Thursday, November 30, 2017

RIDGE VINEYARDS -- Fall 2017 National Releases

For the most part, this release consists of 2015 wines from the Sonoma County operation. The vintage there is quite ripe, to some extent beyond my preference. And then there is the 2014 Monte Bello from the home vineyard, always one of the world’s most notable wines. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Domaine Robert CHEVILLON (Nuits-Saint-Georges) -- 2016 Tasted from Barrel

Bertrand Chevillon said that losses due to the frost were from 50-80% of a normal crop. Even on the Bousselots and Chaignots on the Vosne slope of Nuits suffered losses. As with most producers I visited, there is at least one wine not made in 2016 — here the Chardonnay.

Harvesting took place between 24 September and 3 October. As is always the case here, all grapes were destemmed. Malolactic fermentations were very late for the estate: the village Nuits finished in February, but the others in June. Bottling will be in April, the usual time here.

The fruit here is ripe, almost syrupy, but without sacrificing freshness or purity. 

Those lucky enough to obtain some of the wine will find that as usual, the quality here is superb. (Continue reading here.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Domaine G. ROUMIER/Christophe ROUMIER* (Chambolle-Musigny) -- 2016 Tasted from Barrel

Christophe Roumier said that production was the lowest for the estate since 1971, down about 55% from a normal yield. No Bourgogne, Chambolle-Combottes, or Corton-Charlemagne was produced in 2016. He says that he never saw as strong a freeze as in 2016, not even in 1981.

Christophe said that where the vines froze, he feels more concentration in the wine. There was less new wood than usual, but whole clusters were employed, as indicated below. Where the vines froze, there was a smaller proportion of whole clusters than normal because of the very small grapes. In general, whole clusters comprised 30-35% for the village and premier cru wines, 55-60% for the grands crus. 

As I’ve previously mentioned, Christophe has an investor who has purchased about half an hectare of Bonnes-Mares (mostly white soils), bringing the total exploited up to 1.89ha. Additionally, there is is some Échézeaux (0.1311ha) that in the En Orveaux lieu-dit that will begin to be commercialized in 2017 (production in 2016 was too small to permit commercial distribution), and, finally, the sharecropper agreement that had underlain the Charmes-Chambertin has been superseded beginning with 2018, with Christophe getting the full production of the vineyard. The total surface area now exploited is 12.43 hectares. (Continue reading here.)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Domaine des Comtes LAFON (Meursault) -- 2016 Tasted from Tank and Cask

Harvesting began with the whites on 16 September (Meursault, Clos de la Baronne young vines and Meursault-Bouchères) and finished on 27 September with the red Monthélie-Duresses.

In 2016, all red wines were destemmed. Malolactic fermentations were rather early for Lafon, finishing in January and February. The Monthélie and many of the whites were already in tank when I tasted, and by December, all the wines will be in tank. For the reds, at least, there was almost no new oak, but more recent barrels than usual.

Acidities are a little less than in 2015 and in the range of normal.

The quality is certainly here in 2016, but as for the quantity . . . . 

As usual, we start with the reds: (Continue reading here.)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Domaine de la POUSSE D'OR (Volnay) -- 2016 Tasted from Tank, Part I: Côte de Beaune

As I previously reported, Benoît Landanger, son of owner Patrick Landanger, will be taking over operation of the estate on January 1, 2018. Benoît has been working with his father at the estate for the past few years. Additionally, the estate was fortunate enough to acquire about 20 ares of Chevalier-Montrachet from Olivier Leflaive, the first vintage of which will be 2017.

In Chambolle-Musigny and Puligny-Montrachet, the estate lost the great majority of the crop to the frost on 27 April. In Chambolle, the estate made 20 barrels of wine in 2015, but only three in 2016. In Puligny, production was 20% of normal. Other appellations did better.

As always, the wines were entirely destemmed here. Malolactic fermentations were rather late for the estate, finishing in April, May, and June. The wines were racked into stainless steel after the 2017 harvest. (Continue reading here.)

Robert GROFFIER Père & Fils (Morey-Saint-Denis) -- 2016 Tasted from Tank Samples

This estate has important holdings in Chambolle-Musigny (as well as Gevrey-Chambertin), and yet amazingly, there was a good size crop here in 2016. Nicolas Groffier attributes this fact to the estate’s old vines and use of the Cordon Royat pruning system which, he says, means that the vines are late budding, and so they were not in such a vulnerable state when the frost hit. It’s an interesting explanation, but other vignerons I visited can point to old vines and use of the Cordon Royat system in some of their vineyards that were completely destroyed. In short, there is no consistent rhyme or reason to which vines escaped the frost and which ones didn’t.

Nicolas thinks that 2016 is a great vintage (hard to disagree with that, at least for the better estates such as here). In style, he compares it to 2006, where the weather was roughly the same and the wines in a classic style. One can also add that each came after a vintage of different style that had received much attention. 

Harvesting began on 28 or 29 September (in the cellar, without the records, Nicolas did not remember exactly) and lasted for five days. Nicolas prefers to harvest at about 12º natural alcohol and then chaptalize up to about 12.8-13.2º. Whole cluster fermentations were used in many of the wines, as I indicate below. 

The wines had been racked and transferred to tank two weeks prior to my visit.
In recent years, the estate has been holding back 1/3 of the crop for later release when the wines are mature or closer to maturity. A few other estates have done this in the past (I’m not sure in such large quantities) and some others are starting to do so now or are intending to do so once they achieve more normal-size crops again. (Continue reading here.)

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:)