The following extracts are taken from several different vintage reports. I write the reports while I am in Burgundy for two to three weeks in early summer to taste the whites and in October for a further three weeks to taste reds.

How I work: I avoid reading or listening to anything about the vintage before arrive. I work on my own and my opinions are made while I am in situ. I listen to the producers, record their impressions and form my own opinions. I consult with no one before or after my visit and when I leave after the last tasting, the report is finished and ready to send to subscribers. The white report is put on one side until the red has been written and they are sent together.

With regards to the tasting notes, I write directly into my laptop during the tastings. I am not a touch typist and the result of multi tasting – speaking with growers, writing and tasting at the same time yields notes which are not absolutely perfect. I taste each wine once and record my impression. I edit the notes to an extent later in the day, particularly if my laptop is perched on a barrel top making typing more difficult, but I want to avoid anything over-manipulated – so expect a few typos. The evenings are reserved for writing the vintage report, which I add to at the end of each day. I immerse myself in the vintage during the visits and live and breath little else to make the report as comprehensive as possible.

(Older Reports: Sarah Abbot MW/Katherine Richardson MW accompanied me to share the tastings of red wine for the 2005-2008 vintages. I now do fewer visits, but make them all myself.)


1: Assessing Puligny Montrachet, Clavoillons in the villages and vineyards section of the 2012 report.

Clavoillons as ever has a warm and sunny disposition. It is ripely rounded, but not heavy and the body is curvaceous, but not fat. It can get very rich and somewhat heavy in a ripe vintage like 2009, so this vintage suits it well. The flavours are quite exotic though, spicy with some lychee. It is richer and more exotic than in 2011, which was more mandarin. No botrytis notes this year, which is a good thing, with the body and spice of Clavoillons this can all be too much. Of all the Puligny premier crus this expresses the creamy texture of the vintage. It’s very inviting and can hardly fail to please.

2: Considering Gevrey-Chambertin village wine in the 2011 vintage report and on to some premier crus

I hear Gevrey wines so often described as masculine, but this is such a generalisation and this is certainly a vintage where Gevrey shows its more feminine side. They are energetic and pure and rather refined with all the typical dark fruit, but a gentler structure to the frame and tannins. They maybe softer and/or silkier, but they have plenty of energy. Of course the earlier vintage makes them more accessible than is often the case when tasting in October.

The quality in Gevrey-Chambertin was good across the board with a proper sense of hierarchy.

I had some lovely village wine. Pure and energetic and dark, but with clarity to the fruit. I like the village wines from the north over to Brochon. They had good energy. Les Evocelles showed well. (See Denis Bachelet’s first vintage of this lieut-dit.)

Premier crus:
Clos Saint Jacques shows its superior premier cru, verging on grand cru, status. Refined, effortless and flowing. Satin tannins.

The premier cru either side of Clos Saint Jacques on the hill are in their element.

Lavaux-Saint-Jacques: juicy red fruit this year and supple tannin. A good balance of ripe fruit and liveliness. It showed well in the warm 2009 and 2010 and does so again. This year there is ripe red summer fruit; there is an extra silkiness to the tannins. It may be softer than the 2010, but the cool wind down the combe ensures its freshness. High up at the coldest end of the combe, Les Poissenots is notably floral and aromatic.

Les Cazetiers: This stood out. It is spicy with slatey minerality. I liked the vigour. My favourite after Clos Saint Jacques this year.

Of the threesome Combe aux Moines, Goulots and Champeaux: Combe aux Moines from Fourrier has pitched the balance just right -dark fruit, depth, freshness and fine tannins. There are other warmer vintages which suit Goulots better. Champeaux did not have the same quality of tannin, but has vigour.

Of the premier cru lower down I had some good Petit Chapelle.

3: A snippet from the quality section of the 2009 report, considering 2005 and 2009.

There is the school of thought which reasons that a top vintage to be truly great, it should be stunning from the beginning, through the middle and to the end. For some, this is what puts 2009 above 2005. It was not that long ago that it was imperative to age great wine. These days the focus, the holy grail, is glorious fruit and fine wines which are naturally more accessible. This has been made possible with good technical knowledge practiced in the cuverie and most importantly the work in the vineyard in conjunction with meticulous sorting of fruit. This is a great stride forward, but one shouldn’t knock the 2005 for hunkering down for a bit. The 2005 is structural because of the vintage, not because of the way the fruit was grown or the wine was made.

4: From the ‘winery’ section of the 2011 white vintage report.

Pressing and clarification:

Increasingly slow and careful press cycles are used. A few commented on a long and continuous press with no turning. Healthy grapes resulted in good juice and nice lees. At Bouchard they focused on picking the top climats in the morning as the afternoons were very warm. They sought to press in cooler conditions. Because of the ambient temperature they used a continuous press cycle with no turning in order to minimise extraction, to preserve the green colour and have less varietal character. The juice needed cooling quickly given the ambient temperature and the warm grapes.

The general impression I received, is that most had a relatively clear juice. Where the grapes were healthy and physiologically ripe, the skins broke easily in the press and with just gentle pressure it was easy to take juice and there was less likelihood of extracting green, herbaceous elements. Some reported fractioning off the poorer, dark and green lees which is usual, although many said there was less than usual of the ‘rubbish.’ However it depends on how you press. Many were keen to maximise the time on lees to bring richness to the wine and no doubt the wines will benefit from another eight months static autolysis (after June when I tasted).

Jean-Pierre Confuron at Chanson remarked that they took much of the lees, especially in Meursault and Puligny, to bring more density to the wine. Patrick Essa is another who likes to work with plenty of lees and Jean-Marc Roulot was also clear about the benefits of lees in this vintage.

The pressing is such an important part of the process for whites. The control here plays a great part in the quality of the final wine. This of course has quite an impact where the negoce are concerned. It is so much better for a negoce to control quality by buying the grapes and not the must, but in villages, notably Puligny, growers are very reluctant to sell grapes; something I have mentioned in most vintage reports. (Growers selling juice may well press harder and extract a larger quantities of inferior juice than if the negociant pressed themselves.) At Bouchard they seem to be making some progress on this front. Philippe spoke of buying more in grapes and harvesting them with his pickers and therefore choosing the juice he uses. (See the Bouchard entry for more about pressing.)

Few used foulage, but Jean-Marc is steadfast in his approach: “This is this a good year for foulage. When you have this kind of grapes with difficulty at the end (of the season). Foulage allows you to get the juice without pressing so much, so with this you do not have to increase the pressure, which can give you green characters.”

5: An extract from the ‘analysis’ section.. of the red 2009 report. Not for everyone, but there for those who find it useful.


The acidity overall was fair in 2009. For some it was lower than usual. But in this case the acidity was mainly tartaric, as the malic acidity had degraded in the warm August and therefore the TA (total acidity) did not decrease much after the MLF. So it was only a little lower than average in the finished wine. Of course this depends on picking date. Acidity decreased rapidly and there will be a notable difference in a wine for which the grapes were picked on the 7th to those picked on the 20th of September.

TA is not as low as in 2003, but in the average bracket. In general however it seems lower than the 2005.

The wine of course is more than just the numbers. David Croix has pHs of 3.45 to 3.65 and alcohol level of 14-14.8%. The wines maybe high in alcohol but they do not taste hot on the finish and the pHs are relatively low to normal. The wine tastes fresh.

Generally the pHs are in the range of 3.45-3.7 perfectly fine to sustain good ageing given the right balance of other elements.

I always include growers’ impressions.

Those who picked early retained sufficient acidity. For example the Humbert brothers picked on the 12th at 12-12.5 degrees because they wanted to retain the acidity. “I prefer to get 12 degrees and good acidity. It is not interesting for me to get high sugar levels,” remarks Emmanuel Humbert.

Pierre Vincent at Domaine de la Vougeraie comments, “The reds after the MLF had a pH of 3.6-3.7 and the TA was around 4.5. Like the 2005s they are so easy to taste in barrel, but after one year the 2005s closed and I think the 2009 may be like this too. I think the 2009 balance may be better than in 2005, which was maybe too ripe and too fat which is not a problem in 2009.”

Samples of En-Primeur Tasting Notes

The introduction to the tasting notes at each domaine varies. Some are longer, others shorter, but they have certainly lengthened over the years. I also spend quite some time discussing the vintage with the negociants. Those I visit have substantial domaine vineyards across the Côte d’Or and hence have a good overview of the conditions. The Lamy-Caillat tasting is from the 2014 vintage. The tasting with with Olivier Lamy is included to illustrate a longer introduction and some discussion about terroir during the tasting. Domaine de Courcel is shorter and Nicolas Rossignol is a further example of a tasting with some older vintages scattered in the notes.


For the most recent vintages (2014, 2013 and 2012) I have scored wines out of 20 and I make good use of the decimal point.

For the 2015 vintage I semi converted to scoring out of 100. For the whites I scored out of 100 and the reds I used both for the main part.

The assessment I used prior to this was linked to a table of scores ie Fine=18. Fine+=18.5, which is illustrated in the 2009 tasting notes with Nicolas Rossignol and the first few in the tasting with Olivier Lamy. By the 2011 vintage I was primarily scoring out of 20.

Bourgogne Assuming it is correctly made with no faults and meets basic expectations, it could range from sound, pleasant to attractive. I often don’t score a Bourgogne; if it is a good one, I will say so. 12-14
Village From sound, although this would be disappointing at this level, through to pleasant and attractive to good. 12
Village at the top level would be very good. 13-15
Deuxièmes crus: the best lieux-dits could reach particularly good for exceptional village wine. 16
My expectation of quality in a wine from a principal village – in white Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet is different from that of Saint-Aubin or Santenay for example. 17
Premier cru Very good (Underwhelming for premier cru) 16
Particularly good (A sound premier cru from a top village) 17
Fine (Premium wine) 18
Very fine (An exceptional premier cru) 19
Scoring has to be seen in the context of the village. 17+ for a white Saint-Aubin would be a very good score.
Grand Cru Particularly good (This falls well below expectations of grand cru) 17
Fine (Premium wine, but a straight 18 would fall below expectations – it should be nearer 19) 18
Very fine (Excellent) 19
Outstanding (one would expect grand cru to score between 19 and 20. A perfect score is something very special) 20

Domaine De Courcel, Pommard

From the 2012 vintage:

Yves Confuron makes these wines in the same manner the family domaine (Confuron-Cotetidot). They are harvested late for full phenolic maturity. He uses 100% whole cluster, pigeage and a long maceration period. They have a small, wood vertical press. They are wines which take no prisoners. The make few concessions to the modern drinker who may want to drink the wine in its infancy. These are wines built to last and worthy of it.

Yves is a bit fed up (and understandably so) with notoriety of whole bunch. “It has become so fashionable. Everyone used to say, it’s dreadful, and now everyone is using some. It’s just as a commercial thing to say you use it.” One can sympathise with this point of view from someone who has followed this approach steadfastly. Key to this is full phenolic ripeness. To use stems they have to be really ripe. He points out that many people picked too early (and in the rain) in Vosne, Gevrey etc where his domaine parcels are located. As ever he waited. He waited until the 30th in Pommard.

This year the Pommard have approximately 25 days vatting. “This is not long,” Yves says, “The 1993 had 40 days. That was long. It is the same as bread. The longer you let it rise, the more complex. In both, you are working with yeast…if you make shorter fermentation, you lose the complexity. For me it is simple you make the wine with a longer vatting, then you do not need to use things to make the wine more complex afterwards, like new oak.”

“We must bottle this vintage later. It needs another cold winter in the cellar to clean the tannins,” remarks Yves.

“The 2012 you have something like the Barolo balance – sweet fruit with the bitter.”

“When you do not have acidity in Pinot you must use tannin for freshness to make the vibration.”

Very good wines here. The Rugiens is superb.


Black cherry and blackberry aromas. Fruity and inviting on the nose. Juicy ripe fruit. Very sweet with plentiful and quite robust tannins to provide the balance. This is a sturdy Bourgogne; touch smoke on the finish. A lot of stuffing. Loads of fruit, but not a Bourgogne you want to approach too early. It will take time to come round. Score 14 From 2016.

Pommard, Vaumuriens

1 barrel only. High-toned with hint of the garrigue and rosemary. Sweet, smooth textured and rather pure onto the palate. The fruit is red damson; medium bodied, deep, but not at all over rich. It has good energy. Yes there is the trade mark tannic structure here, a density of tannin, but they are not hard. They provide good balance and freshness and spice. It has bite to the purposeful finish. Score 16. From 2017

Pommard, Les Croix-Noires

More clay here than in Fremiers.Domaine Coucel has 0.6 of the 1.2 hectares. Dark and luscious hedgerow fruit aroma. Really quite sumptuous fruit on the attack; dark and sweet, but not over ripe; plenty of matter here. A good deal of thick, quite substantial tannins, but it is not aggressive. Lots of everything; dark fruit and liquorish tannin. Again it finishes spicy and fresh and on an up-toned aromatic note. Score 17.75-18. From 2017/18

Pommard, Les Fremiers

Red fruit aroma; slight spice, but a little muted. Sweet and dark. Enveloped in sweet coating tannin. It is larger on the palate, as befits this premier cru. The plentiful tannins are thicker, but also somewhat smoother than Croix-Noires. It is rich and ever-so-slightly sumptuous while being dense and structural, but fresh too, nothing over heavy. There is energy built into this and it has a ripe, determined finish. Score 18.2. From 2017/18

*Pommard, Grand Clos des Epenots

Ripe aroma with rich black plum and dark chocolate. Christmas spices on the nose. It is certainly at full ripeness with the aromatics from the ripe stems. Silky smooth onto the palate, satin textured. This is quite a level up. A more sophisticated wine. The tannins are finer, yes plentiful, but very sweet and ripe; much more chamois-leather and seductive. It is fresh and sweeps rather elegantly across the palate. Lovely movement across the palate to a long dark, bitter sweet finish. Score 18.65. From 2018

Pommard, Grand Clos des Epenots 2011

Bottled in October. It is a lighter balance than the 2012 with sweet fruit red fruit. It is quite tight at the moment and the recent bottling and sulphur have dried up the finish. However you can see the scope and the aromatic intensity.

*Pommard, Rugiens

Is this Hauts – white soil.

Red and floral with notes of anise. This is elegant, pure and high toned. Very racy, taut and fine textured. The tannins are silky textured. There is a lot of tension here and you feel the cold face of this higher part with its white soil. It is long and fine on the finish and very mineral. Sappy, tension to the very end. It is longer than the Epenots and more refined. A lovely long and almost saline finish. It’s very good. Score 19. From 2018/19

Pommard, Rugiens 2011

This was bottled in September (2013) and has not suffered. It is floral and high toned. Is it taut immediately, but with time in the glass it shows its purity; very fine texture and almost a delicacy. Very refined, lucid palate with a fine vibration from the mineral soils. The tannins are silky. There is a translucency here, a lightness to the 2011s; a wine of some finesses with a delicate, but intense floral, mineral finish. This is really very good. Score 19. From 2017


UK: Lea and Sandeman; O.W. Loeb & Co. Ltd.
USA: Diageo Château & Estate.

Domaines René Lamy-Pillot and Lamy-Caillat, Chassagne-Montrache

This extract is from the tasting of 2014 Lamy-Caiilat. Sebastien Caillat makes several wines using a different approach and in a separate cellar. The majority of the introduction precedes the René Lamy-Pillot tasting notes.

Sebastien Caillat uses a different press to that used for Domaine René Lamy Pilot. It’s an older mechanic one and he uses no batonnage. The cellar is colder and the wines will stay in the barrel for 24 months and will be unfiltered and bottled by hand. “The fining will be strong, but then no filtration. So the work in the winery is less careful (protective), but then the bottling is more careful… but this way takes time. The 2013 is in tank and is settling very slowly. With Lamy-Caillat we can take time. We are under no pressure.”

*Chassagne-Montrachet, Pot Bois

This is a smaller and older part. 23,54 ares. This was planted in the 60s (the other part, used for René Lamy Pillot, was planted in 2001). This is pure and tight and tense. It is channelled and taut. This really does have that extra level of intensity and direction. Mineral. Very precise. Score 17.

“The wine has to eat its lees, the old people said this and while the lees do not exactly disappear, it is best to leave them, as they have things to give.”

Chassagne-Montrachet, Champs Gains

This is rather full and quite ripe and somewhat generous. At the moment it is mid MLF and more difficult to see where it is going, but it is juicy, and the finish is fresh.

(This is an example where I have not scored the wine, as it just was not showing enough to judge accurately. It happens occasionally. The 2014s whites were tasted in May and this comes from a cold cellar where the wine is quite retarded.)

*Chassagne-Montrachet, Les Caillerets

This is really primary, estery and juicy. Almost still with fermentation aromas. The middle of the palate is tight and pure and the finish is lovely long and directed. There is a savoury, shaley minerality at the end. It has quite a lot of power. It has balance and energy and purity. It looks very good. Score 18.8

*Chassagne-Montrachet, La Romanee

There is some gorgeous silky fruit wrapped around the minerals. A extra level of delightfully silky fruit; the palate is very straight, pure and direct. High toned yet with just gorgeous ripeness. It has verve and intention -and after the sweetness of fruit in the mid palate – a lovely long saline finish. The finish is lighter than the Caillerets – as long, but more airy. Score 18.75.


UK: Private Cellar for Lamy-Caillat
USA: Vinifrance Import.

Domaine Hubert Lamy, Saint-Aubin

“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

Domaine Nicolas Rossignol, Volnay

From the 2009 vintage: Just the Volnay Premier cru in this extract. Here I am using the assessment, rather scores.

“Everything perfect, easy and sunny. Good conditions. Nothing special. Good maturity. I was afraid about the maturity for the taste, as I was worried about the thickness of the skin; would it ripen? I started the 10th, but at the end the phenolic maturity was very high and could use a lot of whole bunch. The pips were very brown and like chocolate or coffee.”

Of these wines only three had been racked Taillepieds, Chevret and Clos des Angles. He will rack nearly everything now into vat and will bottle before Christmas. (He has only just bottled the 2008s just bottled before 2010 harvest). All through MLF.

Nicolas was a great fan of the 2008 (and rightly so) and remarks, “I am not crazy about 2009. It is a little like 2003, but it is more elegant and fresh than the 2003. I don’t think it will close at all. You see the difference between Bourgogne in 2008 which is closed and tight and needs to be left until 2011 and the 2009 which is open.” So he recommends that for the Bourgogne and village wines start with the 2009 and then go back to the 2008s. (Not for the premier cru).

Nicolas now has 30 wines. So we focused on the Premier Cru Volnay and Pommard.

For the Volnay we started at the top of the hill.

Excellent wine here.

*Volnay, Taillepieds

Top of the hill hear the mother rock with white soil and small stones. Old vineyards. Usually he de-stems 100% but this year he selected some whole bunches on the sorting table. He had 2 people taking out the very best 5-10%. Just 2 barrels of this wine, so 50% new oak.

Perfumed aroma with dark red cherry fruit and violets. Very aromatic. Sweet fruit, tense and juicy with hints of bitter chocolate. Excellent energy and definition. Tight dark minerality in the core which carries to the finish. Fine structural tannins. This has vigour and precision. Probably very fine. From 2016

*Volnay, Caillerets

This is not racked yet. Usually no whole bunches here as it is a very elegant and airy wine, and the whole bunches may bring too much heaviness. But felt Nicolas felt it was a good idea in the 2009, to bring to the wine freshness and length.

There is pure, high, tense and vibrant. Tension linked with high toned minerality; bright red fruit with crisp purity. There maybe whole bunch but the tannins, although firmer, are still fine-textured. There is cool minerality on the lovely long finish. My favourite for its effortless finesses, but it has to be said Taillepieds is wonderful too. Very fine. From 2016.

Volnay, Caillerets, 2005

Coming back to the fruit. This is so young still, but showing really well with gorgeous pure fruit and silky tannins rippling effortless across the palate. It is shot with highlights of acidity and glimmers with cool minerality. There is lovely freshness and clarity to the fruit. This is the sort of wine that perfectly illustrates the point that you do not need great density to age. Perfumed, high toned and fresh. The finish is intense, long and luminous. 19.5 From 2014 (but it will keep a very long time. It was Christophe Roumier who inspired Nicolas to focus his energies on making elegant wine.)

Nicolas is passionate about re-educate/re-communicate the expression of the soil via older wines and feels strongly that wines need 5 to 10 years to do this. He is thinking of keeping back some older vintages to release later.

Volnay, Chevret

This is racked. 50% whole bunches. This is in a concave part with deeper soil which has more clay and less rock. 40 and 60 year old vines.

Open and expressive red fruit aroma. Succulent fruit palate, which is juicy and rounded and charming. Soft and sweet in the middle and there is an engaging plumpness to the edges enhanced by the velvety tannins. Yes there is a little grip to the tannins which cuts though the flesh and a bite at the end of the palate. There is freshness to the finish and a note of white pepper. Fine+. From 2015/16.

Volnay, Chevret 2002

There is some development of the aroma, but the palate is very youthful and shows a depth of intense, red and vibrant fruit. Sweet acidity shears ruthlessly through the fruit. It is lively and taut with this backbone. Fine smooth texture. This is the sort of wine where you want to finish the bottle. So fresh, pure and tense on the long finish. 18.5 From now or leave it another 3 or 4 years.

Volnay, Clos des Angles

Lots of clay which is grey clay rather than yellow or brown. 50% whole bunch.

Sweet and succulent fruit which is plump, rounded and full bodied. Fleshy, dense and rich in the middle and rather more unctuous. Good depth – although it is looser in fruit structure. This is where the tannic grip comes though at the end of the palate to balance and freshen. Fine to fine+. From 2015

Volnay, Fremiets

“This is always very ripe where I am but the soil gives this density and structure.”

This is firm. Juicy with plenty of red fruit at the beginning, but then it clamps down and becomes structured, tense and grippy. There is tension and vigour and compactness. The tannins are still elegant though although the palate is very compact. Sweetness entwines with freshness and plenty of minerality. It has a savoury stone finish. Firmly fine+. From 2017.

*Volnay, Le Ronceret

Normally he would not use whole bunches. “This is a strong wine next to Champans with many stones in the vineyard.” Nicolas points out that though it is quite low down the slope. “It has more stones than Chevret for example. It’s also on the Meursault side, but a little higher. Like Thomas Bouley’s Carelle we are at the bottom of the hill and we have the effects of erosion here. So this is not the mother rock; this is soil with stones which has been moved down the slope. The soil is poor and the roots can go down easily.”

After all Nicolas did do some whole bunch. “I then did 30% whole bunch. The bunches were so cute, I has to do some and I put the first third in the vat and then said wait! This is Roncerets.. and so I de-stemmed the rest.”

This is a wine big on personality as well as structure. Purple, exotic spicy violet aroma and the palate is rich, full with notes of bitter cherry and dark, wild forest fruit. There is plenty of grip and density here. It is sappy, very fresh and slightly salty on the finish. Fine towards very fine. From 2017

Volnay, Santenots

Here we move to more red soil with and iron and the rock like Gevrey Chambertin. It is more animal. He farms two hectares and would like to separate this out into the distinct quarters to maximise the full potential of the different terroir. It is not yet possible, but should be in the next 2011 vintage.

This is has depth of dark fruit and is meaty and dense with notes of chocolate, wild berry and spices. The tannic structure is compact and there is some grip. A structural Volnay, packed and tight: It has coiled vigour and a savoury, sappy long finish. Fine+. From 2017


UK: Lea & Sandeman, Bibendum.
USA: Le Serbet. Elite Wines.