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Don't Overlook the Chardonnay

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Feb 1, 2007 3:07am ET

I visited Domaine Jacques Prieur for the first time. There, I tasted a number of very pure, fruit-driven reds and whites. I sometimes found the wines a little oaky when tasted from bottle as new releases in New York, but the 2005s are very well-balanced.

The Volnay Santenots and Volnay Clos des Santenots are excellent, with the former showing violet and raspberry notes and more elegance, while the latter is dense and concentrated, with a riper cassis flavor.

Among the grands crus, the Clos Vougeot, from 30- to 35-year-old vines, exhibits red and black fruits, mineral and spice, on a spine of acidity and firm tannins. The Echézeaux is muscular and wild, showing black cherry and blackberry notes, fine depth and length. “It’s a great site, the ideal Côte de Nuits,” says Nadine Gublin, Jacques Prieur’s enologist. “Whether it’s a hot or cold vintage, it always gives an exceptional wine.”

The Chambertin and Musigny are spectacular. The Chambertin is shy in aroma, but full of black cherry, black currant and licorice, a powerful red with well-integrated tannins. The Musigny is structured yet refined, with violet, black currant, licorice and hints of chocolate flavors on a silky texture. Both are great young 2005s.

Prieur’s whites are not to be missed, especially the mineral- and citronella-infused Meursault Perrières, creamy, peach- and lime-flavored Chevalier-Montrachet and Montrachet, a rich, powerful white featuring apricot, honey, citrus and mineral notes. It’s still young and aggressive, but try this in 10 years.

Négociant Alex Gambal moved into a new facility in 2005, just in time for the harvest. The range here is the best I have tasted since the fine 2002s. Though it’s not a big range, Gambal has been successful in sourcing some old-vine grapes and wines for his lineup. The Savigny-lès-Beaune Vieilles Vignes is a case in point. Pure and rich, with a sappy midpalate of black cherry, it shows the success of the vintage across all appellations.

The Chambolle-Musigny is alluring, with an elegant expression of flowers and cherry. The Echézeaux is deep and spicy in character, very masculine, displaying black cherry notes.

Gambal’s Clos St.-Jean and Maltroie, both from Chassagne-Montrachet, illustrate two contrasting styles from that village. The Clos St.-Jean is always the flatterer, opulent and honeyed, with shades of toast, lime and hazelnut. The Maltroie is intense and structured, with more mineral notes, but also needs time to come together.

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