“2012 is ripe, fresh and energetic,” remarks Olivier Lamy.
We tasted in his perishingly cold cellar, two levels down, where you can see your breath in the air. Somehow this year it was even colder. I had come prepared, but I could hardly hit the keys of my laptop. Fortunately Olivier took pity on me after the 2011 tasting and we took the lovely vertical of En Remilly (which he had very kindly produced at my request) up to the cuverie to taste, where I almost defrosted my fingers.
Oliver comments on the season. “We had small berries, the result of coulure and millerandage, although we had less hail here than in many parts of the Côte de Beaune. It seems it hit Les-Murgers-des-Dents-de Chien, where they also had sunburn. En Remilly was only clipped.
On the 16th May there was frost after the Saint Glace at 15th (old saying that you never see frost after the Saint Glace, but they did last year and in 2013 on 21st May, it almost froze too).
The effect of small yield and smaller berries was quicker maturation. With big hail damage it is difficult to get good maturation. Oliver harvested those which were not affected e.g. the new parcel of Chaumées later. The berries were small. The weight of bunch in the high density is only 50g anyway and 30% less weight in 2012. While in in Les Frionnes, Derrière Chez Edouard and Clos De Meix he had a pretty normal yield.
He used a table de tries – a vibrating one – for the whites as well as reds. “All the small dry or burnt berries fall out.”
Interestingly Olivier also experimented with some foulage in 2012. He hired a machine. “It turns a bit and the grapes are a little crushed. I was looking for structure, but gently.” He does not like to use a harder press to extract the juice, “you get the structure more from the skin, which is not good. You can use foulage if the grapes are ripe; you need ripe skins or you will also extract green flavours.” He did long, slow pressing over 3 hrs and noticed that it was easier to press with the foulage first. (The spice character in Olivier Lamy’s Saint-Aubin, Les Princèes may be the result of using foulage.)
As with the 2011 there is no sulphur added to the juice. The fermentation started quickly so we don’t need it and it’s better as the wine will be more resistant and of course less is combined early on.
“The lees were good. We did no deboubage and no new oak as I felt that it would mark it. There were some new barrels in 2011 and so we had some one year old barrels.”
“Small crops make good structure; it is a vintage of concentration, not high acidity. It’s a heterogeneous vintage. The very reduced quantities can affect the style. For 2 years I have tasted with Nicolas Rossignol, David Croix and Thomas Bouley. We share ideas and go together into each of our vineyards. It’s possible to progress more quickly if there are several sharing ideas. You can also spot the effects of less conscientious viticultural practices in other vineyards. It is easy to see in a vineyard where people spray with copper that the grapes take longer to ripen.
As you will see below Olivier has some new vineyards and it’s work in progress now to convert them to the way he likes to work.
Lovely flight of wines.
On the Saint Aubin side. High up – although not high enough to be Hautes-Côtes ..and south facing. A week behind in flowering and harvesting. Fresh; very bright fruit and lively. Good concentration for Bourgogne. Lovely energy and a zesty finish. Very pleasant indeed.
*Saint-Aubin, Les Princèes
Aromatic and fresh. Floral with just ripe apricot character attractively juicy. It tightens to have bite and spice on the finish. There is some spice here, but the profile is fresh. It adds another dimension to this quite simple wine. Good. Score 15
The spicy character may be the result of the foulage.
Saint-Aubin, Clos De Meix
The clos with its wall is always riper. The phenolic maturation is good and quick – less sugar but more maturation with the hard chalk in the Clos.
There is just 30cm top soil and then hard rock in Clos de Meix. “ The roots cannot penetrate this so this is why it is richer and does not have the minerality of Chez Edouard.”
Really sweet fruit, ripe and juicy. Fresh crushed lemon. There is richness, but very nicely contained. More intense than Les Princèes. Pure and sweet on the finish. Very good. Score 15.75
*Saint-Aubin, Derrière Chez Edouard
The salty character is the white clay (marn). “Just a track between this and the Clos de Meix, but the soil is different. There is the top redder soil and the white marn which is 40% calcareous and therefore very mineral.”
This is very mineral. Pure and tight, straight palate, not narrow, it has some concentration and breadth, but straight edged. Good depth and intensity. Hard minerals, tight and focused. It’s a cold wine and the cold acidity and minerality balance the ripe fruit. Particularly good+. Score 17.5
Saint-Aubin, Les Frionnes
When Oliver took his samples of this vineyard he discovered that it was not Marne Blanche as he had expected, but small pebbly rocks.
Quite floral on the nose. Just balanced acidity. A rounder palate: not full, but smooth at the edges. It has aromatic floral quality on the palate and particularly on the finish. Very good+. Score 16.2
Chassagne-Montrachet, Le Concis du Champs
This is a village wine from a parcel in the middle of the village. 14,000 density planted in 2005, so young vines. You see the competition between the vines. There is more clay. Started the harvest with this on the 13th then stopped and then began after 17th and finished on the 23rd with the Bourgogne Blanc. Started here because this was ripe. 100 days was the 17th. No foulage here, as the machine had not arrived in time.
Ripe, honeysuckle aroma. Rich flavour on the palate, rounded and juicy, but not heavy. Touch of exotic fruit. Good concentration and depth for a village wine. Bite on the finish. Very good. Score 16.25
Olivier has doubled the surface this year. Planted some in 2010. It was first harvest and the yield was just 5hl/ha. “Nice selection massale and good rootstock. When you have everything the berries and the bunches are very small, too small, and the maturation is very quick. But this is very young.”
*Puligny-Montrachet, Les Tremblots
In the soil sample in Olivier’s excellent collect of soil strata you can see the white marl with its high calcareous level under the top soil. There is a fracture, so you get this beneath and this gives the freshness and minerality. This is 40 and 70 years old.
High toned, upright aroma. Pure and racy on the front attack It jumps on the palate and has plenty of fruit and energy. It is ripe for sure, but fresh and zesty at the end. Excellent village wine. Very good indeed. Score 16.5
*Puligny-Montrachet, Les Tremblots, High Density
Oliver planted a parcel in the middle of his vines of about 700 sq m in 2001, at the same time as the Chez Edouard. It’s tiny and the vines suffered from the competition of the established vines, but are now holding their own. Planting of 20,000 vines is not as high as Chez Edouard. Olivier may make a separate bottling this year for the first time.
A level up in intensity and energy. Focused and shows much more minerality. It is quite dense, but more refined and the finish is more mineral and longer. Score 17
Santenay, Les Gravières
A new acquisition for Oliver. 0.05 of 45 years old vines which needed picking quickly. (Oliver has planted some more vines) Very chalky vineyard and have to harvest very quickly. There is a thick wall creating a microclimate. Plenty of delicious, ripe, sweet lime-like fruit. Pure and contained and sweetly mineral. It is in a small older barrel which he’s not that happy with. Next year he will have more and can put it in pièce.
*Saint-Aubin, En Remilly
This has a mix of clay, rock and limestone all mixed up and looser, “it does not have that clay layer like the Dent de Chien so in a warm vintage it can suffer and get too ripe without water it stresses. But therefore it really shows well in a lesser vintage. Also depends on the wind. Part of the vineyard get the wind and is always fresher. Wind does play a part here.”
This is pure and high toned and bright. Very taut. Straight, neatly edged; fine and tense palate. good nervousity and shivering minerality. Particularly good+. Score 17.65
Saint-Aubin, Murgers Des Dents De Chien
This has 20cm of red soil “clay and then the chalkier soil… not like the white marn but some chalk mixed up with other things. In comparison with the En Remilly parcel, it has a little bit more top soil.”
Ripe aroma and profile…just at the edge of the more petrol and exotic note; the palate is well balanced with concentrated fruit, quite compact with good minerality and energy and freshness; but with slightly riper flavours. Particularly Good. Score 17.45
Saint-Aubin, Clos De La Chatenière
This is very fresh on the attack. The ripeness here reflects its south expression. Nicely rounded and concentrated with balancing savoury minerality and good focus at the end of the palate. It has density and cold minerals, without the power and layered structure of a 2010. It was so cold in the cellar. It may show more later. To taste again. Particularly good+. Score 17.25
Chassagne-Montrachet, Les Macherelles
Rich and full palate. Good concentration and firm acidity. Interesting that the MLF has not started, but the apply malic does not show. Lots of intensity and a darker more robust, burly full and broad palate. Dense. Particularly good. Score 17.5
Chassagne-Montrachet, Les Chaumèes
It is planted in 70s and 89. 200 metre long row. Red soil, rich with chalk underneath. High toned, bright and tense aroma. High-wired palate. There is ripeness here too, but ripe citrus and very elegant with a fine and mineral finish. Light and energetic. Olivier has just acquired this and will make changes in the vineyard, such as grass between the rows for competition, to make it even purer. Particularly good+. Score 17.25
*Saint-Aubin, Derrière Chez Edouard high density
28 and 30,000. This is driven, deep and intense. Very structured and channelled and taut. Lovely cold minerality here. On the long finish. The white tight and pure. Really good finish. I really liked it this year. Score 18. From 2017
I year old barrel. This has some high density planting in the middle of the parcel too, but he makes just one barrel. Lovely minerality and shape. Very focused, intense and pure. Well defined and very mineral palate. It’s rich but so elegant and has a wonderfully shimmering minerality on the finish. Proper grand cru structure now. This really seems to be raising its game. Very fine. Score 19