Marc Colin Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru Les Champs Gain 2019


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“The 2019 Chassagne-Montrachet Les Champs Gain 1er Cru is more reserved on the nose compared to the Chenevottes, touches of lemon rind and light fumé aromas. The palate is very well balanced with a crisp opening. Quintessentially Chassagne, there are lovely orange pith and tangerine notes coming through towards the finish with a long spicy aftertaste tinged with crème brûlée. Excellent. Drinking window: 2022-2040. 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)