Côte de Beaune Wine
It's our third year of importing Bruno Colin's superb wines and his efforts were predictably accomplished when we tasted them at his stunning new winery in Chassagne-Montrachet in April 2022. Like many growers in Burgundy, from a quantitative point of view, the last two vintages have not been kind. In 2020, hydric stress caused by the extreme heat kept yields at least 20% below what was produced in 2019. In 2021, the widely-reported frost and hail decimated 70% of the Chassagne-Montrachet-based domaine's Chardonnay and 50% of its Pinot Noir. As a result of these conditions, quantities are much reduced.
There is a strong sense of poise and balance to his white wines - well-judged ripeness adding depth to his trademark fine, mineral backbone. His Hautes-Côtes de Beaune blanc comes from vineyards around 100-200m higher up the 'Golden Slopes' than the Côte de Beaune appellation - giving a little more freshness in warmer vintages. Mineral and nervy in style followed by citrus and a little peach, it is a great introduction to the domaine.
A small amount of white Chassagne-Montrachet wine is produced from around 9 plots around the village – each adding their own individuality to the classic minerality and silky-smooth finish. A Premier Cru from 'Les Chaumées' was badly affected by frost in 2021 so is sadly missing until the 2022 vintage is released. Both Chassagnes classically would be served with sole meunière, a buttery roast poulet de Bresse or veal with a morel mushroom sauce.
Bruno's red wines show supple black cherry fruit meeting judiciously balanced yet firm tannins which will both support graceful ageing and 'up front' pleasure within 6 to 12 months. In particular, his Chassagne' rouge is sourced from 45+ year-old vines on four limestone-clay parcels around the village. Concentrated cassis and black cherry aromas, a gamey edge and firm but fine tannins make this a wine that has the guts to age for 5+ years after vintage. It would be ideal with small game and black pepper sauces.
Bruno also makes an excellent red Santenay wine - from pure Pinot Noir planted in 1959 - just below the famous 'Clos de Tavannes' lieu-dit. With a bouquet of raspberries and blackcurrants and a smooth red fruit palate with pepper and spice notes and pitchy undertones, it is very accessible for a young red Burgundy and has the legs to last for a good 5 to 7+ years after vintage.
The 'Rue au Port' Pommard from Stéphane Brocard's Closerie des Alisiers label comes from his own parcel of vines in the 'Rue au Porc' lieu-dit. Confusingly, it is labelled as 'Rue au Port' but regardless of association, it has delicate violet aromas and diverse flavours of plums, mushrooms, game and leather alongside vibrant berry fruit. Already approachable, it will age well for a further 5to 10 years and matches with game or the local pungent Epoisses cheese.
In far more humble surroundings - literally off a beaten track in Aloxe - Pascal Gay at Domaine François Gay produces juicy, joyful terroir-authentic wines from a broad plethora of vineyards. His single white hails from Pernand-Vergelesses and has an expressive, smokey, flint-heavy bouquet and a broad ripe stone-fruit palate. It offers terrific value compared to some of the bigger 'names' from the Côte de Beaune. A terrific Ladoix joined the ranks last year and has proved hugely popular with sommeliers for its racy red berry fruit-scented style. We also discovered a more muscular and powerful Savigny-Les-Beaune Premier Cru 'Les Serpentières' which has fine-grained tannins alongside its darker cherry fruit and forest-foor complexity. It complements a leafy, broad and blackberry-fruited Beaune Premier Cru 'Les Teurons'. Completing the range is a beautifully poised and evolved Aloxe-Corton that drinks well from release and has the stuffing to age for 5+ years.
Bringing up the rear is a splendid Corton Grand Cru from Eva Reh at Domaine Bertagna. 'Les Grandes Lolières' is a dark-hued Pinot Noir that benefits from bottle age or decanting given its terrific tannin structure and concentration. Intense, spicy cocoa notes vie with dark plum and cherry, a savoury gamey edge and sous-bois. A roast rib of Charolais beef would be apposite.