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Lucien Le Moine Volnay Premier Cru Santenots 2015

Lucien Le Moine Volnay Premier Cru Santenots 2015

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"Bright ruby-red. Fully ripe aromas of black raspberry, cassis and dark chocolate. Then very rich on the palate but with energizing savory minerality giving the middle palate penetration and sharp delineation. Some very ripe fruit flavors are leavened by an enticing note of bitterness that suggests white soil. In a rather powerful style but the tannins are nicely ripe and very broad. This is more typical 2015 in character than the Clos des Chènes but still finishes with a crunchy fruit character. 91-93 points

“Two thousand fifteen is a trap,” announced Mounir Saouma before we tasted his large and splendid range of red wines. “The skins were very sensitive due to the very high maturity of the grapes. Is 2015 a strong vintage or is it a sensitive vintage? Some growers assumed that the sunny summer meant strong grape skins. If you thought the fruit was strong, you racked, sulfured and tortured the wines and they will always show the effect of that treatment."

Saouma, who is concerned about the potential fragility of the 2015s as well as their possible overripeness, believes that the vintage will have a natural tendency to evolve quickly. “We fought with our suppliers to chill their barrels and slow down the alcoholic and malolactic fermentations [Saouma is an éleveur, who purchases barrels of wines from his suppliers and takes possession of them during the winter following the harvest, in virtually every instance still with their original lees]. The 2015s must be handled like babies, not like monsters. They don’t have the solid bones of 2014 or 2012. There will be two kinds of 2015s: those that were essentially finished before Christmas (of 2015) and the later style, which will be much more serious and long-lived. As a general rule, people who made great 2009s are likely to have made great 2015s. This vintage had fine skins and not a lot of hard tannins, just like the '15s, and those who had late malos and allowed their wines to age quietly for 18 months or so made the best wines. Those who did the opposite--malo before Christmas followed by early racking and SO2 additions--made tasters feel the alcohol and start saying 'maybe these were picked late'."

In Saouma’s cold cellar, the 2015 malos did not generally start until the late spring of 2016, while others only finished during that year’s harvest. None of the wines had yet been racked or sulfured when I sampled them from barrel in December. “The biggest challenge with the 2015s is to maintain finesse,” said Saouma, who does not think that these wines will ever completely shut down, owing to their balance. “Right now the impression of dry extract in the 2015s is muffled by their substantial ripe tannins,” he added."

Stephen Tanzer, Vinous (01/17)