The evaluations of individual wines below are score ranges, because while I was in Burgundy, I tasted most wines non-blind from barrel or tank, or they 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.
Monday afternoon I headed north to the Côte de Nuits for my annual visit to Domaine Leroy. Within the context of the 2007 vintage, these are some of the most opulent, fruit-filled reds I tasted. They also reflect some of the best terroirs in the Côte d’Or. Lalou Bize Leroy presented 23 wines, so I’ll get right to the point, highlighting my favorites.
The wines were bottled between the 9th and 17th of December. Yields in 2007 averaged 22 hectoliters per hectare (about 1.6 tons/acre) and the wines achieved a natural degree of alcohol in the 12.5 to 13.0 range. There was no chaptalization. The malolactic conversions were a little later than normal, but proceeded slowly and consistently.
The villages wines were solid, with a particularly alluring Nuits-St.-Georges Au Bas de Combe that packed violet and cassis notes into a fleshy, silky frame (88-91 points). The Vosne-Romanée Aux Genaivrières revealed perfumed aromas of rose petal, black currant and spice, very elegant, silky and long (89-92 points). The Chambolle-Musigny Les Fremières showed a darker nose than the Vosne, with pure cassis and blackberry flavors matched to a rich, balanced profile (89-92).
Among the premiers crus, Leroy’s Volnay-Santenots displayed a briary character, a bit wild with spice, mineral, black cherry and licorice notes that were profound and supported by ripe tannins (90-93). The Nuits-St.-Georges Aux Vignerondes exuded a touch of the darker, NSG personality combined with the elegance of Vosne-Romanée. Blackberry, black currant and mineral flavors rode a powerful profile to a long finish (90-93). The NSG Les Boudots was really classy, more Vosne in character, showing pure black currant and spice notes (90-93).
The Vosne-Romanée Les Brûlées and Vosne-Romanée Les Beaux Monts offered distinctly different expressions of their respective vineyards. The Vosne-Romanée Les Brûlées was ripe, with smoke and roasted fruit aromas, very intense with firm tannins, very long and expressive (89-92). The Les Beaux Monts was pure, racy and complex, with its mineral flavors resonating on the silky texture (91-94). The Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes boasted a more voluptuous frame, rich with blackberry and black cherry notes married to a mouthfilling, velvety texture (90-93).
Moving up to the grands crus, we began with the only Côte de Beaune red at this level, Corton Renardes. Small, wild red fruits were present, and though austere, this had intensity and a vibrant acidity (91-94).
The Romanée-St.-Vivant showed rose and strawberry flavors matched to a refined, lacy texture, very harmonious and long (92-95). Its cousin Richebourg was more opulent and charming, more accessible yet with less detail and notes of cherry and spice (91-94).
Leroy’s Clos de Vougeot comes from three parcels encompassing the top, medium and bottom of the slope. Powerful and firmly structured, with dense tannins, it showed both red and black fruit flavors, along with mineral and spice. Backward at this stage, it will be a fine bottle in due time (92-95). The Musigny was less expressive still, but on the palate very fine, lacy and delicate, a wine that figuratively stretches from earth to sky (93-96).
The Latricières-Chambertin featured ripe, macerated cherry and wild berry aromas etched to a precise, mineral-infused palate, very long and tensile (91-94). Its neighbor, the aristocratic Chambertin, displayed a gorgeous nose of black cherry, blackberry and cassis, power and freshness. It was a combination of pure fruit, mineral essence balance and length (93-96).
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