November 15th 2019
Day three of our Burgundy tasting trip had much to compete with coming after the previous blow-out day of tasting exceptional wines in the Côtes de Nuits. Luckily, it did not disappoint. Although the weather was not on our side and rained the entire day it didn’t stop the wines from expressing themselves and allowing us to get an even better idea of this great vintage.
The first stop of the day was to Chassagne Montrachet, to visit one of our newest agencies, Coffinet Duvernay. This domaine was a great find by our resident MW, David Roberts, however the family is well-established in the region, having been making great whites continuously for the last two centuries. With this in mind, we began working our way through their 2018 efforts and we were immediately struck by the precision, minerality and freshness – from Bourgogne Aligoté all the way up to Bâtard Montrachet. Philippe, the energetic winemaker overseeing these majestic wines, then took us to the back cellar with a formidable collection of bottles going back to 1947 and gave us a blind bottle to taste. It turned out to be a 2007 Bâtard Montrachet which, with time in the glass, became more and more open and fresh – proving how easy it is to write off white Burgundies with age far too quickly. These great bottles really are age worthy.
Following on from a strong start we headed to Jean-Marc Boillot – an estate we have a long history of working with. They are wonderfully welcoming and generous, and we enjoyed tasting their full range. Their skilled winemaking is clear on all levels of their 2018s. I’ve already put myself down for a case of the Macon! While the people working there are incredibly kind, I can’t say as much for their Jack Russell, who was not keen on visitors this day!
Once we were finished with these whites, we moved on to one of the stars of reds in the Côte d’Or, Comte Armand. We were given not one sample but four different samples of four different sites for their Grand Vin – Clos des Epeneaux. Each tasted dramatically different and, interestingly, this had more to do with site and vine age than picking date. We were then able to taste the blended final product and were suitably impressed. They managed to pull together every great element of the four parcels into a magical final wine. This is a definite buy if you can get your hands on any. Truthfully, the entire range was impressive and even their basic village wines were wonderful – the Auxey Duresses, Pommard and Volnay were are bright and energetic reds to drink in 5-20 years!
We stopped for a brief lunch accompanied by a pair of 2014s. The Meursault from Jobard was, as expected, ethereal and the 2014 Nuits Aux Murgers from Cecile Tremblay was a wonderful example of how well the 2014 reds are drinking right now.
The rain was now pelting down as we ran to our next visit, Domaine de Courcel. Their range was charming and pure but very much for laying down and leaving for a few years before drinking. I truly enjoyed their 2018 wines and think if one were to start collecting Burgundy for laying down this is absolutely the place to start.
We jumped in the car to head back to Beaune and on to Simon Bize. This is not an estate I have ever had much experience with personally but had been blown away by a bottle of 2013 served blind at dinner Monday night. I therefore went into the tasting with lofty expectations. It did not disappoint. Their whites were charming and very well-made but the real moment of wonder came tasting their Marconnets red. The aromas on the nose were hypnotic, truly a great, great wine and personally another to add to the list of buys.
We ended at Domaine Bouley which has quite a few high-altitude vineyards and made some charming, terroir-driven 2018s. There was a lot of talk about the vintage being “solaire” but for them, there was also a lot of wind which helped keep soil and leaf temperatures down. They were extremely happy with this vintage and what they managed to produce. They just hope that people will allow their wines a bit of ageing to truly come to their full potential!
We finished the day with dinner at Le Jardin des Remparts and a bottle of 2014 Morey St Denis La Riotte from Domaine Hubert Lignier. Its freshness and brightness reinforced the joy of drinking the 2014s right now, as 2015 and 2016 (and now 2018!) will take longer to come into their drinking window.
This vintage is one that I can only say was “unexpected”. I didn’t think the whites would hold their acidity in the heat of the 2018 summer and the reds would be too overripe. I was wrong. The whites are comparable to 2017 for their minerality and freshness which the reds also have, alongside ripe fruits. This vintage is great in its own right and a definite buy for me from this great portfolio of reds and whites.