After over twenty-five years of selling Burgundy en primeur, one could be forgiven for thinking it would be easy to pinpoint a suitable reference for the 2011 vintage, both stylistically and in terms of the market condition. Given atypical weather conditions, record demand for Burgundy and a backdrop of small harvests, all comparisons have, however, proven futile!
Much is made of the unique weather pattern of each vintage and 2011 is unusual in many respects. The growing season commenced with a warm, dry spring which led to flowering almost a month in advance, with consistent fruit set and low frost risk, on the whole. Given high June temperatures of up to 40 degrees, a very early harvest seemed likely, although the cool weather in July and part of August then slowed ripening; ‘bad weather for sunbathers, but good for us’, as Olivier Lamy described it. The cooler temperatures allowed freshness to be retained and led to comparatively modest sugar levels. Most growers picked towards the end of August, by which time the tannins were ripe, and there seemed little advantage in waiting.
Quantitatively, 2011 saw a fairly average yield in most of the Côte de Beaune, and a slightly smaller crop in the Côte de Nuits (where yields were between 5 and 20% down in Vosne-Romanée and Gevrey-Chambertin due to isolated incidences of hail and earlier frost). However, the short harvest in 2010 and even smaller crop in 2012 change the context of the 2011 vintage. This is particularly the case with premium Côte de Beaune where the leading Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru lost a staggering 60 to 90% of their volume in 2012 due to severe hailstorms. Some growers have been obliged to increase prices for their 2011 releases on account of the severely restricted volume of 2012s currently in barrel in their cellars. Such increases have, to some degree, been mitigated by a more beneficial exchange rate in comparison to this time last year, but this does however serve to underline the scale and nature of Burgundy; it is essentially a region of small domaines producing limited quantities of sought-after wines. Neither the comfort in scale nor the financial backing that is common to Bordeaux are in evidence in Burgundy and prices will shift in accordance with production volume more often than hype.
Bulk pricing, which is usually a useful indicator for the rest of the market, has risen up to 4,000 euros from 3,000 euros per 228-litre barrel for entry-level Vosne-Romanée, for example, while this year’s Hospices de Beaune auction saw record hammer prices and, overall, the highest sale total since the considerably healthier economic climate of 2000. So much for La Crise in Burgundy!
Qualitatively, 2011 is a ripe, fruit-forward vintage with sufficient acidity to balance the good intensity of flavour and supple tannins in the reds. Those six weeks of cool weather in July and August meant restrained alcohol levels compared to recent years, the resultant wines showing a welcome 13 or maximum 13.5%. In short a fresher style has resulted, one that reveals none of the hallmarks of an early vintage, which is so often defined by heady ripeness and low acidity; this is clearly not the case in 2011. The weight of these wines is ample, not at all diffuse; there is good underlying structure and while the level of concentration may present a vintage for medium-term drinking, a number of the wines included possess the potential to surprise. The lower alcohol levels and ripe (but not dense or drying) tannins have resulted in an appealing, accessible style with all the key traits of fine Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay reveal appetising fruit characters offset by lively but not overly-marked acidity – the balance struck is rendered all the more attractive by the less opulent nature of the vintage.
In attempting to assess the position of the 2011 vintage in the context of recent vintages, certain points are clear. The 2005s and 2009s are richer, more concentrated and occasionally heady; they demand considerable patience with leading examples still in need of 15 to 20 years further cellarage. The 2008s and 2010s are a touch more austere, and will equally need time to show in their prime, whereas the overriding characteristics of the 2011s are fine fruit, freshness, balance, ease and harmony. These are some of the character traits which we have associated with years such as 2000, 2006 and 2007, which have permitted considerable enjoyment in their relative youth. Wines for the more impatient connoisseur you might say, but that is not to belittle them. When talking to our clients, and enjoying fine Burgundy ourselves, it is so often the more approachable vintages that surprise and earn unexpected plaudits. If one were solely to purchase the alleged ‘five-star’ vintages (usually by definition the more intense and tannic vintages), it would not only preclude consumption to some degree in the next 10 to 20 years, but would also remove a large part of the enjoyment of Burgundy. Burgundy is complex and unpredictable; its wines are by no means as uniform as those of many other major wine regions that one could mention. And it is just that complexity that fascinates us most.
Domaine Humbert Frères
Brothers Manou and Fredéric Humbert make brilliant red burgundy in a style characterised by finesse and elegance backed by concentration and power. They took over the domaine from their parents in 1989, and share some of the same sites as Claude and Bernard Dugat (of Domaine Dugat-Py) who are cousins of the Humbert brothers. The first commercial vintage was 1997 but it was the 1998 vintage which transformed the fortunes of the domaine when the winery was completely overhauled and temperature control added. The 2002 vintage was a great one for them, then eclipsed by the 2005. The 2009 and 2010 showed equally well, albeit in very different styles.
Domaine Humbert benefits from some excellent vineyards, which the brothers maintain impeccably. Fredéric principally oversees the vineyards while the phlegmatic Manou makes the wines. Generally they are moving to slightly earlier picking dates to ensure a heightened freshness as well as to more careful extraction in the winery to increase the finesse of the tannins. This is a wonderful source of Gevrey-Chambertin which delivers consistently fine wines.
Domaine Humbert, Fixin 2011
Fixin lies just to the north of Gevrey-Chambertin. This lesser-known commune tends to offer exceptional value, especially when made by leading Gevrey-Chambertin producers such as the Humberts. The brothers give their Fixin as much care and attention as their grander wines. 60 year old vines give good concentration to the red berry fruit, ably supported by 20% new oak barrels. Fresh redcurrant and peppery notes give way to a richer, flavourful palate and a supple long finish. Drink: 2013-2016
£100 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Humbert, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru, Craipillot 2011
Made from the fruit of 65 year old vines in the Premier Cru Craipillot, just above the village of Gevrey itself. The 2011 shows fragrant, dark cherry fruit and spice aromas. The palate is firm-structured, the ripe tannins supporting the juicy red and black fruits, promising mid-term ageing with ease. An expressive and open wine which reveals flavours of cinnamon, clove and a touch of mocha on the finish. Drink: 2015-2022
£320 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Humbert, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru, La Petite Chapelle 2011
A Premier Cru from a parcel of comparatively young vines (just over 25 years old), that sits immediately next to Grand Cru Chapelle-Chambertin. This is a charming, silky-textured style of Gevrey-Chambertin, with the finesse of a Premier Cru and beautiful red fruits of distinguished Pinot Noir. The 2011 has a youthful grace and purity, as though it had just been picked from the vineyard. The gentle notes of barrel-ageing remain in the background; it is the fine, red berry flavour and subtly refreshing acidity that define the wine. Just two barrels of this underrated Premier Cru were made in 2011. Drink: 2015-2022
£320 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Humbert, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru, Poissenots 2011
Poissenots is something of a signature wine for Manou Humbert and is the largest holding of the domaine at one hectare. It is effectively an extension of the Premier Cru of Estournelles St. Jacques and lies to the west of the appellation. The 2011 displays fresh blackcurrant and cherry notes on the nose, with a hint of spice. The combination of intensely-flavoured berry fruit and finely-grained tannin gives this wine excellent length and poise, as well as promising around 15 years’ ageing potential. It is full and shows very good concentration but avoids heaviness or over ripeness, showing just how deft Manou’s touch can be. Drink: 2016-2025
£260 per six bottles in bond
£270 per three magnums in bond
Domaine Humbert, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru, Estournelles St. Jacques 2011
Situated just underneath Poissenots, on the Côte St. Jacques to the west of the village we find, arguably, Domaine Humbert’s finest wine. The 2011 shows typical intricacy of flavour and textures that might be expected from a Grand Cru, with dark red berries mingling with mineral notes and herbs. The plump fruit on the mid-palate is fringed by silky tannins that disguise how impressively-structured this wine is. The underlying richness and taut structure will see this wine develop considerable complexity of truffle, game and mixed spices over almost two decades. Drink: 2016-2025
Domaine Humbert, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2011
The brothers own a fifth of a hectare of Grand Cru Charmes-Chambertin, located just below Le Chambertin itself. At first the 2011 was rather shy on the nose, showing some of the black berries expected and a hint of mocha. The palate is altogether more imposing, promising much to come as the fresh acidity and assertive tannin mesh over time. Dark fruits, a touch of liquorice and spice course through the palate, followed by a scented finish resplendent with violets, cherries and clove. A powerful, full-flavoured wine which reflects the strength and potential of top Gevrey-Chambertin. Drink: 2016-2025
£400 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Robert Sirugue
An astonishing rise in quality at this domaine, coupled with their excellent pricing, means these are arguably the best value wines on our Burgundy list. Siblings Jean-Louis and Marie-France took over the reins at the estate in 2007, after their father, Robert, retired. Jean-Louis’ wife and son (Catherine and Arnaud) are also involved in the running of the domaine, making this a truly family business, and suggesting the promise of continuity for the next few decades.
Robert Sirugue was a commercially-minded grower whose emphasis was on selling his wines each year into the marketplace. His ten hectares of fine vineyards and his personable nature led to his success. However, since Jean-Louis and Marie-France have taken over, the focus has been on painstaking attention to quality, from hand-harvesting and meticulous sorting in the vineyard to destemming and careful oak ageing in the cellar.
Over half of the family’s holdings are in generic Bourgogne Rouge and there is a little Chambolle-Musigny, but the remainder is very good vineyards in Vosne-Romanée itself with nearly 1.5 hectares of Les Petit-Monts, a great vineyard just above Richebourg and La Romanée-Conti.
Domaine Robert Sirugue, Vosne-Romanée 2011
The Sirugue family have nearly five hectares of village Vosne-Romanée from which they make a textbook example with silky tannins and richness of flavour alongside a beguiling fragrance. There are oak-derived spice nuances but overall it is the perfumed, berry character that leads the way. This is medium-bodied with fresh balancing acidity and a succulence that fills the mouth and ensures excellent length. Drink: 2014-2018
£255 per twelve bottles in bond
Domaine Robert Sirugue, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru, Les Petits-Monts 2011
Les Petits-Monts offers outstanding value again in 2011 given its relatively humble price yet great quality. This vineyard is one of the seven Premier cru vineyards of Vosne-Romanée and is modest in size at 3.6 hectares; Domaine Robert Sirugue owns a third of a hectare. It lies higher up the slope on less rich soil than that of Richebourg, which it adjoins. The 2011 has a deep, purple-red colour. The nose boasts vibrant raspberry, cherry and violet aromas, with a subtle hint of coffee bean from oak ageing. The appealing, plush feel of the vintage is manifested in the plump berry fruit, and luscious finish. There is excellent balance from typically velvet-textured tannins alongside a fine thread of acidity, leading to an elegant, harmonious wine with approximately ten years of longevity. Drink: 2016-2022.
£410 per twelve bottles in bond
Domaine de Montille
Domaine de Montille enjoys a triumvirate of impressive credentials in the form of an ancient Burgundian heritage, stellar vineyards and a forward-thinking approach. On revisiting the estate in October of this year, we found the de Montille family in understandably high spirits with the 2011 vintage proving these wines again some of the very finest in Burgundy.
The reputation of the domaine is due to the passion of current proprietor Etienne building on an astonishing legacy created by his father Hubert. Today there are over 16 hectares of vineyards, which include some of the finest sites in Volnay and Pommard. In 1993 the family acquired a half hectare of Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru, Le Cailleret, a vineyard which adjoins Le Montrachet and produces a wine of near Grand Cru quality. In 2004 a hectare of Corton and nearly half a hectare of Corton-Charlemagne were added and, as if that were not impressive enough, almost a third of a hectare in the prized top section of the Clos de Vougeot. At the same time, Etienne managed to add another 1.5 hectares of Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Aux Malconsorts as well as a further half hectare of the Malconsorts vineyard that could be seen as being part of La Tâche. The latter parcel is bottled as Cuvée Christiane in tribute to Etienne’s mother.
Etienne started experimenting with biodynamic farming methods in the Volnay 1er Cru, Les Mitans, some years ago. Now all his vineyards are cultivated in this way. He is of the belief that low yields and old vines are not the complete answer; the overall health of the vineyard is paramount. Some soils will support old vines and the consequent low yields whereas others will not. As always in Burgundy, it is the combination of terroir and producer that matters.
Whenever possible Etienne utilises whole cluster fermentation, a technique that heightens freshness and minerality. He has also reduced pigeage to improve tannin quality and delays the malolactic fermentation, by chilling the cellar, in order to increase colour stability and complexity while the wine remains in a naturally preserved state (also allowing him to reduce use of sulphur).
The white wines are made by Etienne’s sister, Alix, with all the care and attention to detail that Etienne devotes to the reds. Her arrival in 2004 was precipitated by the addition of the Corton-Charlemagne vines to the already important Puligny Cailleret holdings; combined, these make de Montille a more recognised guardian of great white Burgundy. An additional purchase of Corton-Charlemagne in the last two years has increased their holdings of this Grand Cru even further; Atlas Fine Wines has benefitted directly in the form of an increased allocation from the 2011 vintage.
Domaine de Montille, Beaune 1er Cru, Les Sizies 2011
We have described Premier Cru Les Sizies as de Montille’s ‘entry-level wine’. This is not because of a particularly humble stature, but because of the renown and reputation of the rest of the domaine’s range.
Les Sizies is an eight-hectare vineyard, situated on a gentle slope immediately to the west of Beaune itself. The 2011 shows fresh cassis and spice on the nose, with a cherry-scented palate. It champions elegance and accessibility with the berry flavours and violet hints accompanying the lingering freshness and gentle tannins on the long finish which is not without tenacity. As with the 2010, this wine displays appealing ripe fruit and medium structure for early and mid-term ageing. Drink: 2013-2016
£280 per twelve bottles in bond
Domaine de Montille, Beaune 1er Cru, Les Grèves 2011
Les Grèves is a large, 31 hectare vineyard that occupies almost the entire stretch of the Côte d’Or slope immediately northwest of Beaune. Along with Premier Cru Les Teurons, Les Grèves is regarded as producing the finest wines of the commune; de Montille benefits from an ownership of over one and a half hectares. Black pepper and cherry aromas make way for a rich, fruit-driven palate and considerable depth of spice and herb complexity. It is slightly sappier in style than Les Sizies, with a commanding frame of full but fine-textured tannin and firm acidity to promise further ageing. An impressive example of what is already an over-performing Premier Cru. Drink: 2014-2020
£190 per six bottles in bond
Domaine de Montille, Volnay 1er Cru, Les Brouillards 2011
The hallmark of Les Brouillards is purity of fruit and a floral charm, rather than sheer power or firm structure. It is often described as the most ‘feminine’ of de Montille’s Volnays. The 5.6 hectare vineyard lies to the north of the village of Volnay itself, its northern extremity being the border with Pommard. De Montille owns a third of a hectare on the upper slope, which is particularly stony and is considered the most favourable parcel within this Premier Cru. The 2011 has both a bright red colour and bright aromas that leap out of the glass and promise considerable appeal from relatively early on. The tannins are elegant in texture without the persistence that characterise Volnay Premier Crus such as Les Taillepieds. This Brouillards has a silky smooth feel to the palate with luscious cherry fruit and hints of lavender and violets. Its vibrant aromas and flavours will drink exceptionally well in the short and medium term. Drink: 2014-2020
£450 per twelve bottles in bond
Domaine de Montille, Volnay 1er Cru, Les Champans 2011
The stony soils of the Les Champans make typically perfumed Volnay with firm tannins. The 11 hectares lie directly north of the famed Volnay Premier Cru, Les Caillerets and due east of Clos des Chênes. Domaine de Montille has one hectare of vines and makes a rich, powerful, focused wine. The 2011 has a pretty, dark red colour and a vibrant cherry fragrance. It has lovely freshness from its balancing acidity, but the rich cherry and chocolate flavours on the palate also give an impression of generosity of fruit and heartiness. The fine, firm tannins will mellow over the next 8-10 years and complexity will grow but the vibrant berry fruit style makes this immediately enticing. Drink: 2014-2020
£550 per twelve bottles in bond
Domaine de Montille, Volnay 1er Cru, Les Taillepieds 2011
The celebrated, seven-hectare Cru of Les Taillepieds lies immediately upslope from Les Champans. De Montille has two parcels which total almost a quarter of the entire vineyard. The vines are 25 years old and the soils are gravelly, giving concentrated fruit and broad-structured wines. De Montille refers to Taillepieds as a ‘Grand Premier Cru’, meaning that it is right at the top of the qualitative scale of Volnay. The whole cluster fermentation has given this wine freshness as well as fine-textured tannins which cradle the intriguing spice, herb, berry and mineral flavours. This is the Volnay that will age most successfully over the mid and long-term, with its winning combination of power, finesse and concentration that promise tremendous complexity and interest. Drink: 2017-2025
£295 per six bottles in bond
Domaine de Montille, Pommard 1er Cru, Les Pézerolles 2011
Les Pézerolles comprises nearly six hectares in the north of the Pommard appellation. From an entire hectare of this prized vineyard, de Montille craft what is one of the domaine’s most individual wines. One third of the grapes were destemmed, leaving the rest of the wine to ferment whole cluster; only 25% new oak was used, allowing the natural fruit character to shine through. The 2011 vintage is more open and expressive than the 2010 was in its youth with a burst of cassis, black cherry and raspberries on the nose and an attractive, fresh palate. The tannins are certainly ripe, but not as firm-structured as Les Rugiens or Volnay Les Taillepieds meaning this is a very approachable wine now. This combines the fruity depths of good Pommard with an elegance only achieved by the most accomplished red winemakers of the Côte de Beaune. Drink: 2015-2024
£545 per twelve bottles in bond
Domaine de Montille, Pommard 1er Cru, Les Rugiens 2011
The exceptionally well-regarded Premier Cru Les Rugiens is located to the south of the village on steep, rocky soils near the border with Volnay. Les Rugiens is a great vineyard, producing rich, robust, intense wines that many believe merit Grand Cru status. This 2011 has incredible intensity of flavour allied to compact tannins that will stand the wine in good stead for 10-15 years. Given this depth of flavour, de Montille chose to age the wine in 40% new oak barrels to balance out the wine and allow the considerable component parts the opportunity to soften and integrate. The result is a powerful, multi-layered wine with spices, berry fruits, grilled nuts and black pepper, as well as a rich and lingering finish which amply demonstrates why this vineyard might one day achieve Grand Cru classification. Drink: 2018-2027
£370 per six bottles in bond
Domaine de Montille, Nuits-St. Georges, Aux Saints-Juliens 2011
This is a village level Nuits-St. Georges sourced from a half hectare in the ‘lieu-dit’ of Aux Saints-Juliens. The 2011 has outperformed its village status with beautiful, lush berry fruit and a floral overlay that gives this wine complexity at such an early stage. The main focus of this wine is the excellent purity of cranberry, blackcurrant and cherry fruit that will drink very well in the short to mid-term. There is a seamless quality from tannins which are ripe and silky-textured and from the delicate acidity that freshens the palate but does not dominate. The fact that the Aux Saints-Juliens vineyard is village level (rather than 1er Cru) ensures the price is modest. Combined with the high quality winemaking at Domaine de Montille, this means that the value here is hard to beat. Drink: 2014-2018
£305 per twelve bottles in bond
Domaine de Montille, Nuits-St. Georges 1er Cru, Aux Thorey 2011
Premier Cru Aux Thorey enjoys a southerly aspect at the top of the slope just to the north of the village of Nuits-St. Georges towards Vosne-Romanée. De Montille has three quarters of a hectare from which Etienne makes a very elegant wine with generous fruit. The nose is all violets and scented cherry notes allied to Vosne spice. There is always good concentration of fruit on the palate supported by a bold, irony-mineral backbone more typical of Nuits. Certainly this is evident in a refined yet structured 2011 in which the taut tannin and tenacious fruit length indicate a wine of great future complexity and harmony. Drink: 2015-2022
£440 per twelve bottles in bond
Domaine de Montille, Corton Clos du Roi Grand Cru 2011
There are 21 Grand Cru vineyards for red Corton, in the north of the Côte de Beaune. Clos du Roi is considered one of the finest, given its very favourable location mid-slope, just to the north of Aloxe-Corton. There are close to 11 hectares, of which de Montille have just under one hectare in their ownership. Two-thirds whole bunch fermented, this has the spice and pepperiness of the 2010 vintage, but with a more forward, juicy, forest fruit character. The underlying concentration and robust tannin of good Grand Cru Corton will ensure this wine drinks well over the next decade; the fine-grained tannins and precision of flavour contribute to the overall elegant, harmonious feel. Drink: 2016-2023
£390 per six bottles in bond
Domaine de Montille, Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2011
Within its 50 hectares there are over 80 different proprietors in Clos de Vougeot, a factor which often makes the wines hard to pinpoint. Domaine de Montille has just a third of a hectare which lies just in the higher part of the slope, in a sub section called Dix Journaux. On its north side, this vineyard adjoins Grand Crus Les Amoureuses and Le Musigny of Chambolle-Musigny. We have often noticed the particularly fine, almost powdery-textured tannins to this wine, which promises around two decades of longevity. But the brooding cassis and blueberry fruit character, and enduring scented finish are equally impressive. A consistently brilliant wine from de Montille. Drink: 2018-2024
Domaine de Montille, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru, Aux Malconsorts 2011
Of the 13 Premier Cru vineyards in Vosne-Romanée, the six hectares of Malconsorts are among the most widely sought after, with many believing the vineyard to be of Grand Cru status. De Montille has one of the most important holdings, at almost a hectare. The reason for the high demand is simple: location, location, location. Aux Malconsorts adjoins the famed vineyard of La Tâche and seems to share the same ideal terroir. Certainly, there is a sublime fragrance to this wine that precedes a wonderful richness of red fruit and a flowing, sensuous feel to the palate. Intense and well-structured but still graceful with its polished tannins and fine thread of acidity. This is a top flight Premier Cru from the Côte de Nuits. Drink: 2017-2026.
£690 per six bottles in bond
Domaine de Montille, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru, Aux Malconsorts, ‘Cuvée Christiane’ 2011
Cuvée Christiane is the finest of all de Montille wines and an icon of Burgundy. It is named in honour of Etienne’s mother and made in small quantities from a unique parcel. The 0.5 hectare vineyard belongs entirely to the de Montille family. Though classed as Premier Cru Aux Malconsorts, the vines for Cuvée Christiane appear to sit within the legendary vineyard of La Tâche. The result is staggering depth and perfume that is enveloped in an impressive tannic structure and therefore is more akin to the fabled Grand Crus of Vosne-Romanée than any lesser classification. The emphasis is more dark fruit flavour – cassis and cherries – rather than the red fruits of Malconsorts itself. The 2011 is more assertive in youth than the 2010, with hints of chocolate, mocha and kirsch from both the high-quality oak ageing and the perfect maturity of fruit. An excellent wine with impeccable balance that will develop considerable complexity of spice and truffle with time. Drink: 2017-2030.
Domaine de Montille, Beaune Blanc 1er Cru, Les Aigrots 2011
Despite being in the heartland of the finest white Burgundy area, the Côte de Beaune, only 5% of the wine from the actual commune of Beaune is white. The 18 hectares of Les Aigrots lie immediately north of the most famous white wine vineyard of the Beaune appellation, Clos des Mouches. De Montille has just under half a hectare of Les Aigrots, from which the family makes a very attractive, approachable wine every year. The 2011 displays an intense lime and lemon scent with a touch of white flower fragrance. Citrus fruits follow on the palate and give a freshness that balances the more opulent stone fruit flavour and extends the whistle-clean finish. There is plenty of concentration here, with an impression of mellowness to the wine that makes it wonderful to drink in the early to mid-term. Drink: 2013-2017
£295 per twelve bottles in bond
Domaine de Montille, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru, Le Cailleret 2011
The three-hectare Le Cailleret is a very highly rated Premier Cru vineyard. De Montille own almost a quarter of it. The vines lie above Les Pucelles and alongside the very peak of white Burgundy, Grand Cru Le Montrachet. Unsurprisingly Le Cailleret shares some of the remarkable characteristics of its neighbours, with a typically mineral character to the nose and incredible depth of citrus flavour. We have described this as an aristocratic wine in the past due to its tremendous structure of acidity that gives a sensation of tension and tautness to the palate as well as to the persistent citrus fruits, which evolve over time into more intriguing honey and truffle complexity. The 2011 is no exception, with primary citrus fruits in abundance, and a nervy quality to the acidity that will settle over the next few years. Even from barrel, it showed exceptionally well, with the fine texture, pedigree and polish of the very best of Premier Cru white Burgundy. Drink : 2015-2021
£385 per six bottles in bond
Domaine de Montille, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2011
The de Montille family now enjoy one of the most important holdings of this Grand Cru. Most of this wine is from a parcel at the eastern edge of Les Pougets, regarded as one of the best sites on the great hill of Corton. The 2011 is as aromatic and expressive as the 2010, but with distinctive pear and stone fruit on the nose. There is plenty of citrus refreshment on the palate, with a mix of grapefruit, lemon and tangerine alongside spicier notes, and a touch of grilled almond from barrel ageing. A full, ripe style of wine with an almost unctuous texture that differentiates it from the more precise, linear style of the more southerly Crus. Excellent mid to long term drinking. Drink: 2015-2022
Domaine Patrick Javillier
There are few winemakers in Burgundy producing better regional or village wines than Patrick Javillier, who took over the domaine from his father in 1974, giving up his career as an electrical engineer. The vineyards then comprised just three hectares, of which two were village Meursault and the third was given over to the Aligoté variety. There are now ten hectares, stretched over 14 separate appellations. However, the core of Domaine Javillier will always be in Meursault, where it has six different plots, or ‘climats’ of village-level vineyard. Patrick vinifies each parcel separately and then ages the wines 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.
Domaine Patrick Javillier, Bourgogne Blanc, Cuvée Oligocène 2011
Javillier produces an outstanding Bourgogne Blanc, Cuveé Oligocène. It is always one of the finest examples of its kind in Burgundy and invariably better than many village Meursault, something that has garnered the wine an exceptionally loyal following.
The 2011 has the typical mouth-filling fruit and fresh acidity of good Meursault. It is expressive and appealing now with defined citrus aromas and a touch of richer, stone fruit on the palate with a hint of spicy complexity. Overall, this is a youthful style for early to medium-term drinking. The excellent balance and long, juicy, citrus length produce a pleasurable wine with a level of sophistication normally reserved for higher price points. Drink: 2013-2016
£145 per twelve bottles in bond
Domaine Patrick Javillier, Meursault, Les Tillets 2011
If Cuvée Oligocène over-delivers on the humble Bourgogne Blanc appellation, then Les Tillets does the same for village Meursault displaying an intensity of citrus fruits and the tautness of structure expected of a good Premier Cru. While Javillier blends many of his vineyards together, he feels that his Tillets merits singling out. The twelve-hectare vineyard is located high up on the slopes, on very poor soil, meaning the vines have to work hard to ripen their grapes each year. The result seems to be a focused, mineral-laden wine with very good concentration and a sense of tension from naturally firm acidity which courses through the palate. The 2011 has all this, with a very elegant, limey touch that elongates the finish and ensures that the ripe, juicy stone fruit length remains fresh till the end. An over-performing, well-structured Meursault which will drink well in the early and medium-term. Drink: 2015-2019
£285 per twelve bottles in bond
Domaine Patrick Javillier, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2011
Javillier was extremely happy with his Corton-Charlemagne this year, describing it as ‘super classique’, due to the rich, expressive fruit supported by firm lemon and lime citrus acidity that will provide the backbone for a decade of ageing. The aromas have a touch of pineapple and orange blossom, very ripe notes that follow through to the palate. Here, there are complex citrus, herb and bay leaf flavours, along with a zingy, refreshing acidity and dry, but not austere, finish. The rich fruit character should gain considerable complexity with time, opening up further to reveal honey and spice notes. Drink: 2016-2022
£375 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Francois Carillon
François Carillon was on fine form when we visited him in the autumn of 2012. The domaine has been in the family for generations, most recently as Domaine Louis Carillon, and has now been amicably divided between brothers François and Jacques with the brothers having now completed three vintages under their own names. Domaine François Carillon now has 11 hectares of vineyard. Five belonged to his father; six further hectares have been gradually integrated in to the domaine from vineyards that François worked in over a number of years. Since the creation of the new domaine, François continues to work with vineyard owners and hopes to increase the quantity of Domaine wine available in the future. His sites, both owned and managed, include prime Premier Cru as well as some exceptionally good value Bourgogne Blanc plots near to the Château de Puligny. François’ wines stand out for their terroir-derived definition; poise, elegance and vigour characterise all of his wines, with the naturally high quality of Puligny-Montrachet fruit allowed to shine through. We are delighted to continue working with him directly as he builds his own identity while also enhancing the already iconic status of his family’s name.
François Carillon, Bourgogne Chardonnay 2011
François’ Bourgogne Blanc is a cut above the rest. The grapes come from four separate parcels which range in age from 35 to 50 years and are all located within Meursault, Puligny and Chassagne-Montrachet. The wine sees no new wood but is fermented entirely in old oak barrels. The 2010 vintage showed beautiful balance and taut structure on the palate. The 2011 is similar in style but with slightly fuller fruit and a luscious texture that gives a seamless feeling to the palate. A sophisticated example of Bourgogne Blanc which deserves far greater attention. Drink 2013-15
£155 per twelve bottles in bond
Domaine François Carillon, Puligny-Montrachet 2011
Francois Carillon’s village Puligny-Montrachet is as good – if not better – than most of the Premier Cru wines from the commune. The fruit is sourced from 11 different parcels and the vines average 35 years of age both of which factors contribute to the great quality. The 2011 has a classic, fresh citrus aroma with a touch of spice from approximately 10% of new oak ageing. The palate is elegant and fruit-forward, without being heavy or overripe. Lees ageing has added a smooth texture and a complexity of brioche and almond although there remains a linear, crisp feel to the wine which ensures a beautifully long finish. A very satisfying, pinpointed example of Puligny-Montrachet, with a classy feel and plenty of expressive fruit for the early and medium term. Drink: 2014-2018
£150 per six bottles in bond
Domaine François Carillon, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru, Les Champs Gain 2011
Premier Cru Les Champs Gain is an 11 hectare vineyard high on the slope above Les Folatières. There is rarely any over-ripeness or lack of acidity in Les Champs Gain; its higher altitude means it ripens approximately a week later and invariably has a perky acidity. The 2011 displays this refreshing acidity alongside richer, almost nutty aromas and a firm grip on the palate. While it may not have the huge intensity of Perrières or Combettes, there is a real finesse here and a light touch that makes the wine incredibly easy to drink, even from early on. Drink: 2014-2020
£285 per six bottles in bond
Domaine François Carillon, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru, Les Perrières 2011
The stony soils of Premier Cru Les Perrières are famed for making particularly mineral wines with an almost chalky texture to them. François’ parcel of vines boasts an age of approximately 40 years which gives very good fruit concentration. The 2011 has all the poise and refreshment of the 2010, but is a touch richer, with hints of tropical fruit alongside the citrus and yellow fruits. There is a touch of coconut too, although this soon gives way to the trademark lemon purity of classic Puligny-Montrachet, and a very finely woven palate that, while rather ungiving at the moment, will gradually unfurl over the next 10 years or so. There is a real focus to this wine from its impressive mineral structure and sappy dry finish; this pays homage to the Carillon heritage. Drink: 2015-2021.
£300 per six bottles in bond
Domaine François Carillon, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru, Les Combettes 2011
Les Combettes is an extremely well-regarded Cru of nearly seven hectares just across the border from Meursault 1er Cru, Les Charmes. François’ vines are now considerably older and are producing wines of real intensity and class. While the Perrières shows an intense mineral grip, the Combettes is characterised by exuberant fruit. This 2011 was a little shy on the nose, but the abundant citrus shone through on the palate with lemon, grapefruit, and a touch of lime adding to the complex honey, white pepper and almond complexity. Rich and powerful with a long, opulent finish, this is an impressive wine that will keep its stature but develop its already multi-layered character as it mellows over the next decade. Drink: 2015-2021
Domaine François Carillon, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru, Les Clos St Jean 2011
Les Clos St. Jean is situated at the top of the slope above the village of Chassagne on relatively thin and stony soils for Chassagne. This is a terroir that naturally brings a focus, tension and energy to offset the more typical mid-palate opulence of Premier Cru Chassagne. Francois strikes a fine balance here, bringing his trademark Puligny purity to the typically softer-textured Chassagne. The 2011 displays orange and apricot aromas and flavours, with a refreshing, fruit-forward palate. It is smooth-textured from integrated acidity and ripe fruit that will drink well in the short to medium term. Drink: 2014-2018
£240 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Hubert Lamy
Olivier Lamy is the latest in a long line of vignerons in St. Aubin since 1640. Over the last 20 years the domaine has been transformed in the hands of Olivier and his father Hubert. Olivier joined his father formally at the domaine in 1995 which fortuitously coincided with a period of further vineyard acquisition all around St. Aubin. Today Olivier is firmly ensconced at the helm and controls 17 hectares of vineyard over 18 appellations. His wines are often the finest of the entire appellation and are principally from Premier Cru vineyards with 75% of his production from Chardonnay. The quality of the red wines has also risen dramatically since Olivier’s arrival. He is a thoughtful, intelligent winemaker who has driven the quality of his white wines to very high levels indeed. One well known and respected commentator has suggested that Olivier Lamy is just about the most talented young winemaker in Burgundy.
£240 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Hubert Lamy, St. Aubin 1er Cru, Clos du Meix 2011
The sheltered, walled vineyard of Clos du Meix lies to the west of the village of St. Aubin. The 0.7 hectare that Domaine Lamy cultivates has a vine age of 20 years. It enjoys very good aspect with warmer temperatures than Olivier’s other vineyards, so the style is different from the other Premier Cru wines. This wine tends to be immediately softer on the palate and therefore more accessible in its youth. The 2011 has a tropical nuance playing alongside the citrus fruit notes, with orange and apricot on the nose and a rich stone fruit flavour on the palate. Fifteen per cent of the wine was aged in new oak, lending a spicy complexity as well as a deliciously mellow feel to the wine. This should ensure excellent drinking in its first year of release as well as for the next four or five years. The value that this wine offers is outstanding. Drink: 2013-2017
£110 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Hubert Lamy, St. Aubin 1er Cru Clos de la Chatenière 2011
Premier Cru La Chatenière is an 8.5 hectare, south-facing vineyard on limestone rich soils. Lamy have 1.25 hectares of 45-50 year old vines right in the middle of the vineyard. The slope is 45 degrees and everything has to be done by hand. The 2011 has more volume on the palate than 2010, but has impeccable balance of succulent lemon and orange fruit alongside the juicy, freshening acidity. This has a vivid purity that demonstrates Olivier’s meticulous attention to quality in his vineyards and to the health of his crop. There is an openness to the style of Chatenière that makes for a wine that will age in the short to medium term rather than longer. Drink: 2013-2017
£138 per six bottles in bond
Domaine Hubert Lamy, St. Aubin 1er Cru En Remilly 2011
En Remilly is often considered the very best of the St. Aubin Premier Cru. It is large at 30 hectares and lies at the top of the slope, due north-east of the village. Here, the chalky soils and windy conditions give intense, well-structured wines that last. The 2011 is typically refined, with all the grace of the very best of St. Aubin. It has a core of plump fruit on the palate that is framed by fresh acidity and smoky mineral complexity. This offers exceptional value and the excellent quality gives the Premiers Crus of more famous neighbours, Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet, a run for their money. Drink: 2013-2018
£138 per six bottles in bond