Friday, January 20, 2017

Domaine Hubert LIGNIER (Morey-Saint-Denis) 2015 Part I: Bourgognes and Village Wines Tasted from Bottle and Tank and Cask Samples



Harvesting began on 8 September. Production in 2015 is about 15% less than in 2014. The grapes were picked with excellent ripeness, around 13º natural alcohol (La Riotte was 13.4º). Acidities are quite decent with pHs in the range of 3.40-3.50 after the malolactic fermentations. The estate has been organic for six years and is not certified organic. Laurent Lignier said that he had no real problem with mildew or oïdium in the vintage.

All the village wines are 20% raised in new oak.

As you can see, the quality of the regional and village wines is uniformly excellent in 2015. (Continue reading here.)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Domaine des LAMBRAYS (Morey-Saint-Denis) -- 2015 Tasted from Barrel and Bottle


Thierry Brouhin was going to retire until the estate was sold to LVMH a few years ago, and then he was persuaded to stay on for a few more harvests. So far, everything seems to be operating exactly as before and there has been no interference with his control.

Harvesting took place between 3 and 10 September. Malolactic fermentations were quick and the wines were racked around the end of 2015. As you can see below, the year was very successful here. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

MOMMESIN/CLOS DE TART (Morey-Saint-Denis) -- 2015 Tasted from Barrel



Technical director Jacques Devauges said that in 2015, yield was 22 hl/ha. The goal is 30 hl/ha, which has been the average for the previous ten years and which is 5 hl/ha below that permitted for grand cru. He said that the low yield was in part due to lots of shot berries and grapes dropping off the bunches in the summer heat due to lack of water. 

Harvesting began on 5 September in order to keep the freshness, picking at 12.8-13.6º natural alcohol. The acidities were good and there was no chaptalization or acidification. Malolactic fermentations were classic, finishing in May and June. Overall, about 50% of the wine was made with whole clusters; however, the wine is fermented parcel-by-parcel with differences for each one and then kept separate until the final blending. 

In 2015, there will be no second wine for Clos de Tart because the quality is so uniformly good. (Continue reading here.)

Recently Tasted Northern Rhônes VII -- Barge, Barou, Beceras/Prieuré d'Arras, Chaputier, Darnaud, Gonon, Jamet, Lionnet, Monier-Perréol, Nodin, Texier, Verzier/Chante Perdrix



We’ve had a string of very good vintages in the Northern Rhône, but as this selection of wines shows, it’s the producer that counts more than the appellation or the vintage. There are some very good wines here, some that are okay for drinking but not worth going out of the way for, and some that I, at least, find greatly unlikable. 

Earlier reviews of Northern Rhônes are here here,  here hereherehere, and here 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Domaine G. ROUMIER/ Christophe ROUMIER* (Chambolle-Musigny) -- 2015 Tasted from Barrel


Christophe Roumier said that overall yield in 2015 was just below average (whereas 2016 is the smallest since 1971). There is “a little” whole cluster fruit in these wines. Malolactic fermentations finished in June and July and the wines were racked in the beginning of September. He likens the vintage to 2005 but with more roundness, and at least for his wines, I agree with the comparison.

Wines marked with an asterisk (*) are sold under Christophe’s name. (Continue reading here.)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Domaine Jean CHAUVENET (Nuits-Saint-Georges) -- Three Wines from 2014 Tasted from Bottle



My reviews to all of Chauvenet’s 2014’s tasted from cask are here. These wines show the potential of the 2014 vintage and indeed are showing better than I perceived them from barrel. (Continue reading here.)

Domaine Jean CHAUVENET (Nuits-Saint-Georges) -- 2015 Tasted from Barrel


Jean Chauvenet’s son-in-law, Christophe Drag, has long been in charge and over the years has made significants improvements, eliminating what often was excessive tannin and rusticity in the wines. 

Christophe said that the flowering took place in only three days, but then excessive heat caused quite a bit of millerandage (shot berries). He was afraid of another 2003 or 2009, but in the end wound up with freshness and energy in the fruit. Harvesting began on 12 September — he found that the rain a few days earlier gave new energy to the fruit, as the grapes had begun to dry out before the rain. 

Malolactic fermentations were early — usually the finish in June, on average, but all had finished by May. 

No chaptalization here, and no use of stems. Overall, yields were 35 hl/ha. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Domaine de l'ARLOT (Premeaux-Prissey) -- 2015 Tasted from Barrel



Harvesting began on 3 September (with the whites) and finished on 9 September, said technical director Géraldine Godot. There was almost no triage because of the quality of the grapes. Alcohols were about 13º natural and there was only a touch of chaptalization to prolong the fermentations. Some cuvées were acidified, ones that typically come in at low acidity. Malolactic fermentations were rapid, generally finishing in December; for the Clos de l’Arlot blanc, the malo was blocked. 

Currently, the estate is certified organic and is operating "almost" completely biodynamically.

Here we start with the reds:

Friday, January 13, 2017

Domaine de MONTILLE (Meursault) -- 2015 Part I: White Wines

In whites, there’s a little bit of everything here. Brian Sieve, chef de cave, made a comparison to 2012, but with less botrytis. From not bad but not exceptional and perhaps comparable to 2012, there’s the Beaune and the Meursault, then a good Perrières. But rising above 2012 are an extremely good Corton-Charlemagne and a stunning Puligny-Cailleret. (Continue reading here.)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Maison DEux MONTILLE (Meursault) -- 2015 Whites Tasted from Tank Samples



This negociant house of Étienne and Alix de Montille and makes almost exclusively in white wine. The style here is racy and high in acidity, which I like, and I find the wines to be quite good values.

Harvesting in 2015 began on 27 August, and by 2 September all the whites were in except for those from the Côte Chalonnaise. All wines below are whites. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Domaine Jean-Marc et Thomas BOULEY (Volnay) -- 2015 Tasted from Cask and Tank Samples



As I’ve indicated in reviews in the preceding years, Thomas Bouley has taken this estate to the exalted level of thes first division in Volnay, alongside such iconic names as Lafarge and d’Angerville. 

Notable here is a new cuverie complete with a beautiful tasting room above that looks out over the town of Volnay and many of its vineyards below (the cellar is up at the top of Volnay). 

Harvesting began with the Caillerets on 4 September and then moved to the rest of the vineyards. Overall yields were about 20-24 hl/ha, roughly the same as 2014. There was no hydric stress in the vineyards and the naturally low yields gave the great concentration, said Thomas. Malolactic fermentations finished at the beginning of 2016. The wines saw no SO2 until summer because Thomas thinks that SOretards the breathing of the wines. 

The estate follows lutte raisonnée in the vineyards (essentially, organic except where all other solutions don’t work).

We start with the whites:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Domaine Michel LAFARGE (Volnay) -- 2015 Tasted from Barrel and a 2014 from Bottle



Frédéric Lafarge said that overall, in 2016, he had 35% of a full harvest, with the whites suffering the worst. This comes after the three straight years of hail in 2012-13-14 and the small amounts in 2015 (plus hail in 2008, 2006, 2004, 2001, etc.). As for 2015, whites are 80% of normal and reds 50% of normal — very serious in any scenario except when you compare to the surrounding vintages. 

As I mentioned in my overall review of the vintage, Frédéric’s father Michel has compared 2015 to 1929 — a very celebrated vintage that he grew up drinking on many occasions (Michel was born in 1928). 

The Volnays were harvested between 5 and 10 September. For the reds, the malolactic fermentations finished in January and February.

As always, the Lafarge reds start at a very high level with the lower appellations and those looking for value and/or wines that come around sooner should consider the Bourgogne and the two village Volnays.

We start with the whites, which were expected to be bottled in February and March:

Monday, January 9, 2017

Domaine MÉO-CAMUZET/MÉO-CAMUZET Frère & Soeurs (Vosne-Romanée) -- 2015 Tasted from Cask Samples


Jean-Nicolas Méo said his yields were fairly small in 2015. For the most part, malolactic fermentations were normal, finishing in April through August, although a few were quite late and even still ongoing when I visited at the end of October 2016. He said the wines had low pHs, but also low total acidities.

Harvesting began on 5 September with a two-day halt in the middle to allow for the return of good weather. He took the risk that the grapes would get too ripe, but in fact that did not occur, although he said that in one or two wines the grapes were riper than he would have considered ideal. Importantly, the grapes did not lose acidity as they continued to sit on the vines.

Wines marked with an asterisk (*) are négociant wines sold under the Méo-Camuzet Frère & Soeurs label. These are not to be scorned — look at the scores and descriptions. The sources have been consistent, as far as I know, and for the Chambolle and Nuits négociant wines, they are effectively farmed by Méo-Camuzet and but for some very technical reasons, would be included as estate wines. (Continue reading here.)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Domaine Armand ROUSSEAU & Fils (Gevrey-Chambertin) -- 2015 Tasted from Barrel



As with the majority of producers, quantities are small for 2015 at Rousseau. Harvesting began on 3 September. There was minimal chaptalization to extend fermentation. Alcohols are all at least 12.5º. As usual, no whole clusters here, but a small amount of stems was added to the fermenters. Malolactic fermentations finished in March.

These are excellent to great wines, yet having visited this estate annually for a quarter of a century, my feeling is that the very greatest Rousseau wines are not from the ripe vintages such as this one and 1990, 1999, 2005, and 2009 (which bring the highest prices at auction), but rather from the more classic Burgundian vintages such as 1991, 1993, 1998, and 2001. We’ll see what time gives us here.  

The overall style of the vintage here is one of finesse and some may be surprised by the lighter colors and textures of the wines. (Continue reading here.)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Domaine Marc ROY (Gevrey-Chambertin) -- 2015 Tasted from Bottle



As I’ve explained in past reviews of this estate, Alexandrine Roy has only village-level vineyards but makes the most of them. In a conversation with a top producer who has a dazzling array of top premier and grand cru vineyards, I mentioned that I taste at Roy and he responded that whenever he finds Alexandrine’s wine in a wine bar, he always orders it.

Roy’s wines are not cheap, but they always deliver well above expectations for their appellations.

As usual, here, all grapes are destemmed and bottling occurs early. (Continue reading here.)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Domaine Alain HUDELOT-NOËLLAT (Chambolle-Musigny) -- 2015s Tasted from Barrel

Charles van Canneyt said that harvesting began on 7 September. He said that yields were “corrects" — meaning adequate or decent. Except for the Bourgogne, there was “a little” whole cluster in all the wines. Malolactic fermentations were late.

The estate has been on the rise since the late 1990s, but since Charles has been here, the quality has really solidified. The scores, which I try to do on a more or less objective basis,* are high here, but thinking back on all my visits to taste 2015s, this was one of the estates where the wines had a special appeal to me personally. I urge you to try these wines, should you get the opportunity.

* All aesthetic judgments are contextual and subjective, but one can also introduce an an air of objectivity by judging according to consistent parameters.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Domaine Jean-Jacques CONFURON (Premeaux-Prissey) -- Three 2014s Tasted from Bottle


Information about the 2014 vintage at Confuron and review of these and other wines tasted from barrel in autumn 2015 is located hereIn particular, these three wines have developed quite well and are showing at the upper end of my estimates from barrel.

As I’ve stated before, quality in 2014 from good producers such as Confuron is high and readers should not ignore the vintage and focus solely on 2015. 

The three wines below were bottled in March 2016, the other wines at the domaine were bottled in January and February. (Continue reading here.)

Domaine Jean-Jacques CONFURON (Premeaux-Prissey) -- 2015s Tasted from Cask



Alain Meunier said that in 2015, the quantity of grapes was good, but in juice it was not, a story one heard in many cellars about 2015. He did no whole clusters in 2015 because of the quality of the skins. For the premiers and grands crus, yields were about 33 hl/ha, more in Nuits, less in Chambolle, and old vines gave very little.

Alcohols were about 12-12.5º and chaptalization around 0.5-0.7º for some wines. Each year, he is using less new oak, a progression that I consider positive; in 2015, it is 50% new oak for the grands crus, 33% for the premiers crus, 20% for the village wines, and 10% for the regional wines. Malolactic fermentations varied, depending on the cuvées. Overall, he will bottle later than usual and he thinks this is a vintage that may close up for a long time (I am in agreement — despite all the charm, there is plenty of tannin beneath the initial fruit). 

The estate is worked organically. (Continue reading here.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Domaine MAUME/TAWSE (Gevrey-Chambertin) -- 2015s Tasted from Cask


I’m not sure if it is definitive yet what exact name the 2015s will appear under, so it could be a variant of the above.

As I mentioned in reviewing the 2014 wines from cask, since the sale to Moray Tawse, Mark Fincham is now charged with making the wines, no doubt with input from Tawse’s partner, Pascal Marchand. The estate is now operated biodynamically.

In 2014, total production was 80 barrels; in 2015 it was 66; in 2016 it is 45. Malolactic fermentations mostly finished in March or April (which would be early for certain other estates).

These are excellent wines that in many ways recall the vitalness of the Maume wines of the 1970s-80s-90s, although without some of the extreme wildness that put some people off. (Continue reading here.)

Monday, January 2, 2017

Domaine Chantal RÉMY/Héritiers Louis RÉMY (Morey-Saint-Denis): 2015s Tasted from Cask and a 2014 from Bottle




Chantal Rémy, who began making the wines here in 1988, has handed to reins off to her son Florian (who has been working with her the last several years). With that go some changes. First, harvesting, which under Chantal used to be, along with Ponsot and Confuron-Cotétidot, among the very latest on the Côte de Nuits, is now somewhat earlier; in 2015, it began on 10 September, just after the rains.  And contrary to prior years, there were some stems used (10% for estate wines) in 2015. I am in some sense neutral about use of stems, greatly enjoying wines from producers who systematically use all the stems and also greatly enjoying wines from producers who systematically never use them, as well as producers in between. But their use does alter the style.

The négociant wines (purchased grapes) are marked by an asterisk (*) below and sold under Héritiers Louis Rémy label.  Yields for them were about 40 hl/ha, but for the estate wines, yields were considerably lower. Malolactic fermentations were late for some wines, but others finished in July.

These are good wines, but in a different style from that of the wines in the past. In place of the crisp, energetic wines of before, these are more relaxed, perhaps even a bit too relaxed for my preference (or do I just need to adjust to the new style? We’ll have to see as the years go along). (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Domaine DIGIOIA-ROYER (Chambolle-Musigny): 2015s Tasted from Bottle, Tank, and Cask


This tiny estate in Burgundy has been producing consistently good wines since its beginning, the end of the 1990s.  

Michel Digioia said that for 2015 he’s lacking 25-30% in quantity from a normal harvest. (In 2016, he lost 60-70% of his crop in Chambolle, made nothing in Savigny-les-Beaune, and “only" lost 30% at Nuits-Saint-Georges. But for the Hautes Côtes de Nuits, he was within 5-10% of a normal vintage.) He began harvesting on 2 September. As usual, the grapes were entirely destemmed. Malolactic fermentations finished in spring 2016. (Continue reading here.)

Saturday, December 31, 2016

BOUCHARD Père & Fils (Beaune) -- Part II: 2015 Whites Tasted from Bottle and Cask and Tank Samples


I described vintage conditions in the previous post on Bouchard’s red wines

This tasting was my first in-depth encounter with the whites of the vintage. In fall of 2015, most (but not all) white producers were not especially enthusiastic about the vintage. But the wines developed well in cask and did not display the heaviness and overripeness that had been feared. While it is not a vintage to match 2014 in white, the wines do show their terroirs well and do not have the heaviness that one sometimes encounters in 2012 and 2009. (Continue reading here.)


Friday, December 30, 2016

BOUCHARD Père & Fils (Beaune) -- Part I: 2015 Reds Tasted from Cask and Tank Samples



Cellarmaster Frédéric Weber’s recounting of the vintage was in line with what others told me. Just to repeat, he said that the winter was rainy and warm, permitting the soils to be worked. The flowering was quite rapid, but cold nights wound up reducing quantity by 30-35%. The summer was warm and dry, with rain coming every time it was really needed. The oïdium in July was plentiful, requiring prompt attention, and there was a lot of sunburn of the grapes, so no leaf-pulling. August was fairly normal, and the rain at the end of August, just when it was most needed to allow continued maturation, made the vintage. Harvesting began on 2 September in Volnay and lasted roughly a week. 

Wines marked with an asterisk (*) are Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils, that is, from Bouchard’s own vineyards. (Continue reading here.)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Domaine de la POUSSE D'OR (Volnay) -- 2015s from Tank Part II: Côte de Nuits



As with the Côte de Beaune wines, 2015 is a great vintage on the Nuits side for this outstanding estate. Also as on the Côte de Beaune, the frost in 2016 severely hit the Côte de Nuits vineyards here (Clos de la Roche is an exception). As I mentioned in the previous review, this is an estate that follows biodynamic practices. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Domaine de la POUSSE D'OR (Volnay) -- 2015s from Tank, Part I: Côte de Beaune



Hubert Rossignol, chef de culture, said that yields overall in 2015 were “average” — a fortunate rarity in the Côte d’Or in 2015. As usual, wines here are entirely destemmed. Malolactic fermentations finished between May and August. The alcohols for the Côte de Beaune wines “flirt" with 13º except fro the Cortons, which are at 13.5º. 

The estate is organic and biodynamic.

As you can see below the results are outstanding, and that will continue with my next report, on the Pousse d’Or 2015s from the Côte de Nuits. (Continue reading here.)