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Profile: Maison Ambroise – 2013

DSC06064Tasted in Premeaux with Ludovine Ambroise, 2nd February 2015.

Maison Ambroise
8, rue de l’Eglise
21700 Premeaux Prissey
Tel: +33 3 80 62 30 19
www.ambroise.com

Today it is sister and brother, Ludivine and François, that are taking more of the responsibility, but father Bertrand remains an ever-present. Bertrand originates from Paris, the domaine coming from her mother’s side of the family. They are 80% export-focused, mainly due to the championing of the wines by Robert Parker in the 1980s and 90s – wines that were never my style of burgundy, but I always live in hope…

Maison Ambroise produce 24 cuvees that are assembled from 170 separate plots of vines – altogether accounting for 21 hectares of vines. There is a little bought-in fruit too, but the vast majority of wine is produced from their own grapes or plots that where they have long-term fermage agreements. The amount is growing each year, but much of the vineyard surface is now managed ‘organically’ – the domaine was certified for ‘Agriculture Biologique’ in 2013. Those 170 parcels usually require 45 pickers with 10 people working in the cuverie and 10 days to harvest. But it was all done in 5 and 6.5 days in 12 and 13 due to less grapes/yield.

Their current cuverie was built in 1999 and houses older concrete vats that are gradually being replaced with temperature-controlled stainless-steel to receive the 100% destemmed fruit. There follows a 5-8 day period of cool, pre-fermentation maceration. They currently use pump-overs once per day, but no pigeage before the onset of the alcoholic fermentations – then once per day. There is also a post fermentation maceration of up to 3-4 days at 30-34°C.

The 1er and grand crus see mainly new oak, but there are more and more bigger barrels (400 litres) in use to minimize the flavor impact of this wood. Billion and Radoux from the south-west France are the main coopers – but they normally blend their coopers for a balance of flavour. The cuvées range in size from the 7 hectares of Bourgogne Rouge – 50,000 bottles – to the single barrel of Echézeaux. The Echézeaux, Vougeot and Beaune reds, plus the Ladoix white are made from purchased grapes.

The wines…

Some screw-caps are used for generics here. The whites are already bottled, though only a few reds so-far – the rest of the 2013s are in tank, currently scheduled for bottling in mid-March – without fining or filtration. We took a short-cut tour of the wines, mainly focusing on their domaine wines.

Honestly, I was really amazed by these wines; I really struggled with the oaky, extracted wines of the 1990s and 2000s – I have zero in my cellar – and asked Ludovine what had changed(?)

“Well, the wines were very strong – like my father. Since my brother and I came to the domaine in 2009, and as my father collects grandchildren, he is getting softer and rounder, so the wines are also rounder! Note also that 10 years ago we were not organic, the weather was different and the barrels we now use are different…”

2013 Côteaux Bourguignone, Lettre d Eloïse
Named after Ludovine’s daughter. Vines in the plain, but chardonnay. 50% tank elevage, the rest spending 10 months in old barrels – 400 litre barrels. Full malolactic.
Pretty, some attractive oak, some ripeness too. A little richness and ripe at the core too, just enough acidity. Attractive wine. With quite a good finish.

2013 Bourgogne Chardonnay
Vines in Premeaux, just 0.21 hectares.
Higher and lower tones, actually I slightly prefer the previous nose, but this is nice enough . Much nicer in the mouth though, seemingly a little more mineral and a lot more lithe. Plenty of oak-aided flavour in the finish, but very tasty.

2013 Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits
Organic, 30% new oak, the rest older.
A fine and fresh nose – some oak notes below, again quite attractive. Lovely, fresh, and with a fine acidity plus very fine detail. Almost a hint of salinity in the finish.

2013 Ladoix 1er Les Grechons
Just under the quarry of magny les villars. Bought for many years from this grower. Small quantity in 13, about 1000 bottles. 100% new oak, though 400 litre barrels for 12 months, and bottled in December.
Wide, quite concentrated, also with fine detail and interest – a lovely nose. Super in the mouth, with richness but very good detail and acidity. Very, very good.

2013 Meursault 1er Poruzots
’We buy the grapes as its too far away from the house’ – though they have domaine vines in St.Romain 😉 100% new oak and the same vinification as for the Ladoix. There is no 2014 Poruzots due to hail.
Fresh top notes, more oaky below. A hint of salt and good freshness – wide and intense. A bit of oak here, but this is very tasty and very good!

Les rouges…

2013 Bourgogne Rouge
In bottle. They own almost 7 hectares of Bourgogne, from in and around Nuits. Aged for 12 months in older oak barrels, without fining or filtration.
Deep, plenty of energy and showing fresh dark cherry above. Fine freshness but with a hint of fat and plenty of concentration. A nice growth of flavour, and very good flavour too. A very good bourgogne.

2013 Cote de Nuits Villages
In bottle. From 2 hectares of organic managed vines in Comblanchien – just over the wall from the Clos de la Marechale. Elevage in 40% new oak for 14 months.
Deep, but with good high-toned dark-red fruit. More weight and a little more structure but quite silky. A very good lingering line of flavour. Finishes nicely. Super.

2013 Vosne-Romanée aux Damaudes
Domaine vines. A tank sample. 70% new oak elevage for 15 months.
Deep colour. A little tighter but with good up and down notes and a faint spice above. Good!
Nice flavour, some floral notes, slightly spicy. Good length, this is very tasty and long too.
2013 Nuits St.Georges
A little over 2 hectares of vines, raised in 70% new oak for 14 months.
Deep aromas but with a good floral backing too. A little wider and fuller, but not fat, and there’s good intensity. This tastes super.

2013 Nuits St.Georges 1er Rue de Chaux
Rented parcel of just 0.099 hectares and owner doesn’t want to pay for Ecocert so it’s not organic. 100% new oak for 16 months. Placed in tank 1 month ago…
Also quite deep and fresh, but a little tighter. Hinting at fat but not quite delivering, rather it is concentration and a growing intensity that dominates. Almost a suggestion of coconut oak which grows a more pronounced. Fresh and long finishing. Very tasty wine.

2013 Nuits St.Georges 1er Les Vaucrains
Domaine vines, 100% new oak elevage for 16 months – just 0.12 hectares.
Nice high tones and even nicer depth and interest – a super nose. Wow – big and very round, super concentration – this is very fine, indeed, brilliant. Full of tannin but oh-so smooth. Wow Vaucrains and really brilliant length.
2013 Corton Le Rognets
Domaine, producing just 8hl in 12, 12hl in 13 from this 0.66 hectare parcel. Flowering was the problem in 2013 – only the St.Romain had some hail damage. Ludovine recommends a decanter for Corton when young.
Fine high tones, good depth too – but a line of aroma rather than width. Bright, dynamic, lots of concentration and a growing mouth-watering flavour and intensity. Less massive but more intense than the Vaucrains – I find this even better!

2013 Clos de Vougeot
From 0.17 hectares of rented vines towards the top-left of the Clos, next to the wall shared with Grands-Echézeaux.
Wide, slightly spicy with some weight but showing not too much, but slowly it grows some floral references too. A wine that has no fat, but there’s plenty of muscle to flex. A growing depth of concentrated flavour that very slowly adds complexity. There’s structure but it’s almost a silky tannin. Fine extra fresh flavour after you swallow – discreet but very long finishing. Excellent.

One response to “Profile: Maison Ambroise – 2013”

  1. Tom Blach

    By gum. An estate I’ve avoided like the plague in spite of the reasonable prices. Time for another look.

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