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FICOFI: Chassagne vs Puligny

September 25, 2019

FICOFI organised a mini comparison between the whites of Chassagne and Puligny (lest we forget that the former still produces delicious reds) on 19 September 2019 at FICOFI House, Singapore, a delectable theme that’s simply begging to be played out. I don’t think anyone can ever be tired of tasting the wines of these appellations, particularly the premier crus and grand crus. It has never ceased to amaze me how the monks in the old days already knew precisely which were the best plots and so on, as nothing has really changed since. Puligny has always been described as being minerally though, to me, that distinction is better expressed by Chassagne, always more delicate and feminine whereas Puligny has a different sort of minerality, at once more chiselled and chalky and bold. It’s not surprising that most people tend to favour Puligny for its obvious attraction but I feel Chassagne, in the best years, possesses greater mystery and character. However, the tasting that evening wasn’t quite the case of apples versus apples. The 2014 Ramonet 1er was pitted against a 2016 Henri Boillot 1er (2016, while excellent, is always half a step behind 2014), while the trio of grand crus all hailed from Puligny without any representation from Chassagne (remember Montrachet and Batard-Montrachet are split equally between Chassagne and Puligny, while Criots-Batard-Montrachet sits entirely in Chassagne), all differing in vintage as well. Nevertheless, one mustn’t pass up the opportunity to taste such wonderful whites after a busy day at work. Merci FICOFI.

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Map by Fernando Beteta, obtained from http://www.tenzingws.com

1996 Henriot Millesime Brut. Poured from jeroboam. Displaying a pale straw luminosity, this wine opens with a lifted gentle complexity of cool ripe citrus, pomelo and lime amid traces of bitter lemon. Layered with delicate chalkiness, transparency and depth, softly rounded, exuding a mild feminine intensity as that note of bitter lemon came back again to haunt its long persistent finish. Beautiful.

2014 Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet Clos du Caillerets 1er. This monopole comes from a walled section within the premier cru site of Les Caillerets in Chassagne, first bought by the negociant Vincent Girardin from Chateau de Pommard in 2003 and then subsequently sold to Heritage (an arm of FICOFI) which then leased to Ramonet. What an ingenious scheme. This inaugural vintage has never failed to delight the senses, teasing the nose first with cool gentle icy vanillin and delectable creme de la crème that transited seamlessly to a rounded creaminess on the palate, layered with dense white floral tones that fan out with pervasive charm and increasing power all the way to its persistent finish, yet with so much more held in reserve. Absolutely stunning, like a very well-mannered attractive lady whose beauty and mystique steadily grows on you. Consistent with a recent tasting note in August 2019. Glorious!

2016 Domaine Henri Boillot Puligny-Montrachet Clos de la Mouchère 1er. More effusive and powerful on the nose with chromatic tones of chalky minerals and crème de la crème, seamlessly integrated. Distinctly more extroverted with superb presence of delicate clear citrus and lime on the palate, imbued with sublime acidity and fabulous understated intensity, maintaining its racy character throughout the evening. Comes from a 4 ha monopole of old vines aged almost 80 years, sandwiched between Clavoillon and Les Perriéres. Vinified in large barrels since 1990. Superb.

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2013 Domaine Faiveley Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. More developed and accentuated on the nose, displaying a sharp focus of cool icing and mint on a bed of dense white floral tones though the medium-bodied palate is unexpectedly rather delicate with a narrower spectrum of flavours, more minerally in intensity with understated chalkiness, losing focus towards the finish where some vegetal trace is discernible. Reflects well the vintage characteristic. Faiveley’s vines are located smack in the middle of the Puligny side of the 6.2 ha Batard-Montrachet.

2014 Domaine Bouchard Pere et Fils Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru. Blended from various plots on all four terraces of the clay-dominant Puligny high slope, this wine exudes controlled regal power with beautifully defined inner detail of dense white floral tones and nutmeg, evenly toned with a deep minerally focus, very tightly knit and seamlessly integrated with concentrated depth though surprisingly open in spite of its youth. Still yet to truly develop with plenty of potential in reserve. Superb. Bouchard vinifies each plot separately, blending them only after barrel ageing has been completed.

2015 Joseph Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche Grand Cru. From the largest land owner of Montrachet occupying the Puligny end, this Holy Grail of whites was truly on form, proffering a gorgeous bouquet of exotic spices and nutmeg that contrasted beautifully against the bright gleaming chalkiness in the mouth, imbued with a cleanly-defined intense minerally depth that shone with great detail, exuding controlled power across the palate as it built up to a climactic finish with excellent linearity. Still tight but what a treat nevertheless. Outstanding.

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