Senior editor Bruce Sanderson spent a week in Burgundy tasting more than 300 reds and whites from 2014, some bottled, some in tank ready for bottling, and some from barrel. The vintage presented challenges, but should deliver instant gratification.
Following my visits at Clos de la Chappelle, Louis Latour and Alex Gambal, I headed north to Gevrey-Chambertin, where I caught up with Pierre Damoy. Damoy, who took over from his uncle in 1992, farms 26 acres, including almost 13 acres in Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. He purchases fruit from an additional 6 acres.
Damoy is content with 2014. "It's not a fragile vintage, but it was risky," he says. Clarifying the wines was difficult. The malolactic conversions were earlier than usual and there were a lot of lees in the barrels, so he racked twice, rather than his usual one time at assemblage before bottling.
Damoy also noted that some of his 2014s taste more concentrated than their 2013 counterparts, despite higher yields, on average 2.2 tons per acre compared with 1.5 tons per acre in '13. The wines naturally reached 12 to 12.5 degrees of alcohol.
From purchased grapes, there is an outstanding Gevrey-Chambertin La Justice, whose dense, rich texture envelops black cherry and blackberry fruit, with a hint of earth and spice. I was also impressed with the Marsannay Les Longeroies that is pure, sporting violet, black currant and blackberry flavors against a refined profile.
The domaine wines begin with the silky, intense Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Tamisot, sporting persistent flavors of cherry, earth and mineral. Most of the vineyard dates from 1922; some vines were replaced in 1956. Damoy noted that his Chambertin is always the last to finish its malolactic, which explained its raw quality, despite a core of black cherry matched to an opulent, meaty profile.
There are two cuvées of Clos de Bèze in the cellar. The first, labeled simply Chambertin-Clos de Bèze is rich and racy, with an intense mineral flavor. The Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Réserve comes from the northern section of Damoy's parcel that consistently shows softer tannins and more finesse. Its aromas are more exotic and the ripe flavors exude cherry confit, spice and mineral, all very long and complex.
From Gevrey, it was a short drive through the grands crus into neighboring Morey-St.-Denis and to one of its iconic domaines, Clos de Tart. Jacques Devauges is now its director, replacing Sylvain Pitiot, who retired last year after producing 20 vintages.
The 18.5-acre monopole is divided into 27 individual plots, based on geology, vine age and content of active limestone in the soils.
"When I first arrived, I was thinking, what could I improve on?" Devauges said. "But now, we are working organically, with certification in 2015, and I would like to farm biodynamically, beginning this year. I think it's one way I can improve and continue what Sylvain [Pitiot] had done before me."
We tasted three samples of 2014, from the bottom, middle and top of the slope, to see the differences in the estate. The sample from the bottom was open, very fruity and lacy in texure. The midslope blend was racy and long, with a more minerally, salty finish. The upper portion had a granular texture, spice flavors and was the most complex.
The approximate blend of the Clos de Tart 2014 offers rich, deep black fruit flavors, fine intensity, complexity and length.
Pitiot joined us at lunch. In addition to managing Clos de Tart from 1995 to 2015, he is co-author of the 2012 publication Climats et Lieux-Dits des Grands Vignobles de Bourgogne: Atlas et Histoire des Noms de Lieux, along with Marie-Hélène Landrieu. Later this year, Pitiot expects to publish an English translation of the book.