This is a delicious Chablis from Jean-Luc & Paul Aegerter. From the 2014 vintage, the grapes were harvested by hand, and vinified in 500 litre new oak barrels, but aged for 6 to 12 months in old oak. In the glass, the wine opens to tight and fresh minerally aromatics. The palate is medium bodied with fresh, and rather delicious and racy acidity and little oak influence. Ready to drink now, this is a really good example of an AOP Chablis. Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: 12.5%. Price: ~$50. Source: Sample.
I am delighted to have spotted a couple of La Chablisienne wines imported into Australia. I have previously spent some time visiting the winery, and some thoughts and observations are here. This is a pleasingly typical Petit Chablis and a bargain at $18. Yellow gold in colour, it has aromas of orange zest and stones. The palate is medium bodied, with fresh acidity and good length. It’s bottled under screwcap too. Rating: Good. Abv: 12.5%. Price: $18.
Les Caillerets is a 14.36 hectare vineyard that is among the most highly regarded in Volnay. And, right off the bat, it was my wine of the night. It opens to aromas of dark cherry, rosemary, anise and potpourri. The palate has towards high acidity (but not quite), great length – wonderful in fact – and a beguiling expression of cherries with some firmer tannins tucked away. Outstanding
Les Mitans is a 3.98 hectare vineyard closer to the Pommard end of Volnay and is reputed for sturdier wines. The 2005 vintage tasted here, an outstanding vintage, proved to have brooding aromas of dark cherry and licorice notes with an almost porty richness giving away its vintage. The palate is full bodied and rich, with good length and acidity in balance. Delicious and another outstanding wine. Outstanding
Domaine Joseph Voillot Volnay Premier Cru Les Frémiets 2005
Les Frémiets is a 7.40 hectare vineyard that is next to Pommard, making it particularly hard to identify as other than a Pommard. It’s another wine from the 2005 vintage, but presents quite differently to the Mitans. It has firm aromatics of cherry, iron and florals. The palate has great length, with notes of cherry and firmer tannins with time in the glass. Very Good
A strong producer and one of Pommard’s great vineyards (the 5.23 hectare Clos des Epeneaux) cloaked any likelihood that the vintage of this wine would be identified. This proved an utterly delicious wine, and should age and improve effortlessly for a decade or more. It has aromas of dark cherry, blackcurrant and leaf. The palate has firm acidity, flavours of black fruits and spice, together with particularly long length. Too young, but someone has to try them. Outstanding
Les Rugiens is a 12.66 hectare vineyard (aggregating Hauts and Bas) and is both highly regarded and close to the Volnay border. This proved another outstanding wine, with aromas of dark cherries, earth, iron and rosemary. The palate has reminders of florals and great length. The tannins are just starting to evolve. Outstanding
This wine from Les Preuses (some considerably longer musings from the region are here) first had to escape its cool serving temperature. Initial aromas of qumquat and orange rind gave way with time to a more classic expression of lemon, stones and sea shells. The palate has good length, hints of cedar and fresh, if not overly firm, acidity. Very Good
This is the first time I’ve tried a Main Ridge Estate wine, and I was frankly surprised (and absolutely delighted) at its close resemblance to a Pommard. It has aromas of blackcurrant and earth. The palate has long length and a cherry and earth character. This wine is unlike any other Mornington Peninsula pinot noir I’ve tried, and I’ve tried more than a few. Outstanding
There are 17 main Chablis premier cru climats, and Vaillons is one of the largest of them at approximately 110 hectares. This wine is a particularly good expression of Vaillons. It has aromas of citrus and stones. The palate is firm with spine tingling acidity and a delicious lingering stoney impression that cuts through. Overall, this is an impressive wine that tastes exactly as I’d remembered the region from my last trip (see my post here). (Region: Chablis, France, Rating: Very Good, Would I buy it based on this tasting? Yes absolutely, Drink: now to 2027, Tasted: May, 2017, Source: Sample)
Other vintages reviewed:
Domaine Billaud-Simon Montée de Tonnerre Chablis Premier Cru 2012
Aromatics of minerals, lemon citrus and stones. The palate has racy acidity and good length. This wine performed extremely well along side the Grand Crus to follow, not surprisingly given that the vineyard for Montée de Tonnerre neighbours its more celebrated cousins. Rating: Very Good
Aromatics of stone, talc and minerals. The palate has a hint of softness and roundness through its core of firm acidity, with mid range length and a resolute stoney character. Deliciously austere and has a long future ahead of it. Rating: Very Good
This, for me, was the highlight of the trio. Some initial funky aromatics blew off to reveal an intensely minerally aroma reminding of stones and earth. Dare I say oyster shells? The palate has long length and is framed by fresh acidity. An outstanding wine. Rating: Outstanding
It doesn’t much look like a Chablis label does it? But the wine inside is very typical. Initially quite floral and jasmine scented, it settles into a more stoney and mineral guise with air. The palate hides its racy acidity well, but again reverts to Chablis type with time in the glass. With time, a joyous crystalline stoney acidity emerges to frame this delicious and almost fleshy chardonnay. A very good quality wine, particularly so for an AOP Chablis.
Vendors and website: bibendum.com.au (importer)
The best Chablis I tasted while in France last year was from the Les Preuses grand cru vineyard. You can find that post here. The exciting thing about this wine – from the same vineyard, the same year, but a different producer – is that it tasted exactly as a grand cru Chablis should. Shipping, storage, temperature and the other travails of getting wine to Australia were evidently well handled. This is a chardonnay for those who like riesling. It has aromatics of minerals, stones and citrus. The palate has long length and is delicate with more mineral characters and racy acidity. Delicious.
Vendors and website: http://www.williamfevre.fr/en/
Apologies in advance, I suspect you may end up reading here a few more Chablis reviews than in the past. Happily this region is really rather well priced in Australia, and the quality mostly high. As time passes, I think the styles I prefer are simply the classic styles well-made, from the Barossa to Bordeaux, right through to Chablis.
This is a particularly good example of the Côte de Lechét, which is a premier cru vineyard on the left-bank of the Serein River that is south east facing. It has aromatics of stone and a touch of nectarine. It has medium length on the palate, good purity of flavour, lovely balance, with reminders of stones, nectarine and a touch of honey. G-VG
Abv: 13%, Price: ~$40, Vendors: http://www.wine-searcher.com/, Website: http://www.bernard-defaix.com/francais/sommaire.html, Tasted: 2015
Having just returned from France (again) having climbed the rather silly distance of more than 9,000 metres on a bicycle through the Alps, it seems almost a relief to return to writing about wine. This write up is of the trip from Chablis to Beaune.
The first of many new facts to dawn upon me is that Beaune is a not insubstantial distance from Chablis – almost 135 kilometres in fact. Indeed, with this sort of distance, which is substantial even by Australian standards for a wine region, one might reasonably question whether they are really part of the same region at all. This is particularly so if you reflect that the vines north of Villefranche-sur-Saone, namely prime Beaujolais territory, are closer to Beaune than Chablis. Yet, the Beaujolais region is left out of some books on Burgundy, and Chablis is included. This outcome would appear perhaps surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, correlated to the fortunes of these respective subregions.
The first stop on route to Beaune involved wending through the gently undulating hills south of Chablis towards the Caves de Bailly Lapierre on the river Yonne, via the small towns of Saint-Bris-Le-Vineux (sauvignon blanc and therefore an oddity in Burgundy) and Irancy (pinot noir, with up to 10% césar) and south of the regional centre of Auxerre.
The Caves de Bailly Lapierre is a substantial producer of Crémant de Bourgogne. The first thing to note here is that the Caves are entirely situated within a rather enormous cave rising above the river Yonne. By enormous, I mean a cave which has a car park and cellar door inside, a fully functioning winery, endless rows of wines neatly racked, and during the second world war I understand was used to store aircraft. So, enormous, hectares in size in fact. For good order, I should point out that the Cave, is well, a cave. It’s cold, the air is heavy and dank, and it is best not to look at the topography of the walls and roof too closely. Happily, however, the Caves de Bailly Lapierre produce excellent Crémant de Bourgogne, the winery inside is very modern and well equipped and, as I shall get to, some of the aged Crémants were glorious.
Here is a potted summary of the wines tasted. As will quickly be evident, who knew there were so many Crémant de Bourgogne styles, let alone from one producer? My other primary take away point was the resemblance of the better Crémants de Bourgogne to some grower Champagne styles. This is a rather advantageous conclusion to have drawn, since the former are mostly substantially cheaper than the latter.
An asterisk indicates a highlight in the line-up.
Brut de Charvis Vin Mousseux de Qualité Brut
Vin Mousseux wines are not necessarily made using the traditional method, and so are broadly a step down from a Crémant. Though this wine in fact is made using the traditional method, so that information is not immediately useful. This release has aromatics of lemon and a bit of rind. A simple frothy mousse on the palate. A
Bailly Lapierre Crémant de Bourgogne Reserve Brut
Aromatics of lemon, soda, a touch of biscuit and a bruised character, apparently from the aligoté. Fresh acid and a slightly coarse bead. A-G
Bailly Lapierre Crémant de Bourgogne Chardonnay Brut
Sweeter white peach aromatics, powder and brioche. The palate has high acid and flavours similar to aromatics. G
Bailly Lapierre Crémant de Bourgogne Noir et Blanc Brut
Aromatics of toast, lemon and florals. Palate with high acid and a touch of strawberry from the pinot noir. G
Bailly Lapierre Crémant de Bourgogne Pinot Noir Brut
More obvious strawberry and raspberry aromatics. Similar flavours on the palate, framed by high acidity. A-G
*Bailly Lapierre Crémant de Bourgogne Ravizotte Extra Brut
Aromatics of vegemite, yeast and nectar. My first descriptor was met with a blank, slightly concerned expression from the French winemaker. Dry, firm acid and lemon characters on the palate. G
Bailly Lapierre Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé Brut
Made from pinot noir and gamay. Aromatics of earth, mixed red berries and strawberry. Palate that is dry, with high acid and quite balanced. G
Bailly Lapierre Crémant de Bourgogne Baigoule Extra Dry
I wrote that this has around 15 grams per litre of residual sugar. Strawberry, yeasty nose. A palate that is dry, balanced and has medium length. The sugar seemed to balance the acidity out well. G
Bailly Lapierre Crémant de Bourgogne Baigoule Egarade Brut 2012
Organic. Yeast, hint of strawberries, nectar. Balanced, but seems closed. G
2008 is said to be a good Crémant de Bourgogne vintage.
Bailly Lapierre Vive-la-Joie Rosé Brut 2008
A blend of gamay, pinot noir and chardonnay. Quite earthy aromatics, vegemite and stone. Similar palate. G
*Bailly Lapierre Vive-la-Joie Brut 2008
Aromatics of yeast, biscuit and lemon. The palate has lemon, high acid, yeast and is pretty good. G-VG
Bailly Lapierre Vive-la-Joie Brut 2007
Grapefruit and soda aromatics. Palate reminds of nectar and biscuit. A-G
And then for the surprise. It turns out that not only does Crémant de Bourgogne largely resemble some grower Champagnes, but it also can age stupendously, no doubt aided by the Cave’s textbook maturation conditions being, well, a cave.
*Paul Delane Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Reserve 1993
Sure, looking at the bottle, it looks like something you might have found by the side of the road. The wine inside though is superb. Aromatics of honey, toast, brioche and some complexity. A finish that is long and reminds of brioche. VG
*Reserve de la Montgolfiere Crémant de Bourgogne 1988
And sure, this bottle looks more like the truck has already taken it away with the recycling. Again, that would be a terrible mistake. The Crémant has aromatics of lemon, florals and honey. And considerable elegance. The palate has toast, medium to long length, soda and lemon. Still remarkably fresh at 27 years of age. VG
|Some perfectly stored back vintages in the Caves.|
Mouth somewhat seared by all this (good) acidity, we moved onto the next destination, Beaune itself.
Beaune has some glitter. I had not expected this. Clean, almost polished streets, well-to-do wine shops seemingly every 50 metres, smart restaurants and a general feeling of prosperity, coupled with many tourists. The impression – I have not researched its demographics – is that of a wealthy town, and perhaps a reflection of the market success of pinot noir and the region in the last 20 or so years. The pricing in the many wine shops – some regarded as tourist traps – rather sadly appeared quite reasonable by Australian standards.
|Sunrise in central Beaune.|
Many further pre-conceptions of the region also proved slightly out. The famous east facing hill of the Cote d’Or, is much gentler and less obvious than I had imagined. The famed mid slope of the hill, with the best sun exposure, is more like what I would have perceived as the almost bottom of the slope. The top of the hill could be described as being a rather unchallenging stroll away. The picture immediately below probably communicates this better than I am able.
|Gentle slope? Unremarkable? We are standing directly in front of probably the most famous vineyard in the world, namely that of La Romanée-Conti.|
|A more familiar sight. La Romanée-Conti in Vosne-Romanée.|
|Double click and zoom in: pinot noir flowering at Romanée-Saint-Vivant.|
The distances between the towns are small, but not so small that commuting on foot would suffice; a car or bike is recommended. And roads and the autoroute are never far away in the valley. Finally the towns themselves – a roll call of famous names such as Meursault, Volnay, Pommard and Vosne-Romanée among others – are rather uniformly manicured and beautiful.
|Meursault. Or nearby. Either way, a typical Burgundian style roof.|
In my next instalment, I will post tastings of a phalanx of wines mostly from the Côte de Beaune from La Cave des Hautes-Côtes (Nuiton Beaunoy), Domain Roger Belland and Domaine Maillard.