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Chambertin & Chambertin-Clos de Bèze

November 11, 2020

Superficially, there may not be much to differentiate between Chambertin Grand Cru and Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru. Both are approximately equal in size (the latter a little larger) and both are sited adjacent to each other along the same side of the Route des Grands Crus, separated only by a narrow dirt lane. In his book Grand Cru, Remington Norman writes that, perhaps, the vines of Clos de Bèze get a little more light which may, in part, account for the wine’s ability to combine velvety power with alluring grace while Chambertin itself tends to be more austere and structured. For our blind tasting on 10 November 2020 where the wines had been aired considerably in advance, I certainly could not call a Chambertin from a Clos de Bèze, perhaps because two of the former hailed from Domaine Ponsot (what a rare coincidence, considering Ponsot owns only a very tiny 0.1 ha of Chambertin), pressing home the point again that, for Burgundy, it’s the producer that matters most. We left it to the little old lady at Jade Palace, Singapore, to pour us the blinded reds in any order. To our astonishment, she appeared to have hit the correct order for each wine grew from strength to strength. The line-up was preceded by a mini-promenade of whites that proved to be a worthy front to the evening’s main event. The wines are described in the order poured. Many thanks, everyone.

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Chambertin and Chambertin-Clos de Bèze on the morning of 21 November 2017

2006 Champagne Comtes Taittinger Blanc de Blancs, courtesy of KG. Pale. Some attractive pungent earthiness on the nose offset by great density of clear citrus and green fruits on the palate, yielding bone-dry intensity and precision with a dash of sweetness. Still primal.

2016 Domaine de Montille Puligny-Montrachet Le Cailleret 1er. Beautiful white floral fragrance, displaying a very lovely bloom with a sense of oily density. Excellent presence and mouthfeel, hinting at nutmeg and other exotic white tones, glowing with fine clarity and refined acidity. Became considerably more relaxed over time with a quiet elegance. Montille’s plot is just immediately north of Drouhin’s Marquis de Laguiche Montrachet Grand Cru along the same longitude, separated by just a small road.

2013 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet Les Vergers 1er Clos Saint Marc, courtesy of Vic. Beautiful clarity on the eye and palate, proffering lifted white tones, tangy spice, capsicum and nutmeg with a dash of vanillin. Rather open. Very well layered with detailed presence and excellent refinement, receding a little into its shell after some time before re-emerging with even greater clarity and definition though it remained rather understated in intensity, finishing a little short. Drinking well. Totally biodynamic, Jean-Marc uses laser beams to ensure perfect alignment of all his barrels.

2009 Domaine Bouchard Père et Fils Chevalier-Montrachet La Cabotte Grand Cru, courtesy of Kieron. Its distinct pallor belies an enthralling feminine fragrance of white floral tones that seduces the senses with gentle elegance, rather understated in intensity and attack as it traversed the palate with effortless grace, etching layers of white fruits, clear citrus and grassy elements that yield great clarity and detail, becoming more robust and structured by the end of the evening. Has that same regal demeanour as Montrachet Grand Cru which, perhaps, carries even greater inner definition and seamless integration. Superb.

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2008 Domaine Perrot-Minot Chambertin Grand Cru. Evolved ruby with a crimson rim. Lifted bouquet of red fruits, cherries, vanillin and mint tinged with some incense. Fleshy and rounded with predominant plummy tones, exerting fine intensity of fruit that finished in a minty trail but this wine doesn’t quite possess the extended depth and layering of the best examples, lacking stature.

1997 Domaine Ponsot Chambertin Grand Cru, courtesy of Kieron. Displaying a mature brownish-red, this wine opens with a distinct herbal medicinal sweetness amidst an abundance of mature plummy tones, rounded with striking acidity on the palate where the lovely ripeness of fruit contrasted well with traces of earthy austerity within an understated tannin structure without any burliness. Quite excellent.

2002 Domaine Drouhin-Laroze Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru, courtesy of LF. Opaque purplish. Lifted bouquet of dark cherries and raspberries. Very well-endowed on the palate, rather plump and plummy, laced with superb acidity that imparted lovely freshness. Very naturally balanced with good structural definition. Caught at its peak and will hold for many years. Excellent.

2009 Henri Boillot Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru, courtesy of Vic. Deep colour, bit of crimson at rim. Fascinating deep bouquet of dark fruits and currants. Fleshy and rounded with warm ripe fruit, well extracted with a plummy dominance, slightly velvety. Great balance.

2007 Domaine Ponsot Chambertin Grand Cru, courtesy of KG. Classic evolved pinot tint, exuding a great lift of ripe red fruits and tangerines on the nose and generously endowed palate, seamlessly integrated with wonderfully refined balance and superb acidity, gaining further intensity over time as it developed a deep tangerine core. Outstanding.

2006 Vincent Girardin Chambertin Grand Cru, courtesy of LF. Purplish hues. Still youthful on the palate, rather fleshy, displaying an abundance of well-extracted ripe berries that exert a warm velvety presence with very fine acidity and intensity, structured with refined tannins. One for the long haul.

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