Tag Archives: Burgundy Trip 2012

Burgundy-Trip 2012: Francois Bertheau, A non-intervenist under the radar in Chambolle

This was a fantastic visit during our week in November in 2012, despite the fact that we and Francois did not speak the same language, or we did not speak French that is. Francois reminds us of that spoken language sometimes is overrated. 🙂 His personality and fantastic wines comes across anyway. Actually, when we emailed him, we were surprised how good answers we got back in return in English. When we arrived, Francois just said “Google translate” and smiled happily guiding us to his cellar. This is the type of producer we love because of his down to earth personality and focus on honest wines.

Francois Bertheau

Francois is a hands-off wine maker who does not want to shape or polish the wines, but instead let the terroir speak for itself and let the fruit come through. It is a principle that we agree with totally. In his cellar, there are old tools on the walls both for work in the vineyard and winemaking. Quite the same type of cellar that you’ll find at another traditionalist, e.g. Giuseppe Rinaldi in Barolo. 🙂 Francois appears to be a fun and very positive minded person as he nods, smiles and swiftly moves around in the cellar to get samples for us. He really tries to understand what we are saying as we show our appreciation of the wines, but communication is hard even though it helps a little that he uses a crayon to write on a barrel. However, some numbers and recognisable words for wine nerds about vinification and location of vineyards are apprehended.

Andreas in the cellar

Francois took over in 2004 shortly after his father passed away and he is the 5th generation running the estate.  They don’t own any parcels in the areas divine vineyard, Les Musigny, but they do have a very thin parcel in another grand cru, Les Bonnes-Mares. However, to us it is the lovely 1er cru Amoureuses that has caught our attention to this estate. Moreover, they own parcels in five more premier cru among which Les Charmes is worth noting.

It is amazing how this estate still manages to stay under the radar when you consider how long they have been here in Chambolle.

Vinification is pleasantly straight-forward. Fruit is sorted (triage) in the vineyard, grapes are de-stemmed and employs four days of cold soak. Fermentation is done in stainless steel and cement and extraction with daily punch-downs is carried out for 16-18 days and then the grape juice is aged for 18 months in oak barrels of which not more than 10-20% are new. They employ little racking, no filtration, uses only indigenous yeast and no form of manipulation/compensation are carried out in challenging vintages. Vineyard work is essential to this estate and it is here that Francois put all his efforts. Unfortunately, we have less details here on how he keep his vines and canopy management.

At this occasion, the 2011 vintage from barrel was tasted.

2011 Chambolle-Musigny – Barrel 

This is the entry level wine and what an entry! We are met with an abundance of sweet red and charming fruit, but of course is not very complex wine. The finish is surprisingly long and leaves us wanting more. This is a village wine to look out for.

90p/100

2011 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru – Barrel

Here we take a step up from the village wines. This is a blend of the premier crus ; “Les Noirots”, “Les Groseilles”, “Les Baudes”, and “Les Gruenchers”. They are all neighbour vineyards just south-east of Bonnes-Mares, but have little in common with their grand cru neighbour. Les Baudes is the only one bordering Bonnes-Mares in the south.

Again we are met with a wine which is generous with red fruit. Compared with the village Chambolle-Musigny as expected we get some more complexity in here.

91p/100

2011 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Charmes – Barrel

This premier cru is located just north of Amoureuses, but a little further downslope.

This wine shows a lot more elegance than the basic 1er Cru blend. There is great length as well as crystaline minerality and fresh acidity in here, which creates a clear direction and indicates a long lifespan. We find perfumed sweet red fruit blossoming roses in this medium-bodied wine, which has a quite long and intense finish.

Just as the name suggests this is a charming and seductive wine in typical Chambolle-style and just a little overly sweet, but without any disturbing alcohol.

93p/100 

2011 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses – Barrel 

As expected here, we are taking a considerable step up in quality and precision. The nose is complex, seductive and graceful offering fresh, ripe red berries, sensual inner perfumes, lilies, delicate roses as top notes with fresh crystalline minerals and wet stone underbrush at the base. We could spend hours with just the bouquet of this wine. We love this vineyard!

On the palate, it is not equally immediate as previous wines, but rather it emerges and unfolds very slowly and with grace. There are wild strawberries, sloes, raspberries, blood orange, pomegranate, mint, hints of truffles and very fresh crystalline minerals. It is medium to full-bodied and texture is already silky. After a while in the glass, this sexy, slender and light-footed beauty dances on the palate and it is a persistent show.

For such an already graceful, super-floral, seductive and generous wine it offers an impressive balance and remarkable persistence. This is a fantastic Amoureuses and everyone who manages to get their hands on some bottles should consider themselves very lucky.

95-96p/100

2011 Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru – Barrel

Francois’ small parcel in Bonnes-Mares (only .34 ha) is a very thin vertical parcel from top north from heavier soils with clay down through the lighter and stonier in the south having Jadot as immediate right hand side neighbour.

To our surprise, we are met with a more rustic and earthy tone in here. There are compact and multi layered darker fruit in here and there is some depth, some pepper, anise and spices, but it lacks a little freshness at this stage too. Moreover, we lacks some of the authority and concentration that we expected from this site, but we hope and expect it to improve over time.

This is currently very reduced, introvert and therefore very analytic at this stage, but it may prove to be much better from bottle later. A much more light-footed version compared to e.g. de Vogüé.

92-95p/100 


Summary  







Francois Bertheau’s 2011 reds are packed with ripe and forwardly red fruit, but even though just a little overly sweet more importantly there is no hint of excessive alcohol. Overall impression is that his wines are very fresh, fruit-driven, seductively feminine, incredibly silky and we think they just lacks some structure and concentration. Regarding structure, maybe some mature stems would have done the trick, but at the same time the wines are generous, site-expressive and elegant. Concentration has to do with the vines and the soil somehow. They obviously favour finesse and elegance over power. Francois Bertheau is a producer worth following closely in the future, not only for his true focus on conveying the terroir into honest wines, but for the modest price-level compared to other more renowned producers here and we are fortunate to have a few of his 2010’s Amoureuses at home.

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

DSC02471

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.

Burgundy-Trip 2012: Hudelot-Noëllat – Striking elegance from a producer still on the rise

Just two days prior to our flight to Burgundy in November this year, I still hadn’t received any answer to my emails to a domaine I really wanted to visit. I decided to make a phone call even though I unfortunately don’t speak French and Charles van Canneyt at the domaine Hudelot-Noëllat answered. Immediately, Charles came across as a very positive, sympathetic man and he said that he had read my mail, but just had forgot to answer. It was no problem at all to meet up, so happily we could fit him in to our schedule on a Monday the 12th. When we arrived, a happy Charles opened the door with tasting glasses and a wine pipette. As we started walking to the cellar, Charles mentions that he likes Sweden, especially Stockholm. When we ask him if there is any particular reason, he smiles and reveals that he has had a Swedish girl friend. Stockholm is beautiful with all the waters, he says.

The domaine Hudelot-Noëllat was established in 1964 by the marriage of Alain Hudelot and Odile Noëllat. However, since completing his enology studies in Dijon in 2008, the 24-year-old Charles is heading the estate helped by the experienced wine maker Vincent Meunier who has been around here since 2005. The cellar is immaculate and impressively clean. Charles explains that they put much effort into cleaning the barrels after bottling. When I ask Charles about his ideas about wine making, he says that his contribution has been to improve the cellars and invest in some cement vats for a more gentle maceration and fermentation. Besides this, he has decided on adding about 20% ripe stems to give the wine just enough structure and an “extra push” to prolong the finish in the wines. His focus is on finesse, freshness and transparency. Otherwise, he and his team is very much focused on meticulous work in the vineyards to produce perfectly and evenly ripe fruit.

Charles van Canneyt

There is always this saying that a true great producer is not only met by his greatest wines, but his more simple village wines. It could not be more true than with this estate, since both village wines; Chambolle-Musigny and Vosne-Romanée have impressed us in the latest vintages. It is obvious that the wines keep getting better and better under Charles management. They own about 10 ha of planted area for wines made up of four villages and 15 appellations. The premier crus; Les beaumonts, Les Suchots and Aux Malconsorts are all more than 100 years old. The majority in the grand cru Romanée-Saint-Vivant were planted in 1920 whereas the ones in Richebourg were planted between in 1920-1950. The Clos-de-Vougeot were planted in 1950. The premier crus are raised in about 30% new, light-toasted and compact wood, primarily from Allier. The grand crus usually is given 50. As is the case with some of the best producers in the area, the oak is not noted at all even at a young age.

2011 Chambolle Musigny

From 11 different vineyards mostly planted in the 1950’s.
Classical Chambolle Musigny with bright red fruit and some elegance already at this level. All framed in super-silky texture. 90 p.

2011 Les Petits Vougeot

Some depth and more earthy and with nice fruit; mostly cranberries. 89 p.

2011 Nuits Saint Georges 1er cru “Les Mugniers”

Very young vines that Charles harvests early to save its freshness.

Quite this and closed when we tried it. A nice wine with a rustic tone to it, but did not make a strong impression. 90 p.

2011 Vosne Romanee, 1er cru Les Suchots

From 0.45 ha lot of really old vines planted in 1920’s, but also many much older.

Very nice subtle, floral perfume similar to the Les Malconsorts, but lacks just some complexity and structure, but with noticeable depth and more herbs. 93-94 p.

2011 Vosne Romanee, 1er cru Les Beaumonts

Planted in the 1920’s.

A very fresh wine that is lighter than Malconsorts, but with just enough structure. Lovely deep, darker fruit wrapped in spices and minerals. 93-94 p.

2011 Vosne Romanée, 1er cru Les Malconsorts

Only barely two barrels made from this small 0.13 ha lot.

Really fine balance, rich in aromatics very pure red fruit and plums. Quite persistent with finesse and some weightless structure that carries it to the finish line. Very fruit-driven but balanced. 94-95 p.

2011 grand cru Clos-de-Vougeot

This wine is from two lots of 0.7 ha planted in 1920 and in the best place surrounding the castle. 300 cases made.

Amazingly deep and graceful perfume in here. Great harmony and balance already with really deep layers of fruit and impressively silky. 95 p.

2011 Vosne Romanée, grand cru Romanée-Saint-Vivant

Vines are about 93 years old here and they add about 20% ripe stems to ensure enough structure. About 200 cases made.

The nose is very slow, but develops into an intense and incredibly fresh perfume of rose petals, lilies, fresh red berries and orange-peel. The mid-palate is lush and intense offering fresh, ripe and very clean layers of wild strawberries, fennel, anise seeds, dog rose, some cranberries, blood orange and notes of ginger and herbs. All wrapped in delicate deep minerals and fresh balsamic oils. It is remarkably elegant, graceful, lush and persistent and here I can really see the point with the stem addition to give the wine just some more seconds in the finish. 97-98 p.

2011 Vosne Romanée, grand cru Richebourg

Planted in the 1920’s and their parcels are in the lower parts with Grivot just above them and adjacent to Romanée Conti. About 220 cases made.

Very elegant and as expected with some more structure and power compared to Romanée-Saint-Vivant, but the fruit is not perceived as equally pure in here and the tannins are less silky now, but it is sheer depth and the minerality is part of its grip. Very generous however with darker fruit, earthy straw berries, blackberries, some cardamom with impressive length and elegance. 95-96 p.

Summary

Obviously, the domaine has a very high low-level in their broad range of wines. The wines are all about finesse, pliancy and freshness, but also depth and purity. We are impressed by the range and the quality. What is obvious is that the wines certainly are getting better and better. This is a producer to follow closely because they are a gem and with in many cases over 100 years old vines too.

Charles and Frederik in the cellar