a visit to Château Des Jacques, Moulin-a-Vent with Guillaume de Castelnau
The crop was ravaged throughout the year; first by frost, then by wind storms in May and finally by hail in July. This last storm destroyed the entirety of the crop for Champ de Cour, Grand Carquelin and Thorins. Around 60% of the total crop for estate was destroyed.
The heatwave started by 8 August - after which many growers began their harvest; Guilliame did not due to the acidity being burnt off. He waited for rain, which came twice - he relied as well on dew to bring the water levels back up. Harvest began 26 August. The average yield was 11hl/ha.
The sugar levels were very high (Rochegeres had 16% potential alcohol) with very low acidity. There was concern about whether the natural yeast would be able to cope, though Guilliame stuck to his guns and through a very long and slow fermentation followed by barrel ageing the wines have achieved balance.
Beaujolais Villages Combe Aux Jacques 2003 *
Damson & cranberry nose with a touch of violet and toffee. Palate slightly muted due to temperature (the cellar is freezing!) but still a lovely drop.
Château des Jacques Moulin-a-Vent 2003 **
40% New Oak, 30% 1 yr oak, 30% Tank. Very nice nose - red berries, violets, strawberries and cream. Palate is rich with more red fruits and flowers - bit herbaceous - oak is massive at the moment. It needs a bit of time but will be excellent. The best vintage of this I have tried.
Château des Jacques Moulin-a-Vent Clos de La Roche 2003 ***
15% abv, 100% New Oak. Excellent crimson colour with sweet toffee, chocolate and mocha on the nose. The palate is dense and concentrated with exceptional balance. The alcohol is not apparent on either the nose or the palate. There's a lot going on here and a lot to come. The mouthfeel is excellent. Remarkable.
Château des Jacques Moulin-a-vent Clos de Rochegeres 2003 **(*)
15.5% abv, 100% new oak. Similar toffee notes but with more fruit and wild herbs on the nose. The palate is outstanding - mouth-filling but not overpowering. Again the balance is extraordinary - herbal, fruity, spicy and truly lovely.
Château des Lumiere Morgon 2003 *(*)
The colour is lighter. Slight smokiness on the nose. Palate quite fruity - fresh with a bit of candy apple. There's nice earthy minerality but the oak seems somewhat out of balance - not as well integrated.
Château des Lumiere Cote du Py 2003 **
Nose is dense and somewhat foreboding - charcoal and forest fruits. Palate is massive - saddle leather and chocolate. Big oak finish. Needs lots of time but very nice and certainly different.
Pouilly Loché 2003
Apples and pears on the nose - bit of lemon spritz as well. Palate quite refreshing & clean but simple. Not much to it. Pleasant.
Pouilly Fuisse Le Mont de Pouilly 1997 *
100% Barrel fermented Lovely, rich nose - quite toasty. Palate a bit lighter than the nose suggests but really comes round with the excellent foie gras starter. Very nice.
Château des Jacques Moulin-a-Vent 1996
First year of Jadot ownership though the harvest performed by previous owners Slightly stewed and a bit past it. Did come round a bit.
Conclusions: I honestly feel the Moulin-a-Vents are the among the best wines tasted throughout the 2 days. The 2 single Clos wines were extraordinary while the basic Moulin was by far the best of the last 4 vintages of this wine that I've tried.
a visit to the Jadot cellars with Anthony Ravat
Couvent de Jacobins Bourgogne Blanc 2002
Classic as usual - perhaps a bit leaner than I remember but that could be from youth. Quite lovely. Good mineral notes and a nice palate cleanser for the tasting.
Cote de Nuits Villages La Vaucrain 2003 *
Good nose - fresh with a touch of honeysuckle. Palate is nicely balanced - surprisingly little heat (14-14.5%abv) - nice spiciness on the finish. This is very nice - notes of cinnamon
Savigny Guettes 2003 (*)
Nose has a bit of heat and lemon tang. Palate has good integration, fruit and minerality. The wood is slightly pronounced on the finish. Very forward. Quite pleasant, nice richness.
Santenay Clos de Malte 2003 **
Good complex nose - nice fruit and spice with a bit of peach and lemongrass. Palate is big, rich - toasty, nice melon flavours with a hint of apricot. Somewhat tropical w/nice spiciness again - very dry finish - very good!
Saint Aubin 2003
Slightly mute nose. The palate seems disjointed - a lot more acidity kicking about but but unhinged - might settle with time but at the moment disappointing. Especially compared to the previous 3 2003s.
Chassagne Montrachet 2003 **
Dry, slightly foral nose; herby but not green. Honey and lime begins to come through… palate is very well structured; nicely layered fruit minerality with hints of woodspice, merging on a very long finish. Bit sexy too.
Meursault 2003 (**)
Nose is fresh with a bit of pear drop and touch of lime. Bit closed on both the nose and palate but there is an underlying richness and power there! Wait and see but I think there is a lot to come.
Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot 2003 (*)
Nose is very soft & gentle. Palate is integrated though restrained. Mouthfeel is excellent. V. Good length through oak comes apart a bit at the end.
Meursault Genevrieres 2003 **
14% Brilliant nose -honey, lime, melon with a bit of smokiness. Very rich palate - good integration with nice length and depth.
Meursault Perrieres 2003 *(*)
Nose is a bit more restrained while the palate is juicier, perhaps more luscious - sexier fruit maybe but not as complete - the oak separates a bit at the end. Still very nice; possibly more time needed.
Meursault Charmes 2003 (?)
More subtle nose; mute citrus - palate is more oak dominated though there's intriguing acidity on the finish. Curious. Far more backward than any of the others so far. Perhaps this is a good thing?
Meusault Blagny 2003 *
Nose is more open. Nice fruit with a bit of elegance - Quite a mouthful - nicely sensuous - bit sexy. Good but not great complexity but very pleasing on the palate.
Puligny Montrachet Referts 2003 *
A lot of mineral and citrus on the nose. Palate is again surprisingly complete - pineapples and a bit of peach. Quiet finish but elegant.
Puligny Montrachet Clos de la Garenne Duc de Magenta 2003 **(*)
Nose is subtle, perfumed and elegant. Deep and mouth-filling; not all open yet but there is an undercurrent of power - a hint of things to come. Long and pleasing. Will be excellent I have no doubt.
Puligny Montrachet Les Folatieres 2003 **(*)
Fresh, slightly lighter nose - juicier, more fruit forward style - very lively at the moment - lemon zest and butter. Very good length and develops nicely on the palate.
Puligny Montrachet Champ Gains 2003
Nose is fresh and fun - not quite the stature of the others to be honest.
Beaune Greves Le Clos Blanc 2003 **
Classic (for this unique wine), slightly exotic nose. Palate is excellent and actually exciting - like a cold hot toddy! Really lovely!
Corton Charlemagne 2003 **
Nose is big but tempered (butter soaked melons) - palate is massive, with almost pinot noir structure - totally odd that, but lovely nonetheless. Quite impressive.
Le Charlemagne 2003 *?
Nose is understated - slightly dumb but with incredible perfume on the edges. Palate far more expressive - tropical fruit - kiwis and the like but somewhat short on the finish.
Chevalier Montrachet Les Demoiselles 2003 ***
Nose has to be egged on a bit but comes through with lovely lemons and cloves and cinnamon, then limes and peaches. Palate is seemless with beautiful layers of fruit and butter and spice with a hint of creaminess. Truly lovely, I must say.
Montrachet 2003 ***
Nose is monumental though untamed at the moment - a veritable pot pouri. Palate is totally incredible. Hugely complex fruit and minerality. It changes with every sip but the structure is consistent throughout. Mouth-coating beauty; wonderful! A thing of great beauty. I am privileged.
Conclusions: the whites were interesting though throughout the tasting and then after there was a slight discomfort at how incredibly forward and revealing they were. I think that the heat may have just been a bit too much and I'm not sure that at the top level the wines are going to be worth the prices that they will command. There are a couple of things to make clear though - while very pleasing and forward, there were very few instances of actual heat from the incredibly high alcohol levels, nor were there any cases of boozy sweetness. I think they are very good wines for a vintage in which making fine whites seems to have been perturbed by weather. At the basic level is where I feel the best of the vintage is to be found. Both the Vaucraine and the Clos de Malte are very, very nice wines which will provide excellent drinking in the near to mid term. The village Meursault seems to be a winner as well, and with regards to the higher level wines, the Duc de Magenta La Garrenne was exceptional. But these may well be very expensive.
a visit to the Jadot cellars with Jacques Lardieret
Outrageous heat and drought caused, as in Beaujolais, very high sugar levels but without acidity to balance. Importantly, there was a lack of actual water in the grapes. Jacques explained the water was incredibly important as it was what carried 'message' of the grape and terroir into the wine. Wine is after all mostly water. When harvest started Jacques waited later, due to vast discrepancies in grape maturity, regardless of sugar levels. One grape on a bunch may have 15% potential alcohol and another 9%. Due to this, some growers actually still had to chaptilise due to early harvest. Lardiere waited for rain and it came twice; he was among the last to harvest in 2003. Risk was very high that overly tannic, sweet wines would be produced do to the incredibly reduced juice. The grapes were chilled on arrival at La Sabliére to just below room temperature. Colour migration happened incredibly fast (2-3 days) though Jacques still waited 13-23 to 'allow memory of the grapes' to be transferred. He believes that maceration does not simply lead to extraction - it is a two-way street with the must giving some back. Jacques feels that the lengthy wine-making allows balance to be achieved. Too short a time leads to the must taking too much but not giving anything back which leads to over-extraction. The temperature of fermentation was not controlled. The lack of water in the grapes perturbed heat conduction and so temperature increases were slow and did not cause a problem. The wines after a few months in cask worried all of Jadot. They seemed new worldy. Barrel age has mellowed them considerably and while certainly big wines they are certainly Burgundies.
Santenay Clos de Malte Rouge 2003 *
Colour is dense - bloody. Nose is meaty, rich; bit of violets and lavender. Palate is quite mouthfilling for Clos de Malte. Quite nice and a lot of wine for the price, though it is a bit rough around the edges.
Pernand Verglesses Croix de St Pierre 2003 **
Supple, juicy nose - light spice with a bit of cinnamon coming through on the edges. The palate is very concentrated - dark fruits - bit of chocolate, but still very elegant as well; not overpowering. A lot of potential here.
Savigny Guettes 2003 *?
Vegetal and slightly herbal nose - this carries through to the palate with, strangely, a hint of Earl Grey. Very dry, light style. Very interesting and certainly different.
Savigny Dominoe 2003
Crushed violets and lavender on the nose - palate big and a bit brash - big tannins provide structure but need time - there's a lot of fruit though.
Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot Rouge Duc de Magenta 2003 **(*)
Nose is deep, dense with dark fruit and a bit of leather; sweetness comes through as well as a sense of purity. Palate is very elegant but with power and understatement. There's a bit of toffee on the length of the finish. I really like this.
Beaune Avaux 2003 **
Slightly minty nose - very elegant, perfumed palate. Quite light in style but brilliantly pure fruit. Good complexity. Very nice.
Beaune Couchereaux 2003 *(*)
Note quite supple. Cool herbal flavours; mint, gravel, minerals; nice complexity. Very nice.
Beaune Clos des Ursules 2003 **(*)
Very deep rich nose - subtle perfumed notes on the edges. Nice big dark red fruits but a mineral backbone giving superb structure. Fine indeed.
Volnay Chevret 2003
Bought in. You can kind of tell. The nose is very forward and sweet. Bit simple on the palate.
Volnay Clos de la Barre 2003 *
Nose is a bit plumy and forward. Very nice sexy/sweet palate, but the tannins give it lovely backbone.
Volnay Clos des Chenes 2003 *(*)
Soft and quite gentle on the nose. Mouthfeel is lovely and soft; gentle, & elegant. I like this one.
Pommard Commaraine 2003
Quite juicy nose but a bit stinky. Palate nice but seems a bit thin. Good fruit though.
Pommard Rugiens 2003 **
Nose has lovely fruit & hints at cloves and allspice. Palate is tight - well integrated and very elegant. Very nice.
Corton Pougets 2003 (**)
Nose is backwards somewhat - but does boast some promise. Palate is feminine and structured with nice length. Very nice.
Cote de Nuits Village “la Vaucrain” 2003 *
Dark, spicy nose. Nice palate - very complete with structured dark fruit - hint of strawberries as well. Very enjoyable.
Bit farmyardy on the nose - bit backwards. Palate improves. Once again good purity of fruit with a nice balance.
Nuits St George 2003 **
Mocha and black cherries on the nose. Really good balance on the palate - mocha and black cherries still about but with some nice herbal secondary flavours as well. Big, but gripping, tight structure - excellent mouth-feel. Very nice indeed.
Gevrey Chambertin 2003 ?
Licorice and slightly confected nose - seems a bit disjointed - may need to settle a wee bit but we'll see.
Vosne Romanee 2003 *(*)
Really nice nose - dark but with good herbal notes. Palate is well put together and a bit more subtle than expected. Soft fruits with a hint of violet creams. Good finish. Really very nice.
Chambolle Musigny 2003 *(*)
Nice, fruity perfume on the nose - quite sexy to be honest, but subtle. Soft, sweet cherries and violets come through on the nose and continue on the palate. Quite a stiff backbone of tannin as well but the finish softens a bit. Good but needs a bit of time.
Chambolle Musigny Les Fuees 2003 **
Love the nose - hinting at a great deal but not showing everything yet. Palate both rich and elegant with some spice notes around the edges. Very nice indeed.
Vosne Romanee Beaux Monts 2003 **
Dark fruits come through on a somewhat backwards nose. Palate is big and mouthfilling with lots of forest fruit and oak. I didn't want to spit!
Nuits St George Boudots 2003
Mocha & Cherries on the nose again (some of this declassified into the village perhaps?) but with floral edges. Very nice palate though big and a bit brash. Long finish though I'm not sure this will have the value that the village wine has.
Gevrey Chambertin Lavaux St Jacques 2003 (**)
Nose very closed. A hint of meat. Some brambles as well. The palate is brooding - quite a bit there but when will it come out?
Gevrey Chambertin Clos St Jacques 2003 **(*)
Nose is minty and herbaceous - a fistful of lavender; then cherries come through as well. The palate is very subtle and supple - elegant with underlying power. Superb
Charmes Chambertin 2003 *
Broad nose with good depth - palate is forward as well but not as promising as the two St Jacques.
Clos Vougeot 2003 **
Nice nose - perfumed sweet fruits. Palate is really nicely balanced with great fruit and great mouthfeel. A big wine but not flabby. Quite sexy.
Echezaux 2003 ***
Fresh nose - forest floor, cloves and that sort of wildness but still quite elegant. My goodness that palate is lovely - beautiful, layered fruits kept in tight balance by well integrated tannins. Such purity. It caresses. Truly lovely, feminine and lingering.
Chapelle Chambertin 2003 **
Fruit dominated nose, hint of pepper and perfume. Palate is lovely, complex and very long, though James's stories of Sandy Irvine Robertson are making me snarf it up my nose.
Chambertin Clos de Beze 2003 ***
Dark, brooding nose - hints of beaten leather, sweet fruit comes through on the end. Palate is powerful but supple, caressing and truly beautiful. Wow.
Bonnes Mares 2003 **
Sweet Nose, quite gentle and structured. Very pure and clean though not as complex as the Echezaux and Clos de Beze.
Lunch at La Sabliére with Bernard Ripon
Corton Charlemagne 1991 ***
Nose is mature - confit pineapple, maple, honey and baked lime zest. Palate is gentle and elegant. Good minerality, honey and a bit of wild mushrooms. Just lovely with foie gras terrine.
Chambolle Musigny La Feusselottes 1996 *(*)
Nose is a bit muted but the palate comes through with nice, clean red fruits. Then sort of stops. Think this needs quite a bit more time to come through.
Conclusions: these reds are very good to excellent in certain respects. Terroir typicity has been maintained with few exceptions and there are some real gems out there - again a lot depends on the price. The village Nuits St George, the La Vaucrain have a lot of promise. While we weren't shown the standard selection of Beaune 1er Crus both the Avaux and the Couchereaux were very nice and may require further attention. Clos des Ursules is excellent. Other personal favourites were the Perrand Verglesses Croix St Pierre, the Chassagne Rouge from Magenta and the Vosne Romanee Beaux Monts.
This seems to have been an odd vintage. I have a suspicion that the press are going to love it and it, like Bordeaux for the same year, will achieve more attention and higher prices than perhaps the overall quality deserve. That Jadot has made decent to very good whites and some very good to exceptional reds is impressive.