I first visited Pierre-Yves Colin in June 2004 when we met at Domaine Marc Colin, where he was still making the wines of the family estate.
Colin and his wife, Caroline Morey, then began a small négociant operation in the Côte de Beaune with six barrels of wine from the 2001 harvest under the Colin-Morey label. He took more risks with this project, using indigenous yeast vinifications and preferring a long élevage of 18 months in barrel for the wines in his cold cellars. “A long élevage makes a big difference in the aging potential of a wine,” he said.
By 2005, Colin had 70 barrels of wine in his cellars, or approximately 1,800 cases of wine. One important change occurred in 2006, when Colin began harvesting fruit from his own vineyards, a combination of about 15 acres that came from his parents and his own vineyard purchases since 1996. He figures he has now reached his peak capacity at about 80 barrels of wine.
“It’s a good time for the quality of my wines,” he explained. “For five to six years we were building the business. Now, I can focus on quality.”
Quality never suffered from that period of growth. The Colin-Morey wines were terrific in the inaugural release, and Colin makes some of the most authentic and seductive white Burgundies today.
In 2008, healthy fruit delivered a reasonable harvest, with total yields averaging 50 to 52 hectoliters per hectare, or about 3.7 to 3.85 tons per acre.
"The important thing was the vineyards,” he continued. “You had to spray at the right time to have clean fruit. If you had clean fruit, you could wait to pick the grapes at the right time.”
He also blocked a portion of the malolactic conversion in the wines to keep them fresh. “The challenge was to keep them fresh,” he recalled. “I was a little bit afraid of ’08 a year ago, because after the malo, the wines were very ripe. So I decided to stop part of the malo. In the end, they are about 70 percent malo and 30 percent without.”
The St.-Aubins were bottled in November 2009. The villages and premiers crus from Chassagne, Puligny and Meursault were still in barrel. These will be bottled beginning in March; the grands crus will stay in barrel until May or June. Colin has prepared approximate blends for the wines still in barrel.
Of the four St.-Aubin premiers crus, the La Chatenière was showing the best. Though reserved, there were mineral, peach and citrus flavors and a fine balance between richness and structure with a very long finish (88-91 points, non-blind). Colin-Morey, along with Hubert Lamy, are the best sources of estate-bottled St.-Aubin.
Two village-level wines, both from purchased fruit, showed outstanding potential. The Puligny-Montrachet Le Trezin offered hazelnut, peach and grapefruit notes matched to a vibrant structure (88-91, non-blind). Rock hounds should appreciate the Meursault Narvaux for its tight, focused, mineral intensity buffered by lime and honey flavors (88-91, non-blind).
Also from purchased fruit were two premiers crus from Chassagne-Montrachet: La Maltroie and Les Baudines. La Maltroie showed a rather stern nose of mineral and citrus. Yet, it had richness on the palate, with ripe tones of peach and pineapple and an underlying mineral streak (88-91, non-blind). The Les Baudines, from high on the slope at the southern end of the commune next to Santenay, revealed the elegance and finesse of its airy origins. Along with notes of lime, acacia, apple and a touch of honey, it was very long and even tannic on the finish (89-92, non-blind).
The Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatières has been purchased from the same source of 85-year-old vines since 2001. Ethereal and Riesling-like with floral, herb, citrus and mineral flavors, it was both refined and rich (90-93, non-blind).
Colin has the holy trinity of Meursault in his cellars: Charmes, Genevrières and Perrières. All were potentially outstanding, yet I gave the edge to the taut, energetic Les Perrières with its focused apple, lime and overall mineral notes (91-94, non-blind).
There is the full complement of grands crus here also, although in very tiny quanities: Corton-Charlemagne, Bienvenues-Bâtard Montrachet, Bâtard-Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet and Montrachet.
The Bâtard, Chevalier and Montrachet all exhibit classic potential (93-96, non-blind), with the Bâtard displaying a broad, powerful profile, the Chevalier showing ripe and creamy and the Montrachet combining of the finesse of the Bienvenues and class of the Chevalier with fine inner strength.
Geoffrey Sandquist — Beaune, France — February 2, 2010 1:29pm ET
Lorenzo Erlic — victoria canada — February 3, 2010 5:47pm ET
Cynthia Pello — Garden State — February 4, 2010 9:28am ET
Bruce Sanderson — New York — February 8, 2010 2:44pm ET
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