Monday saw me cancelling (re-arranging!) a couple of afternoon visits in Beaujolais and the reason? – Olivier Lamy made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse:
“Bill, In Burgundy, according to writings from the Middle Ages until the appearance of phylloxera (19th century), vines were cultivated at high density, i.e. around 20,000 to 30,000 vines per hectare. This high density was the fruit of the observations and experiences of our ancestors who had noticed a beneficial competition for the root system, the quality of the grapes and the wine.
In 2001, we planted a few rows of vines with higher planting density.
This cuvée comes from a small vineyard planted at high density in the Derrière Chez Edouard climate in Saint Aubin.
On Monday, February 21 at 2:30 p.m., I invite you to taste 13 vintages of Saint Aubin 1er Cru Derrière Chez Edouard (2006 to 2018) by comparing classic cuvées with high density.
Please confirm your attendance.”
So I did. And, of-course, Olivier tends to over-deliver – so he included the 2019 vintage wines too!
My next report (February’s) will be more than 70 domaines’ Beaujolais 2020s. So rather than include this tasting as an afterthought/addendum, I thought I’d include it for everyone here.
There’s a Derrière Chez Edouard-ness to the wines, regardless of the vintage or particular cuvée – but more obviously from the flavour and structure perspective. As you can see from my notes – the HD has (almost) universally a more airy and open aromatic character – except in the more recent vintages where the gap between the cuvées has narrowed as the classic cuvée takes on more of the aromatic character of the HD. This is, of course, complicated by the first vintages of the HD being relatively young vines – and likewise the more recent vintages of the classic cuvée containing the young-vine produce of the more recent HD plantings – and let’s not forget, the classic cuvée is made from roughly double the yields of the HD cuvée.
Based on the vine ages it’s no surprise that to start with, the HD cuvée needed a bit of vintage help to produce something of roughly grand cru standard. As the vines began to mature a grand cru style slowly became the norm as less help from the vintage was required. Clearly, the HD takes on some age-related development at a slower rate than the classic cuvée – like any good grand cru!
Impressive, more by the work of Olivier than planting densities, is the consistency of the wines we tasted – not just great 2007s and 2010s – but great 2009s, 2013s and 2015s too – pick any vintage and you will be rewarded. A testament not just to Olivier but the quality of his vines/vineyard (too) is that his slowly changing winemaking approaches – barrels, barrel-sizes, approaches to sulfur use, moving to DIAM seals – amongst many other details, has not changed the essential Derrière Chez Edouard-ness of his wines – merely refined their clarity.
The HD cuvée is now clearly and consistently a wine of grand-cru quality that loses its early youthful fruit after about 3 years. The recent vintages of the classic cuvée are now easily as good as the early vintages of the HD and that’s despite the higher rendement used to make them – and they are still a relative bargain if you can’t quite source, or justify the cost of, the HD cuvée.
Thank you Olivier for this great and instructive tasting!
Just my short-form notes follow – I think my observations – above – more interesting than my, sometimes, repetitive notes. For info, Olivier ran 3 tastings – morning, afternoon and closer to 6pm for a bunch of winemaking friends – I managed to get the dispensation for the last tasting as I was supposed to be in Beaujolais for the whole week.
The bottles had been opened for the morning tasting and were still, nearly, half-full when I started tasting about 17h30. You can say that they had been reasonably oxygenated – all that I tasted were in very good shape – though one replacement bottle was extra-taut. I didn’t stay to eat as I’d already started drinking rather than spitting – so it would have been far too dangerous to drive back to Beaune afterwards – certainly with the other winemakers present!
Naturally, my big thanks to Olivier for the invitation. Clearly, the full name of each cuvée is St.Aubin 1er Cru Derrière Chez Edouard and in each vintage, I compared/contrasted the standard cuvée with the HD (high density planted) cuvée:
- Derrière Chez Edouard ‘Classic’ Cuvée: 1.70 hectares, planting density 13,000 plants per hectare
Planting dates of 1985, 1995 and 2001 and an average production of 900 cases
- Derrière Chez Edouard ‘HD’ Cuvée: 0.68 hectares, planting density 20-30,000 plants per hectare depending on the particular vine-age
Planting dates of 2001, 2010 and 2015 and an average production of 125 cases
2006 Derrière Chez Edouard
Faintly evolved but quite youthful aromas. Bright, direct, growing in width. Both long and broad finishing – a super start!
2006 Derrière Chez Edouard HD
A fresher, younger nose – silkier textured wine too. Perhaps a little less vibrant, but not by much.
2007 Derrière Chez Edouard
Even fresher and more direct – thats already an impressive introduction. Again a very silky wine, intense, some minerality here too
2007 Derrière Chez Edouard HD
More airy – the best nose so far for delicacy and elegance. Wide, intense almost seamless wine and grand cru finishing class! Did I ever mention how great a vintage I thought 2007 was – such a shame that so many wines from multiple producers were lost to oxidation…
2008 Derrière Chez Edouard
A little more depth and again some faint aromatic development. Wide, lovely intensity again, not as fine structure as the last but vibrant in the finish.
2008 Derrière Chez Edouard HD
Airy style again, less developed. A little more herbed but extra incisive and complex, here with wide waves of finishing flavour.
2009 Derrière Chez Edouard
A deep nose with a little development again. Lime-rind bitters in the aromas here – also in the mouth! Round but intense – super balance for the warm vintage.
2009 Derrière Chez Edouard HD
Again an airy nose with a little more depth here. More mineral and vibrant again with a super finishing intensity.
2010 Derrière Chez Edouard
Hmm, thats a nice nose! It melts in the width – extra inviting, more agrume. That‘s great over the palate too – so expressive a great wine.
2010 Derrière Chez Edouard HD
A small noble reduction – aromatically very diffrent but absolutely great again. Hmm, melting over the palate. Great grand cru finishing again!
2011 Derrière Chez Edouard
A smaller nose but nicely direct. In the mouth also direct but more power. A slightly reductive but delicious thing…
2011 Derrière Chez Edouard HD
Again a beautifully airy style to the nose that is so inviting. Broad, large-scaled this time its not just the finish that has the extra dimension.
2012 Derrière Chez Edouard
Narrower, yet somehow more open, though less defined than the 2011. Supple, concentrated more louche. Growing in width and intensity – simply less tensile.
2012 Derrière Chez Edouard
Always – so far – more airy and elegant – this one’s not lacking any precision. Also in the mouth – extra tension and more chiselled.
2013 Derrière Chez Edouard
Vibrant but here’s a bit more development than the previous few vintages. Gorgeous clarity and fluidity. Vibrant and minerally pure. Like most 2013s – showing brilliantly well right now!
2013 Derrière Chez Edouard HD
Also airy but with lots of vibration and less development. Ouch! That’s so good, so direct so mouth-watering. Great texture. Great, great 2013!
2014 Derrière Chez Edouard
The most airy of these classic cuvées so far, a little unexpected ripeness showing here too. The second bottle not! Slowly floral. Great shape in the mouth – mineral, growing more intense and juicy. Great wine (bottle 2)
2014 Derrière Chez Edouard HD
Broader, also a little rounder like the classic. Cleaner, more chiselled in the mouth. Massive depth to this middle and finishing flavour – wow!
2015 Derrière Chez Edouard
Airy – two in a row – almost shy though adding some florals. Super direct again. This is now as good as the first vintages of the HD!
2015 Derrière Chez Edouard HD
Also a smaller nose, shy yet airy with a fine core of fruit that wasn’t visible on the classic. Fuller, more juicy, great texture insinuating finishing flavour.
2016 Derrière Chez Edouard
Also a fine and airy nose – very attractive. A faint reduction but here’s such a vibrant and delicious flavour.
2016 Derrière Chez Edouard HD
Back to the airy, beautiful elegance of the HD. Extra clarity and cool flavour vs the standard wine – the greatest wine so far of all!
2017 Derrière Chez Edouard
Airy again, but such purity of citrus amères. Really wide, fine and pure, vibrant in the finish.
2017 Derrière Chez Edouard HD
Beautiful airy elegance again – it’s like with this wine the vintage is minimised. Larger scale, dynamic, mineral, super acidity. Broad and very long – another grand cru performance.
2018 Derrière Chez Edouard
The first of the classic wines where I see more florals. Really wide, also with some depth to this fresh concentration – a fleshy fruit for the first time but still with that precision…
2018 Derrière Chez Edouard HD
Airy, also some overt fruit for the first time – these are the babies now. Extra depth, cool fruit complexity. Vibrantly multidimensional and juicy.
2019 Derrière Chez Edouard
Ooh, extra fruit again – but airy and complex – here the youth is showing again. Wide, super mouth-watering but with a little extra fat – only a little. Super, super, finishing.
2019 Derrière Chez Edouard HD
The first time I find the HD a little aromatically softer than the classic – still airy with a little white flower complexity. Density of flavour yet melting over the palate. Really an intensity to finish great again.