Etienne Givot and his son Hubert have been in London for the clutch of en primeur tastings that took place in a flurry of tube strikes, torrential rain, and Ban Bourguignons this week. We were delighted they could join us for lunch today. The 2015 campaign has been high energy, to say the least. Having held back our wines until Tuesday morning (following our small tasting on Monday), the sales team have been in a constant state of trade, only occasionally coming up for air to remark that so-an-so has sold out already. It has been a hungry campaign.
And with good reason. For those of us fortunate enough to visit the cellars in November last year, 2015’s rapturous reception by critics and customers alike has come as no surprise. For this reason it was all the more important we come together as a team to relax, taste some outstanding wine, listen to the candid words of this bastion of the Côte de Nuits, and remember what this whole thing is really all about.
We started with some 2015s before diving into the back vintages Etienne had kindly sent over from the domaine’s cellar. Etienne explained what he is trying to achieve with his Pinot Noir: self-effacing in his admission that his wines pre-2000 could be monolithic in style, he places emphasis on how he has striven to achieve more expression and nuance in his wines in recent years. He is particularly pleased with the 2015s which have both energy and freshness. In 2012 his children Mathilde and Hubert joined him at the family domaine, and the three share a united vision. It is a harmonious and collaborative family team. They eschew the trend for analysing every drop of juice, and pay much more attention to the vegetative cycle of their vines. The year’s weather conditions will dictate how the team handles the grapes in the cellar far more than the complex chemical analyses which comes back from the lab.
Of the 2015s, the Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Les Boudots was a particular highlight: a glowing crimson in the glass, with sweetly concentrated fruit on the nose, and layers of luxurious, toasty French oak. Its perfume was nothing short of intoxicating, and the palate was plush with silken tannins and a voluminous depth of luscious fruit, held in place by lithe acidity.
Tasting back through the vintages, each had its distinct character. 2014 seems to hold a special place in Etienne’s heart – he loves its purity (in abundant evidence in the Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Roncière). The 2013 (we had the Vosne Romanée) was gorgeous; a vintage which often goes unremarked in the wine press, it consistently delivers some of the best bottles we have enjoyed recently. When tasting the 2012 Vosne Romanée 1er Cru Les Rouges, Etienne explained that 2012 has huge ageing potential. It was magical during its first two years in bottle, an ‘atomic bomb’. But its high concentration (it was low yielding with lots of small berries) meant it has tended to close down, appearing just a little dry on the finish today. He advises a further 5 years in bottle, but can only see great things ahead for this ‘electric’ vintage. If you have any in your cellar, well done!
The tasting was finished with a 2007 Clos de Vougeot. Not the most fashionable vintage, nor most lauded grand cru, but as it opened in the glass this example displayed a flourish of mushroom tones, sweet tannins, and delicious balance.