I arrived in Beaune in time for lunch at the excellent bistro Le Gourmandin. I barely had time to drop my bags at my hotel in Nuits-St.-George before heading to my first appointment. I have already tasted nearly 100 wines from the 2005 vintage, so I will give you some of the highlights.
Mounir Saouma and Rotem Brakin of negociant Lucien Le Moine extended the alcoholic and malolactic fermentations as long as possible and stirred gently to get as much potential as possible from the lees.
The range is excellent, with a few of my favorite suspects standing out. The Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses is both intense and refined, with strawberry, cherry, floral and mineral flavors. This is the first year in this cellar for the sleek, blackberry-infused Vosne-Romanée Les Malconsorts.
Among the grands crus, the Chambertin-Clos de Bèze, with its licorice, cherry, tobacco and mineral notes sets the stage for a classy, harmonious Grands-Echézeaux, the brooding, muscular Bonnes Mares and aristocratic Richebourg, a mix of red and black fruits that combines power and finesse.
The next morning found me in Gevrey-Chambertin. My first visit was Pierre Damoy. The style here is ripe, opulent Pinot Noir with pure fruit character. The Clos Tamisot, from a vineyard behind the domaine planted primarily in 1922, is full of finesse, black cherry and plum flavors. The stars are the Chambertin-Clos de Bèze and Chambertin, the former’s refinement contrasting with the latter’s concentrated fruit and muscularity. Damoy also bottles three barrels of Clos de Bèze Vieilles Vignes from a small plot in the center of his parcel. It’s a complex, harmonious mix of cherry, licorice, mineral and oak spice flavors.
Emmanuel Humbert makes big, well-structured reds with dense tannins. There’s a distinct contrast between the wines of the main slope, where the grands crus are located, and the Côte St.-Jacques. This is evident in the black cherry- and licorice-tinged Craipillot, a counterpoint to the Poissenot from the Côte, which is full of wildberry and mineral notes on a more racy profile. Both are lesser-known premier crus that are well worth the search.
I finished the morning at Domaine Armand Rousseau, where Eric Rousseau took me through a range of 2005s that are simply stunning: Pure and precise, with vibrant fruit and wonderful balance and harmony. The Clos de la Roche boasts a beam of pure cherry and strawberry on a profile that balances elegance and power. The Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St.-Jacques is treated like a grand cru, with 100 percent new oak framing concentrated cherry and berry flavors. The Clos de Bèze and Chambertin notch it up even more, with complexity and finesse to the cherry and mineral notes in the former and pure, fresh cherry flavor, reserve and class in the latter.