Chassagne-Montrachet


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  • Bernard Moreau Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru La Cardeuse 2018

    £65.95

    “The 2018 Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru La Cardeuse is deeper and more concentrated, wafting from the glass with aromas of rose petals, red berries, cherries, cinnamon and sweet soil tones. On the palate, the wine is medium to full-bodied, deep and layered, with superb concentration, ripe tannins and lively acids, concluding with a long, perfumed finish. This is a brilliant wine with a pedigree going back to the 1952 vintage that consumers fixated on the Côte d’Or more famous red wine producing villages overlook to their disadvantage. 92-94 points

    Alex and Benoit Moreau began their harvest on August 30, afraid of waiting too long given the warm conditions, and reported finished alcohols between 12.15% and 13.3%. This was a large crop for the domaine, even for its premiers crus and old vines: Chenevottes, for example, yielded fully 62 hetoliters per hectare, its most generous in 20 years. Most of the domaine’s white wine fermentations lasted into June-July 2019. As usual, I made Domaine Bernard Moreau one of my last stops during my time in Burgundy to catch the wines at their best, and the young 2018s showed superbly: it’s a more immediate vintage than 2017 but beautifully balanced. Indeed, it’s hard to think of a better address to which to direct readers looking to take a tour of some of Chassagne-Montrachet’s most interesting terroirs. I also revisited the superb 2017s in bottle, wines that number among the vintage’s finest.

    What are the rudiments of this 14-hectare estate’s success? As I wrote last year, the domaine represents a loose division of labor between two brothers: Benoit, who concerns himself with the vineyards, and Alex, who oversees the cellar. In the vineyard, they use only organic fertilizers and no pesticides. In the cellar, Alex Moreau appreciates long fermentations and extended sur lie élevage without stirring, the wines finishing their maturation in stainless steel where they generally see a light fining. New oak, largely from François Frères, is judiciously chosen. Beautifully balanced and differentiated by site, these are some of the most compelling white Burgundies being made today, and I once again warmly recommend them to readers.”

    William Kelley, Wine Advocate (01/20)

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  • Bernard Moreau Chassagne-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes Rouge 2019

    £54.95

    “A beautiful wine, Moreau’s 2019 Chassagne-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes bursts with aromas of rose petals, spices and sweet berry fruit. Medium-bodied, lively and perfumed, it’s supple and melting, with succulent acids and a saline finish. Drink: 2021-2041. 91 points

    Between the spring frost and a protracted flowering, Alex Moreau reported that yields at this address were appreciably diminished, ranging from a decidedly low 25 hectoliters per hectare to a moderate 40. Harvest began here on September 7, and alcohols top out at 13.4%. Fermentations were a little fast for Alex’s liking, but this is once again a superb range, meriting a place in any well-stocked Burgundy cellar. Serious and concentrated, these 2019s evoke the domaine’s 2015s, but if anything they’re even better balanced. An unusually hurried schedule, compressed by France’s second COVID-19 lockdown, precluded revisiting the bottled 2018s, an oversight that will be remedied later this year—from my own cellar, if necessary. In any case, as ever, any wine bearing the Moreau label comes warmly recommended.

    William Kelley, Wine Advocate (01/21)

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  • Louis Jadot Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru Abbaye de Morgeot 2021

    £89.95

    “The 2021 Chassagne-Montrachet Abbaye de Morgeot 1er Cru has the best, most complex and well-defined bouquet amongst Jadot’s Chassagne, demonstrating more mineralité and nuance. The palate is well-balanced with a fine bead of acidity. It’s pretty saline in the mouth, with impressive depth and extract on the finish. This should drink beautifully over the next 15-20 years. Drinking window: 2024-2038. 91-93 points

    “The frost was clearly the worst event we have had for 40-50 years that affected all the vineyards from Chablis to Beaujolais,” head winemaker Frédéric Barnier admits in our usual two session comprehensive tasting, albeit shortened by numerous cuvées falling victim to the frost and their percentage of contracted fruit. “We did not expect the reds to be affected as well. There was little you could do to fight it. The first night, I said not to use candles…there was no point except for those growers that pruned late. Personally, I am more keen to work on agronomic solutions that might delay the bud break via rootstock and clones and so forth. You can delay by one week to ten days; that can make the difference between a 2021 and a 2022. We need to understand the risk plot-by-plot, why some are affected more than others. The vines were stressed for a long time, and it took a while to see the vineyards recover. By the end of May, it looked like the beginning of April in the vines. They were sensitive to the oïdium. It was not a cold year like 2013, but in terms of humidity, it was the necessary amount of rain, but the fact that there were constant light showers created a humid atmosphere. So, rot pressure was constant, which inhibited vine growth because they needed hot temperatures.”

    “We started picking on 21 September, knowing that we would have a shorter time to pick; the last fruit was picked on 30 September, starting in the Côte de Beaune and then in the Côte de Nuits and the later parts of the Côte de Beaune. Usually, it takes a fortnight. The fruit was not perfect, so key things were the quality of pressing to adapt to small volumes and choosing the right lees, as sometimes they were not good. So during settling, it was vital to choose the lees that you want to use for the fermentation and ageing. For the reds, it was important to sort the grapes, which we had not done in recent years, to select what you want for the maceration. The fermentation was normal, but the maturation was challenging. If we buy few new barrels in 2021, then this has a knock-on for the next vintage [i.e. a lack of used wood]. Some of the whites are in large oak tanks to maintain a classic balance. For the whites, we have natural nervosité because of the higher malic acid, so we blocked some of the malolactic fermentation to capture that. I am thinking about bottling the reds at the end of the year after racking – I’m not sure what ageing will bring, whereas the whites could accept a longer élevage.”

    Barnier is a winemaker that showcases a refreshing change in being unafraid to speak his mind. “It’s not: back to a classic vintage,” he contentiously says, contradicting numerous other winemakers. “Nowadays, a classic vintage is 2018, 2019 and 2020. In fact, for the reds, the pH is quite high, and acidity is quite low.””

    Neal Martin, Vinous (01/23)

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  • Louis Jadot Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru Morgeot Clos de la Chapelle Rouge 2017

    £59.95

    Review to follow

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  • Marc Colin Chassagne-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes Rouge 2017

    £44.95

    “The 2017 Chassagne-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes Rouge, which has been in tank for two weeks, has a very pure, almost Cotes de Nuits like bouquet, a little sensual like a Vosne-Romanée. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannin, fine acidity, quite compact and just needing more flesh to come through on the finish. I think this will gain some stuffing after it has completed its elevage. (DIAM closure). Drinking window: 2022-2030. 87-89 points

    Long-term readers will be aware of the esteem in which I hold this domaine, based in Gamay. In recent years, they have built up a loyal following of wine-lovers who adore their mainly white crus that focus on Saint-Aubin, yet extend into Chassagne- and Puligny-Montrachet, including a prized plot in Montrachet. For me, their range really shines at Premier and even Village Cru level. Damien Colin is a congenial winemaker who has pushed quality to greater heights in recent years. He started off by explaining the recent amicable division between himself and his brother. “My brother Joseph has created his own domaine with six hectares and so Caroline and I will keep 12 hectares,” he said. “Some vineyards go to him entirely and others are split between us. Joseph has his own family and so naturally he wanted his own enterprise.” Some of the minutiae of the division and reconfiguration of holdings can be found in the tasting notes, but basically the crus that will no longer appear under “Marc Colin” but “Joseph Colin” henceforth include Puligny La Garenne, Saint-Aubin Clos de Meix, Sous la Roche Dumay and Sur Le Sentier du Clou. I will try to taste Joseph’s wines in future, but I was unable to do so this year due to time constraints.

    “We had no problem with the frost in 2017,” Damien continued. “There was some pressure of mildew but none during the harvest. It was more difficult in July when it was hot. The harvest began on September 2 and it went well, taking place over nine days. The vinification was normal. One thing that has changed is that from 2017, all the wines spend six months minimum in tank after 12 months in bottle, and now we have more space in the winery that makes this possible. It gives more freshness and density to the wines, but keeps the same style. Also, I use slightly larger barrels, 300 and 350 litres in size for the whites, to moderate the influence of oak.”

    This was yet another strong set of performances from the domaine and perhaps with fewer cuvées to tend, Damien Colin can focus even more attention on quality. Amongst several Saint-Aubins, the Le Charmois really stood out as a scintillating expression of the 2017 vintage, and the Les Combes, en Creots and en Montceau were not far behind. Generally, I probably found more “bite” amongst the 2016s last year, but the 2017s are still very fine examples of the appellation and excellent value. Of course, the Montrachet is a brilliant wine, though a recent sensational 2009 was a reminder that it benefits from bottle age. Damien uses DIAM throughout his range.

    Neal Martin, Vinous (01/19)

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  • Terres de Velle Chassagne-Montrachet La Platiere 2018

    £71.95

    Review to follow

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  • Bernard Moreau Chassagne-Montrachet 2018

    £64.99

    “The 2018 Chassagne-Montrachet Village had been blended in July and fined three weeks prior to my visit. It has a delightful bouquet of orange blossom, tinned peach and touches of wild mint, quite intense for a Village Cru. The palate is taut, fresh and spicy on the entry, with touches of white pepper and fennel infusing the citrus fruit. An almost clinical saline finish lingers in the mouth. Superb. Drink: 2021-2036. 90-92 points

    Readers will know the high esteem in which I hold Domaine Bernard Moreau and winemaker Alexandre Moreau. You want the best Chassagne-Montrachet? This is where you call first. I have absolutely no reason to alter that view with respect to the 2018s. “We started picking on 30 August, the same date as 2017 but the profile of the vintage is different,” Moreau told me surrounded by stainless steel vats. “This was because of the size of the crop and the heat. I like to have freshness and not too much alcohol, so I was anxious about the picking date. So I controlled the maturity, constantly tasting in the vineyard and soon realised that the sugar level can rise quicker than the phenolic maturity. I have now started the harvest in August in 2015, 2017 and 2018. I couldn’t understand why if August was so warm, the increase in sugar level was actually quite slow. I knew it was generous, but I did not know it would be so generous in older vineyards – something that I have never seen. For example, I haven’t made nine barrels of Chassagne Chenevottes since I began, then again, yields are only just above 50hl/ha for the Premier Crus. Maybe people are expecting something like 2003, but the 2018s are not heavy at all. For the Village and Premier Crus the alcohol is between 13.0° and 13.5°. As usual we practice natural fermentations, no racking and so forth – the only difference in 2018 is that it was a super-long alcoholic fermentation. Many barrels were fermenting until July – and I don’t mind that – I like to play this game as you have activity in the barrel with the fine lees in suspension and natural CO2 that protects your wine. The pH is around 3.19, which gives them a lot of freshness. It is not a vintage for early bottling and so most of the Premier Crus will be bottled next Spring.””

    Neal Martin, Vinous (01/20)

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  • Marc Colin Chassagne-Montrachet Margot 2020

    £69.95

    “The 2020 Chassagne-Montrachet Village “Margot” comes from four parcels. The well-defined nose offers dried lemon peel and orange blossom plus a touch of chalk dust. The palate is medium-bodied with lovely white peach and nectarine notes on the entry, a fine bead of acidity and a harmonious, pretty finish. Delicious. Drinking window: 2024-2038. 89-91 points

    “The 2020 vintage was easy overall – no hail or maladies, but a precocious harvest, so we started picking August 22,” Damien Colin explained when I dropped in at his winery in the confusingly named village of Gamay. “You would think that the wines are rich, but they’re not at all like that. The whites are coming back to a more classic style of Burgundy, less ripe and rich than the previous two vintages, with a lot of freshness. With the maturity and acidity levels, I felt that we should reduce the percentage of new oak to preserve this freshness and also pick each parcel at optimal maturity within the climat. For example, the Chassagne-Montrachet Village was picked over five different days, and the same for the En Remilly, whereas before they were picked and blended in the vat on the same day. Each parcel is vinified separately and then blended to try to respect the maturity of each one. There is no bâtonnage, and now I use three cooperages instead of ten: Chassin, François Frères and one in Cognac. I no longer use foudres because the domaine is smaller and we have smaller yields, so the wine is just matured in piéces. All the wines have been in vat since September. I prefer the 2020 to the 2019 because it is more Bourguignon, more classic in style.” This was a fabulous set of 2020s from Damien Colin, full of verve and precision.”

    Neal Martin, Vinous (12/21)

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