My recent annual visit to Burgundy focused on the 2012 vintage. It was a challenging one for growers but, in the end, there are some lovely wines. I tasted more than 330 young reds and whites, mostly from barrel, although some wines had been racked from barrel and blended in tank for the bottling. In some cases, mostly whites, the wines had recently been bottled. All wines were tasted non-blind.
Under the helm of Erwan Faiveley and Bernard Hervet since 2005, Domaine Faiveley is on a tear. With its winemaking duo of technical director Jêrome Flous in the Côte d'Or and manager Julien Bordet in Côte Chalonnaise, Faiveley has made some of the best young wines I have tasted from the 2010, 2011 and 2012 harvests.
Gone is the austerity and firm, even severe tannins that demanded long aging, replaced with greater purity, focused fruit and supple tannins. It remains to be seen how these wines will age over the long term, but they are so delicious young, will Burgundy lovers lock some bottles away in the cellar?
I met with Hervet, Flous and Bordet on my recent trip to the region. Hervet sees 2012 in the same family as '10, but overall the current vintage is less homogeneous because of the hail. However, he feels that some reds in the Faiveley stable, like Gevrey-Chambertin Combes aux Moines and Nuits St.-Georges Les Porêts St.-Georges are better in 2012. Nonetheless, there was 40 percent less fruit.
The Côte Chalonnaise was an area where 2012 fared well. The flowering was more consistent, there was less rain than in the Côte d'Or, therefore less disease pressure and no hail. As a result, the growth of the vines was very even and less stressful. Faiveley owns 185 acres in the Côte Chalonnaise, 148 acres in Mercurey alone. These are wines that will offer value as prices for the more famous appellations increase.
Faiveley's Côte Chalonnaise wines are already in bottle. The Mercurey Vieilles Vignes evokes a superb nose of fresh cherry and raspberry matched to a balanced, juicy frame, finishing long (88–91 points, non-blind).
The monopole La Framboisière is more elegant, pure, exhibiting raspberry and floral notes, all very harmonious, if more structured (88–91).
The Clos des Myglands offers cherry, currant, spice, earth and mineral flavors, fine length and balance (89–92). Its sibling Clos du Roy exudes elegance, floral aromas and more mineral elements. Overall it was precise, linear, long and lacy (89–92). "It's probably the best in the past two decades: concentrated, balanced, like a village Gevrey-Chambertin," noted Bernard Hervet.
The Côte d'Or wines are still in barrel or assembled in tank for bottling, which will take place from February through March.
Most of Faiveley's reds hail from the Cote de Nuits. Among the Côte de Beaune reds, the Pommard Rugiens is impressive for its perfume, red berry and oak spice flavors and long, refined finish (90–93). Unfortunately, hail reduced the volume to 50 percent of an average yield.
Moving north, the Nuits St.-Georges Les Porêts St.-Georges displays a muscular, dense frame gripping the black currant, blackberry, spice and animal flavors. Intense and long, it will need seven to 10 years of aging (91–94). By contrast, the Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes is all finesse, offering floral, red fruit notes and a silky, harmonious profile (91–94)
I preferred the Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cazetiers to the La Combes Aux Moines. The former exhibited pure, fresh aromas of cherry and black currant and a supple texture. There was more finesse, hinting at licorice and spice on the long finish (92–95). The latter delivered tobacco, licorice and spice flavors, more savory than fruity, yet intense, dense, linear and long (90–93).
The Clos de Vougeot (from tank), showed cherry, black currant, licorice and spice flavors allied to a powerful, firm and dense frame (91–94). However, I gave an edge to the Echézeaux (this was still in barrel) from the lieu-dit En Orveaux. It's elegant, revealing floral, sandalwood, cedar, cherry and mineral notes, very ethereal and racy, finishing long (92–95).
Faiveley's vineyard holdings in Gevrey-Chambertin are considerable. There are three grands crus, beginning with Latricières-Chambertin, a linear expression of mineral and saline elements (92–95). The Mazis-Chambertin is big and powerful, featuring animal, earth and savory notes that morph into tobacco and licorice in the aftertaste (91–94). Both are still in barrel.
Faiveley made two different Clos de Bèze bottlings in 2012. The second bottling, from five barrels from the southern part of the vineyard, is called Les Ouvrées Rodin. The first is suave, supple and harmonious, offering fresh berry, sandalwood, tobacco and mineral flavors matched to an energetic, intense profile (93–96). Les Ouvrées Rodin showed less aromas than above, but was all about texture and length, with an ethereal, delicate, lacy feel that went on and on (94–97).
For the whites, Hervet and the team adapted the élévage. In July 2013, they decided to rack into tank or stainless steel barrels to keep the wines fresh. As a result, they spent about nine months in oak rather than the usual 12 to 14 months. The small crop resulted in very concentrated whites in which the mark of the vintage is strong.
A rich, peach- and smoke-tinged Mercurey Clos Rochette offers fine length (88–91) and the Meursault-Blagny delivers focused and concentrated peach, honey and mineral flavors in a creamy texture (88–91). There was 70 percent less crop for Puligny La Garenne. Consequently, it's almost viscous, showing hazelnut, dried peach and honey notes on a powerful profile, though it stays fresh on the long finish (90–93).
Faiveley's grands crus should make fine bottles in due time. The Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet displays intense honey, mineral, seashore and pastry notes. Fat, yet with freshness, it's long (90–93). The Bâtard-Montrachet is very creamy and honeyed, viscous, yet fresh, bright, focused and long (90–93). The Corton-Charlemagne offers a contrast with its linear profile and mineral intensity framing toast, pear, citrus, stone, oak spice and savory flavors (90–93).