If you have followed the wine press these last couple of years, you could hardly have avoided the fact that the 2013 vintage conditions presented challenges across many European viticultural regions. When we focus on Burgundy in particular, we can see that, despite the undeniably tricky and testing vintage conditions, the wines of select producers show early promise. Although no one grower claimed that the vintage was straightforward, many were justifiably proud of their results.
I rather liked the succinct summary released by Jancis Robinson earlier this year in which she commented that ‘a frigid spring delayed flowering and led to uneven ripening. Producers battled with hail (particularly in the Côte de Beaune) and summer downpours, but, despite the naysaying, a drier September allowed a small crop of balanced fruit with good potential.’
Jancis certainly is not wrong about the naysaying. In the UK, the early journalistic commentary on the 2013 Burgundian vintage placed little hope on the likelihood of anyone producing a wine of convincing quality, almost overdramatizing the situation. Initially, the talk of a wet, cool spring forewarned of a limited crop on account of poor flowering. This was only to be followed by stories of producers fending off hail the size of ping pong balls in the Côte de Beaune. Two of the more damning headlines included:
- ‘Burgundy Wine Area Hit by Hail Pounding Pommard and Volnay’ (Bloomberg, 24th July 2013)
- ‘Burgundy faces supply squeeze after hail-damaged 2013 harvest’ (Decanter, 9th October, 2013)
These articles were two of many focusing on the most dramatic news, and, in these two headlines, on a localised hailstorm that hit areas of the more southerly Côte de Beaune. Burgundy in the main did suffer from poor flowering with millerandage (tiny unfertilised berries which results in fewer berries per bunch) caused by cool, wet and decidedly miserable conditions in spring. However, it is important to note that the outcome of poor flowering and millerandage is a constrained yield and – although such issues present challenges for a grower who needs a certain volume for his livelihood – this does not interfere with quality.
It is also worth noting that Burgundian growers have produced the quantity of one ‘normal’ vintage across the last three combined, and so it is easy to understand why a discussion of vintage soon becomes a discussion of yield. In 2013, low yields were a concern from the outset. Following issues at flowering, growers in Pommard and Volnay then suffered violent hailstorms. This was certainly a cruel blow as producers had already lost a significant portion of their harvest and many had been hit with similar storms in the 2012 vintage. It makes the comments that we heard elsewhere in Burgundy seem less newsworthy. Sébastien Cathiard recorded losses of 25 per cent, Laurent Ponsot registered yields of just 15 hectolitres per hectare for his Grand Cru and our newest producer, Vincent Lécheneaut, commented that he averaged 25 hectolitres across all of his holdings. In comparison to the many stories we have heard, they each may have comparatively plenty to be grateful for. In so many other areas the outlook was by no means as bleak as in Pommard and Volnay. Even in Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault, quantities are fractionally more generous than they were in 2012. Yes, overall, it was going to be a small volume vintage, but what of the quality? 2013 was actually a drier vintage than 2012. Humidity was therefore comparatively low, and so there was little disease pressure throughout the summer. Marion Javillier, whose wines were a highlight of our tastings this year, noted that 2013 was far easier in Meursault as both rot and oidium were a constant menace in 2012. In Puligny-Montrachet, one grower even went so far as to describe the vintage as ‘near perfect’ – possibly ruefully acknowledging how his vineyards came through unscathed.
There were, however, other complications that were brought about by the cool conditions. The harvest was far from homogenous; some grapes were ripe while others were far from ready for picking, and this both prolonged and complicated the harvest. Indeed, the older generation in Vosne-Romanée noted that the 5th October 2013 represented the latest date at which harvest had commenced since 1978. A late harvest for Pinot Noir – either due to conditions or intentions – can have a positive impact on the quality of the fruit. Pinot often benefits from a cooler harvest as this often allows for slow, even ripening (as opposed to faster ripening in blazing heat). That said, late season weather did not make the harvest easy; although it started well, the combination of cool and wet weather towards the end of the harvest proved to be a challenge for some growers.
It will come as no surprise that vintage conditions necessitated greater attention and greater manpower. A heavy rainstorm on the 28th September forced various growers’ hands. A considerable amount of extra work was required to sort, or tirage, uneven bunches by hand in the vineyard and to ensure that only fully ripe fruit made its way to the cellars. In the worst affected areas, this tirage resulted in a fifth of the available fruit being discarded. The fact that natural yields were so low, however, is critical to the qualitative success of the 2013 vintage. Had this not been the case, vineyards at higher elevations would have struggled to ripen fruit. The vine’s efforts were luckily centred on a far smaller volume of fruit. For many growers, it was the reduced yields caused by poor flowering which, in turn, allowed for a potentially successful harvest. Various growers commented that – despite all of the trials and tribulations presented by the 2013 vintage – some vines delivered exceptional fruit with no rot, as air could circulate on account of missing berries, ripening slowly and beautifully on account of the naturally limited yield.
The conditions of 2013 were fascinating – to say the least. In many instances, the negative vintage attributes were balanced by the positives. This is, in many respects, the essence of viticulture, and growers must do their best to maximise what nature delivers. Although much of a grower’s success hinges on the initial vineyard set-up and ongoing management, it is equally and intrinsically linked to the approaches employed as issues arise, as was so evident in the 2013 vintage.
A word on the reds
Given vintage conditions, the resultant Pinot Noir fruit demanded gentle, persistent extraction, and that is exactly what we found in the wines produced by our growers. While the tannin and colour compounds found in the skins were not as abundant as they were in, say, 2009, 2010 or 2012, the long hang-time on the vines still allowed for finely ripe tannins. Alcohol levels are more measured as a direct result of the cooler vintage which, along with the bright acidity, create an appealing sense of balance and poise.
This is not a vintage in which generalisations easily apply. It is not full and dense – that much is clear. In the best examples you might be surprised by the purity of the fruit; plenty of dark cherry with a floral overlay. There is a refined quality to the wines and a more-ish character frequently referred to by growers as ‘friand’ or ‘gourmand’ – both of which are preferable to an English translation. Vincent Lécheneaut found in his wines abundant black fruits, similar to that of his 2007s, although based on our tasting, his 2013s are streets ahead. Sébastien Cathiard and Manou Humbert referenced to the 2008 vintage as a point of comparison, although I do not recall the same early appeal in 2008, a vintage which took its time to shake off its reticence. Several others mentioned 2002, which was a remarkably pleasurable vintage to taste early and developed deceptively well in bottle. Time will tell; 2013 was certainly borne of a unique set of factors, but it is safe to say that the overall style is towards the lighter-bodied end of the spectrum.
A word on the whites
The 2013 whites are thrilling, with beautiful citrus and yellow stone-fruit characters allied to verve and freshness on the palate. They are striking to taste young, with their crystalline character and mineral clarity. The saline nuances really came forward, revealing the classic natures of the vineyards in both Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault. This vintage is more linear than it is rich, but it is certain to appeal on account of the lively nature. Some growers alluded to the 2008 vintage as a point of reference, but I find that the 2008s are fuller in nature. The 2008s did not sing at this early stage in quite the same way; they took time to develop and today impress greatly for their balance. Although growers alluded to the 2007 vintage, I found 2013 to be racier in character; although both vintages share that same shimmering clarity, the 2013 has greater amplitude. In terms of longevity, it will be interesting to monitor, but my first impressions are that the white vintage is one with mid-term cellarage potential and plenty of youthful drinking appeal.
Simon Larkin, MW
Domaine Darviot Perrin
Domaine Darviot-Perrin has been dedicated to producing excellent quality Burgundy since its inception in 1989. Although based in Monthélie in the Côte de Beaune, the majority of their wines are produced from holdings in Meursault, Chassagne-Montrachet and Volnay. Since the very first commercial bottling 25 years ago, a keen focus on producing impeccable fruit in the vineyards has seen the Domaine attract global acclaim for excellence. Today, the property spans 11 hectares and is managed by husband-and-wife team Didier and Genevèive Darviot. Genevèive‘s father, Pierre Perrin, passed down his extensive knowledge of winemaking (which he acquired through years making exceptional wines in Meursault and Volnay) to Didier and the Domaine’s first vintage was realised through the Darviot-Perrin partnership, a partnership which continues in a different guise to this day. The focus with Domaine Darviot-Perrin is on producing the best possible fruit and minimal intervention in the cellar to create beautifully focussed and pure wines. We are pleased to be offering what we consider to be the very best of the Darviot-Perrin portfolio in 2015.
Domaine Darviot-Perrin, Meursault 1er Cru, Les Perrières 2013
Few dispute that Les Perrières is the best Premier Cru in Meursault. The Darviot family own vines here which were planted before the Second World War and this age imparts firm structure, fruit intensity and the ability to mature beautifully. We recently tasted and sold the Darviot-Perrin’s exemplary Les Perrières 2008 which showed impressive purity and concentration, belying its age. The 2013 has fine, youthful aromas that give way to the same potent citrus fruit character and a tension which provides freshness on the finish. It is full-bodied with excellent flavour concentration and length, although, given its tightly-knit structure, it will take time to mellow and open. Drink 2016-2023
£350 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Darviot-Perrin, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru, Blanchots Dessus 2013
As with the Meursault Perrieres, this 1.2 hectare Premier Cru towers over its peers in terms of quality and out of the many Premier Crus from Chassagne-Montrachet, it is the one most frequently considered for promotion to Grand Cru. Indeed, it lies adjacent to three of the best Grand Crus vineyards of Le Montrachet, Batard-Montrachet and Les Criots Grands Crus. The family make 150 cases from their 50 year old vineyard. The 2013 shows taut structure, full body and intense lemon and lime fruit alongside a steelier, persistent mineral character. This is full of freshness and verve, infused with a hint of almond complexity from ageing in French oak barrels. Drink 2016-2024.
£350 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Darviot-Perrin, Volnay 1er Cru, Les Santenots 2013
The family’s small plot of Premier Cru Les Santenots was planted by Genevieve’s mother during the Second World War. Strictly speaking, the vineyard is part of Meursault, although because of the clay soils and suitability for Pinot Noir, it is incorporated into the neighbouring appellation of Volnay instead. The Darviot family usually make 150 cases of this particularly age-worthy Pinot Noir, although the recent short vintages have yielded far fewer. The 2013 is deep purple in colour with spice, pepper and dark berry fruit aromas. Even at an early age this has impressive weight, aided by an appealing richness of flavour and spice from barrel ageing. An abundance of berry fruit is ably balanced by ripe, firm tannins ensuring excellent longevity. Drink 2017-2025
£250 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Hubert Lamy
Olivier Lamy was on fine form when we visited in November. Yields were low as elsewhere in the area, but his policy of picking a few days earlier meant that he avoided the autumn rain and has made wines that are just as pure and fine as any other of his vintages.
Vineyards have been in the family since the 17th century. Olivier joined his father Hubert formally at the domaine in 1995 but has been firmly ensconced in command for some years already. He controls 17 hectares of vineyard over 18 appellations. His wines are often the finest of the entire appellation of Saint Aubin and are principally from Premier Cru vineyards. He is a thoughtful, intelligent winemaker who has driven the quality of his white wines to very high levels indeed. Although 75 per cent of production is Chardonnay, the quality of red wines has risen dramatically since Olivier’s arrival. One well known and respected commentator has suggested that Olivier Lamy is just about the most talented young winemaker in Burgundy.
Domaine Hubert Lamy, St. Aubin 1er Cru, Clos du Meix 2013
Clos du Meix is a warm, sheltered Premier Cru vineyard from which Olivier makes wines which are more accessible in youth compared to his other cuvées, yet still uphold his elegant style. The 2013 is a vibrant, fresh wine with medium body and attractive grapefruit and citrus zest aromas on the nose and palate. Subtle use of French oak imparts a hint of hazelnut and toast which mingle with lemon, jasmine and spice on the long, refreshing finish. An excellent value Premier Cru for early to mid-term drinking. Drink 2015-2019
£120 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Hubert Lamy, St. Aubin 1er Cru, Clos de la Chatenière 2013
This is a small Premier Cru vineyard of 8.5 hectares, with old vines averaging approximately 50 years in age. This is notoriously a difficult parcel to harvest due to the precipitous nature of the slopes here, but the reward is a wine that is more powerful than the Clos du Meix and one that demands another year or two of ageing. The 2013 impressed us with its elegant aromas of lemon and honey that open up to a richer, denser palate. Great structure and volume with complex nut and brioche notes alongside pure fruit and an almost saline refreshment. Will drink well in youth but improve with another year in bottle. Drink 2015-2020
£145 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Hubert Lamy, St. Aubin 1er Cru, En Remilly 2013
As we highlighted last year, this 30 hectare vineyard benefits from both large size and high quality – a great combination in low-yielding vintages. Lying to the north-east of the village at the top of the slope, the poor soils are made even more challenging to work by strong winds. These same winds help to build concentration of fruit and keep the crop healthy. The 2013 offers the same finesse and structure of the Chatenière, with considerable depth of fruit and almond complexity from ageing in barrel on its fine lees, all of which promise longevity and development of even greater character and interest. Drink 2016-2020
£145 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Hubert Lamy, Puligny-Montrachet Les Tremblots 2013
Les Tremblots is a single vineyard that lies close to the Grand Cru of Batard Montrachet of which Olivier has just under one hectare. The combination of old vines – some planted at the end of the Second World War – and limestone-rich soil give verve and a refreshing quality to this wine, as well as a tautness that ensures good ageing potential. It displays a classicism that we rarely see in good Puligny these days; steely grip and intensity of lemon fruit character combine the gentle spice and hazelnut of French oak barrels. An excellent villages Puligny for mid-term drinking. Drink 2016-2020
£160 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Patrick Javillier
There are few winemakers in Burgundy producing better regional or village wines than Domaine Patrick Javillier. Patrick has been the driving force; he gave up his career as an electrical engineer and took over the domaine from his father in 1974. It remains very much a family affair; his daughter Marion and son-in-law Pierre Emmauel are gradually acquiring more and more responsibility. The vineyards were originally comprised of just three hectares, of which two were village Meursault and the third of which was given over to the Aligoté variety. There are now ten hectares stretched over 14 separate appellations. The core of Domaine Javillier will always be in Meursault, where it has six different plots of village-level vineyard. Each parcel is vinified separately and then aged in barrel as appropriate before assembling the final blend or cuvée. The result is impeccable quality, with modest pricing given how highly rated his vineyards and wines are. The 2013 vintage showed extremely well; these are charming wines full of energy and poise coupled with classy French oak and textbook Chardonnay minerality.
Domaine Patrick Javillier, Bourgogne Blanc, Cuvée Oligocène 2013
Cuvée Oligocène is named after the distinctive limestone soil from which it comes. But do not be fooled by the humble Bourgogne Blanc status of this wine, as much fruit is actually that of Meursault Villages. At this price and quality level, the wine offers fantastic value year after year. The 2013 has a sublime lift of lime and blossom on the nose. The palate has good weight and density of flavour – perhaps even fuller than that of the 2012 – but with a citrus fruit freshness that provides finesse and length. Here, there is the character and class expected of a wine that has beaten many of more superior standing in the past. Drink 2015-2017
£150 per twelve bottles in bond
Domaine Patrick Javillier, Meursault, Les Tillets 2013
Often mistaken for Premier Cru, this 12 hectare vineyard sits at the top of the Meursault slope. Here, temperatures are cooler than the slopes below, thereby imparting good structure and acidity which results in greater ageability. The 2013 has impressive concentration of aroma and flavour, resplendent with white peach and honeysuckle. The palate is medium-bodied, with a persistence of yellow stone fruit and citrus that balances the subtle undertones of oak ageing. An excellent example of a famous white Burgundy appellation, with elegance and class at a comparatively modest price. Drink 2016-2021
£290 per twelve bottles in bond
Domaine Patrick Javillier, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2013
Although there is only a small quantity of this wine available after crops were lost to poor weather, quality is superb. The Corton-Charlemagne displays the beautiful purity of Javillier’s 2013s and admirable depth of flavour expected of a Grand Cru. This vintage lies midway between the firm backbone of 2010 and the more generous, approachable style of 2011 and 2012. Lemon and lime aromas mingle with honey, almond and spice on the nose. It offers the impressive, fine texture of the best white Burgundy with intriguing complexity from notes of new French oak alongside citrus fruit and refreshing minerality. There is a power and a structure here that make this wine suitable for aging up to ten years. Drink 2018-2024
£400 per six bottles in bond
We have had our eye on this domaine for several years and were delighted to receive our first allocation last year. Domaine Méo-Camuzet is based in Vosne-Romanée but – due to some clever work by the original founder, Etienne Camuzet – it has excellent holdings across the most sought after parts of the Côte de Nuits. Its profile was heightened in the late 20th century by the involvement of Henri Jayer, who looked after the vines and made the wines for many years. Jean-Nicholas Méo is currently at the helm, making wonderfully elegant, fragrant Pinot Noir with well-judged French oak. The fruit is farmed organically for the most part, although not dogmatically so, allowing the domaine to treat for mildew and prevent the onset of rot in years such as 2012 and 2013. The result is impeccable purity and absolute freshness, and the wines certainly earn their place in our Burgundy range.
Méo-Camuzet Frère et Soeurs
The Méo family have a small négoce business where they buy grapes from neighbours, making the wines in exactly the same way as the rest of their range.
Domaine Méo-Camuzet, Vosne-Romanée 2013
Jean-Nicholas Méo has just over one hectare of Vosne-Romanée Villages. This is an extremely smart wine from a parcel of vines next to the legendary Premier Cru Cros Parantoux, which was made famous by Henri Jayer. It has more structure and grip than is usually expected at Villages level, largely because one-third of the wine is aged in new oak barrels. All of this makes for a longer ageing style but with the hallmark scent of red berries and the palate-richness of Vosne. The 2013 delivers elegance and freshness; it is a touch lighter in body than 2012 but with all the persistence, intensity of flavour and class of this great domaine. Drink 2016-2020
£265 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Méo-Camuzet, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru, Les Chaumes 2013
We are delighted to add to our allocation with this Premier Cru in 2013. It demonstrates how very fortuitous the domaine is, with holdings of over a hectare of this vineyard that lies beneath both La Tâche and Les Malconsorts. The 2013 displays the same berry fruit and richness of the Villages but represents a step up in both concentration of fruit, structure and accordingly longer ageing potential – even if it does shows well in youth due to its lively red fruit and gentle spice complexity. In the spectrum of the greatest Vosne-Romanée, this offers excellent value. Drink 2016-2022.
£450 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Méo-Camuzet, Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2013
Méo-Camuzet have vines right at the heart of this Grand Cru. In fact, the Château du Clos de Vougeot used to be part of the estate until Monsieur Camuzet passed the ownership of the Château to the Chevaliers du Tastevin. In size, it is a very large Grand Cru for Burgundy, with 50 hectares in total and approximately 80 proprietors, meaning that it is even more important to seek out the best. The wine always shows extremely well, with dark fruit and mixed spices that hint at longevity. The 2013 is lively and fresh with very good fruit concentration and structure that lengthen the fine berry fruit on the finish, but do not overwhelm the wine’s underlying poise. Again, a beautifully-balanced, elegant wine with plenty of both the style and the substance of great Grand Cru. Drink 2018-2028
£760 per six bottles in bond
Méo-Camuzet Frère et Soeurs, Chambolle-Musigny 2013
This wine is taken from two different parcels of vines in Chambolle-Musigny, ‘Les Athets’ and ‘Les Drazey.’ While not from the family’s own vineyards, the wine is made with the same care and attention; it is an excellent example of good Chambolle with deep ruby colour, and appealing fragrance of red and black berries. The palate is full of cherry fruit freshness of 2013 vintage – and succulent charm on the long finish. A supple, well-balanced wine with ripe tannins that marries the spicier notes of top quality French oak barrels with the natural fruit richness of great Côte de Nuits. Drink 2016-2020
£240 per six bottles in bond
We recently established our first allocation with Domaine Lécheneaut. Situated in Nuits St. Georges, Domaine Lécheneaut extends over 10 hectares of vines across 18 different appellations with some considerable holdings in Premier Cru vineyards, including Les Pruliers and Les Damodes. Purchased in the 1960s, Fernand Lécheneaut worked for a négociant house and sold fruit from his own three hectares. Over the years, the family added to their holdings and Fernand’s sons, Vincent and Philippe, then set themselves up as a domaine in the 1980s. Given glowing reviews, significant holdings and evident winemaking talent, it is surprising that this domaine has remained off the radar.
The brothers have accomplished much in the last 30 years and are subsequently very highly-regarded by fellow growers. It was, in fact, a personal recommendation from one such grower that let to our initial interest. Their philosophy includes organic and biodynamic principles which often underlines the qualities of an attentive grower. The quality of the fruit is key to their success and each vintage we have assessed has demonstrated superb purity. These are deceptively long-lived wines; the structure is, however, underlying and it is the fruit expression that comes to the fore. During a recent tasting of wines from perhaps more notable growers, the Lécheneaut examples shone; both the 2005 Pruliers and 2006 Chouillets were considerably more youthful and hint at the great things to come from our recent purchase of 2011s, 2012s and 2013s. High class Burgundy, indeed.
Domaine Lécheneaut, Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits 2013
The family have one hectare of this appellation which is located on well-exposed sites at just over 300 metres in altitude. This altitude tends to give an elegant wine with ‘tension’ as described by Vincent. Aided by the fresher style of 2013, this translates into a vibrant wine with medium body. The wine has an understated, elegant perfume of cherries and spice. The palate is moreish and the easiest to drink early of all the domaine’s wines, although it can easily cellar for up to five years, such is the completeness of supporting tannin and vigour that accompanies the gentle fruit flavours. Drink 2015-2018.
£150 per 12 bottles in bond
Domaine Lécheneaut, Morey-St. Denis, 2013
This is a superior Morey-St Denis, much of which comes from vines that lie next to the famed Grand Cru of Clos des Lambrays. The 2013 has dark fruit perfume and the distinct spiciness that good Morey-St Denis displays; the freshness derives from the limestone soils and the tannins from fruit grown on clay lower down the slope. Cherry fruit and wild herbs mix with gentle wood smoke character. The tannins are ripe and quite full for a Villages level wine, ensuring the 2013 will cellar well for at least the next ten years. This has poise and personality, which, combined with the sensible price and ageability, ensures excellent value from what is, in name, an AOC Villages. Drink 2016-2024.
£140 per 6 bottles in bond
Domaine Lécheneaut , Gevrey-Chambertin 2013
The family have approximately half a hectare of Gevrey-Chambertin Villages, of approximately fifty years of age. The overall impression of this 2013 is of finesse, however, underneath it all, this is a fairly big and powerful wine considering its Village level. Aided by partial ageing in new oak barrels, this will demand time in the cellar. It displays distinct black pepper and cassis on the nose with complex spice. This is followed by red and black berry fruit succulence on the palate, ripe tannins and good supporting acidity that all add to its ageability. It has the richness of good Pinot Noir with a fresh overlay that is indicative of the vintage. Drink 2016-2024
£150 per 6 bottles in bond
Domaine Lécheneaut , Nuits-Saint-Georges, Les Chouillets, Vieilles Vignes 2013
This is from a small plot of 60 year old vines on stony, clay soils from within the domaine’s holdings. They have singled out this plot as being particularly high in quality given its location to the north of Nuits-Saint-Georges, close to Vosne-Romanée. Similarly to the Gevrey-Chambertin, it is aged partially in new oak which encourages the natural complexity and structure of the wine. There is a delightfully vibrant, dark-fruited character to the nose, alongside delicate notes of clove, nutmeg and wild herb. The palate, brimming with pressed berries and spice, is both succulent and smooth in character. Ripe tannins support the scented, long finish. In terms of overall structure, it is a touch firmer than the Gevrey-Chambertin and will keep a year or so longer. Drink 2016-2025
£160 per 6 bottles in bond
Domaine Lécheneaut, Chambolle-Musigny, 1er Cru 2013
The Lécheneaut family blend two parcels of Premier Cru together, ‘Les Borniques’ and ‘Les Plantes’ to make this excellent wine from Chambolle Musigny. ‘Les Borniques’ is a continuation of Musigny Grand Cru and, as might be expected, the wine displays appropriately dark colour for this vintage, with powerful cherry fruit character that will age exceptionally well. Despite the underlying fruit concentration, it does not appear heavy or overstated as there is the finesse and poise of a great Chambolle. Drink 2017-2026
£240 per 6 bottles in bond
Domaine Lécheneaut, Nuits-Saint-Georges, 1er Cru, Les Damodes 2013
Premier Cru Les Damodes sits right on the border with Vosne-Romanée and is often mistaken for wines of that commune as it combines the finesse, richness and power of red and black fruits. The 2013 from Domaine Lécheneaut is dark ruby in colour with intense strawberry, violet and cassis aromas. There is a vivid, juicy quality to the 2013 that is ably supported by firm, ripe tannins and the spice of high quality French oak ageing. This has both power and poise. Drink 2018-2025.
£240 per 6 bottles in bond
Domaine Lécheneaut, Nuits-Saint-Georges, 1er Cru, Les Pruliers 2013
Premier Cru Les Pruliers is entirely different in style to the domaine’s Les Damodes. The vineyard is situated towards the southernmost part of Nuits-Saint-Georges and is perhaps more recognisable stylistically because of this location, with its firm tannin and pronounced fruit intensity. The 2013 is compact in structure with a hearty fruit core that will age for another year or two longer than Les Damodes. There is a spicy complexity to the Pruliers, with notes of wild herbs, garrigue and a hint of liquorice to add further intrigue. Drink 2018-2026.
£240 per 6 bottles in bond
Domaine Lécheneaut, Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 2013
We have a small allocation of the brothers’ Grand Cru of which barely two barrels are made each year. The wine is stunning with brooding dark fruits, oak spice and fine texture. There are typical spicy notes of this Cru, located in the north part of Morey-St. Denis, as well as hints of blueberry, cassis, violets and black pepper. On the palate, the ample fruit intensity and generous structure with notably smooth, compact tannins will ensure longevity for another fifteen years. Drink 2019-2030.
£600 per 6 bottles in bond
Domaine Robert Sirugue
It was a pleasure to visit again this year and greet all five Sirugue family members in the cellar. Jean-Louis Sirugue’s son, Arnaud, has gradually been taking over the running of the 10 hectare estate, as well as the vinification. While a large part of the credit goes to Arnaud for the continuing steps forward, what always strikes us is that Jean-Louis, his wife Catherine and his sister Marie-France are all involved with the domaine’s production. The 2013s were a joy to taste; full of red fruits and richness from Vosne-Romanée, with an easy grace to the wines that drink so well from youth.
Domaine Robert Sirugue, Vosne-Romanée 2013
This wine is one of the first to sell out from our Burgundy offer each year. This is no real surprise considering that it is from arguably the most in-demand appellation of Burgundy. On our recent visit, before the blended Vosne-Romanée 2013, we tasted an example of each of the vineyard parcels that contributes its own individual character, from prettier red fruits to greater power and tannin. The wine is accordingly both supple and vibrant, with moreish cherry and strawberry notes alongside firm structure of ripe tannin. A fresher quality than the 2012 perhaps, with mixed herbs alongside the red berry flavour. Careful oak ageing gives spice and a subtle toastiness that will show well in youth and mid-age. Drink 2015-2019
£280 per twelve bottles in bond
Domaine Robert Sirugue, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru, Les Petits Monts 2013
The 2013 Petits Monts displayed superb purity of fruit this year with a vivid, clear quality to the dark, rich berry aromas and flavours. Promisingly, the Sirugue family compare this wine to 2010 because of the 2013’s structure and finesse, but less the compact, muscular tannin of 2009 or 2012. The 2013 is a wine for mid-term cellaring and will evolve to develop the spice and truffle notes of great aged Burgundy. The Sirugue family own almost half of this 3.6 hectare Premier Cru vineyard and enjoy the benefits of a good quality site which lies just above the famed Grand Crus of Richebourg and La Romanée-Conti. The soil is slightly poorer than the Grand Cru sites, but the wine shows all the fruit and floral fragrance of excellent Pinot Noir from this area. Drink 2017-2023
£450 per twelve bottles in bond
Domaine Sirugue, Grands Echézeaux Grand Cru 2013
We are delighted to receive a very small allocation of Domaine Sirugue’s Grand Cru of which only a couple of barrels are made each year. Les Grands Echézeaux lies sandwiched between the famous Grand Crus of Vosne-Romanée and Clos Vougeot. It is smaller than the similarly named Grand Cru Echézeaux, with under 10 hectares of vineyard, but tends to give wines of consistently higher quality. The 2013 from the Sirugue family displays intense, brooding dark fruits and spice. The palate is full with great depth of flavour and firm supporting tannin which hints at longevity. The 2013 will develop classic gamey notes of excellent Pinot Noir over time. Drink 2018-2026
£1,100 per 12 bottles in bond
Domaine Humbert Frères
In terms of quality, Manou Humbert compares his 2013s to his 2008s and 2002s, which is high praise indeed, given how well these more mature vintages are showing at the moment. Manou and his brother Frederic are the fourth generation of vignerons in the family and, like their cousins the Dugat family of Domaine Dugat-Py, are very much part of the Gevrey-Chambertin establishment. Manou is, in fact, the one we always to turn to if we are looking for a restaurant recommendation or the insider’s viewpoint on what is occurring in the Côte de Nuits! A considerable advantage that the brothers enjoy is the extent of Grand and Premier Cru vineyard which make up their overall holding. Grand Cru of Charmes-Chambertin the pinnacle of the estate, although they also have holdings in several excellent Premier Crus vineyards. Quality is reliably great, a consequence of gentle handling of the fruit in the vineyards and winery, meticulous sorting of grapes and a careful approach to the use of new oak.
Domaine Humbert, Fixin, Vieilles Vignes 2013
Tasted blind, this wine can easily be mistaken for Gevrey-Chambertin, to which Fixin adjoins to the north. The 2013 is no exception, with lovely perfume and elegant red fruits on the palate. It is perfectly capable of ageing for five years or so, but out of all the Humberts’ wines, it is this which drinks the best when young. It is medium-bodied but with a lightness of touch that makes the wine extremely easy to drink. Gentle oak spice and refreshing strawberry fruit of Pinot Noir blend on the lingering finish. The wine is now labelled as Vieilles Vignes as older vines are now incorporated in the blend. Drink 2015-2019
£110 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Humbert, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru, Poissenots 2013
If the brothers have a ‘signature’ wine, this is it. Poissenots displays the Domaine’s trademark style of succulent red fruits that give a sensation of power to the wine, without compromising on the elegance of great Côte de Nuits. The 2013 shows impressive red berry perfume and flavour. It will drink well in youth with its fresh, moreish palate and underlying ripe tannin that meshes with the rest of the wine. Although the 2013 is for early and mid-term drinking compared to other Poissenot vintages, there is a savoury complexity here that hints at plenty of ageing potential for those who are patient. Drink 2017-2025
£280 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Humbert, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru, Craipillot 2013
Manou Humbert describes this as ‘feminine’ in style, particularly in 2013 and it verges towards Chambolle-Musigny in grace compared to some of his other Premier Crus. Taken from a 65 year old Premier Cru vineyard just above Gevrey-Chambertin itself, there are usually just 50 cases of this wine made but, as with 2012, the production is well below average. Quality shines through; it offers well-defined red and black fruit character with a precision that is heightened by its freshness and suppleness of tannin. Not as forward in youth as the 2011 but slightly more fruit-driven than the 2012, this will do well in the mid-term once the toastiness of top quality oak ageing has time to integrate. With ten years of age it will evolve into tertiary truffle, game and forest floor flavours that more than keep up with the savoury complexity of Poissenots. Drink 2017-2025
£350 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Humbert, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru, La Petite Chapelle 2013
Almost as small as the Craipillot, La Petite Chapelle is located – as the name might suggest – directly underneath the Grand Cru of Chapelle-Chambertin (and Chambertin Clos de Bèze). The wine has a mix of the redder fruits of the Poissenots and the darker fruit of Craipillot, overlaid with charm and grace from fine tannins and freshness. Certainly the 2013 shows exceptional balance right from the start and a glossy, almost polished texture with sleek tannins that accompany the berry fruit right to the finish. Overall, this shows pretty, primary fruit character that will take only another year to present well, but the cracked black pepper adds an intriguing note of complexity thereby promising development over time. Drink 2016-2024
£350 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Humbert, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru, Estournelles St. Jacques 2013
Out of all the domaine’s Premier Crus, this is the firmest in structure and most powerful in fruit intensity, demanding greater ageing in new oak barrels and longer time to age in the cellar. The 60 year old vineyard lies just beneath Poissenots on the Côte St. Jacques. While it is fuller than the Craipillots and Petite Chapelle, the 2013 is just as refreshing as its stablemates. Precisely drawn fruit flavours and purity of the vintage to accompany the traditionally richer, more concentrated tannic palate that this Cru contributes. Its combination of both power and poise will appropriately cellar well for the mid to long term. Drink 2018-2026
£385 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Humbert, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2013
The jewel in the Humbert crown. The low yielding vineyards and tenacity of fruit allow for all of this wine can be aged in new oak barrels. It is taken from 50 year old vines that abut Chambertin itself; the Humberts have a large holding of this Grand Cru so our allocations for both 2012 and 2013 have been stable. This has slightly less weight on the palate compared to 2012 with finer-grained tannins, although the long finish, generous flavour and finesse of texture mean it will cellar just as well. A big wine in personality and charm, it brims with wild strawberry, cassis, spice and lavender complexity. Drink 2018-2028
£440 per six bottles in bond
Romain Taupenot and his sister Virginie are the seventh generation of this Burgundian family, and we were delighted to receive our first allocation this year after repeated visits to the domaine in Morey-Saint-Denis.
Domaine Taupenot-Merme has always owned some very fine and significant parcels of vineyard throughout the Côte de Nuits. Their 13.5 hectares of vineyard cover the villages of Chambolle-Musigny, Morey-St. Denis, Gevrey-Chambertin and Nuits-St. Georges. Additionally, they have some holdings in the Côte de Beaune in Corton, St. Romain and Auxey-Duresses, all of which originally came from a different arm of the family. Romain describes himself as a ‘vigneron paresseux’ or a ‘lazy vigneron’ – a modest and self-deprecating comment perhaps, but it does hint at his policy of minimal intervention. All of their vineyards are organically cultivated; it is clear that Romain believes that great wine is made in the vineyard as his approach centres on allowing the vineyard to express its true character. The winemaking is unobtrusive; use of oak is measured in order to preserve Pinot’s aromatics. Despite his insistence on a laid-back approach, he comes across as a grower intent on raising the bar and elevating the quality of his wines and the standing of his domaine. Today, all of the wines impress for their beautiful scent, expressive aromatics and a core of plush, textural fruit.
Domaine Taupenot-Merme, Chambolle-Musigny 2013
The Chambolle-Musigny is a blend of two different parcels from this appellation. One lies closer to Morey-St. Denis and contributes spicier notes whereas the other, which lies closer to Vosne-Romanée, provides fruitier and more floral aromas. Use of new oak is judicious, and so the fruit comes to the fore. The 2013 has an attractive, floral lift on the nose and a tightly-woven structure on the palate of firm tannins, precise red and black berry flavours and an underlying savoury character. A very well-crafted wine that offers mid-term cellaring and drinking, and a great example of the elegance of Chambolle-Musigny. Drink 2016-2020
£175 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Taupenot-Merme, Morey-St. Denis 2013
Only half of Romain’s normal crop was produced in 2013, totalling four barrels. Low yields, plus low-cropping rootstocks used by the domaine have resulted in excellent concentration of black fruit character, although the wine showed itself rather austere on initial tasting. The restrained aromas, however, gave way to impressive grip and volume on the palate. Overall’ a spicier, more muscular wine than the Chambolle-Musigny, requiring a couple more years of ageing. Drink 2017-2022
£175 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Taupenot-Merme, Morey-St. Denis 1er Cru La Riotte 2013
From vines of over 55 years in age, this is a large-structured, full wine with dark fruits and a touch of black pepper. La Riotte Premier Cru shares the same subsoil as Mazoyères-Chambertin, and there is undeniably a richness on the palate that belies the 2013 vintage and points to the inherent quality in the vineyard. The wine has compact tannins and a powerful spicy character. Approximately one-third sees new oak barrels, which contributes a touch of toasty complexity to the flavours and also ensures that the wine knits together very well. Drink 2018-2024
£275 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Taupenot-Merme, Nuits-St. Georges, 1er Cru Les Pruliers 2013
Romain Taupenot’s Pruliers is rather different from that of Etienne Grivot or the Lécheneaut family. It is elegant in style rather than the more muscular examples, although will demand several years’ ageing to show off the undoubted complexity that comes with such precise, persistent fruit and structure. It has a more floral bouquet, with pretty strawberry, cassis and black cherry notes. There is an energy here and a firmness to the tannins which will allow considerable ageing. Drink 2018-2025
£275 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Taupenot-Merme, Chambolle-Musigny, 1er Cru La Combe d’Orveaux 2013
Combe d’Orveaux is a fascinating vineyard, qualifying for Villages, Premier Cru or Grand Cru quality, depending on which particular plot the grapes are taken from. When Grand Cru, however, it is allowed to carry the name of it’s more famous neighbour, Musigny. Vines average approximately 65 in age, giving underlying intensity to the wine. Similarly to his other Premier Crus, Romain vinifies this in one-third new oak and there is clearly a touch of spice here that will integrate over time. It is, however, the silkiness of the tannins that distinguishes the wine, along with exceptionally pretty Pinot Noir fruit and vivid purity that should hold over mid to long term. Drink 2017-2025
£295 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Taupenot-Merme, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2013
For such a young wine, this showed incredibly well on tasting, with its attractive dark purple colour and lifted floral and red fruited fragrance. It has excellent intensity plus the impeccable balance and finely wrought structure of Grand Cru Pinot Noir fruit on the palate and a lingering, complete finish that is ably supported by impressive, sleek tannins and harmonious acidity. Given the underlying concentration and structure, this will keep easily over the long-term. Approximately 40 per cent new oak barrels are used which give gentle spice and toast notes, although it is the vibrant red fruit that leads the way. A sublime wine that has charm and grace, with Grand Cru power behind it. Drink 2018 to 2029
£495 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Taupenot-Merme, Mazoyères-Chambertin Grand Cru 2013
Considerably smaller in size than Charmes-Chambertin, this two hectare vineyard is therefore less well-known. The two Grand Crus lie side by side and are frequently blended together and bottled as Charmes-Chambertin. However, since 2000, Romain has been bottling his Mazoyères (of which he owns almost half the Grand Cru) separately from his Charmes. Although they are made in the same way, the Mazoyères vineyard has given a wine that is a touch richer with darker fruits, herbs and spice that contrasted with the redder berry quality of Les Charmes. On the palate, the tannins are a little firmer and will take an extra year or so to come round. There is huge complexity here; spice, mineral notes, sandstone and an underlying intensity of flavour that will ensure long-term ageing and development of even greater aroma intricacy. Drink 2018 to 2030.
£530 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Jean Grivot
The Grivot family have been in Burgundy since the 1600s and are one of the most respected and well-known Burgundian domaines on the export market so we are pleased to begin an allocation with two key Premier Cru wines. It has to be said that this is opportunistic on our part: following dramatic price increases for the 2012 vintage, an allocation of Domaine Grivot’s wines were freed up and welcomed by Atlas as prices have since reduced a little for the 2013 vintage.
The current proprietor, Etienne, took over the reins from his father in 1987, making dramatic changes to the style of the wines and the vinification methods. The first few years were somewhat experimental, as yields were moderate and Etienne instigated more precise use of oak and maceration techniques to coax wines of greater longevity and structure. However, since the latter part of the 1990s, the leap in quality has been huge, justifying the reputation and the prestige of these impressive wines.
Domaine Jean Grivot, Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru, Les Pruliers 2013
All of Etienne Grivot’s wines show impressive ageability and, despite the overall more ethereal feel of the vintage, the 2013s are no exception. His Pruliers – from stony, clay soils just to the South of the village of Nuits-St-Georges – displays the dark fruit and spice that can be found in Domaine Lécheneaut’s example, but with firmer structure and slightly broader shoulders for even longer ageing. For the moment, the cassis and cherry fruit is restrained and it is the tannic structure and freshness that dominate. With time, this will give way to reveal secondary and tertiary aromas of gaminess, wild fruits, herb and truffle characters of superb Pinot Noir with age. A wine for the cellar. Drink 2020 to 2027
£425 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Jean Grivot, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru, Les Beaux Monts 2013
From one of the most respected Premier Cru sites in Vosne-Romanée, Les Beaux Monts lies next to Aux Brûlées and Le Richebourg. Etienne has just under one hectare of Beaux Monts which never proves enough given how consistently highly rated it is. 18 months in oak gives ample support to the richness and generosity provided by naturally excellent Vosne-Romanée fruit. The 2013 is an austere wine in youth with a full body and a rich, spicy character to the palate. The flavours are plentiful and red-berried in nature but are kept in check for the time being by the firm support of the compact tannins. This will begin to drink well after five years but has at least 15 years of life to integrate, mellow and develop. Drink 2019 to 2028
£570 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Sylvain Cathiard
Sébastien Cathiard has been at the helm of this legendary Vosne estate for the last three years, having returned from winemaking abroad to take over from his father Sylvain. The style between the two is consistent enough. The wines retain their luscious yet silky, finely-woven character, although Sébastien seems gradually to be veering towards a slightly more delicate style than his father.
The estate is roughly four hectares in size, with excellent parcels of Villages and Crus in Vosne as well as Nuits-Saints-Georges. They also enjoy nearly one hectare of vines in Aux Malconsorts which is considered to be Grand Cru quality by many. It is the inherent quality of fruit that shines through from this estate, attributed to very careful sorting and low-key intervention in the cellar. Tasting these wines is always a joy; although they show well immediately, they also have the backbone and power to age gracefully over time. Sébastien’s 2013 harvest was reduced in size from 2012, which will put pressure on demand, although he has taken a cautious approach to pricing this year.
Domaine Sylvain Cathiard, Bourgogne Rouge 2013
This wine might be humble in name, but it is a far cry from the average ‘basic’ red Burgundy. Sébastien does not use any new oak barrels for the wine and so the primary Pinot Noir fruit comes to the fore. Showing lovely red fruits and supple tannins supported by energy throughout, it could easily be confused for a Villages wine from most other growers. There is striking clarity of flavour, with pure strawberry and raspberry notes and a succulent, moreish character to the wine. Drink 2015-2018
£120 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Sylvain Cathiard, Vosne-Romanée 2013
It is a wine that is easy to like from the start with a plushness to the texture and a suppleness that gives charm and appeal. In 2013, there is a raspberry leaf complexity that adds even greater freshness to the palate and lasts through to the end of the long-drawn finish. With persistent fruit and fine structure, this punches considerably above its ‘Villages’ status. Drink 2015-2020
£240 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Sylvain Cathiard, Chambolle-Musigny 'Le Clos de L'Orme' 2013
This wine is always a little more shy in youth than the Vosne-Romanée. The restrained aromas and taut structure are less giving at the start, but on second taste they give way to natural concentration of elegant Pinot Noir fruit and good supple tannin structure. Like in the Vosne-Romanée, 60 per cent of the wine is vinified in new oak and contributes spicy nuances and support to the cherry scented palate. An extremely fine example of ‘Villages’ red Burgundy with the finesse of Chambolle. Drink 2015-2020
£260 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Sylvain Cathiard, Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Aux Thorey 2013
In 2013, this is bigger in structure and body than Sebastien’s Chambolle-Musigny, perhaps expectedly considering the vineyard’s southerly aspect. The wine is kept in check by a defined freshness of fruit that comes from a slightly higher slopes towards the north of Nuits-Saint-Georges. Generally, Aux Thorey it takes time to show its full colours, but this year it showed extremely well on our first tasting. A vibrant and open palate of strawberry, raspberry, cassis, blueberry and ‘just-pressed’ freshness about the wine. The energetic purity here is especially commendable given the difficult weather conditions at the end of harvest. A beautiful example of Nuits-Saint-Georges. Drink 2016-2023
£450 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Sylvain Cathiard, Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Aux Murgers 2013
Similar in size to Aux Thorey at just under five hectares, this Premier Cru also sits in the north of the appellation, slightly closer to Vosne-Romanée. Its proximity to the Grand Cru vineyard may account for the particularly impressive depth of fruit and richness that we have found over the last few vintages of Aux Murgers. The character is weighted towards redder fruit flavours this year; cranberry, raspberry and strawberry complexity and a hint of herbality overlay the rich, succulent palate. Sébastien himself describes this wine as more ‘broad-shouldered’ than the Thorey; the 2013 is slightly less compact than the 2012, but it has excellent fruit intensity and firm tannins which ensure that this continues to be a wine that demands patience. An elegant wine with considerable underlying structure. Drink 2017-2024
£475 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Sylvain Cathiard, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Aux Reignots 2013
Although the vines are relatively young for this parcel (around 17 years in age), the propitious location of Aux Reignots makes up for this. Sitting just above La Romanée Grand Cru, it is perhaps unsurprising that the wine demands time in the cellar for the tannins to soften and red-berry fruit to develop. That said, the 2013 is suppler in youth than the 2012 and will drink well slightly earlier. Damson and cassis intermingle on the bouquet before the scented palate takes over. Less obviously imposing than the Thorey but more elegant in style, the pretty fruit richness is revealed on the long finish. Drink 2016-2024
£510 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Sylvain Cathiard, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru En Orveaux 2013
This Premier Cru of just under two hectares lies above Echézeaux Grand Cru. Although this is a relatively cool site, En Orveaux always shows well in youth. The 2013 has incredibly fragrant, fresh aromas and a moreish, succulent quality to the palate. There is a fine, almost translucent purity to the fruit this year which contributes to an extremely elegant feel on the palate. It has plenty of depth and tenacity of flavour but it is the refreshing verve and elegance that define the 2013. A classic style of Pinot Noir, full of grace and finesse. Drink 2016-2024
£510 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Sylvain Cathiard, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots 2013
Although a large Premier Cru of 13 hectares, Sébastien only produces three barrels’ from Les Suchots. The clay soils give underlying richness to the wine and moderate the compact frame. Sébastien only uses new oak barrels on this wine, which gives support from the wood tannins and an intriguing clove and spice scent, as well as allows for the wine’s own structure to mellow and mesh over time. The nose is resplendent with fragrant red fruits, belying what is a full, smooth-textured, darker fruited palate. This bridges the gap between the finesse of the Orveaux and the power and weight of the Malconsorts. Drink 2017-2025
£600 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Sylvain Cathiard, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Aux Malconsorts 2013
A ‘broad-shouldered’ wine that is built to last, with its combination of firm tannins and fruit intensity. The very long maceration of 30 days encouraged flavour and tannin from the skins to provide commanding structure. As usual, notes of mocha and hazelnut from ageing in new French oak adds to the complexity of the 2013, although compared to the 2012, there is redder fruit and a distinctive energy that elongates the palate. Frequently described as a Grand Cru, this has both the power and finesse that we have come to expect from Aux Malconsorts. Drink 2017-2028
£850 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Sylvain Cathiard, Romanée Saint-Vivant Grand Cru 2013
Always a beautiful wine, but especially so in 2013, where it combines awesome purity of fruit with great flavour intensity and richness. The new oak is barely perceptible, such is the imprint of red and black fruit character. The structure is compact and will support the wine well over time, but sublime fragrance and fruit lead the way this year. A fine, lingering finish adds to the overall impression of elegance and grace. Drink 2019-2029
£1050 per three bottles in bond