While traveling in Burgundy, I visited grower Olivier Lamy of Domaine Hubert Lamy in St.-Aubin Wednesday. This allowed me a sampling of mainly whites and a few reds from the southern part of the Côte de Beaune. We also toured some vineyards, providing a fascinating look at the complexity of the soils and terroirs of the appellation.
The domaine consists of 42 acres, some of which are farmed organically. The reds are matured in Burgundy pièces of 228 liters, the whites in a mix of demi-muids and 300-liter barrels.
Lamy said that 2008 posed problems for organic viticulture because of mildew and oïdium. It kept him busy spraying and keeping the grass between vine rows cut. "It rained on the 19th or 20th of September and then we had three weeks of north wind and sun," he recalled. The sun and wind resulted in concentration and ripeness, which translates to good density in the wines. Lamy noted his yields were the average for Chardonnay, but the Pinot Noir crop was 20 percent less than normal.
Lamy makes very straight, precise whites from several of St.-Aubin's terroirs, as well as a Chassagne-Montrachet, Chassagne premier cru Les Macherelles, Puligny-Montrachet and one barrel, albeit 600 liters, of Criots-Batard-Montrachet. He also makes a few tasty reds from around St.-Aubin, plus one Santenay and a Chassagne-Montrachet rouge.
After a very solid Bourgogne Les Chataigners and village-level St.-Aubin La Princée we tasted the Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet. The Chassagne, from a parcel called Le Concis du Champs, was an elegant interpretation, while the Puligny from Les Tremblots), though rich, showed the finesse, hazelnut and lime notes I look for in good examples from that village. All were bottled in the past two weeks, except the Bourgogne, which was bottled in September.
We then moved up a level to the range of premiers crus. Lamy's St.-Aubin Clos de Meix comes from two parcels totaling 1.7 acres planted in 1985 and 1995. The subsoil is hard limestone and the site is warm, so this is picked early in the harvest. The warmth is reflected in the honey and quince notes and fleshy character of the wine.
The St.-Aubin Les Frionnes boasts some of Lamy's oldest vines, with parcels of 74 and 49 years, plus one parcel planted in 1985. The soil consists of a lot of small stones. Balanced and fresh, it offered a mix of lime and hazelnut flavors and good tension. It had been racked into tank for bottling sometime next spring.
Next up was the premier cru Derrière chez Edouard from 10-year-old vines planted in fissured limestone on the slope behind the village. Bottled last week, it was open and fruity, with apple, peach and honey notes.
The St.-Aubin En Remilly is one of the village's top sites, with three terroirs depending on the elevation, each exposing a different geological profile. Lamy owns three parcels, one on the plateau with stony red clay and the other two combining white marl and clay over a subsoil of hard limestone. The vines are 20 years old. The wine, in vat awaiting bottling next March, was vibrant, almost racy in style, showing peach, lime, honey and mineral flavors all wrapped in a complex, lingering profile.
From there we tasted one of my favorite vineyards in St.-Aubin, the Les Murgers des Dents de Chien, literally the "teeth of the dog," so called because the sharp stones made working there difficult. Lamy's vines are located in the northeast corner of the vineyard, on clay and limestone, adjacent to the Puligny premier cru Champ Gain. It was rich and round, with more ripeness and weight than the other wines, but a chalky, mineral base and fine length. It had been bottled last week.
The Clos de la Chatenière was also bottled last week. The slope is steep here and protected from the wind, with hard limestone subsoil. Lamy's vines are 45 years old. More lemon than lime and very linear, it was full of energy and tensile, with a long, minerally finish.
The Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet, the sole grand cru in the range, had more in reserve, a powerful white with a fresh, floral note.
We finished with another bottling of Derrière chez Edouard, the Haute Densité from a parcel planted 28,000 vines per hectare, with two clusters of Chardonnay per vine (normal plantings in Burgundy are 10,000 to 11,000 vines per hectare). It was racy and taut, with intense mineral and stone notes.
From the reds, I liked the intense, concentrated berry, spice- and mineral-inflected Derrière chez Edouard rouge, from 50-year-old vines lower on the slope than the Chardonnay.
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