Tasted in Beaune with Matthieu Thevenard & Laure Guilloteau, 30 June 2020.
It was announced before the harvest last year that the team of Jean-Claude Boisset were acquiring the business of Alex Gambal. Because of that, I had assumed that the wines of 2018 would be ingested by the new organisation – so made no appointment to visit as usual in December.
Almost all of the vines of Alex were shared between Boisset’s domaines – Vincent Girardin and Vougeraie – but unfortunately for those two, Boisset was not prepared to have a bidding competition after a higher offer from FICOFI for Alex’s Puligny Ensegnières and Bâtard-Montrachet was put on the table. I have heard that these vines are now worked by Coch-Dury, but that still requires confirmation.
But returning to the theme of Alex’s wines from 2018: All have gone through their elevage exactly as previous years, with the normal cellar team, and the last of them were only bottled at the start of July 2020 – the week after I tasted them. Some of the 2019s also began their elevage in this cuverie – which was, interestingly, previously occupied by Boisset before Gambal, when it had been used as the cuverie for Bouchard Ainé.
All the 2018s will continue to be sold through the previous channels used by Alex Gambal. That won’t happen for the 2019s.
Alexandre Brault, on my previous visit, on 2018:
“2018 – was a tiring vintage but gratifying once the wines were in the cellar. Vinify about 17 hectares, but with the generous harvest it felt more like 20 and we didn’t have any more space – we were also a little short-handed in the cuverie, at least for the vintage’s volume. The whites were the most generous, we harvested between Fixin and Chassagne and I’ve never seen it before, but in 2018 the maturity was so different so we had the chance to cope. I saw some blockage of maturity as some places had no rain from the start of July. Even between Enseignières and Bâtard – so close but the Bâtard was ready when the Puligny was still a little blocked. Some parcels matured so quickly and others were very stable. Because of that, it was our longest harvest ever. A vintage that I hope we have great wines to match the volume.”
The team here made some green harvesting in this vintage. Significantly less pigeage was done as the colour extracted so quickly in 2018. Finally, the amount of new oak that was used is lower than in previous vintages – because the volume of wine was higher and they didn’t buy many extra new barrels
A curtailed walk through the last wines to be labelled ‘Alex Gambal.’ I find the reds restrained for the vintage – a good thing – so they are attractive choices. Some of the whites were singing, so I simply had to place a final order!
The whites are bottled with natural cork. This producer is virtually the only exception to my rule of only buying white to cellar is sealed with DIAM or screwcap – and that’s a function of never having had an oxidised bottle despite buying the Dents du Chien here since 2001. And I’ve bought the 2018 too!
Bottled in February.
A little accent of herb to the deep and dark fruit – swirling makes this more and more attractive with a little background perfume. A little structure, but there is freshness and a punch of ripe and quite delicious dark cherry fruit. Very persistent. That’s excellent.
Very old vines, small bunches – ‘it doesn’t give you a lot…’ Sur Moulin, south-facing with some sand in the soil – not noted on the label.
Less deep, wider and perhaps a finer aromatic expression. I like the structure behind this wine – a little tannic drag to the texture but no discernable grain. The structure says ‘have some patience’ but the last, mouth-watering, fruit flavour is delicious. For keeping 2-3 years.
2 parcels; Petits Gamay plus Robardelles – both villages level.
Plenty of colour. Properly different, properly floral, properly perfumed. Direct and fresh, indeed frank! The texture is good despite a little grainless tannin. Excellent finishing – just a little time needed to fill out the first palate but some of the parts are already great.
Bought grapes from Les Vigneux the cuvée that replaced the VV several years back.
Hmm – now that’s very attractive – a little wc aroma and a perfumed spice character too – very fitting for the label. Fresh entry, plenty of energy too then the flavour spreads out over the palate – there’s depth and indeed layers to this flavour too. Like the Volnay, a little time to fill out the first palate won’t go amiss – but the rest of the parts are excellent.
2018 Nuits St.Georges 1er Clos des Argillières
Plenty of colour despite the 30% wc.
Wide, almost a suggestion of menthol in the complexity. Here is a more intense and mouth-filling personality – lots of complexity, faintly saline too. This is certainly a wine for keeping yet there are no hard edges and you could drink it today. Excellent finishing width and persistence too – for education drink now, for pleasure wait 3-plus years…
2018 Chambolle 1er Aux Echanges
Hmm, this quite a compact nose, nothing volatile and a faint perfume – this should be a good Chambolle. Hmm (again!), this has a lovely complexity, a delicacy, plenty of salinity. Weight and complexity but delivered effortlessly. Excellent Chambolle in 2018.
2018 Domaine Bourgogne Aligoté
Vines in the Hautes Côtes.
A big, bright and open nose – very easy – all 600 litre, old barrels. Hmm, that’s very nice, almost a little metallic accent to the bright, growing intensity – surprisingly long too. That’s excellent aligoté, despite the easy aroma to start.
Less aromatic volume but a little more ‘cut’ and interest to this nose. Open, mouth-filling, layered, just a hint of oak padding but not of overt flavour. Juicy finishing – that’s delicious – bravo.
2018 Domaine Beaune Montagne St.Désiré
A wider nose – a little more overt heft to these aromas – less elegant than the St.Romain. Hmm, that’s a very mineral style, wide, mouth-watering, just a little oak flavour too. A certain richness yet freshness too. This is very tasty though the nose could be more attractive. The classic (long) length of 2018 whites, even a little tannic texture here.
2018 Meursault Narvaux
The last of the bottled whites – this done in April.
The nose has weight but is also a little compact – only slowly opening with a little floral accent. A little more zip and dancing in style over the palate versus the Beaune – and still plenty of concentration. Hmm, that’s a lovely finishing. Nice…
2018 Domaine Puligny-Montrachet Les Enseignères
Not so wide but here is a nose of depth – quite a richness of aroma is the impression. There is weight but much more freshness in the mouth than the nose delivered – of-course it’s not yet bottled. Really excellent last half to this wine – intense, and persistent – much potential I think.
A few high tones but still a compact, reticent nose. Hmm, that’s great – vibrant, complex, mineral, a touch of oak in the flavours but it’s not going to last. Mouth-watering this will be fantastic – bravo!
2018 Domaine Chassagne-Montrachet 1er La Maltroie
Wide, open, an impression of a little sulfur here – just a touch of floral perfume too. Mouth-filling, plenty of concentration, richness but all wrapped in an energy and shape that is beautifully balanced. The finish impresses me less than the Chien but this is still lovely.
2018 Domaine Bâtard-Montrachet
The first vintage was 2011. Like the previous three, this will be bottled next week.
Ripeness, concentration, yet retaining a certain elegance. A great energy again, with an insistent intensity of flavour. The first impression is modest – for Bâtard – but from the middle flavours and the finish, here is a wine that just takes off – that is super, super. Great wine, if serious wine, though perhaps only very, very good Bâtard…