November 7th 2016
Off we set bright and early on a very foggy morning to the famous hill of Corton and the village of Pernand Vergelesses, which like the rest of the Cote d’Or was bathed in golden vines. It has to be one of the most beautiful times of year and a jaw dropping view; Mother Nature in all her splendour.
Our first appointment out of the seven, was Domaine Bonneau du Martray, a legendary Grand Cru Domaine. As my initials are GC, I seem to naturally gravitate towards anything with same letters; Grand Cru ‘GC’ is therefore something I drink as often as I can; if only I could, I’d have it for breakfast every day!
Jean-Charles is charming, extremely wise and one of the defining producers of Corton Charlemagne, he sets the benchmark for everyone else and his 2015 is knock out!
As you put your nose to the glass the signature style of BdM blossomed effortlessly out. This is a wine of great poise, presence and individuality. The character the 2015 vintage imparts are sun kissed notes of ripeness to the underlying mineral tension; tantalising flavours of white peaches, honeysuckle and lemon curd, all blended with elegance and finesse. Its a wine with gorgeous concentrated aromatics, freshness and a wonderful density; all enveloped with a backbone of mineral structure and balanced acidity that makes this a very complex and serious wine. Don’t think that 2015 is all about the reds, it’s not, some whites are first class and this is one that should be firmly on everyone’s wish list.
Jean-Charles has long been one of the top innovators in his field; as one of the leaders in organic and biodynamic winemaking, he cares deeply about the legacy left to future generations and works tirelessly to ensure his soils and vines are left in the best state for years to come so they can continue to produce exceptional wines. From 2014 new bottles have been designed out of a private bottle mould with the domaine’s name embossed on the punt of the bottle, along with a newly designed capsule. There will be no mistaking his bottles from now on.
Grand Crus are a hard act to follow, but our next appointment at Domaine Simone Bize in Savigny certainly did not disappoint. You have to know which wines to reach for on the days you’re not GC’ing!
What a fabulous range; high toned red fruits are in abundance, silky succulent fruits cover your palette and the length and persistence of the concentrated fruit and sweet fine tannins on the finish show the class and beauty of this vintage in spades. These are delicious and will give you great drinking pleasure at a price we can all afford. The village SLB Aux Grands Liards stood out, with the vines for this cuvée are the oldest going back over 3 generations, planted between 1939 and 1980 and lying just below the 1er Cru Les Lavieres. Out of the 1er Crus the SLB Fournaux (my top pick) and SLB Talmettes really shone. These were a pleasure to taste and will be well worth seeking out.
As a point to note, make sure you stock up on the 2015 vintage where you can. Weather conditions have been less than favourable this year, amongst other things frost and hail have left supply very short. To give a stark example, Savigny got hit hard with hail in 2016; they have gone from producing over 100 barrels, down to just five. In terms of quality, from speaking to a number of growers, 2016 is potentially another very special vintage, but in certain appellations quantity is decimated.
Coming out of the cellars, blue sky and sunshine greeted us and the vines gleamed and sparkled. Our next very exciting appointment was to taste at A-F Gros, with daughter Caroline. This was the first time I have ever tasted these wines En Primeur and was looking forward to it enormously. They own 10 hectares of vines in some of Burgundies most iconic villages, Vosne, Chambolle, Beaune, Vouget to name a few.
I was not to be disappointed, what a seductive, pure and polished range of wines; beauty in abundance the wines were singing. Stand-outs for me spanned the whole range; the Bourgogne’s showed a charm, beauty and were really engaging. Two 1er Crus really stopped me in my tracks, the absolutely stunning VR Clos de la Fontaine, which is a monopole and VR Aux Reas. On to the GC’s, Echezeaux (only 3 barrels) and Richebourg. Well I think these sent us all onto cloud nine, everyone was silent and in awe of something magical exploding from the glass. These wines were so intense, concentrated and seductive; perfectly balancing elegance and power. They left us mesmerised. If one had to have the edge it was the Richebourg. The magic of 2015’s fruit really was multi-layered; kaleidoscopic in fact! It was fair to say we all left with a huge smiles and on a huge high; it is amazing how a great wine can do this.
Remember me saying the 2015 is not all about the reds, well I’ve some more treats for you, this time from Leflaive. Another engaging range of wines, but those that sent us springing through the cellar roof were the very special PM Pucelles 1er Cru. The nose and palate was so intensely scented, layered and complex, all wrapped in a glove of bright elegant freshness and tension. Outstanding, a very special wine. The GC’s were tightly wound but glorious, Batard-Montrachet, Bienvenues-Bartard Montrachet and Chevalier-Montrachet. The 2015 vintage married very well to these individual styled vineyards. The sun kissed notes of the 2015 vintage enhanced the sensual aromatics, but all showed coiled youth and were very chiselled and majestic; power, grace and elegance. It will be some time until these unravel to show their true glory.
One of the last appointments of the day was to the beautiful Domaine of Comte Armand in the centre of Pommard; an estate close to the heart of Goedhuis as Catherine had helped bring in the 2016 harvest, so we were all eager to see this wonderful Domaine she had enjoyed working at over the Summer and we were greeted with warm smiles and open arms.
Out of the five wines we tasted the highlights for me had to be Volnay Fremiets 1er Cru – we had tasted some rather interesting styles of Volnay earlier in the day and this showed wonderful grace, with a lightness of touch and beauty that all great Volnay should possess, it well and truly restored our faith in this appellation and the genius of the wine making here at Comte Armand. However, I cannot end with mentioning the Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Epeneaux. Old vines blended with young vines. I never imagined that a Pommard could offer so much elegance and beauty, but this cuvée has them in abundance, as well as power and concentration. Fresh ripe dark blue concentrated fruits wrapped in a velvet glove of sweet tannins. Power and grace. Simply gorgeous.