Between my visits to DRC and Domaine Leflaive, I sought refuge from the driving rain at Lucien Le Moine in Beaune. Mounir Saouma and Rotem Brakin started this tiny négociant operation with the 1999 vintage, buying finished wines and maturing 33 barrels in their cellar. In 2006, 2007 and 2008, the two aged 100 barrels (2,500 cases) of premiers and grands crus red and white Burgundy.
"The 2007 vintage is not a year to talk about numbers," began Saouma, who always has an interesting analysis of each vintage. "There was a period between Aug. 25 and Sept. 10 to pick everything. If you picked the whites too early, it was a mistake and if you picked the reds too late it was also a mistake."
"It was a heterogeneous year and there will be a large gap between the best and the worst," he added.
"If there’s a year to show people how transparent the different terroirs are, 2007 is the year."
That was the spiritual side of the vintage. Technically speaking, it was necessary to respect three things, according to Saouma. First, it was important to have late malolactic fermentations, to allow the wines to age well. Second, racking was dangerous; the wines needed to stay in contact with the lees and to prevent unnecessary oxidation of the wines. Third, you had to be patient with the aging and bottle the wines as late as possible.
The wines were still in barrel on my visit. Saouma plans to bottle between February and August. We tasted 33 wines in all; below are some of the highlights.
The contrast between the Nuits-St.-Georges Les St.-Georges and Les Vaucrains was fascinating. The former boasted purity, richness, violet and black currant flavors, all very classy and long (88-91); the latter was more austere, tannic, firm and tightly wound, with black currant, bilberry and mineral notes (88-91).
A similar scenario played out between the Clos St.-Denis and Clos de la Roche. Always a seductive wine from this cellar, the Clos St.-Denis offered vegetal and spice aromas reminiscent of Asian sweet/sour sauce, then sweet black cherry and chocolate flavors with a long, ethereal aftertaste (90-93). The Clos de la Roche featured richness and volume, with black cherry, tobacco and mineral notes on a fleshy frame (89-92).
A tour around Chambolle provided plenty of pleasure, beginning with the broad, fleshy Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes, full of black cherry and chocolate flavors backed by sturdy tannins (87-90). The Les Hauts Doix proffered a gorgeous nose of black currant, bilberry, spice and mineral notes on an elegant profile (88-91). Les Amoureuses is considered to be the top premier cru and its perfume, violet, cassis and mineral flavors and intense, yet airy essence proved why (90-93). The Bonnes Mares was more rigid and shy in aroma but deep, dense and long, with both red and black fruit expressions (89-92).
Among the Gevrey bottlings, the standout was the Chambertin-Clos de Bèze, a wine of breed and finesse, with intense red cherry, floral and mineral notes that echoed on the long, airy finish (91-94).
Saouma purchased nine different reds from Vosne in 2007. I particularly liked the Vosne-Romanée Les Petits Monts for its rose, raspberry and strawberry pâté de fruit flavors, juicy texture and lingering finish (90-93). The Vosne-Romanée Les Gaudichots exhibited a very ripe nose, macerated cherry, spice and black pepper notes. Rich and tensile, it has an almost chewy finish (90-93).
The Vosne-Romanée Les Malconsorts was a different beast altogether: Smoky, menthol aromas led off, followed by blackberry and exotic spice flavors. Mouthcoating and resonant, its finish went on for minutes (91-94). The Richebourg showed a mix of animal and fruit, with a beam of cherry on a masculine frame. It was less forward than many of the other wines (90-93).
Moving to the whites, the Montrachet was still finishing its malolactic conversion, so no judgment. There was a fleshy, peach-infused and powerful Chassagne-Montrachet La Romanée (89-92); a grapefruit-, chalk- and stone-filled Chassagne-Montrachet Caillerets (89-92) and elegant Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatières, sporting apple and peach notes (89-92).
The Meursault Perrières notched it up to another level. Vertical, its attack was racy and its flavors deep with stone, saline and citrus (90-93). The Corton-Charlemagne showed the edgy acidity that requires time to soften, along with ripe apple and citrus notes and fine intensity (91-94).
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