Before I left for Piedmonte, I’d accumulated a lovely set of wines – I would/should say an exceptional group of wines. Where I can remember something, or indeed took a few crafty notes, a few words follow about them:
2001 Frederic Esmonin, Chambertin Clos de Bèze
Ooh, what a big invitation of a nose – old wood, leaves, sweetness – grand cru burgundy ready to go! In the mouth, it’s that same brilliant attack as shown by the nose – sweetness and age. The mid-palate and finish are slightly more compact – here I’d say more like a very good 1er cru – but these wines were cheaper than the more sought-after 1ers when released. A great experience – bravo for the price, but probably behind a great Bèze which would have cost you more than double, but only probably!
Rebuy – Yes
The following trio were drunk at Au Fils du Zinc in Chablis, a lunch that remains indelible in my memory:
2015 Vincent Dauvissat, Chablis Les Clos
Slowly opening; it’s compact but fine nose. Rippling waves of flavour lapping over the palate. Subtle, faintly complex, compact though delicious. Such a baby, yet surprisingly easy wine today – wait, wait – the more patience you have the more the wine begins to open – but today – I’ll be surprised if we are seeing more than a third of what this elegantly pure wine will one-day offer.
Rebuy – Yes
1996 Raveneau, Chablis Les Clos
Deep, some age mixed with freshness, something less interesting in the depth. Ooh, that has such driving, classic, 1996 shape. Similar to the 2015 with good, not outstanding flavour, but flavour that reflects the nose – then pow! Grand vin finish. This wine needs a little time in the glass – perhaps the cork was to blame – a small note on the nose that was present in the first flavour too – but after 15 minutes – it was gone! What remained would simply be ridiculous to ‘critique’ – greatness…
Rebuy – Yes
1986 Raveneau, Chablis 1er Butteaux
The (maybe!) urban myth goes; in 1986 the team here had plenty of wine – so chose to experiment with three barrels of this in new wood. After 5 years in bottle they thought ‘No, still too oaky, we can’t have people thinking that we make oaky wine!’ The same after 10 and 15 years. After 20 it was the sulfur that stood out – the team here were never shy with the sulfur at this time. Finally now they think they might let some bottles into the market:
Deeper colour. Wow, such a big, inviting, complex nose of greatness – bravo – the last can’t match this in either scale or complexity, only drive and elegance! Ooh great, super complex, delicious Chablis unlike any other Chablis I’ve tasted – fabulous! Certainly rounder than the sleek 1996, but great, great wine if clearly a different style of wine.
Rebuy – Yes
2013 Jean Chartron, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cailleret
Picked from the list at Castel Très Girard in Morey St.Denis. We were looking for freshness, drive and chalky minerality – we got exactly that – with a large twist of deliciousness too. This wine has beautiful line and sweetness – but the latter more from ripe citrus than (for instance) botrytis. The line from the middle into the finish was a delight of stony, mineral class. All we could have wished for!
Rebuy – Yes
2012 Vincent Latour, Meursault Les Grands Charrons
Here’s a textbook case of why I like this producer so much. A wine of drive yet with just the right amound of flesh and sweetness to keep making you go back for more. Another excellent wine from Vincent.
These next two deserve to be compared:
2014 Henri Germain & Comtes Lafon, Meursault-Charmes
The Germain, aromatically and for the first flavours is my favourite – there is purity and a certain fresh-fruited sucrosity that is not matched by the Lafon’s more mineral and reductive first impressions. From the mid-palate onwards, it’s all Lafon for me; the Lafon has such drive, such vibrant dynamism that I’m rendered practically speechless – except for wow, wow, wow!
Both: Rebuy – Yes
2013 Fontaine-Gagnard, Le Montrachet
The first nose is big and impressive, likewise the first, obviously riper flavours versus the two Charmes – but not better. This wine slowly starts to take off from the mid-palate – more weight and assuredly great class included. Certainly not ‘better’ than a hypthetical combination of the two previous Meursault Charmes, but individually – almost a better, if fuller wine.
Rebuy – Yes
It was now late in a great evening – so only small, throwaway remarks on the last wines:
The 2010 de Vogüé, Chambolle-Musigny was fresh, bright and had excellent clarity and drive – clearly showing a little of its premier cru roots. Excellent. 2012 Michel Rebourgeon, Pommard 1er Arvelets had less striking clarity but a nice width of drinkable flavour – pure wine all the same. The 2010 Violot-Guillemard, Pommard 1er Epenots was entirely classic – vintage and place – driving, fresh, fine textured wine, showing some early precocity – ooh, that was good! 2010 Lamarche, La Grande Rue Now we are talking – not a massive wine, yet one that easily bests all that have gone before – and after – complex but not massive aroma – wide and lingering, deliciously flavoured – and like the Epenots, another 2010 that’s showing fine, early, drinkability – Excellent. Lastly, the 1996 René Engel, Grands Echézeaux I bought a parcel of this in about 2002 – it has never been very good – I sometimes mused that it was fake and that there was only Bourgogne in the bottle – but here, for the first time, is something of interest – complexity on both the nose and the palate – this tasted really rather good, but it is a long way behind the 2010 Lamarche – even as it approaches 25 years old!