Following the exuberant spontaneity of the 2000’s, 2001 comes with a more restrained, classically burgundian style. Compared to the previous vintage, 2001 has a better acidity, which will make for the longevity and freshness of the fruit, wrapped in ripe and round tanins, and shines with a long and vibrant finish. Great aging potential. (May 2003)
The start of September 2001 saw cloudy skies for some time and many winegrowers started to show signs of concern. At the domaine we managed to remain quite confident however, after having spent a large part of the month of August under a burning sun in order to remove the excess bunches of grapes. (We call this a green harvest). Conditions overall in August were excellent and the cool dry period of September – even if it did limit sugar levels – allowed the grapes to retain finesse and richness of aroma. And these are far more precious qualities. When fermentation had finished the wines showed deep rich colour and a lot of “energy” without any heaviness. The spectrum of aromas was generous and complex. « Aristocratic » is the term that comes to mind when describing my first impression of this vintage.
Just a few words while fermentations are proceeding : The weather has been dry, cool and sunny this year. The vineyards have been remarkably spared by usual diseases. Conditions for harvest have been perfect : dry and cool. We started on Sept. 21st, and finished on the 26th. Grapes were very healthy with a thick, dark skin. Sugar level was among the highest of the past ten years. Acidity is rather high but, being constituted mostly of malic acid, it should drop significantly during secondary fermentations. As a whole it looks as a very promising vintage for long term keeping. (Oct. 2nd, 2002)
Started Monday sept 1st, ended sept 4th. Ideal weather : sunny and cool. Small yield : 2002’s was double. Ban de vendanges (official opening) was Aug 19th, earlier than ever. Previous records were Aug. 25th, 1822 and Aug. 28th, 1719 (from Dr Lavalle’s reference book). The grapes who were directly exposed to the sun suffered seriously from the extreme heat and drought. Many have dried and the ripening of the skins (and therefore of the tannins) was disturbed. It was important to eliminate every dry berry by a careful “triage”, and to base the decision on the date of harvest more on the taste of the grapes (including skins) than on chemical analysis of the juice. (Sept 6th, 03)
A long project
We are now reaching the completion of a long project. Clos de la Maréchale 2004, the first vintage we have produced since this vineyard is back in our hands, will be bottled in the very next days. We could be tempted now to look back to our work with some satisfaction, but the final verdict on our wines will be up to you. What has been already proven is that, in the very demanding weather conditions of 2004, our new team has been able to control the unusually high vigour of the vines and to keep them in good health. The good weather that took place from the second half of August until the time of harvest then allowed the grapes to reach a perfect ripeness while preserving the brightness of fruits grown under a cool climate. The resulting wines show liveliness, depth and typicity. (May 2006)
The perfect intage
It is a fact that the 2005s show a great depth, a velvety texture, but also a special delicacy and freshness of flavours, that give the wines brightness and elegance. Such qualities, rarely found in the same wine, are brought together in perfect harmony. Everything is there to make theses wines both extremely seductive when young and very promising for the future. Then, could one say 2005 is the perfect vintage ? Maybe, in a way. But it seems to me that wine is more a matter of emotion than technique, and I do not necessarily associate emotion with perfection. So, if we perversely try to find anything wrong, could we say that the only thing that might be missing in those wines would be some kind of charming flaw, some subtle touch of roughness ? Anyway I have no doubt that these wines, when grown up, will surprise us. (April 2007)
In the same way as 2005 undoubtedly deserves its reputation as an outstanding vintage, I would define 2006 as a reference vintage, for its typicity and classicism. The weather has definitely been less than perfect that summer, but at the end of the day, as far as the quality of the wines is concerned, we have no reason to complain. The wines have no weakness of any kind, they are distinguished, very pure, very close to the exceptional depth of texture of the 2005s, not quite as smooth or polished, but more vigorous, brighter, more vibrant. (May 2008)
After two vintages made for a very long aging, now comes 2007, soft and supple, but intense and accomplished with a rich and precise fruit. These generous and joyful wines are made for drinking more than collecting, and they should evolve slowly and regularly, without these frustrating ups and downs that affect many of the more tannic vintages. (May 2009)
Bright, vibrant, ethereal…
We remember 2008 as a specially cold and rainy summer, such as those who, twenty-five years ago, would have led us to pick hardly ripe grapes around October 10th. And yet, the 2008 vintage began on September 27th, and the grapes were sweet. What did change ? Cold years are not as cold as they used to be, specially winters and nights, but above all, our work in the vineyard has changed : with restored soils, a more careful pruning and trellising brings riper fruits earlier. Of course, knowing this did not prevent our anxiety. Another rainy day could have changed the outcome. But I know by experience that it is in such delicate weather situation that pinot noir can produce the most unique wines : bright, vibrant, ethereal, floral, witty… Magical. Such is 2008.
Rich and sunny
In spite of a rainy month of July, the end of summer has been remarkably sunny and warm. Such vintages are often described as “easy” for the growers, but things are not as simple as they look. Of course, the work in the vineyard is not as difficult and frustrating when they is no threat from usual vine diseases, but such situations, when grapes ripen so quickly (too quickly) raise other questions. Firstly the difficult choice of the best harvest date, but also more fundamental issues such as the necessity to reconsider some aspects of the work we do in the vineyard to adapt to the changing behaviour of our vines. The wines are impressively powerful and hearty, but also full of energy, with no sign of overripeness. I have no doubt about their exceptional aging potential, and I only recommend a long patience to those who are more inclined towards finesse than power.
Pure, bright, vibrant, the wines from 2010 have, like 2008 or 2001, all the qualities of late September vintages, made from grapes that ripened slowly under a mild weather. But they also have a fullness of texture that one would expect to find only in warmer vintages and this combination confers an exceptional character to the vintage.
The secret is called “millerandage”. This is an incomplete fertilization of grape blossoms usually caused by cold and rainy weather in June, which produces small-size, thick skin, seedless grapes, bringing when fully mature a special quality of supple and velvety tannins.
The bad side of it (and the reason why vine-growers are not too enthusiastic about rain during blossom period) is the low yield, which was specially marked in our Chambolle-Musigny (“village”) vineyard.
I will borrow this year from Allen Meadows (burghound.com) the words to describe the vintage much better than I could do :
“While there are several very interesting characteristics of the 2011 vintage the one that I find to be the most intriguing is just how good the phenolic maturities are yet the sugar maturities are remarkably low (…). This makes for seductively suave textures that avoid any sense of heaviness as there is good freshness and sufficient acid verve to maintain the finishing balance. This seductive character is further enhanced by the fact that not only are the supporting tannins ripe but they are exceptionally fine-grained.”
The anticipated pleasure will only be somewhat mitigated by the small size of the harvest, mainly due to the poor weather during the flowering period.
This vintage combines qualities usually conflicting : purity, tension, precision, freshness from fruits of cold and late years and meanwhile a deep texture we normally find in early vintages.
Its lonely default is, once again, a limited yield.
2013 is a vintage with a strong personality. It is a rare combination of a round texture with a vigorous freshness. It certainly has a very good aging potential.
The quantity is tiny but in such a cool vintage, low yield was an essential factor for quality.
The 2014s are delightful, bright and joyful wines.
The yield was short. There is with no doubt a truly great vintage but, as such, it will really bloom only after a long aging. That is one of those slow miracles.
The wines from 2016 combine two qualities that are normally not found together: a high maturity, promising depth and longevity, and a remarkable freshness. It will be difficult to decide between enjoying them relatively early or to letting them grow for many decades…
There is one great novelty this year. The cuvée ‘Chambolle-Musigny’ 2016 is really special, not only that it is rare, produced in very small quantities, but mainly that it is composed of an unusual blend from several plots including principally the Premier Cru ‘Les Plantes’ and areas of Grand Cru who have specially suffered from frost. This cuvée of an unprecedented power will be called Chambolle-Musigny ‘Trente-Deux’, in reference to my thirty-second vintage.
My most remarkable memory of the year 2017 is the perfect visual quality of the grapes at the time of the harvest.
Pinot noir is a very fragile grape variety. It is quite rare that all bunches at vintage time have the same perfect aspect as the table grapes displayed on the greengrocers stalls. I have nevertheless consistently resisted the practice of sorting the grapes on a table in the winery. I do not want to mimic in my small craft an industrial assembly line, and I prefer to teach each of the pickers what they have to leave out such as verjuices, botrytised and sunburnt berries, or, to be more easily understood, anything they would not eat…
The weather in 2017 had been mild, dry and sunny enough, but not excessively so, the vines grew under the well-balanced climate that suits it best, and for the first time in my experience I had no need to teach the pickers what they had to do as there was nothing that needed to be sorted out.
And unsurprisingly, the wines from this vintage, away from any extremeness, express a joyful harmony and a fresh elegance.