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Maison Nicolas Potel: 2009 Update (2007s)

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My visit was originally planned for January, but I had to cancel due to a heavy cold. Returning on the 20th May, I found that things had rather changed relative to January. The management of Cottin Frères (who, remember, had bank-rolled the operation due to ‘too fast’ an expansion in 2002) had, already a week or two earlier, asked Nicolas Potel to leave. Rightly or wrongly, after the opening of Nicky’s ‘Domaine Potel’ in Beaune they decided that they wanted a clear separation of interests between that domaine and ‘their’ Maison. Even ‘fresher’ was the news that a few days earlier, Xavier Meney, the business manager of Maison Nicolas Potel had been asked to leave on the same day as Claire Forestier.

So what next?

At the time of my visit (at least), the general assumption was that Maison Nicolas Potel would move forward in a similar way to before. The wide range of cuvées would likely become ‘more focused’, but little could change before the 2009 vintage as the 08s (unless sold-on through the trade) await in their barrels and tanks. Wine-making will become the responsibility of Fabrice Lesne – actually that’s not a really big change as he has already been making the ‘Maison Nicolas Potel’ whites for a number of vintages, and was anyway ‘number 2′ to Nicolas for quite some time on the reds – I’ve already tasted the last 4 vintages with him. There were no plans (at that time) to make changes to their distribution, marketing or branding – as the Cottin brothers already owned the name ‘Maison Nicolas Potel’. Only some rented space in Beaune for vinification and elevage of whites would be let go as the whites would be brought back to the Maison’s Nuits base.

Comment: I have to say that I see this as an incredibly sad development. I find it sad not just as an observer, but also as a long-time customer – I still have a reasonable number of 1997s in my cellar, and a memory-bank of many lovely bottles. Despite a significant core of the Maison Nicolas Potel team remaining in place, frankly the loss of their figurehead (regardless of who was financing the operation) brings into question for me the legitimacy of the label as we move forward. Not a problem for these 2007s, and not much of a problem for the 2008s that have already finished their fermentations either, but the connection, and, hence, the legitimacy of the label, whoever owns the trademark, will be lost for the 2009s. I fully accept that Nicolas has so many ideas and pursues so many things, that he must be a nightmare to ‘manage’ – I also assume the brothers Cottin didn’t lightly take their decisions – yet I don’t think 2009 labeled Maison Nicolas Potel will be tenable – only the market will decide if the 2008s will be any more tenable – whatever the quality of the bottles. I think they will need new branding – maybe the closure of Terres d’Arômes came a little prematurely…
The 2007 Wines

These bottles were all opened and tasted directly – I think that most would have shown even better after 30 minutes of air. That said, in the context of the vintage the team at Maison Nicolas Potel have produced a really strong set of wines – none of these will disappoint in the short-medium term.

2007 Nicolas Potel, Côte de Nuits Villages try to find this wine...
Bottled in November. A fresh, understated nose with a few hints of herbs. Sweetness and good attack – a hint of gas – reminds of Gevrey-style. This needs a little cellar rest, but is almost good.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Savigny-lès-Beaune try to find this wine...
Bottled in November. Another understated nose, but clean and tidy with a dark-fruit complexion. There’s good extension of flavour through the mid-palate and into the finish. Again a nicely fresh wine with an underlying structure that recommends a little resting time in the cellar.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Les Vergelesses try to find this wine...
November bottling. A rounder, softer and redder nose than the previous wines – shows good density. Fresh acidity, plenty of tannin showing towards the finish – with just a hint of astringency. This is more seriously structured but it has fine fruit to compliment. Very good – but leave most of your bottles in the cellar.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Volnay Vieilles Vignes try to find this wine...
A January bottling. A width of interesting and pretty aromatic notes, underpinned with deeper, darker elements. A narrow entry on the palate, but it widens considerably. Decent structure of well balanced tannin and acidity – lovely balanced wine.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Volnay 1er Santenots try to find this wine...
Medium, medium-plus colour. Dense, mineral aromas that are more faintly fruited – implies power though. A little more roundness and sweetness on the palate – good depth. Again, plenty of structure, but the tinnin is finer grained that what went before. Good length – very likeable.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Volnay 1er Les Caillerets try to find this wine...
Faint herbs over lovely, if relatively restrained red fruits – even a little roasted element in there. More depth and density again, perhaps less impact but it’s beautifully supple. There is structure, but it’s well buried – very pretty wine.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Volnay 1er Champans try to find this wine...
The nose offers a depth of darker fruit versus the Caillerets – almost a velvet impression and hints of chocolate – some whole clusters used here. The texture is also velvet with a hint of tannin astringency. A juicy and mouth-watering finish. Here I prefer the aromatics versus the Caillerets, though I marginally prefer the latter’s flavours.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Beaune 1er Clos des Vignes Franches try to find this wine...
Darker, very pretty cherry over a little herb. A full and plump impression that is well balanced by good acidity. The understated tannin still finds an edge of astringency – there’s good dimension of flavour here.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Chambolle-Musigny try to find this wine...
Darker fruit aromas, just like the Beaune, a little classier maybe but not so dense. Sweetness, a little fat, finer tannin. Really super balance – definitely worthy of the label.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Gevrey-Chambertin try to find this wine...
After a super Chambolle, the aromas here are more diffuse, though there’s a hint of Gevrey earth at its base. Good ripe fruit, excellent acidity and quite well-mannered tannin. Nicely mouth-watering.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Nuits St.Georges try to find this wine...
A good mix of aromas including an edge of dark olive. Ripe fruit coats the tongue – the structure is buried by this. Balanced and showing a good length. Another good villages.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Nuits St.Georges 1er Les Chaignots try to find this wine...
Deep, ripe and very pretty fruit edged by slight torrefaction. Sweet and supple, showing good acidity to balance. The tannin is more obvious than with the villages bottles – but they are well under control. Very good.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Vosne-Romanée Vieilles Vignes try to find this wine...
A width of aroma that is a little more diffuse than the last wine, the Vosne ‘stamp’ is there to see (smell) though. Very nice on the tongue, just a hint of astringency. Pretty rather than profound – but very pretty!
2007 Nicolas Potel, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Lavaux St.Jacques try to find this wine...
An interesting nose brings a slightly musky impression over fine soil, dark fruit and hints of raisin. Very silky tannin and super acidity. Understated overall despite its sweet fruit. This doesn’t particularly make me think to Lavaux today, but it’s lovely all the same.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Malconsorts try to find this wine...
The nose is wide and slightly fecund, spicy too – quite consistent for this cuvée. Good sweetness and plenty of tannin, though the tannin is about texture rather than astringency – a nice extra dimension in the mid-palate before slowly lingering. Lovely.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Chaumes try to find this wine...
Not often you are served a Chaumes after a Malconsorts, but here the fruit aromas are darker and edged with caramel. IN the mouth it is softer and a hint sweeter than the Malconsorts – I initially thought it was shown out of sequence, but there’s an impressively intense concentration of fruit in the mid-palate. Again some faint astringency to the tannin – this is a super Chaumes.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Suchots try to find this wine...
A higher-toned red-fruit nose of very good depth. Concentrated, though the flavours are a little more diffuse versus the Chaumes, but like that wine, it tightens to provide a super core of fruit. The finish is rewarding, though perhaps a little behind the previous two Vosnes.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Amoureuses try to find this wine...
Wide, ‘tender’ aromatics that are complex at the core. Just a hint of carbon dioxide on the tongue. A fulsome impression without ever becoming plump or fat. A little fine-grained tannin. Very, very pretty wine – and just a little bit more complexity than some.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Echézeaux try to find this wine...
30% stems used here. A nice width of aromas, just touched a little by wood, very pretty dark cherry notes too. Fleshy covering of the structure and an impressive burst of interest in the mid-palate that slowly, slowly fades in the finish. Always a successful bottling chez Potel.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Grands-Echézeaux try to find this wine...
10% stems here. More aromatic width but less depth versus the Echézeaux, but the complexity is on a higher level and there’s a faint muskiness. Fills the mouth with pure, ripe fruit then a super mid-palate burst. Last thoughts are a hint of astringency that’s long forgotten as the flavour eventually fades – super.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Clos de Vougeot try to find this wine...
A nice depth of pretty fruit on the nose – it slowly widens in the glass too. Mouth-filling, concentrated and intense. Mouth-watering, lingering flavours – very long. Not many words, but a super bottle.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Clos St.Denis try to find this wine...
Width and complexity are the hallmarks of the nose – plus a beautiful core of fruit. Supple and concentrated with perfect balance. An extra dimension of flavour in the mid-palate before the good finish. Lovely stuff.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Clos de la Roche try to find this wine...
A little more aromatic width than the Clos St.Denis, but the core of fruit is tighter – initially impresses more than the last wine, but in the end is pipped by the former. Sweet, ripe, intense and very long. I normally prefer CSD, but today, maybe not. This is very long with just a hint of metallic flavour in the finish – surely just a phase. Excellent.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Latricières-Chambertin try to find this wine...
A very pretty nose, almost a glossy dark-fruit compote. Ripe with very silky texture and darker flavours – really quite complex. The finish is excellent – full-power, then slowly lingering. This is a very good Latricières!
2007 Nicolas Potel, Charmes-Chambertin try to find this wine...
A melange of quite forward red and black fruit notes – gives a soft impression. After the Latricières the tannin seems more grainy, though it’s not particularly astringent. Pretty wine – or maybe I should rather say ‘Charming’.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Bonnes-Mares try to find this wine...
The aromas are tighter, good depth but little else to start with. Mouth-filling, certainly not the brutality of the 2005, but there remains concentration and quite some intensity in equal measure – very well balanced though. Dark flavours that finish rather long. Eventually the nose develops a toffee-edged red fruit note.

A selection of white wines:

2007 Nicolas Potel, Bourgogne Blanc try to find this wine...
Bottled in July 2008 after a mix of oak vat and stainless-steel elevage, no battonage to keep freshness. Medium yellow. A hint of SO2 then fresh ripe fruit – mango. Sweet, fairly simple flavours with nice balancing acidity. Easy and pretty.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Montagny 1er Cru Blanc try to find this wine...
Also bottled in July. More power on the nose. Wide, with more depth and impact. Fine acidity – this is a nice wine.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Auxey-Duresses Vieilles Vignes Blanc try to find this wine...
Paler colour than the Montagny. A pretty, high-toned nose. In the mouth it’s more intense though shows less fat than the Montagny. Lovely wine at its level.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Savigny-lès-Beaune Blanc try to find this wine...
Fresh, high-toned, slightly estery fruit aromas that are nicely balanced by a creamy undertow. On the tongue, nice fruit and a good level of freshness. Actually quite a pretty wine.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Santenay Vieilles Vignes Blanc try to find this wine...
Ripe, high-toned fruit. Rippling, sweet acidity and an extra and very interesting dimension of flavour in the mid-palate – I like.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Meursault Vieilles Vignes try to find this wine...
Fermentations were started in oak tanks before being transferred to barrels. Finer, tighter aromas with just a hint of baked bread. Very nice in the mouth – beautiful, really excellent villages (was all I wrote!).
2007 Nicolas Potel, Meursault 1er Les Bouchères try to find this wine...
A high-toned, wide with slightly creamy fine fruit. Fuller than the villages but with good balance – super in the mid-palate. Slowly fading – excellent.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Puligny-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes try to find this wine...
A little more aromatic impact and similar freshness – though perhaps the fruit is less fine. Fatter but balanced by the freshness. Nice intensity – good wine.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Meursault 1er Blagny try to find this wine...
The nose is wide, fine and fresh though less deep than previous wines. Good intensity here, and this is the best finish so far – lovely, linear and mineral. Very fine…
2007 Nicolas Potel, Chassagne-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes try to find this wine...
The nose is a little riper, a little more dense but still has good freshness. Mouth-filling, sweet acidity, concentrated. Apparently it only went through 70% of the malo, stopped and would not restatrt. There is the faint ‘prickle’ of carbon dioxide but this is none-the-less good.
2007 Nicolas Potel, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Les Chaumées try to find this wine...
The nose is denser, but the fruit is very fine and fresh. Silkier concentration – very impressive mid-palate intensity before a slowly lingering finish. Not just impressive – super!

11 responses to “Maison Nicolas Potel: 2009 Update (2007s)”

  1. hiro

    What about Domaine Potel?

  2. John

    Bill,

    Did you have a chance to taste the Vosne-Romanee Les Gaudichots?

  3. Mike Carpentier

    Hi Bill,

    Thanks for the heads-up on the changes at Nicolas Potel. I bought some 2005-2006 based on the very favourable echo’s from all kinds of places. What’s the first Domaine Potel vintage? And are the labels clearly different? And what are their holdings?

    Cheers –Mike

  4. hiro

    I tasted some wines of Domaine Potel. They tasted really good and lovely. Really good and tasty.
    Their first releases are 2007. And Nicolas will change their name of his own domaine in 2008 vintage because of the problem of trademark rights between Nicolas and Cotin Frère/Labouré Roi.

    Here is the list of Domaine Potel 2007 that I tasted.
    Bourgogne blanc (Special Cuvée for Japanese market)
    Bourgogne rouge Maison Dieu
    Savigny-lès-Beaune rouge
    Volnay

  5. Sylvain

    Here is the website (still under construction) of the Domaine owned by Nicolas :
    http://domainedebellene.com

  6. Simple Series Dinner 2 | Automne Wines

    [...] the day before. The 2009s are barrel samples. The Potel-Bellene saga has been elucidated in many sources so I won’t bother rewriting the book. Together with the ranks of Henri Boillot, Lucien Le [...]

  7. gerald wynne

    Can you please tell me about meursault 1cruporuxot2007 nicolas potel

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?