“The 2016 Chassagne-Montrachet “Margaux” is a blend of premier cru vineyards (see producer introduction for details). It has quite a complex nose of lemon curd, white pepper, lanolin and yellow fruit, not a million miles away from a white northern Rhône in style. The palate is well balanced with lemon zest, peach, apricot and a touch of passionfruit, the acidity well judged, perhaps the oak a little more conspicuous on the finish even though it is the same as the other village crus. Give this a couple of years in bottle because it will be a delicious Chassagne. Drink: 2019-2028. 89-91 points
This writer has regaled the wines of Domaine Marc Colin for a few vintages now. Of course, things never stay the same. Damian Colin informed me that as of one month before my visit in October 2017, his brother Joseph had amicably branched out under his own name, resulting in a split of their 20 hectares of holdings, with Joseph overseeing around six hectares and Damian, together with his sister Caroline, the remainder. These currently include the precious parcels of grand cru, the Montrachet a fermage with their father and Bâtard-Montrachet rented from their parents. Of course, I wish Joseph all the best and will endeavor to taste his wines as soon as I can.
As usual we tasted Damian’s portfolio in the tasting room with its slight rearrangements due to the frosts, Damian speaking in English which improves dramatically each time we meet. “It was very difficult because of the frost in April,” he began, as doubtless many others in his locale would do. “During the nights of 26 and 27 April the temperature fell to -5° Celsius, but the damage was done via a combination of the frost and sun the following morning. In 2017, faced with the same problem, we burned bales of straw in the vineyard. But in 2016 the result is that there is 70% crop less than normal. The Chassagne-Montrachet and Saint-Aubin premier crus were severely affected, with Saint-Aubin village and Aligoté less so. There was a big attack of oidium in June around Saint-Aubin and Puligny-Montrachet, hail in Remilly and Chatenerie. But this was not as damaging as the oidium. After June it was warm with a lot of humidity but there was no rot. There was some rain at the beginning of September, which was important because it had been so dry. We started the harvest on 23 September for six days, whereas it is usually ten days, and we did not have to do a lot of sorting because the maturity was very good. The fermentation was normal, classic you might say. For the reds we now undertake pre-ferment cooling periods and longer fermentation for more color and aromas. Normally we have four different Chassagne-Montrachet premier crus. This year there is no Chenevottes…it was completely wiped out. So we introduced the Chassagne-Montrachet “Margaux” cuvée, named after my paternal grandmother Marguerite, a mix of 80% Enseignères and 20% Les Parclot. In addition, there is the Saint-Aubin “3C,” a mix of three different premier crus: Combes, Les Créots and Clos des Meix. Thirdly, there is Saint-Aubin “Luce,” the nickname of my maternal grandmother, which is a blend of Fontenots and other parcels. For the Montrachet and Bâtard-Montrachet, we asked a tonnelier to make a barrel corresponding to the exact size of our [diminished] production. So they cut the ends off of a one-year-old barrel and replaced each end panel with new wood, representing 40% of the surface area. There are 130 liters of the Bâtard-Montrachet and 170 liters of the Montrachet.”
This was a less consistent range from Damian but one not without its peaks, and that is simply down to the challenges thrown by what can only be described as the beginning of a growing season from hell. I felt that those vines in Chassagne-Montrachet were discombobulated by the frost, hail and oidium and even those that survived appeared muted and missed some of their usual nervosité compared to the range of Saint-Aubins. They seem to have shrugged off the growing season more successfully, including some really quite superb village crus that should not be ignored. The grand crus are outstanding, particularly the Montrachet, although finding any will be like looking for a needle in a haystack.”
Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (234)