TGIF

Jun 11, 2006

Day 7, June 9: I went to Domaine Jean Grivot , which consists of 40 acres spread over 18 different vineyards. Though the estate is not organic, Etienne Grivot farms his land thoughtfully and prefers a combination of young, old and very old vines in each site. This allows him to replant vine by vine as much as possible, rather than replacing whole blocks.

The malolactic fermentations are just beginning in the cellar and are typically finished from mid-summer to just before harvest. This gives the wines 14 to 15 months on the lees from fermentation to bottling. “It’s important to have fine lees to give freshness and aging potential to the wines,” Grivot says.

The range of 2005s, tasted non-blind, are difficult to evaluate due to the tightness and ongoing malolactic fermentations, but I get the sense of the difference between the different sites. Grivot’s Pinots strike a balance between structure and finesse. “The fruit obtained a fantastic maturity in 2005, with tannins that are fat, but fresh,” he exclaims. “The wines will become very luminous, I think.”

The Vosne-Romanée Les Beaux Monts shows fine, sappy fruit, intensity and length. The Clos Vougeot and Echézeaux are very closed and marked by new oak (Grivot used 80 percent new oak for the grands crus in 2005). The Richebourg is a stately, authoritative red, full of pure blackberry fruit, and builds to a long finish.

I had lunch with Pierre Meurgey and Dimitri Bazas of Maison Champy, a small negociant that now owns 42 acres of vineyards in the Côte de Beaune. Over lunch in the Bistro at the Hostellerie de Levernois, we had a youthful Puligny-Montrachet Les Chalumeaux 1999. Still a little marked by oak, it was fresh and creamy, with floral, lemon and hazelnut flavors. We followed with a red Beaune Clos des Avaux 1999, which had mellowed considerably, revealing a ripe, rich cherry note, supple tannins and a vibrant structure.

In the afternoon, I tasted a range of 2005 whites and reds at Maison Louis Latour’s Beaune headquarters. The energetic Louis-Fabrice Latour and enologist Jean-Charles Thomas had drawn samples from wines that are in various stages. Some had not finished their malolactic fermentation yet, others had finished and were on their lees, some had been racked and partially assembled in tank.

The Meursault-Blagny Château de Blagny has a fine mineral intensity and is very resonant. The Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatières reveals the exotic side of 2005, with floral, tropical fruit and melon notes supported by a fine structure. The Montrachet is powerful and rich, with great complexity and a long expansive finish, but I like the Chevalier-Montrachet today. Despite the young stage in its evolution, the citronella and floral flavors, creamy texture and refined, racy character typical of this site is already revealing itself.

This distinction among the terroirs appears to be a defining factor of 2005. Even in the various stages of evolution at this early stage, in most cellars, the young 2005s reveal their differences.

Among the Latour reds, I like the fresh, blackberry- and licorice-tinged Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cazetiers, smoky, mineral Chambertin, a combination of power and finesse and the elegant, floral- and red fruit-infused Romanée St.-Vivant Les Quatre Journeaux.

France Burgundy

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