Oeno-File, the Wine & Gastronomy Column

by Frank Ward

Burgundy Part II : From Chorey to Gevrey Chambertin

January 2016. 

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DOMAINE TOLLOT BEAUT

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Based in the hamlet of Chorey Les Beaune, this respected domaine has 25 hectares of vines and makes a total of 16 different wines, two of them white: a humble generic, Bourgogne Blanc, and an illustrious Grand Cru, Corton-Charlemagne. On the red side, at entry level, they make an excellent Bourgogne Rouge (which can improve for 4-8 years, sometimes more) while other reds include two different Choreys, two Savigny Premiers Crus, several Aloxe Cortons including two Premiers Crus, two Beaune Premiers Crus, and two Grand Cru Cortons – a Corton tout simple and Corton-Bressandes.

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Olivier Tollot, in charge of the Domaine’s vineyards.

We’re received by Olivier Tollot, in charge of viticulture. He was able to fill me in about various differences in terroir between wines – differences that subtly alter one wine in relation to another from the same appellation. Their Corton, for example, faces south and has clayey soil and is therefore more assertive than Corton Bressandes, which has lighter soil and has an easterly exposure. Two different Savigny 1er Crus are different in a similar way (one assertive, the other gentler), likewise two Aloxe Corton 1er Crus, les Vercots and les Fournières.

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Two casks of 2014 Chorey les Beaune (Tollot-Beaut own 7.6 hectares in this A.C.) showed subtly different characteristics. Both were lightish but balanced, and exhibited fine Pinot Noir fruit. The second (from heavier soil) was a shade darker, with a fuller aroma and longer aftertaste.

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Any Chorey from Tollot is good for 5-6 years even in light vintages. Some can improve for a decade or more. The next wine can last even longer:

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2014 CHOREY LA PIÈCE DU CHAPITRE

As expected, this has more colour and a bigger, more vital nose, promising more tannin. This is confirmed on the palate, which also shows greater density. Quite voluminous for a Chorey, it will improve for 6-8 years.

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This 1.6 hectare plot has been in the family for years but was let out to a third party on fermage over many vintages. The Tollots regained control in 2001 but it took a number of years to put things back into shape. Experienced tasters have sometimes mistaken this wine for a Premier Cru at blind tastings.

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2014 BEAUNE 1ER CRU CLOS DU ROI 

The nose is soft, round, and pure, suggesting purple cherry, raspberry, and violet. Medium full, it has a long aftertaste of raspberry and redcurrant. Very refined. Will evolve well for over a decade.

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2014 SAVIGNY P.C. LAVIÈRES

To my surprise, the aroma is fuller and more expressive (today at least) with soft, sappy Pinot Noir fruit. It tastes like a meld of black cherry and raspberry. Long finish. One of the most complex and refined of the Savignys (there are quite a few), it will be lovely in 7-10 years – but also enjoyable in youth.

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The two Aloxe Premiers Cru – FOURNIERES and LES VERCOTS – are both well-coloured and show typical Aloxe muscularity (almost Corton-like, in fact). Both are broad and vinous, veering more towards black fruits and with a hint of liquorice. Fournières is more innately elegant, but its vines are still on the young side. This is perhaps why Vercots shows fuller and riper. I find a hint of strawberry compote on the finish.

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2014 CORTON BRESSANDES

The robe, if not extremely deep, has that special lustre only found in the finest of Burgundies. The nose, too, presages greater depth and complexity. Round and all of a piece, it suggests sweet cherry, raspberry, and pomegranate. Very long – always a sign of longevity and depth. This needs keeping for at least eight years and will continue to evolve extremely well for another eight or so.

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2014 CORTON

The colour is rich; so too is the aroma, evoking cherry, raspberry, and peony. The flavour is full and assertive. It’s more voluminous than the Bressandes if less subtle. A classic Corton, with that special forcefulness that will steadily soften and morph into a refined silky minerality, with ferruginous overtones, over the years.

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Corton is divided into quite a few plots, each with its own name and special characteristics. All are Grand Cru Cortons, and officially at least of equal worth. Corton Bressandes is especially noted for subtlety and finesse. “Plain” Corton is known for a kind of elemental power.

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Now a single 2015:

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2015 BEAUNE CLOS DU ROI

Darker than any 2014, this has a full, concentrated aroma, arrestingly alive, of blackberry, damson, and minerals. It drenches the palate with Pinot Noir fruit of maximum concentration, with an aftertaste of thrilling intensity and length. A wine of great presence. To judge from this, 2015 may well turn out to be in the same class as – or possibly superior to – 2005, 2002, 1990, and so on.

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2014 CORTON CHARLEMAGNE

A luminous yellow-gold, Tollot’s Grand Cru white has a full, very smooth aroma of sweetly ripe apricot and vanillin (from new oak). It’s a thrill to take it into your mouth, with its concentrated, almost quivery Chardonnay flavour, refined minerality, and thirst-quenching acidity. A splendid wine, to enjoy with the finest of fish and shellfish or white meats, over the coming dozen years.

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DOMAINE CHANTAL REMY, Morey Saint Denis

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Of Burgundy domaines of true merit, this must be one of the tiniest, with a total of only 1.5 hectares of vines. They also have a small negociant business. The domaine possesses miniscule plots in three grands crus: Chambertin, Clos de la Roche, and Latricières Chambertin, all of them in old vines. There’s also a small monopole vineyard, Clos des Rosiers, located just below Clos des Lambrays. Chantal Remy, a stylish lady with blue eyes, is aided by her son. The wines are stored and matured in 17th-century vaulted cellars. All the samples were in bottle. This is my first visit here. Unusually, no 2014’s were shown.

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2012 CLOS DES ROSIERS

A limpid cherry-red, this has a precise, elegant aroma of wild cherry and raspberry, with a hint of elderberry. The light but balanced flavour is smooth, with an almost Chambolle-like delicacy. Quite light, medium long, it should drink best around 2018-24.

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Madame Remy & Fils.

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2002 CHAMBOLLE MUSIGNY DERRIÈRE LA GRANGE

This really IS delicate, in a very Chambolle way. Light in colour, it’s as insubstantial as gossamer on the palate, giving off subtle hints of wild strawberry. A wine to serve with a dish of exceptional subtlety – quail, perhaps, or a fine fish like sea-bass or John Dory, not to mention whiting.

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2006 CLOS DE LA ROCHE

More intense as to both colour and nose, this Grand Cru has a distinctly ferruginous smell that evokes raspberry, cherry and cherry-stone. Round and appetising on the nose, its turns more sinewy on the palate, the tannins supplying a grittiness on the finish. A well-structured wine with the typical muscularity of Morey’s most assertive growth. Will evolve for at least 18-20 years.

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1999 LATRICIÈRES CHAMBERTIN

A clear, nuanced purple-crimson, this 16-year-old wine has a dynamic, complex aroma of damson and raspberry (two very contrasting scents!) which fuse together perfectly. It’s a very clean-cut nose with underlying delicacy. Lighter than expected on the palate, it anyway has a firm structure, with typical Latricières sinew, and no lack of delicacy behind that assertiveness. Good for 20 years at least.

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DOMAINE DUJAC, Morey Saint Denis

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This 15.5 hectare estate was founded in 1968 (terrible vintage!) by Jacques Seysses and his American wife Rosalind. No wine was bottled in that first year but, luckily, the next year, 1969, was a great vintage. As a newcomer, wholly new to winemaking, Jacques Seysses looked at things with a fresh eye and, with his original approach, was soon making wines that drew international attention. He was very keen on clones to begin with. Years ago I asked him if clones gradually took on the characteristics of older vines (more concentrated juice, greater complexity) with the passing years. The question seemed to flummox him. In any event, he has grown keener on massale selection over time. Many of the vines are now 40-45 years old.

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Alec Seysses, presenting the Domaine’s 2014 Morey Saint Denis.

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I was received by Jacques’s son Alec, whose brother Jeremy is in charge of the vineyards. The wines are now made by Jeremy’s wife Diana, an American oenologist, whose family owns a vineyard in the Napa Valley.

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2014 MOREY SAINT DENIS
A solid purple, this has a typically refined aroma of black cherry and bilberry. Elegant, very svelte, on the palate, it has a long finish and will last and improve a good decade. (The 2000 – a very light vintage – has filled out over the intervening 15 years and is currently delicious).

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2014 GEVREY CHAMBERTIN 1ER CRU COMBOTTES

The strikingly pure scent of red and purple cherries promises a velvety texture, which is confirmed on the palate. While not overtly Gevrey-like on the nose it is far more so in the mouth, with a distinctly sinewy aspect. – more grip, grainier, than the Morey. The aftertaste shows length but not depth – the complexity is there but largely hidden at this early stage. Should be locked away for some six years and enjoyed over the following eight or so.

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2014 CHARMES CHAMBERTIN

The wine’s rich black-purple colour is matched in intensity by an aroma of black fruits and autumn berries, with a delicate hint of peony. The closed flavour is stippled with ripe tannins. The most open of Dujac’s Grands Crus, it should show best around 2017-23.

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2014 CLOS SAINT DENIS

The most “spiritual” of the Dujac Grands Crus, this has a floating aroma that evokes raspberry, peony, bilberry, and wild strawberry. The swirling flavour is long and refined, with fine tannins providing all the support needed for a good 18-20 years’ evolution. This will be lovely when fully mature.

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2014 CLOS DE LA ROCHE

The typically firm nose calls to mind wild cherry, sloe, and blackcurrant and leads into a focused, sinewy flavour of considerable length. Even more closed up than the CSD, it nonetheless shows itself to be as coiled up as a watch-spring – a spring that will slowly unwind over the years to reveal its full complexity.

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2014 BONNES MARES

This is the biggest, ripest, and most complex of them all. The rotund aroma presents an aromatic meld of cherry and raspberry scents. The mouthfilling flavour is a confirmation of this, and the aftertaste, even at this early stage, is very long indeed, showing that very special Bonnes Mares weight and authority. A great wine that should improve for 20 years and more.

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ADDENDUM:

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Going through my notes back home, getting both hungry and thirsty, and finding that I had a boudin blanc truffé available for lunch (a white sausage made from minced veal, chicken, and sometimes pork, flecked with black truffle – and not all that expensive) I wondered what we should drink to it. I opened a 2000 Morey Saint Denis rouge from Dujac and it was utterly delectable. And perfect with that sapid sausage.

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The next day, having a poulet de Bresse, bought in Paris for our second dinner at home, I opened a 1996 Bonnes Mares from Dujac – , shipped by me some 17 years ago and carefully stored ever since – to accompany it. It was, quite simply, delectable. So good, in fact, that I just gave in to the pleasure of the moment, and made no detailed notes. Sorry, but these things happen…

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DOMAINE TRAPET

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This domaine now owns 16.5 hectares of vines, including plots in several Premiers Crus and in three Grands Crus: Chapelle-Chambertin, Latricières-Chambertin, and Chambertin itself. Jean-Louis Trapet, who I’ve known for more than two decades, has been in charge for many years now and has greatly improved the quality of the wines, which are now more concentrated and more complex than under his father Jean. But are they as astonishing as those of his grandfather (whose glorious ’69 Chambertin I find myself thinking about at least once every month, 20 years after tasting it?). Time will tell.

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We began with two 2014 Gevrey Chambertin, from different plots (one close to Brochon). Both were well-coloured and densely fruity, with ripe tannins lending enough support to ensure a good decade of improvement.

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2014 GEVREY CHAMBERTIN 1er CRU CLOS PRIEUR

The nose shows classic Gevrey firmness, with a slightly savage aspect, and gives off lovely soaring aromas of black cherry and Victoria plum. It’s a bit more open on the palate than on the nose, with plenty of firm Pinot Noir fruit and good structure. A rich balanced wine, still in infancy. At best around 2022-30.

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2014 GEVREY CHAMBERTIN “CAPITA” (Tête de Cuvée)
This has a notably ripe, expressive aroma of cherry, raspberry, and peony. In the mouth, silky, intense, and very fresh, with lovely fruit with pronounced Pinot Noir character and true Gevrey force. A hint of crushed rock shows on an aftertaste that ends on a flourish. Excellent. Should be held back 8 years and drunk over the next 10.

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2014 CHAPELLE CHAMBERTIN

Promisingly dark, the Chapelle has a full, solid aroma with archetypical rondeur, suggestive of cherry jam and raspberry. The flavour is exhilaratingly intense, its ample fruit lending thrust to the long, assertive aftertaste, which rolls on for several minutes. Ripe tannins provide real backbone.

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A 20-year wine at least.

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2014 LATRICIÈRES CHAMBERTIN

One of Gevrey’s most muscular Grands Crus, this dynamic wine has an expressive aroma, dense and full of verve, of ripe cherry, peony, blood orange, and raspberry. On the palate, masses of ripe, balanced pinot Noir fruit with real depth and weight. A masterful wine of great purity, long and very smooth, that goes on and on. There’s a geometric, or rather architectural, feel to this great wine, which has the refined angularity of a Greek temple. Will outlast the Chapelle, itself clearly very durable.

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2014 CHAMBERTIN

As usual, the Chambertin is a summation of the two preceding wines, with the full, almost quivery flesh of the Chapelle and the heroic muscularity of the Latricières. A hint paler than those two, it’s nonetheless still fuller on the nose, on which the fruit is so round and cushiony you know the grapes must have been utterly ripe. Black fruits show, but so too do raspberry, carnation, red rose, and strawberry compote. The flavour expands on the palate, filling the mouth with rich Chambertin fruit. Very long indeed.

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So too will be its life.

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Jean-Louis Trapet.

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DOMAINE ROUSSEAU

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This revered domaine now runs to 15.5 hectares. It was founded by Armand Rousseau in the early 20th century. Charles Rousseau took over in 1959, when the estate ran to modest 6 hectares. It was Charles, a man of great sensibility, who really put the estate on the map. Charles’s son Eric joined the team in 1982, and thenceforward took over the wine-making in stages, moving steadily towards organic methods.

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2014 GEVREY CHAMBERTIN

Quite simply, a lovely, very typical Gevrey with vigour and rondeur. It smells and tastes like a fusion of strawberry, cherry, and redcurrant, with gentle tannins balanced by fine fruity acidity. To enjoy over the coming decade.

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2014 GEVREY CHAMBERTIN 1ER CRU CAZETIERS

This has a lovely caressing aroma of pure Pinot noir, conjuring up lushly fruity raspberry and cherry, and shows real depth and length. Very long. Though at the very start of its life, it carries great conviction.

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2014 CHARMES CHAMBERTIN

Always the most accessible of Rousseau’s grands crus, and always the first to be presented. The aroma radiates roundness and expressiveness, redolent of cherry, wild strawberry, and raspberry. You want to gulp it down; yet hold back, knowing that it has years of improvement ahead. In the mouth, succulent wild strawberry and raspberry fruit, with the kind of delicacy and precision often found in a Chambolle-Musigny. The finish is precise and sustained.

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2014 MAZY CHAMBERTIN

The colour is deeper, the nose denser – and quite different. This time I register black cherry, lead pencil, peony and – for the first time – truffle. The flavour is, quite simply, lovely, turning towards the denser style of damson in the glass. A wine of great precision. As you re-taste it you discern something more solid and durable, even sterner. That’s the firm but ripe tannins showing their paces. Should start to peak in around 8 years.

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2014 CLOS DE LA ROCHE

This growth is one of Burgundy’s more sinewy, muscular reds. Nonetheless, the nose is very aerial, suggestive of raspberry, damson, sloe, and black cherry. The flavour shows a lovely fruity intensity, with a touch of blackcurrant showing now. Again, Eric has contrived to coax forth an unwonted finesse on the palate, and the finish shows exceptional length and subtlety – even finesse. Superb.

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A 20-year wine at the very least.

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The humble entrance to a regal Domaine.

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2014 RUCHOTTES CHAMBERTIN
Rich colour, slightly smoky aroma (from a proportion of new oak), turning thoughts to cherry, raspberry, and saltpetre. The succulent flavour is quite full and very intense. Really quite voluminous, but with subtlety, it conveys a certain forcefulness that is sure to guarantee steady improvement over the coming 20 years.

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2014 GEVREY 1ER CRU CLOS ST JACQUES

This has a solid, purple-crimson robe and exhales a globular, composite scent of black cherry, graphite, sloe, and blackcurrant. Full bodied, fleshy yet taut, it has a very long aftertaste which, if still inchoate, is full of subtlety and finesse. Great. Will evolve for 25 years at least.

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2014 CLOS DE BÈZE

The Domaine’s most refined wine has the colour of ripe black cherry and emits an aroma of great complexity and amplitude, with velvety texture and great depth. There’s a promise, in fact, of a breathtaking beauty that will unfold like a glittering fan in the years to come. A second shake of the glass brings forth scents of black cherry and truffle. In the mouth, still more concentration than the nose presages. Damson, crème de mûre, and a reprise of truffle imbue the wine with all manner of nuances. Truly great, this won’t even start to peak in less than a dozen years and will evolve beautifully for a further 15 or more.

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2014 CHAMBERTIN

The “robe” is promisingly dark, with a big, weighty aroma of black cherry, Victoria plum, damson, and liquorice. The hint of faintly smoky oak will vanish in a year or two, overidden by the fruit. The flavour fills the mouth with totally ripe, old-vine Pinot Noir fruit, showing masses of depth and concentration. Plenty of minerality. An archetypical Chambertin – a wine that’s always a bit aggressive in youth, compared to Clos de Bèze – but which develops a mesmerizing complexity and finesse at full maturity. This masterly wine should be held back as long as possible – thirty years ideally.

 

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© Frank Ward 2016

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Photos : E. Ward

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<<Back to : Burgundy Part I – Three Puligny Domaines in 2013 & 2014

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