A summer trip through Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Fuées.
The village of Chambolle-Musigny plugs the gap north of Vougeot, and South of Morey St.Denis. Chambolle is regarded as the ‘Volnay of the Côte de Nuits’, but like the rest of Burgundy, that’s an over-simplification. Yes there can be a delicacy to the aromas of a good Chambolle, but there is considerable variation possible from the village’s 24 premier crus and 2 grand crus – truth be told, many of those premier crus are rather anonymous.
Les Fuées is, for Chambolle, a reasonable size premier cru vineyard (4.38 hectare) that forms the south-west border of the grand cru Bonnes-Mares. Fuées lies at about the same altitude as Bonnes-Mares; 280-300 meters. As you will note from that altitude range, there is not much of a gradient to those east-facing vines as they slope down to the road that joins Chambolle and Morey. Not only does Les Fuées form a border with Bonnes-Mares, it is a geological continuation with the same underlying oolitic limestone rock – similarly there are lots of hard stones in the soil too – there is just one obvious difference between the grand cru and its junior neighbour and you can probably make it out in the image at the head of the page – most of the vines are planted perpendicular to each other. Jules Lavalle’s book rated Fuées as a ‘Premier Cuvée’ together with Veroilles, Cras, Amoureuses and Bonnes-Mares – there was only one Tête de Cuvée – Musigny.
And the name? Les Fuées is a word of Burgundian origin, indicating ‘the vineyard surface that a man can hoe in one day’ – according to Marie-Hélène Landrieu-Lussigny.
I’ve long been a fan of this vineyard; for a long time I regularly enjoyed the wine of JF Mugnier until it took on something of a price spiral after the 2000 vintage. In Mugnier’s range, for years I also preferred it to his Bonnes-Mares, and from an academic perspective, usually the Amoureuses too; that latter wine whilst strikingly pretty, by comparison often playing the dumb blonde. Les Fuées is really a synthesis of the aromas of Chambolle with just a hint of the earthiness, and more than a hint of the depth of flavour of a Bonnes-Mares, a richness if you prefer. I actually prefer it to most Bonnes-Mares, though from about 2005 onwards I think Mugnier’s Bonnes-Mares overtook his Fuées. For my taste I simply find that many Bonnes-Mares can be too brutal, at least in their youth.
I’ve bought a few bottlles, magnums too, from the latter years (2005 onwards) of Maison Nicolas Potel, but below are a few that kept me busy during the summer. Many of the wines that follow would offer more interest than a modestly priced Grand Cru:
Medium colour. The nose is wide with flashes of dark red berries though essentially it’s a tight core of fruit. Very slowly it adds a creamy accent and quite pretty. The palate is lithe and finely muscled, not fat but certainly intense. Good understated acidity and a very mineral, quite dense and long-lasting flavour from the mid-palate onwards into the finish. Impressive.
Medium-plus colour. The nose on this is also a little tight at the core, hints of menthol above red berries – here the fruit has a candied coating. Silky and intense. the acidity is understated but completely adequate. There’s a dark flavour in the mid-palate that is partly mineral, partly resembling licorice, partly saline – it is very long lasting. In all dimensions this is more muscular than the 2006, but I have the impression that what the 06 lacks in muscle it makes up for in intensity.
Medium colour. To start there is some animale about the nose, below is a broad if not deep complexity. The animale is quickly replaced with an ever-changing array of aromas before eventually delivering pretty red berries – very impressive. The first impression is a little warmth to the flavours allied to a more mineral dimension. The structure is understated, tannin and acidity being quite discreet. A medium intensity with a fine texture. Super aromatics, the rest is pure understatement.
Medium, medium-plus colour. The first sniff reveals nothing of the vintage, the second a little and the third more – in a short time I estimate a 5/10 intensity for the vintage character – it obscures everything else for me. In the mouth I have to say the texture is super – very fine velvet – the intensity of flavour is more than delivered by the 2007, but the aromas from the nose are more than evident in the mouth too.
A négoce wine. The last time I had this there was a strong vintage character and here it is today too – a little stronger than the Perrot-Minot, let’s say at a 7/10 intensity. In the mouth there seems to be both a good balance and good freshness, in particular there seems to be a very engaging mid-palate energy and a creamy extra dimension to the fruit. That part is very impressive, but it’s vintage character all the way through the finish…
Medium-plus colour. Deep, rich, dark red fruit aromas – almost cordial. Intense, quite some blocky extract. There’s a linear intensity through the centre of this wine – it doesn’t narrow or widen, it goes like a train. The flavour has some of the dark mineral flavour of the Jadots, it’s also very long. Today this is a little tight, austere and far from seamless but it is far from lacking material. Return in 10 years.
Medium colour. High-toned red, close to orange confiture fruits at the first sniff. Eventually the nose delivers very pretty red berries. Beautiful texture – just off-fat. Intense with extra hints of cream to the fruit in the mid-palate. Not a wine that delivers fireworks in the mid-palate, rather one whose flavours just keep going on and on.
Medium colour. Plenty of wood frames the first aromas, but it’s transient as swirling releases higher-toned fruit that’s almost floral over a deeper, darker more classic base. Not the seamless texture of their 2008, the tannin stands slightly to the side and offers a bitter-chocolate edge, but the flavours are excellent and complex – they only miss the clarity of the 2008.
Medium colour. Deep, interesting, slightly fecund aromas – mmm – then flashes of high-toned fruit and faint spice. Whilst the tannin stands a little to the side, this has the energy and intensity that many 2007s lack. Dark red fruit and some of that dark mineral flavour in the mid-palate and into the finish. Very fine 2007.
Medium colour. Rather focused aromas for a 2007, there’s a burst of dark red fruit, the darkness suggesting a little reduction, there is fine width though more limited depth. Slowly the nose becomes more and more forward. Riper and with slightly improved integration of tannin yet less energetic and extrovert than the Barthod. It is very fine, but I prefer the Barthod.
Medium-plus colour. The nose has depth and almost texture; sometimes when you have brett there’s a texture impression, and I have it here, but it seems clean enough. The fruit is dark and occasionally gives flashes of brilliance. It’s fresh and intense, keep it in your mouth and it becomes even more intense as the acidity penetrates your tongue. The tannin really only shows itself – and mildly – from the mid-palate into the finish and as a slightly bitter but flavour adhering additive – hmm, licorice I think. Actually there is more flavour in the finish than you get at the start – it really builds and builds. Overall – full-packed, hinting to rustic but full of interest and I might even say fun! If the nose didn’t slowly develop a more floral and pretty ‘whole’ I don’t think you’d ever have ‘Chambolle’ as your first guess – I suppose that’s the proximity to Bonnes-Mares for you. I’m happy to have a couple of larger format bottles to work through from 2020 onwards!