Wine Lister compiles an aggregate critic score and compares this to market pricing in order to assess value and investment opportunities. Here are the wines that made it into 'Wine Lister’s Burgundy 2017 highlights.' Click on each wine to see all the reviews.
Domaine Hubert Lamy
A domaine with 18.5 hectares of vines - 80% are Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir. The vines are spread over Saint-Aubin, Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet and Santenay. Olivier Lamy's wine-making style and preference is to emphasise the fresh and the mineral side of his wines, and in 2017, there is again no new wood in the cellar, and that is with the wines in 600 litre demi-muids rather that the classic Burgundy (225 litre) fût. Certainly Oliver's whites do have an arrow-like purity and intensity, and seem to age completely straight and true.
The 2017 whites have all the freshness that you'd expect here. The reds are worth more than a casual mention too. Olivier has been getting some consultation help from Sylvain Pataille, and the wines have energy and bounce along with the supple tannins and ripeness. 2017 brought no relief from the recent small harvests - thanks to early frosts which nipped the buds, yields were 10-20hl/ha in the Bourgogne and village Saint Aubins, so volumes are still decidedly short.
Olivier says of the vintage '2017 will be a solar year but very balanced with ripe wines at the beginning of the mouth and finishing on freshness, minerality, tension and a lot of energy. The élevage will be 24 months without any new wood to keep more freshness. The wines are nicely balanced, revealing aromas of citrus fruits. They are pure, fresh and mineral wines. Their chiselled and precise character means they will keep well.". As for the reds, he says 'This vintage gave very healthy red grapes, so a good proportion of the whole bunches was kept in vatting. Ruby colours, a complex nose, floral, fruity and spicy, the concentration in the mouth and soft and pleasant tannins characterise these wines which express nice notes of fresh fruits. All finesse, they show all the elements of great Burgundian red wines.'
2017 SAINT AUBIN 1er Cru Rémilly Domaine Hubert Lamy
Very bright pale colour, a délice from start to finish: a slight bitterness keeps the freshness - full-flavoured, ripe and long. Lots of richness here.Very bright pale colour, a délice from start to finish: a slight bitterness keeps the freshness - full-flavoured, ripe and long. Lots of richness here. Drinking range: 2018 - 2025L&S(Jul 2018)
Domaine Comte Armand
A domaine totalling nine hectares, of which the most important part is a magnificent five hectare monopole of the Pommard Premier Cru Clos des Epeneaux, which was put together by Nicolas Marey in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (along with the DRC Romanée Saint Vivant 'Marey-Monge'). These vineyards were all sold, except for the Clos (now been enclosed by a wall), which came to Jean-François Armand as a dowry when he married Nicolas' daughter in 1826. The Volnay vineyards were added in 1994, followed by parcels in Auxey Duresses.
The current Comte Armand is a lawyer living in Paris, but very supportive of the régisseurs who have looked after this domaine for the thirty years or so that L&S have been buying here. The 1980 vintage, made by one of the many Rossignols of Volnay who was in charge at the time, was for us a great introduction to the possibilities of the great Clos des Epeneaux vineyard. Then came the era of Pascal Marchand, a young Quebecois who came to do a harvest with Domaine Bruno Clair and just never left. He began a period of radical restructuring and the introduction of organic and then biodynamic farming, while making very dark, dense and long-lived wines. Benjamin Leroux, hugely respected amongst growers who approach things from an organic or biodynamic point of view, then took over, and refined this approach and changed the way the parcels of vines are divided up for harvesting, paying less attention to just the age of the vines, and more to the underlying soil types. Claude Bourguignon was employed to provide a full geological survey of the Clos as the basis for this. Under Benjamin the wines of the Clos gained in finesse and precision, while still having the depth and richness expected of a great Pommard.
Both Pascal and Benjamin were keen to expand beyond the confines of the Clos, and the Domaine also has vines in Volnay, and, a particular enthusiasm of both Pascal and Benjamin, in Auxey Duresses, where they are convinced of the great potential of some of this village's undervalued and neglected terroirs. Paul Zinetti, who had worked with Ben for four years, took over in 2014.
The vineyard is cultivated organically (ECOCERT certified) and biodynamically. The grapes are entirely de-stemmed, but left intact, for a five to eight-day cold maceration before the fermentation, which lasts five to ten days, and then the wine remains in the fermenters for between three and fifteen days, depending on the vintage. In most years, the total time with skin contact will be around four weeks, which is longer than most. The wines will then be aged in barrel for between eighteen and twenty-four months, with new wood limited to 30% for the wine from the old vines of the Clos, down to none at all for the village wines.
Paul has nailed his colours to the mast by saying he wants to make a less tannic wine in the Clos, and one which is more about aromatic length. In this he is continuing the route that Ben was following, but perhaps taking it even further.
2017 POMMARD 1er Cru Clos des Épeneaux Domaine Comte Armand
Tasting this in the cellar, the final wine is not yet complete so we tasted the 2 constituent parts and then a final blend put together by Paul. The first part (40%) comes from the younger vinesTasting this in the cellar, the final wine is not yet complete so we tasted the 2 constituent parts and then a final blend put together by Paul. The first part (40%) comes from the younger vines which are between 35 and 55 years old. There is great poise to this and lovely push. There is a firmness that pushes back at you here, a remarkable powerful wall of minerality that is like a brooding edifice. Creating a crisp backdrop to the nice weight of bright red fruit. Pretty Pinot with a lifted character. Crunchy and nervy. The majority (60%) will be made up of the old vine parcel, 65-90 year old vines. This component is on another plain. So much more richness here. a lovely sweeter feel. Great depth. Denser, really quite wonderfully indulgent. A much more luxurious and decadent feel. Darker red fruit and super texture. The resultant blend is very impressive. Somehow more perfumed on the nose. This expresses itself really nicely. generous but well measured. Comes together well and you totally see the decision on these proportions. That dense richer fruit sits well on the brighter, firmer lift of the younger vines. Good delivery now - ample weight and good level of ping. Nicely complementary components that end up well balanced but certainly generous on the fruit side. Drinking range: 2025 - 2033L&S(Nov 2018)
Domaine de Courcel
One of the great domaines of Pommard, with a 400 year history in the same family. The domaine produces a small amount of Bourgogne Chardonnay, a completely over-performing Bourgogne Rouge, a village Pommard (Vaumuriens, 1.44 ha), but the biggest part of the domaine consists of four great Premier Cru expressions of the terroir of Pommard, Fremiers (0.79 ha), Croix Noires (0.58 ha), Grand Clos des Epenots (4.89 ha) and Rugiens (1.07 ha). These represent a very different style to the Clos des Épeneaux of Comte Armand, for example. Yves Confuron, the régisseur, describes the difference between the two top wines by saying that the Grand Clos is 'terreux' while the Rugiens is 'aérien'.
The aim is to limit yields to around 25hl/ha, to attain optimum ripeness. The vines are ploughed, and pruned carefully to suit each one, then de-budded in spring and green-harvested in August to keep the fruit load balanced. Following Yves' usual practice the harvest is late and the vatting is long - usually around a month, with a cold maceration leading into a cool fermentation, and a long post-fermentation soak under the protection of the carbon dioxide given off by the fermentation. The wines are developed in barrel over 21 to 23 months, with a third of the barrels being replaced each year. After racking they are bottled without fining or filtration.
The domaine produces wines with astonishing depth and density that still retain the freshness, just like Yves' own wines at Domaine Confuron-Cotetidot. They are classic vins de garde and patience is advised - and will be amply rewarded.
2017 POMMARD 1er Cru Croix Noires Domaine de Courcel
Nose is softer and more generous here. The palate is rich, but on the dark, more sinewy end of things. Earthy notes too with the mulberry and restrained damson juice. This is more generous and moreNose is softer and more generous here. The palate is rich, but on the dark, more sinewy end of things. Earthy notes too with the mulberry and restrained damson juice. This is more generous and more supple than the Vaumariens at this stage.With that grip relenting somewhat - and this has good power too. Drinking range: 2023 - 2030L&S(Nov 2018)
Domaine Henri Boillot
A domaine which dates back to 1885, but which began properly in the early years of the 20th century under the current Henri's grandfather (also Henri). His son, Jean, was the one who really developed it. Henri arrived in 1975 and worked his way up, becoming the winemaker. In 2000 he began the building of the new winery at the bottom of Meursault, and he then bought out his brother and sister to keep the domaine as one, renaming it from 'Domaine Jean Boillot' to 'Domaine Henri Boillot' to avoid confusion with his brother Jean-Marc's domaine.
After six years working alongside his father, Guillaume is the 'chef de culture', i.e. heads up the vineyard team, and has been entirely responsible for the vinification of the reds since 2012. Henri continues to make the whites which he likes to be 'straight, taut, precise, pure and elegant'. Guillaume's input has resulted in red wines that have gained in definition and energy, without losing the luxurious velvety richness and fruit depth that they have always had.
The Domaine totals around 14 hectares, with roughly equal surfaces of red and white, and of which just under 4ha is the Monopole vineyard of Clos de la Mouchère, a walled enclave within the premier Cru Puligny Perrières. The 2017 vintage saw the arrival of two new parcels of Grand Cru red, in Échezeaux and Latricières Chambertin
In November 2018 we tasted with Henri while Guillaume was busy in the cellar, working on the just harvested 2018s, and he was very upbeat about the 2017s - rightly so. They harvested the whites between the 27th and 30th August - going early to preserve the energy which is increasingly a hallmark here.
Henri says this year is quite like 2016 but with a bit more weight he thinks. There is lovely acidity like the 2013s. He explains that 2017s have the same acidity as the 2016s - but with a note more glycerol which pads out the middle. The results are delicious, delectable wines you want to drink.
2017 VOLNAY 1er Cru Chevrets Domaine Henri Boillot
After the Fremiets there is immediately more texture, more grip here. A good feel and some nicely ripe fruit. Yes again there is the glycerine like texture to the fruit core, but the darker notes andAfter the Fremiets there is immediately more texture, more grip here. A good feel and some nicely ripe fruit. Yes again there is the glycerine like texture to the fruit core, but the darker notes and the grip begin to build in the mouth, black fruits compete with the softly ripe red berries. An impressive Chevrets, dark and brooding but very suave. Drinking range: 2020 - 2026L&S(Oct 2018)
Domaine Joseph Drouhin
For the last 130 years, Maison Joseph Drouhin has been in the hands of the Drouhin family. Today, the fourth generation is at the helm, still driven by the same passions that inspired the founder - and it remains one of the most well-respected names in Burgundy.
With this release of 2017s it is clear to see why. Not satisfied to rest on their laurels; each year small refinements continue to be made in how they operate. The presses have been changed - a reversion to basket pressing for the reds, and for whites the presses are open. The use of whole-bunch fermentation is now widespread. For the 2017s it makes up between 30-100% of the juice with all the Grand Cru wines and in varying amounts this process contributes to their other Red wines. The house style remains one that 'emphasises the natural elegance of great Burgundies' as they describe it.
Véronique Drouhin summed up the 2017 vintage as one that was warmer than normal, with over 200 hours of sunshine above the average and also a deficit in water over the year compared to normal. This seems to give a very appetising suppleness to some of the wines and an enticing immediacy too - yet they are far from rich or thick retaining some great finesse - particularly as you go up the 'ladder'.
Warm and dry as the data shows - it was not a totally straightforward vintage with pressure coming in the crucial month of April as the temperatures plummeted. However, thanks to lessons learnt in 2016 and the canny use of smoke to stop the sun burning the frozen vines - crisis was averted. The results speak for themselves. The 2017s have excellent maturity and they ended with quite a good-sized crop. Chassagne for Véronique was the most successful village - with pure lines and acidity - but there are some fantastic reds here as well.
2017 CHAMBERTIN CLOS DE BÈZE Grand Cru Domaine Joseph Drouhin
Nicely rich. Some cocoa-powder like dusting. Fruit is nice, rich plum juice and some firmer darker berries too. A cooler drive and a nice feel. Fruit ripens as it opens on the palate. 40% WholeNicely rich. Some cocoa-powder like dusting. Fruit is nice, rich plum juice and some firmer darker berries too. A cooler drive and a nice feel. Fruit ripens as it opens on the palate. 40% Whole cluster. This is serious and seriously charming too. Drinking range: 2022 - 2030L&S(Nov 2018)
Domaine Thibault Liger-BelairThe steady progression of this domaine has been fascinating to watch as Thibault gradually refines his approach to each parcel of vines, and there can be no question with the commissioning of his new state of the art cellar this year that the 2016s are among the best he has ever made. Viticulture is biodynamic (since 2005), yields low but not ludicrously low, everything is pragmatic, so that he should be doing just what is necessary and no more. He uses 40-50% new wood maximum, with wood chosen and aged by him, and barrels made with almost no toasting. The wines are bright, pure, focused, aromatic and elegant without lacking anything in the way of stuffing.
2017 NUITS SAINT GEORGES 1er Cru Les Saint Georges Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair
Thibault has 2 hectares here - and he is much more upbeat this year as it gave him 27 barrels in 2017 after the tiny haul of just 8 in 2016! Much of the wines charm can be linked to the interestingThibault has 2 hectares here - and he is much more upbeat this year as it gave him 27 barrels in 2017 after the tiny haul of just 8 in 2016! Much of the wines charm can be linked to the interesting soil here which has some clay but a very high density of small white pebbles which changes everything. He had to do 2 distinct harvests here. First to pick off the best bunches for whole bunch fermenting and the second is all destemmed fruit. This is broadly structured with good shoulders. More upright and more intense than the Vosne and there is a dry line which underscores this classy core of more weighty, sleek fruit. Some blueberry and plumskin measure the ripe feel - joined by warm raspberries and a more leafy edge. Good juicy acidity too balances the weight nicely. THis is a very smart, accessible Nuits from Thibault. Recommended.. Drinking range: 2023 - 2032L&S(Nov 2018)