Tasted in Marsannay with Bruno Clair while Philippe Brun was topping up, 21 November 2017.
Domaine Bruno Clair
5 Rue du Vieux Collège
Tel: +33 3 80 52 28 95
Bruno on 2017:
“2017 – everyone’s been saved by that. We have wines that will be aromatic with finesse, but here it was even drier than in 2003. I had to urgently harvest a couple of whites but I waited for the reds after the rain and I think that really helped. There wasn’t a lot of malic acid and most of the wines are already doing their malolactic fermentations – it wont take long. The balance of malic/tartaric acids looked fine to start but then the malic dropped quickly. I’d say that the volume was normal, not excessive.”
Bruno on 2016:
“Frost and mildew. Vaudenelles we had zero grapes. In Grasses-Têtes we had 10 hl/ha and Longeroies 15hl/ha! Chambolle was frosted 90% for our vines, but below, our Bonnes-Mares was fine. Overall we lost two-thirds of our volume, but fortunately the more expensive wines were hardly touched so economically it’s more like we lost one-third from the perspective of value – so we had a lot of luck. We have 25 different cuvées from 7 different villages – so there will always be a problem somewhere! The reds were racked three weeks ago, probably for a bottling after the Spring – I didn’t rack the 2015s until bottling! I used much less whole-clusters than in 2015. I really tried to extract the minimum.”
I had a bit of a laugh with Bruno about his thoughts on recent vintages to which he offered the following gem: “Great vignerons don’t make great judges – you know my son was born in 1991, so of course I filled some magnums for him – I didn’t have any hope for them but they ended up great wines. On the contrary I thought 1995 a great vintage and what do we have today? Leather, spice and definitely not great wines!”
Whilst I haven’t highlighted a massive amount of wines here, this cellar still has a very high level of attainment in 2016 – the Clos de Bèze being one of my most memorable wines of the vintage!
2016 Marsannay Les Longeroies
Ooh, that’s an attractive nose with some whole-cluster aroma. Volume, freshness, not weight, but tons of fine complexity. Super length!
2016 Morey St.Denis En la Rue de Vergy
Higher tones, a little spice. Sweet, lovely volume, more layered with more weight than the Marsannay. Super in the finish. Love
‘A cold place there’s a current of air, it needs 10 days more than Romanée-Conti to ripen’
Very attractive, a complex nose, very Vosne. This has a bright, complex and very red fruit, some floral aspects too. Delicious again. Vibrant finishing – yes!
From Carougeots plus two other smaller parcels, including a little Belair 1er cru and Petits Fontenys
Wide, floral, roses and red fruit. More stricture but perfumed throughout. Beautiful flavour and it holds long. A fine blend of structure and perfume.
2016 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos du Fonteny
‘Here on the rock, almost a Chambolle in Gevrey’
Wide, vibrant, whole-clusters and red fruit accented perfume. More direct, fresher, a hint of reduction, beautiful tannin. The flavour is really beautifully comforting before a bright fresh finish. Super fine…
2016 Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Les Dominode
1.70 vines from 1902 – though only about 1/3 of the original 1902 vines remain today. Still, there’s not much wine – 8 barrels. ‘I never know where to place this in a tasting!’
Wow – much fresher, floral again but different flowers. Nice width and really great complexity – a laser of fine flavour through the middle – pure! Just a hint of more overt tannin than the previous wines, finishing more on the structure.
2016 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Petit Chapelle
‘Quite old vines.’
A bright freshness with a little herb. Really a wide and bright freshness, much finer tannin than the Dominode. Really from mid-palate onwards is more fresh energetic fine fruit – just getting bigger and bigger. Great!
2016 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Cazetiers
Planted in 1958
Vibrant, faintly reductive. ‘This wine never closes.‘ The nose isn’t so special today but the palate is fresh and multi-dimensional. Really fabulous, great wine with a little cushion and a lot of flavour.
2016 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St.Jacques
Planted in 1957, with same plant material as the Cazetiers, planted by Bruno’s father. ‘Unlike the brother this can open and close’
Big, open fresh, some whole-cluster aroma. Cooler, a more direct impression – a different energy, slowly opening, complex but not open armed like the Cazetiers. But the finish is a panorama – bravo! Right at the end the finish tightens with a little structure.
Old vines, 2/3 from 1912
The nose has modest impact but it’s super-wide, complex and so, so inviting. Just a hint of reduction on the palate but then comes width, complexity, fine texture and simply engaging deliciousness. Super elegant and complex without overwhelming. Fabulous!
In 2016 Bruno recovered the rest of the family parcel, so here is all the Bonnes-Mares of Morey. The first vintage like this.
A tighter more malevolent nose, implying weight, only implying. Big, in the mouth – here is volume but great flavour too – the structure is completely covered. The flavour is very fine. A wine to enjoy for 50 years, and surprisingly I could also enjoy it today! Long, a little mineral and very complex.
2009 Marsannay Grasses-Têtes
Big, fresh, complex – with a little age and a bright line of red fruit. Supple, really some fat to the wine, layers of deep, rich but fresh flavour. Ooh this is impressive stuff. It was hailed – people forget about 2009. Wait another couple of years says Bruno
“I know that whites in the Côte de Nuits are niche, but this is an interesting terroir and I’ve never had an oxidised one. At my age I wouldn’t dig out the rock that’s there now, like I did when I was 25 – I look back and think I had courage!”
A little freshness, complexity too. Wide, mouth-watering and sweetly mouth-watering at that. Mineral and long – delicious wine that’s both saline and mouth-watering – really a great and involving finish.