Bruce Sanderson is in Burgundy tasting the soon-to-be-released 2007 reds and whites. The evaluations of individual wines below are score ranges, because most wines were tasted non-blind from barrel or tank, or had recently been bottled. Sometimes the tastings took place in cold cellars, giving the wines a harder, more angular impression. Final reviews will be based on blind tastings in Wine Spectator’s New York office.
From Gevrey, I drove south on the Route des Grands Crus, past Mazi, Clos de Bèze, Chambertin itself and Latricières before entering Morey-St.-Denis. I passed Clos de la Roche and Clos St.-Denis, the latter obscured by houses as you enter the village, until I reached Perrot-Minot.
Christophe Perrot-Minot greeted me emphatically, wondering what I was doing in Burgundy when it was Inauguration Day in the United States. I replied that it was a big sacrifice, but I was happy to be in Burgundy tasting the new vintage.
Perhaps it’s 2007, but even with the 2006 vintage, the wines here are getting more elegant and refined, while remaining true to their respective appellations. There seems to be a lighter touch that emphasizes balance and harmony rather than the opulence and concentration of the past.
"If you sorted carefully, it was possible to make good wines with plenty of substance, ripe fruit and elegance," said Perrot-Minot as he poured the first wine. "It’s a year for the grapes on the hill and midslope, because they were able to handle the humidity and rain better than vineyards at the bottom of the hill," he added.
Only the Chambertin is still in barrel; all the other wines have been bottled, or racked and assembled in tank for bottling.
Among the village-level wines, I liked the fresh, mineral-tinged Morey St.-Denis En La Rue de Vergy (88-91), from a vineyard situated above Clos de Tart and adjacent to the upper portion of the Clos des Lambrays. The Vosne-Romanée Aux Champs Perdrix, located higher up the hill above La Tâche, offered ripe raspberry and currant flavors backed by supple tannins and a lingering finish (88-91).
I’m always a sucker for good Chambolle-Musigny and a trio of premiers crus didn’t disappoint. Perrot-Minot began with the Les Echanges (there is also part of Les Echanges ranked as village). It was silky, supple and refined, displaying red and black currant notes (89-92). Les Fuées, which lies south of Bonnes Mares, also showed red and black fruit flavors, with a firm backbone and mineral finish (89-92).
OK, there were actually four Chambolle premiers crus, because Perrot-Minot, for the second consecutive vintage, did two bottlings of La Combe d’Orveau. The first cuvée featured a wonderful nose of violet and black currant and was all finesse and mineral in character (89-92). The Ultra comes from a small parcel within the Combe d’Orveau vineyard that is very close to Musigny. It had stunning aromas of pure floral, violet and cassis, beautiful fruit flavors and a long finish. It was another level (91-94).
He also does two cuvées of his Nuits-St.-Georges La Richemone, a midslope premier cru situated between Les Damodes to the west (upslope) and Aux Murgers to the east (downslope). The La Richemone offered plenty of black cherry and plum, hinting at chocolate, very rich and fleshy, with the texture of velvet (89-92). La Richemone Ultra was less forthcoming on the nose, with fine density and a core of sweet cassis, excellent freshness and a long aftertaste (90-93). In this case, the Ultra is from a parcel of very old vines, about 100 years old, in Perrot-Minot’s holdings.
Perrot-Minot is one of the few growers who bottles his Charmes Chambertin and Mazoyères Chambertin separately—the former exhibited pretty cherry note, ample volume and was as much about the velvety texture as the fruit (89-92); the latter featured more expressive aromas of black currant, blackberry and mineral, with power, finesse and a more linear profile than the Charmes (91-94).
The Chambertin-Clos de Bèze combined power and energy, in a reserved, aristocratic way, full of black fruits and mineral with a superb finish (92-95). It was less revealing and open than the Chambertin, with its ripe, rich aromas of cherry, blackberry and cinnamon, followed by flesh and structure, a fine dimension of mineral and a very long finish (92-95).
"The 2007s are interesting. They have a digestibility, making them easy to drink, very elegant," Perrot-Minot said. "I can’t think of a comparable vintage. A vintage like 2007 in the 1970s would have been a disaster. There was no green harvest, no sorting tables. I think we are creating vintages that will be references for future harvests."
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