Thursday, December 31, 2015

Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier (Chambolle-Musigny) -- 2014s Tasted from Cask



Frédéric Mugnier said that his quantities in 2014 were greater than either 2013 or 2015, with both of the latter two being among the smallest harvests he’s had. Hail was not the problem, though, as his vines received very little hail. The grapes were healthy, so there was little sorting to do; rot (in July) and then acetic rot (later) were only traces and not really a problem.


Picking began on 15 September. Alcohols came in normal (mostly around 13º), and as a result, there was no need to chaptalize, other than a light bit for one or two cuvées. No whole clusters were used in 2014. Most malolactic fermentations were very quick, some even occurring before the wines were devatted into barrel. He used very little SO2.  The white will be bottled in January, the reds in May.

There is great regularity here and so it is not surprising that  this will be another vintage of fine wines from this outstanding estate. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé (Chambolle-Musigny) -- 2014s Tasted from Cask



Harvesting took place from 13 to 19 September. Quantity was a little higher than 2013 – the hail on 28 June did hit the vineyards here at Musigny and Amourueuses, resulting in 20-30% losses (a little less for Amoureuses than for Musigny), but as the hail took place before the green harvest, its effect was less severe than it could have been. The Musigny and Amoureuses were the standout wines – whether that is due to the lower yields or not is an open question. For the white, the amount was normal (in 2013, production of the white was just 1/3 of normal).


As usual, grapes were entirely destemmed (in recent times, 1990 is the only vintage with some whole clusters (10%), as well as a little more new wood than usual). Alcohols were moderate in 2014, as everywhere I visited. Malolactic fermentations were normal in their timing. François Millet, who was sick the day I visited, calls it a vintage of spring – spring flowers in the morning, a reflection of the freshness of the wines. (Continue reading here.)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Domaine des Lambrays (Morey-Saint-Denis) -- 2014s Tasted from Cask and Bottle

Harvesting began on 20 September, said Thierry Brouhin. There wasn’t really a big sorting. He finds that wines with whole clusters, as Lambrays typically does, finish malolactic fermentations earlier, and to they finished in January. Alcohols came in around 12.8-12.9º for much of the estate, for the Clos des Lambrays, they were about 13.0º natural. There was just a little chaptalization to extend the alcoholic fermentations. Yields were about 32-33 hl/ha. (Continue reading here.)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Schäfer-Fröhlich (Nahe) -- 2014 Whites and a 2011 Spätburgunder Tasted from Bottle

Tim Fröhlich said that for 2014, you had to work well in the vineyards. He did plenty of leaf pulling in order to fend off incipient botrytis in August. In October, a few cold nights and a few days made the difference between the Grosse Gewächse and the regular estate wines. TheGGs were harvested between 10 and 15 October, a month earlier than for 2013. Alcohols for the GGs were mostly about 12.5-7º, which is about 0.7-8º less than 2012 and 2013.


Tim said that he had to do almost no sorting at the harvest, which is normal in quantity except for the Auslese, which is about half of a normal crop. He said that had he had three or four more good days, he could have made a normal crop in Auslese, too.

Although many producers only began to realize well into this year that they had good quality in 2014, Tim was one of the exceptions who was optimistic from the time of the harvest – the grapes that he brought in were that good. But in order to reach that state, he said it was necessary at harvest to decide what to take and what to leave in the vineyards. In some cases (which must have been fairly extreme since overall quantity is normal), Tim said half the grapes were left in the vineyards. (Continue reading here.)

Domaine Trapet Père & Fils (Gevrey-Chambertin) -- 2014s Tasted from Bottle and Cask

Jean-Louis Trapet said that harvesting began around 18 or 19 September, which was relatively late – 120 days after flowering instead of the traditional 100. There was a little bit of hail in Latricières-Chambertin, but in general, he said that the sorting was easier than it had been for 2013. Overall, quantities were almost normal. The estate has been biodynamic since 1997 and is so certified.


Natural alcohols were in the range of 12.3-12.5º and there was a little chaptalization just to prolong alcoholic fermentations. Some malolactic fermentations were early, others not. Jean-Louis is thinking of February or March for most of the bottling.

Overall, this is a very successful vintage with wines of quality. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Domaine Maume (Gevrey-Chambertin) -- 2014s Tasted from Cask

The estate was sold to Canadian Moray Tawse in 2012. Mark Fincham now takes care of the estate and no doubt consults closely with Pascal Marchand, Tawse’s partner in the Marchand-Tawse wines that I will later review. There have been some major changes. The estate is now organic and biodynamic in operation and there has been substantial replanting in the vineyards. Horses are now used in the grand cru vineyards, and in others a small tractor in order to avoid soil compaction. In the cellar, the most immediately noticeable aspect is the use of cleaner barrels. But more than that, there is a clearer, lighter style, one that mirrors the change in style at the mother producer, Marchand-Tawse. Although old bottles of Maume can be utterly profound, the quality of the 2014s is such that one can hardly complain.


Harvesting began on 18 September. Natural alcohols were in the range of 11.8º-12.2º. There was some rot that had to be sorted out – two sorting tables were used and about 6% of what was harvested was discarded. The grands crus had yields in the low 30hl/ha range, the village vineyards in the 40-42 hl/ha range. Malolactic fermentations finished in July – relatively early compared to the Bertrand Maume regime, when this cellar often had wines in malo when I visited in October and November. Bottling is not foreseen before May 2016. (Continue reading here.)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Emrich-Schönleber (Nahe) -- 2014s Tasted from Bottle

Frank Schönleber was on vacation, so I tasted with his father Werner. Werner compares 2014 to 2002, a very good and, in my opinion, highly underappreciated vintage. An interesting aspect of 2014 here was that the alcohols came in lower than predicted based no the fruit sugars.


Werner said that weather was good, but then beginning the second half or September, the weather was too hot and humid with botrytis, requiring a strict selection of grapes – about 10% was not usable. The botrytis was less of a problem on the hills than on the flatlands. Overall, quantity finished about normal, and 2013 was clearly smaller. Still, the conditions required three passes through the vineyards.  (Continue reading here.)

Friday, December 25, 2015

Louis Jadot (Beaune) -- 2014 Part V: Côte de Beaune Whites from Chassagne, Puligny, and Meursault Tasted from Cask

I finish off at Jadot with the whites from the big three villages of Chassagne-Montrachet , Puligny-Montrachet, and Meursault. As you can see from below, there is very high quality across the board, but in contrast to the reds, the grands crus are the real stars of the vintage here. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

H. Dönnhoff (Nahe) -- 2014 Part I: Dry Wines

There is no better way to learn about wine in general, and German wine in particular, than to spend time tasting with Helmut Dönnhoff. The maker of some of the world’s most admired white wines, he says he is officially retired as far as the German government is concerned (he was born in 1949), but not for any other purpose. Despite the difficult conditions in 2014, he once again has come through with a stellar collection of wines. He modestly says that he has made wine for so many years that it’s no longer difficult, and he likes challenging vintages because they give wines of character. (Continue reading here.)

Louis Jadot (Beaune) -- 2014 Part III: Côte de Nuits Grands Crus Tasted from Cask


The flip side of the compression of quality that I mentioned in the previous post is found at the grand cru level, where the wines are very good, but relatively few seem to have the chance to become all-time standards. The best shot here is for the Bonnes-Mares. (Continue reading here.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Louis Jadot (Beaune) -- Part II: 2014 Côte de Nuits Village and Premier Cru Reds Tasted from Cask

With its unparalleled range of offerings, Jadot provides an excellent overview of the entire Côte d’Or in a given vintage. In particular, these wines and the red grands crus, which will be the subject of my next post, show that the vintage is strong at all levels. Indeed, as I found in most cellars, there is a compression of quality in 2014 so that there is less difference between the village wines and the top wines than one finds in many other vintages. (Continue reading here.)


Monday, December 21, 2015

Louis Jadot (Beaune) -- Part I: 2014 Côte de Beaune Reds from Cask


Harvesting began on 11 September with some of the Beaune reds. The whites were brought in from 13 to 17 September. After the Côte  de Beaune was finished, attention shifted to the Côte de Nuits. The Asian fruit fly presented only isolated problems.


The malolactic fermentations were rather early, with some finished in December 2014. As usual, the wines were entirely destemmed.

This is an outstanding collection from difficult conditions on the Côte de Beaune. Full congratulations to Frédéric Barnier and his team.

Because the Jadot wines come from various sources (and sometimes there is more than one bottling and source for a particular appellation), I give in parentheses the sources of each of the wines tasted; “purchase” indicates that either grapes or must were purchased and vinified or that the wine was purchased in cask. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Domaine Roulot (Meursault) -- 2014s Tasted from Tank Samples

Harvesting started on 10 September. Alas, the hail of 28 June caused the harvest to be about 50% of normal. Alcohols are about the same as 2012 and 2013. Total acidities resemble those of 2013 but the pHs are higher than in both 2012 and 2013. Over the summer, the wines went into stainless steel tanks, where they await bottling.


2014 is a great vintage, but Roulot is a great producer and so produces top-quality wines each vintage. Still, at the best appellations, these are very special wines. (Continue reading here.)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Domaine Bruno Clavelier (Vosne-Romanée) -- 2014s Tasted from Cask Samples


Bruno Clavelier said that he began harvesting on 12 September and finished on 18 September. Over the summer, the June 28 hail affected Corton by 25%. Then a later hail his the Nuits-Cras, the premiers crus in Vosne and Chambolle, and the Hautes-Maizières in Vosne-Romanée. He said there were a few symptoms of Asian fruit fly that had to be sorted. Overall, his production is 25% below the average for the previous fifteen years.


Malolactic fermentations began early (for him) in January; the first of them finished in late June, the last in August. Village wines are about 12-12.5º natural alcohol, 1er Crus are about 12.5-12.7º; there was just a small amount of chaptalization to extend the alcoholic fermentations. Bruno works in an unusual way with the stems – he calls it a sandwich: stems are on the bottom and top of the fermenting tank with the destemmed fruit in the middle.
All the wines had not been racked when I tasted them; he was planning to rack them in December or January and then begin bottling in February or March.
The estate works biodynamically and organically.
From one of my favorite sources in Burgundy, this is a most exciting vintage.
All wines are tasted from samples drawn off from cask, which permits the blending of the casks for a particular wine. We start with the white: (Continue reading here.)

Domaine Rossignol-Trapet (Gevrey-Chambertin) -- 2014s Tasted from Cask

Harvesting began on 22 September. For some locations, there was substantial sorting to do because of Asian fruit fly attacks and/or rot. Old vines showed a lot of millerandage (set problems). Overall, quantities were normal except for Beaune, where the hail hit again for the third consecutive year.


The estate is certified organic and biodynamic.

In the cellar, the wines were made using a quarter to a half whole clusters.  The acidities were “correct” (i.e., good enough). Malolactic fermentations were normal – taking place over the winter and almost all finishing in February. Bottling will begin at the end of February 2016 and continue through April.

This is a good collection and introduction to a wide range of the Gevrey-Chambertin terroirs. (Continue reading here.)

Friday, December 18, 2015

Domaine Anne Gros (Vosne-Romanée) -- 2014s Tasted from Tank and Cask

Harvesting began on 15 September. Yields generally were better than for the previous few vintages, at 75% of normal. The vines in the Hautes Côtes gave good yields. There was a little bit of damage from hail, but the harvesting took place before the Asian fruit fly became a problem. Nevertheless, there was a little bit of acidic rot, and so a triple triage was used to eliminate the problematic grapes prior to the harvest: in the vineyards both before and at harvest, and again at the cellar when the grapes were delivered.  The goal in picking was for 12.5º for the regional wines, 13.0º for the village wines, and 13.5º for the grands crus, which resulted in a minor amount of chaptalization just to prolong the fermentations.


Malolactic fermentations began in December and finished in March and April. The wines were mostly in tank for December bottling when I visited in late October. As usual here, the reds are entirely destemmed.

The vintage is very good here, and as this was one of my first visits on the Côte de Nuits, it began to open my eyes to the potential there in 2014. (Continue reading here.)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux (Vosne-Romanée) -- 2014s Tasted from Tank and Cask

Charles Lachaux has been taking over here from his father, Pascal. There are changes here, such as the reduction in the use of new oak and use of whole clusters, but there is also continuity with the earlier wines. This remains an excellent estate with a somewhat modernist bent, but in the best sense of that term – dense but with finesse, and with terroir showing through. But these are concentrated wines and the top wines will need some time in bottle to show their full potential, although the others should show well young.


Charles said that the vintage was complicated from a viticultural perspective, and the grass in the vineyards saved the vintage because it soaked up the water, preventing the development of botrytis and bloating of the grapes. As a result, there was not much triage to do when the grapes were harvested. During the season, Charles let the vines grow higher than in the past and only cut the tops a month after other vignerons did. He believes this gives more energy to the wines.

Because of the fine weather, harvesting lasted seven days instead of the usual five, thereby allowing greater precision in choosing the optimal time to pick each parcel. As explained in the individual reviews, there is at least 40% whole cluster fruit in each wine – the amount of whole clusters depends on the quality of the clusters in each vineyard. Chaptalizaiton was minimal – 0.2-0.3º, just to extend fermentation and not to increase alcoholic strength. Malolactic fermentations generally were early, finishing by the end of January for most wines. There was an earlier racking into stainless steel than usual for most of the wines because they were supple and round and Charles did not want the oak to affect the structure.

These are extremely successful wines worthy of your full attention. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Miscellaneous Jura White Wines II

The more I taste the wide range of white Jura wines, whether in the non-oxidative (ouillé) or oxidative (voilé) style, the more impressed I am. Most people still think that the wines are only made in the oxidative style (which admittedly is an acquired taste, albeit one well worth acquiring), and that means that the demand for the wines is substantially below what it eventually will be once the public acquires actual experience with the wines and learns how good and great they can be. Prices are virtual steals given the quality. As the French say,profitez-en, enjoy it (while it lasts). (Continue reading here.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Domiane Vincent Dureuil-Janthial (Rully) -- 2014s Tasted from Tank: Part II (Reds)


For red wines, the grapes are entirely destemmed and put into oak vats for one month. Bottling of the reds takes place in March, that is, the month following the bottling of the whites.

Vincent said that he had no problem with the Asian fruit fly, although neighbors who were not organic had it. (Continue reading here.)

Domiane Vincent Dureuil-Janthial (Rully) -- 2014s Tasted from Tank: Part I (Whites)

Rully has a number of good to excellent domaines (and there’s also a number of vigneronsoutside Rully and negociants that make excellent wine from Rully), but two estates stand out at the top for me – Jacqueson, which I wrote about last week, and this one, Domaine Vincent Dureuil-Janthial. Interestingly, the two domaines have somewhat contrasting styles, with Jacqueson’s wines generally being very attractive right from the bottle, and Dureuil-Janthial’s wines being more structured and made for the long haul (which is not meant to imply that Jacqueson’s wines do not age well). Over the years, I have appreciated the wines of this estate in restaurants and bought from stores, but this was the first time I was able to arrange a visit.


The estate consists of about 20 ha, 16 of which are in Rully, the rest in Mercurey, Puligny-Montrachet, and Nuits-Saint-Georges. All vineyards are certified organic and all harvesting is done by hand. The family’s history in Rully goes back to the fourteenth century. Vincent’s grandfather began bottling wine shortly after the Second World War.

White grapes are not crushed before pressing and they are given a long pressing, then put in stainless steel and cooled to 8ºC (46.4ºF) for clarification. 20% new wood is used, the wines spend one year in barrels and then before the next harvest, they are racked into stainless steel to await bottling six months later in February in accords with the moon.

For 2014, Vincent said that his quantities were normal. (Continue reading here.)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Domaine Michel Lafarge (Volnay) -- 2014s Tasted from Cask; and Domaine Lafarge-Vial (Fleurie) -- 2014s Tasted from Bottle

The “good” news here is that production somewhat higher in 2014 than in either of the two preceding vintages: 2012 was 20% of a full crop, 2013 was 35% of a full crop, and 2014 was 45% of a full crop. Once again in 2014, the vineyards here were in the center of the June 28 hail area.


Harvesting began on 17 September. Frédéric Lafarge said there was not much sorting to be done, either for botrytis or Asian fruit fly-infected grapes. He characterized chaptalization was “very little.”

This is one of the great estates of Burgundy and the wines are up to the usual high standard, especially considering the ferocious obstacles the vintage posed.

One new development is that in 2014, Frédéric Lafarge and his wife Chantal (née Vial) purchased an estate in Fleurie in the Beaujolais, which they call Domaine Lafarge-Vial. I tasted the wines from cask in mid-November 2014, but as I am not accustomed to tasting Beaujolais from cask at that time (and because the wines did not particularly stand out), I wrote no notes on the wines. We started this visit tasting the wines from bottle (bottling took place only a few weeks prior), and I am happy to say that they showed much better than from cask the previous year. As in Volnay, these vines are farmed biodynamically, although I do not believe that the previous owners were biodynamic, so it would currently be in a period of transition. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Domaine Jacques Prieur -- Part III: 2014 White Côte de Beaune Cask Samples

Although Prieur’s reds that I reviewed were very good, the real story here is at the top vineyards some of the best white wines that I tasted on my trip. They are testaments to what is overall the greatest young white Burgundy vintage that I have known. Nevertheless, the Beaune vineyards, while producing good wines, did seem to suffer some from the third consecutive year of hail.


In order to combat premature oxidation of the whites, the whites are were vinified in larger casks than previously was the case – something I observed in many other cellars, too.

As with the reds, this is one of the most amazing collections of vineyard holdings in Burgundy. (Continue reading here.)

Friday, December 11, 2015

Domaine Jacques Prieur (Meursault) -- Part I: 2014 Red Côte de Beaune Cask Samples


Harvesting for the reds began on 15 September. Hail was a major problem on the Côte de Beaune and there were also some problems with acetic acid due to attacks by the Asian fruit fly that had to be cleaned up. Consequently, on the Côte de Beaune, there was no whole cluster fermentation other than a little for the Corton-Bressandes. The Corton-Bressandes was also the only one of these vineyards that was not seriously hit by the June 28, 2014 hail.

The wines are fairly full and structured compared with other producers’ wines from these hail-hit vineyards. (Continue reading here.)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

2014 Rieslings from Dr. Loosen and Loosen Bros. (Mosel) Dr. LOOSEN



Loosen is another successful producer in the challenging 2013 vintage in the Mittel Mosel. (Continue reading here.)

Domaine Paul et Marie Jacqueson (Rully) -- 2014s from Bottle and One from Cask


As I indicated last year when reviewing the 2013s here, this is a favorite estate – both for value and for the absolute quality of the wines. Although they can age very well, they are also delicious right out of the gate.

Marie Jacqueson emphasized that not only is 2015 a great vintage on the Côte Chalonnaise, but also 2014. And as you’ll see, she has the wines to prove it.

Jacqueson likes to bottle early, and so all the wines were tasted from bottle except for the last red. Yields were normal for the whites and a little less than normal for the reds, she said. As everywhere, the flowering was early, July was rainy, August was gloomy, and then there were three glorious weeks in September that made the vintage. The Asian fruit fly attacked some vineyards, so sorting was necessary. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Domaine Pierre Guillemot -- 2014s Tasted from Bottle and Tank (Savigny-les-Beaune)


Harvesting here began on 23 September. In 2014, there was a cold pre-fermentation maceration of ten days. There was not a lot of damage from hail in 2014, although it varied from one vineyard to the next. The wines below were tasted from stainless steel tanks where they were awaiting subsequent bottling (except for the one wine in bottle).

Guillemot is a producer of outstanding consistency and value. If you don’t already know the wines, they are well worth your seeking them out. (Continue reading here.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Miscellaneous 2014 Beaujolais (and a single 2013)

I like these wines better than the 2013s I tasted, which often were bony and lacking in charm. Still, most of these wines have failed to spark real passion. But I’ll continue to explore. (Continue reading here.)

Domiane Rollin Père & Fils (Pernand-Verglesses) -- 2014s tasted from bottle and tank

Rémi Rollin said that he had a little hail in Corton-Charlemagne and Frétille, but mostly it was coulure (set problems) from the heat at Pentecoste that caused the lack in quantity in 2014 – in white he’s down 30% from a normal harvest, although there is good quantity for the reds. (Continue reading here.)

Monday, December 7, 2015

2014 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt (Mosel)


As everywhere in the Mosel, the vintage was promising until late September when rains changed the picture with bad rot spreading quickly. Harvesting began on 1 October and finished on 21 October with a substantial amount of sorting required.

As you can see below, this sampling shows that it has turned out to be a successful vintage for Kesselstatt in what was a complicated vintage for the Mosel. (Continue reading here.)

2014 Domaine Chandon-de-Briailles (Savigny-les-Beaune) -- Tastings from Cask and Bottle

Claude de Nicolaÿ-Drouhin said that in 2014, the red premiers crus were 50% whole cluster and the grands crus generally were 80%. Alcohols were 12-12.5º without chaptalizaiton. Since 2012, there has been about 15% new wood on the wines. The malolactic fermentations were early, in November 2014. The size of the vintage is small – half a normal vintage, but there was no hail for the Cortons. She likens the style to 2000 (which was not what I found elsewhere, and as the wines firmed up over the subsequent four weeks that I was in Burgundy, this may not be a correct current evaluation). Harvesting began about 18 September and was done in two stages, concluding in early October. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Ridge Vineyards -- Fall 2015 National Releases


This is a very good selection of Ridge wines for national release. The one wine that I had problems with – the Pagano Ranch Zinfandel – is more a matter of stylistic preference than inherent quality. (Continue reading here.)

2014 Domaine Camus-Bruchon (Savigny-les-Beaune) Cask Samples


To my tastes, the wines of Savigny-les-Beaune generally are underrated by Burgundy fans; and even among those who appreciate the wines of Savigny, this estate is too little-known. There are other sources of Savigny on the same level as Camus-Bruchon, but none on a higher level, and the collection in 2014 is especially notable. (Continue reading here.)