In 1997, I traveled to Burgundy to taste the new vintage of reds with my former colleague Per-Henrik Mansson. The young wines were tough and tannic for the most part, products of the 1995 harvest, a difficult year that struggled to achieve full phenolic ripeness.
One grower’s Pinot Noirs stood out for their beautiful fruit: The late Denis Mortet. I bought a few bottles of those ’95s and have opened them over the years. A few were disappointing, I believe because they were going through an ugly phase where the structure dominated the fruit.
The last two bottles were delicious. At Thanksgiving dinner, we shared the Gervrey-Chambertin Au Vellé 1995, a village wine from the Brochon side of the appellation. It showed a sweet, fruity bouquet of black currant, cherry, smoke and spice. Though pure, it was more straightforward on the palate, with good length and ready to enjoy. I rated it 90 points, non-blind, and I paid $42 on release.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Denis Mortet Gervrey-Chambertin Au Vellé 1995 (92, $47).