Oeno-File, the Wine & Gastronomy Column

by Frank Ward

A TASTING AT FLINT WINES

November 2019. Some time ago the London-based Flint Wines held a tasting of an array fine Burgundies from the 2017 vintage. A confession: that tasting took place nearly a year ago. The notes were mislaid and only came to light two days ago. Given that the 2017s have now landed in the UK it strikes me that these descriptions might still be relevant – possibly even more so now than then.

 

BRET BROTHERS

 

2017 MÂCON VILLAGES

With a faintly yellowish tinge (from newish oak) this gives off a richly fruity aroma, with old-vine mellowness and pronounced Mâcon character (weighty and full). The flavour is in tune with this, being voluminous but with lift. Long apricot finish. Will improve over a decade or so.

 

2017 MÂCON CHARDONNAY

The nose is full and grapy, round, with typical Mâconnais richness. It smells like yellow plum and apricot. The flavour is full, succulent, and very mineral. An elegant wine with a long, honeyed aftertaste.

 

2017 VIRÉ CLESSÉ “LA VERCHÈRE”

Like all hand-made wines, this has its own unique character, emitting a mingled scent of white peach and white truffle. The crisp flavour is augmented by a touch of rose hip. As with all good Mâconnais whites it will benefit from 2-3 years’ extra storage as prelude to a half-decade of further improvement.

 

2017 SAINT VÉRAN “EN COMBE”

The faint whiff of new oak on a nose of yellow rose and apricot will fade over the next year or two, the wine having all the elements needed to achieve harmony. In the mouth, ample Chardonnay fruit – a meld of apricot, honey, and white truffle. The aftertaste is protracted.

 

Ample proof that Saint Véran, often dilute from bigger producers, can give all the depth and concentration one could wish for.

 

 

DOMAINE BERNARD DEFAIX

 

2017 CHABLIS 1ER CRU CÔTE DE LECHET

This pale, luminescent wine has a lemony aroma and a light but incisive flavour that grows richer in the glass. It has a watch-spring tension, expanding to suggest lemon curd and melon. Showing the typical understated complexity of young Chablis, it will unwind into a delectable wine over the coming years.

 

 

DOMAINE JAEGER-DEFAIX

 

2017 RULLY 1ER CRU “LES CLOUX”

From far to the south of Chablis, this Côte Chalonnaise wine has a very different structure, being fuller and more vinous – partly due to a sunnier climate and heavier terroir; partly to even older vines (40-80 years). It tastes like a meld of white peach and apricot. Like all of these 2017 whites, it can be drunk young but will show so much more complexity and depth if allowed to mature.

 

 

DOMAINE DES HÂTES

 

2017 CHABLIS LES CHATILLONS

This has a distinct green tinge and a lovely very fresh aroma of physalis, honey, and white peach. The latter dominates on the palate which is marked by perfect fruity acidity – just the kind you get from a ripe white peach. There’s a stony quality to the protracted, pure aftertaste.

 

2017 CHABLIS 1ER CRU “L’HOMME MORT” (FOURCHAUME)

As befits a Premier Cru, this has a fuller, rounder aroma of great poise, suggestive of peach and honey. Though more closed up than the Chatillons, it carries a promise of real depth as the wine matures in the years to come. There’s something gently earthy on the finish, which has a malic bite to it.

 

2017 CHABLIS 1ER CRU “LES BEAUREGARDS”

Once again, the unique traits of a specific lieu-dit show themselves, the nose suggesting russet apple and chlorophyll. The fine, incisive flavour possesses typical Chablis purity and rectitude with lots of minerality on the lingering finish. Though very closed, as is inevitable for so young and concentrated a wine, it shows unmistakeable signs of structure and longevity. Those who wait a good three years can then look forward to a further decade of fascinating development.

 

 

DOMAINE AGNÈS PACQUET

 

2017 AUXEY DURESSES BLANC

This pale, bright wine has a precise aroma of greengage and apple with noticeable chalkiness. The elegant flavour seems light at present but will fill out given time; the aftertaste is distinctly appley with a subtle hint of parsnip. It will steadily unfurl over the coming years.

 

2017 SAINT AUBIN 1ER CRU “LES PERRIÈRES”

This has a distinctly woody (as opposed to oaky) accent, as of low-toast oak, and smells very pearish. That woodiness will recede over coming years, releasing a harmonious scent of pear and white fruits. A honeyed note enters into the finish.

 

2017 CHASSAGNE MONTRACHET “LES BATTAUDES”

This yellowish wine displays typical Chassagne fullness on the nose. So does the flavour, which is distinctly rich, hinting at apricot and honey. The finish is both earthy and voluminous. Needs time.

 

 

DOMAINE PHILIPPE COLIN

 

2017 CHASSAGNE MONTRACHET

Chassagne wine are usually weightier and earthier than those of Puligny, with a lusciousness reminiscent of Meursault. The nose exhibits typical broadness, with a hint of light-toast oak. In the mouth it’s rich and grapy, with refined earthiness. There’s a suggestion of cardamom on the mineral finish. A wine with sweep.

 

2017 CHASSAGNE MONTRACHET 1ER CRU “LES CHAUMÉES” CLOS SAINT ABDON

The nose – as befits a 1er Cru – is more precise and refined, with a promise of more body, hinting at Granny Smith and an acidulous touch of rhubarb. The long rolling aftertaste presages future complexity, a promise confirmed by a restrained but unmistakable complexity on the finish.

 

2017 CHASSAGNE MONTRACHET 1ER CRU”LES CHENEVOTTES”

By far the most concentrated of the trio, this gives off a full, grapy aroma packed with Chardonnay richness (apple, apricot, peach). It’s like smelling a bunch of perfectly ripe Chardonnay grapes. While dense, there’s a sense of buoyancy and overall harmony. You can still smell and taste the oak – which adds a fugitive hint of cardamom – but the ample, marrowy flavour will absorb that in the years to come.

 

 

DOMAINE PERNOT BELICARD

 

2017 MEURSAULT VIEILLES VIGNES

The rich colour promises fullness and density, which is confirmed on the palate. Though closed up, the flavour is full and authoritative and the long aftertaste has plenty of old-vine depth and mellowness. A slight oaky dryness on the finish should vanish in time. A solid wine.

 

MEURSAULT 1ER CRU PERRIÈRES

Even richer in appearance, this has a globular aroma suggestive of honey, grapefruit, and apricot. It’s weighty in the mouth, with high viscosity, and the clean, low-toast oak in which the wine was matured endows the aftertaste with a touch of walnut. Meursault has quite a few 1ers Crus but no Grands Crus. At least two merit that status: Perrières and Genevrières. This example certainly has that kind of weight and presence.

 

2017 PULIGNY MONTRACHET 1ER CRU LES PERRIÈRES

This Premier Cru from Puligny is not contiguous with the eponymous Meursault growth, though it’s not far away from the Meursault border. It’s not considered its equal. The nose, still somewhat oaky, shows characteristic Chardonnay grapiness but remains reticent on the palate. One can however register ample body, while its walnut-and-apricot finish is of notable length. Like all Premier Cru whites, it needs to be held back several years to achieve full maturity.

 

 

DOMAINE BALLOT-MILLOT

 

2017 MEURSAULT 1ER CRU GENEVRIÈRES

This bright yellow wine gives off a bold, authoritative aroma of grapefruit and peach. The lushly fruity flavour delivers a reprise of both fruits and leads into a sustained finish of pronounced minerality. It has a lovely texture and possesses a special complexity found only in wines made from old vines. Excellent.

 

2017 MEURSAULT 1ER CRU PERRIÈRES

The nose is broad and with sweep, a fusion of white peach and honey scents, with a mealy element. The rich, intense flavour is crammed with ripe, harmonious Chardonnay fruit, showing both volume and buoyancy. There’s real complexity on a finish that’s stippled with refined minerality and with old-vine mellowness.

 

 

DOMAINE YVON CLERGET

 

2017 VOLNAY

A bright crimson, with a Pinot nose of typical Volnay freshness and poise. Light, with pronounced cherry fruitiness, it can be enjoyed young.

 

2017 VOLNAY 1ER CRU CLOS DU VERSEUIL (MONOPOLY)

Both colour and nose display greater depth, with a scent full of Volnay poise and delicacy. It’s very fresh on the palate, with mouth-watering acidity, and the delectable damson fruit soon expands to incorporate elderberry notes. A very stylish wine.

 

VOLNAY 1ER CRU CAILLERETS

The most complete of the trio (Caillerets is perhaps the most quintessential of the Volnays), this has a more nuanced colour than the preceding. The lovely aroma, so typically Volnay, has a striking freshness (as with raspberries plucked directly from the bush), while the noble flavour, with real old-vine depth*, is very long – though years short of true maturity. This lovely wine reminded me of the unforgettable annual tastings I used to do with the late Marquis d’Angerville – praise indeed.

 

*I wrote this before learning that the vines are 75 years’ old.

 

 

DOMAINE HENRI GOUGES

 

2017 NUITS SAINT GEORGES 1ER CRU CLOS DES PORRETS

This dark wine has a vital Nuits aroma of underbrush, black cherry, and damson. It’s very Gouges too, with its forthrightness and rectitude. On the palate, pronounced Pinot Noir freshness and ample glossy fruit. Very good.

 

2017 NUITS SAINT GEORGES 1ER CRU LES PRULIERS

The colour, being darker, suggest greater concentration. This is borne out on the palate, which is crammed with quintessential Nuits character, evoking black cherry, soot, damson. A decisive wine, vinous and full of vigour, that’s only medium long at present but will grow steadily longer as surely as these winter days will grow longer as spring approaches.

 

There’s always a savage aspect to Gouges wines, which often take decades to reach full maturity (the ‘99s still need a further decade or more). At their peak they’re some of the most characterful of all Burgundies.

 

 

DOMAINE DU CLOS FRANTIN

 

2017 VOSNE ROMANÉE 1ER CRU LES MALCONSORTS

This possesses a fine Pinot Noir « robe » – a clear but intense purple with winking vermilion highlights. The aroma, full and spicy, conjures up blood orange, cinnamon, and black cherry. The intense flavour is fresh and vibrant but needs time to round out and develop more definition.

 

2017 ECHÉZEAUX GRAND CRU

The colour is still more vivid while the excellent aroma suggests a mixture of wild cherry, raspberry, and cinnamon (the latter from the medium-toast oak). In the mouth, typical Echézeaux character – a special tautness and understated intensity – with lift and distinction. Though still marked by the oak it will shed this trait as it matures over the next couple of decades.

 

2017 CLOS DE VOUGEOT GRAND CRU

The darkest of the trio, this wine has a full, vinous scent of damson, black cherry, and cranberry. The flavour, while satisfyingly round, has plenty of underlying structure with typical Grand Cru weight. There’s a hint of liquorice on the long, rolling aftertaste which ends on a note of real refinement. That rare fusion of solidity and delicacy are exactly what one seeks in a top Burgundy.

 

To me, Clos de Vougeot is the most claret-like of red Burgundies, with its firm structure and solid fruitiness.

 

 

DOMAINE TAUPENOT-MERME

 

2017 MOREY SAINT DENIS 1ER CRU LA RIOTTE

Redolent of red cherry and raspberry, this grapy wine has a sweet, round flavour, very savoury, with fine Pinot Noir character. Still closed up at present, it’s only medium long but will no doubt send out vinous tendrils in due time.

 

2017 MAZOYÈRES CHAMBERTIN GRAND CRU

The nose shows unmistakeable Grand Cru weight and authority, with plenty of specifically Mazoyères sweep and vigour. Redcurrant and raspberry mesh with black fruits to give a delectably fresh, richly fruity flavour with plenty of lift. The long, stylish aftertaste imparts a lovely succulence. A great future.

 

 

DOMAINE DENIS MORTET

 

2017 BOURGOGNE PINOT NOIR

This richly pigmented wine – notably dark for a generic PN – smells like black cherries and possesses that fruit’s succulence. The aftertaste is softly fruity with good length. A hedonistic mouthful.

 

2017 MARSANNAY LES LONGEROIES

Another well-coloured wine with a fine velvety texture, emitting gusts of black cherry, liquorice, and dark chocolate. The finish of this suave, well-balanced wine is promisingly long. Excellent.

 

2017 GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN “MES CINQ TERROIRS”

Of lustrous appearance, this distinguished « village » Gevrey has a full grapy aroma suggestive of cherry, raspberry, and violet (the latter’s presence always an excellent sign). It’s very supple and velvety on the palate, with delectable Pinot Noir fruit, and is impressively long. Tertiary aromas should develop in 2-3 years and it should be at full stretch by around 2026- (though no hurry to drink it even then).

 

 

DOMAINE COILLOT

 

2017 MARSANNAY “LES GRASSES TÊTES”

The sensuous nose is already expressive, hinting at damson, raspberry, and truffle, and could easily be mistaken for that of a Premier Cru. Intense on the palate, well-crafted, it has a lovely texture and an inner core of dense Pinot Noir fruit. It’s slightly gamy on the palate, with raspberry notes getting the upper hand on the finish.

 

2017 MARSANNAY “LES BOIVINS”

An intermingling of raspberry and damson infuses an aroma that soon opens to include blood orange. The flavour, of satisfying intensity, is of great poise. An excellent wine of optimal concentration and impressive length.

 

© Frank Ward 2019

 

 
%d bloggers like this: