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2013 BURGUNDIES–“IT’S COMPLICATED”

December 16, 2014

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SUMMARY

If I had to sum up the 2013 vintage in a phrase, it would be “it’s complicated.” Any generalizations about this difficult vintage are bound to miss the mark to some degree. The growing season oscillated between extremes, and so do the resulting wines: hail damage severely reduced the crop, and affected the quality as well, in Volnay, Pommard, Beaune and Savigny, but the crop had already been substantially reduced across the Côte d’Or by a cold and rainy spring and a late and uneven flowering. While much of July and August were warm and sunny, the vintage was one of the latest in recent times, with most growers not picking until October. October, however, saw some significant rainfall, and botrytis began to affect the vineyards, albeit after most of the picking was done.

The resulting wines seem to fall into several categories:

–the Côte de Beaune reds from vineyards that suffered hail damage, which are only rarely successful, typically exhibiting very dry tannins and in some instances a pruney character;
–Red and White wines in both Côtes that are slightly underripe, and exhibit an excess of acidity (and in many reds, an excess of hard tannins as well);
–Whites from the Côte de Beaune, and reds from the Côte de Nuits, that are sweet, easy and approachable; and
–more serious reds from the Côte de Nuits (and some Côte de Beaune whites) that are precise, structured and well-balanced, with charming fruit.

In the Côte de Nuits, the most successful villages seem to be Gevrey-Chambertin (which according to Bernard Hervet received significantly less rainfall than its neighbors) and Chambolle-Musigny, and within Chambolle, a special nod has to go to a cohort of stunning Amoureuses. As in many vintages where ripeness is an issue, as a generalization the Grands Crus were more successful than the Premiers Crus and the Premiers more successful than the Villages wines. However, exceptions abound.

One of the best and most honest growers in Burgundy (who produced some of the top wines of this vintage) said that while 2013 is a good vintage, and he is very pleased with the quality of his wines, no one should mistake it for a great vintage. I would underscore his remarks, both because I agree with them, and because there is already starting to be commentary—there will be more—that either hypes this vintage beyond what it can bear, or dismisses it entirely. Both extremes can find examples to support their views, but the truth is considerably more complex. Indeed, if this is a winemaker’s vintage—and it is—it is also a Burg geek’s vintage, because those who take the time to poke beneath the surface will in time be rewarded with some very fine drinking experiences.

A Few Comments: Everyone wants a brief headline and definitive answer as to whether the vintage is great, and whether a particular wine, or producer’s range of wines, is great (as a friend recently wrote to me: “are the ‘12s really great and should I buy whatever I can get my hands on, or should I skip it?”). The answer is rarely so simple—especially in Burgundy. This is particularly true when the information you have is gleaned from barrel tastings. As I have written before, one gets a brief moment to taste a particular wine at a particular stage of its development, on a particular day, and from that is expected to make a judgment about how that wine will taste many years later. While several weeks of tasting at the right time (and November after the vintage is usually one of the best times) can give a fairly good picture of the vintage overall (with the caveat that vintages can take unexpected turns in their development), and pinpoint many of the success and failures, inevitably there are vagaries to tasting specific wines, which may depend on ambient temperature, barometric pressure, treatments or lack thereof, whether the sample is representative (is it from an old barrel in a Cuvée that is going to be 80% new oak?), how recently the wine finished malo, or was racked, and other factors (the bio guys, of course, would tell you it’s also a matter of whether its a root day, or fruit day, or whatever, but that’s a different story). When a vintage is difficult, like 2013, it simply exacerbates the problem of knowing whether what you are tasting on a particular day is truly representative. Since I don’t get paid for my views and therefore don’t need to pretend to omniscience, I want to be very clear that this is an extremely complex vintage to taste, with results that are all over the map, and it is likely that some wines will turn out better—and some worse—than predicted.

Finally, while I have commented overall on the ranges of the various domaines, I have only focused in detail on the wines I liked; if this report were to include every wine tasted, it would bore even the writer. However, the reader should keep in mind that we taste most if not all of the range at the individual domaines, and a large sample at the negociants, so that if in a particular case the list of recommended wines is shorter than normal, it is a reflection of the difficulties of this vintage and the need for care in selection.

RED BURGUNDY

Côte de Nuits

The Domaines

As the sweet spots for this vintage seem to have been Gevrey and Chambolle, lets start there:

Roumier: Unfortunately, our appointment had to be moved up by several days, and so we arrived shortly after most of the wines had been racked. Nonetheless, this range is a brilliant success (it didn’t hurt that most of Christophe’s holdings are in the two villages that were the most successful in ’13), with several being among the best wines I tasted on this trip. Christophe’s view of the vintage is that it shows good terroir, and that he likes the freshness of the vintage, but that the wines don’t have the same complexity as the ‘12s. He sees them as ‘friendly” wines, but not long-distance runners. The Chambolle Village was delicious—spicy, generous and charming—and the Chambolle Les Cras was also a winner: showing strawberry fruit on the nose, it was medium weight, minerally, pure and complex. The Charmes-Chambertin had a curious bell pepper note in the nose, which might be an artifact of the recent racking, and a delicacy in the back palate that I don’t tend to associate with Charmes (but like), while the Ruchottes had great perfume in the nose and persistence, purity, even elegance for Ruchottes. The Bonnes Mares, despite its recent racking, showed off a deep nose of red fruit and minerals, and was balanced and transparent, with the tannins more prominent than in the other wines in this range. The Amoureuses outshone it though, with intense spice and complex fruit on the nose; it was delicate, elegant and pure, with refined tannins and some silkiness in the finish. Lastly, the Musigny, which was the only wine not yet racked, had lovely red fruit, spice and the characteristic citrus note, the new oak not yet fully integrated, but with a long, silky, refined finish.
We also tasted the range of 2012s here, including a Chambolle Village whose weight and density—not to mention balance and complexity—made it more like a 1er Cru (91); a pure, long Chambolle Les Cras, with suave tannins (92); a very fine Ruchottes, extremely dense and complex with ripe red fruit and a long pure finish (94); and a Bonnes Mares that seemed to be shutting down (92+?). The Chambolle Amoureuses had ultra-refined fruit, density and an amazing tension in the wine—the epitome of purity and refinement (95); while the Musigny, with a rich nose, great balance, plummy fruit, was still a baby but there is great depth and purity on the extremely long finish and this will surely evolve into a great wine (95+).

Mugnier: though the tasting started a little slowly, the quality eventually began to shine through at the upper levels. Nonetheless, these are not a match for Freddy’s beautiful 2012s, which we tasted from bottle. Freddy noted that the vegetative cycle in 2013 was the longest he’s ever seen, but that it allowed the grapes to achieve phenolic ripeness. He said that the tannins had a rich texture to them, which was unexpected in such a late vintage. He also, as did others, noted that toward the very end of the harvest, botrytis had come on quite suddenly and rapidly: there was none before October 5th in Chambolle, but by the 8th it had become explosive. In his view, the ‘13s are tight and precise, and will need some bottle age to show their best. His Chambolle Village seemed a bit on the lean side, without the brightness or fruit of Roumier’s, but the Chambolle Fuées was a considerable step up, with great fruit on the palate and a cool minerality, a silky texture and a transparent minerally finish. The Amoureuses was superb, with a complex nose of cherries and strawberries plus minerals; it was light, elegant, and silky, with a spicy mineral finish, great length and very refined tannins. The Musigny was also extremely fine, with a complex nose of licorice, currants, strawberries and citrus; it is dense, pure and powerful, with a touch of salinity and powerful but refined tannins.
We then tasted the ‘12s, which Freddy described as a bit closed and austere at the moment. Notwithstanding this caveat, the Chambolle Village had beautiful sweet ripe red fruit and a touch of brown sugar on the nose; while a bit light on entry, it had lovely sweet red fruit and spice on the palate (91). The Chambolle Fuées was very balanced with excellent spice notes and a silky texture (92), while the Chambolle Amoureuses, despite being a bit austere, had great purity, a lovely texture and a delicate spicy finish—this wine is just hinting at greater things to come (95). The Musigny had deep fruit and citrus on the nose, and was very intense, deeply minerally, with red fruit in the back; its power is in evidence, backed by some significant, if refined, tannins, but the finish opens to amazing length, purity and refinement (95+).

Ghislaine Barthod: It is a treat to taste here, as one gets an excellent lesson in terroir. The domaine vinifies 9 different 1er Crus in Chambolle, and it is not hard to see the differences as one moves from one to another. The range overall was very well-crafted, and while some wines reflected the more problematic elements of the vintage (too much acidity and tannin for the fruit and a resulting lack of balance), the best are very fine examples, from a village that was one of the standouts in 2013. I particularly liked the Chambolle Gruenchers, with a light, mineral-driven nose and a spicy and charming palate with open berry fruit and good length; the Chambolle Fuées, which had bright deep cherry fruit on the nose, a penetrating minerality on the palate, and a touch of what Ghislaine described as “bitter orange zest”–overall a wine with a lot of material, and a transparent and persistent finish; and the Chambolle Les Cras, where you could sense the greater density even on the nose, but also some lovely sweet fruit, a touch of new oak, excellent concentration and length.

Francois Bertheau: relatively small quantities again in 2013, but at least there is some Bonnes Mares, unlike in 2012 when there was almost none. The elfin Francois Berthaud is a true Burgundian character, who only sees visitors after 5 pm, when he returns on his tractor from the vineyards (“where else would I be”? he says). The range is small, but he makes seriously good wines here—not quite at the Roumier or Mugnier level, but still excellent examples. The Chambolle Village had charming and easy sweet fruit flavors, while the Chambolle 1er Cru had a nice floral touch to the nose, with currants, citrus and cherries; it had a nice medium weight and good balance, if slight dryness at the finish. The Chambolle Charmes had more material than the 1er Cru but less charm (!), at least at the moment. The Chambolle Amoureuses was yet another fine example from this vineyard, with an intense nose of complex fruit (currants, cherries, etc), deep spice, good lift and not too much acidity, and a long finish developing some silk. The Bonnes Mares was even better, with soft but complex fruit, excellent density, a dry and spicy finish, some oak spice (25% new oak), and also a silky texture.

Bruno Clair: I generally like the wines here quite a bit, so was disappointed when the tasting began, as we worked our way through the Village and lower Premier Crus, all of which showed to some degree or another the characteristic high acidity and/or strong tannins of the vintage. However, the Cazetiers was a significant step up, and the Clos St. Jacques and Clos de Bèze were both brilliant examples, outstanding successes in this vintage. Among the 1er Crus, the Savigny Les Dominodes, with rich red fruit balanced by minerality, had some strong tannins but should be very good in time, while the Gevrey Cazetiers, as noted, was excellent, with a rich nose of red fruit and meats; on the palate it was transparent, with tannins that were not harsh and that dissolved into the pure minerally finish. The Clos St. Jacques had a nose bursting with intense ripe fruit, and amazing richness; on the palate it was pure and intense, with a bright minerally finish and silky refined tannins. The Clos de Bèze had a gorgeous perfumed nose, with delicacy and refinement; on the palate, the power was evident, as was the intensity, and there was a rich fruit finish, with spice, minerals, silk, and refined tannins. Superb wine! The Bonnes Mares was a slight letdown after the Bèze: despite a mysterious and beguiling nose, the tannins seemed more evident and dominant here.
To contrast the vintages, we then tasted the 2012 Gevrey Cazetiers and Clos St. Jacques. Though Philippe Brun warned that the ‘12s were closing up a bit, both still showed extremely well. The Cazetiers had sweet, almost candied fruit on the nose; while it lightened up on the palate slightly, it still had excellent balance and transparency, and the tannins seemed suppressed on the long minerally finish (93). The Clos St. Jacques had exceptional bright ripe fruit and a hint of brown sugar on the nose; on the palate it was succulent, spicy, of medium weight, and had excellent finesse; there was a touch of tannin here but also a sense of refinement (94). Here I felt that the ‘13s of these particular wines might stand up to the ‘12s, though the range overall was not at the level of its older sibling, as tasted last year.

Trapet: This tasting ran considerably over its allotted time, as both Jean-Louis and his father Jean were in expansive moods, and we were delighted to listen—and to taste the 1955 Chambertin! And while Jean-Louis certainly has many years ahead of him, the succession seems assured as his son, who is now part of the team, joined the tasting as well. Overall, while some of the lower-level wines were not entirely persuasive, the top-level wines showed extremely well. While I prefer the ‘12s here (as at most addresses where we were able to taste side-by-side), the Latricières and the Chambertin are no slouches in ’13. (Note there was no Gevrey 1er Cru Capita in 2013, as Jean-Louis only makes this wine when he feels that 100% whole cluster is warranted.) The Gevrey L’Ostrea was slightly reduced but one could still see the excellent balance of sweet red fruit and minerality, a slight saline touch, some black pepper, and a very nice medium weight, and neither the tannins nor the oak were overbearing. The Chapelle-Chambertin had great minerality, and the touch of reduction did not obscure the excellent weight and balance here; it had a high-toned and very long finish as well. The Latricières had great depth of spice on the nose, and minerality. On the palate, the wine was well balanced, with purity, power and drive; there is a fair amount of tannin here but also a lot of deep red fruit on the finish. The Chambertin was also somewhat reduced, but had lovely purity, red fruit, spice and black pepper notes, together with an intense minerality on the palate; the tannins here are strong but suave, and some great spice and roast meat flavors come up on the immensely long finish.
We also tasted several 2012s here. The Gevrey Ostrea had very nice blueberry fruit on the nose and palate, excellent weight, good power, and some strong tannins after (91). The Latricières-Chamberin had an exotic fruit nose, great minerality, smoked meats, slate, and black pepper; it was powerful, balanced, and had silky tannins (93-94). The Chambertin had a subtle nose, while the palate exuded a sense of calm and transparency; this is a self-assured wine with silky tannins and excellent length (95).

DRC: Aubert de Villaine said he was very pleased with the quality of his ‘13s, and a couple of reliable sources said that, in the weeks before our visit, the wines were showing superbly well. However, as Bertrand de Villaine noted, there had been heavy rains two days before our visit, which had briefly flooded the cellar, and he found many of the wines unsettled on the day of our visit. So did I. While the Romanée-Conti showed just how superb the vintage here could be, the other wines, particularly the Richebourg and Grands Echézeaux, seemed in varying degrees to lack harmony. I can only report on what I saw on the particular day, but hopefully a subsequent visit may yield a different result.
That said, there was a nice spicy quality and excellent purity to the Corton, and I think the Domaine has acted wisely in moving to a majority of one-year old barrels for the elevage of this wine. The Romanée-St.-Vivant was also showing some amazing spice on the nose; it is a powerful RSV with a long, spicy, well-delineated finish and amazing persistence. La Tâche had exotic spices on the nose; it was intensely concentrated, with strong acidity, but at least today the fruit seemed a bit figgy. This needs to be revisited. The Romanée-Conti, on the other hand, needs to be revisited for other reasons: it was simply superb, with an amazing nose of spice, red fruits, baked bread and what Aubert calls the “little touch of green” that turns eventually to rose petal; it was elegant and concentrated on the palate, but the real fireworks were on the finish: super-smooth, nothing out of place, serene and refined, and almost endless. Simply amazing wine.

Liger-Belair: While these wines do not seem destined to challenge the brilliant 2012s at this estate, they are overall very fine wines, with a large proportion of successes in this difficult vintage. One of the top addresses for 2013s, even without wines in Gevrey.
Normally I prefer the Vosne Clos du Château to the Colombière, but this year it was the reverse: the Colombière had rich fruit supported by excellent acidity, and was soft and balanced. I also particularly liked the Vosne Suchots, with its rich nose, sweet fruit, citrus touch and great transparency; the Vosne Brulées, which had a nose with great fruit and purity and a seductive smoky note, while on the palate there was sweet fruit, a bit of oak but some silky softness and a long pure fruit finish. The Nuits Clos des Grands Vignes (for you geeks out there, this is the only 1er Cru in the Côte de Nuits that is east of the D974, and it is also a monopole, helping give Liger-Belair the distinction of being the only producer with Monopoles in Village, 1er Cru and Grand Cru) had soft red fruit, touches of earth and spice, and excellent balance—a very well-crafted wine. The Vosne Reignots was a bit too gassy to evaluate fully, but seemed to have a lot of density. The Echézeaux was spicy, with excellent soft red fruit, a lighter style wine but had lovely balance and transparency, with some strong tannins at the end but also a lot of fruit and good minerality and persistence. La Romanée was quite dense, with crushed berry fruit on the nose, a lot of acidity, great richness and power, and glycerine at the end, with the tannins possibly a bit aggressive at the moment but still evolving, and it had an extremely long finish showing good refinement.
We tasted two 2012s: the Vosne Reignots, with sweet crushed raspberries, excellent weight and balance, there is huge material here but the wine still needs to eat the oak (93+); and the Echézeaux, showing intense fruit and minerality, and a creamy touch; it is structured, juicy, with great balance and length and certainly far more density than the ’13, charming as that wine is (94+).

Anne Gros: all of these wines seem to have been made in a light, fruity style, including the Richebourg, which had the weight of a Village-level wine and no discernable Richebourg terroir. What has happened at this domaine is a mystery to me. In the ‘90s, Anne Gros was making terrific wines, and her Richebourg was a consistent standout among its peers. As one observer speculated, she seems to have decided to rest on her laurels, and turned her attention elsewhere, with depressing results. What a waste!

Mugneret-Gibourg: Brilliantly successful wines in ’13, the best of which seem effortless. As is true almost everywhere, there is some inconsistency in the range, but the best—including a particularly fine Bourgogne, which has more to it than Anne Gros’ Richebourg—are well worth finding and cellaring, and will likely be approachable in the near term but hold well.
The tasting began auspiciously with the Bourgogne, which had a spicy beeswax note, a lot of soft red fruit, a bit of acidity after but a silkiness-really a remarkable Bourgogne. The Nuits Village was also extremely charming, with great typicity, earthy, spicy and sweet. The Nuits Chaignots had intense black fruit and earth, and was silky and balanced, though with a bit of a dry finish; certainly the acidity and tannins were not hidden, but it was a nice wine nonetheless. The Chambolle Feusselottes (some day, I may learn to spell Feusselottes without looking it up, but I doubt it) was a real standout, with gorgeous bright red fruit on the nose and palate, excellent lift, balance and transparency. (Underscoring the vagaries of tasting, Marie-Andrée commented that a week earlier, this wine had been totally closed down.) The Ruchottes-Chambertin was spicy, meaty, open and rich, with medium weight and a gorgeous spicy strawberry finish, the tannins a bit dry but not overly so. The Echézeaux had plenty to enjoy but seemed also to have some dried herbs and drier tannins in back, and Marie-Andrée commented that this was a bit too concentrated (at 17-18hl/ha) to be a normal expression of Echézeaux. The Clos Vougeot was open-knit and had complex red fruit on the palate, a touch of clove and gingerbread, but also a hint of something a little out of place, appleskin perhaps, with some dry tannins; judgment deferred.
The 2012 Grands Crus seemed a bit shut down (or not quite showing the promise they did a year ago), but the Nuits Chaignots had a nice stony nose and a layer of sweet red fruit to accompany its minerality and earthiness; this was still carrying a fair amount of tannin but it seemed likely to modulate in time (91). The Chambolle Feusselottes had subdued red fruit and spice, plus a creamy element, on the nose, and spice cake, minerals, and red fruit on an excellent transparent palate and finish (92).

Méo-Camuzet: while a number of these wines were reduced and not easy to read definitively, there are some very fine 2013s at this address. However, care in choosing among the 2013s is advisable, as at most domaines with a broad range of appellations.
I liked both the Nuits Meurgers, which had excellent balance, medium body, and a long minerally finish, and the Nuits Boudots, with had much richer fruit than the Meurgers and was more dense and concentrated, though perhaps a bit heavier in comparison. Both the Clos Vougeot and the Corton Clos Rognets seemed to be in the charming, easy style of many wines of this vintage, while the Echézeaux, despite heavy reduction, seemed elegant and possessed of a long finish with great lift. The Vosne Brulées was more brooding, with power and presence, and a tight structure. The best wines here were the Vosne Cros Parantoux, which despite only recently finishing malo displayed a spicy, cool fruit nose, sweet raspberries on the palate, tight structure and power, with an intense mineral finish of great breed; and the Richebourg, which was powerful, spicy, open and rich, a bit forward even, but with a lot to it.
The 2012 Nuits Boudots, opened several days earlier, had a rich fruit nose and a touch of brown sugar, and was distinctly sweet but enjoyable (90), while the 2012 Clos Vougeot, opened on the spot, was very ripe and rich, with black currants, licorice, black pepper, and a touch of brown sugar; it had a lot of power and richness, with medium, refined tannins and excellent length, and was distinctly superior to the 2013 version (92-93).

Grivot: Etienne’s wines have reached a new plateau of quality in recent years, and despite the difficulties of the vintage, there are some significant successes here. The Village-level wines were well-crafted, including a Nuits Charmois that had charming sweet fruit, a touch of salinity, and little tannin in evidence, and a Chambolle Combe d’Orveaux, with black cherry fruit, good energy and transparency. With the 1er Crus, Etienne announced that he had decided to act on someone’s advice and show the Vosne 1ers before the Nuits 1ers, the idea being that it would show that the Nuits 1ers were fully at the level of their Vosne counterparts. The only problem with this theory is that, good as the Nuits 1ers were, they were not fully at the level of the Vosne 1ers—and if you believe in terroir, there’s a ready explanation for that. I did quite like the Nuits Pruliers, an earthy, charming crowd-pleaser with good weight, and the Nuits Boudots, much more structured though with plenty of sweet strawberry fruit, if some strong tannins. Nevertheless they were not a match for the Vosne Brulées, with its bright sweet fruit, spiciness, smoky edge and mineral balance, a very fine wine just getting the edge over the Méo version, or the Vosne Reignots, with amazing depth of fruit on the nose, deep spice, soy, great balance and beautiful transparency on the finish. The Vosne Suchots was also good, though perhaps a bit heavy in comparison, while the Echézeaux seemed pleasant, approachable, but a bit lacking in focus. The Clos Vougeot was better, tending toward the sweet and supple for Clos Vougeot (and especially for Grivot’s typically brooding style of CV), with a touch of brown sugar and wild herbs. Best was the Richebourg, which had an intensely minerally nose that was calm and deep; on the palate, it had classic Richebourg structure, power and weight, and wonderful purity; on the finish, the tannins are a bit strong and the back end seems to need time to develop, but I’d be willing to bet on this wine.
Etienne thinks that 2012 may be his greatest vintage, combining drinkability, energy and balance, but not all of the wines we tasted on this day were showing at their best—possibly they have begun to shut down, as a number of ‘12s have–for example a Vosne Beaumonts that was still reduced in bottle, and an Echézeaux that had excellent energy and refinement, but also a slight caramel hint that intruded on the finish (90). Much better were the Clos Vougeot, which had great weight and intensity but avoided heaviness (91), a Nuits Boudots that had a sweet creamy entry, and was earthy, spicy, generous and balanced (92), and a powerful, minerally and pure Richebourg, with some SO2 that slightly suppressed the fruit for now, but with a lovely silky mineral finish and refined tannins (93+).

Sylvain Cathiard: The young, self-effacing Sébastien Cathiard is slowly improving the quality here (which is not to say his father’s wines were less than very good, though sometimes marred by an excess of high toast new oak). Sébastien described 2013 as having higher acidity than 2012, but being drinkable earlier—fruity, fat, forward, fun was how he described the ‘13s. Nonetheless, some of his wines are more than that, I think. The Bourgogne and the Village wines were all good, though I think the oak treatment still mars these a bit. Things ramped up significantly with the 1er Crus, including a Nuits Aux Thoreys that had deeply pitched red fruit, excellent minerality, drive, and an almost silky touch; Nuits Meurgers, with a beautiful red fruit nose, quite earthy, with more tannin than the Thoreys but also more body and more silk– today the Thoreys is more pleasurable but it will be interesting to see what happens with time; Vosne En Orveaux, with beautiful cherry fruit, spice, a pure minerality and an appealing finish (Sébastien commented that this seemed almost more Chambolle than Vosne) and a stunning Vosne Malconsorts, with deeply pitched fruit on the nose, a silky middle, excellent transparency and silky tannins. The sole Grand Cru here, the Romanée-St.-Vivant, was clearly a very elegant wine, though the nose seemed reticent and the oak a bit strong; nonetheless it had great balance and promises well. The 2012s we tasted included a surprisingly good Bourgogne (surprising in that it had been opened several days earlier, but still had beautiful bright fruit and spice, and was well-knit (90), a Vosne Village marred by too much oak on the nose (86), and a Nuits Meurgers which despite a touch of hardness had a lot of appealing sweet fruit, hints of spice, earth, and good density (92).

Hudelot-Noellat: here as elsewhere, things got progressively more exciting as one mounted the “ladder.” The top 1er Crus and Grand Crus are very fine wines, and Charles van Canneyt is one of the young winemakers of the Côte d’Or to watch.
Among the 1er Crus, the Nuits Meurgers had a beautiful nose of dark cherries and spice and despite a touch of reduction on the palate it was minerally and very long with the tannins in check. The Vosne Beaumonts also displayed a nose of great purity, and it was transparent and minerally on the palate as well, with a light charming finish and some dry tannins but they should modulate in time. The Vosne Suchots had more power and concentration than the Beaumonts but seemed less well-knit, at least for now, while the Vosne Malconsorts, which had undergone a very late malo, was a bit hard to read but seemed to have great transparency, power, lift and structure, some slightly fiery tannins leading to a very long and very pure finish—this too needs time but appears to have a great future. The Clos Vougeot was showing really well, with great balance, structure and finesse and powerful but refined tannins. The RSV had huge spice, a hint of woodsmoke, and black cherries on the nose; it seemed more delicate than the Clos Vougeot, and not quite as integrated, but the tannins were refined. The Richebourg had a pretty, open red fruit nose, a creamy texture, hints of game and soy, and lovely purity, with powerful but integrated tannins—this should be very fine in time.
We then tasted a number of 2012s, including a very nice, light and open Chambolle Village (89), an open, transparent and minerally Vougeot Les Petits Vougeots (90), and a range of fine 1er Crus, including a Chambolle Charmes with rich jammy fruit on the nose but a good mineral spine (90+), an excellent Nuits Meurgers, with good delineation and power (91); Vosne Malconsorts, with a great mélange of red fruits and spice on the nose, it was on the delicate side but elegant and with refined tannins (93). As for the Grands Crus, the Clos Vougeot was classy, with a high-toned minerally nose, perfume, spice and good acidic lift (93); the RSV was very refined , with excellent weight and balance and an extra touch of finesse at the end (93+). In contrast was the gamy, rich and powerful Richebourg, with touches of leather and soy, a creamy red fruit middle, excellent balancing acidity, and an extremely long finish with silky tannins (94).

Château de la Tour: generally good ‘13s, with notable successes at both ends of the tasting: an utterly brilliant village Gevrey (a negoce wine) and a remarkable Hommage. The small negociant range was quite well made, including a very nice Bourgogne V.V. (50 year old vines from Chorey) and a successful Beaune Clos du Dessus des Marconnets, which despite some dry tannins at the end was really quite bright and pure for a Beaune in this vintage. Most remarkable though was the Gevrey V.V., which gets my vote for over-achiever of the vintage: the nose was quite perfumed, with a citric touch, and the palate had excellent lift and purity, with notes of kirsch, black pepper and a saline touch; the finish was spicy and very long. Yes, Gevrey was the sweet spot in 2013, but this is still remarkable for a Village wine. The Clos Vougeot V.V. was certainly a good wine, with excellent briary fruit on the nose, and was dense and rich with saline and game notes and some fierce tannins but seemingly the richness to carry them as they modulate. The Clos Vougeot Hommage a Jean Morin was in another category, however, with incredible density to the nose, showing notes of licorice, kirsch, perfume, black pepper and minerals; on the palate it was rich, silky and elegant, with very refined tannins.

Ponsot: overall, a lovely range that demonstrates the attractive side of this vintage, then mounts to a more serious crescendo with the Clos St Denis and Clos de la Roche. I liked the Morey 1er Cru Cuvée Les Alouettes, with excellent terroir character, good balance, and medium tannins; the Corton Bressandes (the only wine racked to this point), which showed good ripeness, medium tannins and a long finish; and the Griottes-Chambertin, with a nice mix of sweet fruit (cherries, raspberries and currants) and excellent spice, though a fair amount of tannin. Better still were the Chapelle-Chambertin, which was quite transparent, very balanced, with creamy tannins and a long finish developing; the Clos de Bèze (only 1 barrel), which was extremely primary on the nose but had great purity in the middle, and it seemed as though the acidity and the super-ripe fruit are in balance with little tannin in evidence (to me, it far outshone the much less dense though pleasant Chambertin); and the Clos Vougeot V.V., which was dense and intense (not unlike the Ch. de la Tour V.V. version). The two big guns performed as they should, with the Clos St. Denis T.V.V. (in tank) being relatively open-knit yet with a lot of rich material and a minerality that drove it throughout–an elegant wine with soft tannins and great length. The Clos de la Roche V.V. had an intensely spicy nose of beeswax, dried herbs, black pepper and cream, with red fruit coming up on the palate, a penetrating minerality, great energy and superb balance, all culminating in an extremely long finish.

Dujac: usually when we’re here, the wines need racking and are consequently quite reduced. This time, they had completed their (sole) racking about 10 days before we arrived and the wines were showing quite well. While we only taste the wines we’re allocated, which is unfortunate as it limits what one can say about the range, we tasted several first-rate wines here, as the notes reflect.
The Morey Village was quite a nice example, with spice, mustard seed and perfume, and good transparency. The Gevrey Combottes was particularly good, with deep red fruit, perfume, a meaty touch, spice and citrus, again very transparent and with excellent weight. The Charmes-Chambertin had very pure fruit up front and a light pure lingering finish, and was showing quite well, as was the Vosne Malconsorts, a complete contrast with its deep Vosne spice, intensity and weight; though a bit tannic and hard at the moment, there was real refinement here. The Clos de la Roche had deeply pitched fruit, a touch of perfume from the stems, a lot of minerality and excellent lift at the end, a very fine wine but it was slightly outshone by the Clos St. Denis, which showed more violets on the nose, strawberries on the palate, and a bit more oak spice, but overall it was an elegant wine with a refined finish.

De Montille: Sadly, our visit came just a few days after the death of Hubert de Montille—though of all ways to go, a swift passing while drinking his own wine (’99 Pommard Rugiens) in the company of friends, was perhaps among the best ways to exit.
Because the domaine has both whites and reds, and from both Côtes, and because the wine growing and wine making is careful and intelligent, this domaine could well serve as a microcosm of the vintage. As Etienne de Montille said, it is a good, but not a great, vintage. Not surprisingly, the Côte De Nuits reds were clearly more successful than those of the Côte de Beaune (the whites are discussed in that section of this report).
In particular, the Vosne Malconsorts was very fine, intense and powerful, with great transparency, and a hint of silk; the tannins, though heavy, are ripe and will modulate. The Vosne Malconsorts Cuvée Christiane was, as usual, even better, with a wonderful silky mouthfeel, positive acidity, great minerality, intense red fruit on the nose and palate, and tannins that were a bit suaver than the regular Cuvée. It used to be difficult to find Malconsorts worthy of the name; now there are at least a quartet of domaines (Cathiard, Hudelot-Noellat, Dujac and de Montille) that seem to be in an intense if unspoken competition to place Malconsorts at the top of the Vosne 1ers.

The Negociants

Faiveley: a really fine range of Côte de Nuits reds here, with some standout successes.
Not surprisingly, the tasting passed quite quickly out of the Côte de Beaune and settled in Nuits-St-Georges, where the Premiers Crus were very good but clearly outpaced by the Chambolles and Gevreys that followed. The Porrets-St.-Georges was quite earthy but with excellent balance and transparency and the Les-St.-Georges was also very good, with excellent tension, strong but suave tannins, and incredible persistence (we also tasted a non-Domaine version, to be sold separately, which had more fruit than the Domaine example but lacked the complexity). The Chambolles (mostly negociant wines) showed well, including an easy, lighter-style but very enjoyable Chambolle Charmes, a Chambolle Combe d’Orveaux that had much more depth on the palate, with good transparency and persistence, and a Chambolle Amoureuses, which had a wonderful nose of complex red fruit, spice and minerals and polished tannins at the end, but at least today seemed to lack a little mid-palate depth. The standout for me among the Gevrey 1er Crus was the Clos des Issarts, with smoked meat and hints of stone fruit on the nose, a silky quality on the palate, and a spicy long finish. The Gevrey Grands Crus included an impressive Mazis-Chambertin, with intense rich fruit balanced by good acidity, modulated tannins and an amazing complex finish; Clos de Bèze, with a huge nose of red fruit, dried herbs, grilled meats, licorice, lavender and minerals–this was a very powerful wine, the only nit being that it seemed to lack a bit of generosity; and the superb Clos de Bèze Ouvrées Rodin, richer and sweeter than the regular Bèze, deeply minerally with great balance, a wine that gained depth as one studied it, with sophisticated tannins and a multi-minute finish. As with Bouchard and Jadot, Faiveley insists on tasting its flagship wine at or near the end, which in my view is always a mistake, and the Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley, while an excellent wine, is just not sophisticated enough to come after the Ouvrées Rodin. The Musigny, however (tasted this year directly from the single small barrel, which has a locked bung), did deserve to be served last, with deep spice, great purity, strong penetrating minerality, the characteristic blood orange note, and extremely polished tannins on an incredibly elegant finish; this was truly superb, though it will be almost impossible to find.

Drouhin: The style of the reds this year tends towards softness, with an emphasis on the sweet fruit. While for the most part they do not suffer from the excess of acidity and tannin that many wines do, the tradeoff seems to have been that, while attractive for short and perhaps medium term drinking, they do not look to be long-distance runners, and in some cases (Grands Echézeaux for example) seem to lack the weight of their classification (so did the Jadot Grands Ech—I wonder what might have happened here). On the other hand, when they succeed (Chambolle Amoureuses, for example), they are nothing short of brilliant.
While the Chambolle 1er Cru, usually among my favorite value wines, seemed too soft this year for my taste, and the Grands Echézeaux, as mentioned, didn’t have the density or weight I typically associate with the appellation, the Clos Vougeot had much more structure and intensity, with medium weight, and the Vosne Petits Monts was soft, fleshy and quite charming. The Griottes-Chambertin, usually reduced at this time of year and hard to taste, was mercifully accessible, and a very fine wine, with gorgeous cherry fruit, meat and minerals on the nose, and on the palate it was soft, pretty, very well balanced, with the acidity in check and the tannins hardly evident. The Clos de Bèze was also charming, but I missed the power of the best examples. The Musigny had an amazing nose, extremely refined with a delicate balance of minerality; on the palate, while good, it did seem a bit on the soft side, and had some dry tannins at the end. For me, it was bested this year by the Chambolle Amoureuses, with just the right balance of sweet strawberry fruit, mineral lift and silky tannins—an exceptionally elegant wine.

Benjamin Leroux: In a relatively short period, Benjamin has developed a large portfolio; there are now about 49 different appellations. Overall, the winemaking here is sophisticated and successful, though as with any large portfolio of domaine and negoce wines, there is bound to be variation, which will be accentuated in a vintage such as 2013. While we did not see many of the Côte de Beaune reds, the Côte de Nuits reds are generally successful, albeit—as everywhere—some more so than others. There are also some real stars here, as discussed in the notes. Nevertheless, one has to wonder if, between 49 different cuvées and (until this year) responsibility for Comte Armand as well, Benjamin has been in danger of spreading himself too thinly.
The range of Côte de Nuits wines included excellent examples of Gevrey Village, with excellent transparency, and Chambolle Village, quite charming and easy, with a touch of stems. We jumped immediately to the Grands Crus, which included an excellent Clos Vougeot, an easy style of Clos Vougeot but with lots of sweet fruit and nice minerality, and a similarly open and charming Echézeaux, both of which seemed to exemplify the friendly side of this vintage. The Clos de la Roche seemed a bit more serious and powerful, yet balanced, while the Bonnes Mares was refined but quite powerful, with ripe tannins fully evident on the finish. Best of all was the Chambolle Amoureuses, with a pure and complex red fruit nose, a silky texture to the fruit on the palate combined with strong mineral lift, and a long fruit finish with refined tannins—a combination of sexy fruit and refinement, which probably could engender all sorts of analogies, if Kapon were writing this.

Bouchard: Here one sees the unevenness of the vintage writ large. Several of the Côte de Beaune reds we normally taste were missing from the lineup, the crop having been nearly destroyed by hail. While those we did taste mostly showed the effects of the hail in the drying tannins, there were a couple of unexpected successes (discussed below). The Côte de Nuits reds were obviously better, but still inconsistent, as the notes reflect. Overall, there were a number of pleasurable reds but nothing that stands out as great.
Among the better wines here from the Côte de Nuits were the Chambolle Les Noirots, from purchased grapes, which had a very nice creamy texture; the Clos Vougeot, which as with a number of others we saw on this trip was an approachable, rich and easy style of Clos Vougeot, and a Chapelle-Chambertin, which if it didn’t quite have the grip of the Ponsot or Trapet versions, still had a nice line, and was an elegant, lighter-style Chapelle.

Jadot: The Jadot team is so nice, that I keep wanting to like these wines more than I do. This is not to say the wines are in any sense bad; they are never less than conscientiously made, but one can’t help wishing they were more exciting and less dutiful.
Of the wines of the Côte de Nuits, many seemed soft and pleasant, if a little under-weight, while others suffered from the hard tannins that are present in so many wines of this vintage. Though the Gevrey Clos St. Jacques had good lift and balance, it really couldn’t compete with the Bruno Clair example; better were the Chambolle Amoureuses, which had more definition than most of the range, with good weight, balance and length and a creamy texture, and Clos de Bèze, displaying purity, balance and power, with all the elements in place, and for me the best of the range.

Camille-Giroud: David Croix is an exceptionally talented winemaker, but as he admitted, the wines seemed somber and shut down on the day we visited. One hopes that they may eventually show much better, but on the day, it was a difficult tasting. Of the Côte de Nuits wines, I did find virtue in the Vosne Village, with intense deep fruit and spice, the Gevrey Lavaux St. Jacques, very aromatic with a cut mineral edge and sweet fruit bubbling up on the finish, and the Chambertin, which was complex and powerful, with good transparency.

Côte de Beaune

Normally I review each Domaine and negociant separately, but in 2013 that would entail a lot of sad commentary, as growers whom I highly respect struggled to produce something that Mother Nature seemed determined to deny them. While many of the resulting wines are capable of providing some pleasure, they are difficult for me to recommend. So I will offer some brief commentary on key domaines, and a short list of the wines I thought succeeded against the odds.

Lafarge: Small quantities, owing both to the poor spring and the July hailstorm. Frédéric Lafarge said 65% of the crop was lost. The domaine did a good job considering the difficulties they faced, but still, some of the wines seemed to suffer from a bit too much acidity and dry tannins. At the top end, there was however a silky quality to the wines, and if the tannins smooth out over time, these could be very good.
The Volnay Mitans was silky and balanced, with a touch of acidity at the back, but the tannins had been well managed. The Volnay Caillerets had a dense mineral and red fruit nose with an earthy touch, and a pure spicy transparent finish, here the tannins were evident but not overly aggressive. The Volnay Clos des Chênes had a dense, almost syrupy nose, on the palate it seemed a bit light at first but very silky; here the tannins were stronger but they had some refinement and should eventually soften.

Marquis d’Angerville: this domaine was severely affected by hail during the growing season and the crop was about 15 hl/ha, roughly 40% of normal, the second straight year of hail damage. D’Angerville’s wines have consistently ranked for me among the top wines of the Côte de Beaune. Unfortunately, whether due to the cumulation of disasters Mother Nature has visited on the estate, or simply because of the conditions that day, the wines were not showing well when we visited. Friends who visited later had better reports, so follow-up will be required to see whether or not it was just an accident of timing.

Michel Gaunoux: As always, no barrel samples were offered, though we were the first to taste the ‘12s out of bottle. ’12 was the first of the three consecutive tiny harvests in this part of the Côte de Nuits, and while others were more enthusiastic than I about the full range, certainly the Pommard Rugiens was first-rate, rich and concentrated with very pure fruit and excellent length (93).

Other noteworthy Côte de Beaune Reds: first, I should mention that while I had to miss the appointment with Nicolas Rossignol, my colleagues said that these were some of the most successful Côte de Beaune reds of the entire trip. From my prior visits, I can say that Nicolas Rossignol is certainly a very talented winemaker and someone to watch.
Bouchard’s Beaune Clos de la Mousse was a success for the vintage, with a lot of sweet fruit, if a bit austere at the finish, and the Beaune Grèves Vigne de L’Enfant Jésus was quite rich, plummy almost, with a lot of acidity after, a success in the context of the vintage though not a great Enfant Jésus.
Chandon de Briailles—Corton was mostly outside the hail zone in 2013, and among the successes here were an intense, precise Aloxe-Corton Les Valozieres; a powerful Corton Bressandes (20 hl/ha, due to losses at flowering), large-framed with sweet red fruit and a gamy touch; and Corton Clos du Roi, with excellent lift and transparency, though some pretty fierce tannins which will take many years to modulate.
De Montille’s Pommard Rugiens (Bas) had great red fruit and earth on the nose, a silky touch and tannins that were not at all aggressive. It is in a more approachable style for Pommard and benefitted from Etienne’s decision not to use any stems for this wine this year.
Senard’s Corton Bressandes and Clos du Roi were both also very nice, with the Bressandes as usual more open and rich but the Clos du Roi holding more in reserve.
Also, as noted above, Corton mostly escaped the hail (though not the other problems of the vintage) and for other successes in Corton, see the Faiveley and Ponsot reviews above.

WHITES

The Domaines

François Carillon: There is some first-rate winemaking here, and the ‘13s, with their focus and precision, were among the best whites we tasted from this vintage. The Puligny Champs Gain had beautiful white flowers, minerals, spice and lime on the nose, and was deeply minerally and racy. The Puligny Folatières and Perrières were especially good: the Folatières was pure, linear, very driven, with excellent fruit and floral qualities and a rich finish, while the Perrières was elegant, spicy and floral, a calm wine with great balance and purity and stony depths.

Bernard Moreau: There were some very pretty wines here, but also others where the acidity tended to overwhelm the fruit, a persistent issue in this vintage. Among the successes were an excellent Chassagne Village, with good grip and minerality; a restrained, balanced Chassagne Maltroie; and a very fine Chassagne Grand Ruchottes, with an excellent floral and minerally nose, sweet fruit, pear spice, and excellent power and drive. The Bâtard had a restrained nose of pears and cinnamon, good balance, ripe apply fruit and spice, and good length. Even better was the Chevalier, which was minerally, pure, a bit richer and riper than Bâtard, with more material. At the end, we tasted the 2012 Chassagne Maltroie for comparison, and it was rich, intense and powerful—massive but still pure, with sweet peaches and spice, citrus and a long mineral finish (91+).

Latour-Giraud: Here we first tasted the ‘12s (from bottle) and then the ‘13s. This was perhaps a bit unfair to the ‘13s, as the ‘12s are a very complete vintage here and also in a fuller stage of development. By comparison, the ‘13s seemed easier and more relaxed, likeable, without the intensity or dense fruit flavors of the ‘12s, but still very nice wines for near-term drinking.
Among the better ‘13s were the Meursault Genevrières, with a deep minerally nose and the fruit just starting to emerge, but also some very nice floral notes; the Meursault Perrières, which had more sweet fruit, and was less stony than normal, but, with a hint of cream, it was a very likeable wine; and best of all the Meursault Genevrières Cuvée des Pierre, which had a rich floral nose with touches of lemon and licorice, a lovely texture, balanced, elegant and with more ripe fruit in evidence than the others.
Among the ‘12s, the Meursault Charmes was large-boned, with some prominent oak though lots of rich fruit (90?); the Meursault Genevrières had a stony, spicy nose that jumped out of the glass, hints of clove and lime rind, and a real sense of density with good acid balance (92); and the Meursault Genevrières Cuvée des Pierre had a refined and subtle nose of fruit and flowers and was a balanced, intense but subtle wine (94).

Guy Roulot: Last year at the same time, many wines were still in malo and we were unable to taste them. This year, although the harvest was late and the malos were also generally late, we were able to taste the range, and there are some wonderful wines here in 2013, as well as a high standard of quality overall. While they may not, according to Jean-Marc, have the same precision as 2012, they are nonetheless well-crafted, transparent and delicious.
As usual, the Bourgogne Blanc merits mention, overperforming its appellation even if a touch acidic at the finish. The Meursault Meix Chavaux had sweet berry fruit and white flowers on the nose, with a touch of lemon cream and spice-cake on the finish. The Meursault Tillets was a puppy dog with a wet nose, and while charming, I don’t know how serious it is. The Meursault Tessons Clos de Mon Plaisir had a steely quality on the nose, great balance, and both charm and restraint. But the best of the lieux-dits, for me, was the Meursault Luchets, with a brilliantly pure nose and spice, mineral, and floral notes; on the palate it was balanced and charming, and then it had an extremely focused finish, with great cut and purity. Among the 1er Crus, I didn’t think the Meursault Clos des Bouchères was entirely persuasive, but it may just need time. The Meursault Charmes and Perrières, however, were terrific wines, with the Charmes showing a lot of minerality for this terroir, and more depth than usual; it was tightly wound and extremely long. The Perrières had a silky quality on the palate, with peaches and cream, lemon curd, and spice, all in balance and with a very long dry finish, showing some tannin, that should keep it for a long while, if premox doesn’t claim it.

Henri Boillot: Another domaine which prefers to show its bottled wines. We tasted the ‘12s, and the whites were absolutely delicious. The Meursault Genevrières was spicy, floral, and with good tension (92), while the Puligny Clos de la Mouchère was softer than the Meursault, with a nice spicy element to it, excellent freshness and a long minerally finish—very harmonious (94). The Bâtard was intensely floral, with great precision and power, and leaning to the mineral side; the only nit was a touch of wood showing through at the end (93). The Corton-Charlemagne lacked a little grip in the middle compared to the Bâtard, and was flinty and slightly dry on the finish, with a touch of white pepper (92).

De Montille: The word “light” recurs most frequently in my notes on the whites. Overall, these seemed to lack density, though a couple were nonetheless very nice, including the Puligny Folatières (Ch. de Puligny). I liked its balance and persistence, though it could perhaps have used a bit more richness—it is Etienne’s favorite, though. The Puligny Cailleret was elegant and floral, with white peach and citrus notes, and for me was the best of this range.

Bonneau du Martray: it was hard to read the ’13 when we tasted it; it had good components, which hadn’t all come together yet, though they may. We also tasted a range of vintages, and I was surprised to find I preferred this wine in vintages I expected to dislike—that is, 2009 and 2006, both tending towards blowsiness elsewhere, but quite balanced and minerally here.

Colin-Morey: There has for a long time been debate in our group about the wines of this domaine, with some finding them too oaky and others admiring their transparency. I tend to come down squarely in the middle of this debate, which is to say that I find some wines exceptional and others overly influenced by the oak treatment. That said, Pierre Yves’s wines in 2013 seemed very linear—strongly minerally and transparent but without enough balancing fruit. The Meursaults were a notable exception, though. The Meursault Narvaux had a lovely stony nose, with hints of bacon fat and spice; it was intense and had great presence for Narvaux. The Meursault Charmes was more floral, with a sweet easy nose, a creamy texture and a long spicy finish, while the Meursault Genevrières also had a creamy texture but a very pure mineral focus to it, and the Meursault Perrières was ripe and rich on the nose but gave way to an almost raspy minerality on the palate, great purity, and a laser-like finish; this will need time. The Corton-Charlemagne was the best of the range, beautifully balanced with a pure nose, great weight, structure and balance, if just a hint of dryness at the end; Pierre-Yves said this is usually a blend of Pernand and Aloxe fruit, but there was nothing from Pernand in ’13 because of the hail, and the resulting wine in his view has more power and body.

Leflaive: The 2013s seemed a bit hard to evaluate, but were not exciting on this particular day. Chef de Cave Louis Brière pointedly told us he came on board in 2008, effectively disclaiming responsibility for the wines of the interregnum (including the disastrous 2006s and the rapidly oxidizing 2007s—my descriptions, not his). Nevertheless, while I wish I could report that Leflaive was still the reference standard in Puligny-Montrachet, the reality (widely discussed in the Village) is that it has slipped from its perch (as has Ramonet in Chassagne). On the other hand, there is no successor ready to be anointed. While the lower level wines were unpersuasive, and several of the Premiers Crus seemed marked by the acidity, I did quite like the Bienvenues-Bâtard, which had more sweet fruit than most in the range, was quite powerful for Bienvenues and the most well-integrated of all the wines we saw.
After the 2013s, we were given a 2000 Puligny Pucelles to taste, and it was badly oxidized, which was rather shocking, as the 2000s have been drinking extremely well in my experience, from good cellars in the US. At my request, a broker friend who had been offering several cases of this wine, recently released from the Domaine, opened a bottle–with the same result. I do not know what went on in the Domaine cellar, or if it was related to the 2003 heat wave, but I do know that over the past several years I have drunk a number of premoxed bottles of recently-released older wines, while the wines purchased on original release from vintages such as ’96, ’99 and ’00 continue to perform brilliantly.

Other (predominantly red-wine producing) Domaines that made good whites in 2013: a very nice Beaune Clos des Aigrots Blanc from Michel Lafarge, light, elegant with some strong acidity at the finish but quite enjoyable; an excellent Nuits Clos des Grands Vignes from Liger-Belair, with sweet fruit on the nose and a very minerally aspect, some glycerine, and notes of allspice, ginger and grapefruit—overall an intriguing wine; Ponsot’s Morey Clos des Monts Luisants T.V.V., which had great balance, sweet peaches, flowers and spice and a light lemon touch on the finish, and Senard’s Aloxe Corton Blanc (from Pinot Gris), which was deeply minerally and floral, with excellent glycerine, a rich and interesting wine.

The Negociants

Bouchard: The whites were a different story here from the reds. The Fèvre Chablis were excellent overall, and several were first-rate; these continue to represent good value in Chablis. The Côte de Beaune whites were also mostly very good to excellent, particularly at the top end. Among the Chablis, there was not a single Grand Cru we tasted that did not perform well. I quite liked the Valmur, a softer style of Valmur perhaps, with quince, lemon and a lovely floral element; and Les Clos, which took time for the nose and palate to unfold. However, for me, the two standouts were the Bougros “Côte Bouguerots”, with sweet peaches, white flowers, stones and excellent balance throughout; and Les Preuses, which was very intense, with a strong steely spine, floral notes and white peaches, and a really nice spiciness.
Among the Côte de Beaune whites, standouts included the Meursault Genevrières, a soft, elegant wine, but complete and balanced; the Meursault Perrières, with pears, spice and a hint of licorice in the nose, deeply stony on the palate, more intense if less elegant than the Genevrières; a very nice Chevalier that was however, overshadowed by the Chevalier La Cabotte, which was an extremely elegant wine with a subtle perfume, deep spice, transparency and a very long finish, and only a touch of heat at the end to keep it off a high pedestal; and the Montrachet, with a nose of quince, spice and honey, soft entry and a honeyed touch balanced by a deep minerality, this was a complete, regal Montrachet.

Drouhin: The whites, as is typical, were mixed; the Chablis we tasted didn’t quite have the penetrating minerality of the best, though they were nice; the Domaine (and Laguiche) whites were generally better than the negociant whites, and were very good. I particularly liked the Chassagne Morgeot Marquis de Laguiche, with a calm, floral nose and a lovely hint of spice; sweet red fruits on the palate, spice and floral qualities; the Corton Charlemagne, which had a reticent nose, but great balance, power and presence on the palate, and the Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche, with an intense, very pure nose, medium weight, hints of pineapple, yet a sense of restraint and aristocracy.

Faiveley: The whites were less persuasive than the reds, but still there were some successes here, including the Meursault Charmes, a spicy charming wine with very strong acidity in the middle but not overdone; Bienvenues-Bâtard, with medium body, excellent balance, a saline quality and a spicy slightly acidic finish—this cuvée is definitely improving from year to year since Faiveley took it over; and best of all, the Corton-Charlemagne, with a beautiful, fully integrated nose of white flowers, spice and minerals, a balanced and nuanced palate, and elegance and great length at the end.

Benjamin Leroux: Overall, there were some particularly fine whites in the lineup. The Meursault Porusots had good transparency, an excellent spicy element, good tension, a wine that somehow managed to be soft and hard at the same time, and to pull it off. The Chassagne 1er Cru Abbaye de Morgeot showed ripe apples, citrus, spice and good texture, while the Puligny Champgain had a soft, almost silky texture, but excellent tension, especially on the finish. Best in my view was the Chassagne 1er Cru Tête du Clos, with a great pure nose of minerals, spice and a hint of beeswax; it was elegant and had great lift on the palate but was also quite calm, with a long, coiled, elegant finish.

Jadot: I still hold out hope that they will stop blocking the malos for the whites, now that Jacques Lardiere has retired, but it has not happened yet. Jacques always seemed to find some reason each vintage to do so, though the rationale varied from year to year, until eventually the exception became the rule, and not always in my opinion to the advantage of these wines. Standouts in 2013 included the Chevalier Les Demoiselles, with an elegant restrained nose of pear fruit, flowers and minerals, and an integrated spicy finish—this wine still needs time but should come together; the Corton-Charlemagne, in a soft, crowd-pleasing style, not classic perhaps but enjoyable; and the Montrachet, with a nose of white flowers, pears and lemon curd, tight-knit, with power, balance and intense minerality—this too needs time.

A Final Word: Readers of past vintage reports know that I among others remain frustrated by the fact that, while some white wine producers are seriously attempting to deal with the problem of premature oxidation, many others remain in denial, and no clear solution has as yet emerged. My depression worsens every time I drink a great 30-year old white (such as Ramonet’s ’82 Montrachet) and realize that none of the whites made in the last 2 decades will have a chance to achieve that nuance and refinement. Thus it came as quite a shock recently to receive a copy of an email, written by a seemingly reputable retailer, which contained the following sentence: “At the risk of invoking a sensitive subject amongst Burgundy enthusiasts, I would say, at least in our portfolio, the issue of premature oxidation has been confronted and resolved.” According to the writer, allowing the fresh must to be exposed to air prior to fermentation inoculates the wine against oxidation, the proffered proof being that the growers’ 2013s were pristine! Yes, it’s a theory, and there are serious people looking at it, but its only one of an number of theories one can hear in Burgundy, and even if it proves to help ameliorate the problem (there are still a number of other issues to be dealt with, including corks and use of SO2), the serious producers who are experimenting with this sort of approach understand that they will not begin to know the results until 5-8 years after the harvest, which is generally when premox starts to appear. To call the problem “solved” because wines that are still in barrel don’t taste oxidized is just one more sorry example of a wine trade that refuses to take the issue seriously.

© 2014 Douglas E. Barzelay

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From → Tastings

3 Comments
  1. Antoine Songeur permalink

    An excellent report…as usual. Thank you!

    In last year report (Burg 2012), you mentioned you would report on Burg 2011 in bottles. Is it still the plan?

    Kind regards

    Antoine

  2. Mark Penberthy permalink

    Thanks, Douglas. Very helpful in terms of navigating a difficult vintage. The goings on with Anne Gros are a head scratcher. One would think that owning land in Richebourg would compel her to make the finest wine possible.

    Regards,

    Mark Penberthy

  3. Alan Weinberg permalink

    Nice to read your notes, Doug. Very helpful–and I enjoy the web site.

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