Ambroise – 2017


Tasted in Premeaux with François Ambroise, 12 December 2018.

Maison Ambroise
8, rue de l’Eglise
21700 Premeaux Prissey
Tel: +33 3 80 62 30 19

François on 2018:
2018 – we thought we’d lost a lot as we were hit twice by hail between Nuits and Corgoloin, both times we thought we’d lost 30-40%. But we had the fortune that there was a drying wind and the warm dry weather after – many of the hailed grapes dropped to the ground, but the vibrating table caught most of the rest – but it was hard work, lots of triage at the vine – normally our 2 ha parcel of CdNV takes a day to harvest but we took two. The vines seemed to compensate, so in the end we were only about 30% down.

François on 2017:
The 2017 harvest started almost the same date as in 2018 around the 3-4 September. It’s a balanced vintage with a normal volume in reds, certainly less in white – the flowering was more chaotic for the whites – but I think it’s a white vintage though, they are certainly better than in 2015, approaching 2014. The reds is a classic vintage for burgundy, bringing in grapes with around 12° not 13° – except for Corton – like 15-16 or 18 – very balanced wines I think – but the whites came in at 13+°. I’ve been here since the 2005s and this is the first time I’ve made a good yield in all the domaine’s vineyards. Overall, in 2017 it was the cleanliness of the grapes that was most impressive – triage was needed for removing less ripe grapes – but virtually just that. It’s a vintage where the 1ers and grand crus have a depth of material that merits a proper length of elevage.

As for pricing, who can say. The 1er and grand crus won’t be changing despite two good volume vintages, but the villages and regionals? Probably yes – and that’s more than half of the production in Burgundy…

François was very open about the flack he’d received from some of his neighbours about his exit from organic certification in 2016, “I was organic and I still am – in terms of all my work in the vines – it’s just that, today, I have no certification. It’s ever since I used a systemic treatment in 2016 – I simply wasn’t prepared to lose most of the crop and still have to pay for certification. It was the regionals that needed the most help in 2016 – and as you know that’s a large part of the domaine here.

The wines…

This is a domaine that has changed so much for the positive – at least for my own taste. Bertrand is still around, but since his son, François, became front of house, I find the wines more accessible, and whilst still oaky, they are not dominated by that oak, yet they have lost none of the undoubted weight that they were renowned for. For me, François has restored the delicatesse of pinot which I previously couldn’t find. These are first class wines today – and I even bought some!

About half the wines have been bottled at this stage – it’s the same cooper for all the whites – Radoux – and it’s Billon for the reds. They used to us screw-cap here but it became too expensive: “It was okay for 30,000 personalized capsules for us, but then the suppliers changed to a minimum order of 50,000 for personalization and it was too expensive to buy that many and keep them for three years until all were used!” Today there’s much DIAM in use here – Origine – the Beaune is the first red with cork and all the higher wines cork. Whites start with DIAM too but change to cork from the Ladoix.

2017 Côteaux Bourguignone Lettre d’Eloïse
10% gamay – in 2018 it’s all pinot. Half foudre, half tank elevage.
Great colour. A deep nose – very fruited and inviting. Supple, actually rather concentrated and silky. Wide a bit of structure and a persistent, almost concentrated finish.

2017 Bourgogne Côte d’Or
They own almost 7 hectares of Bourgogne – all grapes from the Premeaux sector – Les Chaillots, les Grands Chaillots – 100% barrel and 20% new – but 400 litre barrels. Also one foudre. Bottled last week. Depart cave €10!
A deep nose, fresh, slightly mineral/graphite – even more inviting and slowly suggesting flowers too. Wide, fine textured, open, melting flavour. Excellent flavour and deliciously long. Excellent – but for the price Bravo!
2017 Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits
Also 20% new oak but 400 litres. Also bottled last week.
Full colour like the previous wines. Higher toned, still deep – this I find an exciting nose even a little more floral than the last. Nice volume – more structural wine – great line. This needs a little more patience, but it’s most definitely a step up in quality.
2017 Bourgogne Vieilles-Vignes
50% wc here – ‘the stems looked great and there was anyway only 25 hl/ha in yields. It’s rare we try WC here – a few tests in 04 and 06, but I’m happy with this.’ Not sure of the price ex cellar yet but probably €13-14. Also bottled last week.
Ooh – a completely different nose – heavily floral, faint spice – really very fine. Fresh, deep, layered wine – a very faint astringency. Complex, and delicious. Wait a while, but this is great wine – I ordered some.

2017 Cote de Nuits Villages
40% in foudre, lieu-dit Vaucrains next to Retraits and Clos de la Marechale, plus Les Trelles.
A big nose, deep, round, slightly textured and dark-fruited – a little graphite again. Round in the mouth too, and very silky, supple and as you come out the other end where it’s pure dark fruit – excellent!

2017 Beaune 1er Tuvillains
Made this wine with the same contract for 15 years, but not owned vines. 50% new wood, ¾ of which was 400 l barrels. Bottled last week.
Like all of these, really great colour. A wide nose, high-toned fruit – clearly different to the others. More volume, very fine textured – great flavour but with plenty of oak today. Super wine, but wait until you taste just the wine and not the oak.

All the remaining reds are not yet bottled:

2017 Nuits St.Georges
Was assembled about 2 weeks ago, probably for a January bottling – 50% new oak and 30% foudre. Premeaux sector – a mix of young and old vines.
Hmm – this is a fine, composed, almost silky nose, just with a touch of oak as the last note. More volume, beautifully silky again, – concentrated, a drag to the texture from the tannin but no astringency – long, beautiful flavour. This is simply delicious finishing. A very fine, excellent villages Nuits – of concentration!

2017 Vosne-Romanée aux Damaudes
From barrel for a bottling in January.
The nose is forceful but also a little tight vs the Nuits, perhaps a touch of oak here. More mouth-filling, more than a touch extra tannin to the texture. Mouth-watering. Here the finish has nicely vibrant flavour. Behind the Nuits in expression today, but there is more here for the future. A little patience is required for sure.

2017 Nuits St.Georges 1er Rue de Chaux
70% new oak, not moved from barrel yet. Probably assemble in another 3 weeks or so.
Hmm, a depth of faintly textured dark fruit, perhaps a touch of spice to this. Ooh, super line – a very direct, silky, mineral wine. Great texture, layered, widening flavour in the mid and finish. Floral plus a touch saline in the finish. Excellent – I love!

2017 Nuits St.Georges 1er Vaucrains
Next to the St.Georges of Thibaut Liger-Belair. All new oak, still in barrel. This will have a longer elevage.
Modest width and more barrel than fruit-oriented. A touch of gas, mouth-filling, with tons of energy – most of the flavours are oak inflected. The drive is good and the finish is simply excellent, but today this is wine that is defined by the relatively sauvage oak.

2017 Clos de Vougeot
A fermage contract. All new oak. Grands Maupertuis.
Very dark colour. A deep nose, very new barrel aroma with a firework reduction. Also in the mouth, very barrel, and reduction inflected. Depth of concentration, such a persistent weight of flavour. Be patient, but what it currently shows is excellent.

2017 Echézeaux
Bought grapes. Combe d’Orveaux.
There is oak here too, but fortunately also a great fruit and plenty of floral complexity. Full, energetic, complex, concentrated, great energy – simply a very excellent wine with very excellent length – potentially bravo!

2017 Corton Le Rognets
Domaine, a 0.66 hectare parcel. 100% new oak. €60 vs €210 for the Echézeaux, but that’s négoce prices for you!
A much wider nose – faintly textured very dark fruit before a smoky oak comes to the fore and stays dominant. Direct but still great width, layered, melting, ooh this is really great finish, with the faintest astringent memory – a little fumé in the finish too – but such fine shape and a precision despite the blurring effect of the oak, great texture and concentration. Excellent!

Les blancs…

2017 Bourgogne Aligoté
Bottled – 50% tank and the rest in foudre. All old vines – 75 yo. 40 hl/ha for €6-7 ex domaine!
Hmm, deep, cushioned, almost a caramel accent to the fruit. Wide, nicely textured, easy but delicious over the palate.

2017 Bourgogne Chardonnay
Vines in Premeaux, just 0.21 hectares of chardonnay near the Côteaux Bourguignone, elevage in foudre. Bottled. Didn’t ask as for Côte d’Or label as the yield was a little too high. 20% new barrels but all 400 l
Hmm, this has a nice cushioned freshness and depth of aroma. On the palate a little rich and round, touched by oak. But the finish is complex and very wide the last note from oak. A richer style of wine.

2017 Hautes Côtes de Nuits
A little behind the Clos de Marechale – Similar elevage to the last. There’s 10% pinot gris in this.
Hmm – more freshness and a more attractive depth of aroma. More open, more clarity, still a touch of oak but less visible. This is delicious. Very yum!

2017 Saint Romain
There was a little frost here in 2017. Bottled last week. 30% new oak.
A big nose, vibrant and perfumed – becoming more and more floral. A richness to the attack, but it’s an attack all the same. Round, tasty, but lacking the fresh drive of the nose due to this richness. Really great finishing though – it’s delicious here.

2017 Ladoix 1er Les Grechons
Also bottled. Just under the quarry of Magny les Villars. Bought for many years from this grower.
Hmm – wide and perfumed like the last – very attractive. Deep, supple, rich but more mobile and interesting. Growing intensity, layered flavour. It’s certainly a contemplative wine but it’s also a wine that is just so great! Excellent – this I love.

2017 Nuits St.Georges 1er Terres Blanches
All chardonnay, next to Patrice Rion above Perdrix.
A great volume of aroma – freshness but depth too. Volume in the mouth too – richness, a wine that has many changing flavours, slowly adding extra oak flavour from the middle into the finish, slightly saline in the finish. This is a super wine, contemplative but not heavy, and it’s very long…

2017 Meursault 1er Poruzots
Bought in must. A single new barrel.
A bigger nose – Meursault with freshness – lot’s of great volume here. Full, layered, a richness again, but really a complex and super-delicious wine. Complex and really great – Bravo – so long, just that this would have me saying ‘Genevrières!’ rather than Poruzots…

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