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Bouchard Père & Fils, Part I: Fine-Tuning the Range in 2015

Winemaker Frédéric Weber learned from Burgundy's past warm vintages for his 2015 reds
Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Feb 6, 2017 4:40pm ET

I was still a little jet-lagged and wanted a short nap, but there wasn't time. I was due to taste a wide range of reds and whites with winemaker Frédéric Weber at Bouchard Père & Fils, one of Burgundy's venerable négociants. Once into the tasting, I felt invigorated by the wines, their freshness and energy. And this is one characteristic of Burgundy's 2015 Pinot Noirs: At the end of a tasting, there is little to no fatigue.

The Bouchard range offers plenty of ripe, succulent fruit, backed by ample acidity that keeps the wines balanced and long. "There is a sense of sucrosité (sweetness) every time we taste the wines," Weber said. "That's very characteristic of 2015."

The Côte d'Or enjoyed about 4 inches of rain after the flowering, before the weather turned hot and dry during summer. Another half-inch in July refreshed the vines. August was hot and dry, but there was a light rain just at the end of the month.

Weber kept more leaves on the vines to protect the grapes from the heat and sun and, during the fermentation, punched down the cap for a shorter period than in 2005, a vintage that he felt the late pigéage extracted too much tannins.

"The clay soils ripened quickly," explained Weber, "but the limestone soils are drier and the maturation was blocked slightly." The yields averaged 2 to 2.5 tons per acre in the Côte de Beaune, 2.5 to 3 tons per acre in the Côte de Nuits.

Weber used 35 to 40 percent whole cluster for the cuvées from the Côte de Nuits parcels, but only 15 to 20 percent in the Côte de Beaune, due to hail the previous three years.

Four reds had been bottled; the rest of the samples came from tank, in preparation for bottling, or from barrel, waiting to be racked. All are from the domaine unless noted.

The Bouchard Père & Fils Monthelie 2015, bottled two weeks prior to my tasting, offers juicy red cherry, strawberry and spice flavors on an elegant yet firm profile. The Gevrey-Chambertin isn't domaine, but the BP&F team manages the vineyards and harvests the grapes. Forty percent whole cluster, it bursts with blueberry and cherry fruit, its richness and power offset by firm tannins.

Beaune du Château is a blend of 17 premiers crus. Blended and ready for bottling in two weeks, it displays cherry, berry and floral notes, juicy, sweet and long, yet with firm tannins. The flagship Beaune Grèves Vigne de l'Enfant Jésus is refined, showing delicate aromas, cherry, spice and toast flavors, with class and grace.

Despite its linear profile, the Volnay Caillerets Ancienne Cuvée Carnot has more power, along with black pepper, floral, blueberry, cherry and mineral flavors that linger. It was a nice segue to the Pommard Rugiens, boasting iron, violet, black currant and blueberry notes backed by a firm, tense structure. Le Corton's aromas are marked by oak, with plenty of sweet fruit underneath, black cherry, blackberry, spice and earth, on a tight, dense frame.

Moving to the Côte de Nuits, a very fresh, elegant Nuits-St.-Georges Les Cailles features perfumed violet, ripe black currant and blueberry flavors. The Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cazetiers shows some oak, but also beautiful sweet black cherry and blackberry fruit, with hints of coffee, married to a concentrated palate.

Out of the five grand cru reds Weber presented, these were rocking: a perfumed Bonnes Mares full of vibrant black cherry, blackberry, mineral and spicy oak, very classy, refined and pure; and the thoroughbred Chambertin-Clos de Bèze, from purchased grapes that were harvested by the BP&F team, bursting with black cherry, blackberry, mineral and spice flavors backed by terrific energy.

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