Tasted in Puligny-Montrachet with Benoît Riffault, 22 October 2020.
Domaine Etienne Sauzet
11 Rue de Poiseul
Tel: +33 3 80 21 32 10
It took a while, but I finally managed to ‘break-in’ and get to taste at Domaine Etienne Sauzet – it was worth the wait!
Etienne Sauzet (b.1903) assembled his domaine in the inter-war years, some of the vines coming through inheritance. It was Gérard Boudot, who took on the domaine in 1974. There were changes in 1991 when, due to another round of inheritance, the domaine ownership was split between the three grandchildren of Etienne – one of whom was Jeanine Boillot, the wife of Gérard Boudot. Another of those grandchildren was Jean-Marc Boillot, and rather than owning a share of the domaine, he chose to be paid out in the form of vineyards.
Boudot, has now been succeeded by his daughter, Emilie, who has been at the domaine since 2000, and his son-in-law Benoît Riffault who has been at the domaine since 2002. The domaine has been farmed organically since 2006, switching to biodynamic management in 2010.
Benoît on 2020:
“A very early harvest of course. The start of the growth was rapid and it stayed rapid! A road that was warm and dry, becoming more and more dry! Things became ready quite early but not too quickly so we had an easier time to harvest, allowing us to follow the maturities. We started 22 August – not a record here. Starting low finishing high. We are happy, the juice was nice, the balance seems nice and the fermentations are going well – the volume was more than we could have hoped for.”
Benoît on 2019:
“Of-course we were badly impacted by the frost – mainly the bottom of the hills in villages and our Bourgogne. 04-05 April the buds were still only in the ‘cotton’ stage but they were very often affected – so in these areas we had a small half-harvest. The flowering didn’t help, not the best weather conditions. The summer was dry and warm like in 2020 – harvesting started 09 September. The alcohols were quite strong and though we could have harvested earlier, I just felt that the aromatics of the grapes weren’t ready before. The result is an impressive concentration also aromatically – strong but with a fine terroir aspect – they are saline and mouth-watering so I’m happy.”
I was very lucky to taste this day – the wines showed outrageously well – such a great range. On this showing, one of the greatest white domaines for 2019s.
All the wines are assembled – since just before the harvest. They are planning to start bottling their regionals before Christmas, the villages in January/February – finally the 1ers, etcetera, more like March and April. Classic cork is used here to seal the bottles but 49mm with different widths and then finishing with wax. All the corks are pre-tested for TCA.
2019 Bourgogne Chardonnay
this cuvée from 3 parcels in the commune of Puligny, plus some bought grapes from the bottom of Meursault too.
Not a wide nose, but one of nice shape and a classy clarity of citrus notes. A beautiful mix of flavour and direction, silky textured and the minerality is quite strong here, but not quite harsh or steely. That’s a lovely mouth-watering finish – almost a great Bourgogne.
2019 Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune Jardin de Calvert
‘We bought a domaine in the Hautes Côtes behind Rochpot after the 2014 harvest – the esprit here is a little like St.Romain.’ 4-500 m of altitude here, made in foudres.
Wider, nicely vibrant yellow citrus here. Plenty of gas. But the volume and intensity work together to give you a big shape and a really mouth-watering sensation again. A little more yellow citrus finishing this time, but no less citrus, indeed more intensity overall, almost a little zesty…
12 parcels in 7 different climats – a large part from Les Meix – approaching one-third. Houlières, Enceigners, Rue au Vaches and others…
Higher-toned, wider, more enticing – not full power but very great invitation all the same. Crystal clear – a clarity of flavour – a wide base of mouth-watering citrus and minerality – a cool-flavoured wine. Wow – Class.
2019 Puligny-Montrachet 1er La Garenne
Direction Blagny with some depth of soil here.
Not a large nose, but there’s some mineral vibration in the aroma. Bigger scale – and scale is the word as this has a finely structural architecture. The citrus intensity is very impressive – a little more reductive style here, but completely delicious.
Narrower, deeper aroma – vibrant and just a little reductive again. Wide – a panorama of flavour here, extra saline, super mouth-watering. Classic high-tension Puligny. That’s a super extra intensity of finishing flavour too – a long slow diminuendo to finish. Bravo! A little finishing tannin
Bubbling with smoky reduction – the clarity of aroma is highly impressive for all these wines. Extra gas here. Take away the gas and the intensity is still higher – slowly calming in more mouth-watering flavour – though still flowing well over the palate. The finish still showing a point of reduction and such impressive intensity too. Bravo – but really needing a bit of patience.
It’s a super nose – the power, the minerality but such an endearing floral quality too – it just seems ‘extra’ – great. Yet in the mouth this is direct, chalky, well-textured, every bit as intense and concentrated as the previous wines – young too – not an early-drinking bottle – though perhaps ‘earlier.’ The finish just that little wider and more complex as opposed to the outrageous intensity of the last. More faintly touched by the finishing tannin. Perhaps my favourite today – so far.
A nose of depth, taking some of the best parts of the Champs Canet and adding an extra ripeness of yellow citrus below. A wide, wide, panorama – intense, rather mineral impression. The texture, again, is practically silky. Then widens and adds an accent of salinity – growing stronger – a certain extra dryness of finishing tannin too so that whilst mouth-watering, it’s not quite juicy. That’s a great longer-term – say 5-10 years wine – Real quality.
That’s the first group of wines – the second basket of samples now on its way:
2019 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Combettes
Not the biggest nose, but here’s a fine and airy, practically ethereal style – nice. A little more depth and texture – there’s some power here. Structural but not hard – certainly growing in steely intensity. Excellent as it clearly is, still another wine to really wait for… A great agrume finish – a little zesty too, super.
We’re starting on high and working down, this from a contract in the high part of Chevalier.
Ooh – that’s so very good – very wide, mixing both fine herbs and citrus fruits of all kind. So juicy directly. Mouth-filling, of course, growing in intensity, the flavour almost widening after you swallow. Faintly textural in the finish, also a suggestion of zesty fruit here. Worth its label…
The third parcel away from Pucelles, old vines since 1936 – a small cuvée
Yes! Vibrant, mineral, who cares about the faint reduction – This is great. A lot of gas. Such intensity, wide, insinuating with citrus acidity. That’s a great wine – not a bit fat – really a super, almost unending in the finish – properly follows the Chevalier with aplomb – bravo, great even for grand cru…
The prolonging of their Bienvenues parcel that runs all the way up to the Montrachet vines of Laguiche.
A more considered aromatic, less forward but no less interestingly deep and mineral vs the Bienvenues. More granular texture – proper tannin here, just a touch more comfort to the depth of flavour vs the Bienvenues too. Very wide and complex finishing – where the Bienvenues was direct, this a width. Super Bâtard.
Technically ‘Le’ but not on the label
This nose is relatively composed but with great clarity – faintly lemon citrus and an implied depth. It’s the structure that’s different, there is comfort but different to the Bâtard, there is the tannic texture but much more hidden. Then there is the sustaining finish – a combination of the previous two – wide but still with direction. More ‘together’ than with of the previous wines. Perhaps the combination of the two but still with more impressive structure. Laguiche is close, and I haven’t tasted the DRC, but perhaps this could be the greatest Montrachet in 2019(?)