Sunday, November 27, 2016

Volnay 1er Cru "Taillepieds" 2014, Bitouzet-Prieur

The "Taillepieds" vineyard is just below the village of Volnay on the steeper slope and sits next to one of the other top tier premier cru vineyards, Clos des Chênes which Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur also produces. This 2014 Volnay-Taillepieds has a wonderful raspberry and cassis nose which is very giving and enthralling. A punchy start on the palate softens into a very pleasant, delicate finish. Volnay is known as a feminine wine and I couldn't help but think of Rachel Weisz whilst tasting this Taillepieds. Classic beauty. Scores 26-28/30 for a Volnay premier cru. 

Volnay 1er Cru "Les Aussy" 2014, Bitouzet-Prieur

If you live in Australia and want to cheer yourself up after being white-washed by the England rugby team and by the All Blacks (again and again and again) I heartily recommend this "Aussy" to you. A nose of black cherry with good ripeness. Perfect balance. Red and black berries which complement each other. Some younger vines combined with some planted in the 1950s gives this combination of different fruit styles. Both concentration and vivacity. On the finish a savoury more umami character comes to the fore. Excellent effort from one of the less prestigious Volnay premier cru vineyards. Scores 22-24/30 for a Volnay premier cru. Photo shows our gracious host François Bitouzet explaining the finer details of Volnay terroir.

Beaune 1er Cru "Les Cent Vignes" 2014, Bitouzet-Prieur

"Les Cent Vignes" is one of the benchmark Beaune vineyards. And its important to buy from the best Beaune lieux dit because people argue that the location of the Beaune terroir means they tend not to be such exciting wines. Having tasted and enjoyed the 2009 version of this wine it was good to try it again. The nose is focused on strawberries with real sweetness. There is good structure, its actually a bit severe. Aged in 20% new oak it finishes on a black cherry note. Good, balanced, significant grip. Scores 22-25/30 for a Beaune 1er Cru.

Meursault 1er Cru "Perrières" 2014, Bitouzet-Prieur

The Bitouzet-Prieur domaine has two of the top three Meursault premiers crus although people often don't pay so much attention to the Genevrières as they should. Having tasted the Meursault-Charmes from François Bitouzet several times I was eager to taste this Meursault-Perrières. This 2014 Meursault premier cru has an immediately appealing nose of satsuma, lemon and nectarine. Lovely balance. Ripe, delicious, sweetness with minerality. There's a gorgeous plumpness. Scores 24-27/30 for a Meursault premier cru. My question is whether without  much (or any?) new oak, the wine will add layers of complexity on the nose after 5 years or so in the bottle. Photo shows a Puligny vineyard looking towards Meursault. 

Puligny-Montrachet "Les Levrons" 2014, Bitouzet-Prieur

Tasted at the domaine in the genial company of François Bitouzet this Puligny often has a more Meursault-like character given its proximity to that fabled appellation and location on the lower slope. The 2014 needed to be treated against mildew but was harvested under the sun. An aroma and flavours of nectarines and lemon sponge. Real gourmandise. Supple. Very enjoyable. Reminds me of the wines from Patrick Javillier, that Meursault great. Scores 23-25/30 for a Puligny.    

Beaune "Vieille Vigne de Saint Désiré" 2009, Château de la Velle

For unknown reasons, the biggest white wine village on the Côte d'Or never had a decent restaurant in the village centre. Recently, things have changed for the better with one of Thierry Matrot's daughters taking over Le Chevreuil. There is also La Cueillette but I haven't had good feedback from locals as of yet... So we went for a "light" lunch at Le Chevreuil and chose this bottle from a well chosen, diverse (as in lots of Burgundy) and reasonable wine list. I have had very good experiences with the wines from Château de la Velle as documented with the Meursault 2008, Pommard 2008 and Beaune 2007. This 2009 Beaune has dark fruit aromas touching on blackberry preserve. There is sweet black licorice, black cherry, a hint of fig. Even slices of black olive and cloves. Dense cassis and black cherry fruit. This offers width rather than length. Fully evolved tannins. Excellent value at 39 euro! Scores 26/30 for a Beaune. Le Chevreuil is definitely the best restaurant in Meursault to break up an arduous day of tasting. 

Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru "Serpentières" 2009, Michel & Joanna Ecard

This 2009 Serpentières has a superb ripe nose of cassis, plum and black cherry. Some sweet spices creeping in there like cloves and cinnamon. Subtle and engaging. The mature tannins have softened and this is a lovely wine to drink. There are additional tertiary aromas like rye bread and plum stones. The delicious fruit-driven style is reflected in the lack of new oak barrels and 100% destemming. Scores 27/30 for a Savigny premier cru. 

Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru "Serpentières" 2013, Michel & Joanna Ecard

Tasted at the domaine in mid-November, this 2013 Serpentières has a thick, ripe looking colour although given the gloom of the cellar its tough to be too accurate. There is a beetroot (ripe, good) and black cherry nose. Very concentrated. Black licorice. It's really quite rich, with good fruit depth. Roasted tomatoes on the nose. Produced by 80 year old vines. The only Savigny which has this level of ripeness and black fruit depth is La Dominode from Bruno Clair. Dominant fruit character reflects the domaine's decision not to use new oak barrels. Scores 25-27/30 for a Savigny premier cru. Photo is a Rembrandt version of trusty fellow taster Dr Sedgwick.

Savigny-lès-Beaune 2015, Domaine Michel & Joanna Ecard

I have enjoyed wines from this small Savigny-specialist domaine for two decades and was sorry to hear that Maurice Ecard had passed away. He vinified lovely wines such as the 2002 Narbantons and the 2002 Serpentières. We tasted with Michel Ecard in what must be one of the hardest cellars to get into (physically) and would definitely test the sobriety of anyone trying to enter or leave. This intriguing Savigny blanc has 20% pinot blanc which matures quickly and adds weight to the chardonnay. They harvest late, in November! There is a wonderful hazelnut nose yet its fresh on the palate, good balance, a touch of apricot, a gentle soupçon of honeyed-botrytis. A warm alcoholic finish. Very enjoyable and would be ideal with a pâté de campagne. Could be a tricky wine in a blind tasting. Scores 26-28/30 for a Savigny blanc. 

Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru "Les Vergelesses" 2014, Rollin Père & Fils

After being impressed by the Aloxe-Corton 2014 and not so impressed by the Pernand-Vergelesses rouge 2014 I was hoping for riper fruit, more flesh, in short something (for my palate) to grab hold of. This premier cru rouge from the top-rated "Les Vergelesses" vineyard didn't really deliver what I hoped for. A touch light, too skinny, erring on tangy, the fruit body isn't quite there. I wonder if the pinot grapes consistently achieved full maturity. A bit disappointing. Scores 18-20/30 for a Pernand 1er Cru rouge. 

Corton Grand Cru "Bressandes" 2012, Comte Senard

The last wine we tasted at the domaine, this more youthful Corton grand cru shows lots of promise. Aged 30% in new oak barrels, there is a lovely ripe plum and cherry nose with just the right amount of oak vanillins and white pepper. Good ripe pinot berry fruit on the palate with more elegance than some of the foursquare Corton wines. Nevertheless, this is still a masculine wine with plenty of structure and requires another 3 years to be sufficiently evolved to merit opening this pricey bottle. Scores 22-25/30 for a Corton grand cru. Only time will tell if the complexity will come through but the other more mature wines from the domaine point to very successful maturation.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Corton Grand Cru "Clos des Meix" 1996, Comte Senard

I remember tasting 1996s in 1998 and 1999. Most producers expected the vintage to be another 1989. Ripe, complex, intriguing but needing a decade or more of bottle age before the acidity melded with the rest of the ingredients. In reality, the wines didn't evolve and the acidity prevailed, especially in the whites. But perhaps cellaring these wines for 20 years was the best option. Because this 1996 Corton Grand Cru is fascinating on the nose with full on fox, goose and farmyard aromas. A fig note is followed by hints of oak and black pepper. Before moving on to côte de boeuf, leather, wild strawberry, red cherry and red currant in the palate. The tangy, uplifting acidity is still there. Finishes on an Amarone note. Lots of interest, fun and quality. Scores 27-29/30 for a Corton Grand Cru. 

Corton Grand Cru "Les Paulandes" 2005, Comte Senard

This mature Corton Grand Cru tasted at the domaine in Aloxe has a complex bouquet which is redolent of roast pheasant, cloves, ripe red currant. It's a warm autumnal nose which is propelled forward by fresh red berries. Superbly pinot. On the palate, fresh, long, tingling. Beaucoup de puissance. A clear trace of iron. Must be kept for another 2 years to fully expand. Thrilling. Scores 22-25/30 for a Corton Grand Cru. 

Corton Grand Cru "Blanc" 2007, Comte Senard

The very charming chap in the Comte Senard tasting room positioned this as evidence of how the Corton Blanc evolves in a way that is different from a Puligny or Meursault. That may be the case but  if 10 years of maturation means a manzanilla style then it's tough to give a thumbs up. This 2007 Corton grand cru Blanc starts on dried chanterelles and hazelnuts. A touch of sherry. Dry meadow grass and hay. More interesting on the palate, lemon and dried orange. Salty finish. Allegedly similar to a vin de Jura. Not a good comparison. Interesting but for the price not worth buying.

Corton Grand Cru "Blanc" 2013, Comte Senard

I first tasted at this domaine in 1993 with the Rockefeller. We didn't get on tremendously well but they were very polite. Since then wine making has been hande from Philippe to his daughter. And the domaine charges for tastings under the guise of being a restaurant. I recommend the coq au vin which is actually made with coq. Phenomenal. Jurassic experience. Only ten producers make a white wine from the corton grand cru vieneyards. This 2013 from Domaine Senard starts on hay, white flowers, ripe lemon. Round, ripe and fresh. There's a lovely lemon sponge flavour. Rich with levity like a champagne socialist. Mineral. Could be a Puligny Folatieères. Scores 24-28/30 for a Corton bland grand cru.

Aloxe-Corton 2014, Rollin Père & Fils

Initial nose of cassis, fairly ripe, red cherry, licorice. Lots of structure. Builder's tea. Meaty. Very Aloxe. Good ripe fruit on the palate with hefty tannins. Needs 4 years to evolve and open. Grows on a sand and clay soil. Will evolve well. Aloxe always needs 7 years or more. Scores 21-23/30 for an Aloxe. Photo shows the village of Aloxe looking east north east as you drive from Pernand.

Pernand-Vergelesses 2014, Rollin Père & Fils

I always find there is a thrill factor to tasting the first Pinot noir of the day which is heightened by the fact that it passes one's lips at 10.30am. Juste comme il faut. This Pernand rouge, aged in  oak barrels with three years of prior wine storage, was very floral, dominated by roses. Moves on to Scottish raspberries (tart) and remains delicate. Structured on the palate, it needs time to evolve from the juniper and blood orange flavours. A touch light. Not sure if this will deliver the ripe fruit that we want. Scores 19-22/30 for a Pernand rouge.

Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2015, Rollin Père & Fils

Despite its fame, the Corton-Charlemagne is the only Côte d'Or grand cru which can claim to still be on the price/value scale. At around 60 euro, this Rollin version of the Corton-Charlemagne in the 2015 edition is a must buy. The quality and ripeness of the fruit shines through immediately as pineapple and lychee aromas push through a base layer of ripe pear and white peach. Such splendour brings a smile to the lips of any taster! Lovely, glamorous and succulent yellow fruits on the palate. Balance is restored with accurate acidity and a mineral core. One would have to spot the opulence of this wine as a grand cru. Super-enjoyable. Scores 23-26/30 for a Corton-Charlemagne. Photo shows the slope of Corton from the hill above Pernand looking due east.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru "Sous Frétille" 2015, Rollin Père & Fils

This is, for me, the most classic Pernand premier cru because it is above the village planted on a steep slope limestone terroir. The more famous "Les Vergelesses" is on a gentle slope which merges into Savigny. Reflecting the impoverished soil, this Pernand is closed on the nose but a complex mix of tree fruits is peaking out, concealed in mineral interlace. Aged 40% in barrels (0% new) this Pernand 1er Cru has fantastic balance, length and concentration. Not showing too much leg now but it shouldn't. Scores 23-27/30 for a Pernand 1er Cru. 

Pernand-Vergelesses "Les Cloux" 2015, Rollin Père & Fils

Second wine tasted at the domaine under the watchful gaze of the Mitchinator. This lieu-dit is in a sheltered location in one of the many combes (small tributary valleys) which surround Pernand. The grapes achieve higher levels of maturity (and sugar) which is immediately apparent in the apricot and pear aromas. Round and feminine on the palate with gorgeous ripe yellow stone fruit flavours this 2015 has a typical mineral finish. Very pleasant and beautifully balanced. Scores 25-27/30 for a Pernand.