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The 2016 Burgundies—Tiny Quantities; Concentrated Wines

December 31, 2017

 

Overview:

The defining event of the 2016 growing season was the severe frost that occurred beginning on the night of April 26th, causing massive crop losses in many areas.  Spring frosts of this dimension are unusual in Burgundy, the last comparable one having occurred in 1981; however, this was much worse than most.  Usually the vineyards most affected are the lesser ones in lower-lying areas (as was the case in 1981); in this instance, the frosts devastated many of the more prominent vineyards, from Montrachet to Musigny—though they hit lower-lying areas as well. Adding to the damage, the early spring had been clement and budburst precocious, and particularly in the chardonnay vineyards, the shoots were already well-developed. Furthermore, the frosts were capricious: Chambertin was badly affected, while Clos de Bèze, which sits barely a meter higher, was largely untouched, and similarly, in the Montrachet vineyard, the Chassagne side was almost wiped out, with 90% losses, while the Puligny side escaped with much less damage. And some communes, such as Morey-St-Denis, had normal-size crops. Not surprisingly given its more northern location, Chablis also suffered major damage.

Poor weather in May and June followed the frosts, with heavy mildew pressure in many areas (but again this was capricious).  However, a beautiful and very dry summer then followed, and the weather for the late-September harvest was nearly ideal.

The result was a vintage that is sui generis. Even ancients such as Michel Lafarge and Jean Trapet were at a loss to find a comparable vintage, or even combination of vintages. (Michel Lafarge also commented that ‘16 turned out to be a particularly expressive vintage—because, in his words, the grapes were “happy to be alive!”)  The successful reds, of which there are many, exhibit a remarkable clarity of terroir, and are concentrated and intense, with pure red fruit flavors and silky textures, moderate acidities, ripe tannins, and excellent balance. The less successful reds run the gamut from soft and insubstantial to heavy and tarry, are often overly saline (and most wines in this vintage exhibit a relatively strong degree of salinity), and lack balance. There is also an overall difference in quality between the Côte de Nuits, where numerous superb wines were made, and the Côte de Beaune, which struggled once more—though some very fine wines were produced there as well; one just has to look harder. There does not appear to be a clear delineation between the wines from vineyards whose yields were severely reduced by frost and those with normal yields, and Frédéric Lafarge was quite adamant that concentration came from the growing season, not from the frost losses–though by contrast, Christophe Roumier thought that there was more structure and concentration, and a more luscious touch, in the wines coming from vineyards hurt by the frost.

One difficulty of the vintage was that in a partially affected vineyard, the first buds might ripen well ahead of the second—though in other places, they nearly caught up, or the old vines might not have budded at the time the frost hit and thus not have been as affected (though at least one producer reported that his old vines were far more susceptible to the frost), or the crop might have been nearly all second generation. Thus, a vigneron with vines in both Morey and Chambolle, for example, or in different sectors of Puligny, could be contending with very different conditions in his vineyards.  In addition, vinifying small quantities was an issue for many producers, and some reported using stems where they might otherwise not have, simply to bulk up the must. And where, for example, a producer might normally use 1/3 new oak for a production of 6 barrels, if he made just one barrel in ‘16, his choice was obviously either 100% or zero. Furthermore, many producers (particularly, it seems, the négociants), fearing over-extraction, softened their approach in the cuverie, but while the fear was legitimate, they frequently ended up losing much of the potential depth of the wines as a result. As Frédéric Barnier of Maison Jadot put it, to understand the vintage, you have to understand all of the individual choices that each producer made. (It’s not what those seeking sound-bite vintage summaries want to hear, but he has put his finger on one of the difficulties in evaluating this complex year.)  Thus, while in difficult vintages there are often clear differences between those producers who succeeded and those who did not, in 2016 it is more common to find inconsistencies even at the best addresses.

How do the ‘16s compare with the ‘15s? In general, the ‘15s are more consistent (though even there, not everything was entirely successful), or seemed that way at a similar stage—some are starting to shut down or to seem less precise than they did a year ago. The ‘16s tend to be more transparent to the underlying terroir, though the best ‘15s do not lack for terroir character. Both vintages have lovely textures, though I think that ultimately the best ‘15s are more unctuous, as well as even better balanced, than their ’16 counterparts. In general, the ‘16s are more approachable, with good energy—in fact, several producers commented that they had more energy than the ‘15s–while the ‘15s are a bit more serious. It is perhaps telling that, as many potentially great ‘16s as we tasted, the best wine of our trip was Christophe Roumier’s remarkable ’15 Musigny, a tour de force.

For the whites, results were even more irregular than among the reds. Chassagne was particularly hard-hit by the frost on the north side of the village towards Puligny, and the crops in many premiers crus were almost completely lost. Nonetheless, Chassagne producers such as Moreau and Pillot made some great wines, where they were able to make wines at all. The part of Montrachet that lies in Chassagne was particularly devastated, so much so that a group of producers, including most notably DRC, Leflaive and Lafon, pooled the few grapes they had into a single cuvée of two barrels, for which Leflaive is doing the élevage. In Puligny, the losses were substantial in the southern part of the commune, including among the grands crus, while the more northerly and up-slope vineyards were less affected. In Meursault, it was the lower-lying vineyards that were worst hit, while those further up-slope, including the premiers crus, were less affected. Nonetheless, mildew remained a major problem, and caused its own losses. Overall, the whites can be exceptionally dense but still well-balanced, but there is huge variability, and while the better wines show more freshness than the ‘15s, this is not a vintage one can buy with the same sense of confidence as one could the ‘14s.

Finally, a word of overall caution: barrel tasting is an art, not a science, and predicting the future development of a very young wine depends in significant measure on being able to compare it to other vintages with seemingly similar characteristics that have now reached full or partial maturity—which is why there is no substitute for tasting from barrel year-in, year-out and at the same time of year. Even at that, surprises still occur: ugly ducklings that turn into swans, or wines in which some inchoate shortcoming only comes to the fore years later. However, when faced with a vintage that, like ’16, has no precedent, it seems almost guaranteed that it will develop in ways that are currently difficult to predict. There are some potentially great wines in this vintage, and they are well worth taking a chance on, but it may take some years before one really knows what their full potential will be.

RED BURGUNDIES

 The Côte d’Or

 The Domaines:

Liger-Belair. Louis-Michel Liger-Belair produced, in my view, the best and most consistent range of wines we tasted. That doesn’t mean others didn’t produce equally great, or even better, examples of a particular vineyard, but these wines evoked a sense of consistent brilliance. The Vosne Village was soft and charming, while the Vosne La Colombière had lots of spice and a lovely purity to it. The Vosne Chaumes had an intense, deeply pitched nose, with great charm and presence, and while the Suchots wasn’t showing quite as well, it too had serious depth, as well as a silky texture. The Vosne Petits Monts was outstanding: an elegant wine, with ripe raspberry fruit, great presence, lift and purity, a velvety texture, and silky, buried tannins. The Vosne Brulées (not commercialized but sometimes released for charity auctions and other events) was denser and more powerful than the Petits Monts, more intense but without the same silkiness. Both Nuits premiers crus (Cras and Clos des Grands Vignes) were dense and intense, the former earthy and the latter with hints of clove and mustard, both excellent examples, though in my view neither quite reached the level of the best Vosne premiers crus. The Reignots was velvety, with sweet strawberry fruit, more accessible than usual but still quite intense, and with the characteristic saline note of the vintage. The Clos de Vougeot was too reduced to assess accurately but was clearly quite muscular and intense.  The Echézeaux had pure strawberry fruit, and while intense, was also pure, silky and well balanced, with a bit of wood influence showing. Finally, La Romanée had an amazingly deep nose, with cinnamon, cocoa, cream, and strawberries, classic power without weight on the palate, and was intense, driving and energetic, with a saline edge, silk and then punch, plus an airy finish with extremely refined tannins.

We also tasted a number of ‘15s for comparison. Many of them still showed a bit of reduction, but it did not seem pronounced enough to be permanent. They also had begun to shut down, making comparison more difficult. The Vosne Clos du Château had lovely ripe sweet fruit, and was delicate and light, with great length and supple tannins (90), while the Nuits Clos des Grands Vignes had deep black cherries, spice and earth on the nose, and an almost spritzy quality, and was dense, with chewy tannins, and a lot of depth (91?). The Vosne Petits Monts, despite its reductive note, still had great purity, ripe strawberry fruit, excellent density and polished tannins (92?). The fruit was a little buried on the Vosne Reignots, but it had good purity and harmony, and was very spicy; the tannins seemed a bit fierce here but there was lots of material, if still only partially developed (93?). The Echézeaux was superb: a spicy nose with dense, dark fruit and a menthol touch, cool and pure in the center, a touch of oak, but balanced, elegant, and calm, with a long finish (95). La Romanée, while reduced on the nose, nonetheless radiated intensity, and was pure and silky on the palate, with remarkable elegance and finesse, and some still strong, but very refined, tannins (96+). These wines are still evolving, and will I expect take considerable time to come into their own, but should be superb.

 DRC. Frost losses for the Domaine varied from near-total (90+% in Montrachet, 85-90% in Echézeaux and Grands Echézeaux) to slight. According to Aubert de Villaine, yields were nonetheless low even where there were no frost losses, as the cold caused a great deal of millerandage (shot berries). The domaine’s vineyards did not, however, experience much in the way of disease pressure. Overall, Aubert noted that it was rare to have the climats as well-defined as they are in this vintage.

The Echézeaux had a concentrated nose with a touch of blue fruit, licorice and an almost tarry quality, and on the palate, it was dense, refined, and rich. The Grands Echézeaux was a considerable step up, purer and more minerally, quite concentrated and intense but with excellent lift and strong but rounded tannins. (Aubert said it is possible that both the Echézeaux and Grands Echézeaux will be bottled only in magnums.) The elegance came through right away on the Romanée St.-Vivant, with characteristic spice and breed, but it was quite tannic and seemed a little tarry even. While RSV and Richebourg have been running neck-and-neck in recent years, in ’16 the Richebourg was clearly the finer wine, at least at this stage, with a powerful, rich, dense, and complex nose, as well as great lift and transparency, but it was also balanced and elegant, with silky tannins and a very long finish. It even outshone La Tâche on this day, with the latter being softer and more elegant, but with the characteristic spice somewhat muted, and it seemed to lack the incredible density of the Richebourg. Nonetheless, it will be very fine. The Romanée-Conti was, almost needless to say, brilliant, and notwithstanding its characteristic reserve, it still projected complexity, elegance, and grace, with highly refined, silky tannins and a long, lingering finish.

According to Aubert (and what we saw elsewhere), many of the ‘15s are closing down. Nonetheless, the ’15 Echézeaux had a nose that seemed more open and pure than the ’16, while concealing the density of the wine, and while there was plenty of sweet black cherry fruit on the palate, there was also a deep minerality, without the same salinity as the ’16. The tannins were strong but not fierce, and the finish very long (93+).

Hudelot-Noellat. Charles van Canneyt has crafted another very successful range of wines here. While Vosne was not seriously damaged by the frost, and mildew pressure was not heavy, he noted that he had had to deal with differences in maturity even within the same parcel. The Bourgogne was quite promising, even though a very late malo (finished only in September) had left it with a fair amount of gas. The Chambolle Village was dense and quite intense for a Village wine, with a bright finish, even better than the Vosne Village, which had more weight than usual but still good purity. The Vougeot 1er Cru Petits Vougeots, which suffered about 40% frost losses, showed ripe black raspberries on the nose and excellent spice; it was intense and silky, and had a lot of weight for this wine, with the characteristic ’16 salinity at the end. (This wine is almost always a very good value.) The Nuits Murgers was quite reduced but the extremely persistent pure finish suggested a fine future. The Vosne premiers crus were all excellent, with the Suchots showing particularly well today, with a pure raspberry fruit expression and a creamy texture, but the Malconsorts was not far behind, with incredible density, seeming almost like a baby Richebourg in terms of its power. The Clos de Vougeot was a classic expression of the vineyard, combining intensity and freshness, while the Romanée St.-Vivant, the last to finish its malo, was medium-bodied and elegant, and though it showed a little reduction, it was pure and developing a silky texture. Best was the superb Richebourg, with remarkable purity and elegance, a calm, airy style of Richebourg, exceptionally balanced, with silky tannins.

We also tasted a number of the ‘15s. Charles van Canneyt said that he preferred the energy of the ‘16s and the quality of their tannins, and found them more approachable, though he observed that the ‘15s were a bit stronger and more serious. The ’15 Vosne Village, though minerally and delicate, seemed a bit on the light side (89), but the Vosne Beaumonts displayed beautiful sweet red fruit and spice on the nose, and was immensely charming, with understated minerality and a creamy texture (92), while the Vosne Suchots was beautifully balanced, spicy and perfumed, an elegant wine (93). The Romanée St.-Vivant showed deep spice, ripe and rich red fruit, and a silkiness, and was quite nice, but perhaps lacked a little precision (92); I preferred the Richebourg, with its spicy, powerful, floral, and intense nose, though it shifted gears on the palate, seeming a bit lighter and more delicate than the nose suggested, but with excellent transparency. However, given the power this showed in barrel, it may just be slightly shut down (93+).

Cathiard.  While there were no significant losses in the top vineyards (RSV and Malconsorts, as well as Vosne Reignots and Nuits Murgers), elsewhere the losses—to both frost and mildew—ran from 25-70%.  We began with a very fine Vosne Village, which despite a very reduced nose showed terrific pure red cherry fruit and spice on the palate; the oak does need to moderate here, however. The Nuits Aux Thorey seemed less earthbound than usual for Nuits, while the Nuits Murgers had a pure, charming nose, with dark cherries and spice, density, earth, and power on the palate, and a creamy finish. The Vosne Malconsorts was superb: a deep, refined, mineral-inflected nose, the palate structured and intense yet silky, with a touch of dusty oak tannin but the purity still shining through on the finish, which was vibrant and persistent. The RSV was even better, pure, elegant, calm, and understated on the nose, yet at the same time spicy and intense, with raspberries, a saline touch, strong but polished tannins, and an extended spicy finish of great refinement; this certainly rivals the DRC RSV in this vintage.

The only ’15 we tasted here was the Bourgogne, which was ripe, intense, and structured, but with a lot of dusty tannin at the end (88).

Georges Mugneret-Gibourg. There were some substantial losses here, resulting among other things in only 3 barrels of the excellent Bourgogne Rouge, a terrific value if one can find it. The Vosne Village was also extremely fine as usual, quite dense and intense for a Village wine, and the Nuits Chaignots showed quite well also, with dark fruit and licorice notes on the nose, a lot of earth and spice, plus good mineral lift and density. The Ruchottes-Chambertin, which suffered no frost damage, had beautiful red fruit, lovely balance, and a soft velvety quality. The Clos de Vougeot seemed off form on this particular day, but the Echézeaux was extremely elegant and silky, with excellent density, red fruit, and spice, and rounded tannins.

We tasted the range of ‘15s here. Last year, I found the range somewhat puzzling, with some terrific wines and some question marks; a year later, and without re-reading my notes, I found the same wines excellent, and the same wines puzzling. The Bourgogne Rouge needed some air, then became open and accessible with plenty of red and black fruit (89), while the Vosne Village was quite spicy, with great intensity, structure and minerality—pure but powerful (91).  The Nuits Vignes Rondes had a nose of ocean breezes, and was structured with good lift and intensity, though strong earthy tannins (90), while the Nuits Chaignots displayed lots of strawberry and raspberry fruit, along with good minerality, and was earthy, yet charming (92). Among the question marks, the Chambolle Feusselottes was not quite together, and seemed a bit overdone, with a nose of Morello cherries, spice, and strong minerality, light in the middle and then tarry, with some dusty tannins at the end (Not rated), while the Echézeaux, despite being open and clear, lacked grand cru weight and again exhibited some dusty tannins (90?). The Ruchottes, however, was excellent, with good clarity in the middle, excellent density, and strong but refined tannins (92+), and the Clos de Vougeot was still the star, with a blackcurrant nose, transparent minerality, lovely clarity on the palate, excellent structure, balance, concentration, and power, with strong but refined tannins and great length (95). Certainly the best ‘15s are well up to the standards of this outstanding domaine, and the winemaking is so good here that I wouldn’t give up yet on the others.

Meo-Camuzet. Jean-Nicolas Méo was in excellent spirits the day we saw him, and while it’s typical for many of the wines to be reduced at this period, there were a number of ‘16s that were showing quite well—among them a Fixin Clos du Chapitre, which was full-bodied, ripe, and dense, a wine to make one take notice of this often-overlooked commune. The Vosne Chaumes was ripe, accessible, and soft, but there was concentration hidden beneath the sweet spicy red fruit, while the Nuits Boudots, to which stems had been added back, was the opposite: powerful, intense, and deep, but with great purity in the mid-palate. The Clos de Vougeot was yet another fine example from this vineyard, which did quite well in 2016. There was intensely spicy red fruit on the nose, and great depth, along with excellent purity in the middle. I preferred the Corton Rognets to the Corton Perrières; the former had a pure nose, a sense of silk, and spicy bacon notes, with a minerally finish and fairly buried tannins. The Echézeaux was also highly successful, with an intense, almost plummy nose, and wonderful purity and depth, although the wood still needs to integrate.  The Vosne Cros Parantoux was also showing its oak, and the nose was still a bit locked down, but this also had great balance, power, and intensity, with amazingly pure fruit, refined tannins, and (if the reader will indulge me) an almost poetic linearity and purity. The Richebourg, despite quite a bit of reduction, also showed real density underneath, and a stunning, powerful finish of line, harmony, and immense length. These are clearly wines that will need time to develop, more so than is generally true for this vintage.

The sole ’15 we tasted here was a Vosne Chaumes, which was spicy, deep and ripe, with more density and grip than the ’16 (92).

Grivot. Overall, while I very much like what Etienne has been doing in recent years, I found the range of ‘16s somewhat inconsistent, with many wines that were well-crafted but with tannins that were still a bit hard (for example, the Vosne Brulées was tense, intense and saline, but I found the tannins obstreperous, while the Vosne Reignots, which Etienne felt was his best to date, seemed to me to lack a bit of depth and the tannins were quite chewy). While the Nuits Pruliers also had some hard tannins, the wine was intense and powerful enough to make the tannins not seem out of place; overall it was spicy, dense, brambly, and quite earthy. I also liked the Vosne Beaumonts, with open pure ripe Morello cherry fruit, good volume and density, and tannins that seemed a bit more rounded. The Vosne Suchots was quite harmonious, with pure sweet fruit and a citrus note. The Clos de Vougeot was also quite good, not as clenched and tarry as it can sometimes be, but displaying ripe sweet fruit, some salinity, and lots of spice at the finish. The Richebourg was also very good, with a citrus touch on the nose along with cherries and spice. This had good clarity, harmony and power, but wasn’t in the same category, I have to say, as the Hudelot Riche, never mind the DRC.

Roumier. As with most estates centered in Chambolle, Roumier suffered large losses in 2016. There is no Bourgogne, and what little Chambolle Les Combottes there was, was blended into the Village wine.  Christophe said he had found significant differences between the vineyards severely damaged by frost and those that were not: the former had a stronger structure and concentration, and a more luscious touch, than the latter. He said there was no strictly comparable vintage, but that the wines from the vineyards hurt by frost were somewhat similar to the ‘01s (I see the structural comparison, but to me the ‘16s have much more fruit than the ‘01s, either at a comparable stage or now.)

I thought the range here was a bit mixed, though at the top level, the wines were stunning. The Chambolle Villages was extremely dense, with a saline quality, and quite tannic, while the Morey Clos des la Bussière was tense and intense, but I thought it finished a little harsh. The Chambolle Cras (what there was; the yield was less than 11hl/ha) was quite fine, with an extremely complex nose, great clarity on the palate and a pure, long finish. There is a new wine in the stable in ’16, an Echézeaux from En Orveaux, but the debut rendement was a mere ½ barrel, of which half belongs to an investor, so good luck finding it. It was a bit oaky, with a deep and complex nose that included wild cherries, while on the palate it was somewhat open-knit but had a silky texture. The Charmes-Chambertin was so intense it seemed almost over-extracted, though there was more purity evident on the palate; the Ruchottes was much better, with a meaty, intense, dark cherry nose, showing soy and minerals–a deep and vibrant wine.  The Bonnes Mares (enlarged by ½ hectare in 2016, all of which is in terres blanches, making that now 60% of the blend) had amazing tension and depth, wild cherries on the nose, and was pure, open, minerally, and deep, developing a silky texture, with strong but rounded tannins—a powerful, beautifully balanced wine with a remarkably pure finish. The Chambolle Amoureuses was super-dense, and gained in complexity as it opened; it was more structured than usual, with incredible purity, intensity and perfect balance, and an immensely long, elegant finish. The Musigny, made with 100% whole clusters, was also remarkable, with citrus and perfume notes along with the classic red fruit and minerals; this was a wine of elegance, reminiscent of Romanée-Conti in its sphericality and gracefulness (a word that recurs three times in my note!).

We also tasted the range of ‘15s, and although Christophe confirmed that many ‘15s were beginning to shut down recently, these were both accessible and brilliant. The Chambolle Village had intense ripe and rich black cherry fruit, enough acidity to balance, and was supple and complete (92). While the Morey Clos de la Bussière was more minerally and dense than the Chambolle, it seemed slightly blocky by comparison (90), but the Chambolle Cras had tension and density, and seemed almost robust, but then was given great lift by the minerality and opened to a long, pure, and dense finish (a baby Bonnes Mares, Christophe called it) (93). The Ruchottes was meaty and deep, intense, structured, with plenty of fruit, and powerful and long (93), while the Charmes, never my favorite cuvée here, was open-knit and seemed a bit simple by comparison (90). The Bonnes Mares was tight and unforthcoming, a monster (but a benificent monster!), beautifully structured, powerful, but very balanced, long, and textured—this will be amazing with (a lot of) time (95).  The Chambolle Amoureuses was huge, intense, and muscular, but had great purity of fruit, deep spice, excellent mineral lift, and a developing silkiness, with very refined tannins and a super-long, creamy finish. Christophe called this a serious, structured Amoureuses, and I expect it to take 20+ years (95). The Musigny was, quite simply, the finest young red wine of the trip: a brilliant, intense nose of ripe black fruit, licorice, soy, roast duck, flowers, minerals, and the classic citrus top note. On the palate, it was soft and elegant, complex, and complete, totally different from either the Bonnes Mares or Amoureuses—silky, pure, and graceful with completely refined tannins and an extremely persistent finish (98). One just has to be able to find it—and afford it!

Mugnier.  There were significant losses here in ’16, with production of the Chambolle Village, for example, being only about 25% of normal. Nonetheless, that Village wine was quite charming, with pure spicy red fruit, a soft quality and only a little tannin in evidence. The Nuits Clos de la Maréchale was dense and earthy, with a lot of ripe fruit, along with some tarriness and some slightly rustic tannins, though their edges have been rounded off.  Chambolle Fuées seemed slightly on the tarry side on the nose but had a creamy texture, and was intense and driven. The Chambolle Amoureuses was floral, pure, and delicate, but the back end seemed a bit heavy-handed, with some blocky tannins, though a zesty finish. The Musigny was also heavily affected by frost, and Freddy noted that there was a significant difference between two parcels that had been trained and pruned differently. The better of the two was superb, with a perfumed, elegant nose and a citrus touch that carried through the palate, a silky texture, and an exotic perfume that somehow reminded me of nights in an Oriental garden—even though I’ve never spent nights in an Oriental garden!—this was classy, elegant, and persistent. The other cuvée was a bit sappy, not nearly as elegant, though quite intense, and Freddy hadn’t decided if or to what extent it would be included in the final blend.

As I wrote in last year’s review, some of the magic that was achieved here in the past seems to have faded, and the ‘15s, while good, were not more compelling in bottle than they had been out of barrel. The Chambolle Village had a gorgeous spicy red fruit nose and nice spice on the palate, but seemed to be missing a bit of dimension (88), while the Nuits Clos de la Maréchale was better on the palate than nose, but a bit earthbound, with some dryness at the end (88). The Chambolle Fuées had a dense, ripe, spicy, and intense nose that promised more than the palate delivered, and the balance was good but not perfect—though this seemed to be coming together since last year, and may just need more time (90?). The Bonnes Mares, though usually a bit of a laggard at this domaine, had richness and depth on the nose and good intensity on the mid-palate, and was quite powerful and long, with strong but relatively round tannins (93).  The Chambolle Amoureuses, however, was a question mark: it was somewhat disjointed and lacking a dimension; was this just a bad time to taste it or is there an issue here (?). The Musigny was dense and unforthcoming at first, though more open on the palate, and seemed almost over-ripe; it was intense but heavy, and not knit right now, though it had excellent ripe black cherry fruit to start and an extremely long finish of pure fruit and citrus (93?).

Rousseau. While Clos St. Jacques and Chambertin suffered some significant frost losses, otherwise there was little damage of consequence at this domaine. ’16 was another superb vintage chez Rousseau, following the brilliant ‘15s. The tasting started exceptionally well, with a terrific Gevrey that had gorgeous fruit on the nose, pure minerality in the middle and a lovely pure red fruit and mineral finish. The Gevrey Lavaux St. Jacques was denser still, yet retained its purity, with moderate tannins. The Gevrey Cazetiers was a remarkable example of this premier cru, with sweet fruit and a creamy note on the nose; crunchy red fruit on the palate, excellent balance and density, and superb transparency, along with resolved tannins almost buried in the fruit. The Charmes was quite reduced on the nose but there was a touch of velvet underneath, a sense of restrained power, and silky tannins. The Mazis was fairly unevolved, showing a bit too much wood influence at this stage, and the Clos de la Roche was quite reduced on the nose, but with a pure and open structure. The Ruchottes, while showing a little reduction, was very intense, with crunchy fruit, great pure minerality, a saline note, and a powerful finish, with tannins that still showed some fierceness but were beginning to hint at becoming silky. The Clos St. Jacques was marvelous, with a beautiful, calm nose, deep, pure, full of red fruit, grilled meat, pepper and perfume, with a touch of wood but with great balance, lift, and purity, and very refined tannins.  The Chambertin, despite a little reduction, was really showing its breed, with great intensity and power on the nose, yet a restraint and even delicacy at first on the palate, then it quickly turned up the volume, leading into an exceptionally long finish of silky, rounded tannins. The Clos de Bèze, though pure and silky on the palate, showed a lot of wood that still needs to integrate; this is a large-scaled, powerful Bèze.

Fourrier. Jean-Marie Fourrier goes from strength to strength, and has fashioned some superb ‘16s; although, as at many other domaines, some wines are better than others, the best are remarkable. While frost losses were not severe, there was considerable mildew pressure here: 32 attacks vs. a normal 6-7, but the domaine was rigorous in its treatment regimen.

The Morey Clos Salon had crunchy, almost jazzy raspberry fruit, and was classic Morey, with good brightness. The Gevrey Vieilles Vignes (from 60-year-old vines) was a standout (and should be an excellent value), with an expressive, deep nose, a creamy texture, and spicy, grilled meat flavors; it was full-bodied, complex, and intense. I even preferred it to the Gevrey Aux Echézeaux (from even older vines), which was a bit more open than the Village, pure and floral, but without quite the intensity of the former. The Gevrey 1er Cru Cherbaudes was another standout: coming from high-density old vines, it was enormously spicy, with red fruit, flowers, and a touch of Gevrey meatiness; on the palate, it was silky and graceful, with intensity, tension, and energy. The Gevrey 1er Cru Goulots was not quite as concentrated, though it still was succulent, while the spicy, red fruit nose of the Combe Aux Moines jumped out of the glass—it had power and structure, but also elegance and transparency, and a persistent finish. The excellent Clos St. Jacques had a pure, spicy, deep red fruit nose, and was complex and deep on the palate, with a rich and meaty finish, and highly refined tannins—it will need considerable time to develop fully, though. Finally, the Griotte-Chambertin had an exceptional nose that was pure and deep, with both black and red (raspberry) fruits, spice, and grilled meat; it also had a remarkable velvety texture, elegance, harmony, and depth, and a long pure finish–bravo!

We only tasted one ’15, the Clos St. Jacques, but it was a fascinating comparison with the ‘16: with rich, ripe red fruit, one sensed the texture even on the nose of the ’15, and it was seamless, with completely resolved and refined tannins and an immensely long, elegant finish.  It seemed to have more volume and complexity than the ’16, if not quite the purity, and was less intense, but more self-assured than the ’16, with an extra level of finesse (96).

Trapet. Jean-Louis Trapet opined that ’16 was a year in which the terroir differences are clearly apparent, and said that even his father had never seen a vintage comparable to this one.  Losses were capricious here too. The Gevrey L’Ostrea was still quite reduced, but showed the purity and silk of the vintage, and while somewhat soft was not overly so, still retaining good intensity. Because of losses, there will be only one premier cru, a cuvée to be called Alia, which was very spicy, dense, and perfumed, with a velvet touch and excellent concentration, but the oak still needs to integrate. The Chapelle-Chambertin was a bit reduced, and somewhat locked up in its tannins, but a silky texture was developing, and there was lovely purity on the finish. I very much liked the Latricières-Chambertin, with its detailed slate and grilled meat nose, a soft texture but serious intensity, and a mellow finish. (Jean-Louis remarked that because Latricières is cooler than Chapelle, the buds were less evolved when the frost appeared.) Finally, the Chambertin, which had had a long malo and very slow evolution, according to Jean-Louis (and had suffered significant losses), had a deep, intense, reticent and complex nose, and was pure and very powerful on the palate, silky, with all the depth and class of top Chambertin.

We tasted through the ‘15s as well. The Gevrey Village was quite nice, with excellent balance and texture (90), as was the Gevrey Petite Chapelle, which was intense and needs time (90). The Gevrey Clos Prieur was more open, with excellent purity, a creamy texture, and modulated tannins (91), but my favorite among the premiers was the Gevrey Capita, which was quite perfumed (it included 100% stems) and airy, with great equilibrium, strong but refined tannins and a rich, sweet, and dense finish (93). The Chapelle-Chambertin had a lot of wood spice, good minerality, a creamy texture, and somewhat prominent tannins (92), while the Latricières seemed cooler, with a creamy texture, slate, red fruit, and refined tannins on a very long finish—a wine of finesse that still needs time (93-94). The Chambertin had a rich, ripe nose, and was quite dense, showing perfect balance and a seamlessness to it, with still powerful tannins and a little oak to integrate, but an extremely persistent finish (95).

Bruno Clair. Bruno was in a talkative mood, offering opinions on everything from climate change to Donald Trump (not positive, to put it mildly). As for the ’16 vintage, he amplified what others had said about the capriciousness of the frost: while most 50-60 year-old vines bud later, and so were less affected by the frost, the temperature in different locations was also a factor, and his 100+ year old vines in Savigny were wiped out. However, his Bonnes Mares, being on the Morey side, was largely unaffected. In addition to altitude, location (he lost 90% in Marsannay), vine age, and temperature, he noted that other factors, such as air currents, also played a significant role.

The wines, as elsewhere, were inconsistent, with Marsannay Les Grasses Têtes showing fierce tannins while the Marsannay Longeroies was plummy, sweet, balanced and intense, with the tannins still strong but not overbearing. The Morey en la Rue de Vergy was overly sweet, with an odd tonality, while the Vosne Champs Perdrix (which, Bruno said, always ripens one week after Romanée-Conti) had an intense nose but was supple in the mid-palate, with some coffee notes and spice, and a raspberry cream finish, plus some tar. The Gevreys were more successful, with the Clos des Fontenys being dense, saline but not terribly tannic, with a silky texture and a spiced grilled meat finish. The Gevrey Cazetiers had power and intensity, a very pure minerality, and some medium strong tannins, with great clarity and drive, while the Clos St. Jacques had deep red fruit, a meaty note, fine transparency, excellent spice, refined tannins and incredible length. The Clos de Bèze was large-framed but I thought it closed and not entirely persuasive, although not without some positive qualities, while the Bonnes Mares (all from Morey) had a very complex nose, a lot of power but real grace to it, and although the tannins were a bit on the intense side, the finish really persisted.

We tasted two ‘15s, a Gevrey Clos des Fontenys that had a slightly off note (NR) and a Gevrey Cazetiers that had a lovely creamy texture, pure minerality, excellent intensity, and then a spicy minerally finish with the tannins evident but rounded off (92).

Duroché.  Young winemaker Pierre Duroché has already made a name for himself, as an up-and-coming star in Gevrey.  While a few years ago, I thought that the desire to anoint him (“find the next superstar before anyone else does” seems to be an increasingly popular game among Burgundy aficionados) was premature, he has over the last several vintages been building a strong case for why these wines should be much better known. While some of the lesser cuvées (including Gevrey Village and Gevrey Champ) seemed a little hard and unforthcoming, the Gevrey Les Jeunes Rois (a lieu-dit) was soft and charming, yet had purity, with a long finish and rather buried tannins, and the Gevrey Aux Etelois (their parcel of this lieu-dit is sandwiched between Charmes and Griotte), despite a fair amount of reduction, had a wonderful silky feel on the palate and good balance. The nose of the Gevrey Lavaux St. Jacques jumped out of the glass, with beautiful red fruit, smoked meat, and a touch of spice; this was very pure, with a creamy texture, good delicacy, and length, and with some prominent but refined tannins coming up at the end. The Charmes-Chambertin had an excellent nose and was quite silky on the palate, and while immediately attractive, there was also great balance and refinement here—this is a Charmes of remarkable quality. The Clos de Bèze (from vines dating to 1920) had great presence, power without weight, a silky feeling to it, pure red fruit and a saline minerality, leading to a long, concentrated finish. (Incidentally, while color is not always easy to evaluate in dimly-lit cellars, many of these wines were deep purple, which engendered some concern within our group, but questioning elicited that this was neither the result of adding enzymes nor, as the tasting confirmed, of over-extraction.) This is a domaine to watch.

 Dujac. Losses were not major at this Morey-based domaine (though there will be no Chambolle Gruenchers this year). The Morey Village was charming, light, pure, and fresh, while the Gevrey Combottes was pure and intense, with supple tannins and a super-long finish. The Vosne Malconsorts was especially fine, with spice and a tobacco note on the pure, minerally nose and excellent weight, precision, and energy, as well as refined tannins. The Echézeaux was also outstanding, with a perfumed nose and a wonderful silky texture, great equilibrium, some salinity, and a pure mineral finish. The Clos St. Denis was pure, delicate, and extremely elegant, but perhaps slightly over-sweet at the end, while the Clos de la Roche was more intense, with power and tension, but also showing a fair amount of sweetness at the moment. The Bonnes Mares was intense and pure up front, lighter in the middle, though again with a hint of sucrosity in back.

We tasted several ‘15s, which had been opened earlier in the day: a Morey Village, which had rich, deep black fruit, a creamy texture, and excellent body for a Village wine (90); a Gevrey Combottes that was spicy, deep, and perfumed, with excellent texture and intensity and refined tannins (92-93); a Vosne Malconsorts that was a bit reduced, but even so seemed on the heavy side, with some puckery tannins—I thought the ’16 was better, but Diana, who certainly knows the wine better than I, felt the ’15 was just closed and would in time be the best they’ve so far produced (Not rated); and Clos de la Roche, which showed ripe red cherry fruit and was intense, saline, and dense, reading a bit like a ’16 but with even greater ripeness and intensity (95+).

Domaine Ponsot. As readers know, Laurent Ponsot has left the domaine, which is now run by his sister, Rose-Marie, who has brought Alexandre Abel on board as winemaker. However, the ‘16s we tasted were all made by Laurent, and Alexandre said the élevage had been done in accordance with traditional practice. The Clos de Vougeot seemed more restrained than usual, bright, energetic ,and with a creamy texture, though the tannins seemed quite fierce. The Clos de la Roche was outstanding, with notes of earth, champignons, and cherry liqueur; this was dense yet had great balancing acidity, and silky though powerful tannins, while the complex, extremely long finish really spoke of the terroir.

We also tasted some ‘15s (also made by Laurent), including a Morey 1er Cru Cuvée des Alouettes, that had lots of spicy earth tones, some red fruits confits, and good minerality, with a bit of strong tannin to finish (91); a Chapelle-Chambertin that was large-framed and intense on the palate, with great density, ripe red fruit, and good balancing acidity—an impressive wine (93+); and the Clos de la Roche, which had a beautiful pure nose of red and black fruit, mousserons, licorice, and spice, and was huge and intense on the palate, with a citric mineral edge, strong but polished tannins, and a lengthy, complex finish (94-95).

Clos de Tart. The recent sale of this property to an entity owned by François Pinault, for a sum that, while undisclosed, has been reported to be in the neighborhood of €250 million, had all of Burgundy talking when we were there. Meanwhile, at the domaine itself, the consequences have yet to be felt, but already the role of Frédéric Engerer, who oversees Pinault’s wine properties, including Ch. Latour in Bordeaux and Domaine d’Eugenie in Vosne, is causing no little speculation about what changes may come in the near future. Certainly, the price of Clos de Tart will need to go up dramatically if there is to be any current return on the investment, and while no doubt marketing will play a major role in that effort, it remains to be seen whether there will also be a change in the profile of the wine itself, and if so, in what direction.

As for the ’16, despite aggressive attacks of mildew, the domaine was able to harvest 35 hl/ha, which is above average. We tasted a hypothetical blend of the different cuvées, and it was certainly very fine, with a calm, assured nose of spice (cumin and cinnamon among others), dark cherries, and blueberry fruit, with very pure minerality on the palate, and excellent complexity and balance. This has power and drive but also a sense of assurance, and if the oak obtrudes, it is only slightly. By contrast, the ’15 was a bit reduced, with the nose still closed, but it too was well balanced and quite intense, with more power than the ’16 but the tannins being a bit fiercer. This is intense and long but at this point, seems less graceful than the ’16 (92-93).

Clos des Lambrays. We tasted both the ’16 and ’15 Clos des Lambrays here, and Thierry Brouin felt that the ’16 had more energy than the ’15. The ’16, which escaped frost damage, was made with 80% whole bunch and 50% new oak. It was soft, minerally, medium bodied, the fruit quite sweet, almost plummy, and I thought it crowd-pleasing but hardly classic. The ’15 seemed already to have incipient sous-bois on the nose, and though the palate was velvety, there was a severe note to the tannins. This was quite full-bodied for Lambrays. (90+?)

Ch. de la Tour. Proprietor François Labet reported about 50% crop losses in Clos de Vougeot. He described the resulting wines as rich and concentrated, and said there was no comparable vintage stylistically. The Gevrey Village (Domaine Pierre et François Labet) was concentrated and powerful for a Village wine, if slightly on the rustic side. The regular Clos de Vougeot (which Labet calls his Cuvée Classique) was, as Labet described it, rich and concentrated, with notes of clove, licorice, and coffee along with some pure red fruit, and it kept its balance despite the density. The Clos de Vougeot Vieilles Vignes had a terrific nose of deep, complex red and black fruit, minerals, spice, cocoa, and a perfumed note; this was highly concentrated but with excellent acidity to keep it in balance, and it had a dense, pure finish that just kept on going. The Clos de Vougeot Hommage à Jean Morin was even denser than the Vieilles Vignes, with lush dark cherry and torrefaction notes, along with licorice, soy, and roast duck on both the nose and palate, amazing concentration that stopped just short of being tarry, very fine tannins, and immense persistence. It was like the blood sauce for lievre à la royale, and I wondered if it might be a bit too heavy, compared to the VV, but it will be interesting to see—in 30 years?

The Négociants:

 Overall, I found that many of the négociant reds were stylistically quite different from those of the domaines at which we tasted.  It seemed as though some négociants had made a conscious decision to go for soft, fruity, appealing wines, wines that are likely to be “crowd pleasers” but that lack the structure or complexity of the best wines. Of course, as with all generalities, there are certainly exceptions—but nonetheless, to the extent the generality holds, it adds yet another note of stylistic uncertainty to any attempt to categorize this vintage.

 Drouhin. Véronique Drouhin noted that they used more whole cluster than usual in the ’16 vintage. She said that handling the differences between the first- and second-generation crops had been tricky, as they were not necessarily of the same maturity (and the second-generation crop had much higher levels of malic acidity, among other things), yet all had to be picked together. Sometimes this was not an issue—there was little left of the first-generation crop in Chambolle—but elsewhere, it made the vinification more complex.  Nonetheless, the red wines here were mostly quite fine. The Vosne Petits Monts was excellent, with gorgeous spice on the nose, and a perfumed quality on the palate; while there was some softness in the attack, and soft and rounded tannins, there was good density and purity in the middle, and some saline minerality after. I found the Charmes-Chambertin an easy and pleasing ’16, if lacking structure, but the Griotte was far better, with a superb pure nose of spicy red cherries, a touch of velvet, great purity and balance, and smooth and refined tannins leading to a delicate and pure finish. The Clos de Vougeot was quite dense and intense, with good structure and a long, intense finish—it had not entirely come together but likely will in time. The Grands Echézeaux had a spicy, intense nose with beautiful raspberry fruit, and was dense, pure, and creamy, with deep minerality, great focus and a long, terroir-driven finish. The Chambolle Amoureuses had a fairly closed nose and a very soft entry; though it had lovely fruit and a creamy texture, it seemed a little easy in the context of the vintage. I thought the Musigny was a major step up, and the best wine of the range, though only 2 barrels were produced, while 7-8 is more normal. It had great clarity and intensity on the nose, a silky entry, and structure and focus, with highly refined tannins and a subtle, extremely persistent finish. We ended with the Clos de Bèze, which had an excellent nose, but the entry was again too soft for my taste, although pure red fruit and minerals came out at the end.

Maison Laurent Ponsot. After leaving the domaine, Laurent Ponsot moved quickly to establish his négociant business, the core of which was formed by the wines he had been making under various farming agreements, including the Clos St. Denis and Griotte from Domaine des Chézeaux, augmented by more recent relationships, including a number of white wines, discussed below. Among the reds, I particularly liked the Chambolle Charmes, with a nose that was slightly repressed at first but then showed lots of rich, ripe fruit and was elegant, with great equilibrium and a spicy finish. The nose of the Griotte was initially unforthcoming, but the palate showed gorgeous ripe fruit, along with power and intensity (but was neither tarry nor saline).  I preferred the Chambertin to the Bèze, as it had more volume and power, but remained approachable, with relatively soft tannins. Best of all was the Clos St. Denis, with a complex nose showing notes of licorice, mocha, champignons, and spice, while the palate was dense, with complex red fruits and high-toned minerality, and the finish was intense but the tannins quite suave.

Faiveley.  Erwan Faiveley noted that there had been a huge difference in quality between the two Côtes in 2016, and we wasted little time in moving north. As elsewhere, the range was inconsistent, and tasting was made more difficult by the fact that many wines had finished their malos quite late. We tasted mostly domaine wines, and Erwan noted that they had used 0-30% stems in this vintage. The Nuits Les St. Georges was, despite some reduction, a dense, powerful, earthy wine of excellent terroir character and great power. A négociant Chambolle Charmes was open-knit and less convincing, while the Gevrey Cazetiers had promise but was quite reduced. The Clos de Vougeot had a lovely deep nose with strawberry and cherry fruit, spice, and excellent density; it was quite ripe on the palate, with good minerality, slightly hard tannins and a creamy, spicy finish. I particularly liked the Latricières, which had a calm nose of slate and raspberry fruit, a silky texture, and great power and vibrancy, with refined tannins and a persistent, pure finish. The Mazis also seemed promising but was hard to evaluate because of the heavy reduction. While I thought the regular Clos de Bèze, despite its dramatic intensity, was a bit bulky, the Clos de Bèze Ouvrées Rodin was superb, with beautiful bright spice and minerals emerging on the nose with some air, and an energetic citrus top note; this had beautiful balance, powerful but quite refined tannins, and a silky texture that I just loved.

Bouchard P&F. This was a mixed range, with a number of good if somewhat easy wines. In the Côte de Nuits, I liked the Nuits Les Cailles, which despite a somewhat soft entry had a lot of charm for Nuits; this had good intensity and a very good minerally and spicy finish with good lift. I also liked the Vosne Suchots, which was medium weight, and had energy, direction, and excellent length. The Clos de Vougeot was open-knit but with good purity; it had very good volume, a little softness, but a lovely spicy quality.  The Chapelle-Chambertin showed great ripe strawberry fruit on the nose, and was almost like a ’15 in its ripeness, with medium density—an attractive wine for early drinking. The Clos de Bèze here, while having a lot of weight and intensity, nonetheless seemed heavy-handed.

Jadot. While, as discussed below, the range of whites here was the finest I can remember, I found the reds distinctly mixed, with many being pleasant but lacking the depth and intensity this vintage can achieve. I did quite like the Chambolle Fuées, which had a spicy, pure, creamy nose, and while it seemed a bit soft on entry, it gained complexity as it sat on the tongue, showing excellent lift, purity, and density, with a saline, spicy finish. The Chambolle Amoureuses was made with 50% stems, which gave it an added dimension; it was sweet, medium-weight and charming. The Bonnes Mares was pleasant but lacked tension, but the Musigny (also made with 50% stems) had a bright, perfumed nose, lift, minerals, and a citrus note on top of red fruit; though the entry was soft, there was real drive behind it, and a creamy texture, along with some strong but rounded tannins. The Clos St. Denis showed good purity, a soft entry, nice delicacy and an intense finish, while the Chapelle-Chambertin had good purity on the nose, lots of sweet red fruit, and quite a bit of charm—a crowd-pleasing grand cru, to be sure. More serious, as usual, was the Clos St. Jacques, with deep ripe cherry fruit on the nose, which also showed meat and mineral notes; while the soft entry was there, this was quite dense, with charming red fruit and excellent balance, rounded tannins and a pure mineral finish; this was quite “gourmand.” Best of the range was the Clos de Bèze. While the nose took time to open, it became quite complex, and the soft fruit up front on the palate was quite charming and silky, with good minerality, and some strict tannins but a persistent finish.

Bichot. This was our first visit to this major négociant, led by the amiable, generous and always amusing Alberic Bichot. The wines were, in general, easygoing and pleasurable, but to my taste mostly lacked the tension and precision I like to see. Nonetheless, the Chambolle 1er Cru Chabiots was suited to the house style, with a creamy entry, soft fruit, a bit of minerality, and good balance, while the Vosne Malconsorts (of which they are the largest owner) had good texture and a glycerol mouthfeel, with spicy red cherries and cranberries, but seemed a bit lacking in precision, and the Clos de la Roche was full of soft fruit, easy, medium-bodied and not particularly structured.  The Clos de Vougeot was also easy, with sweet fruit and a stony quality, but it lacked the weight and depth of a top grand cru. The best wine we tasted was the Echézeaux-Champs Traversin, which showed some good deep minerality and spice, and while it had plenty of sweet rich fruit, it also had good complexity and length.

The Côte de Beaune

 While the Côte de Nuits in general was more successful in 2016 than the Côte de Beaune, some wonderful reds were produced in the southern Côte and are well worth seeking out.

The Domaines:

 Lafarge. Unlike Christophe Roumier, who as noted above believes that there is a significant difference in ’16 between the wines from frost-affected vineyards and those not touched, Frédéric Lafarge felt that the concentration was the same, whether the yields were low or normal. He also noted that where a second growth occurred, it largely caught up in maturity, and both were harvested together.

A number of the wines here, including the Beaune Grèves and the Volnay Pitures and Mitans, showed some dry, earthy tannins that to me overbore the fruit. However, the top three wines were highly successful, beginning with the Volnay Caillerets, which had a pure, sweet fruit expression and was very dense and powerful but developing an excellent texture. The Volnay Clos des Chênes was lovely, with a pure black cherry and cinnamon nose, and a soft, velvety texture, with tannins that were quite refined. This year, however, the star was the Volnay Clos du Château des Ducs. Frédéric said there was a special energy in this wine in ’16, and indeed there was. It had a pure, deep nose of red fruit, cinnamon and cocoa, a silky texture with highly refined tannins, and a dense and long spicy finish.

D’Angerville. Guillaume d’Angerville lost 1/3 of his crop overall, but said that while the frost in Volnay had badly affected the lower slope, the top of the hill was largely unaffected. Stylistically, he thought the vintage represented a mix between ’10 and ’09, and felt that the vintage was characterized by purity, freshness, and linearity. The Volnay Fremiets showed sweet plummy fruit, with excellent lift and fine minerality, the tannins perhaps a bit severe, but there was good spice and fruit in the finish.  The Volnay Caillerets had bright cherry and strawberry fruit on top of an open, pure minerality and a base of tannin. Better still was the Volnay Taillepieds, with a deep nose of sweet cherries, cinnamon, and a floral touch, bright mineral lift on the palate, and ripe and rounded tannins that still have quite a bit of strength to them. The Volnay Champans was another step up, more elegant, creamier, brambly and higher-pitched, with intense and powerful tannins and a very long finish. Best of all, as usual, was the Volnay Clos des Ducs, with a complex nose of cinnamon, mulberries, brambles and notes of torrefaction; this was powerful and yet developing a silky texture, with vibrant acidity and a very long, dense, and driving finish.

Comte Armand. Talented young winemaker Paul Zinetti compared ’16 with ’10, because of the fine tannins. There was no Auxey Village in ’16 and the Auxey 1er Cru had just been racked, so we started with the Volnay Fremiets, which despite some reduction had pure, primary fruit, and was very persistent, although the reductive elements made it hard to judge. The Clos des Epeneaux (an approximate blend) was quite fine: pure and primary, with great mineral lift, well balanced, with good density, polished tannins, and great power and length. This is already quite fine and should be even better after being racked.

The ’15 Clos des Epeneaux, which Paul compared to the ’09, had remarkable intensity; the nose was spicy, with ripe red fruit, cloves, and cinnamon, and on the palate, there was a bright minerally acidity and an earthy component, with strong but ripe tannins (93+).

Jean-Marc & Thomas Bouley. Readers of this blog know that I was extremely impressed with the quality of the ‘15s produced by Thomas Bouley, a highly talented producer who remains largely below the radar. Bouley was generally happy with his ‘16s, appreciating their brightness and energy and terroir character. However, the ‘16s here seemed much more irregular than, and not remotely in the same league as, the ‘15s. The Volnay Clos de la Cave and Pommard Village both had some juicy ripe fruit, but it remains to be seen if the tannins will round out, and there were rustic tannins as well on the Volnay Carelles (which had been one of the standouts in 2015). The Volnay Caillerets had ripe and intense fruit on the nose that stopped just short of seeming baked, though it had a silky texture, good minerality and density. Best were the Volnay Clos des Chênes, with a deep, dense, layered nose, gorgeous bright fruit and spice, and an earthy touch, leading to some strong but not dry tannins and a long, brilliant finish; and the Pommard Rugiens (made this year with 30% stems; usually none are used in this wine), which was large-framed and powerful but which had great minerality and lots of spice, as well as rounded tannins on the pure finish.

Michel Gaunoux.   As usual, we did not taste the unfinished wine still in barrel. We did have two of the ‘15s, a Bourgogne Rouge that had very good weight and a lot to it, though it was earthy and distinctly rustic (89) and a Pommard Rugiens, which was extremely fine, with a nose of deep pure fruit, spice, and minerals, an intense wine with some strong, tight tannins but then a beautiful pure finish—this had excellent weight and tension, and a finish that wouldn’t quit (94+). Of the older wines we tasted, the ’06 Pommard Grands Epenots had a meaty texture but a nice mineral edge and a long finish (90), while the ’01 Pommard Grands Epenots had a nose of raspberries, violets, minerals, and a note of grilled meat, along with cinnamon and strawberries on the palate and finish, and good purity, though it was still in need of more time (92). The ’69 Pommard Grands Epenots was a great finishing treat, with a nose that seemed funky at first but then opened to perfume, violets, cinnamon, mocha, and raspberries; it had excellent balance and still bright fruit on the palate, good minerality, a little sous-bois, and a long creamy finish. (94).

Henri Germain. While this Meursault-based domaine, which we visited for the first time, is better known for its whites, it also produced two excellent reds in ’16: a Meursault Clos des Mouches, a monopole of the domaine located just under Volnay Santenots, where vines that were planted in 1949 produced a wine with a spicy, creamy nose and excellent fruit delineation–pure, balanced, and minerally; and a Beaune Bressandes that despite a little funk on the nose was quite attractive, with a lovely deep cinnamon, earth, and mineral character to the nose, very nice red fruit delineation, plenty of mineral support, and fine length.

De Montille. It pains me to say this, as I think Etienne de Montille is a serious producer who has made some very fine wines over the years, and a delightful person, but I found his ‘16s to be underwhelming, and over the past few years I’ve begun to worry that he may have taken his eye off the ball. For example, I found the tannins in the Beaune Grèves fairly brutish, the Volnay Mitans marked by the new oak, and the Pommard Rugiens surprisingly light. The Volnay Taillepieds was certainly better, with an excellent nose, but the palate seemed a bit heavily stemmed (this was 100% whole cluster). The Pommard Pezerolles had bright, crunchy strawberry and cherry fruit, while the Nuits Aux Thorey was one of the better wines in the range, with a pure nose of red fruit and spice, and a stony, earthy middle, with moderate tannins, and a saline, long finish. The Vosne Malconsorts Cuvee Christianne easily outshone the somewhat light and unbalanced regular cuvée, with excellent depth and intensity, a perfumed and layered nose, and much more refined tannins than its regular counterpart.

We also tasted a ’15 Volnay Mitans, which while superior to its ’16 counterpart, with its bright red fruit, perfume, mineral structure, and good clarity, still seemed a bit light at the finish, particularly for this vintage (89).

Domaine Pierre et François Labet. These wines are from the proprietor of Ch. de la Tour. A Beaune Au Dessus des Marconnets began with a saline minerality, followed by sweet fruit, then a hard iron edge—not exactly stylish, but transparent. Transparency was also the hallmark of the Beaune Coucherias, which had round fruit flavors, perfume, soy, and a creamy texture developing around an earthy middle, and a long transparent finish.

Some Wines from Côte de Nuits-based producers: Domaine Ponsot’s Corton-Bressandes was quite charming, with good balance and density and a bit of salinity, and seeming purer and less heavy than in prior years. Bruno Clair’s Savigny Les Dominodes was, as usual, excellent: it had gorgeous deep spicy black and red fruit on the nose, a velvety texture, and was intense, deep, and a bit saline, with a muscular, long, and minerally finish. DRC’s Corton was intense, massive, and muscle-bound, though there was sweet fruit after; it remains to be seen where this is going, but it will certainly take a long time to find out.

The Négociants:

 Whether because of the tiny quantities or in recognition that the Côte as a whole was less successful than the Côte de Nuits, or both, we saw fewer Côte de Beaune reds than usual chez les négociants.

Drouhin. The Beaune Clos des Mouches seemed a bit fuzzy on the attack, but the Beaune Grèves was more focused and structured, with a long, pure fruit and mineral finish.

Bouchard P&F.  Of the roughly half-dozen premiers crus we tasted, the standouts were the Beaune Teurons, with dark cherry fruit, menthol and cinnamon on the nose, good acidic lift, and an earthy, spicy finish; and a soft, spicy Beaune Grèves Enfant Jesus, sure to please but without the usual sense of reserve for the long run. The Corton had aromas of Christmas fruitcake and was super-soft, a Corton for people who don’t particularly care for Corton.

Jadot. Here too, we saw about a half-dozen wines from the Côte.  The Volnay Clos de la Barre had a good balance of fruit and minerals, and an expressive nose, while the Beaune Teurons, though light-bodied, had a nice floral element and a creamy texture. Best was the Pommard Rugiens, with ripe red fruit and earth notes on the nose, density and a good sense of depth, plus a long, pure finish.

Faiveley.  Only two wines were shown, the second of which, the flagship Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley, was quite fine. There was no frost damage here, and this was quite ripe and rich, with a lot of salinity, and excellent balance.

WHITE BURGUNDIES

The Domaines:

 Bernard Moreau. Alex Moreau has become one of the better white wine producers in Burgundy, and anyone who is still buying Ramonet’s premiers crus in preference to Moreau’s is living in the past, as a side-by-side comparison of their ’14 Morgeots proved this past summer. Sadly, this domaine was badly affected by the frost, and there will be no Chenevottes, Vergers, Champgains, or Bâtard in ’16 (and no Bâtard for some time to come, as this vineyard, from which Moreau purchased grapes, was pulled up after the harvest). Alex said that the shoots were already several inches long when the frost came, making the damage that much worse (and worse overall for the chardonnay, which as usual was ahead of the pinot in its development). He also noted, in contrast to what Frédéric Lafarge had observed, that there were often large differences in maturity between the surviving first crop and the second. Bottom line, he said, there was simply no consistency in style in 2016.

The St. Aubin En Remilly showed plenty of acidity co-existing with sweet ripe fruit, if a touch of bitterness at the end. The Chassagne Maltroie had lovely balance–lots of plush sweet fruit combined with plenty of acidity–and was an intense and powerful wine with a spicy, saline finish (characteristic of the range). The Chassagne Morgeots was a standout, with a lovely pure nose of minerals, light spice, and delicate fruit; it had a soft, almost velvety quality, great balance, and charm. The Chassagne Caillerets, though powerful and intense, did not seem perfectly balanced, but there is only one barrel of it. The Chassagne Grands Ruchottes (of which there is also only one barrel) was, however, fully on form, with lovely purity, a creamy texture, and floral notes along with soft fruit, power and concentration, and a spicy, long saline finish. The Chevalier had great typicity: an elegant nose, with complex spice and white flowers, great balance, and a very positive acidity, plus a nice citric note at the end. Overall, these were highly successful wines made in an exceptionally difficult environment.

Paul Pillot. Thierry Pillot put on a brave face, but it was clear that losses of 70-90% in 2016 had been devastating to the domaine. Nevertheless, what little was produced was mostly of very high quality. The St. Aubin 1er Cru Charmois was very intense, almost painfully so, but it had a beautiful and exceptionally long finish, with pure minerality and lovely spice. The Chassagne Mazures was also intense, linear, and driven, with huge minerality at the end, but enough fruit (quince and pear) to keep the balance. There was a pause, in effect, as while the Chassagne Champgains was quite minerally, it seemed to lack a little fruit, and showed a bit of dryness on the finish, and the Chassagne Clos St. Jean seemed heavy and also had subdued fruit. After these, however, things returned to normal, with a Chassagne Grand Montagne that was floral, spicy, and complex on the nose and had great delineation on the palate; Thierry noted a hint of gunpowder, and thought that while the wine needed more élevage, it would be, with La Romanée, his best of the vintage. The Chassagne Caillerets was also excellent, with a pure and brilliant mid-palate, balanced, precise, and with excellent tension. With all deference to Thierry, I thought the Chassagne Grands Ruchottes was showing even better than the Grand Montagne, with a taut minerality on the nose, and a creamy, high-toned palate with notes of ginger spice, pears, and crème brulée, plus a long, brilliant, transparent finish of great tension. The Chassagne La Romanée, relatively untouched by the frost, was reduced, but had huge volume, grand cru weight, great energy, richness, and intensity, and a long spicy dense finish. Now if only one can find some of these wines!

Roulot. The wines of this domaine were underpriced for a very long time, but such is no longer the case, and although there has been some sticker shock for those used to buying these wines in the past, in truth the quality justifies the higher prices.  As did so many others, Roulot experienced major losses in ’16. There was so little Bourgogne Blanc that he ended up buying grapes and blending them in, so that this is a négociant wine in 2016 (it is intense, to be sure, but with a touch of hardness at the end). The Meursault Village was silky, balanced, and charming, and I actually liked it somewhat better than the Meursault Vireuils, which had a lovely silky texture but a slightly raspy acidity. The Meursault Luchets was excellent, floral, buttery, and citric, light and delicate at first, but then showing some real mineral punch. The Meursault À Mon Plaisir, Clos du Haut Tessons (f/k/a Les Tessons, Clos de Mon Plaisir) had a delicate, subdued floral and mineral nose, and the delicacy continued on the palate, but there was a lot of complexity here and a density underneath the delicacy. The Meursault Poruzots was first-rate: a spicy, floral, deep and pure nose, while on the palate this was intense but weightless, with a long spicy mineral finish. I liked it better than both the Meursault Genevrières (a négoce wine for which this is the first year), which didn’t have the texture of the domaine wines, and the Meursault Charmes, which was soft and charming, but although it had a strong minerally acidity on the finish, there was, nonetheless, a bit too much sweetness and salinity for me. However, the Meursault Clos des Bouchères was exceptional: floral, minerally, and pure on the nose,  and a silky mouthfeel, with pear spice, citrus and floral notes–this wine has it all, and is superbly harmonious, with a dense, intense, and driven finish. It even slightly edged out the Meursault Perrières, terrific as that was, with its excellent presence and multi-dimensionality, also a totally harmonious wine, with a strong pear liqueur finish that was both long and aristocratic. After these two great wines, the négoce Chevalier was a bit of a letdown; although it had a nice creamy texture, it was a little heavy and somewhat weak in back, the finish speaking more of Meursault than Chevalier. We also tasted the négociant Corton-Charlemagne, which despite a silky texture was quite reduced and difficult to evaluate.

As a comparison, we tasted the ’15 Clos des Bouchères, which was more citric, fatter and less minerally than the ’16, and although it had a nice silky texture, it was a wine of fruit (peaches and quince) rather than minerals, and there was a hint of tropicality at the end (91). Advantage ’16.

 Leflaive. Pierre Vincent is the new winemaker and general manager here, and we’re all hoping that, with the able, gracious but determined Brice de la Morandiere now at the helm of the domaine, it will soon return to its former glory. Vincent, who came to Leflaive after the ’16s had been vinified, proudly showed us around the domaine’s newly reconstructed, passive cellar, our first tasting in this facility. Production overall in ’16 was about half of normal, but losses, as elsewhere, were capricious: there was very little Puligny Village produced, not even enough to taste, and at the upper end, yields were around 10 hl/ha for the grands crus located on the south side of the village, while there was little or no frost damage on the Meursault side of the village up the slope. Mildew losses did, nonetheless, contribute as well, reducing the crop by an estimated 20%. Vincent said that, in his view, the white ’16s have the acidity of ’14 with the ripeness of ’15.

The Meursault Sous le Dos d’Ane and the Puligny Clavoillon, while both intense, seemed to lack a little fruit in the middle—the Meursault more than the Clavoillon. The Puligny Folatières was a significant step up: spicy, tense, floral, with huge minerality, and spicy pear fruit emerging after, while the Puligny Combettes was also quite good, with some reduction but an intensely creamy finish that was high-toned and complex; this has good potential but needs more time to evolve. Best of the premiers crus was the Puligny Pucelles, with a remarkably pure and precise nose, its deep minerality given dimension by a beautiful floral quality—this too seemed a little clenched right now but it should be quite fine in time. The Bâtard was intense and powerful, floral and fruity, with a ginger note, but it seemed a bit out of balance; the Bienvenues-Bâtard was much better, the most elegant wine in the lineup so far, even though it was more structured and intense than usual, with a relatively powerful, gingery finish.  The Chevalier was equally good, more subdued and delicate, perhaps, and not as floral as usual, but aristocratic, dense, and structured.

 Francois Carillon. The domaine did not suffer major losses in ’16, though the results were still somewhat uneven. The Puligny Village had quite a lot to it for a Village wine, and could be one of the better values of this vintage, with its ripe nose of peaches, white flowers, spice, and licorice, and its concentration and intensity. The Puligny Enseignères seemed a bit harder than the Village, though it had good body and minerality and an intense finish. The Puligny Folatières also seemed a touch hard but there was real intensity, concentration, and drive here–a big wine, forceful rather than elegant. The Puligny Combettes by contrast seemed almost too intense, voluminous and saline, though a precise mineral finish perhaps presaged better things for the future. Best was the Puligny Perrières, with great line and drive, a harmonious and super-long wine.

Henri Germain. This was our first visit to this Meursault-based domaine, sparked by the serendipitous tasting of some older as well as recent vintages this past summer. Proprietor Jean-François Germain explained to us the philosophy of the domaine, which focuses on the work in the vineyards and is as non-interventionist as possible in the cellars. Fermentations are done en barrique, which can take a long time in the domaine’s cold cellars, and malos are often delayed as well.  There is no battonage here, and a relatively small amount of new oak. The resulting wines are very traditional, old-school whites.

The tasting began with a very good Bourgogne Blanc, which was sweet and floral, with a beeswax note, followed by an even better Meursault Village, which was supple and rich without being heavy, and had good length, and a very fine Meursault Chevalières, which was remarkably intense but quite pure, with a lot of spice—this, like most of the range, had excellent linearity and freshness. A somewhat reduced Meursault Limozin followed, bright but with a velvety texture, though the reduction made it somewhat enigmatic, and then a Chassagne Morgeots, with a nose that seemed to be a cross between Chassagne and Meursault, an almost aching purity, but perhaps a slight lack of fruit. The Meursault Charmes was from a new barrel (the old barrels hadn’t yet finished their malos), so the new wood was a bit pronounced, but nonetheless this had a creamy texture, sweet quince, peach, and pear fruit and excellent mineral transparency. The terrific Meursault Poruzots had a spicy, subtle butterfat nose, and despite a good deal of richness it had excellent lift, freshness, and drive, and a long, spicy finish. The Meursault Perrières was also quite fine, with a somewhat reticent nose, but a lovely creamy texture, perfect weight and balance, and a superb, laser-like mineral finish.

We also tasted two 2015s, both of which started out a little reduced, but while the Poruzots seemed creamy and had ripe peach flavors, it remained a bit locked down (91+?); the Charmes, however, cleared up and was concentrated, spicy, quite tense, huge and dense for Charmes but not heavy. It needs time (93+).

Latour-Giraud. The affable, low-key but serious Jean-Pierre Latour said that ’16 was a classic vintage, very concentrated, but difficult to taste at the moment. He noted that losses had exceeded 60% in the lower-lying vineyards of Meursault but that the premiers crus were less affected. The Meursault Cuvée Charles Maxime was supple and easy, though there was a hint of bitterness in back, while the Meursault Narvaux was reduced but nonetheless seemed balanced, creamy, and citric.  The Meursault Charmes had good purity, medium weight, and some strong citrus and stony notes, along with a firmness and concentration that evoked Perrières more than Charmes. The Perrières itself was quite fine; though slightly reduced, it seemed pure underneath, with a lovely creamy texture, good balance, and a creamy citric finish that was quite rich. The Meursault Genevrières had a slightly briney nose, a buttery texture, and was balanced, firm, concentrated and saline. The Meursault Genevrières Cuvee des Pierre was quite dense and intense, but gassy at the moment and a bit hard to evaluate; however, given its power and the quality of the regular cuvée, this is a good bet to be excellent in time.

We also tasted the range of ‘15s. Jean-Pierre noted that he had worked to preserve the freshness of these, which he considered the vintage’s greatest challenge. The Meursault Cuvée Maxime had good acidic lift, almost too much, though it was creamy (89). The Meursault Narvaux had a bit of fat but excellent acidity and was very floral, with a spicy finish, and just a hint of bitterness (88). The Meursault Charmes began with a creamy element, quickly supplanted by an almost raspy minerality, and was quite intense, still tight, with a long chewy pear spice finish (91+). The Meursault Perrières was soft, buttery, and creamy, with a cinnamon note, and was quite powerful; it was lovely but its premox potential worried me, and it didn’t seem as balanced as the Genevrières that followed (93?). The Meursault Genevrières had a nose of cream and juniper berries and was minerally, dense and intense, linear, and long—an impressive ’15 (94).  Even better was the Meursault Genevrières Cuvee des Pierre, with a calm and pure nose, far more glycerol than the others, greater depth, impeccable balance, and a lovely expression of fruit, spice, and minerality on the super-long finish (95).

De Montille.  We began with an easy and accessible Beaune Aigrots, which stopped just short of being tropical. The Meursaults were not impressive, while the Puligny Caillerets, despite being reductive and gassy, seemed to have some good minerality and tension. The Corton-Charlemagne was the best of this range, balanced, with sweet fruit and a fine minerality, a saline, spicy finish, and some pleasant floral notes.

Pierre et François Labet.  Only a few whites (and some very large losses due to frost), of which I particularly liked the Meursault Tillets, with perfume, white flower, and spice on the nose, and a bright minerality, along with power and intensity. A Savigny Vergelesses was more minerally and saline than the Tillets, with quite pleasant sweet fruit but without the intensity of the Tillets.

 The Négociants:

 Jadot. This is easily the best range of whites I have tasted at this address, as winemaker Frédéric Barnier continues, without fanfare, to make changes from the Lardière style. In particular, these wines were allowed to finish their malos (most of which were only finished in June or July), whereas Jacques Lardière almost always found a reason to block them. Barnier called 2016 an inconsistent vintage, and noted that while most of the chardonnay crop was picked early, some was picked as late as October, and that yields had varied between 5 hl/ha and 60 hl/ha.

While, as one would expect in this vintage, not every white was successful (several wines, including the Bâtard, had distracting notes of sucrosity, while the Puligny Folatières had a distinct off-note), there were several excellent premiers crus and even better grands crus. The Chassagne La Romanée (of which there is only one barrel in ’16) was creamy, powerful, and textured, if slightly on the fat side, but with an intensely spicy mineral finish, while the Puligny Combettes (the first plot picked in ’16) had a lovely floral quality, and was creamy and stony at the same time, and quite dense under the sweet fruit.  The Puligny Clos de la Garenne Duc de Magenta had an extremely enticing, complex nose, and while it was a little softer on the palate than the nose implied, it had a strong and long mineral finish. The Corton-Charlemagne, which produced close to a normal crop, was quite fine, intensely minerally but with plenty of fruit and excellent balance, along with good drive and a long, persistent finish. The Chevalier Demoiselles (only 2 barrels vs. as many as 10 in some years) gave a sense on the nose of its depth and balance; while the entry was slightly soft, it was a silky and delicate wine that concealed its power, culminating in an exceptionally long, driving mineral finish—a terrific Demoiselles. The Montrachet also produced less than 20% of a normal crop. This came in at 14o of alcohol.  It was quite rich and intense, though somehow still delicate in the middle, and had a concentrated, honeyed finish that just kept on going.

 Drouhin. We only tasted one Chablis here, the Vaudésir, which was quite nice, with a beautiful floral quality to the nose and a distinct mineral edge; this was medium light-bodied but was developing a silky texture, with a saline edge at the end. As with other ranges we saw, there was a lot of variability here, for example a Puligny Folatières that tasted like a licorice cream, contrasting with a far better Puligny Clos de la Garenne (a new wine in the lineup) that was very floral, with a crème brulée note, great presence and mineral purity. The Chassagne Morgeot Marquis de la Guiche was supple and easy, but the Beaune Clos des Mouches was far more interesting, with a spicy floral nose, hints of honey and peaches; it was perfectly ripe but with a mineral edge and a touch of raspberry cream, structured, balanced, long, and delicate, with good tension despite the richness. The Criots-Bâtard was a bit puzzling, but the Corton-Charlemagne (from the domaine; they also produce a négociant version), despite a somewhat soft entry, was quite gourmand, with ripe pears, spice, minerality, and a floral note—perhaps not the intensity of the very best CCs, but this was nonetheless quite charming. To finish, the Montrachet Marquis de la Guiche: one could immediately sense the aristocracy of the nose; with notes of honey, spice, minerals, lime, and licorice; it was balanced and complete, and on the palate, it had lift, structure, and finesse, not an especially dense wine but one with lovely delicacy, good focus and exceptional length.

Faiveley. Erwan Faiveley commented that he had not seen a major correlation between concentration and yield. We did not taste as large a range of whites as in the past, because of the small quantities; however, as elsewhere, quality was highly variable, with a pleasant but anonymous Puligny Champ Gain, and a Bienvenues-Bâtard that was a bull in a china shop, while the Bâtard was far better, softer and more accessible, with notes of lime, white flowers, and spice along with good minerality. Best, though, was the Corton-Charlemagne, which had not been affected by the frost, with a complex, balanced nose, sweet ripe fruit, citrus, and minerals on the palate along with a floral quality, and good power but not overdone—an extremely fine CC.

 Bichot. We first tasted through the range of Chablis, which also suffered major frost losses in this vintage. In general, I found a touch of sucrosity in the finish of these wines which I don’t care for stylistically, though more than a few well-regarded Chablis producers seem to work in this style. The Chablis Les Clos had a complex nose and spice that persisted, and was tense and intense, but showed the house style in the finish, as did the Chablis Moutonne, which was quite floral but had a nice flinty edge and plenty of acidity. Among the Côte de Beaune whites, the Meursault Charmes was the most interesting, with a strong mineral edge to it, and a nice creamy floral quality, as well as good grip and body.

Bouchard P&F. The William Fèvre Chablis showed quite well this year, starting with the Vaulorent, which was spicy and floral, a nice lighter style Chablis, and then the Bougros, which had sweet peaches wrapped in stones and a very long finish. The Bougros Côte de Bougerots was a step up, with more intensity, energy, and muscularity—what it perhaps lacked in grace it made up for in drive. The Vaudésir was a letdown, but the Preuses was the best of the range: I loved its combination of power, deep minerality, and finesse, and its great energy. The Clos wasn’t completely put together yet, with the finish seeming less knit, but perhaps, as is often the case with Clos, it needs additional time.

The Côte de Beaune whites reflected the inconsistency of the vintage, so that while the Meursault Genevrières had good energy, it was a bit hard and ungainly, whereas the Meursault Perrières was outstanding, being minerally and intense, with pears, spice, white flowers, and a very long finish. The Corton-Charlemagne was a bit puzzling, with the right components but not necessarily in the right order; it finished quite well though, and if this knits, it could be excellent.  The wood on the Chevalier seemed a bit obtrusive to me, though it was full-bodied with a spicy stony finish. I preferred the Chevalier La Cabotte, which had a razor-sharpness to the palate, and was really showing its links to both Chevalier and Montrachet with its richness, power, and honeyed edge and yet lovely floral elements as well. It also far outshone the Montrachet itself, which despite enormous fat, seemed to lack both balance and concentration.

Laurent Ponsot.  In addition to a St. Romain, which although quite attractive will not be produced in future years because of a non-compete agreement with Domaine Ponsot, and a Corton-Charlemagne that he has been making for some years (and which is very good in ’16, with excellent spice and a strong mineral edge coupled with sweet fruit), Laurent has been busily acquiring the production of white wines, predominantly in Meursault. I have immense respect for Laurent’s talent, but as the great Henri Jayer pointed out some years ago, there are few if any winemakers, however talented, who are able to make both great reds and great whites, and these Meursaults struck me as a capable first effort but not yet close to the equal in quality of the reds that have made Laurent’s reputation over many years.

 Odds and Ends.  From Michel Lafarge, a Bourgogne Aligoté Raisins Dorées, harvested October 8th, that would make a pleasant, easy aperitif, and a more serious Meursault Village, which was quite balanced, with sweet peaches, flowers, and good minerality; from Méo-Camuzet, a soft and inviting Hautes Côtes de Nuits Blanc Clos St.-Philibert; and finally, for those who have written off the ’15 whites as too ripe to be great, a simply stunning 2015 Montrachet from DRC, with a nose of complex spice, minerals, beeswax, white flowers, and honey; lovely balance–as this somehow managed to be lush and rich but also balanced and racy–and as it opened, it became more and more complex, with vibrant acidity, great purity and incredible length (98).

A Postscript:

 Last year in my report on the 2015s, I mentioned that Allen Meadows and I have been working on a book on Burgundy vintages since 1845, and offered the hope that it might be in print by this time. As with so many things (the ’99 reds, for example), it has taken longer than expected. Nonetheless, we are hopeful that it will be available by late 2018—and that, like the ‘99s, it will have been worth the wait!

© 2017 Douglas E. Barzelay

 

 

 

 

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