The core business of Blast Vintners is older vintages. En-primeur has never been on the radar. In Burgundy in particular, securing allocations from more heralded domains is no longer plausible for a new company. Even established companies who have supported producers for years and decades have to constantly compete to maintain quantities as pressure from new markets continues to build.
Yet a chance to spend a few days tasting the new vintage was not to be turned-down. It’s a unique chance to compare, talk, sum-up and generally form an assessment of the year’s wines.
And if 2013 was going to be summed up in one word, it would probably be hail.
Hail didn’t fall in Vosne. It didn’t fall in Gevrey. It didn’t fall much in Nuits. But where it did fall, in Volnay, Meursault and Pommard, it scarred backs, smashed winscreens and broke the hearts of vignerons. The shots below shows how Guy Roulot’s vineyards in Meursault were affected and the tiny production of Comte Armand’s famous Pommard Clos Epeneaux, only 10 barrels. (250 cases) – Click to see larger photos.
Some we spoke to, like Yves Confuron at Domaine de Courcel were downbeat and a bit depressed following the savage damage to their vineyards whilst others like Benjamin Leroux of Comte Armand seemed more upbeat and positive for general quality.
Overall I think the wines from Volnay and Beaune had suffered, not just in quantity but in quality, many of the wines had an unattractive back note of un-ripe stems and a certain green quality. In Pommard, this might ameliorate with time, but in a Volnay it’s certainly not one would seek. With careful selection, there are wines brimming with life, a general characteristic of 2013 but its not an easy vintage.
In other appellations, in Vosne and Puligny in particular, there are some wonderful wines. Domaine Leflaive’s 2013s where excellent as were Domaine Grivots and many others below.
Below were my general notes and highlights.
Lovely wines here, the Puligny, often underwhelming was showing very well, as was the Bienvenus Batard Montrachet. The Batard and Chevalier were dense and closed as one would expect. I thought these wines were as good as any set I have tasted from Domaine Leflaive, including the 2010s and outline just how good this vintage can be.
Domaine Lafarge (Outstanding given the vintage)
Very distinctive Aligote and Meursult here and the reds were stunning. Great Ducs and Clos Chenes. Quite soft, precise and well-crafted. Not in the least bit aggressive or manly, unlike some Volnays we tried. Perhaps not the longest-living vintage they have produced but will give lots of pleasure.
Domaine Guy Roulot
Excellent range and a stunning Meursault Charmes. There is a bit of a house style here that reminds me a bit of that of Pierre Yves Colin-Morey, very mineral, demanding greatness that sometimes just feels a bit hard-work, lacking the effortless quality of some. That’s not to take anything from the wines though. They were, and are outstanding.
Domaine Jean Grivot
Super, super wines here. Probably the best tasted this year. Etienne told us he had ‘incredible base materials’ with which to work in 2013 and there was a really special generosity of fruit that he has rarely seen. Again, he looks at 2008 and 2003 as comparison years, but sees the vintage as being superior to either. Not the most long-lived wine from the range but in terms of pure grace and style, the Echezeaux was majestic and show-stopping in its balance and complexity
Small production but very skilfully managed. The wines here have long been powerful but they seem to have been complemented recently with an extra addition of finesse. A wonderfully lifted Clos Epeneaux.
A producer I’m not terribly familiar with but with a lovely set of wines mostly centred around substantial holdings in Pernand and Corton. His Charlemagne was really nicely done and seemed to sum up all of the characterisitcs you associate with this unique wine. He was one of those winemakers who you first consider to be very rude until you realise it’s just shyness.
I’m a big fan of this domaine and really like the style, which for me is admirably finesse-led and really consistant. A big range of wines tasted here, for value I thought the Mazis was really outstanding, the Chambertin Clos Beze was relatively a little disappointing and not the big step up I wanted it to be, and has been in the past.
A modern winery and a modern style but executed with considerable effort and it shows in the wines. No problems here with concentration of length. Some great premier crus.
I always thought the wines of the past showed a bit of rusticity but that seemed not to be the case here at all. Like many domains, one of the latest harvests in history (2nd – 10th October) The Suchots this year was an absolute knockout and was the relative standout of the range for me this year.
These wines were difficult to enjoy in their current state. Only three wines were made as quantities were so tiny and the wines showed a very stemmy, grippy, backward character that I didn’t find attractive at all.
Bruno works with some lovely terroirs including a great plot of Combe d’Orveau I’ll be looking out for in future. The man is clearly passionate about geology as he spent about 80% of the time talking about soil types with us. The wines were excellent, quite forward and pretty, perhaps lacking the refinement to elevate them to the top division, but really enjoyable.
Thomas is a very highly regarded producer and seems to be a real ‘winemakers winemaker’ but I only found the quality I’d want in the premier crus. The village and generic wines seemed a little but pushed and over-extracted for me. I think that the tannins here are also on the grippy side and will need some serious time to come together (if they do at all)
Domaine Henri Gouges
A problem for me in the past is that the wines have always hit something of a glass ceiling which they cannot break through quality wise, at least not without 10 years in the cellar. These are strong premier cru wines but no more. I don’t see this changing in a year like 2013. The Pruliers was the pick for me.