For some reason, I don’t seem to visit Patrice Rion often enough. In reality I probably do, I suppose I just miss his studied observations and his quietly committed demenour. He is a winemaker whose wines I buy almost as regularly as anyones, though the vast majority still lie in the cellar.
We took a tour through the 2007 and 2008 vintage – now all in bottle – finishing with a few whites. Some of the 2008s had only been in bottle for 2 weeks, so my notes might not convey the full impact of what some will achieve. As usual, you will find either ‘Patrice Rion’ on the label for his négoce bottles or ‘Domaine Michèle et Patrice Rion’ for the domaine bottles. Patrice has long-term contracts for the négoce fruit, making all the vineyard work and harvesting himself. Looking at his line-up, I did joke with him – ‘are you really a domaine of Nuits, or are you turning into a Chambolle domaine(?)’.
One of our conversations covered prematurely oxidised wines; I asked if he was affected. Maybe because of his position in Nuits, or maybe because much of his white production was in screw-caps, he said, there was no problem that he was aware of with his wines, though he was fully aware of the issue having recently been in a friend’s cellar in Meursault where some vintages/cuvées were strongly affected – though this seemed a problem specifically associated to half-bottles. Although not a white, Patrice wanted to show his trust in the screw-cap concept, so pulled from the cellar one of his early trials in a screw-capped half-bottle:
A very young medium-plus colour – it could almost be a 2006 or 2007. Ripe red berries pour out of the glass. Sweet, indeed very sweet fruit flavours and slightly grainy tannin supporting it. For the appellation the mid-palate concentration is excellent. This is in better, younger shape than a few grand crus I know – so far the screw-cap is a good solution for this wine.
A selection of 2007s
General comments to Patrice’s 2007s; “The local conditions meant that it was easy to get to 13-13.2°, no chaptalisation was required and we could keep good balance”
A vibrant medium-plus cherry red colour. Good quality red-blue fruit on the nose. There is both dimension and width here – very good balancing acidity. High quality CdNV!
Medium, medium plus colour. The nose shows a finer red fruit with a faintly creamy, oaky undertow. Plenty of energy here, for sure aided by slightly forward acidity, yet there’s a significant extra dimension of fruit flavour too. The flavour finishes strongly.
Medium cherry red colour. Soft, comfortable aromas of red fruits with an added floral impression. Again the attack is acid-borne, but the texture is very silky. A much more mineral style to the flavours, backed by an excellent finish.
From relatively young (22-23 year old) vines. Medium cherry colour. The aromas are tighter, more focused red berry notes with some herbs. It’s a lovely perfume. There is extra fat here and a really perfect balance. Good finish – good wine!
From older, 65 year-old vines. Much higher toned aromas, less overt impact than the Fuées. Perhaps slightly more intensity and certainly more mid-palate dimension. This is a wine that starts quite narrow in the mouth, widens and then widens some more in the mid-palate – great flavour. Good finish. More balance than my last bottle at home.
From 40 year-old vines. Medium cherry. Crushingly pretty aromas, not a nose of impact, only appreciation. Silkily textured, the flavours are also not about impact, rather a gradual build-up of flavour, balance and length. The Charmes had more dimension, this has more comfort.
50 year-old vines Medium, medium-plus colour. A cliché I suppose, but the fine aromas are more ‘masculine’ than the Amoureuses, showing plenty of width. A velvet covered structure moves into the mid-palate with plenty of dimension and a good finish. Very good villages Nuits.
Medium, medium-plus cherry-red colour. This is very nice, showing hints of coffee against flashes of red fruit. More tannin, but velvet tannin, good freshness and a lovely mid-palate explosion of flavour. This clearly needs some tannin molifying time in the cellar, but it’s a good one!
Medium, medium-plus colour. More floral and interesting than the Argillières, violets and darker cherries. This is really a mouth-filler, though the texture is velvet. Beautifully proportioned, this is excellent.
Medium colour. Darker and more eathy aromas – not particularly oak-driven. Fresher than the Clos St.Marc and naturally a little more slight but the balance is fine. Decent structure. This is a good villages.
Tighter, denser, with glimpses of darker fruit aromas at the core – seems rather fine. The flavours are quite mineral and intense. Very well balanced, this is put together like a racehorse. Very good.
2008s in bottle for a minimum of 2 weeks…
This smells quite like fruit-juice, it’s clean, fresh, quite attractive fruit-juice though! The palate mirrors the nose with a clean and fresh style – completely balanced too – it’s a very pretty wine.
Beautiful aromas. Plenty of flavour, very well balanced with an understated tannin. Quite long and quite lovely.
Darker, deeper aromas – more of a top to bottom shape to the nose rather side to side. Fresh but not too fresh and with a flavour that slowly insinuates itself. Very nice.
The nose is finer and more complex as it delivers flashes of different fruits. There’s a little more padding here versus the villages, good freshness and there are beautiful berry fruits on display before the finish. This is a very pretty wine.
The nose starts rather tight, but slowly, slowly it starts to give up complex fruit. Plenty of structure on display here, a little astringency to the velvet textured tannin. The flavours are quite mineral before a mouth-watering finish. Slowly delivered warm, complex fruit in the finish.
Another tight wine aromatically (2 weeks in bottle). In the mouth this is lithe, fresh and sweetly ripe – very pretty – beautiful, clean fruit in the finish. Lovely.
Beguiling, bright red fruits. Not quite as fat as the 2007 but it’s rich. More complex than I expect too. Perfect balance that’s framed by a little tannic astringency and very long finishing too. A beauty.
Whilst the nose is quite tight, there’s a slightly earthy edge to it. Fresh and intense, the texture is rather good. The flavours build and build before fading into the finish. Rather good!
Like the 2007, this shows darker more muscular fruit aromas than the Chambolles that precede it. There’s a higher level of tannin too that in this case could do with a little time in bottle to settle, but yet again, the flavours are well above average for the villages label.
Another of these recently bottled wines that is a little aromatically tight. Like the villages Nuits, it is the structure that is in the ascendent – I’m sure this is just the post-bottling phase. The flavours behind the structure are excellent and linger very well, it probably needs another 2 or 3 months in bottle for a better appraisal.
All the Nuits wines are well coloured – this also has a medium-plus intensity of cherry-red colour. Again tight, but finer aromas of fruit intertwined with hints of coffee. Structured, but the buffer of fruit is more obvious than shown by the last two wines. Thick velvet wraps dark fruit. It’s a long finish that sticks to your gums…
A short selection of whites
From vines ‘so old they are nearly dead!’ in the area of Chambolle, next to his ‘Bons Batons’ pinot vines. Knockout aromas (who says that?!) of forward fresh fruits. Round, with a twist of acidity and a nice finish. Fine aligoté.
From a grower in Beaune who works in a bio way. The first aromas are of toasty oak (there are no new barrels used, mainly 1-2 year-old 350 litre casks. The flavour also has a hint of oak but the palate is clean, waxy and ripe.
The aromas are tighter. Much more mineral flavour than the bourgogne and quite some intensity too. Finishes well – it starts a little tight, but really broadens on the palate. Fine.