Solar vintage sumptuousness – and “sumptuous” pricing
By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com
20 November 2016
2015 Burgundy is going to be a big winner for lovers of rich and riper styles.
While not exactly like 2009, the wines I tasted at this event often seemed to approach that vintage’s characteristics – and for many readers there is much to cheer about.
The tasting of all kinds of Gevreys (villages, premiers and grands crus) was held on 17 November at Roi Chambertin.
And I agree with the general positive tone! 2015 will be a (very) successful vintage. However, I do worry about some excessively overripe characteristics that I encountered – and not just from the village level, but all the way to the grand cru level. Several tasters felt the same way about it, from Sweden to Croatia, by way of the US. I met wine writer Elke Jung from Sweden, for example, who very much liked the 2015s but also remarked, the next day “It seems that I am in the minority to think in terms of excess ripeness.” No, she was not. But consumer demand will depend on taste, and what one wants from Burgundy.
Although such observations/critiques may amount to more than just a hill of beans, they do not really constitute a mountain, either. Thank goodness for vintages!
When I tasted some other 2015s and 2014s at another event in Beaune, the next day, at the Palais de Congres, I noticed how many of the 2014 red wine aromatics conveyed greater freshness and lift, while the 2015s were more opulent and evidently ripe, but lacking the same level of freshness that the 2014s expressed. Acclaimed Burgundy critic John Gilman, for example, tweeted today (19 November): “In my book, I’m not certain that ’15 will be more famous than ’14 in 20 years.”
On the other hand, 2014s sometimes have harder palates and are not as “giving” as the 2015s, as I experienced tasting both a Volnay and a (red) Chassagne Montrachet with Gouttes & Gouts author Stefanie Koehler at a restaurant in Beaune.
On a third hand (sorry, but I want to keep the hand metaphor going), the 2015s are likely to be more expensive. To cut to the chase: you pays your money, you takes your choice.
Much quality tannin, concentration, structure – and lots of smoothness. As experienced critics like Bernard Burtschy (Le Figaro, in France) stress: even for many of the more opulent styles, terroir aspects should shine through with bottle aging, given requisite dry extract, quality of tannin and … quality of careful winemaking.
As usual it was a great tasting organized by Fabienne Nicot. It was great to see so many people show up, making new friends as well as seeing old friends like Amanda Regan, Niko Dukan, Bill Nanson, Michael Apstein and Bernard Burtschy among others.
One caveat on the ambiance of the tasting: the room temperature, while not quite boiling, was far too hot, and I think that accentuated the sensation of alcohol in the wines; coming from a solar vintage, the room temperature did not serve the wines very well. Otherwise a fantastic evening followed by dinner with only 2005 wines, and I will post notes on those as well.
The village of Gevrey (later to be called “Gevrey-Chambertin”) may have been the first place vines were planted in Burgundy, although this is not proven. The village AOC was created in 1936. Here a fine, quick fact view of the appellation.
As usual, wines in bold, I liked in particular; those red and bold, even more and those underlined, too? A sort of wine nirvana.
The grands crus
- 2015 Domaine Bruno Clair Chambertin-Clos de Bèze – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru
From the get go, I got a touch of overripe notes on the nose, recalling (even) 2003. But the velvet texture and opulence on the palate was gorgeous. Ripe dark cherry notes throughout, evident structure, albeit with just a slightly alcoholic aspect on the finish, but this could be because of the rather warm room temperature. Give it time in bottle, to shed its “baby fat” I suppose. Loads of dry extract and substance. Very good juice! (94 pts.)
- 2015 Domaine Pierre Gelin Chambertin-Clos de Bèze – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru
Tasted after Bruno Clair and a comparative let down. The dry raisin aspects were more prominent on the nose. Although the palate was smooth and savory, it seemed just a bit warmer overall. For lovers of acidity (like me), I was not so enthralled, in spite of a certain decadent charm. (90 pts.)
- 2015 Domaine Rossignol Trapet Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin Grand Cru
This is quite intense and serious – yet suave and elegant. I like it a bit more than Bruno Clair Clos des Beze as there seems to be a bit more tension for the vintage. There is fine mid palate presence and length as well as precision. A touch of heat betrays the vintage, but, again, we could be dealing with a very (too) warm room (tasting) temperature… (95 pts.)
- 2015 Domaine Chantal Rémy Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin Grand Cru
Deep and rich aromas, violet and dark cherry. Quite heady and rich. Almost like a port, seriously! As there is a certain overripe aspect. Sunshine overripe aspect. Dried raisin! Tasted again one hour later, with similar results. It will certainly please many people and – hey – I liked it. It was sensual. But for for some “traditionalists” like friend and fellow wine critic Niko Dukan, it is not his cup of tea – or style of Burgundy. (93 pts.)
- 2015 Domaine Henri Richard Mazoyères-Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Mazoyères-Chambertin Grand Cru
Did I detect a touch of volatile acidity? It seemed to distract. It seems to have harder tannins than most of the other grands crus, and certainly displays structure, but it was not nearly as charming or giving. I am just not sure about this one – need to retry it.
- 2015 Domaine des Varoilles Charmes-Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru
You want a 2015 Burgundy prototype from Cote de Nuits? This may be the ticket. Very rich and even opulent. Sexy perhaps! I want to drink the spice, the musk. Does it have subtle aspects? Not really. But for some, one could say: “Who gives a shit?” Indeed, Swedish wine writer Elke Jung found this to be among the more “Californian” styled Burgundies of the Gevreys we tried from the 2015 vintage. I rather liked it, at least as a crowd pleaser, but it is neither the most terroir driven wine, nor the most vibrant either. (92 pts.)
- 2015 Domaine Humbert Frères Charmes-Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru
This comes across as a bit more heavy handed than most of the grands crus, and the alcohol comes to the fore. A rather disappointing showing, displaying solar excess I guess. (87 pts.)
- 2015 René Bouvier Charmes-Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru
I like this but it is not in the 90s range, really. More tannic than dry raisin or overripe like. Shows fine tannin but some heat, too, with alcohol on the finish ending more burly than fine. (89 pts.)
- 2015 Domaine Philippe Charlopin-Parizot Charmes-Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru
Like the preceding wine, there is substance and tannic edge, but an overall disjointed aspect here, with alcohol rather strong! Again, I do believe that the room temperature did a disservice to this tasting, so score is conservative. (89 pts.)
- 2015 Domaine Henri Richard Charmes-Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru
More cohesive and better constructed than the Charlopin, tasted just before. Nonetheless, one does get a bit of a “heavy handed” feel with just slightly drying tannin on the finish. But it certainly has impressive palate substance! (90 pts.)
- 2015 Domaine Perrot-Minot Charmes-Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru
A fine example of a grand cru in this series that conveys briskness and substance. Quite charming too, but tannins unresolved (no kidding). Shows depth and precision. Cherry aspects, brighter fruit. Nice job!. (92 pts.)
- 2015 Domaine Harmand-Geoffroy Mazis-Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru
Oak-derived aromatics on first nose. Loads of richness here, mid-palate succulence even, with notes of dark chocolate (is that Burgundy ) although the oak somewhat over dominates. Somewhat drying on finish. Tasted another sample and not the same drying impression. (91 pts.)
- 2015 Domaine Tortochot Mazis-Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru
Love the tension on this grand cru, which is tightly wound, but you find the richness of the vintage, as well. Fresher and brighter on the finish than many of the other grands crus. Really nice job! (93 pts.)
- 2015 Domaine Rossignol Trapet Latricières-Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Latricières-Chambertin Grand Cru
Could this have been my wine of the tasting? Lovely earthy freshness on the nose. Pleasingly bitter finish – Indian Tonic. There is an orange like freshness. Sticks out in some ways for not being so decadent like many others. Indeed, Swedish wine writer Elke Jung (Vinbanken) said that she found this a bit “too acidic” and that was actually… music to my ears. Folks, this cooler climate Chambertin grand cru perhaps was better suited for the vintage. Other writers, including Bernard Burtschy, counted it as among his overall favorites at the tasting. It certainly left me with a very positive impression: Bravo! (95 pts.)
- 2015 Pierre Damoy Chapelle-Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru
Quite drying on the finish, although the aromatics promise more. There is it seems some oak tannin that distracts from the fruit rather than accentuating it. This is more a “house style issue” than a vintage issue I believe and I am not so much a fan. (87 pts.)
The premiers crus
- 2015 Domaine Denis Mortet Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux St. Jacques – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru
Now here we have another entry where the vintage is represented : yes, there is sumptuousness. But the structure is also quite evident, with very present tannins that scream “why do you even bother now?”. Certainly dry extract of excellent quality. This will merit a higher score no doubt. (92 pts.)
- 2015 Domaine Bruno Clair Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos du Fonteny – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru
Light colored Burgundy. There is sweetness to this vintage, again here! More approachable than the Gevrey Chambertin village wine (see later notes), but also shows more depth and structure. Nicely done! (91 pts.)
- 2015 Bernard Bouvier Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Fontenys – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru
Richness and slightly more raw tannin than the Bruno Clair. And yet, I like the depth on the mid palate, and there is much to like here. Give it time in bottle. It is not exactly … delicate. But, hey we are not in Savigny Les Beaune, now, are we? (91 pts.)
- 2015 Philippe Rossignol Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Estournelles-St.-Jacques Vieilles Vignes – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru
Quite rich and heady! This is a very engaging wine, and I can see how people would LOVE it. It has 2009-like richness, to be sure, but much palate nuance and “layers of texture” and although it seems to lack some subtlety, give it time in bottle – and maybe – just maybe – it could just end up being a superb wine. (93 pts.)
- 2015 Philippe Rossignol Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Corbeaux – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru
Is this a cooler terroir than the Lavaux? It feels that way, and I almost like it more. There seems to be more freshness and elegance. In any case, a very fine Burgundy! (93 pts.)
- 2015 Domaine Rene Leclerc Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Champeaux – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru
Overall a dry raisin aspect on the nose that is too distracting for me to really like but I like the smooth palate and richness – and lovers of California Pinot may find their nirvana here. Sorry for the somewhat ridiculous generalization … (88 pts.)
- 2015 Sylvie Esmonin (Michel et Fille) Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St. Jacques – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru
Beguiling nose with mid palate verve and substance. Balanced spice and ripe fruit – not overripe. No dried raisin. Perhaps a touch of heat gives away the vintage but there is much to like here… And I really like this! (93 pts.)
- 2015 Domaine Tortochot Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux St. Jacques – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru
This was quite delicious, smooth and savory but not quite as nuanced as the Esmonin tasted just before. More decadent so lovers of that style will score higher. (92 pts.)
- 2015 Domaine Bruno Clair Gevrey-Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin
Quite tough and tannic; it has depth and power, but not very inviting at this baby stage. Perhaps a good sign. Note reserved.
- 2015 Claude Dugat Gevrey-Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin
Very sexy and floral on the nose. I mean, I really wanted to drink it! The mid palate is rich, but then it dries a bit on the finish to such a noticeable extent that I cannot put this in a 90s range. (89 pts.)
- 2015 Sylvie Esmonin (Michel et Fille) Gevrey-Chambertin Cuvée Vieilles Vignes – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin
More substance on the mid palate, as compared to the Dugat, tasted before. It feels more substantial with better balance, even if with a tad heavy feeling. The finish has lift and intrigues. Nice job! (But I was not as blown away as I was with the 2014, last year …) (91 pts.)
- 2015 Domaine Chevalier Père et Fils Gevrey-Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin
Lovely ripe expressions of fruit, smooth and tasty, and basically engagingly charming. Buy this as it should not be too pricey. (91 pts.)
- 2015 Domaine Philippe Charlopin-Parizot Gevrey-Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin
Yet another fine village Gevrey in 2015. Wonderful, rich, yet structured. Excellent tannin quality! No annoying oak. (91 pts.)
- 2015 Domaine Alain Burguet Gevrey-Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin
Earthy and cherry like. Lovely nose! This was a favorite. While not showing the depth or length of premier or grand cru level, it is very tasty indeed. (91 pts.)
- 2015 Bernard Bouvier Gevrey-Chambertin – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin
Quite a sweet nose, then rather tannic on the palate: a bit hard actually. Not sure I am charmed by this, but it seems to have substance for some bottle aging. (88 pts.)
- 2015 Domaine Humbert Frères Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin
A bit hot and warm, but there is structure and tannin. Give it time in bottle. Also the room of the tasting was getting a bit too hot, so I think it started to affect the temperatures of the wine service, accentuating the alcohol. Note reserved.
- 2015 Jean-Michel Guillon Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin
Charming cherry notes on the nose. Sweet on the palate. Purists like Niko Dukan will not like it…. and I get it! But I can also see why some people would go gaga over this vintage, and this wine also for a decent price/quality ratio. (90 pts.)