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Hitting the Ground Running

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Jan 30, 2007 3:23am ET

I arrived in Beaune in time for lunch at the excellent bistro Le Gourmandin. I barely had time to drop my bags at my hotel in Nuits-St.-George before heading to my first appointment. I have already tasted nearly 100 wines from the 2005 vintage, so I will give you some of the highlights.

Mounir Saouma and Rotem Brakin of negociant Lucien Le Moine extended the alcoholic and malolactic fermentations as long as possible and stirred gently to get as much potential as possible from the lees.

The range is excellent, with a few of my favorite suspects standing out. The Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses is both intense and refined, with strawberry, cherry, floral and mineral flavors. This is the first year in this cellar for the sleek, blackberry-infused Vosne-Romanée Les Malconsorts.

Among the grands crus, the Chambertin-Clos de Bèze, with its licorice, cherry, tobacco and mineral notes sets the stage for a classy, harmonious Grands-Echézeaux, the brooding, muscular Bonnes Mares and aristocratic Richebourg, a mix of red and black fruits that combines power and finesse.

The next morning found me in Gevrey-Chambertin. My first visit was Pierre Damoy. The style here is ripe, opulent Pinot Noir with pure fruit character. The Clos Tamisot, from a vineyard behind the domaine planted primarily in 1922, is full of finesse, black cherry and plum flavors. The stars are the Chambertin-Clos de Bèze and Chambertin, the former’s refinement contrasting with the latter’s concentrated fruit and muscularity. Damoy also bottles three barrels of Clos de Bèze Vieilles Vignes from a small plot in the center of his parcel. It’s a complex, harmonious mix of cherry, licorice, mineral and oak spice flavors.

Emmanuel Humbert makes big, well-structured reds with dense tannins. There’s a distinct contrast between the wines of the main slope, where the grands crus are located, and the Côte St.-Jacques. This is evident in the black cherry- and licorice-tinged Craipillot, a counterpoint to the Poissenot from the Côte, which is full of wildberry and mineral notes on a more racy profile. Both are lesser-known premier crus that are well worth the search.

I finished the morning at Domaine Armand Rousseau, where Eric Rousseau took me through a range of 2005s that are simply stunning: Pure and precise, with vibrant fruit and wonderful balance and harmony. The Clos de la Roche boasts a beam of pure cherry and strawberry on a profile that balances elegance and power. The Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St.-Jacques is treated like a grand cru, with 100 percent new oak framing concentrated cherry and berry flavors. The Clos de Bèze and Chambertin notch it up even more, with complexity and finesse to the cherry and mineral notes in the former and pure, fresh cherry flavor, reserve and class in the latter.

Andrew Bernardo
Halifax, Nova Scotia —  January 30, 2007 5:46pm ET
Hi Bruce,Have you had any Volnays as of yet? More specifically, have you been able to tackle any of De Montille's wines yet?Cheers,Andrew
Bruce Sanderson
New York —  January 31, 2007 1:58am ET
Andrew,I visited at de Montille last June and posted about the 2005s then. I was very impressed with both the Volnays and Pommards in the cellar, though they were at a very young stage. You can check my blog posts from last June for the details.
Danapat Promphan
Bangkok, Thailand —  January 31, 2007 2:14am ET
Dear Bruce,

Are you planning to visit the domaine of the late Denis Mortet? This is one of my favorite domaine, and I wonder if there are any significant changes since his wife and son took over?

Bruce Sanderson
New York —  January 31, 2007 2:27am ET
Dan,I visited chez Mortet last June also. I believe you saw the posts then. One update: Claire Forestier, Domaine Bertagna's former winemaker, who joined Laurence and Arnaud Mortet at the time of my visit last June, has since left the domaine.
Gerald Ansel
Fullerton, CA —  January 31, 2007 1:44pm ET
Hi Bruce,The next time you are in the Meursault, you might want to stop in and see Bernard Michelot of Domaine Michelot-Mersault. His family has been making wine in Burgundy for ages. My wife and I visted the Cote last year and spent an afternoon with him.This diminutive 75-year-old man of boundless energy told us many interesting stories of Burgundy in the 'old' days, before the onset of corporate wineries. He told us about the Nazi occupation, and how they hid their wine; his experiences as a member of the Chavalier du Tastevin (sp?); and on and on. The whole time he kept joking about his American 'buddies' Robert Mondavi and Joseph Phelps. It was an afternoon we will never forget.
Gilberto Ochman Da Silva
S?Paulo/Brazil —  August 5, 2008 6:34pm ET
Hi Bruce, is there great diference between damoy clos de b¿ 2005 and damoy clos de b¿ vieilles vignes 2005? What?U$ 750,00 per damoy clos de b¿ vieilles vignes 2005 is a good price? (releasing price: U$ 600,00)

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