“95% of the wine is made at the vineyard!”
Charles Lachaux’s passion for Burgundy, his Domaine and the land in which they grow their fruit shines through when you listen to him talk. He carries that hallmark Burgundian care for the vineyard and explains the decisions he makes with great pride.
One of the most interesting things that came from the tasting was the Domaine’s decision to spend a lot of time manicuring the grass alongside the vines. Charles explained that this was a costly process that resulted in 30% extra labour during the summer and to describe it in two words, was “hard work”. The grass is heavily curated and controlled to do its job.
The point of the grass is not only to provide a layer of protection from heavy rain by soaking up some of the damp and moisture, but the turf also adds stress to the vines which makes the vines grow deeper into the soils and develop. The result is low-yielding, concentrated fruit that is full of flavour.
I was astounded by the Domaine’s ability to express the differing soil types and terroir across Burgundy. Of course their attention to the vineyard also translates into pure expressions of the vintage and this was clearly on show. The 2008 and 2010 vintages were typical for Burgundy. The wines are full of restraint, elegance and freshness. The cool conditions created focused and refined wines full of purity, without a huge amount of ripeness. Charles felt that this was what Burgundy is known for and the type of vintages that excite him.
My personal feelings about the vintages are that the 2008s are in a very good place at the moment; displaying good development but also maintaining a fresh fruit profile that was not so evident in their youth.
The 2010s are still young and the vintage conditions mean that these wines will take some time to develop. When they do, this will be one of Burgundy’s finest to date. The 2010s display more ripeness than the 2008s but with similar refined and subtle nuances. Definitely a vintage to put down and be rewarded by patience.
We tried an incredible Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Les Procés 2009 that sparked a debate about the 2009 and 2010 vintages. Charles and a number of the Armit Wines team seemed to prefer the hallmark delicacy of Burgundy displayed in the 2010s, 2011s and 2012s. Charles told us that the 2009 vintage had good quantities and sunny spells which resulted in a level of ripeness that made the wines attractive but perhaps with less hidden charm than cooler vintages.
Perhaps the 2009 was easier to understand, but I feel that would be doing the wine injustice. At this stage, this was the wine that filled my notepad the most. So many different layers of fruit, spice and some signs of maturity, this wine was utterly attractive, enjoyable and fun.
Overall, I would say drink the 2008s and 2009s. When you’re done with that, move onto to the 2011s before going back to the 2010s.
Highlights from the tasting
To drink now...
Bourgogne Pinot Fin 2011 – £288.00 per case of 12 inc. taxes (£24.00 per bottle)
Stunning value for money, rich dark red fruit profile from old terroir, earthy notes. Great length and balance.
Nuits St Georges Les Poisets 2008 - £484.80 per case of 12 inc. taxes (£40.40 per bottle)
Thick and weighty with brambly, bright red fruit. Good, spicy profile of cloves and liquorice, a small hint of beetroot. Starting to develop secondary animal and leather flavours. Very long, concentrated finish.
Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Les Procés 2009 – £344.76 per case of 6 inc. taxes (£57.46 per bottle)
Rich, perfumed violets, small hint of white chocolate, little coffee, concentrated raspberry, strawberry. Some white pepper and cloves matched with round, fleshy fruit. Some cinnamon on the palate. Extremely long finish with the most attractive velvety tannins. Absolutely delicious.
To put in Reserve and wait...
Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Les Procés 2010 - £300.00 per case of 6 in bond (£50.00 per bottle)
Pronounced and perfumed flowerbed with freshly washed and restrained fruit, raspberries, sour cherry. A little white pepper, coffee, dark chocolate. Medium bodied, extremely fresh minerality, still a bit tight and sharp but will open into a beautiful wine. Focused, straight and pure Burgundy.
Chambolle Musigny 2010 - £420.00 per case of 12 in bond (£35.00 per bottle)
Hints of plum sauce signal a complex spice profile that is typical of Chambolle. Brambly red fruit, racy acidity, rich raspberry and strawberry fruit. The wine showed incredible structure. Very concentrated and driven by fresh minerality and a focused finish. A triumphant Chambolle!