Tasted in Gevrey-Chambertin with Gilbert Hammel and Charles Rolaz – plus the house dog, 16 March 2018.
Domaine des Varoilles
11 Rue de l’Ancien Hopital
Tel: +33 3 80 34 30 30
Gilbert on 2017:
“Across 2010-2016 we made ad average of 30 hl/ha – in 2017 it was actually 40 hl/ha and with plenty of old vines I have to say that we were more than happy with that! It was a small supplement at all levels in 2017. We burnt some straw for the first time in 2017 when there was frost danger – about 4am – it was just a small mist of protection. Any losses only came from coulure at the time of flowering.”
Gilbert on 2016:
“2016 was a complicated vintage from the perspective of treatments, in the end we had very correct grapes but it was necessary to wait and wait for the best maturity. I think there are two types of wine in this vintage – one really super and the other that probably lacks some maturity and shows some vegetal character. It’s a vintage with two speeds. Since 2015 we have a small plot of vines in the commune of Gevrey, to make Bourgogne. In 2015 we made 5 barrels, in 2016 3 but really it should be more like 8 or 9!”
I asked Gilbert if 2016 was a good year to use stems: “We have always destemmed, I’m not a fan of the taste of stems in wines. We do a pneumatic pigeage for 3-4 days and then decide how to continue. It’s a gentle press so our press wine is usually mixed with the free-run juice. Right now the wines are in tank having been moved 100 metres to the other cuverie building where they are bottled without fining or filtering after 1-2 months of settling.”
Bottling planned for mid-April 2018.
A very good to excellent range of 2016s. I’ve found the quality on a high level here since at least 2009, but proportionaly, I found their 2014s outperformed the vintage more than their 2016s do.
2016 Gevrey-Chambertin Clos des Meix des Ouches
1 ha walled vineyard – 10% new oak.
A little tight, but with a little powdery dark-red fruit. Ooh – that’s such a lovely, pure and fresh line of almost cordial fruit. Long and really super – that woke me up – excellent wine.
2016 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Champonnet
15% new oak.
Also a little somber nose but with a little more interesting width. More open and more mouth-filling volume, less cordial-like with melting sweet fruit. A very attractive burst of finishing flavour… Lovely wine and accessible too.
2016 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er La Romanée Vieilles-Vignes
20% new oak. About 60 year-old vines. Limestone with gravels but only 50 cm of earth before hitting the rock.
More aromatic width, a silkiness impression – the most attractive nose so far. More fresh and open – an extra bubbling complexity of flavour here. Just a hint more tannin too, but this is delicious – and again with a wider impression of fresh finishing flavour.
Varoilles has more limestone and bigger stones in the more profound soil – so usually La Romanée is the more elegant – Gilbert likes to say feminine – of the two. About 10% new oak in villages, up to 60% in the grand crus – it’s more like 20-30 in the 1ers…
A little less wide than the Romanée but more depth of aroma. Mouth-filling, some freshness but concentration in concert. Layered, more depth of flavour – much more profound after the airy Romanée – a great finish.
60% new oak, the rest in 1 year-old barrels – from Mazoyères mainly though a little proper Charmes too – the parcel directly facing Latricières.
Wide faintly oak spiced – but not overtly oaky – the fruit like all the others is quite tight. Supple, layered, lots of concentration, just a hint fumé from the barrels – less overtly energetic than the Varoilles, delicious and maybe a little floral finishing too. I’d definitely drink the Varoilles before this one, but it’s a super length of finish.
No Clos de Vougeot shown in 2016