Thursday, April 13, 2017

Domaine des COMTES LAFON (Volnay) -- 2015 Part I: Reds



Dominique Lafon said that for the reds, he began harvesting with the Clos des Chênes on 31 August; the Monthélie was harvested on 5 September. The grapes were almost all destemmed (exception for the Clos des Chênes). Malolactic fermentations finished in February. Dominique expected to bottle the Monthélie in March or April, the others a little later.

As usual here, we begin with the reds:

Monday, April 10, 2017

Domaine Emmanuel ROUGET (Flagey-Échézeaux) -- 2015 Tasted from Barrel

Emmanuel Rouget said that he began harvesting on 11 September (in 2016, it was 1 October). He waited to harvest because he had blockages of maturity, and he doesn’t regret having waited. Despite the blockages of maturity, his wines came in at or near 14º alcohol with no chaptalization. He said that although it rained for about half the time he harvested, it didn’t have an effect because he used cases that drain.

As usual here, the grapes were entirely destemmed. Malolactic fermentations finished in June, and he said that the wines have evolved well since then. 

As at almost all the estates where I taste, the regional and village appellations showed extremely well, but what is especially notable here is that Rouget managed to get extra quality from his top wines that many other producers did not in 2015. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Domaine Robert GROFFIER Père & Fils (Morey-Saint-Denis) -- 2015 Tasted from Cask Samples


Nicolas Groffier said that he began harvesting on 5 September. Yields in 2015 were just 17 hl/ha, making for an even smaller vintage than 2016, a fact that is rather amazing when one considers that most of the estate’s land is in Chambolle-Musigny and regional appellations below the route nationale, areas that were severely affected by the 2016 frost. 

There was a little chaptalization, mostly in Gevrey-Chambertin, taking the wine fro 12.2/3º to 13º.  As detailed below, there was some whole cluster beginning at the village wine, but not for the two regional wines. Nicolas held back the malolactic fermentations so that they only began in May (and finished in June). He says that the wines did not advance with the malolactic fermentation, reminding him of 2005. He added that the wines need a lot of air, making him think of 2005 and 1995 — beautiful wines to store for 15+ years.

Nicolas is the third generation of producer that I have visited at this estate; the wines have always been very good here, but he is bringing greater purity to the wines, fitting with contemporary Burgundy standards. With the tiny yields in 2015, you’ll be lucky to come across these wines, but they will provide excellent wine. (Continue reading here.)

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Domaine Ghislaine BARTHOD (Chambolle-Musigny) -- 2015 Tasted from Barrel


Ghislaine Barthod said that harvesting began on 5 September and took five days. As always, the wines here are completely destemmed. Malolactic fermentations finished in April and May. Overall production is roughly comparable to 2011 and 2013, less than one would like (and in 2016, production is way down due to the frost).

As always, this is a cellar of wonderful wines from start to finish. The compression of quality in 2015 that I have mentioned is most evident here – as wonderful as the top wines, are, the entry-level wines are not much less in quality. Barthod’s top wines can close up for quite some time after their initial open phase, so if you are looking for her wine to drink while waiting for the premiers crus, don’t overlook the fabulous Bourgogne. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Domaine Louis BOILLOT et Fils (Chambolle-Musigny) -- 2015 Part I: Côte de Beaune Tasted from Barrel



Louis Boillot said that he began harvesting on 31 August with the Les Angles in Volnay (13.5º natural alcohol). The harvest lasted 5-1/2 or six days, and yields varied from 20 hl/ha to 35, depending on the parcel. 

As always, Louis destemmed completely. He acidified a few Côte de Beaune wines but did not chaptalize any wines (the lowest alcohol for the vintage is 12.8º). He did not pigeage (punching down), only remontage (pumping over) in order not to over-extract. The wines spent 18 days in the fermentation tanks instead of the typical 22. New oak is about 20-25%. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, April 2, 2017


Recent Beaujolais Wines Drunk -- Part I

The good news is that each year brings the discovery of more producers of quality.  However, quantities in recent years have been mixed (and in 2016, as in Côte d’Or, some properties had very small or essentially non-existent crops), and quality, too.

Many 2014s are classic Beaujolais, light and with fresh, expressive fruit. Others, however just seem rather pinched.

The 2015s are all over the lot. I’ve heard of alcohols as high as 17%, although the highest I’ve come across have been stated alcohols of 14.5% (which, of course, is still very high for Beaujolais and could in fact be even higher). The big surprise is that the stated alcohols don’t give any clue to the freshness in the wines. Some at 13% stated alcohol lack freshness, others at 14.5% have freshness and balance. When the wines are good, they are very, very good; but not all are, and some can be very, very bad.

The first two 2016s I tasted are listed below under Guignier (very early bottling — drunk in February) show a lot of promise for the vintage.

Other reviews of Beaujolais that may still be on the market are found herehere, and here. (Continue reading here.)

Friday, March 31, 2017

Domaine DUJAC/Maison DUJAC Père & Fils (Morey-Saint-Denis) -- 2014 Reds Tasted from Bottle



I mentioned in my original overview of the 2015 vintage that as superb as the wines were, do not overlook the 2014 vintage, which also produced plenty of great wine. Dujac is one of the most important examples of that rule.

Background information on the 2014 vintage at Dujac and reviews of these wines tasted from barrel are here.

(Continue reading here.)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Domaine DUJAC (Morey-Saint-Denis) -- 2015 Part III: Whites Tasted from Tank

Whites at Dujac were harvested on the last four or five days of August. Malolactic fermentations for the whites were very rapid. (Continue reading here.)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Domaine DUJAC (Morey-Saint-Denis) -- 2015 Part I: Village, Premier Cru, and One Grand Cru Reds Tasted from Barrel



Jeremy Seysses said that harvesting of the reds began about the 7th of September and finished on the eve of the 11th of September. Crop is about the size of 2013, which is 70% of a normal crop. He picked for moderate alcohols and did chaptalize a little for some wines. This was a large whole cluster crop with about 90% overall, but he did less pigeage (punching down of the cap) than in 2014 in order not to over-extract. Fermentations were on the warm side with 30-32ºC as the target; a few wines did get up to 35ºC. Malolactic fermentations finished in early spring.

The vintage is very successful here, even in the context of the overall quality of 2015. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Maison DUJAC FILS & PÈRE (Morey-Saint-Denis) -- 2015s Tasted from Cask


Dujac Fils & Père is the négociant arm associated with Domaine Dujac. These are good wines, but as you’ll see in subsequent posts, especially for the village wines, not on the same level as the estate wines. 

About 25% new oak on these wines. (Continue reading here.)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Domaine de la VOUGERAIE (Premeaux-Prissey) -- 2015 Part II: Whites Tasted from Bottle and Cask/Tank Samples



The whites at Vougeraie were harvested between 31 August and 4 September. 

These wines show the better side of 2015 whites.

Biodynamic cultivation here. (Continue reading here.)

Domaine de la VOUGERAIE (Premeaux-Prissey) -- 2015 Part I: Red Wines Tasted from Bottle and Cask Samples


Reds here were harvested between 5 and 15 September. All the red wines are raised in 1/3 new oak, 1/3 one-year barrels, and 1/3 two years. Generally, malolactic fermentations finished in December 2015 and January 2016, although as noted below, the Musigny was late to finish. Most of the bottling was expected to take place in December 2016 and January 2017.

Pierre Vincent, who in 2006 succeeded Pascal Marchand in making the wines here, left the domaine at the beginning of 2017 to take over winemaking duties at Domaine Leflaive in Puligny-Montrachet.

The vineyards are farmed biodynamically. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Joseph DROUHIN (Beaune) -- 2015 Part IV: Côte de Beaune and Côte Chalonnaise Whites Tasted from Bottle and Cask Samples



These Côte de Beaune and Côte Chalonnaise whites from Drouhin are on the whole representative of the vintage in whites — some good beyond expectations for the vintage, others not bad but lacking some inspiration.

Interestingly, some very late harvesting of the whites, along with some early harvesting. (Continue reading here.)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Joseph DROUHIN (Beaune) -- 2015 Part I: Côte Chalonnaise and Côte de Beaune Reds Tasted from Bottle and Cask Samples

The story of the vintage here is similar to elsewhere: early and rapid flowering, some fungal diseases that were, however, successfully treated, dry July that retarded veraison (turning of color of the grapes) a little, rain in August that provided freshness and ripening for the grapes. The heat over the summer provided for ripe grapes and tannins and thickened the grape skins. 

Harvesting began on 2 September. The health of the grapes and uniform ripening due to the rapid flowering meant that there was very little sorting of the grapes required. Yields for the Côte d’Or reds were low to very low. Generally vinifications lasted two to three weeks and were adapted to the conditions of the vintage in order to preserve freshness and elegance. In particular, there was no bâtonnage (stirring of the lees), but the wines were kept on the lees in order to preserve freshness. 

Drouhin’s estate vineyards have been farmed biodynamically since at least 1996. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Domaine FOURRIER (Gevrey-Chambertin) -- 2015 Tasted from Barrel and Tank


Jean-Marie Fourrier said that harvesting began on 1 September and lasted six days. As usual, all wines were fermented without whole clusters. Malolactic fermentations began and finished early: by mid-February, most had finished. He expected to bottle the wines in February 2017. 

As for the vintage, he compared it to a cross between 2009 and 2010 in style. 

The wines for the rich collectors have become the Clos Saint-Jacques and the Griotte-Chambertin, but look at the whole lineup and you’ll see that one can do quite well with the premiers crus and even the village wines, and for much better value. (Continue reading here.) 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Domaine Henri GOUGES (Nuits-Saint-Georges) -- 2015 Reds Tasted from Barrel, a 2015 White Tasted from Bottle, and a 2014 Red Tasted from Bottle



Gregory Gouges said that with the dry summer, the grass in the vineyards took water from the vines in 2015. As a result, he removed a number of grape bunches over the summer. Harvesting began on 1 September and lasted 4-1/2 days. Importantly, he was able to keep the acidity. Overall, yield was just 24 hl/ha., ranging from 18 hl/ha for the Vaucrains (the lowest) to 33 hl/ha for the Clos des Porrets-Saint-Georges (the highest). (The estate was hit hard by the freeze in 2016, and overall yield is only 16 hl/ha for the estate in 2016, although Gregory says that the quality is very good; some wines, such as the Chènes Carteaux, will not be produced in 2016 because the quantities were so small.)

The grapes here were entirely destemmed, as is customary. Malolactic fermentations were early because of the warm winter, and all were finished by mid-January. Gregory expected an early bottling, beginning in December 2016. Alcohols range from 12.7º to 13.3º. 

These are very good wines, but as is the case with so many estates, don’t loose sight of the outstanding 2014s. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Jacques-Frédéric MUGNIER (Chambolle-Musigny) -- 2014 Tasted from Bottle

The white was bottled inFebruary, the reds in May and June. My review of Mugnier’s 2014s tasted from bottle is here. As you can see, all the reds from bottle are at the top end of my estimates from barrel except for the magnificent Musigny, which has exceeded my high range.

This classic, fresh vintage is the type that I think Mugnier does best. (Continue reading here.)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Jacques-Frédéric MUGNIER (Chambolle-Musigny) -- 2015 Tasted from Barrel and Tank


The harvesting for the reds began on 8 September with the Clos de la Maréchale and then the Bonnes-Mares (the white had been harvested a week earlier). Grapes were entirely destemmed. Timing of the malolactic fermentations was “all over the place,” with the latest finishing in May. The grapes had natural alcohols of about 13º and that’s also the level of the finished wines. Frédéric Mugnier described the acidities as “average.” 

These wines are a good example of the vintage in the sense that they display the high quality of lower appellations and the compression of quality overall. (Continue reading here.)

Friday, March 10, 2017

Domaine ARNOUX-LACHAUX (Vosne-Romanée) -- 2014 Tasted from Bottle


2014 is an outstanding vintage for Arnoux-Lachaux; in the previous post I expressed my great enthusiasm for the 2015s, but don’t let that discourage you from the great 2014s here (especially as they were produced in considerably greater quantity than the 2015s).

My review of all of Arnoux-Lachaux’s 2014s from cask is here; tasting these wines now from bottle, they generally show at the upper-end or above of my estimations of them from barrel. (Continue reading here.)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Domaine ARNOUX-LACHAUX (Vosne-Romanée) -- 2015 Tasted from Barrel and Bottle



I’ve known the wines of this estate through three generations: Robert Arnoux, his son-in-law Pascal Lachaux, and now Pascal’s son and Arnoux’s grandson, Charles Lachaux (Pascal is still involved, though). There have been changes in styles of the wines during this long period, but the wines have always been of high quality. That said, these 2015s are potentially the best of all the vintages I’ve known here. Of course, it helps to have excellently-sited and cared-for vineyards and old vines (the youngest are in their early 40s, average age for the domaine is 50-60 years, and the Romanée-Saint-Vivant vines are 90 years-old).

Harvesting took place from 3 to 7 September. Yields were small — generally about 25-30 hl/ha for village wines, 20 hl/ha for the premiers crus, and 15-18 hl/ha for the grands crus. Overall, this represents about half a full cellar (and half of 2014). Charles attributes the reduced production to the small grapes due to the grass in the rows competing with the vines for water during the dry summer. All wines are minimum 70% whole clusters, as indicated below. Chaptalization was minimum, 0.1 or 0.2º, in some cases none. New oak is 15% for the village wines ranging up to 35% for the Romanée-Saint-Vivant; Charles said that he couldn’t reduce the new oak as much in 2014 because he did not have enough used barrels. Timing of malolactic fermentations was normal for the estate. The pHs here finished around 3.70, which was lower (i.e., higher acid) than Charles expected for the year. 

The changes that Charles has instituted are major, both in the vineyard and in the cellar. Among the changes in the vineyard are a new canopy management system (cutting the tops of the vines later and taller in the past, thereby permitting more photosynthesis and earlier ripening). Another change is in the pruning system. He is now pruning longer using a system that predominated in older days in Chassagne and Puligny. Charles says that he was inspired to used this system by Luc Pavelot of Domaine Pavelot in Pernand-Vergelesses who has always used this system, and Charles says the Domaine Leroy does something similar.

In the cellar, the major changes have been the reduction of new oak (which had been 100% new at one time) and the use of whole clusters, which prior to Charles had been long eschewed here.

These are some of the most successful wines of 2015 at all levels and worthy of your highest interest, even if you have not followed the estate in recent years. (Continue reading here.)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

FAIVELEY (Nuits-Saint-Georges) -- Part II: 2015 Red Grands Crus Tasted from Barrel


As I reported in the previous post, Faiveley’s harvest on the Côte d’Or took place between 2 and 11 September. For the reds, production is about 15% below a normal harvest. The grand cru reds were made with about 25% whole clusters. In the recent past, new oak has been about 2/3 for the grands crus but in 2015, that figure is 50-65%.

Comparing these wines to the premiers crus, one sees that there generally were upper limits to quality for grands crus, so that many of the premiers crus showed equally well — until one gets to the two great Chambertin-Clos de Bèzes and the Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley, all three of which are in the very select group of top wines of the vintage. (Continue reading here.)

Friday, March 3, 2017

FAIVELEY (Nuits-Saint-Georges) -- Part I: 2015 Red Premiers Crus Tasted from Cask


Erwan Faiveley said that the changes to more elegant wines when he took over and brought in Bernard Hervet had maybe gone too far, and the 2015s represented an adjustment back, reaching a happy medium. I agree wholeheartedly, with the 2015s arguably being the most memorable of my more than twenty years of annual visits to Faiveley. The one unfortunate drawback was that the wines from Chambolle-Musigny were all completely reduced, and so not in condition to permit tasting them when I visited.

Harvesting on the Côte d’Or and the Côte Chalonnaise took place between 2 and 11 September. For the reds, production is about 15% below a normal harvest. For reds, the premiers and grands crus were made with about 25% whole clusters. In the recent past, new oak has been about 2/3 for the grands crus and 1/3 to 2/3 for the premiers crus; for 2015, those numbers are about 50-65% for the grands crus and 35-50% for the premiers crus. (Continue reading here.)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Domaine François LAMARCHE (Vosne-Romanée) -- 2015 Tasted from Barrel Samples


Harvesting began on 10 September and lasted six days, except for the Bourgogne-Passetoutgrains and the Bourgogne-Hautes Côtes de Nuits, which were harvested ten days after the other vineyards. Each wine was made with 30% whole clusters. Malolactic fermentations were normal. Maximum alcohols are 13.2º.

The estate is organic and parts are biodynamic.

Here is yet another very successful estate in 2015 worth looking out for. (Continue reading here.)