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               Why Big Red Diary?

a mix of 2004’s, late 2003’s and a hint of 2005’s

If I take a random selection of wines from good producers, then compare 2003 with 2004 then nine times out of ten, I prefer the 2004’s – and the more 2004’s I taste the more my impression is of a similarity to 2001 (for the sophistication of the tannins) but with an extra edge of flesh. Fresher, more aromatically interesting and silkier than the 2003’s and quite enough concentration too – and that’s just the reds – for whites it’s no contest, 2004 is the hands-down winner. One important point on the 2003’s – make sure you serve them at the correct temperature – 15-18°C is perfect and will show them at their best. If you go higher they typically lose all cohesion and become very flabby and unfocused.

Domaine Bertagna
Maison Albert Bichot
Maison Bouchard Aîne et Fils
Domain des Chézeaux
Maison Alex Gambal
Maison J.Moreau et Fils
Maison Nicolas Potel

As I’ve tasted a number of 04’s from bottle in the last weeks, with no real place to fit them in Burgundy Report, I decided then, to make this dedicated ’roundup’ page. Also included are the Chézeaux 03’s – definitely fresh and aromatic enough for a place in the cellar.

Domaine Bertagna

It was a cold March afternoon of tasting in Vougeot – unfortunately it may have been a little too cold, as I found all the domaine’s wines far too closed on the nose – shame – because I really like the wines of Claire Forestier but it will be a good excuse to go back again! Yields were low in 2004 but up on 2003 so Claire was pleased about that!

2004 Domaine Bertagna, Hautes Côtes de Nuits Dames Huguettes
A mineral, slightly medicinal nose – dominates the fruit. The palate has depth, and good acidity. The tannin is a little grainy but the finish is almost good.
2004 Domaine Bertagna, Vougeot Le Village
Tight but rounder nose, high tones slowly evolving. The palate is softer and sweeter, still a little grain to the tannin, but the fruit from the mid-palate has a nice creamy coating. Nice wine.
2004 Domaine Bertagna, Chambolle-Musigny Le Village
From old vines. Closed on the nose. Bigger in the mouth, good acidity and nicer tannins – a little more structured than the village Vougeot. Again from the mid-palate the fruit really shines – should be a really nice wine.
2004 Domaine Bertagna, Vougeot 1er Cru Les Petits Vougeots
The nose is tight, just a little red-berry influence. Wide and mouth-filling palate – a real increase in interest, but not quite the extra mid-palate depth to the fruit. Good wine.
2004 Domaine Bertagna, Vougeot 1er Cru, Les Cras
Tight nose with an oaky edge. The wine has a very good texture and fat, the tannin combines well with the fruit. Quite long too, though I prefer the villages.
2004 Domaine Bertagna, Vougeot 1er Cru Clos de la Perrière
Tight nose, yet still some interesting high tones and an edge of oak. The palate seems to have just a little extra structure vs the previous wines. Very good length too. This is a very nice wine.
2004 Domaine Bertagna, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Plantes
This also a little tight but shows some sweet red fruit. Fatter with good texture, lovely balance and good length. A very good wine.
2004 Domaine Bertagna, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Beaux Monts
Tight-shut, swirling eventually brings a little sweetness. Palate has furry tannin – quite velvety. Lovely depth to the fruit and good length. Some complexity here – this is a super wine.
2004 Domaine Bertagna, Nuits St.Georges 1er Cru, Les Murgers
Closed – almost no smell. The tannins are more to the fore vs the Vosne. Good fruit with nice depth to it. Very good length, though the tannin is just dominating. Give this 3-4 years in the cellar to soften.
2004 Domaine Bertagna, Clos St.Denis Grand Cru
Again, almost no nose. A lovely palate – real extra dimension from the mid-palate onwards. The length and balance are first rate. This is a very fine wine.
2004 Domaine Bertagna, Chambertin Grand Cru
Closed. Not fat, rather supple and lithe. Concentrated with lovely depth and intensity plus almost good tannins. Not as ‘big’ as the Clos St.Denis but there’s great poise to this wine – lovely.
2004 Domaine Bertagna, Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru
Tight, perhaps a little creamy red fruit. High-toned fruit in the mouth. Refreshing acidity and good structure – some power too. Just a little austere, but surely very fine as a minimum.
2004 Domaine Bertagna, Corton Grand Cru, Les Grands Lolières
Tight, coffee-edged fruit. Sweet palate with super depth to the fruit. Plenty of grippy tannin but the overall wine is quite well balanced. Big and muscular – but with manners. A very good wine.
2004 Domaine Bertagna, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
Has a lovely creamy edge to the nose – in fact it’s almost the only wine with any aromatics! Intense and long this is a real beauty who’s fruit puts on a real extra grand cru burst in the mid-palate that slowly fades into the finish. This is a very good wine.

Maison Albert Bichot

A really impressive set of wines – purity mixed with very good concentration. What I particularly enjoy is their (Bichot’s) approach; sitting together and challenging and criticising their own wines – in any company – as refreshing as their tasty 2004’s.

It’s now over 12 months since they purchased the large cuverie of Bouchard Père set on the Beaune periphique; it is slowly getting closer to the configuration that they are looking for i.e. the ability to produce many more ‘micro-cuvées’. This is explained by their eventual aim; to vinify 100% of the wines under their own label – no more purchasing of must or finished wine – they pinpoint control of the grape pressing to be a key determinant to final quality.

With regard to vintage specifics, 2004 was harder work for them than either 2003 or 2005, though the whites were less difficult than the reds. They needed 3 ‘harvests’, one green, one to eliminate bad grapes and finally the ‘real’ harvest. In many cases their post-triage yields were lower than in 2003, so there is no intention to reduce the prices, but they seem a little concerned as to whether the market will ‘understand’.

Domaine Long-Depaquit continue to refine their wine-making style; Jean Didier continues to push for more precision. Vineyard work is lute raisonée and whilst the grapes for the village wine are still harvested by machine, the 1er and grand crus are 100% hand-harvested. Emphasis on all ‘natural’ in the cuverie – no cultured yeasts for instance. 100% stainless-steel elevage for the base Chablis, stainless-steel followed by 2 months in the grand cru barrels (after removing the gc’s!) for the 1er crus, whereas the grand crus are 15-20% barrel fermented, but no new oak.

2004 Long-Depaquit, Chablis
Pale to medium yellow with and edge of green. The nose fresh, hints at floral notes over a little citrus – a good start. Some minerality, lovely acidity and an interesting length. Full marks at this price-point and it could easily be drunk now.
2004 Long-Depaquit, Chablis 1er Cru Les Vaillons
Pale to medium yellow. Just a trace of oak on the nose, musky depth, but not opening quite so much as the villages wine. Fatter in the mouth, not the same instant impression of fresh acidity as the villages wine, but it comes through into the finish. Stony with a very good length – a good wine – and it certainly needs more time in the cellar than the villages.
2004 Long-Depaquit, Chablis 1er Cru Les Vaucopins
Pale to medium yellow. The nose is not so ‘solid’ as the Vaillons, still tight but more open and higher toned. A wide palate with lovely acidity – it seems much more mineral and precise than the Vaillons which is the more opulent. Very different presentation, I personally prefer this style.
2004 Long-Depaquit, Chablis Grand Cru Les Blanchots
Super nose – more open and floral – perhaps still a little tight so not much width, but there is real depth here. Lovely texture – really fills the mouth with a wide impression – but will need some time in the cellar to build complexity as it’s a very linear and mineral expression, super length, super wine. This wine saw 20% (old) barrel fermentation, the aim is not to introduce oak flavour, rather to find an ‘extra dimension’.
2004 Long-Depaquit, Chablis Grand Cru Moutonne
This wine saw 15% barrel fermentation. The widest nose here, but doesn’t match the impressive depth of the ‘Blanchots’ – quite ripe in complexion. Despite the extra ripeness to the fruit on the nose, it is certainly the most mineral impression of any of these wines. Despite this, there is a rich texture to wine, etching the flavour into the palate – very deep stony fruit. The Blanchots is a the more steely, this has the most impact. A worthy addition to any cellar.
2004 Albert Bichot, Saint Romain
Négociant wine. Pale yellow. High-toned nose that seems a little thick in the middle – no new oak used here. The palate is fresh and opens out very nicely. This wine has good density and none of the ‘raised’ acidity that is common from this appellation. A very good St.Romain.
2004 Albert Bichot, Saint Aubin
Wider nose than their St.Romain, initially more diffuse but stronger notes. Higher acidity than the St.Romain, very nice, mouth-filling complexity. Medium length. Good wine, I’ve tasted much worse 1er Crus from this appellation.
2004 Domaine du Pavillon, Meursault
From the west side of the appellation. Medium yellow. A very floral nose with hints of herb overlaying the fruit. Fatter, well balanced acidity, in-fact very good acidity. Really does have an extra dimension and depth of complexity. Again, medium length, but the real interest for this wine is in the mouth. A very tasty wine indeed.
2004 Domaine du Pavillon, Meursault 1er Cru Les Charmes
The vines for this wine come from a parcel that runs from the top to bottom of the vineyard. The nose is tighter than that of the villages wine, more fruit, less floral but plenty of high tones. Another wine that really fills the mouth, fruit is more in the mid and high registers. Much longer than the villages wine. Very well presented.
2004 Domaine du Pavillon, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
From vines situated above Languettes on the Ladoix side, 100% barrel fermented, 40% new wood with 15 months in the wood. Depth and width on the nose with an intense mineral scent. The palate is much more concentrated and linear than the ‘Charmes’. Whilst it is undoubtedly very long finishing, the linearity means that it is showing very little today but it should have a great future as the balance is super.
2004 Albert Bichot, Bourgogne Pinot Noir Vieilles Vignes
Amply demonstrating the challenge that vignerons faced with this vintage, in 2002 Bichot were able to produce 10,000 cases of this wine – for the same quality in 2004 only 2,000 could be made. Fresh, bright cherry nose – almost a Ribena aspect. Sweet and clean it nicely fills the mouth. A little grainy tannin, but a very well-crafted Bourgogne.
2004 Domaine du Pavillon, Pommard Clos des Ursulines
A lovely floral nose – violets with a mineral undertow. Much more structure than the Bourgogne, very good acidity and mouth-coating tannins. The fruit is high-toned with lovely extension into the mid-palate – and further! A very stylish Pommard. Lovely.
2004 Domaine du Pavillon, Aloxe-Corton 1er Cru Clos des Marechaudes
Even more mineral nose than the Pommard Ursulines – hints of cedar over a tight base of fruit. Very good acidity, it’s a very fresh presentation – too fresh(?) The Pommard that preceded it was both friendlier and riper. Despite the tannin also hinting at a little greenness this is very drinkable and has good length.
2004 Domaine du Pavillon, Corton Grand Cru Clos des Marechaudes
Deep colour. The nose is pretty good, both depth and width. Much riper than its Aloxe-Corton neighbour. Good texture to the tannins and the concentrated fruit stains your taste-buds. Impressive.
2004 Albert Bichot, Gevrey-Chambertin Les Corvées
A négociant wine which is a blend of villages and 1er cru grapes. Medium colour. A fresh and wide nose – quite interesting. In the mouth the wine is not fat, but has both depth and concentration. A nice pure example of ‘Villages’ value.
2004 Albert Bichot, Nuits St.Georges Les Crots
A cedary nose with hints of green pepper over a creamy depth. A sweeter palate with more forward tannin. Certainly an extra dimension here vs the villages Gevrey. Nicely interesting finish too.
2004 Clos Frantin, Vosne-Romanée
This vintage also contains young-vines from Les Malconsorts. The nose is not so deep, but has super width – very stylish. Sweet palate with lots of interest. The acidity is good, though there’s a slight grain to the tannin. Frankly this is a really excellent villages and a good showcase for the 2004 vintage.
2004 Clos Frantin, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Malconsorts
Only 20 hectolitres per hectare in 2004. This wine’s nose also shows a super width with wonderfully precise notes of high-toned fruit though again today with limited depth. The palate is explosive – wonderful complexity and concentration – though the tannins have some grain about them – yet the overall effect is excellent. Super wine – the hard work really shows here.
2004 Clos Frantin, Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru
Versus the Malconsorts; darker with a much tighter nose – almost unforgiving in nature – classic, austere, young Clos de Vougeot. Very linear in presentation, concentrated, long and backed up with very executive tannins – very fine. This wine makes quite a statement, and rather like their (Pavillon’s) Corton-Charlemagne, a wine for the future.

Maison Bouchard Aîne et Fils

Part of JC Boisset’s forces of world domination. Bouchard Aîne, based in Beaune’s Hôtel du Conseiller du Roy, is one of the oldest names in Burgundy, established in 1750, eventually becoming part of the Boisset group in 1992.

In 2000, Boisset made investments in a new winery close to the ‘Hotel’, and in 2002 launched the ‘Cuvée Signature’ range. Whilst everything is made from bought-in grapes, each producer’s grapes are vinified separately to keep an eye on the quality. I tasted some of the 2003 and 2004 ‘CS’ releases with their maker, Laurent Mairet, finding the quality just about deserving the tag ‘good’, and certainly no bad wines – I thought the whites were more successful.

2004 Bouchard Aîne, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot Blanc
From 40 year-old vines. Intense nose. The plate shows good concentration and is nicely backed by the balancing acidity. Medium length, this is a nice wine.
2004 Bouchard Aîne, Meursault 1er Cru Porusot
From 45 year-old vines. The wine starts a little more linear and closed in vs the Chassagne, but from the mid-palate the concentration bursts forward. This is interesting and a good wine.
2004 Bouchard Aîne, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru le Cras
From 30 year-old vines, vinified using 30% new oak. Whilst there is some width to the nose and a few high and mineral tones, this wine seems rather tight. Sweet palate with grainy tannin and medium length. A tasty, if unsophisticated wine.
2004 Bouchard Aîne, Echézeaux Grand Cru
From vines approaching 60 years-old. A wide nose with some high tones, but again a little tight and showing no depth. The palate shows plenty of grainy tannin and reasonable spicy concentration. It’s clean, but many 1er crus deliver more intensity, depth and complexity, so I can only describe this as ‘okay’.
2003 Bouchard Aîne, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Les Peuillets
From 40 year-old vines raised in 30% new oak. The nose is rather ashy. Lots of material here, a wine that slowly expands into the finish. The fruit is pretty good but I find the tannins currently rather ungainly, to a certain extent, spoiling the fruit in the mid-palate. Everything seems ripe, so given 3-5 years for the tannins to soften and it might be almost good.
2003 Bouchard Aîne, Clos de la Roche Grand Cru
From 60 year-old vines raised in 40% new oak. The nose is a hint reductive, but there’s plenty of black fruit and raisin notes. A concentrated, astringent palate. Packed with extract, but I wouldn’t want to drink it now. It is easily spotted as a 2003, but has plenty of interest and could be almost good in time.

Domaine des Chézeaux

I haven’t visited Chézeaux for almost three years, so it was good to see Chantal Nemes-Mercier again. The 2004’s were not quite in bottle so we took a tour through the 2003’s instead, and for the first time contrasting the Ponsot and Leclerc elevage for the Griotte-Chambertin – side-by-side. As regards the domaine’s vineyard arrangements, there have been no changes in the last years.

The good news for regular customers is not just that the quality remains on a high level, but that the domaine will not be increasing their prices for 2004’s or plan to do so for the 2005’s – so from 2000 onwards (maybe longer) they have kept prices stable.

As a group the 2003’s are not at all over-cooked, showing pure and restrained aromatics, some really do hit the high spots – only the lower acidity giving clue to the vintage.

2003 Domaine des Chézeaux, Gevrey-Chambertin
An open nose, high tones, a little red berry and even a hint of blue, just a hint of 2003 but not too much so. There’s plenty of concentration and the tannins have some grab and astringency – plenty of ripe red fruit on the finish though. A successful wine, particularly in the context of the vintage. Not the stunning elegance of the 2002, but of-course in this vintage…
2003 Domaine des Chézeaux, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru
A little deeper in colour than the village wine. The nose is a little more reticent and mineral, slowly widening and deepening with darker and darker fruit. More tannin than the villages wine, but it’s also much finer grained and has almost no astringency. The fruit is concentrated and provides good balance and good length too. A significant step-up from the villages and great value.
2003 Domaine des Chézeaux, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Charmes
The nose is not so deep, but shows width and interesting, if linear fruit. The palate is wide and not obviously 2003 in complexion. Plenty of fine tannin and reasonable acidity. This is rather nice.
2003 Domaine des Chézeaux, Clos St.Denis Grand Cru Vieilles Vignes
High-toned, a nose of more depth than width, but given time it widens too. The entry starts a little disappointingly until you reach the mid-palate where the fruit really rolls up it sleeves – it’s super intense and tasty. The tannins are just a little grainy but there’s very fine length.
2003 Domaine des Chézeaux, Griotte-Chambertin Grand Cru (Ponsot)
The nose takes a little coaxing but gets wider and wider with quite lovely fruit. The tannin is much finer vs their Clos St.Denis with similar depth to the wonderfully precise fruit. Long too, this is fantastic wine.
2003 Domaine des Chézeaux, Griotte-Chambertin Grand Cru (Leclerc)
The nose is even wider than the Ponsot bottling though the ripe, red fruit is a little blurred in comparison. Sweeter palate with tannins that are not quite so fine, though the fruit does seem to have an edge more concentration. There’s real impact in the mid-palate and a great finish too, though a little astringent tannin appears at the end. More impact, less refinement – depends how you like your Griotte!
2003 Domaine des Chézeaux, Chambertin Grand Cru
The bottle is cold, but the nose starts surprisingly open, a hint of reduction perhaps, but this is transient. Becomes even wider, good depth too – beautiful fruit – sweet and fine. The texture is first-rate, super-smooth tannins dovetail into gorgeously creamy fruit. If there was just a hint more acidity you could guess this to be a 2002 (or maybe 2005 in another year or two). The tannin just shows a little after you swallow. Another gorgeous wine.
2002 Domaine des Chézeaux, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Charmes
A wine too far. Paler than the 2003’s. The nose is unusually mineral with a little cured meat being the main note. Much less plush than the 03’s, again there’s quite a savoury aspect to the palate, plenty of tannin, but not too drying. The fruit is quite nice, but this wine struggles to follow the extra sweetness of the 2003’s.

Maison Alex Gambal

The team are now housed in their new premises on the Beaune periphique. Big and quite impressive, yet could feature in a Buster Keaton film with the number of comical doors opening out onto leg-breaking (as a minimum) drops!

Their 2004’s are an interesting bunch that major on freshness, though the acidity occasionally appears borderline harsh – generally lovely aromatics.

2004 Alex Gambal, Bourgogne Chardonnay
Very pale colour. The nose is forward and high-toned if slightly diffuse. Good sweetness and acidity though with a slightly harsh edge. Give it a few months to settle-down in the bottle.
2004 Alex Gambal, Meursault, Clos du Cromin
Bought-in as juice. Again very pale in colour. A much deeper nose than the bourgogne, precise and interesting. Good acidity with a wide and expansive palate, good length too. This is mineral and fresh – very athletic in pose – distance rather than power, taught and tight. Super villages.
2004 Alex Gambal, Puligny-Montrachet
This is the first year that they have managed to source the grapes – before it was must. A little more intense yellow colour. An understated, slightly tight nose. The palate has good acidity and quite some depth – nicely concentrated – makes a good impression. It’s a nice wine, but blind, I wouldn’t have guessed it was from Puligny.
2004 Alex Gambal, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos St.Jean
A deep nose overlayed with interesting high tones, hinting at a creamier base. The palate is race-horse lean, with fine texture and good length too. An interesting and quite racy wine.
2004 Alex Gambal, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er La Maltroie
Versus their Clos St.Jean this is much more closed, tightly wound pineapple hints on the nose. More mineral with high-ish acidity, but there’s lots of interest on the palate that goes a long way in the finish. I marginally prefer the Clos St.Jean.
2004 Alex Gambal, Corton-Charlemagne
From a relatively early picking of vines on the Pernand side. Pale colour. Lovely depth, complexity and concentration on the nose. Lots of excitement here, very good acidity, but perhaps this bottle is missing a hint of buffering sweetness. Still, lovely aromatics.
2004 Alex Gambal, Savigny-lès-Beaune Vieilles Vignes
A lovely high-toned nose that mixes floral aspects with tart red-cherry. Again, in common with the whites, this is racy in style with very good acidity coupled to well mannered tannins. Lots of finishing interest here.
2004 Alex Gambal, Volnay 1er Cru Santenots
Gambal’s second year with this wine, but due to the extra 2004 triage only 4 barrels instead of the usual 6. Another lovely high-toned nose, floral with a hint of steel – lots of interest. A little more structure than the Savigny, good tannins and concentration to match – the flavour really clings to your tongue – very impressive.
2004 Alex Gambal, Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru
This year 4 barrels from two suppliers. Medium colour. The nose is very tight so giving little away, though a touch of cedar is apparent, eventually a little high-toned cherry evolves. Good, well textured tannins coupled to good concentration. Another 2004 Clos de Vougeot with classic austerity. Needs plenty of time.

Maison J.Moreau et Fils

Yet another of JC Boisset’s forces of world domination. This old producer of Chablis was founded in 1814 and today exports 90% of its wines, they became part of the Boisset portfolio in 1997.

Long-term contracts are with ~50 growers. The base Chablis is 100% tank fermented, whereas the 1er and grand crus each receive more oak fermentation. Tasted together with their maker, Denis Gigault:

2005 J.Moreau et Fils, Chablis
An open, wide and quite sweet nose. There’s also plenty of sweetness on the palate, but the good acidity keeps everything in balance. Ripe, clean and tasty, Denis expects this to be bottled in April 2006.
2003 J.Moreau et Fils, Chablis 1er Cru Montmains
The nose is wide though a little dense. Sweet, almost honey palate. The acidity is not bad. Surprisingly long finish and just about fresh enough. Almost good.
2005 J.Moreau et Fils, Chablis 1er Cru Montmains
40% barrel fermented. Fresh, citrussy, clean and fruity nose. Just a little petillant on the tongue. Fresh and clean with the acidity rolling the flavours around your mouth for quite a time. This will be a very nice.
2003 J.Moreau et Fils, Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir
It’s a deep nose – not much width – very slowly a few high-tones start to fill the picture. Very mineral in expression, almost hiding the fruit. This is a very good wine and has quite enough acidity.

Maison Nicolas Potel

Whilst there is likely to be an element of the current vintage in this observation, I (still) feel that the Potel wines are gradually becoming more sophisticated; they have always majored on clarity of fruit, but the tannins are becoming ever-finer. Nicolas has been using (since 2003) a large basket press, so perhaps this finer touch has helped. Certainly he is working with less and less racking, so recommends 10 minutes in a decanter for drinking his young wines. He’s now the owner of old vines in the Beaune 1er Grèves, and also has his eye on a nice plot of Chambolle 1er…

Nicolas observes that they had very long fermentations for the 2004 whites, and he finds the hot-spots for reds being Vosne and Chambolle – I also think that the Volnays are a lovely selection.

2004 Nicolas Potel, Bourgogne Blanc Cuvée Gérard Potel
80% sourced from Meursault. Bright, forward and floral. Good sweetness, nice in the mouth with a more than interesting length for the label – Bravo.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Puligny-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes
A much more mineral nose, pure and precise. A step-up in concentration, nice acidity too. Lasts long on the palate. A very nice wine.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Meursault Narvaux
100% new oak for the elevage. High-toned nose which mixes pineapple and pear fruit. The palate has less width than the previous Puligny, but shows a nice intensity and medium length. A very tasty and clean wine.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Meursault 1er Cru Genevrières
The same high-tones as the Narvaux, perhaps less width but certainly more depth. The colour is also a little deeper. Overall I found the presentation just a little anonymous vs the Narvaux, though there is and extra length to the finish. Still a good clean wine.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot
A nicely mineral nose here of some concentration. There’s a wide impression to the palate, also showing good concentration. Today this seems more interesting than either of the Meursaults.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Champs-Gains
A wide and deep nose, lots going on here, tons of interest. A wine that grows in your mouth, full concentration, nice acidity and penetrating length. This is a lovely wine.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
From Pernand vines. A high-toned nose that also goes really deep. Another wine that expands to fill all the gaps in your mouth. Not the fat of Potel’s Champs-Gains but more intensity and the length is good. An impressive wine.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru
A wide and subtly deep nose with just the merest trace of vanilla. Big, wide and mouth-filling yet retains balance and just keeps on running into the finish. A bigger wine even than the Charlemagne. Another impressive wine.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Bourgogne Rouge Cuvée Gérard Potel
Nicolas found it hard to get the fruit he wanted, eventually he sourced mainly from Pommard, the balance from the Côte de Nuits. It was an easy vinification, not much plunging and bottled a little earlier to keep the fruit. He decided to change his technique for the Bourgogne more in line with his father’s technique – so a saignée, 100% oak (none new) and ~20% stems. The nose is serious if a little closed and mixes a little oak toast with chocolate. Some sweetness on the palate, medium density and quite clean – any easy wine to drink.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Volnay Vieilles Vignes
An assemblage from 13 different parcels. Fresh and complex nose, despite being quite tight. On the palate, a sweet entry that’s wide and interesting. You notice the structure before the texture but then there’s a really defining extra edge of complexity in the mid-palate. It might not be the greatest VV cuvée from this house, but it’s very good.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Santenay 1er Cru Clos Tavannes
A fine and fresh nose that slowly deepens, again plenty of interest. Bigger and more concentrated than the Volnay VV but with a sophisticated structure. It might benefit from a little extra length, but it’s a very friendly and easy to drink wine.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Beaune 1er Cru Les Grèves
From vines planted in 1904 that is now Nicolas’ own vineyard. The nose is a brooding melange of dark berries with width rather than depth. Sweet and concentrated, again with quite sophisticated structure and significantly longer than the last wine. Very good.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Volnay 1er Cru Santenots
A wide nose that anyway brings a strong impression of tightness. Lovely concentrated, ripe fruit. Again there is plenty of structure but in a sophisticated package – the tannin is quite velvety. A wine with lots of subtle touches and complexity. Lovely.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Volnay 1er Cru Champans
A high-toned and very interesting nose. The palate shows and edge more intensity vs the Santenots yet a little less structure and certainly doesn’t show its 14°! Apparently this parcel is always riper than the surrounding vines, but still retains good acidity. With the last swirl the nose is putting on more weight. Another fine effort.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chênes
A deeper nose of darker fruit yet still topped with fresh high-tones – perhaps just a hint of reduction in the background. Here we find the structure of the Santenots and in the mid-palate almost (but not quite) the concentration of the Champans. However, there is a real extra dimension on the finish – the wine opens out beautifully.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Pommard 1er Cru Pezerolles
Nicolas buys all the fruit from this estate. High-toned nose with plenty of width. In the mouth, this is cuts an athletic pose – no extra fat – good structure, just an edge of astringency to the tannin as it closes in on the finish. Nice extension to the flavour from the mid-palate onwards.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Vosne-Romanée Vieilles Vignes
From 3 parcels of vines. Both depth and width on the nose, but just a little linear today, black edged fruit. Nice concentration. Some structure – the tannins have some grain. Clean, good concentration and deep but today tight in presentation.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Chambolle-Musigny
It’s tight, but this is still showing a lovely soft and complex nature on the nose. Lovely density and texture for a villages wine, a darker edge to the fruit here. Nicely velvet tannins that remain chewable in the finish. A lovely villages.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Nuits St.Georges 1er Les Boudots
A wide, cedar inflected, slightly feral nose. High-toned fruit in the mouth, lots of concentration that’s well balanced with the acidity and tannin – you can really chew on this. Will need some bottle time to mellow – if mellow is what you want.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Fuées
A really beautiful nose – depth, width and complexity – quite lovely. A wine that’s all about balance rather than concentration – reminiscent of Mugnier’s version – or is it just reminiscent of Fuées 😉 A gorgeous wine.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Petits Monts
Not quite the expressiveness of the aromatics of the Fuées, but still, it is both fresh and complex. Similar to the Fuées in the mouth we are again talking about silky balance coupled to wonderful complexity. Lovely fruit. Another ‘buy’.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Malconsorts
The nose is tighter and more sauvage than for the Petits Monts. vs the Clos Frantin Malconsorts this has much finer tannin – a more sophisticated edge – however it’s missing the fireworks and complexity of that Frantin wine. It does, however, have a wonderful finish. Overall, the mid-palate is showing much tighter than the other wines here. If it opens up it will be rather good.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux St.Jacques
Nice and complex with some depth on the nose. Again a very fine texture that dovetails well with the concentration. The tannins are a little chewy in the finish, but there is good length. Another good wine.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Clos de la Roche Grand Cru
Soft, complex and sweet red nose, lots of interest. The wine currently seems to be a bit of battle for supremacy between the fruit and the structure – and there’s plenty of both – just needs time to settle down a bit. Like most of the wines in this range the structure is beautifully tailored, so I expect this to come together well.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Clos Saint Denis Grand Cru
Higher-toned nose, the Clos de la Roche was lovely, but this is stunning. Lovely palate, wide with high-toned fruit in the mouth. Beautiful tension between the fruit and structure – unlike the Clos de la Roche they are fully in harmony – a gorgeous finish too. Serene and excellent – I loved this.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru
Tighter nose than most of the previous wines – has width, not so much depth. Sweet, complex palate, lovely. Forward tannins but all the parts are once more impeccable – despite this the wine remains a little tight and understated – no austerity here.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru
Depth, lovely depth on this nose, everything just edged with coffee before high-tones start to evolved. Sneaky concentration – this really grows in the mouth. Versus all the other wines here this was a little anonymous, everything in it’s place but competent rather than excellent – I loved the nose though…
2004 Nicolas Potel, Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru
The nose is a little mineral and quite tight, opening slowly in the glass. Not a giant wine, it’s about balance with a very understated structure – mainly mineral notes with a very sneaky length. Certainly not a showy wine but all the pieces are in place.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Chambertin Grand Cru
Much more multidimensional on the nose, super complexity. Similar to the Clos de Bèze, quite understated though perhaps the length is not quite so sneaky. The nose from this and the palate of the Clos de Bèze would be the perfect synthesis today…
2004 Nicolas Potel, Echézeaux Grand Cru
Wonderful nose of both depth and interest, not showing so deep. Overflowing with flavour – really mouth-watering. It’s surprising to have such a distinct impression after so many wines. The structure is a little more forward but as is the norm here it is very well put together. Tons of potential – super wine.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Grands-Echézeaux Grand Cru
A much more delicate nose, subtly complex and still very, very interesting. Even another step up on the Echézeaux – wonderful mouth-watering complexity. An absolute stunner.
2004 Nicolas Potel, Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru
A tight and mineral nose with plenty of higher floral aspects. In the mouth this earthy and direct, concentrated and muscular. The fruit is certainly a good foil for the structure but this wine will require several years in the cellar. Very impressive but for my own taste less compelling than the Clos St.Denis, Echézeaux or Grands-Echézeaux – or come to think of it the Fuées or Petits Monts.

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