Bruno Clair – 2018 + 2017

Update 20.6.2019(29.5.2019)billn

Bruno ClairTasted in Marsannay with Philippe Brun and Bruno Clair, 24 April 2019.

Domaine Bruno Clair
5 Rue du Vieux Collège
21160 Marsannay-la-Côte
Tel: +33 3 80 52 28 95

I tasted here the same day as I visited Cécile Tremblay – so these were both 2018 tastings – as the bottling was underway here at Bruno Clair.

Philippe and Bruno on 2018:
This was a vintage where the vines pushed quite fast in the Springtime. We did have some mildew pressure as there was a lot of rain in the early part of the vintage – that was before the warm, dry weather of course. But it was an early harvest which helped us to keep some freshness in the grapes – 24 August was the date of our first picks. The last-picked vineyards – like Bonnes-Mares had 14° but importantly with a good pH and balance – but one part of Bonnes-Mares that has a low yield – 25 hl/ha – was ready 10 days earlier than the rest. Looking at the harvest volumes, it was a vintage with less Marsannay but more of the crus – the reverse of 2017! But we’re happy with the volume – hardly any need for triage and quality that allowed us to use about 30% whole-clusters in the fermentations.

“The one are where care was needed was that the malos needed watching – they were coming very early – it’s bacterially important to keep an eye on that if some sugar is remaining. Our malos were all done in December, except for the Bonnes-Mares, which took a little longer.

The wines…

Impossibly pure and aromatic wines here, wines that defy the characterisation – or generalisation, more like – of the vintage. Hats off to Bruno, Philippe and team!

2018 Marsannay
An assembly of multiple parcels
Deep, vibrant fruit. A suggestion of green malo but the malos are long done – a crunchy fruit impression. Supple, depth of flavour – this is fresh but cordial in the style of fruit. Delicious, but fortunately with a saline accent too – so not simply fruit juice. Finishing mineral and long. So good…

2018 Marsannay Charmes au Pretes
Was blended before into the previous wine before.
A tighter nose but pure red fruit in evidence. Supple, silky, a little fat but layered and mobile over the palate, mineral finishing again – more intense.

2018 Marsannay Vaudenelles
‘On the rock!’
Here’s a modest, toasty reduction. More drive and direction in these flavours, more energy – ooh – great! The reduction must fade of-course but this is great Marsannay. Fading only slowly in the finish in the style of the others…

These wines mix new and old barrels with some 15hl foudres for elevage.

2018 Marsannay Grasses Têtes
Vibrant fruit – such an invitation – floral too. Transparent – open, such class – bravo! The only word you need – other than ‘buy!’

2018 Marsannay Les Longeroies
More weight of aroma – just a little behind in elevage – but only a little! Some gas in this one – but plenty of open complexity too – it seems excellent but it clearly doesn’t want to play today – except in the finish – it’s clearly great here…

2018 Chambolle-Musigny
Almost a little Grands-Echézeaux-style almond aroma here – a great nose. Fresh, driving, mouth-watering freshness – a waterfall of delicious flavour. Excellent!

2018 Morey St.Denis En la Rue de Vergy
Deep, vibrant and fresh – beautiful fruit again – shimmering! Less energetic but incisive and pure – gorgeous fruit. I always love this wine!

2018 Gevrey-Chambertin
From Carougeots mainly plus two other smaller parcels, including a little Belair 1er cru and Petits Fontenys
A tiny reduction on the tight nose. The wine in the mouth is fine, pure, and shows good direction and with a hint more tannin. More weight in the finish.

2018 Vosne-Romanée Les Champs Perdrix
‘A cold place there’s a current of air, it needs 10 days more than Romanée-Conti to ripen’
A tight nose – yes a faint spice to the pure fruit though. Some gas here – this is not playing so easily – but slowly it spreads, mouthwateringly over the palate. A brilliant finish. Wow!
2018 Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Les Jarrons
Produced from the young vines of Dominode, previously sold as 1er cru. Labelled this way as didn’t want a young and old vine cuvée – but ‘young’ actually means 32 vs the main plantation that dates from 1920s and 30s
A different freshness of red fruit with some faint Savigny herb. Volume in the mouth, very faint gas – depth of flavour – ooh this is brilliant in the mid-palate – great finishing flavour too – bravo Savigny!

2018 Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Les Dominode
A more open nose, less herbed, but less obvious notes to hold onto too. Bigger volume in the mouth, more complexity for sure, less composed and delicious than the Jarrons today but lots to find and a fine finishing texture too. Deeply impressive finishing! A wine that is invariably great, but only shows flashes of that today.

2018 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos du Fonteny
‘Here on the rock, almost a Chambolle in Gevrey.’ Next to Ruchottes.
A little deeper colour. Faintly reductive nose but with plenty of freshness too. Open, intense, concentrated but with energy – bravo – there is such great wine in here. Almost a chocolate in the finish too.
2018 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Petit Chapelle
‘Quite old vines.’ More clay in the soil here.
No reduction but a nose that’s not quite ready. More structural but also with more flashes of intensity – ooh this is open and deliciously involving – and surprisingly – yet another step up on the Fontenys… Extra peps in the finish too.
2018 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Cazetiers
Planted in 1958
This starts softer, finer but more discreet, some floral references. Structural, but no hard edges – more Clos de Vougeot style – mineral shape, delicious, complex with fine pure energy. Ooh a great wine!

2018 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St.Jacques
Planted in 1957, with same plant material as the Cazetiers, planted by Bruno’s father. ‘Unlike the brother this can open and close’
Also a very modest nose but no faults here, slowly growing with a pure and beautiful floral note. More depth of flavour and texture – almost more compact in its more overt concentration – today drink the Cazetiers in preference, but this is hyper-delicious wine. And Bruno is now ready to throw me out for preferring the Cazetiers today!

2018 Chambertin Clos de Bèze
Old vines, 2/3 from 1912
A fuller and more concentrated nose – tight but it has everything. Full in the mouth – less overt energy today vs (certainly) Cazetiers, again I’d drink that in preference today – but fine texture, concentration, mouth-watering. Great wine in waiting…

2018 Bonnes-Mares
In 2016 Bruno recovered the rest of the family parcel, so here is all the Bonnes-Mares of Morey – well almost – Bruno still sends 2 barrels to Fougeray de Beauclair each year.
A vibrant nose, but with great depth too. Beautiful texture – wide, there’s depth to this concentration – less overt energy but a wine with everything. A small drag to the texture from the tannin. Big wine, be patient but also be happy if you have some!

The following wines are in tank, to be bottled about now:

2017 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Cazetiers
Ooh, such a big and vibrant nose – a beauty, but less polish and purity than the 2018s! Mouth-filling, great energy, layered flavour, ooh – hedonistic delicious wine – simply excellent and brilliantly long!

2017 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St.Jacques
More depth, less aromatic width. More vibrant freshness in the mouth – super energy, less suave texture than the 2018 but melting, mouth-wateringly delicious again – bravo!
2017 Chambertin Clos de Bèze
Also a tighter nose, but what a nose! More pure and complex than either of the previous. More drive again, more mineral, a touch more tannin but then a burst of mid-palate energy – enthralling. Great wine – wow!
2017 Bonnes-Mares
More width of aroma but less overtly complex than the Bèze – swirling liberates more purity and more floral elements. Fuller, more floral, less overt minerality more depth of concentration with great complexity – yes probably served in the right order but I don’t see a winner – I just see two, different, but great wines…

2003 Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Les Dominode
Spicy, virile. Slowly adding fruit. Full, round, tasty – different, but there’s mouth-watering acidity, lots of finishing, tasty, weight. I correctly guess 03, but have no idea from where, which sums up the vintage!

2002 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos du Fonteny
More freshness, plenty of development, almost a little white mushroom. More fresh on the palate too, more direct, more energetic. Still tannin. Long and mouth-watering more phenolic here in texture. Tasty but not as delicious as the young wines. I guess 01 Marsannay…

18 Marsannay Rosé
Sell a year later so 2017 will be the currently commercial vintage.
A little strawberry width. Supple, sweet, complex with salinity and minerality – I prefer the middle and the finish to the start and the nose. Very moreish though, finishing a bit sweet to start but maybe that reflects the positioning, tasting after the 2002…

A white:

2018 Morey St.Denis En la Rue de Vergy (Blanc)
“I know that whites in the Côte de Nuits are niche, but this is an interesting terroir and I’ve never had an oxidised one. At my age I wouldn’t dig out the rock that’s there now like I did when I was 25 – I look back and think I had courage!”
Quite a compact nose. Supple, layered, melting – like the rosé a wine that just gets better and better the longer it’s in the mouth! Finishing great! Super wine…

Another blind wine to finish:

2010 Corton-Charlemagne
A little deeper colour. Complex, wide, a little leaf. Bright, with drive and minerality – mouth-watering. Driving with great flavour. Plenty of maturity – great fresh, delicious flavour. A late arriving creaminess in the finish – the fine acidity makes me plump for maybe 2007 or 2010 – I go for 2007 but it is 2010!

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

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