Three Domaines in the Côte de Nuits

Jun 6, 2006

Day 3: June 5

Now, to the heart of the matter: Visiting and tasting at some of the top domaines and negoce in Burgundy. Cool weather prior to my trip delayed the malolactic fermentations ,and many of the 2005s are still undergoing malolactic fermentation. The aromas often smell smoky, and carbonic gas mutes the fruit and gives the wines a hard impression. Consequently, they are difficult to evaluate. The following wines were tasted non-blind in the growers’ cellars.

First up was a small producer whose wines have done well in my blind tastings. It was my first visit to Dupont-Tisserandot and vigneron Didier Chevillion. A former chef, Chevillion is the son-in-law of M. Dupont and Mme. Tisserandot. The domaine is 52 acres, large by Burgundy standards, but the heart is just 11 acres of premier and grands crus vineyards in Gevrey-Chambertin. The house style is Pinot Noir of suppleness and finesse.

The Mazis-Chambertin is the king here, with a superb terroir and 40-year old vines. The 2005 from barrel is still marked by oak, yet I get the sense of its mass and sweet fruit. Don’t overlook the Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cazetiers. The ’05 is difficult to evaluate due to the unfinished malolactic fermentation, but had intensity and length. The 2004 is rich, powerful and stylish, with a core of black cherry, and builds to a long finish.

It’s been less than 6 months since Denis Mortet’s tragic suicide. However, his wife Laurence and 24-year old son Arnaud are courageously determined to shape the future of this great domaine. They have enlisted the help of Claire Forestier, former winemaker at Domaine Bertagna to complete the team.

In 2004, the 5 separate terroirs at the village level, En Motrot, En Champs, Au Vellé, En Derée and Combe du Dessus, were blended to create a single wine. In 2005, all the crus have been fermented separately, and Arnaud is toying with the idea of blending a “Jeunes Vignes” consisting of wines 30 to 65 years old and a “Vieilles Vignes” of wines 65 to 90 years old from the five different sites.

From barrel, the Chambertin 2005 is stunning, really something special. Since most of us can’t afford Chambertin, look for the muscular, licorice-tinged Gevrey-Chambertin Lavaux St.-Jacques.

I describe the wines of Bruno Clavelier of Vosne-Romanée as having macerated fruit, with firm structures and a transparent hand to capture the individual differences between sites. 2006 will be the former rugby professional’s 20th harvest.

“2005 has excellent potential,” he told me. “The wines are complete, with density, balance, ripeness and no austerity. It reminds me of 1985.”

Unfortunately, all the wines we tasted from barrel were in various stages of malolactic fermentation and therefore difficult to evaluate. I will say that the 2004s at this address are terrific, especially the elegant, mineral-infused Vosne-Romanée Les Beaux Monts and the vibrant, perfumed Chambolle-Musigny La Combe d’Orveaux.

France Burgundy

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