This year, I was more than honoured to be asked to be a judge at the blind tastings to determine the young winemaking talents of Burgundy, 2017. Lots of new names and great wines here for you.
The Groupe des Jeunes Professionels de la Vigne were running their event for the 29th time this year, starting with about 80 judges and 100s of wines – all from 2015 – in Chorey-lès-Beaune in October – everything done blind. Last Friday (17 November) took the best of those for a taste-off, held at the Ermitage de Corton – 3 wines from each of 21 producers (so 63 wines), split into 7 regions – this year including, for the first time, the region of ‘Grand Auxerois’.
For the taste off, there were just two judges – myself and fabulously cheek-boned, Parisian wine-professional, Sophia Zaïme – aka MadameWine.
The system was very well thought-out, and behind the tasting that Sophia and I did was a ‘shadow tasting panel’ of winemakers ‘to help’ if the two of us simply couldn’t agree, or indeed they simply couldn’t understand our choices! Fortunately the two of us seemed to have very similar thoughts about the wines – possibly no more than two from 63 wines caused us a little more discussion – quite remarkable really! The wines were tasted ‘single blind’ i.e. we knew the basic appellation but not the climat – or producer of-course – eg Nuts 1er Cru, but not that it was a Vaucrains (for example). At the end of this report I’ll list my top 10 wines of the tasting for those of you who are interested…
That same Friday evening was a dinner in the Palais de Congress of Beaune, 400 people attending – the winemakers with plenty of nice bottles. Here among others, Sophia and I gave out the trophies to the, still unknowing, winners – all under the direction of the force of nature that was Claude Nadeau – our Mistress of Ceremonies!
Only so that you can see just how close it was, you can see my summary below – I won’t give you the tasting notes that I’d carefully attempted in French – only to be told in the end that those were for me to take away! I also (for myself) I scored each wine out of 20 – so a perfect score would have been 60/60 for the three wines. The highest scores I gave were 18.5/20 – 4 wines achieved that. The winner in each case is in bold type:
- Grand Auxerois:
Pierre-Louis BERSAN – Domaine BERSAN (50)
Sophie et Matthieu WOILLEZ – Domaine de la CROIX MONTJOIE (47)
Nicolas et James FERRARI – Domaine Christophe FERRARI (52)
Bersan delivered a Bourgogne Côte d’Auxerre and two St.Bris – I fell the Côte d’Auxerre could have benefited from a little more energy, but I thought both of the St.Bris excellent. Croix Montjoix supplied a Crémant that had very forceful bubbles and could have had a touch more sweetness or ripeness, then came two Bourgogne Vézalays the first mineral and saline that lacked some definition but the second, however, was excellent, more floral, some sucrosity and long. Finally Ferrari offered one Chablis and two Irancy – the Chablis was complex and round – lovely – but both of the Irancys were excellent, they were both deep, complex wines of great perfume – the second one much more ‘vin de garde‘ in style.
Camille BESSON – Domaine BESSON (49.5)
Arnaud LAVANTUREUX – Domaine Roland LAVANTUREUX (52)
Charly NICOLLE – Domaine CHARLY NICOLLE (50)
Comparisons were made easier in this group, as all the producers offered a Petit Chablis, a Chablis and a Chablis 1er Cru. Of the Petit Chablis the Bessin and Roland Lavantureaux were very close, the Charly Nicole was left behind as it was a little heavy – probably as it was so concentrated. Then for the Chablis it was Charly Nicole and Laventureaux with two really great wines, and Camille Besson only half a point behind with a lovely wine. So it was neck and neck up to the last 1er Cru wine; the Besson was lovely, the Charly Nicole even better, but the Laventureaux was one of my top 4 wines of the tasting – fabulous.
- Côte de Nuits:
Laurent FOURNIER– Domaine Jean FOURNIER (50)
François AMBROISE – Maison AMBROISE (51.5)
François GALEYRAND – Domaine GALEYRAND (54)
In this group came my other three top wines of the tasting, and interestingly the wines clearly showed three different ‘hands’ as the styles were so different. First were the wines of Laurent Fournier, starting with a great Bourgogne and then a Côte de Nuits Villages followed by a Marsannay – super wines but really showing their structure – more vin de garde in style. Next were the wines of François Ambroise; the first two – a Bourgogne Blanc and a Côte de Nuits Villages (red) – got high scores from me but it could have been higher if they had been less reductive, the last however, a Nuits St.Georges 1er Cru was just a fabulous wine of depth and complexity which was the second of my 4 top scoring wines. Lastly were three wines from François Galeyrand; a really great Bourgogne that I scored the equal of Laurent Fournier’s, but then a Côte de Nuits Villages and a Gevrey-Chambertin that were my other two top-scoring wines.
- Côte de Beaune:
Florian REGNARD – EARL Christian REGNARD (46)
Alexandre PARIGOT – Domaine PARIGOT (47.5)
Laurent GAY – Domaine Michel GAY & fils (53)
The first wines were those of Regnard; A nice enough Bourgogne (HCdB) blanc, though showing plenty of barrel influence. A Chassagne that began tight but slowly opened with aeration then a Maranges 1er Cru that showed more structure and a good length. Parigot also started with a Bourgogne (HCdB), but this time a red one! It had good depth and texture but wasn’t the tastiest wine we encountered. The two wines that followed were very good though – a beautifully aromatic and well structured Beaune 1er and little more modest Pommard 1er. The Michel Gay wines started with an outstanding Bourgogne Pinot Noir – my highest marked wine in this section – 18. There followed an Aloxe-Corton and a Beaune 1er – both excellent and 17.5 each from me. All three of these wines I scored higher than the previous six!
- Côte Chalonnaise:
Erell et Flavien NINOT – Domaine NINOT (53)
Félix DEBAVELAERE – Domaine DES ROIS MAGES (49)
Benoit ESCHARD – Domaine JEANNIN NALTET (48.5)
We started with the Ninots, and what a great set of wines – all scoring highly – a crémant, a white Rully and a red Rully 1er cru – We were really left with an impression of confidence from this producer as they tackled three wine styles and all were beautifully executed. The wines of Rois Mages began with a pretty and floral Bourgogne Blanc – delicious but not the purity or freshness for a great score. There followed, like the previous producer, a white Rully and a red 1er Rully – the former fresh, mineral and interesting, the latter also with an engaging minerality and super complexity. Lastly the three from Jeannin-Naltet began unfortunately with an exotically fruited, modest acidity and oaky white Mercurey but the red Mercurey that followed had depth, freshness and nice structure. The last wine from them, a Mercurey 1er was an excellent wine, complex, floral and long with great structure. Like the Côte de Beaune group, before, almost zero discussion needed to choose the winner here.
Xavier GREUZARD – Château de la GREFFIERE (50)
Audrey Braccini – Domaine FERRET-LORTON (48.5)
Franz-Ludwig GONDARD – Domaine GONDARD PERRIN (48.5)
A very close group – only one extra good wine for the winner was the difference here. We began with the Greffière wines – the first, a Mâcon rouge was saline, complex and long – lovely wine. The second a Mâcon blanc was fresh, pure and attractive – I thought a little behind the red but lovely. Lastly an excellent St.Véran that was fresh concentrated and long. The wines of Domaine Ferret-Lorton started with a Mâcon that showed very modestly – their weak link – but their two Pouilly-Fuissés were very fine – if rather oaky. Lastly came the three wines of Gondard-Perrin, starting deliciously with a good crémant, their weak link was a Viré-Clessé that whilst concentrated seemed a little too sweet and with too modest energy. Their last wine was super, another Viré-Clessé more airy, complex and energetic – long too – a super wine. In the end it was consistency that gave Greffière their win.
Romuald PETIT – Domaine Romuald PETIT (47)
Didier LAGNEAU – Domaine Gérard et Didier LAGNEAU (50.5)
Mee GODARD – Domaine MEE GODARD (50.5)
Six Morgons in our 9 wines and another very tight decision – in fact the tightest! The wines of Romauld Petit began with a really fine Beaujolais Villages, so it was a little surprising that the Morgon that followed showed so modestly – it was a very direct wine, one to wait for, offering only some floral interest. The last wine was another Morgon in what I consider the direct, deep very young Corton-style that Morgon often produces. It was very good but again a style to wait for. The wines of Lagneau started with a Morgon and of much deeper colour than those of Petit. Fresh, pure, spicy and very silky – a super wine. Then came an equally deeply coloured Regnié – vin de garde, pure, tannic and a good complexity. The last wine was another deeply coloured affair, this time a Côte de Brouilly, again vin de garde with just a little more mouth-watering flavour. The last producer (Godard) delivered 3 Morgons; the first open, supple and with a great finish. The second more saline, fresh and complex but a less impressive finish. The last wine was easily the best in this section and the wine that swung our decision – fresh, more volume in the mouth, nicer texture, more mouth-watering and simply the best finish of any of these wines.
My top wines:
2015 Domaine Roland LAVANTUREUX, Chablis 1er Fourchaume
2015 Maison AMBROISE, Nuits St.Georges 1er cru Les Vaucrains
2015 Domaine GALEYRAND, Côte de Nuits Villages Les Retraits
2015 Domaine GALEYRAND, Gevrey Chambertin En Billard
2015 Domaine Christophe FERRARI, Irancy
2015 Domaine Christophe FERRARI, Irancy Les Mazelots
2015 Domaine Charly NICOLLE, Chablis 1er Mont de Milieu
2015 Domaine Michel GAY & fils, Bourgogne Pinot Noir
2015 Domaine NINOT, Rully 1er Cru Marissou
2015 Domaine Mee GODARD, Morgon Corcelette