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Corton-Charlemagne 2012 – blind…

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Before delving into the detail, it’s worth saying ‘what a great set of wines’ this was. I used my normal nomenclature (Rebuy: no – maybe – yes) converted to 0-2 points, plus my favourite wine getting 3 points, but there was nothing here that I wouldn’t enjoy sharing a whole bottle with you, and, on reflection, even buy…

It actually wasn’t that easy to put this tasting together because many, many producers had already sold-out of these wines – the reason, very low yields in 2012. The vines suffered just about every malady in this vintage; new shoots broken off by the wind before being tied down; poor flowering conditions, frost, downy-mildew, powdery-mildew, mildew-mildew, sun-burn… you get the picture! Official yields for the appellation were way down versus the average:

Appellation 2008
hectolitres
2009
hectolitres
2010
hectolitres
2011
hectolitres
2012
hectolitres
Corton-Charlemagne 2,237 2,449 1,929 2,633 1,500

Like the rest of white Burgundy (Chablis excepted) there are wines here that have a little impressive acidity for balancing their massive concentration, I’d fully expected to be doling-out a few ‘null-points’ to overly rich wines, but no, even those wines that I awarded just 1 point (a wine I’d happily drink), when retasted in isolation the next day, seemed perfectly balanced. I was very impressed.

The wines…

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DSC04979The wines were opened two hours before the tasting, and served at about 11°C. Bottles were pulled at random in two flights of 5 and the last flight of 6, so were not actually drunk in the order you see below. Whilst not actually seeing any wine that ‘knocked it out of the park’ I did cast my ‘favourite’ vote for the Girardin, closely followed by the Jadot and the Bouchard – but it was hard to choose – the Marchand-Tawse surprised me by showing a more flowers than oak (M-T’s reds were clearly not an indicator), similar to the Latour – only these two showed this pretty floral aromatic. The Faiveley which I loved when tasting at the producer (and afterwards bought) was certainly no slouch, but less obviously amazing in this company.

What amazed me at the end was how clear-cut the highest score of the 5 tasters was, which you can see after the notes. But, as noted, give me any of these and I’ll be happy – though I’d prefer to wait a little longer for the Jadot’s patisserie to fade. For the record there were 5 tasters (3 of which were antipodean) scoring from the following palate:

  • 0 – Taster didn’t like, or found faulty
  • 1 – Taster would Very happily drink
  • 2 – Taster likes so much, would consider buying
  • 3 – Favourite wine of the tasting

I highlight my personal 3 favourites, but after the notes you will find the sum of the scores.

1. Dubreuil-Fontaine
Medium lemon colour. The nose is wide, with some green fruit and a little aniseed too. Lots of energy here, growing intensity and minerality too. Not a rich wine, rather one of super freshness.

2. Louis Jadot (Domaine des Héritiers)
Medium lemon colour. Depth of aroma, some fruit, lots of vanilla. Super volume in the mouth. A little phenolic impression, almost painful intensity. Wow – Super. But one of the hardest to drink today – en attend!

3. Champy
Here is a lithe, almost silky nose – it’s understated, but very pretty. The flavour mounts very quickly in the mouth and has just a little phenolic bitterness. Direct intensity in the mid-palate. Rather understated, but equally concentrated to the wines around it.

4. Alex Gambal
Lemon-yellow. A wide and ripe nose of lemon fruit and fainter pineapple. Silky on the palate. Another wine where the intensity grows very fast. Here is an overt, extra dimension of flavour in the mid-palate. Balanced enough and although very long, not the longest.

5. Au Pied de Mont Chauve
Medium-pale colour. Fresh aromas with a core of green-skinned fruit. Lithe and direct with a lovely growing intensity. Good balance and fine length too.

6. Olivier Leflaive
Here the nose seems a little more diffuse, yet perhaps is more complex versus other wines primary directness. Good intensity yet round in shape and with a little salinity too. Not the most punch of these wines but I think one of the most complex, showing just a hint of phenolic bitterness in the finish.

7. Vincent Girardin Quintessence
Medium lemon-yellow colour. A little soapiness and lots of aromatic depth and interest. Lots of intensity – very, very impressive wine. Mineral, fresh, yet massive. Ouf!

8. Louis Latour
Really high-toned nose, some flowers and very, very pretty. In the mouth it starts round and understated, but grows and grows, unleashing a super flavour of green-tinged fruit that drives right through the minerality.

9. Bouchard Père et Fils
Pale lemon colour. Modest aromas, with faint toast. Round, with beautiful minerality and clarity. Faint phenolic bitterness and lovely flowing acidity – there’s an almost Chablis sweetness to the acidity. Lovely wine!

10. Tollot-Beaut
Medium-pale colour. Round and comfortable aromatics, perhaps a hint of sulfur too. Here is lovely richness and impressive density – but it manages to grow even more in the mid-palate. Super-intense and with fine length.

11. Marchand-Tawse
Medium-pale lemon-yellow. Ouf! Very prominent fruit on the nose slowly settles adding a floral dimension too. Silky, mineral and direct – as opposed to round. I like this very much – great finish too.

12. Bruno Clair
Here is a more discrete nose than most. Forward and friendly flavour but it becomes more and more intense before holding a really strong line of flavour, right through the finish.

13. Remoissenet Diamond Jubilee
A wide, slightly phenolic nose. Round, with super acidity which also displays a Chablis style mouth-watering sweetness – but with super intensity. Lovely finishing length.

14. Chanson – Corton-Vergennes
Lemon-yellow colour. The nose has width and a little toast aroma – plenty of depth too. Wide and silky in the mouth, always growing in intensity. Powerful green fruit flavour. Long but perhaps less intense in the finish. Tasty wine.

15. du Pavillon
Medium-pale lemon-yellow. Toffee amongst a round, though slightly uncommunicative, nose. The palate is round and rather silky with plenty of richness – amongst the most here. Lovely finishing complexity too. Compared to many here I might like a little more freshness – but in isolation it really doesn’t need it…

16. Faiveley
Medium yellow. A fine, complex nose though with a little more visible oak than most. Some viscous richness in the mouth and super complexity. Just enough energy keep me happy.

And – of-course just for the record – the crowd scores below might be interesting for you. It seems that they were skewed a little by the (majority) antipodean dislike of some phenolic flavour/texture. I find that interesting, because I like a little of that – but the table below is what it is: An easy win for winemaker Fabrice Lesne of Au Pied de Mont Chauve. Congratulations Fabrice!

charlemagne

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