Summary of the great 2017 vintage for reds and whites.Read More
I am sincere when I said I am honestly trying to diversify my drinking beyond Burgundy but Burgundy as always, remains the hottest topic in Hong Kong wine circles.
Therefore I couldn't pass up Pearl of Burgundy's En Primeur 2016 Tasting, which includes not only the latest vintage from Burgundy but also the winemakers themselves. This year's line up was a bit different than last year's, most notably no Jean-Marie Fourrier there this year as he had already visited Hong Kong earlier last year in December. There are some new faces such as Thibault from Domaine Y. Clerget, which is his father's domaine. Other participating domaines include:
Côte de Nuits:
- Domaine Fourrier, Gevrey-Chambertin: François Orise
- Domaine Hudelot-Noëllat, Chambolle-Musigny: Charles Van Canneyt
- Domaine Lamarche, Vosne-Romanée: Nicole & Nathalie Lamarche
- Domaine Duroché, Gevrey-Chambertin: Pierre Duroché
- Domaine Coquard Loison Fleurot, Flangey-Echezeaux: Claire Fleurot
- Domaine Jean Grivot, Vosne-Romanée: Mathilde Grivot
- Domaine Bizot, Vosne-Romanée: Jean-Yves Bizot & Thomas Berry
- Domaine Jean-Marc Millot, Nuits saint Georges: Alix Millot
- Domaine Henry Gouges, Nuits saint Georges: Grégory & Isabelle Gouges
- Domaine Berthaut-Gerbet, Fixin: Amelie Berthaut
Côte de Beaune:
- Domaine Bernard Moreau, Chassagne- Montrachet: Alexandre Moreau
- Domaine Paul Pillot, Chassagne-Montrachet: Chrystelle Mortet-Pillot
- Domaine Y. Clerget: Thibaud Clerget
- Domaine Launay Horiot: Xavier Horiot
- Domaine Tessier, Meursault: Catherine Guillin
- Domaine François Carillon, Puligny-Montrachet: François Carillon
- Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot, Chassagne-Montrachet: Jean-Marc Pillot
- Domaine Michelot, Meursault: Nicolas Mestre
Strangely enough, personally the smaller domaines as oppose to bigger names (such as Fourrier, Cathiard, Roulot, De Montille, Hudelot-Noellat) tasted better. I don't know if it was the expectation or the fact that the more well-known domaines used techniques that required full fermentation etc. but the smaller domaines shone. A few highlights of wines that really stuck with me two weeks on:
Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru ‘Les Caillerets’ 2016
The wines tasted here were the Chassagne-Montrachet village, Chassagne 1er Cru Les Caillerets and Chassagne 1er Cru Morgeot. I think it was important to try the Chassagnes of 2016, given that it was so rare in yield generally speaking. Jean-Marc Pillot is a domaine that I have heard but have yet to try and I have to say the Caillarets was super enjoyable. I personally prefer weightier wines from Meursault but the Caillerets was easy and expressive. It lacks the verve and zing of the better vintages but definitely pretty in the mouth.
Domaine Michelot Meursault ‘Narvaux’ 2016
This is a domaine that is actually located right next to a Meursault domaine that I am much more familier with, Domaine François Mikulski. He brought his Charmes and Genevrieres but the ones that showed best was actually the Narvaux, even if its was the lesser 1er cru of the two. The Narvaux was an absolutely darling, clear, bright and fresh on the very first sip. Charmes and Genevrieres by comparison, was less eager to show off but you can tell that there is a certain depth and minerality that is telling of their age-ability. Winemaker Nicolas Mestre (Michelot is his mother's domaine) was very kind in walking me through the Meursault parcels, which I think is exactly reflective of the charm of smaller domaines!
Domaine Coquard-Loison-Fleurot Clos de La Roche Grand Cru 2016
I am speaking as someone who doesn't think much of Ponsot's Clos de La Roche (spoiled, I know). However trying this alongside their 1er crus and other grand crus, this stood out in it's majesty and roundess of the nose and palette. Morey St. Denis if memory serves, was not too affected by the frost compared to its neighbour Gevrey Chambertin and it shows. Beautiful palette, good structure and finish. Considering the price that Pearl of Burgundy is offering the wines at, I would definitely pick up as many cases as I can.
Domaine Jean-Marc Millot Echezeaux Grand Cru 2016
This is another small domaine that I haven't had much exposure to. I tried the Echezeaux alongside his Suchot, which was also just wonderful. Echezeaux again is another lieu-dit that so far has yet to wow me (although I have heard great things from Liger-Belair and Anne Gros Echezeaux—one of these days I suppose) so I was completely shocked and pleasantly surprised by the intensity, opulence and generosity of this wine. And the most amazing thing was, given how expressive the wines were, I was sure they were opened hours before to bottle breathe. However after the wines were quickly gone, they opened another bottle right in front of me. Holy shit! Even though the cork was only pulled seconds before wine was poured into my glass, there was no hint of reductiveness that almost all new wines have. I don't know if it means that this is a wine that cannot age but my guts tell me those lush notes will only get more nuanced with age. DAMN.
Domaine Bizot Echezeaux Grand Cru 2015
This was perhaps the hottest wine of the night with Jean-Yves Bizot and his right hand man, Thomas Berry, present in the evening. Bizot is a rather low key producer, even for by typical Burgundian vigneron standards so I was surprised to see him in person in Hong Kong. I didn't get a chance to talk to either man as they were surrounded by some seriously fierce groupies (if middle-aged, mostly white, male bankers can be described as such) but I did get a few sips of the wines. The 2015s compared to the 2014s is more easily palatable and maybe it was the natural wine techniques but it was super lush and vibrant. The grand cru quality shone through but lack of sulphite actually gives a distinct complexity lends a certain dimension not offered by other domaines and their respective techniques. Truly excellent.
The big takeaway for the 2016 is that despite stories of Jack the Frost and more (if you have already read Neal Martin's exceptionally flamboyant review of the complex vintage), the wines are doing ravishingly well and superbly approachable now even its current unfinished, unbottled form. I do not have the experience to confidently say how these will age later on but sensing the density of the fruit and surprising amount of structure to them, I am sure quite a few (not all) will do very well in the cellar.
Another takeaway is that even though the reds have all the spotlight this year (but when doesn't it?) is that the whites are quite enjoyable across Chassagne, Puligny, St. Aubin and Meursault. It does differ from producer to producer and appellation to appellation but as a whole, Burgundy whites were criminally underrated. A lot of them has a certain gusto and complexity, which makes them very much enjoyable even if some lack the zing and finish of the glorious 2014s.
Given how much Burgundy en primeur prices have risen despite a somewhat uneven vintage (Bordeaux 2011 flashbacks anyone?) and knowing how good it is in 2017, I am not 100% convinced that the 2016s are worth it. Yet again, for those who are keen and have the bigger purses—this vintage is for you.
Usually for Burgundy whites, I stick to the usual regions of Chassagne, Puligny or Meursault. I have been trying though to reach other and I stumbled on this surprisingly affordable bottle by Domaine Dujac.
Domaine Dujac I honestly don't know a ton about aside from the usual superficial details but this Morey St. Denis lieu-dit surprisingly has a lot of history behind it aside from being a fantastically drinking white itself.
The domaine itself is located in Morey St. Denis, when Jacques Seysses purchased Domaine Marcel Graillet in 1967 and renamed it after himself. Of course he expanded over time to include parcels in more famous communes (the usual Gevrey, Chambolle and Vosne Romanee), this parcel remains quite special. Namely Monts Luisants is located just left of the very famous Clos de la Roche on the slope and above Les Genaivrieres. The name means roughly 'Shining Slope', taking note of the brilliant yellow of chardonnay and aligoté leaves. Of course, the ever reliable Jasper Morris MW has noted from Ponsot that the land has been planted with white grape since the middle ages. While Ponsot's wines are made up by mostly aligoté from 2004 onwards, Dujac's is made entirely from Chardonnay (since 2000). Further according to Bill Nanson, the 2007 vintage was only two-thirds organic as the first fully organic vintage was in 2008 with full certification in 2010.
Slightly aged, this had full of rich ripe notes with gentle touches of oak and extremely balanced with fresh acidity and minerality.
A most beautiful white bought on impulse. You can say I got lucky.
Last week ended without a post because I have moved in! With the boyfriend! Now that I'm pretty much fully settled in, I revisited Domaine George Noëllat with some colleagues since.
Previously I tried the same cuvée but the '06 vintage, before Maxime Cheurlin took over in 2010. The 2006 version was not at all bad, rather drinking well with a bit of age but I have to say, nothing particularly remarkable.
This 2014 NSG 1er Cru Boudots made by Maxime was wowzer despite its youth. Previous having drunken plenty of NSG 1er Cru Boudots by other top winemakers like Cathiard, I have grown to love this lieu-dit. Maxime's version I can safely say is up there in the top for quality. The wine was very lush, bright, rich and complex with a long deep finish - beautiful for such a NSG 1er cru. I was most shocked by the amount of vanilla oak notes present in the wine, which shows that Maxime held back no punches for a relatively "lesser" cuvée in his portfolio of wines, which includes VR 1er "Beaux Monts", Echezeaux and Grand Echezeaux. It is also testament to how ripe and full the grapes were when picking as it holds up very well to the use of oak.
The wine itself is very young but like Maxime himself, is full of potential. I've tried other young and upcoming winemakers such as Arnoux-Lachaux 2014s made by ambitious Robert Arnoux but even then I have not been as impressed as I was with George Noëllat. You've heard this elsewhere before but you can hear it from me as with two huge thumbs up, that George Noëllat is most definitely a domaine to collect and look out for when available.
Tasting note: Generous bodied wine that is thick, lush and ripe. Pleasantly surprisingly for such terroir but it is a testament to Maxime's skills. Balanced even in its youth, this a structured wine that can easily age 15+ years or more. A magnificient beauty.
Any tips as to what kind of wines I should try next and what to look out for? Let me know in the comments below.