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Les Amoureuses: 2008 & 1996 G de Vogüé, 2013 Bertheau, 2001 Jadot, 2011 Drouhin, 2011 de la Pousse d’Or, 2005 Amiot-Servelle, 2009 Robert Groffier, 1989 Antonin Rodet & 2007 J-F Mugnier

January 14, 2019

There is a certain romance about Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 1er that sets the pulse racing: the mystigue surrounding its very name, the outrageous prices that some of the bottlings fetch, its relative scarcity…and yet people are still buying without hesitation. Wherein, exactly, lies its allure? Much has been said about its sensuousness, its feminine grace and its delicate beauty, much of which actually abound on the nose rather than the palate. Second only to Musigny Grand Cru in pricing within the Chambolle-Musigny appellation and consistently more expensive than Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru (partly explained by supply-and-demand economics: Les Amoureuses is only a third the size of 15.0 ha Bonne-Mares), it is no wonder that many have opined that Les Amoureuses should be regarded as grand cru. Does it?

Situated at an altitude of 250-280 metres, the plot of Les Amoureuses slopes down eastwards from the Route des Grand Grus at a gradient of eight degrees in a series of stepped terraces. A small portion actually lies on the other side of this road just abutting the northern boundary of Musigny Grand Cru (one of Joseph Drouhin’s three separate plots is most adjacent, which is really fascinating). Les Amoureuses lies on Comblanchien limestone (extremely dense ancient bedrock formed by marine sediment 170 million years ago after the sea had receded) with a topsoil of ferrous clay, especially at the parts closest to its eastern boundary. Fourteen growers occupy this hallowed 5.4 hectare plot, divided as such:

  • R Groffier (1.09 ha)
  • J Drouhin (0.59)
  • G de Vogüé (0.56)
  • J-F Mugnier (0.53)
  • C Amiot-Servelle (0.45)
  • G Roumier (0.40)
  • B Serveau (0.35)
  • Bertagna (0.34) but seemingly unplanted
  • F Bertheau (0.32)
  • G Peirazeau (0.25)
  • Pousse d’Or (0.196)
  • P Rion (0.16)
  • M Zibetti (0.12), formerly Domaine Chazans
  • L Jadot (0.12)

Nobody really knows how the name came about. If it is a place for lovers to gather, there plenty of other lovely (and better) spots throughout the Cote d’Or for that purpose. A more prosaic explanantion is that it’s a metaphor for the mud sticking really close to the boots of vineyard workers but, then again, that happens in every plot everywhere! With so much intrigue to be delved into, KG organised a Les Amoureuses dinner at the delectable one-Michelin starred Summer Pavillon, Ritz-Carlton Singapore, on 08 Jan 2019 featuring ten bottles from a good spread of nine producers, representing examples from the largest (Groffier) as well as the tiniest (Jadot) holdings, from plots across the road (Drouhin, Pousse d’Or, Mugnier, Bertheau) and from lesser-known producers. And as if these weren’t enough, the line-up was bookended by three different Montrachet Grand Cru and a superb d’Yquem.

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2002 Piper Heidsieck Rare Millesime, courtesy of KG. Lovely nuanced bouquet of yeast and earthy tones, proffering lime, citrus and green melons on the palate with an after note of gunmetal, displaying lovely body and presence, turning sharper in acidity over time.

1976 Bollinger Brut, courtesy of LF. Dark golden hue, all its fizz having dissipated totally after 43 years, distinctly mature on the nose with a superb complex of yeasty tones amidst a little mustiness, dried mushrooms and steely minerals. Still remarkably fresh on the palate with very good concentration and acidity but dry, layered with intense yellow citrus that left a lasting impression.

2007 Domaine Bouchard Pere et Fils Montrachet Grand Cru, courtesy of Dr Ngoi. Rather reluctant on the nose, proffering just some waxiness with traces of oxidation. Got better over time as more of lime, yellow citrus and stony minerals began developing with fair intensity on the palate, revealing great detail along with some graphite elements as it broadened with greater expanse and depth, utterly seamless in transition and linearity though the legendary ethereal elegance of Bouchard’s Montrachet eluded us that evening. Needs far more time in the glass than we gave it.

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2013 Domaine Francois Bertheau Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 1er. Good colour. Very gentle rosy fragrance on the nose, especially floral and delicate on an open palate strewn with light cherries and strawberries. Distinctly feminine. Rather understated in power and minerality, exuding very fine gentle intensity. Very lovely, a wine that would be easily under-rated.

2011 Domaine Joseph Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 1er, courtesy of Grace. Slightly deeper in colour and more aromatic, yet gentle. Very correct in its poise of rose petals and light raspberries, proportioned with just the right degree of concentration that yielded good detail with a feminine feel, gently structured, finishing with traces of earthy minerals.

2011 Domaine de la La Pousse d’Or Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 1er, courtesy of John. Good colour. Shut on the nose, though the palate is imbued with a distinct firm tone of ferrous minerals, graphite and earth on a backdrop of light red fruits, gradually opening up with more orangey tangerines with a rounded feminine suppleness. Quite lovely actually, though it remained absolutely unyielding on the nose.

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2005 Domaine Amiot-Servelle Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 1er

2009 Domaine Robert Groffier Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 1er, courtesy of C J. Already evolving to vermillion. Highly effusive with a great bouquet of deep dark roses, dark currants and red cherries. Rather full, exuding excellent presence with a firm minerally streak right across the palate that imparted lovely intensity and great sensation at the finish. Superb.

2008 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 1er, courtesy of Vic. More darkly tinted, which is quite usual from this estate. This wine opens on a slightly minty note with an unique chalky medicinal aroma that reminded me of Gaviscon (really!). The palate displays supple ripe berries, currants and tangerines that are gorgeously sublime in concentration and acidity, conferring superb mouthfeel. Highly distinctive but still a tad short. Quite wonderful.

2001 Domaine Louis Jadot Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 1er, courtesy of LF. The aromatics here are simply sensational, stroking the senses with a gentle depth of red cherries and bright rose petals, heightening the anticipation of a plush velvety bed of gorgeous fruit  that oozed with great suppleness and freshness, very correctly poised and proportioned with excellent linearity throughout its lovely length. It may have come from the tiniest holdings but this wine is an absolute delight.

20190108_230549.jpg2005 Domaine Christian Amiot-Servelle Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 1er, courtesy of KG. Dark red. Evidently more extracted, resulting in more power along with medicinal tones on the nose whilst the palate displays excellent depth and structure of fruit with darker tones, imbued with fine acidity, lovely verve and weight but still a bit short at the finish. A masculine Amoureuses, for a change.

2007 Domaine Jacques-Frederic Mugnier Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 1er, courtesy of LF. Fabulous bouquet, intriguingly complex in its intricate mix of delicate  cherries and gloriously ripe raspberries that exude a highly enticing floral fragrance, absolutely superb in definition and depth with a distinctly feminine intensity on the palate, enhanced by sublime seamless acidity that streamed through its entire length with great linearity and gentle sweetness. Absolutely outstanding!

1996 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 1er, courtesy of CHS. Slightly darkish though the bouquet is beautifully delicate in definition with delicious tertiary characteristics, softly rounded with bright tangerines and red plums that impart lovely intensity and great suppleness, flowing with good linearity amid faint but distinct graphite minerality that added a touch of sternness, finishing with sensational mouthfeel. Very correct in every way. Outstanding.

1989 Domaine Antonin Rodet Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 1er, courtesy of KG. Opague dull red, exuding a lovely earthy glow, slightly sweet, appearing to hold with good acidity and concentration of tangerines but it began fading after about an hour.

2006 Domaine Moret-Nomine Montrachet Grand Cru, courtesy of Dr Ngoi. Still shut in spite of aeration in bottle for almost three hours. The palate has a certain aged feel of recessed fruit and minerals, further shrouded by a sheen of paraffin that imparted a veiled character, rather closed as well though a bit of white fruits did emerge after much persuasive coaxing.

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1995 Domaine Bouchard Pere et Fils Montrachet Grand Cru, courtesy of Sanjay. Aired in bottle for three hours. Most unfortunate that this bottle was distinctly oxidized, preventing the mature citrus from shining through as the palate displayed mainly chalky tones of mild intensity that produced quite a bit of hard minerally glare.

1989 Ch d’Yquem, courtesy of Sanjay. Very dark in colour for Sauternes with a deep burnished tone, exuding a fabulous bouquet of exotic fruit (including overtones of durians!) and varnish, delivering an abundance of intense aged nectarines on the full palate, still imbued with fine acidity, finishing well.

So, is Les Amoureuses deserving of grand cru status? I belong firmly to the camp that says things should remain status quo. Yes, the nose is truly extraordinary but the palate tends to fall just a little short in depth, detail, dimensionality and finish in comparison with Musigny Grand Cru. No doubt the offerings from Mugnier, de Vogüé, Groffier and Jadot are outstanding, but I feel the quality isn’t quite uniform across Les Amoureuses. Nevertheless, to each his own. I shall always remain indebted for any opportunity to drink such lovely wines. A big thank you to everyone for their immense generousity.

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