Tasted with Rose-Marie Ponsot and Alexandre Abel in Morey St.Denis, 6 June 2018
21, rue de la Montagne
21220 Morey Saint Denis
Tel: +33 3 80 34 32 46
Rose-Marie Ponsot explains that despite Laurent Ponsot leaving the domaine (in 2017) to do something different, nothing has changed. “In the cellar we are still using old barrels, waiting for good maturity grapes, making triage in the vines, passing through the vines more than once. There is no compromise, no concession to achieving the very best maturity – we’re prepared to lose some volume achieving that. I look at the archives of Jean-Marie Ponsot, who died last year, and we still do the same as he did. It’s important, it’s about the texture and length in the mouth, delivering the power and allowing the wines to mature.” Of-course a number of cuvées that were synonymous with the domaine have relocated to Gilly with Laurent Ponsot, but Rose-Marie affirms “More than 60% of the production was always the domaine wines, from vines in Gevrey-Chambertin and Morey St.Denis, wines that comport our signature, that show us as vignerons.”
So that’s enough of the changes – i.e. on a practical level, none! This is still a family enterprise, run by the 4 children of Jean-Marie Ponsot. Laurent Ponsot and his sister Rose-Marie took over the management of the estate in 1997 – though both had been working there much longer. Even if today Rose-Marie Ponsot is the sole director of the company, the estate continues to be a family run business, owned by Laurent, Rose-Marie, Catherine and Stéphanie Ponsot. I asked if their Ardea seal will remain and Rose-Marie confirmed “Oh yes. We took decision together, the family, including papa, so we will stay with the collective decision. We did some test bottles in 2007, but 2008 was the full change.”
I did get the chance to congratulate them on a recent auction where their 1985 Clos de la Roche, Cuvée Vieilles Vignes realised US$123,000 for a case. That brought a smile to their faces – “Yes, not bad when you think it sold for 150 FFr (about €15) when first released!”
Alexandre Abel has been at the domaine for a little more than a year now, having vinified around the world. Together with Rose-Marie we took a tour through some 2016s and 2015s – the mix because there are not so many of the 2016s due to the frost. So, as before, the grapes are 100% destemmed, fermented in open wooden tanks; “We’re not searching for extraction of colour et-cetera, if you have good maturity it’s not necessary to push” 18 months of elevage with old barrels.
Laurent Ponsot has such a great personalty that it is tempting to assume that it is ingrained into the wines of the domaine – hence that his departure would be a great loss. However, Rose-Marie Ponsot is his equal in character if not always in jokes. The team here in the vines and the cuverie is largely the same as before but they are now able to pay all their attention only to the wines of the domaine. The domaine rests in great hands. This was a bravado performance – all the wines excellent and there are many that touch on greatness. If you have loved the style of this domaine, you can be very happy, it stays in good hands.
2015 St.Romain Cuvöe de la Mésange
Purchased fruit. Rose-Marie always enjoys make this, because William Ponsot was originally from St.Romain – made since 2011. ‘It’s a good introduction to the wines of the domaine, only 8-10 barrels in a good year, half in 2016… fruit, freshness agrumes is the target.’
A fine width of aroma but also with a weight of fresh ripe fruit. Ooh, silky, mouth-filling but considered and slowly adding waves of yellow-fruited flavour. Going quite long. Delicious now, no need to wait 10 years!
In bottle since mid-April.
Narrower but deeper, fine flashes of purity. Ooh, open, pure, fine energy, waves of flavour, faint oak, lots of complexity. The finish is open-ended this is just a beauty. I still have problems with 5-year-old bottles, so beware, but I am in love this wine young!
A width of aroma – but more subtle – yet a depth that vibrates. Transparent, athletic muscle, complexity, always something new, great wine, faintly saline, less faintly creamy, mineral finishing. Holding so well… great wine with a great finish!
2016 Morey St.Denis Cuvée des Grives
A pure fruit, almost a conserve, yet with a vibration of energy. Fresh in the mouth – you can sense the altitude of the vines here – fresh but ripe, with a suggestion of floral complexity. A more serious, more mineral finish of fine length. Simply delicious and long too for the label.
The next rows to grand cru Clos de la Roche…
Directly deeper colour. Latent power, a little spice – slightly compact but there is lots here. Ooh – fine freshness over the palate – this ingrains fabulous flavour into the palate – a very modest tannin but fresh, intense, concentrated but always light-footed flavour. Bravo
2016 Morey St.Denis 1er Cuvée Alouette
Still a strong colour. More width, almost a silkier, more suave aromatics. The first attack is more silky too, slowly growing a grain of tannin. Rounder, melting fresh flavour from the gums, slow moving waves of flavour. Nose growing a touch more complexity with air. Give it a little time and this may be as good as the 2015, but given the bottling two days earlier, it’s showing just a little more compact today.
A roundness of cocoa-powder, a modest width and a more compact depth today. Ooh, here is a clear extra step in concentration, nicely but not harshly structured – depth, delicious complexity, mouth-watering finishing. Great wine.
Deep, faintly spiced, saline nose. Hmm, this is wide, meltingly interesting, a wine with more depth, slowly developing complexity – saline and mineral finishing. Easy to drink but much younger – for keeping!
In bottle about 6 weeks.
Not the most open nose but an inky depth with a good higher-toned freshness above. More alive, fabulous complexity, structural and faintly grained but with so much accessibility. Sustaining a super finish with great persistence. It’s not the biggest but there are simply more dimensions, more reserves of flavour here – great wine!