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FICOFI in Paris: Louis Roederer, E Guigal & Louis Jadot

December 11, 2017

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Photo: Ryan Chen

On a weekend that Paris mourned the passing of their pop icon Johnny Hallyday where even the Eiffel Tower was shrouded in darkness, the Palais des Grands Crus convention organised by FICOFI still went ahead, an annual event to sign off the year with a blast. Preceding that, though, was a promenade generously hosted by Louis Roederer, E Guigal and Louis Jadot at the Hotel de Crillon on 09 December 2017 that was well attended by about 300 members and their guests who have specially flown in from all corners of the globe. Both Mr and Mrs Marcel Guigal (the second generation owner after his father Etienne) were in attendance, both absolutely down-to-earth folks without any pretensions who liked nothing better than to share their wines with those who appreciate. It was also good to meet up, once again, with M. Thibault Gagey, son of Pierre-Henry of Louis Jadot. As the evening wore on, the chatter grew louder and, every now and then, one would hear the splintering crash of glasses accidentally smashing onto the expensive parquet, always a good sign of a successful party. In the space of two hours, I think I have managed to cover everything except for the 2013 trio of Guigal’s La La’s. There is only so much one’s palate and senses can absorb on a bitterly cold Paris winter night.

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Philippe Capdouze flanked by M. Thibault Gagey and Marcel Guigal

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2008 Louis Roederer. Traditional champagne blend, predominantly pinot noir. Clean, crisp and dry, displaying great concentration of fruit with biting intensity.

2010 Louis Roederer Blanc de Blancs. Great presence  and intensity of white citrus, lime and pomelo supported by understated minerals, displaying great acidity and mouthfeel. Cool and inviting, not too dry. Good finish.

20171209_210154.jpg2012 Louis Roederer Rose. Excellent presence with notes of grapefruit and complex tangerines, quite full and rounded, displaying great sparkle, brilliance and balance, finishing well. Superb.

2009 Louis Roederer Cristal. Lifted notes of delicate lime and clear citrus. Tight with smoky tones, very fresh with plenty of vibrant intensity and tension, just slightly stern, finishing with traces of pomelo and ferrous elements.

2014 Domaine Louis Jadot Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles 1er. Poured from double magnum. Closed, showing just traces of gentle tropical fruits and banana peel but absolutely wonderful in mouthfeel where it is dry and supple with the distilled essence of delicate crème and white floral fragrance, displaying lovely intensity and acidity, finishing with superb length and lasting mouthfeel. Outstanding.

2013 Domaine Louis Jadot Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. Gentle bouquet of tropical fruits and white flowers with overtones of paraffin, displaying characteristic Batard tone on the palate with its placid quiet elegance, understated acidity and minerals. Needed some coaxing but it’s all there.

2014 Domaine Louis Jadot Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. Lifted delicate tones of white pepper, slightly tangy with racy character. Very even and seamless on the palate, displaying lovely lift with understated acidity and quiet intensity from the superb depth and concentration of glorious fruit. Richly elegant. Outstanding.

2010 Domaine Louis Jadot Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. More racy and more developed than the 2014, quite open and lifted, leaning towards a more minerally character with good acidity and structure though not the best in depth nor detail.

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1969 Domaine Louis Jadot Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru. Dusty red, showing dark cherries and ripe strawberries with plenty of great acidity and lift, not drying out. Ageing gracefully and still holding up very well.

2011 Domaine Louis Jadot Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru. Smoky tones, sweet incense, ripe cherries and camphor dominate on the nose, though more minerally with earthy tones on the palate, showing good concentration and acidity but somewhat lean and austere, finishing with a spicy feel.

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2013 Domaine Louis Jadot Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru. Forward balance of cherries and raspberries, slightly angular from the dominant acidity, lacking in layering.

2014 Domaine Louis Jadot Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru. Generous in delicate red fruits. Highly supple, showing good presence and acidity, soft and feminine in character..

2013 Domaine Louis Jadot Beaune Clos des Ursules 1er, poured from double magnum. Clear ruby. Lively with excellent fullness and delicacy, exuding ripe red cherries, camphor and strawberries with a dash of earth. Open and accessible, finishing with excellent linearity and structure. A revelation.

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2014 Domaine Louis Jadot Clos de la Roche Grand Cru. Lifted tones of red fruits and cherries supported by earthy minerals. Ripe, supple and richly detailed. Well structured with good intensity and concentration. Excellent.

2006 Domaine Louis Jadot Clos de la Roche Grand Cru. Lifted aromas of rose petals, cherries, dark ash and earthy minerals. Well structured but unsmiling, finishing with stern spicy tones.

2009 Domaine Louis Jadot Clos de la Roche Grand Cru. Cherries and red fruits dominate with good lift, displaying the classic structured tone of this plot with good definition. Very clean and lean, finishing with a spicy trace.

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Yours truly with Mr & Mrs Marcel Guigal

1999 E Guigal Cote Rotie La Landonne. This wine has developed very well over time, exuding smoke, earth and complex red fruits with a tangerine core, displaying great balance and presence, finishing well. Yet to peak. Excellent.

1999 E Guigal Cote Rotie La Turque. Wonderful earthy pungency with lifted plummy tones, displaying great concentration and depth with excellent definition and focus, finishing with a dash of spice amidst smoky overtones, its melted tannins imparting a distinct feminine tone. Excellent.

1999 E Guigal Cote Rotie La Mouline. Dark red. Lifted aromas of red fruits and dark cherries with an abundance of black pepper and red currants on the palate, showing good tannin structure and intensity though not much in layering, finishing with spicy tones.

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20171209_204727.jpg2013 E Guigal Cote Rotie Chateau d’Ampuis. Darkly intense with a generous tone of ripe warm fruit, displaying a marked alcoholic trace, somewhat austere and unsettled at this stage, yet to unfurl its true colours.

2016 E Guigal La Doriane Condrieu. Dominant tones of grassy elements and morning dew, strewn with white pepper and oriental herbal elements, showing good concentration but awkward now. Needs time.

1990 E Guigal Cote Rotie Hommage a Etienne Guigal, poured from double magnum. Marked by savoury tones of smoked meat amidst dark currants and earthy minerals, showing good definition but somewhat stern. Still remarkably youthful.

La Tour d’Argent re-visited

December 10, 2017

I just returned from my birthday lunch this afternoon, 09 Dec 2017, at La Tour d’Argent, Paris, after an absence of eight years. Still at its original location at Quai de la Tournelle since 1582, some changes are noticeable. The restaurant has set up a bistro across the road as well as a bakery next to it, both looking very enticing. We arrived three minutes before noon to find the front door still locked, of course, for this is France after all.

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2002 Domaine Roulot Meursault Les Luchets

Precisely at noon, the doors were thrown open and I found myself back in the familiar anteroom decked in period décor. After the usual pleasantries with the front manager, I was brought up to the dining room on the sixth floor where the layout and the blue carpet remained unchanged, as is the lovely view of the Seine and the Notre Dame yonder. Nevertheless, some changes are obvious: the lunch crowd is now bigger, meaning the restaurant is much noisier than before while the staff has less time to spend with you at the table, resulting in service that seems a little too perfunctory. The prix fixe three-course set lunch now costs more as well, EUR105 compared with EUR65 back in 2009. To the restaurant’s credit, however, the attention to detail is still there and some of its age-old tradition remain unchanged: the massive carte de vin is still encyclopaedic in proportion (though newly re-organised), the staff hands you a fresh table napkin each time you return from the washroom, the food is still prepared in immaculate fashion and explained to you with admirable patience while, most importantly, Mrs Claude Terrail still goes around the tables making sure that you have been well looked after. The certificate pronouncing the numbered duck that you are eating is still presented though the card now sports a more contemporary (but less important-looking, I feel) look. This time as well, the chef also makes an appearance at each table along with the general manager. A nice touch.

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To start…

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Dessert actually

Changes are inevitable, I suppose, but I am happy to report that the food at this venerable institution is still outstanding, presented with great imagination with flavours and portions that remain unadulterated. I picked two half bottles to go with the meal. The 2002 Domaine Roulot Meursault Les Luchets, a named village, displayed a glorious golden hue with a rich deep glow of cassis, aged crème, walnuts and almonds, bursting with superb acidity and intensity of white fruits before settling into a medium-bodied proposition, beautifully rounded with the burnished tone of aged limestone minerals, developing greater depth and delicacy over time. Excellent and, in my humble opinion, a steal at EUR105 from such a restaurant list.

For the red, I spotted a 2004 Domaine Armand Rousseau Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru for EUR160. Well evolved in color and mellowed, this wine featured gentle red fruits, cinnamons and rose petals with a hint of tangerines and earth on the nose, medium-bodied, rounded with tertiary cedary tones that produced a lovely lift of perfumed fragrance, layered with subtle intensity and superb acidity, its tannins having receded long ago, finishing with growing breadth and intensity, distinctly feminine in its elegance and poise. Excellent.

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A piece of highly sophisticated tofu

At the end of it, the restaurant discreetly remembered that it’s my red-letter day and laid the complimentary celebratory touch on the table. Well, I really enjoyed my lunch and so did the family. I’ll certainly be back again.

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The famous canard filet

 

 

Ric visits Domaine de Montille: 2016 wines

November 30, 2017

DSC_1575On our final day in Burgundy, we paid a visit to Domaine de Montille in Volnay on the morning of 23 November 2017 where we were welcome by its present owner M. Etienne de Montille. This domaine is one of few in Burgundy represented by a proper chateau, in front of which is planted a sizeable plot of Volnay village vines. It was good to see Etienne once again, a highly affable and easy-going gentleman whose partner is Chinese, which explains for the number of Chinese paintings and calligraphy in the chateau’s hall, including a copy of Chairman Mao’s famous little red book on the coffee table. Domaine de Montille was established in 1863 and has remained within the family since, focusing on the wines of the Cote de Beaune. Because of the high water table in the area south of Beaune,  the modest and functional cellars of this estate are housed above ground, where we tasted the 2016 wines from barrel. While most people tend to skip the wines of Volnay and Pommard in favour of the more prestigious communes of the Cote de Nuits, I can assure you that Domaine de Montille is truly a gem of Burgundy. Its whites from Saint-Aubin and Puligny are focused with plenty of delicacy and detail whilst its reds are well-structured and balanced, never overly extracted. Most of all, each individual terroir is well reflected in the wines of Domaine de Montille.

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2016 Domaine de Montille Puligny-Montrachet. Village wine. Aromatic with creme and gentle minerals in equal measure, showing good supple acidity, freshness and good delicacy.

2016 Domaine de Montille Saint-Aubin En Remilly 1er. Full bouquet of delicate floral aromas with gravelly minerality, showing good detail on the palate with saline tones and quiet acidity. Harmonious with good zest.

2016 Domaine de Montille Puligny-Montrachet Le Cailleret 1er. Deeper tones. Lovely soft aromas of crème de la crème with understated chalkiness. Excellent mouthfeel from good presence and  delicate soft minerals showing good purity and definition. Dryish finish. Only 600 litres. No new wood. All the better!

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2016 Domaine de Montille Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatieres 1er. Strong lifted minerally tones with morning dew, showing good supple intensity and acidity. Well proportioned. Seamless minerally finish.

2016 Domaine de Montille Puligny-Montrachet Les Caillerets 1er. Adjacent to the north of Montrachet Grand Cru. Deeply aromatic with a feminine floral character. Open on the palate, displaying lively intensity, great elegance, subtle depth with excellent detail and some early complexity. Great stuff!

2016 Domaine de Montille Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Lifted, deep floral nose. Minerally in body, the fruit seemingly backward with more acidity to the fore, though very well integrated with just a bare trace of ferrous element at the finish.

2016 Domaine de Montille Beaune Greves 1er. Dark with a nose of Chinese medicinal tones and herbs, showing good concentration of dark fruits with dusty textures and forest floor characters, finishing with supple tannins. No de-stemming.

2016 Domaine de Montille Volnay Les Taillepied 1er. Dark. Deep concentration of dark fruits with characters of dry Chinese herbs, showing good suppleness and acidity.

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2016 Domaine de Montille Pommard Les Pezerole 1er. Deep purple with deep aromas of dark fruits and currants. Big but well proportioned, medium-bodied, displaying supple acidity with dryish textures and a unique tone of cigar tone. Good pliant structure.

2016 Domaine de Montille Pommard Les Rugiens 1er. More open, displaying attractive red fruits and currants. Fleshy with good body and supple acidity. Excellent balance and presence. Distinctly feminine. Very successful. One can see why Les Rugiens is in pole position to be upgraded to grand cru status.

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2016 Domaine de Montille Corton Clos du Roi Grand Cru. Dry herbal bouquet with dryish textures. Fleshy, showing good concentration of ripe dark cherries with understated minerals, subtle in tannins and structure. Very successful.

2016 Domaine de Montille Vosne-Romanee Aux Malconsorts 1er Christiane Ghislaine. Deep purple. Rounded, showing great acidity with a touch of dryness. Medium-full, layered with abundant dark berries, dark cherries and raspberries. Generous in  body, highly seamless with lovely tone and wonderful length. Excellent. A very special wine named after Etienne’s mother, it comes from a plot of Aux Malconsorts that actually slips well inside La Tache. So, essentially, one is drinking La Tache without the hefty price tag.

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After the barrel tasting, we adjourned to the chateau proper for an exquisite lunch hosted by Etienne himself, where we had more wine:

2007 Delamotte Blancs de Blanc. Great creamy smoothness with excellent depth of green fruits and fresh citrus, detailed with good lift.

2013 Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatieres 1er, poured from magnum. Lifted bouquet, highly intense with notes of creme and floral characters in stunning detail, layered with great presence and superb acidity on the palate, maintaining good minerally delicacy throughout its length. Quite glorious.

2000 Domaine de Montille Puligny-Montrachet Le Cailleret 1er. From a plot just next to Montrachet Grand Cru, this wine is more delicate than the preceding Folatieres with well defined complex minerals and white citrus with excellent inner detail and lovely floral characters, perhaps just a tad short but very lovely.

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1996 Domaine de Montille Pommard Les Rugiens 1er. Decanted and served blind, this showed an evolved colour with well-developed red fruits and plums amidst a mild medicinal tone. Open, supple and fleshy.

2005 Domaine de Montille Pommard Les Rugiens 1er. Decanted and served blind. Slightly darker than the preceding 1996, displaying an attractive rosy fragrance with red fruits, open with a deeper streak of dark currants with some bright spots. Full-bodied but quietly intense. Still yet to peak.

20171123_140948.jpg2005 Domaine de Montille Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. First vintage ever produced. Only 2 barrels and never released commercially. Subtle notes of sweet nectarine with lifted tones of creme and chalk, substantial in body with fine detail, showing good delicacy. Very special indeed. What a great privilege to have tasted this.

1996 Ch d’Yquem. Rich and luscious, displaying aged nectarine and apricots of understated sweetness and acidity.

With such wonderful wines and food, we were properly hammered by the time we finished lunch at 3.00 PM. Domaine de Montille may not be the first name one thinks of in Burgundy but it is truly a star estate, very much a connoisseur’s wine. Be sure to look out for it. Thank you very much, Etienne, and thanks to FICOFI as well.

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Ric visits Domaine du Clos des Lambrays

November 26, 2017

There has been quite a significant upheaval in the small commune of Morey-Saint-Denis in recent times where the well-known Domaine du Clos des Lambrays has now come under the LVMH empire while, likewise, neighbouring Domaine du Clos de Tart has changed ownership as well less than a month ago. Nevertheless, it appears to be business as usual when we visited Domaine du Clos des Lambrays on a cold afternoon on 21 November 2017, where we were welcome by its manager M. Boris Champy. This domaine is probably one of the prettiest in the Cote de Nuits, boasting beautiful exteriors with plenty of flora and fauna, including a very well-manicured garden perfect for outdoor parties in summer. Sandwiched between Clos de Tart Grand Cru (to the south) and Clos de la Roche Grand Cru to the north, Domaine du Clos des Lambrays is in an enviable position of owning a majority holding of Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru, one of the only four grand crus of Morey-Saint-Denis commune. However, due to the fact that a tiny 400 square metres of this 8.8 hectare AOC appellation is owned by Domaine Taupenot-Merme, Domaine du Clos des Lambrays is unable to stake a monopoly. But no matter.

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Compared with Clos de Tart, the plot of Clos des Lambrays extends much farther up the steep slope to the west well beyond the western boundary of Clos de Tart, where the soils contain much more limestone, which may explain for the more minerally balance of the wines. Notably, the vines here are planted in north-south orientation, only one of six vineyards in Burgundy to do so (the rest are Clos de Tart, La Tache, La Grand Rue, La Romanee and Cros Parantoux). This allows the vines to capture sunlight evenly and to facilitate the movement of tractors along the slopes.

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We proceeded with a tasting of the 2016 wines from barrel. The 2016 Domaine du Clos des Lambrays Morey-Saint-Denis village was notably darker in tone with a heavier tint and forward balance, delivering ripe strawberries, wild berries and dark cherries, rather full with a trace of hardness on the palate from the earthy minerals and high toned acidity, short at its spicy finish. In contrast, the 2016 Domaine du Clos des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru showed a lovely hue of ruby with abundant ripe red fruits, cherries and currants, supple with high-toned acidity and subdued minerals, highly seamless, finishing with good length and spicy earthy tones. Great stuff, considering that the wine has only spent twelve months in barrel and is not yet the final product.

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2016 Domaine du Clos des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru aspirated from barrel.

To round up, a 2013 Domaine du Clos des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru. was poured, showing great colour, really powerful and expressive with a delicious bouquet of ripe red fruits, rose petals, cherries and currants while the palate is open and fleshy with a delightful deftness, utterly seamless between its acidity and understated silky tannins, finishing with superb mouthfeel. Excellent. This short but insightful visit has been made possible by FICOFI and we want to thank M. Boris Champy too for his time.

Ric re-visits Domaine Faiveley: 2016 wines

November 25, 2017

We were enraptured by a sense of deja vu as the same group of us climbed up the same flight of stairs as we’d done so two years ago at the modest headquarters of Domaine Faiveley at the heart of the little township of Nuits-Saint-Georges on the afternoon of 22 November 2017, where it was very good, once again, to be welcome by its seventh generation owner M. Erwan Faiveley. One of the chief reasons for re-visiting Faiveley again was to inspect its new chai and, indeed, the old buildings have been modernised, now larger, cleaner with an almost chapelle-like building to house the vinification vats which also affords a direct view to a newly-acquired plot of Nuits-Saint-Georges village vines. The extensive cellars beneath now appears brighter as well with newer lighting installations, where endless rows of barrels contain the wines of 2016 and 2017. Three barrels of 2017 Musigny Grand Cru were spotted, seemingly much more than before. Erwan proceeded to spoil us with an extensive barrel tasting of the domaine’s 2016 wines, while lower in quantities due to extensive frost and hail during the growing season, which are outstanding for both the whites and reds even though they have only spent 12 months in barrel at this stage. Thank you very much, Erwan, for your time and generosity and thanks to FICOFI too.

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2016 Domaine Faiveley Puligny-Montrachet Champs Gain 1er. White flowers with grassy elements, showing great intensity, concentration and acidity. Refreshing.

2016 Domaine Faiveley Bienvenues Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. Delicate floral bloom, rich in crème de la crème, showing great focus with plenty of opulence and great minerals with superb seamless acidity. Plenty of verve. Glorious.

2016 Domaine Faiveley Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. Rich in crème de la creme and earthy minerals in equal measure with traces of nutmeg and exotic spice. Generous with  supple acidity. Poised with very good presence, finishing with subtle intensity.

2016 Domaine Faiveley Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Rich, poised and elegant. Abundant clear citrus and crème, quite opulent with quiet intensity. Very clean feel. Less structured at the finish, but Erwan thinks Faiveley’s Corton-Charlemagne is better than the Puligny grand crus.

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2016 Domaine Faiveley Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Saint-Georges 1er. Deep purple. Bellpepper, raspberries, dark currants and sandy minerals dominate, showing good Nuits-Saint-Georges terroir character. Medium-bodied. Very fine in acidity with good integration and rounded tannins, slightly sweet, finishing with fine intensity.

2016 Domaine Faiveley Gevrey-Chambertin Clos des Issarts 1er. Deep clear purple. Rich in ripe raspberries and blueberries with clear tangerines, showing excellent presence and depth. Very elegant, finishing with smooth acidity. Distinctly feminine.

2016 Domaine Faiveley Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cazetiers 1er. Good color. Lovely bouquet of camphor, red cherries and tangerines, displaying good supple acidity with understated saline minerals, culminating in a gentle finish.

2016 Domaine Faiveley Clos Vougeot Grand Cru. Deep colour and lift. Fleshy. Good presence of ripe dark berries with earthy tones and ferrous minerals, open without being opulent.

2016 Domaine Faiveley Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru. Deep colour with an aromatic rosy fragrance. Good concentration of fruit with a light touch, elegant and feminine. Gentle finish.

2016 Domaine Faiveley Latricieres-Chambertin Grand Cru. Slightly reticent on the nose. More minerally on the palate. Rounded with soft subtle acidity. Tinge of austerity at finish.

2016 Domaine Faiveley Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru. Very dark. Powerful earthy pungency dark red fruits currants tangerines excellent concentration fine acidity intensity very full subtly structured slightly austere finish.

2016 Domaine Faiveley Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru. Good colour with dark rosy characters. Fleshy with excellent integration of fruit and acidity, subtly structured. Not showy. Excellent.

2016 Domaine Faiveley Chambertin-Clos de Beze Ouvrees Rodin Grand Cru. Dark red fruits tinged with chocolate and mocha, superbly integrated with great intensity of fruit and sublime acidity. Excellent presence.

2016 Domaine Faiveley Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley Grand Cru monopole. Deep ruby. Deep currants, smoke and dark fruits. Fleshy with great acidity, structured with delicious tannins. Big but well balanced. A perennial favourite of mine.

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Understanding Domaine du Clos de Tart

November 24, 2017

Our visit on the morning of 22 November 2017 to Domaine du Clos de Tart must surely rank as the finest wine educational experience ever. Occupying just 7.5 hectares sandwiched between Bonnes-Mares to the south and Clos des Lambrays to the north, Domaine du Clos de Tart has only changed ownership four times in its 900-year history, the most recent being just three weeks ago when the Mommessin family sold out to M. Francois Pinault (owner of Chateau Latour). However, I am pleased to report that business remains as usual at this monopole estate as we stepped through its famous red oriental doors, where we were welcome by M. Jacques Devauges, installed as its Technical Director only three years ago in January 2015. Genial, friendly and bubbling with quiet confidence and energy, Jacques is certainly the right person to bring the wines of this famous estate, already so highly esteemed and limited in quantity, up another few more notches as he exuded great knowledge about the estate. Trudging up to the vineyard (otherwise not quite visible from the road), it is wonderful to see the entire clos (wall) surrounding the rows of vines sloping gently upward, all planted in north-south orientation after the phylloxera devastation, facilitating even exposure to both the morning and afternoon sun. Apart from Clos de Tart, only five other vineyards in Burgundy are oriented likewise: neighbouring Clos des Lambrays, La Romanee, La Tache, Cros Parantoux and La Grand Rue. Therefore, it is not surprising that some of the very best wines of the Cote de Nuits come from these hallowed plots. The average age of the vines at Clos de Tart is about 60 years, divided into 27 subplots and vinified separately as 8 different cuvees before they are finally blended as the final Grand Cru. It has to be done this way as the subsoil is different from area to area, starting as shallow stony soils at the base (ie. easterly most) to deeper marl at the opposite extreme (ie. westerly most) where the wall stands. Coincidentally, Jacques tells us that the wall happened to be built along the natural geological fault lines of the slope, beyond which the soils are much harder, impeding root penetration. A continuous program of replanting takes place regularly where vines that are past their prime are replaced. Presently, the three youngest plots were replanted in 1999, 2005 and 2011.

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Following this, we moved down to the cool cellars below where precious barrels of the 2016 and 2017 lie undisturbed at a constant temperature of 12ºC with 80% humidity. The yields at Domaine du Clos de Tart are below 35 hectolitres, which translates into 20,000-25,000 bottles per vintage. Eight cuvees, each representing certain terroir characteristics of the vineyard, are vinified per vintage.

We proceeded with the barrel tasting of the 2016 vintage. First was Cuvee #8, made from three subplots containing the youngest vines as mentioned earlier, planted in 1999, 2005 and 2011. This young cuvee is not included in the Clos de Tart Grand Cru, but bottled separately as the La Forge de Tart. Light ruby, this wine exuded youthful forward characters of raspberries and red fruits, displaying great freshness, purity and precision with fabulous acidity, already seamless, a wine of excellent power, length and elegance. Already complete in itself. As these three subplots happened to be derived from diverse parts of the Clos de Tart vineyard, the La Forge de Tart, rightly, is not a “second wine” but ought to be considered as a young Grand Cru. This insight, to me, is absolutely fascinating.

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Next was Cuvee #3, from vines located northwards at the lowest part of the vineyard, nearer Clos des Lambrays. This cuvee exuded some earthiness and smoke with fragrant raspberries and gentle currants, showing good delicacy, excellent linearity, very fine presence and acidity, finishing with traces of herbs that added an extra dimension.

In contrast, Cuvee #1, also from the lowest part of the vineyard but southwards, nearer Bonnes-Mares, proffered a softer bouquet, showing good balance between fruit and minerals with traces of smoke. Cuvee #5, coming from mid-slope that has a warmer micro-climate with white soils, exuded red fruits, cherries and roses of fabulous intensity, highly supple with wonderful purity, acidity and concentration all the way to its lengthy finish. Absolutely lovely.

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And so how will the 2016 Domaine du Clos de Tart Clos de Tart Grand Cru taste like if we blend all the cuvees together? This was exactly what Jacques proceeded to do, blending all seven cuvees (sans Cuvee #8 which contained vines that are still too young) in equal measure. The hypothetical 2016 Domaine du Clos de Tart Clos de Tart Grand Cru is a wine of outstanding purity and elegance, imbued with vibrant red fruits and cherries with various shades of light and dark, infused with fabulous acidity, elegant intensity, lovely length and wonderful depth, engulfing one totally in its living presence. You never feel the tannins even though they are there. At only 12 months old, and still in barrel, the 2016 Domaine du Clos de Tart Clos de Tart Grand Cru is already a complete wine, sensual and beguiling. Truly the drops of God. But Jacques knows better. The world will await with bated breath until it appears in bottle in 2019. This has truly been a masterclass to end all masterclasses. Thank you very much, Jacques, for giving us so much of your time and to FICOFI too for making possible the visit.

Ric visits Domaine Pierre Damoy

November 22, 2017

I must admit it was only earlier this year through FICOFI that I came to know about Domaine Pierre Damoy, in spite of the fact that it has the largest holdings of Chambertin-Clos de Beze, a whopping 5.4 hectares that is practically a third of this hallowed plot. A family-owned business since the 1920s, this estate is now run by the fourth generation, a most affable and unassuming gentleman also called Pierre who is now into his 26th vintage as winemaker. Meeting us in his working clothes at Gevrey itself on the morning of 21 November 2017, one can tell right away Pierre is a 100-percent hands-on person. There is also a perfectionist streak in him too as he lamented that the packaging boxes were not designed to his satisfaction, even though they already appear highly appealing to our eyes. We walked through the small and messy (always a good sign about these smaller producers, in my opinion) technical workshop before trooping down into the cellars, again a smallish place. Here, Pierre had prepared for us ten different wines for tasting, all from 2016.

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As he poured for us his wines, Pierre lamented on the small production of yield of that vintage such that he is simply unable to meet demand, as well as, perhaps, the bigger issue of how he is going to pass on the reins. Here, Pierre already has plans for his youngest son. It also appears his lovely teenage daughter has shown a growing interest in the day-to-day running of the estate, which bodes well for him. The domaine makes almost all reds, though there is, of late, a tiny production of Bourgogne blanc. As we tasted through the wines, they struck me as being very well crafted, wines of great extraction and ripeness (but not overdone), subtly structured and well balanced, capable of revealing the subtle differences between different terroir, stuff that Napoleon himself (who loved Chambertin) would have cherished. This is a very fine address in Gevrey-Chambertin. See if you can find his wines in your local retailer.

2016 Domaine Pierre Damoy Bourgogne blanc. Highly aromatic. Very inviting notes of creme and chalky minerals. Crisp in acidity, very generous. Fat. Very correct Refreshing, finished well. Excellent. Only 600 litres made with grapes mostly from Fixin.

2016 Domaine Pierre Damoy Bourgogne rouge. Lovely hue. Robust with dark cherries, rose petals and some bright spots. Well extracted with some wood from the 30% stems. Rounded, subtly structured with good flavours. Very fine.

2016 Domaine Pierre Damoy Fixin Les Mogottes. Clear ruby, showing ripe cherries and dark strawberries with good acidity and concentration, slighty lean. Good linearity with good flavours but not much structure. Fresh mouthfeel. Not at all thin. Good stuff.

2016 Domaine Pierre Damoy Gevrey-Chambertin. Deep colour. Generous aromas of red fruits abd dark cherries, showing very good concentration and structure. Harmonious with crisp fine tension. Good length.

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2016 Domaine Pierre Damoy Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Tamisot monopole. Deep ruby. Seriously deep on the bouquet and palate showing dark red fruits with some earthiness. Rounded and fleshy with seamless acidity, subtly structured with supple tannins. Truly excellent, regardless that it’s a village.

2016 Domaine Pierre Damoy Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru. Deep colour. Delicious notes of ripe dark cherries and currants. Well extracted with lovely concentration, highly supple with sweet subtle tannins, finishing well. Very elegant and feminine in spite of its proportions.

2016 Domaine Pierre Damoy Chambertin Grand Cru. Glorious colour. Ripe in raspberries and cherries. Full and tight, showing great concentration and intensity with fine definition even at this early stage. Superb acidity. Ferrous trace at finish. Well structured without any jarring edges. Only 3 barrels. Excellent.

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Expensive stains

2016 Domaine Pierre Damoy Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru. Beautiful colour with tones of lifted ripe cherries and raspberries, good in concentration with a certain deftness, not heavy at all, showing great balance and acidity with some emerging chocolate, finishing with great integration amidst very fine intensity. Absolutely on song. Should gain greater opulence in bottle. Outstanding.

2016 Domaine Pierre Damoy Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru Reserve. Very deep in colour with even deeper sweet delicious flavours, rich in concentration of dark fruits, very well layered, showing excellent ripeness with traces chocolate and mocha, finishing with chewy supple tannins, subtly structured. Only 500 bts. Comes from certain vines within the plot that Pierre has noticed are distinctly special.

2007 Domaine Pierre Damoy Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru. Offered as a bonus, this wine now aged ten years is distinctly more complex in dark currants and dark fruits, superb in layering with deep rich flavours, yet deft and flowing with superb integration of fruit, acidity and refined tannins. Highly sophisticated without calling attention to itself. A wine of great finesse and refinement.

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M. Pierre Damoy and yours truly