Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Domaine Jean GRIVOT (Vosne-Romanée) -- 2016 Tasted from Cask Samples Part I: Regional, village, and Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Wines

Harvesting began here on 27 September. As always, the grapes were entirely destemmed. Malolactic fermentations finished between spring and late August — not especially late for Grivot in my 30 years’ experience tasting in this cellar.

For the most part, the frost did not affect the Vosne-Romanée holdings, but the Suchots and Brulées are down about half from a normal vintage. Clos Vougeot is down about 30%, Nuits-Pruliers about 80%, and Nuits-Roncières 35%. No Chambolle-Musigny "Combe d'Orveaux" was produced. In a good year, the estate produces 240 barrels of wine; in 2016 it produced 187.

All wines had not been racked. If everything continues all right, they will not be racked until just before Christmas. (Continue reading here.)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Domaine Anne GROS (Vosne-Romanée) -- 2016 Tasted from Tank

Harvesting began on 25 September with the Clos-Vougeot and the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits red and continued to the beginning of October. The white Hautes Côtes de Nuits was harvested later than the other wines.

As usual, the grapes were entirely destemmed. Malolactic fermentations were relatively quick, finishing between February and mid-May. As with the vast majority of estates that I visited, there was at least one appellation that was not made in 2016; in this case, it was the Chambolle-Musigny “Combe d’Orveaux”.

All wines were tasted from tanks, where they were stabilizing in preparation for December bottling. (Continue reading here.)

Domaine Alain HUDELOT-NOËLLAT (Chambolle-Musigny) -- 2016s Tasted from Barrel

Harvesting here began on 24 September. Overall, the estate suffered a loss of 30% from a normal harvest, reported Charles van Canneyt. In this vintage, he destemmed all the grapes because of the unevenness of the stem ripeness. The grapes, though, were very healthy, he continued, and there was almost no chaptalization for the wines. The village wines see about 20% new oak, the premiers crus 30-40%, and the grands crus 50%.

This is another in a string of very fine vintages under Charles. The terroirs really show through here. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Domaine des LAMBRAYS (Morey-Saint-Denis): 2016 Tasted from Bottle and Barrel

When I arrived for my visit, I was greeted in the office by Thierry Brouhin, who guided this estate since 1979, bringing it back from a seriously deteriorated reputation to one that is now worthy of the Clos des Lambrays's grand cru status. Thierry postponed his retirement to stay on under LVMH, the recent purchaser of the domaine, and then to work side-by-side with Boris Champy, his successor. It was good to see Thierry again and I wish him the very best in his retirement.

It was Boris who took me into the cellar to do the tasting. Boris and I are not strangers, as I had visited Dominus in Napa Valley when he was charged with making the wines there. From there, Boris returned to his native France, and had been in charge of the vineyards for Louis Latour before taking his position with Lambrays.

Here we start with the whites, which had been bottled just a few days before. (Continue reading here.)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Domaine de l'ARLOT (Prémeaux) -- 2016s Tasted from Tank and Cask Samples

Géraldine Godot, the technical director of this biodynamic estate, said that losses in 2016 represented 70% of a normal crop. For the estate as a whole, the yield was 11 hl/ha.

Harvesting in 2016 began on 27 September and lasted six days. Malolactic fermentations were quite quick, finishing by the end of December. The percentages of whole clusters were quite high — not just because that is common practice here, but also because the stems were necessary to fill up the fermenting tanks. As a consequence, except for Clos de l’Arlot and Clos des Forêts Saint-Georges, the reds are entirely whole cluster. All the reds have 50% or less new oak.

There was some acidification for the Hautes Côtes de Nuits in red and white and also for the Côte de Nuits-Villages, Nuits-Clos de l'Arlot, and Vosne-Suchots.

The white wines were already in tank, the reds still in barrel. The whites and the red Bourgogne-Hautes Côtes de Nuits will be bottled in December, the other wines in April of next year. (Continue reading here.)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Domaine Marc ROY (Gevrey-Chambertin) -- 2016s Tasted from Bottle

Alexandrine Roy continues to turn out top-level wines from her village vineyards.

Harvesting in 2016 began here on 23 September. As always, the grapes were entirely destemmed. The red wines are raised half in new oak, half in one year-old barrels. Bottling, always early here, took place in August, just prior to the 2017 harvest. (Continue reading here.)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Jean-Marie FOURRIER (Gevrey-Chambertin) -- 2016 Negociant Wines Tasted from Cask and Tank Samples

These are the negociant wines that Jean-Marie Fourrier has been making for the last several years. The wines are from purchased fruit, and Fourrier sometimes does the harvesting (as opposed to receiving fruit already harvested by the owner). 

With the exception of the Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Aux Échanges, all the grapes were destemmed. (Continue reading here.)

Domaine FOURRIER (Gevrey-Chambertin) -- 2016 Tasted from Barrel and Tank Samples

The disaster that the frost caused in Chambolle-Musigny was well-known, so there was no surprise that the estate lost 50% of a normal crop there. But word had been that only Chambertin had been badly hit in 2016, so I was surprised at my visit here, the first in Gevrey on the trip, to learn that Fourrier lost 30% of his crop in Gevrey-Chambertin (I subsequently visited other producers who had serious Gevrey losses).

Harvesting here began on 28 September and lasted four days. Malolactic fermentations were late for the estate, finishing between April and June. As always, all the grapes were destemmed (but see an exception in Fourrier’s negociant wines that I will next review). The wines should be bottled in the first two months of next year. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Domaine Sylvain CATHIARD (Vosne-Romanée) -- A Pair of 2015s Tasted from Bottle

My review of all of Cathiard’s wines from barrel is here. These two wines tasted from bottle indicate that my perceptions were consistent. The wines were bottled in April. (Continue reading here.)

Domaine Sylvain CATHIARD (Vosne-Romanée) -- 2016s Tasted from Barrel

Sébastien Cathiard said that the Nuits-Clos de Thorey, Chambolle-Musigny, Vosne-Romanée, and Bourgogne were all hit by frost and that mildew appeared thereafter in the Vosne-Romanée and the Bourgogne.

Harvesting began on 28 September and finished on the 30th. No whole clusters in these wines. Sébastien continues to lower the use of new oak (30-50% for the village wines, 50-67% for the premiers crus and the grand cru) and the toast level of the new oak.

The wines have been difficult to locate in recent years and will be even more so with the reduced yields in 2016, but should you come across them, they are excellent examples of the high quality of the 2016 vintage. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Domaine ARNOUX-LACHAUX (Vosne-Romanée) -- 2016 tasted from tank and barrel

This estate was my first introduction to the sad fact that losses from the frost and the subsequent mildew were more severe than had previously been stated. In particular, I learned here that counter to what many have said, vineyards in both Vosne-Romanée and Gevrey-Chambertin were affected. Overall, the estate lost 60% of what would be a normal harvest. Two appellations, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Les Poisets and Clos-de-Vougeot, were not made in 2016 because damage losses there were so severe. Vosne-Romanée, Aux Reignots was the estate’s only appellation that did not suffer losses.

Harvesting began on 22 September with the Reignots. There was then a pause, and the harvesting of the remaining vineyards began on 26 September. There was no triage here, and only a minor amount of chaptalization in order to extend the fermentations. Malolactic fermentations began in late November and early December and finished in January, except for the Vosne-Chaumes, which took a bit longer.

These are dazzling wines with great finesse, precision, and fidelity to terroirs. Charles Lachaux continues to do wonderful things since he took over this already much-esteemed domaine.

The first four wines were racked three weeks prior to my tasting them and had been transferred to tanks to await bottling. (Continue reading here.)

Domaine Jean-Jacques CONFURON (Prémeaux-Prissey) -- 2015s tasted from bottle

My views on these, and other 2015s from Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron are here. As you can see, the wines are looking every bit as good from bottle as from cask. The bottling took place in March. The Boudots and Romanée-Saint-Vivant are looking as though they’ve already begun to close up, a phenomenon that I’ve seen in other 2015s, too. (Continue reading here.)

Domaine Jean-Jacques CONFURON (Prémeaux-Prissey): 2016s Tasted from Cask

Alain Meunier said that harvesting began on 24 or 25 September.

Production here was only about 25% of a normal vintage. Worst hit by the freezes were Clos de Vougeot, Chambolle-Musigny, Bourgogne, Côte de Nuits-Villages, and village Nuits-Saint-Georges. There was no production of one of the two Côte de Nuits-Villages, and the amount of the Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru harvested was so small that it was blended with the village Chambolle-Musigny.

The estate follows organic practices in the vineyards. (Continue reading here:)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Domaine Réyane et Pascal BOULEY/Pierrick BOULEY (Volnay) -- 2016s Tasted from Barrel Samples

Young Pierrick Bouley has been working with his father Pascal in the past years and gradually taking over the estate. Beginning with the 2016 vintage, new foreign customers will see the wines under the label "Pierrick Bouley,” French customers will continue to see the estate’s wines under the "Réyane et Pascal Bouley" label, and existing foreign customers will be able to choose whether they want to switch to the new name. The négociant wine(s) (see below) will be under the "Pierrick Bouley” label, regardless of where sold.

Pierrick said that 2016 was about like 2012 (one of the years of severe hail damage in Volnay) in quantity. As for style, he said that the wines were more typically Burgundian than 2015, characterized by good freshness. The wines were racked a month ago and presented in drawn-off barrel samples.

Harvesting here began on 20 September and finished on the 27th. There was very little triage. All bunches were destemmed. There was no chaptalization other than 1 kg of sugar added to the Bourgogne. Nor was there any acidification. Four wines have not received any SO2 up to now. There was less pigeage (punching down) than previously, now only two times in three weeks.

Malolactic fermentations took place in November and December. Pierrick said that he was thinking of bottling the wines at the end of the year because they taste so good now. 

As with most estates that I’ve visited so far, there is an appellation that was not made in 2016. Here, it was Beaune. For the appellations that were made, you’ll see pitifully low yields for most of them. Keep reading until the end, though, for fortunately it is the last three wines that turned out commercial yields. The silver lining in this year of disastrous yields is that the three best vineyards were the ones that did not suffer from the freeze and so produced decent quantities of wine (indeed, the Champans and Clos des Chênes were abundant). (Continue reading here.)

Friday, October 27, 2017

News from Burgundy and Impressions from Week 1 of Tastings

I’ve now completed week one of three of my annual fall Burgundy tasting trip. I’ll provide detailed notes on the estates that I visited and the wines that I tasted, but I thought it would be useful here to summarize my overall impressions thus far.

But first, some news that you may not be aware of and that I learned this week. (Continue reading here.)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Domaine Michel LAFARGE (Volnay) -- 2016 tasted from tank and barrel

It was fitting that I began my tastings at Michel Lafarge: my first visit to review Burgundy for The Fine Wine Review started at this estate, and I’ve visited every year since, making this the thirtieth consecutive year I’ve visited. Throughout that time, Lafarge has been consistent in upholding the highest standards, notwithstanding the many years that posed very difficult conditions such as rain, hail, and now frost.

It was Michel Lafarge who received me on that first visit and for many years thereafter. In more recent years, Michel’s son Frédéric has received me, but I often see Michel to say hi, too. Frédéric is about the same age now as Michel was on that first visit, and Michel will be turning 89 in just a few weeks. Time flies!

Lafarge’s vines suffered from the freezes on the nights of 27, 28, and 29 April. Losses amounted to about 70%. Following the freezes, there was lots of mildew, but the estate was equipped to handle it well.

Harvesting began on 21 September with the Volnay 1er Cru, Clos du Château des Ducs. As always, all grapes were destemmed by hand. Generally, the wines finished their malolactic fermentations in March or April, but the Bourgogne-Passetoutgrains was considerably later. Alcohols are in the 12.8-13.0º range and there was very little chaptalization. 

Frédéric characterizes the vintage as joyous, and I agree. The style here, as with many of the 2016s that I’ve tasted, is similar to 2014 but with more gentleness to it. Without knowing the story of 2016, one would not guess that these wines came from a very small harvest. The wines are very good expressions of their respective terroirs.

Overall, in the last five years, Lafarge has made as much wine as it makes in two normal years; to put it another way, the average for each of the past five years is only 40% of a normal year’s harvest. This, alas, is typical of the producers on the Côte de Beaune. (In 2017, there was a harvest of normal quantity, the first since 2009.) (Continue reading here.)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

2016 Red Wines from Beaujolais and Southern Burgundy Recently Sampled -- Chermette, Coudert, Dupré, Foillard, Gauthier, and Guillot-Broux

When it's done right, the 2016 vintage down here is most attractive with classic wines that have good liveliness, crispness, and firmness, plus excellent expressiveness of fruit -- a classic vintage. But depending on where one was, there were problems with freezes and hail, and so not everyone had the same chances to work with top fruit. (Continue reading here.)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Prelude to Reports on Burgundy Visits: Summary of 2016 Vintage Conditions

This coming Monday, 23 October, I begin my annual visits in Burgundy to taste the most recent vintage, mostly from cask (2016 this year), and to taste many of the wines of the one before that from bottle (2015 this year). As I have time, I’ll be providing reports on the wines while I’m still in Burgundy and then I’ll continue to write up my notes until all visits have been reported. (Continue reading here.)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Domaine Paul et Marie JACQUESON (Rully) -- 2015s Tasted from Bottle

With the double-whammy of small harvests and increasing demand for the top Côte d’Or wines, many Burgundy fans have been crying out in despair. But the wise ones have known that the top producers (and their numbers are increasing each year) on the Côte Chalonnaise have been producing outstanding wines at moderate prices.

Jacqueson, in particular, is one of my favorite estates in the region, both in red and in white. Should you come across the outstanding 2014s, reviewed heredon't hesitate about them, either. (Continue reading here.)

2016 Reichsgraf von KESSELSTATT (Mosel)

This is the first vintage made of Kesselstatt wines since the tragically premature death of Anagret Reh-Gartner, and I’m pleased to say that the quality continues just as high as before, notwithstanding the challenging conditions that included a long flowering period, downy mildew, and hail. But those conditions did take a toll in the amount of wine produced; in the past thirty years, only two other vintages have been smaller. (Continue reading here.)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Albert MOROT (Beaune) -- 2015 from Bottle

This is a very good Beaune estate whose wines, for whatever reason, I rarely see. Whatever the damage from the hail in 2012-13-14, it did not seem to carry over to 2015, except in reduced yields. 

All of the following wines are red. (Continue reading here.)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Red Wines from Northern Burgundy Recently Tasted: Cadette. Soeur Cadette, Montanet, Camu, Dauvissat, Savary

This region, including areas not far from Chablis, used to be a tough one for red wines. But with global warming, recent vintages and increased experience of the producers with Pinot Noir, and in some cases the César grape, are changing things, making for attractive, affordable red wines with elegance. (Continue reading here.)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

VDP GG Tasting -- 2015 and 2014 Lemberger from Württemberg: Dautel, Haidle, Kistenmacher-Hengerer, Neipperg, Wöhrwag

Out of fourteen wines from 2015 and one from 2014 presented in Wiesbaden, the wines below are the only ones I found worth reviewing. Too many others were hot, jammy, alcoholic, and otherwise unimpressive. The situation is emblematic of the weakness of the GG program applied to Lemberger (better-known for its name used in Austria, Blaufränkisch). Why apply the name Grosses Gewächs to so many wines not reviewed here that are mediocre and not better than the average wine of this type? It only cheapens the GG image. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

VDP GG Tasting -- 2015 Spätburgunder from the Ahr: Meyer-Näkel and Nelles

In the past, the Ahr VDP producers who showed their Spätburgunders at the Wiesbaden tasting were perhaps the worst offenders for over-oaking and over-extracting. The good news is that the wines are less extracted and oaky than before. But there is still work to be done here. Fewer than half of the wines exhibited merited a write-up here, and even of those four wines, none was truly exciting. (Continue reading here.)

Saturday, September 30, 2017

VDP GG Tasting -- 2015 Spätburgunder from Baden: Bercher, Freiburg, Dr. Heger, Heitlinger, Huber, Keller, Lahr - Wöhrle

There were a few wines presented that did not merit writing up, but on the whole Baden showed as well as, if not better than, any region for Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) in 2015. The overripeness one might have feared from a hot, dry vintage did not show here and the producers have learned to back off from overdoing the wines. (Continue reading here.)

Friday, September 29, 2017

VDP GG Tasting -- 2015 Spätburgunder from Franken: Castell, Fürst, Klingenberg/Baltes, Zehnthof Luckert

Limestone is, of course, the key to most of the wonderful Silvaners and Rieslings in Franken (Franconia), as well as the great wines of Burgundy. So it’s not surprising that there are quality Pinot Noirs here; but note, not all (e.g., Centgrafenberg with sandstone) are from limestone soils. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

VDP GG Tasting -- 2015 and 2014 Spätburgunder from the Rheinhessen (Ingelheim, Nierstein, Westhofen): Gutzler, Keller, Neus, St. Antony

With the exception of Keller, I don’t think of Rheinhessen for Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), and the 2014s and 2015s presented validated that view. (In addition to the wines reviewed below, I tasted several others that did not merit reviewing.) The wines below are pleasant wines for drinking, but except for Keller’s Morstein, they don’t merit the title grand cru (common parlance in Germany for GG), especially since that name evokes Burgundy's greatest red wines.

The good news, as I’ve mentioned before, is that the producers are getting away from over-extraction and over-oaking. (Continue reading here.)