Saturday, May 19, 2018

Monday, May 14, 2018

More Reds from Southwest France: Ilbert/Château Combel-la-Serre, Jouves, Château Laurou/Salmona, Château Peyros/Lesgourgues. Plageols, Le Roc

As with the previous posting, plenty of very good values to be had here. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Southwest France Reds Recently Tasted: Château Bellevue la Forêt/Grant, La Colombière/Cauvin, Clos la Coutale/Bernède, Élian da Ros, Château la Grave/Bernède

Particularly with the shortage of crop in many parts of Europe, wine prices are rising quite rapidly. Some of the best values for your money in France remain in the Southwest. (Continue reading here.)

Friday, May 11, 2018

Olivier LEFLAIVE Frères (Puligny-Montrachet) -- 2016 Whites Tasted from Bottle

Over the years, I’ve had very little wine from this Leflaive, the reason being that I never found anything interesting that made me want to try more. A couple of years ago that began to change, and others also seemed to notice something going on here. Curiously, this occurred despite the fact that Frank Grux, who has been in charge of making the wines since 1988, still remains at the head of winemaking.

When I inquired of the domaine, I was told that the grapes are now harvested a bit earlier than before, less new oak is used, and there is less bâtonnage (stirring of the lees) than before. Whether that’s the full story or if there’s more to be told, these wines show that there are wines worthy of interest now. (Continue reading here.)

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Domaine Albert MOROT (Beaune) -- 2016 Tasted from Bottle

When one thinks of Beaune, one thinks first of the négociants who own large portions of the vineyards. Then there are “outsiders" from other villages, such as Lafarge and de Montille in Volnay, who make Beaune wines that one frequently finds on good Burgundy lists. But there are good vignerons in Beaune producing wine, and none better that I know than Albert Morot. 

As with all producers in Beaune and Savigny, Morot was badly affected by the frost in late April. No wine was produced from Grèves, Marconnets, Dessus des Marconnets, or the white Savigny vineyard. Overall, the estate produced 23 hl/ha.

Harvesting began on 21 September. All grapes were destemmed in 2016. About 30% new oak is used, a combination of Chassin Père & Fils and François Frères, and the toast is medium.

Morot bottled these wines in November 2017, and they appear to be very good for early and medium-term drinking. (Continue reading here.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

CHANSON (Beaune) -- 2016 Part II: Whites Tasted from Bottle

My introduction to Chanson is here .

This selection of whites is good, but not as impressive as the selection of reds I previously reviewed.

The Savigny-Hauts Marconnets, Beaune-Clos des Mouches, and Corton-Vergennes are estate wines, the Viré-Clessé and Chablis are négociant wines. (Continue reading here.)

Monday, April 30, 2018

CHANSON (Beaune) -- 2016 Part I: Reds Tasted from Bottle

In the latter part of the twentieth century, Chanson, a Beaune négociant dating to 1750, was known for tannic, old-style (not necessarily in the best sense of the term) wines. 

In 1999, the Bollinger Champagne house acquired Chanson, including its vineyards. Following a labelling scandal shortly after the sale, Gilles de Courcel was hired to head up operations, and then Jean-Pierre Confuron was handed control over vineyard and winemaking  operations. Confuron is the brother of Yves Confuron of Domaine Confuron-Cotétidot in Vosne-Romanée and of de Courcel’s eponymous estate in Pommard. Working with the same methods as the home estate in Vosne, such as late harvesting and use of all whole clusters. Horses are used to plough the vineyards, which are organically cultivated.

New oak is 30% for the wines, tending to François Frères for reds and Damy for whites. 

Chanson now owns 45 ha, all on the Côte de Beaune, which in a normal year supplies about a quarter of the total production (which extends from Chablis down to the Beaujolais). 

All of the wines below are estate wines except for the Gevrey-Chambertin and the Corton.

As this sampling of the reds (and the sampling of the whites to follow) shows, this is a producer worthy of your serious attention. (Continue reading here.)

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Domaine DE COURCEL (Pommard) -- 2016 Tasted from Cask Samples

Yves Confuron, of Domaine Confuron-Cotétidot, has also long been responsible for this great estate. The wines are superb, but alas, once again we have a year of minuscule yields. 

As is standard, the harvest is very late and the grapes are not destemmed. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Domaine CONFURON-COTÉTIDOT (Vosne-Romanée) -- 2016 Tasted from Barrel

Yves Confuron said that harvesting began on 5 October and he had no problem with the rains that came some days later (presumably all the grapes were in — the small yields made for very rapid harvesting). Overall yield for the estate in 2016 was but 11 hl/ha. As always, the grapes were vinified without destemming.

Year after year, this estate produces, at all appellation levels, some of the most compelling wines in Burgundy to my taste.  The village wines are at premier cru level, the premiers crus at grand cru level, and the grands crus at the top of their respective appellations.

The wines may not be as easy to understand as those from other estates and may need more time than many, but the quality here is magnificent. (Continue reading here.)

Monday, April 23, 2018

Domaine DIGIOIA-ROYER (Chambolle-Musigny) -- 2016 Tasted from Bottle and Barrel

Michel Digioia said that for the whole domaine, his production was only 40% of a full vintage. Chambolle, of course, was very badly hit, and no wine was produced from Savigny-les-Beaune.

He began harvesting on 25 September, and the Hautes Côtes de Nuits was harvested on 30 September. Malolactic fermentations were a little later than usual here — the Chambolles finished in April and May, the Bourgogne-Hautes Côtes de Nuits in July. As usual, grapes were entirely destemmed.

One definitely feels the effect of the frost in the concentration of these wines. (Continue reading here.)

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Comte LIGER-BELAIR (Vosne-Romanée) -- 2016 Tasted from Barrel

Harvesting began on 24 September, said Louis-Michel Liger-Belair. Overall losses were about 35% of a full crop. These losses included 99% of the Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Clos des Grandes Vignes white and 85% of the red from that vineyard, 35% of Echézeaux, 25% of Suchots, and 40% for vines at the bottom of Vosne-Romanée. 

Malolactic fermentations were late here.

As in other years, quality is high across the board at this biodynamic estate. (Continue reading here.)

Friday, April 20, 2018

2016 Bruno CLAVELIER (Vosne-Romanée) -- 2016 Tasted from Barrel

Bruno Clavelier said that in 2016, he produced only one barrel per hectare (2.3 hl/ha) for regional appellations. For the Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru appellations, he was able to produce three barrels per hectare (about 7 hl/ha). Village yields in Vosne were about 15 hl/ha. The Vosne premiers crus made about 27-30 hl/ha. For the Gevrey-Corbeaux and Nuits-Cras, production was more or less normal, and for the Corton, there was only a little frost damage.

Harvesting began on 21 September and finished on the 25th. Use of stems was a bit more than usual because of the small volumes; overall it was in the 40-60% range. Malolactic fermentations were a bit earlier than usual, beginning in the spring.

As usual, the quality at this longtime organic and biodynamic estate is excellent. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Louis JADOT (Beaune) -- 2016: Part VII: Grand Cru Chablis and Côte de Beaune Whites Tasted from Barrel

Background on the vintage at Jadot is located here. As it often does, Jadot blocked full malolactic fermentation in about half the 2016 white wines.

The three Chablis Grand Cru wines below are all from grapes that Jadot purchases and vinifies in large casks. The wines are then aged in oak, about 30% new, prior to bottling. (Continue reading here.)

Friday, April 13, 2018

Louis JADOT (Beaune) -- 2016 Part V: Village Whites Tasted from Barrel

Background on the vintage at Jadot is located here. As it often does, Jadot blocked full malolactic fermentation in about half the 2016 white wines.

As with the reds, there is excellent value to be had from Jadot’s wines from less fashionable appellations. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Louis JADOT (Beaune) -- 2016 Part III: Côte de Nuits Premier Cru Reds Tasted from Barrel

Background on the vintage at Jadot is located here.

As with the previous reviews of Jadot’s 2016s, there’s outstanding quality and consistency in this group of wines.

Note: the Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses will be reviewed with Jadot's grands crus. (Continue reading here.)

Monday, April 9, 2018

Louis JADOT (Beaune) -- 2016 Part I: Beaune Premier Cru Reds Tasted from Barrel

Overall, production at Jadot in 2016 is off 50% from a full harvest. Harvesting for the Côte d’Or wines began on 27 September. As is standard at Jadot, virtually all wines were made entirely with destemmed fruit. Malolactic fermentations were late, some finishing only in August.

The order of the wines below and in coming reviews of Jadot’s 2016s is that in which I tasted them, which is dictated at Jadot by location of the barrels, as the cellar is so large.

Because of the losses due to frost, you may have more trouble than usual locating a specific Beaune vineyard, but the good news is that the quality is very high here across the board. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Domaine Denis MORTET/Arnaud MORTET (Gevrey-Chambertin) -- 2016 Part II: Grands Crus Tasted from Barrel

There has been an amazing expansion of grand cru offerings here — no longer just the Chambertin and the Clos de Vougeot, there are now at least seen different wines (although the Echézeaux won’t be commercialized in 2016 because production was so low; it is from the same parcel that Christophe Roumier now is making wine from). (Continue reading here.)

Domaine Denis MORTET/Arnaud MORTET (Gevrey-Chambertin) -- 2016 Part I: Regional, Village, and Premier Cru Wines Tasted from Barrel

Arnaud Mortet said that he began harvest on 23 September. Over the summer, he did some green harvesting in order to homogenize the maturity of the grapes. Overall, the maturity was very good, with the grapes coming in at 12.5-13.5º natural alcohol. There was a very small bit of chaptalization. Arnaud noted that the tannins were of hight quality.

Overall, the estate lost 45% from a full harvest. The vineyards most seriously affected were the premiers and grands crus. 

Arnaud said that he used a fair amount of whole clusters in the wines (e.g., 30% in the grands crus) in contrast to 2017, where he used little due to the lower acidities of the wines. 

Malolactic fermentations generally finished in June and July, not terribly late for this cellar which is quite cold. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

BOUCHARD Père & Fils (Beaune) -- 2016 Part III: Whites Tasted from Bottle and Barrel/Tank Samples

Bouchard generally harvested the Chardonnays after the Pinot Noirs in 2016. More on vintage conditions is located here.

Malolactic fermentations generally were a little later than usual because the cold winter of 2016-17 cooled the cellar. As a rule, they began between January and March and finished in mid-June. Barrels were rolled (bâtonnage) two or three times.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

BOUCHARD Père & Fils (Beaune) -- 2016 Part I: Côte de Beaune Reds Tasted from Cask and Tank Samples

Harvesting began on 21 September; it finished, on the Côte de Nuits, on 6 October. The grapes were in excellent health, but triage was needed nonetheless to eliminate those second and third generation grapes that had not fully ripened. Overall, crop was 50% off a full vintage, the smallest since 2003; in addition to the frost, mildew seriously held down the crop, and in some areas vines were blocked by the drought in the second half of the summer. 

Vinification varied according to the level of yields. Where there were low yield vines and concentrated grape bunches, maceration was eight to ten days and the crush was moderated to limit extraction. Where yields were normal and bunches larger, the maceration was ten to thirteen days. There was no pigeage (punching down).

For the red wines, malolactic fermentations generally were early.

Beginning with the 2016 vintage, Bouchard will have a new label. Instead of the current label, which is quite individual and therefore easily identifiable at a distance, the new one is understated and almost generic in appearance. (Continue reading here.)