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    Lisini Brunello di Montalcino 2010


    “One of the stand outs of the vintage, Lisini’s 2010 Brunello di Montalcino fleshes out in all directions with gorgeous, expansive richness. The flavors are dark, bold and incisive, yet backed up by notable freshness. A crescendo of incredibly pure dark red and black stone fruits builds on the huge finish. The 2010 is dazzling, but readers will have to be patient. Drinking window: 2018-2035. 95+ points

    Lisini is one of Montalcino’s historic, reference-point estates. The Brunellos are rich, savory and ample in body, all qualities readers will find in these new releases. The 2010 Brunello di Montalcino in particular is a real stand out .”

    Antonio Galloni, Vinous (02/15)

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    Marc Colin Chassagne-Montrachet Margot 2019


    “The 2019 Chassagne-Montrachet Village “Margot”, the name of this particular cuvée rather than the lieu-dit, comes from four parcels and is raised in 15% new oak. It has a well defined bouquet with orange pith and yellow plum aromas that gain intensity with aeration. The palate is full of energy with impressive depth, gorgeous orange zest and mandarin notes, almond and a little walnut. Very harmonious and very persistent on the finish, this punches well above its weight. Drinking window: 2022-2036. 91-93 points

    Since splitting with his brother Joseph, whose wines will hopefully be added to this report in the not-too-distant future, winemaker Damien Colin, together with his sister Caroline, has continued to create some of the best Burgundy wines you will find in Saint-Aubin, Chassagne and Puligny-Montrachet, from his winery based in the confusingly-titled village of Gamay. “It is a complicated growing season with the frost and the ‘canicule’ [heat wave]. In some appellations we produced just 30% of a normal crop in 2019, though there are others that produced a normal yield.” Damien Colin added that in Saint-Aubin, parcels located on the slopes that normally escape frost, were affected in 2019. Vines on flatter areas that are prone to frost damage seemed to escape Scot-free. He continued saying that in Saint-Aubin, buds had already begun opening, allowing moisture to enter, causing some of them to ‘explode’ when it turned to ice.

    “Flowering was normal and then there was a heatwave in the summer, but the vines did not suffer much hydric stress despite the high temperatures that reached around 40°C. The harvest was small, so the maturity came very quickly. The vintage was expected to be 15 September but by the end of August the natural alcohol was around 12.0° to 12.5°. Therefore, we brought the picking forward and began on 7 September until 18-19 September. For the whites the alcohol degree is 13.5° to 14.0°C but with high acidity, mainly tartaric. The malic was low so after the malolactic fermentation the acidity levels are still good. The harvest was rapid because of the small yields, though we had to keep stopping and starting to be precise in terms of picking. The fermentation was quite quick, finishing around mid-November and the malos passed normally in springtime. From 2019 we no longer use SO2 until after the malolactic, which was fine in 2019 as the fruit was healthy. The SO2 inhibits some of the natural yeasts and without SO2 we have a broad spectrum of yeasts that engender more complex wine. The Village Crus are matured in around 15% new oak and the Premier Crus between 20% and 25% new oak. The 2019s are all taken from vat and will be bottled next spring with the final six months in tank.”

    The 2019s from Domaine Marc Colin do not disappoint and it is remarkable, almost irrational that such freshness could be conjured in such a dry and warm season. Standout? Perhaps surprising to some, it is not their morsel of Montrachet, good as that is, but a thrilling Bâtard-Montrachet, a Grand Cru that I feel over-performs in this vintage. If unable to splash the cash, then head for their outstanding Saint-Aubin Les Charmois or Les Combes or just buy both. I also found much to admire apropos their nervy Chassagne-Montrachets, particularly in Les Vides Bourses. Not every cuvée hit the bulls-eye, but generally these 2019s continue to consolidate Damien Colin’s reputation as winemaker par excellence. Pressing him to choose between 2018 and 2019 he replies: “It is difficult for me to say one vintage is better than the other. I find more terroir character in 2019 and I think that they will need more time.””

    Neal Martin, Vinous (12/20)

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    Marc Tempe Riesling Schoenenbourg Grand Cru 2017


    “There’s very sad news for the fans of this charismatic domaine in Zellenberg: Marc and Anne Marie Tempé are fine, no worries, but they harvested their last grapes in 2022. “It was a very painful decision for Marc,” says Anne Marie. The couple told me last year they wanted to lease their vineyards but keep the domaine, which they moved next door to a few years ago after they restored the complete building. This year, they rented out their vineyards to several younger winemakers, including passionate Scotsman Paul McKirdy (formerly of Zind-Humbrecht) and enologist Jolène Hunter from South Africa (formerly of Zind-Humbrecht as well), who bought a house in Zellenberg and now have the opportunity to become vignerons this year. Jérôme François from La Grange de l’Oncle Charles has rented the vineyards close to his own in the plain, and Florian Spannagel has rented those in Sigolsheim and Kientzheim. All of them will continue to work with biodynamic methods. Paul and Florian, says Anne Marie, “will be inspired by Marc’s work for the long vinifications in wood. … The fact of having allowed young people to settle down has consoled Marc a little from not being able to work his vines anymore,” she reports.

    Marc bottled the 2020 vintage last August, just before the harvest and will start selling them in May this year, and I will hopefully manage to taste them early enough in either April or May since I kept back the gorgeous 2019s for too long because my Alsace trips and report was interrupted twice by COVID-19 last year, and the scheduled second trip into the region for a more comprehensive report never happened due to a sudden lack of time. If you lose seven weeks in the first third of the year, you can’t catch up the lost time even though you try hard to do so. However, many of the 2019s should be still available, namely in the export markets, so you should have the chance to purchase Tempé’s fourth to last vintage. It would be worth the effort. The most spectacular wines of the tasting include the 2019 Riesling Grands Crus Mambourg and Schoenenbourg, the 2019 Gewurztraminer Mambourg and two 2000s, one Riesling and one Gewurz that were both aged in barrels for 19 years. I also have been a huge fan of Tempé’s Pinot Noir M from the Mambourg and was sad to learn that the 2018 was already his legacy: Unfortunately, it was not possible for him to extend the expiring lease. The plot is now rented and farmed by the Domaine des 2 Lunes, whose wines I have also reviewed in this report.”

    Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate (03/23)

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    Maume Gevrey-Chambertin En Pallud 2019


    “The 2019 Gevrey-Chambertin En Pallud is the largest cru of the domaine, from 0.64 hectares of vine located just below Mazis-Chambertin. It is raised in used barrels apart from one (I tasted from new Francois Freres and used). The precise bouquet presents red cherries, raspberry, crushed stone and wilted rose petals, beautifully focused. The palate is very finessed with silky tannins and pure red fruit. As Pinoté as Pinot Noir can be. I absolutely love this. Drinking window: 2022-2038. 92-94 points

    Back in the day, Maume was the bastion of “traditional Burgundy”. When perceived wisdom was towards lacquering new oak on sensitive Pinot Noir and producers dogmatically adopted Henri Jayer’s principles of complete de-stemming, Maume was one of a handful that stuck to their principles of using whole bunches. The wines were inconsistent as testified by a memorable vertical of Mazis-Chambertin in London a few years ago, but for every wine that they got wrong and tasted vegetal, when they got it right and given requisite bottle age, the wines could be profound. In many ways Maume was ahead of their time, as nowadays numerous producers now proselytize the same tenets. The original holdings were almost entirely bought out by Canadian entrepreneur Murray Tawse to create Domaine Tawse, whose wines can be found in this report.

    Contractually, Maume retained a few morsels of vine and to be honest, since then I have not paid them much attention. However, I did return on this trip, back to their rather dishevelled winery on the RN74. Bertrand’s Maume’s father, Bernard, answered the door. Don’t be deceived by his advancing years. Maume Senior is as sharp as a pin. He spoke eloquently about the terroir of Gevrey and had lost none of his faculties that served him during an illustrious career as a professor at the University of Dijon. Bertrand has had more than his fair share of demons. Despite life’s battle scars when we met, I could not help recall some of the amazing bottles he helped create, as well as observing the bond between father and son. Tasting their 2019s that were picked from 14 September from barrel, it was patently clear that Maume never lost the knack of producing what you might call “fermented wonderment”. I tasted few Village Crus as spellbinding as their 2019 Gevrey-Chambertin En Pallud or a generic red as fine as their 2019 Bourgogne Rouge from the lieu-dit of Les Vignes Blanches, grown on white limestone soils as its name implies. Maume retained a cult following, especially here in the UK, evidenced by the pallets ready to be picked by their transporter. Tasting these 2018s and 2019s I can understand why they continue to have a loyal following.”

    Neal Martin, Vinous (12/20)

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    Prager Gruner Veltliner Achleiten Stockkultur 2018


    “From vines planted before WWII, the 2018 Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Ried Achleiten Stockkultur offers a terribly intense and concentrated, clear, clean and flinty bouquet. On the palate, this is a rich and crystalline, fine, vital and energetic GV with enormous tension and mineral grip as well as some drying 2018 tannins. However, the finesse and elegance of the Achleiten is still there. An impressive wine of great complexity! Tasted at the domain in September 2019. Drink: 2023-2050. 96+ points

    “The 2018 vintage is more or less like the 2015 and also the 2017 vintage,” thinks Toni Bodenstein, from Weingut Prager in Weissenkirchen, the western part of the Wachau. Bodenstein presented me a sensational series of Grüner Veltliners, against which the Rieslings were strangely without a chance, although still excellent. “We had rainfall in 2018, though not much, but always at the right time.” According to Bodenstein, photosynthesis functioned continuously until October. “There is virtually no malic acid, but the tartaric acid content of the 2018s is unusually high. Fortunately, there was no assimilation stop during the day in 2018 like [there was] in August 2015; that vintage just barely turned the corner.”

    The 2018 vintage was nevertheless quite stressful. There was little moisture in winter and flowering at the end of May and beginning of June was extremely early and finished within a few days, a good two weeks earlier than the average. Pruning the leaf wall is of course an important, albeit very costly, cultural intervention. The later it was cut, the better it was; after all, the aim was to use as little water as possible. The harvest began early and was finished by the end of October instead of mid-November as usual. “The Grüner Veltliner then had hardly any malic acid left, but 90% tartaric acid,” says Bodenstein, “yet with pH levels that were in the upper range due to the stress situations during the summer.” For Grüner Veltliner in 2018, Prager measured 3.3-3.4 pH instead of the usual 3.1. “High pH levels, however, have hardly any reduction potential, so that one has to sulfur more at higher pH values than at low ones.” The Riesling was more like 3.2 instead of 3.1 pH, and it maintained its acidity in 2018, which is about 1-1.5 grams per liter above the Veltliners.

    The processing of the grapes in 2018 was also different than usual. “It was important not to harvest at 30 degrees Celsius [86 degrees Fahrenheit], because otherwise the fermentation would have already started in the harvest boxes. We went to the vines early in the morning and stopped picking when it got too hot.” Normally, the grapes at Prager receive a maceration time of up to seven hours. “But in 2018, we preferred a whole-bunch pressing to preserve the acidity. This is reduced by about 1.5 grams per liter during maceration, which could lead to premature oxidation at high pH values. Therefore, we pressed immediately but slowly over four hours and at low pressure (maximum 0.8-0.9 bar). The shortcoming was, of course, that we had less extract. We compensated for this with longer aging on the fine lees. But we had to be careful here too because of the still-high pH levels and possible malolactic fermentation.” Bodenstein kept the Smaragd wines on the fine lees until the third week of April, which is considerably longer than usual.

    His 2018s are less characterized by exuberant fruit aromas and pure opulence than they are by depth, structure and complexity. This becomes clearer with the Veltliners, for which I initially had little use when I tasted them from a normal wine glass. Bodenstein offered me a number of alternatives. I chose the huge Zalto Burgundy glass—suddenly, I had completely new wines in the glass, which completely captivated me and had little to do with what is otherwise known from the Wachau. They could have been wines from the Côte Rôtie, so full and complex, so fine and elegant. I did not taste any better Veltliners on the Danube last year than Prager’s brilliant 2018s Wachstum Bodenstein and the two selections from the Ried Achleiten. So intoxicated, I asked for older vintages and promptly tasted a whole series of older Veltliners, which I will have to rethink from now on, at least if they come from Prager, whose Rieslings I have always found great anyway. The vertical of the Wachstum Bodenstein showed impressively how terrific this wine, whose mixture of genetics grows on top of the Achleiten in a rather cooler spot, can be in warm years such as 2018, 2015, 2011 and 2007. In this decade, the wines from vines planted in 1997 have reached a level that is rivaled only by the very best wines in the Wachau and along the Danube River.”

    Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate (03/20)

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    Scarzello Barolo Sarmassa Vigna Merenda 2017


    “Barolo. Just mid ruby and youthful-looking. Exciting nose of raspberry and cherry with hints of oatmeal, black pepper and iron. Amazing depth of focused fruit. Succulent cherry fruit with a layer of fine, polished tannins. Very long and finely balanced and almost unrecognisable as a product of the torrid 2017 vintage. Oozes class. Drink: 2021-2034. 17.5 points”

    Walter Speller, JancisRobinson.com (11/20)

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    The Sadie Family Soldaat 2018


    “The 2018 Soldaat is pure Grenache Noir from Piekenierskloof. It offers earthy red berry fruit on the nose, touches of wild heather and fynbos emerging with time and lending wonderful complexity. The palate is well balanced with a fleshy opening. There are layers of vibrant red cherry and strawberry fruit laced with white pepper and sage toward the persistent finish. Yet there is an approachability to this Soldaat that means it will be difficult to resist in its youth. Drinking window: 2021-2042. 95 points”

    Neal Martin, Vinous (11/19)

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    Macle Cotes du Jura Ouille 2017


    “2016 was not produced because it developed veil, so we jumped to the 2017 Côtes du Jura Ouillé, a very clean and powerful wine from a warm and ripe vintage aged one and a half years in barrel (when the 2015 aged for three years). It’s from a good year for ouillé wines and has a good alcohol level but more important, a good pH that gives the wines it’s freshness. It’s fresh and young and was bottled without filtration. The wine is bright and clear, as the vintage produced wines that were naturally clear pretty soon. Only 900 bottles were filled in April 2019. Drink: 2019-2024. 93 points

    Tasting chez Macle in Château Chalon is always exciting. Laurent Macle seemed in top form, happy and full of energy, so he proposed that we start with some younger wines, taste the bottled and current releases and work our way down to some older wines, including a wine vinified by his grandfather!

    So, I tasted quite a lot of experimental wines, like an oxidative Chardonnay from 2014 that was aged in the oldest barrel they have, over 100 years old, and the wine had all the curry (sotolon) and morel mushroom aromas the sous voile and will eventually make it into a small new cuvée. Also a 2016 Chardonnay that started ouillé and later developed a veil of yeasts, so it has a faint Jura twang, very subtle but with the roundness of Chardonnay; the veil came later and seems to have had a rounding effect on the wine.

    There is a small solera started in 2015 with Chardonnay that now has been blended with 2017 and next year will get wine from 2018; the idea to age the wine for some six years, and it already had a great complexity. There is also a 2012 that contains 50/50 ouillé and veil wine, labeled with a white label; 2012 was a concentrated year, and the wine felt a little oxidative (from the ouillé wine, according to Laurent Macle).

    As for the Château Chalon, the last good vintage in volume was 2011, and the next one is possibly 2018. I was relatively disappointed with the performance of the 2010 compared with the previous 2009, and even in the context of the 2011. As for the older wines, I didn’t want to make a separate article here like I did last time; so, I included the notes here even if they are not necessarily available and might distort a bit the rest of notes for the current releases. But I thought the information was worth it.”

    Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (243)

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