Francis Burn
Photo Credit: Stephen Tanzer
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Francis Burn described 2005 as "a more extreme growing season than 2004, with a lot of noble rot." Thanks to the extended warm period in October following the rainy spell at the beginning of the month, the grapes dried at the end and there was a lot of concentration of sugars and acids, which Burn referred to as "a little miracle." And a high percentage of the acidity was of the tartaric persuasion, rather than malic. He compares his 2005 crop of wines to his 1995s, another vintage with thick, dry skins and relatively little juice. Incidentally, when I was in France at the end of May, I attempted to retaste a number of Burn 2005s that had not yet been bottled last September. But I discovered that as he is still selling through earlier vintages, the 2005s were still being kept in tank. (A Peter Vezan Selection, imported by North Berkeley Imports, Berkeley, CA; Dionysos Imports, Lorton, VA; and Import!, Madison, WI)

2005 Domaine Ernest Burn Riesling

($30) Pale, bright yellow. Tight, cool nose hints at lime and wild herbs. Juicy and nicely concentrated, with a chewy quality and medium sweetness to its exotic melon flavor. Finishes with strong tropical fruit flavors and a positive dryness. This is clearly better than the '04 version. "A superb basic riesling," notes Burn, who told me that he sometimes blocks the fermentation when the alcohol level reaches 13% or 13.5%.


2005 Domaine Ernest Burn Riesling Goldert Clos Saint Imer Cuvee de La Chapelle

($45; aged in wood) Bright, light yellow. Subdued but fresh aromas of pineapple, citrus peel and powdered stone. Juicy and fairly dry, communicating a chalky, rocky impression of energy and a fine-grained texture to its lovely melon and lime blossom flavors. Very succulent riesling, finishing with a good balance of fresh fruit and minerality and very good grip.


2005 Domaine Ernest Burn Muscat Goldert Clos Saint Imer Cuvee de La Chapelle

($45) Pale yellow. Fresh aromas of lime blossom, licorice and white flowers lifted by a spicy topnote. Rich, slightly sweet and impressively pure, with bright acids giving shape to the supple, smooth flavors. This boasts lovely muscat character without coming across as pungent, although Burn believes it will get more musky and exotic when it recovers from the bottling. "This really titillates the papillary glands," adds Burn, who advises pairing it with a mirabelle tart or simply using it as an aperitif. "Asparagus would be too bitter for it." I found exotic violet and gardenia scents in the empty glass.


2005 Domaine Ernest Burn Muscat Goldert Clos Saint Imer Cuvee de La Chapelle Vendanges Tardives

($60) Tight, restrained nose hints at exotic flowers, white peach, wild mint and musky brown spices; I was reminded of moscato. Then opulent, concentrated and very smooth on the palate, with juicy acidity giving this the balance of a perfectly ripe peach. Seamless, moderately glyceral muscat with a wonderfully sappy character. This, too, really dances on the palate, but another six months or so should bring more complexity. This pairs a very solid 7.7 grams of acidity with 13.5% alcohol.


2005 Domaine Ernest Burn Pinot Gris

($30; tasted from a stainless steel tank) Pale yellow-gold. Aromas of white nectarine, orange and honey show an exotic aspect but retain good lift. Juicy, spicy, thoroughly ripe and moderately sweet, combining a slightly high-toned quality and good fresh acidity. Finishes tactile and spicy, with less sweetness than in the middle palate.


2005 Domaine Ernest Burn Pinot Gris Goldert Clos Saint Imer Cuvee de la Chapelle

($45; tasted from a large foudre Pale yellow-gold. Carnal aromas of honey and apricot, with a strong note of dried fruits. Spicy and exotic in the mouth, with supersweet, slightly high-toned apricot, quince and orange marmalade flavors balanced by juicy acidity. Highly concentrated but not particularly glyceral. This shows lovely freshness for pinot gris, finishing with urgent fruit and noteworthy spicy grip and length.


2005 Domaine Ernest Burn Gewurztraminer Goldert Clos Saint Imer Cuvee de La Chapelle

($45) Medium yellow. Complex nose melds honeysuckle, smoke and cured meats, with a sappy element of floral oils and a toasty suggestion from the dehydrated grape skins. Glyceral-sweet yet somehow fresh, with dried fruit notes complicated by spice and marzipan. Finishes very long and pure, with solid structure and considerable nuance.


2005 Domaine Ernest Burn Gewurztraminer Clos Saint Imer Goldert Vendange Tardive

($60) Pale yellow-gold. Exotic aromas of mirabelle, cured meat, honey and cinnamon. Superconcentrated, succulent and lush, with just enough acidity to prevent this extremely sweet, heavily botrytized wine from cloying. Combines suggestions of fruit essences with honey and spices. Wonderfully chewy, tangy wine, showing its botrytis character more clearly than its variety. This is from old vines high on the hillside, where the soil is richest in limestone, notes Burn, who told me this has VA of 1.07 and a pH of 3.95, along with 107 grams per liter of residual sugar. This fruit was harvested on November 11!


2005 Domaine Ernest Burn Pinot Gris Vendanges Tardive

($60) Pale yellow-gold. Vibrant nose of candied pineapple, apricot and honey. The fruit here boasts great penetration and intensity, and a slightly high-toned character, but the exhilarating combination of high sugars and riesling-like acidity leaves this razor-sharp wine almost magically light on its feet. Wonderfully racy wine, just this side of glyceral. Burn noted that both of these VTs are from fruit picked at SGN must weight, but since they weren't really special tries, he never really considered calling them SGN.

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