Monthly Archives: August 2014

A graceful Charmes-Chambertin from the glorious 2002 vintage

Domaine Joseph Drouhin let the carefully selected grapes from this vineyard endure 2-3 weeks of maceration and raises this wine in 20% new wood that has been dried for a long time. This vineyard sits just below the grand cru Chambertin and has a very thin top soil of marls over a bed of lime stone and stones.2002 is an exceptional vintage in Burgundy and one of the few vintages that combine even ripeness of fruit and tannins as well as high level of fresh acidity for long ageing. Some say it remarkably combines the freshness of 1996 with the ripeness of 1999, but less structure of the latter.

2002 Charmes-Chambetin grand cru, Domaine Joseph Drouhin

Sir Galahad:

The colour is almost transparently orange-blood orange in the middle and the edges are brick stone red-orange.

The nose starts off with prominent fine, dark chalky notes, gravel, medicine cabin, oven baked bread and loads of dry herbs at the base. This is an intriguing, very complex and careful wine and it continues with rowan berries, dry mint, notes of salubrin, oil paint, savoury notes and dried flowers. After three hours, its inner perfume emerges slowly from underneath but with grace and impeccable aristocracy that plays sensitive tunes on the piano. A deep and very complex nose for the explorer.

On the palate, the fruit is dominated by ripe, concentrated red currant that is coated by dark lime minerals. This is an aromatic wine with loads of dry herbs and we also notice anise seeds, gravel and delicate minerals. The texture is unexpectedly super soft and smooth with not yet fully polymerised tannins that still spurs in the quite long; narrow, but pure and a little saline finish. The acidity is the one that stands out here as incredibly fresh and energetic wrapping lime fruit and grape peel. Not a huge body and its structure is a little disappointing.

The wine may lack structure, but its balance, precision, silky texture as well as the amazingly fresh, vivid acidity are impressive. This wine will certainly have a very long life ahead.

94p/100

 

Andreas:

The nose is dominated by chalk and floral notes, mainly roses. In the beginning, the fruit stays in the background, is quite dry and dominated by strawberries, some plums and red current. After a while, the nose gets more generous, the fruit moves forward and the floral notes increase.

The wine is quite consistent when moving to the palate, but the fruit is more dominated by cherries and plums. There is also an abundance of herbal chalky notes. Tannins are quite sandy and a bit dry. The acidity starts off carefully, then increases and provides direction and energy to the wine, which indicates a long life ahead. In the finish, we end up with acidity and some saline notes which were not present earlier.

This is a very well balanced wine with good energy. Still it lacks some personality for a top score.

92-93p/100

Raspberries and smiles from Beaujolais

It is not often we drink wines from Beaujolais, but at a blind tasting recently a bottle of Jean Foillards Morgon Cote du Py Cuvee 3.14 put a smile on our faces. Therefore we could not resist buying a few bottles of their latest vintage of Morgon Côte du Py when we got the chance. When reading the notes, keep in mind that the 2009 vintage is in general a safer bet than 2012.

Jean Foillard is a legend in natural wine making in Beaujolais and is often grouped together in the “Gang of Four” together with Marcel Lapierre, Guy Breton and Jean-Paul Thévenet. His wine making methods include late harvest, natural yeast, no filtering and minimal or no sulfur dioxide. This results in honest and transparent wines.

Notes from the tastings

2009 Domaine Jean Foillard Morgon Cote du Py Cuvee 3.14

The nose is very direct with an abundance of fresh and quite sweet raspberries, crisp acidic notes, minerals and hints of stable in the background. This is an intriguing and generous nose. In the mouth we are washed over with juicy and very cool raspberries, but also hints of grape and a very fresh, energetic and direct acidity. The finish is not very long but very vibrant and leaving you wanting more of this wine.

We became very happy when having a sip of this wine. We are not talking about the most complex wine, but it is seductive, energetic and fresh. The most impressive here is the level of purity of the fruit. We could have finished several bottles of this wine and the best recommendation is to drink and enjoy, instead of taking notes.

91-92p/100

2012 Domaine Jean Foillard Morgon Côte du Py

The wine has a very flirtatious nose with fresh, sweet red fruit and quite good depth. There are minerals, some nail varnish, a hint of ripe banana and loads of raspberries and cherries. It is hard not to be seduced immediately but it is more a flirt than the beginning of a long lasting relationship.

In the mouth the fruit gets more ripe, the cherries take a more dominant position and there are hints of bitter almond. The acidity is more harsh than fresh and crisp.

When the sharpness has disappeared we are left with a quite sweet ending.

I was not expecting miracles from this wine, but I was hoping for something more. The main drawback is the lack of balance and crispness in the taste. The wine could develop with time, so I will save the other bottle a few years.

87p/100

Summary

It is not a surprise that we have a difference in quality between these wines, but it was larger than expected. The Cuvee 3.14 is several steps up and has balance and energy which cannot be matched in the basic Morgon Côte du Py. And an important warning has to be made: If you do not like raspberries these wines should be avoided!!!

Burgundy 2012: Méo Camuzet – In the spirit of Henri Jayer

In November 2012, we visited the Domaine Méo Camuzet and met with the polite owner Jean-Nicolas Méo who guided us through their wines which comes from an impressive collection of vineyards; four grand crus (Richebourg, Clos Vougeot, Corton Clos Rognet, and Échezeaux) and 10 premier crus. The Domaine focus very much on work in the vineyards to produce grapes that can be transformed into top quality wines.

The spirit of Henri Jayer is still very much present at the Domaine, so they still de-stem 100%, keep meticulously low yields, perform 4-5 days cold soak (improved colour and nose) and focus on ruthless pruning in favour of less green harvest in the vineyards without using chemicals and pesticides. However, Henri is definitely most recognised for turning the vineyard (according to many impossible) Parantoux into a fantastic wine. For many years the legendary winemaker was responsible for several of the Domain’s vineyards and in 1978 he produced the first Cros-Parantoux under his own label. The wine is still produced in small quantities and in half bottles to satisfy end-consumers.

IMAGE_681C1F67-23BF-48E0-886D-54A372C0DC17Jean Méo’s son Jean-Nicolas Méo arrived to the estate in 1985 from Paris, and was convinced by Henri about his philosophy and result. Actually, he took over the domaine officially in 1988 when Henri retired the same year and he immediately started ending leasing agreements for the families vineyard to produce wine on their own. In addition, the enologist Christian Faurois that had been at the estate since 1973 has been a big influence too in the way a vineyard should be handcrafted to produce absolute best grapes expressing the terroir. Both are still working together with Christian directing the work in the vineyards and Jean-Nicolas heading the vinification and sales. Maceration endures for about 2-3 weeks and they use little sulphur. They use a significant high level of new oak from Maison François Frères, but amazingly it does not appear to result in overly oaked wines. For the grand crus are normally exposed to 100% new oak from the forests of Tronçais and/or Bertranges is used. De-stemming 100% renders really pure fruit, but obviously for pinot noir has the backside of removing well needed natural tannins in less structured vintages, so oak tannins is certainly needed.

Jean-Nicolas, informs us that the objective is to make wines with structure and purity, but never ever compromise natural balance.

2011 Vosne-Romanée – Barrel

This wine has a quite open and fresh nose driven by red fruit. As expected, this is an easily approachable and a bit seductive wine. This a little quiet, but good entry-level village wine.

89-90p/100

 

2011 Chambolle-Musigny – Barrel

The Chambolle-Musigny almost was a bit reduced and not very approachable. Therefore it is quite hard for us to score. Wines from this region are careful but we expect this to open up more later on.

86-88p/100

2011 Vosne-Romanée les Chaumes – Barrel

Now we take a step up to the premier crus and we are met with a quite ripe red fruit, dominated by strawberries. This is a true crowd pleaser and a wine, which most people would enjoy, though it lacks complexity to deserve a higher score.

92p/100

2011 Nuits-Saint-Georges aux Murgers – Barrel

A quite rustic wine with high level of acidity. When we tried the wine it was a bit austere. We find strawberries, earthy minerals and some darker fruit. This wine needs some more time to develop and get more balanced.

89p/100

2011 Clos Vougeot – Barrel

The vines used for this Clos Vougeot has been replanted a few times, but the oldest vines are from 1920. Especially, here old vines that have had the time to dig really deep is important to add complexity according to Jean-Nicolas. Méo-Camuzet’s owns an uniform parcel in the better upper part just below the church in the liet-dit Les Chioures, but they don’t mark this on the label.

This is a good quality Clos Vougeot with earthiness, iron, oranges, rowan berries, wild strawberries, cassis, mint and some spices like pepper, clove and cinnamon. The finish is very long and with good silky tannins. This is a complex and intriguing wine, which should develop well over time.

93-94p/100

2011 Corton Clos Rognet – Barrel

The vines from this vineyard was planted in the 1920s.

Unfortunately, we found this wine very hard to evaluate since it was extremely closed. Currently it is quite austere and has a sharp acidic tone.

Will have to develop further before it can be scored fairly.

2011 Échezeaux – Barrel

The Échezeaux is a quite powerful and direct wine with lots of both red end dark fruit. It also has a well-needed acidity to balance the fruit and the acidity carries the wine through the finish, which is quite long. We are talking more about volume and generosity than about elegance, though the scent can be quite seductive.

92-p/100

2011 Vosne-Romanée au Cros Parantoux – Barrel

We perceived the Cros Parantoux as slightly reduced, but it was still possible to get an impression of the wine and the potential. Since the production is very limited, Jean-Nicolas says they some times produce half bottles of this wine to satisfy end-customers. He also says that the work up there is simply crazy and quite a challenge due to the elevation and stones.

There are and abundance of minerals in this wine but we also find quite discrete but fresh fruit, under vegetation and distinct spices. The acidity is a bit harsh, chalky now and it seems like the Cros Parantoux needs more time than the Richebourg to evolve. The finish also reveals some more spurring tannins, which is quite persistent with a more deep darker aromas.

The potential in this wine is fantastic and we hope to be able to try it again in the future to be able to follow its development.

93-95p/100

 

2011 Les Richebourg – Barrel

Méo Camuzet’s vines planted in the 1950’s grow in the very top part of Richebourg, very close to Cros Parantoux, and when Frederik ask him about this fact, Jean-Nicolas directly points out that the high position and the chalky soil really adds to the high acidity and freshness of the wine. The use of both Tronçais and Bertranges is especially suited here according to Jean-Nicolas, since he believes that really mature grapes from this upper part of the site will only benefit from its tannins and polish.

This is already a balanced and complex wine and is the clear highlight of the visit. The nose opens up slowly in the glass and it reveals fresh strawberries, morning dew, orange peels, minerals and spices. On the palate, we find wild strawberries, blood orange, mint, anise, fennel, dark chocolate, cinnamon and ginger. This wine shows great depth without being over-powered, but rather light-weightly structured. There is also a silky tannic structure, which is very light but still provides enough direction and grip to steer the wine.

We did not agree 100% on the score, where Andreas was a pusher for 95 and Frederik was up at 96.

95-96p/100

Overall impression

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Jean-Nicolas and Andreas

We could be accused of generalizing too much, but we think the wines of Méo Camuzet and Hudelot-Noëllat show clear similarities. These are all fantastic producers with an amazingly high base level and they are quite rich, very well balanced and polished wines. The only thing we may lack in the wines from Méo Camuzet is some more personality.

Méo Camuzet has a spectacular list of vineyards, which makes the tasting very interesting for anyone interesting in comparing characteristics of different vineyards.