality leading to a finish of sensational clarity and length. Even here, by the way, Roumier employs only around 40% new wood.
VM95+: Christophe Roumier's 2005 Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru performed exactly how I expected. Still youthful in appearance, it has a fabulous bouquet with blueberry, raspberry coulis, violet and incense notes, a touch of sous-bois that surfaces with time. This is exuberant and sumptuous if still very young. The palate is medium-bodied and perhaps more backward than the aromatics. This is underpinned by tightly-wound tannins that feel a tad obdurate, a little more black fruit than I expected with a touch of white pepper, a more sinewy take on Bonnes-Mares that requires six to eight more years in bottle. Don't touch for now. Tasted at Taillevent restaurant in Paris.