I've just recently returned from my annual visit to Burgundy, where my focus was 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.
My first visit began in Meursault, where I met with François Lequin, winemaker at his family's Domaine René Lequin-Colin. He bottled the whites just before Christmas; the reds are in tank and will be bottled soon.
As of 2012, Lequin-Colin is certified organic, but it's not indicated on the label. Despite about 50 percent lower yields due to frost, poor flowering, hail and some rain during the harvest, the grapes were healthy and Lequin was able to use almost all the lees for the élévage in barrels.
"For both white and red, we have good balance," he said. "The whites are surprising because usually with such low yields, you can have atypical Chardonnay, but in '12 they are very expressive of Burgundy. It's a nice vintage to drink early, but they can age."
Lequin made five barrels of Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeots in 2012, compared with 12 barrels in an average year. His parcels are in Grand Clos and Téte de Clos, where the vines average 20 and 40 years of age, respectively. The 2012 is rich and broad, yet stays in bounds, with apple, honey and a touch of lime flavors, nice texture and length (89–92 points, non-blind).
The Corton-Charlemagne offered a flinty, stony nose with hints of pear and citrus. It has plenty of density and structure, with a long finish (90–93). The Bâtard-Montrachet, by contrast, was more masculine yet less dense and almost viscous in texture, showing floral, lemon, apple and peach notes (91–94).
For value, don't overlook the Bourgogne White, a clean, fresh white sporting citrus and lime flavors and a juicy finish (85–88).
In addition to Bourgogne Rouge, Lequin showed me a Santenay Vieilles Vignes and his premier cru Santenay La Comme. Both were awkward from the end of the malolactic conversion, but showed fine potential (87–90 for each).
Domaine Caillot was founded in the 1960s by Michel Caillot's grandfather. Michel has been fully responsible for this 36-acre property since 1995. Both the whites and reds undergo a long élévage of 12 months in barrel and 12 months in tank. All the wines had been racked initially in July and then in September from barrel into tank.
Caillot harvested on the early side in 2012, beginning Sept. 1 (compared with mid- to late-September for most domaines and houses). His volume is 75 percent lower than average, due to coulure during flowering and hail, which hit the southern part of the Côte de Beaune three times in 2012.
Among the whites, I liked the Santenay for its vibrant lime, apple and mineral elements (87–90). The Meursault Le Cromin is rich and broad (88–91), yet both the tightly wound and floral-tinged Meursault La Barre Dessous and dense, lemony Meursault Le Tesson are a step up (89–92 each).
From Puligny, Les Folatières is aerial and floral, with fine length (90–93), and Les Pucelles is racy, boasting lime, hazelnut, buried mineral and spice flavors and a classy profile (91–94). In an average year, Les Pucelles sees 25 percent new oak; in 2012, there was only one barrel, so it was new.
Among the five reds I tasted, there was a spicy, rich, black cherry- and licorice-flavored Monthélie (86–89) and a concentrated, earthy Pommard Les Epenots, underlined by mineral and smoky oak (89–92). Les Epenots also saw 100 percent new oak due to the small crop.
In fact, Caillot normally makes Bâtard-Montrachet and Volnay Clos des Chênes, but in 2012, he sold them to négociants.
Philippe Bouzereau, Jr., now 33, has been vinifying the wines at his family's 37-acre Château de Citeaux estate since 2006. There are usually 25 wines in the range, mostly white, from Santenay to Corton. In 2012, some of the cuvées were sold to négociants.
During the period from 2001 to 2012, the wines were fermented with cultured yeast, but as of the 2013 harvest, Bouzereau reverted back to indigenous yeast. Malolactic is spontaneous, and the wines see 10 months in barrel followed by six months in tank before bottling. The 2012s were racked into tank just before the 2013 harvest. Bouzereau uses a maximum of 20 to 25 percent new oak.
There was 50 percent less volume in 2012 at chez Bouzereau. There was a potentially outstanding Chassagne, showing harmony to its floral, apple and peach notes and rich texture (87–90). The Meursault Grands Charrons might be considered textbook Meursault for its fat texture, honey, peach and mouthfilling character. Yet it remains balanced and long (88–91). The Meursault Vieux Clos was less forthcoming in aromas, yet dense, structured and long, its lime blossom and apple flavors underscored by mineral (88–91).
A delicate, cherry-, raspberry- and spice-filled Auxey-Duresses Les Duresses (87–90) was followed by a firm, focused Corton-Bressandes, whose cherry, spice and smoke notes are dense and long (89–92).