The humid, showery September 12, which brought hail to parts of Santenay, also was responsible for taking the smaller 2010 grapes to very high levels of ripeness, said Michel Coutoux, who is Michel Niellon's son-in-law. "The grapes turned violet and surmuri, which made them quite delicate. We picked the grand crus on the first day, September 16th, and the Chassagnes beginning on the 18th. Partly due to millerandage and coulure, which yielded a mix of small and large grapes, Coutoux said that the ripeness was very uneven in 2010. "Some wines have the density and texture of 2008 but others don't." At Niellon's new facility on the outskirts of Chassagne-Montrachet, he can now bottle late if the vintage calls for it, and, indeed, Coutoux noted that the 2010s would probably be bottled in mid-autumnl (all the 2009s were in bottle prior to the 2010 harvest).

2010 Domaine Michel Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet

Medium yellow.  Yellow plum, honey and marzipan on the rather exotic nose.  Then a bit edgy and aggressive in the mouth, with a slight greenness accentuated by brisk acidity.  Dry on the end.  This should be sweetened by a racking.


2010 Domaine Michel Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet Les Chaumees

Pale medium yellow.  Cool, refreshing aromas of pineapple, lemon, flowers and mint, plus a whiff of fresh apricot.  Candied yellow fruit flavors are complemented by a note of honey and nicely framed by firm acidity.  This sweet, easygoing wine is more harmonious today than the basic village offering.


2010 Domaine Michel Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet Les Vergers

(just finished its malo):  Bright yellow.  Pure but reticent nose hints at flowers and clove.  Penetrating and firm-edged, showing bright acidity and a firm spine of minerality.  Distinctly imploded on the palate, with an almost tannic quality to the flavors of ginger, pear skin and menthol.  Will these premier crus gain in pliancy from a racking?


2010 Domaine Michel Niellon Batard-Montrachet

Bright yellow.  Aromas of lemon drop, lavender, ginger and clove.  Sweet and dense but not at all heavy, with yellow fruit flavors nicely framed by harmonious acidity and perked up by herb, pepper and menthol notes.  Finishes firm and long.  Suggests a rather wide range of ripeness, and may indeed age well.  This was 13% natural alcohol chaptalized to 13.5%.  (Incidentally, the Chassagne-Montrachet Clos St. Jean and Champs Gain had too muchy unconverted malic acidity to assess with confidence.)


2010 Domaine Michel Niellon Chevalier-Montrachet

(this one finished its malo very early, in January):  Bright, green-tinged yellow.  Aromas of orange marmalade, flint and powdered stone.  Rich and round but penetrating, with lovely intensity to the yellow fruit, mineral and floral flavors.  Almost deceptively gentle in texture today, but there's a steely spine of acids and minerals here.  Seems more consistently ripe than the Batard.  Long on the aftertaste, with a firm acid edge.


2009 Domaine Michel Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet

($50) Good pale yellow.  Aromas of peach nectar, ginger, flowers and menthol.  Fat, supple and sweet but fresh, with gentle flavors of peach, citrus fruits and flowers.  A bit warm with alcohol on the finish but remains nicely fresh for the year.  Niellon kept 40% of this wine in tank in order to retain the CO2.  Finishes with good dusty persistence.  The fact that 2009 was the first vintage he made in his new temperature-controlled facility no doubt explains the freshness and tautness of this village wine.


2009 Domaine Michel Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet Les Champgains

($85) Delicate aromas of pear and menthol.  Tightly wound, quite dry and uncompromising; a bit dry-edged today and not particularly expressive.  Flavors of lemon, menthol and minerals carry into the brisk, firm, persistent finish.  This will need some bottle aging.  From vines planted in 1987 and 1989, according to Michel Coutoux.

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2009 Domaine Michel Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet Les Vergers

($85) Pale color.  Very polite, delicate aromas of lemon, pear and yellow flowers; very Chassagne.  The palate offers an almost surprising sucrosite, especially as harmonious acidity gives an early tightness to the concentrated flavors of peach, pear and flowers.  Notes of green apple and mint give the wine a very youthful quality.  Not yet especially deep, but finishes with lovely length.


2009 Domaine Michel Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet Maltroie

($85) Good pale yellow color.  White peach, pear and grapefruit aromas lifted by a floral topnote.  Supple, pliant and lush, but braced by a firm acid spine.  Lovely silky, open-knit wine with a distinctly high pitch to its white peach and floral flavors.  Plenty of sucrosite here, but nicely buffered by harmonious acidity.  Finishes with good dusty persistence.  As Niellon can regulate the temperature in his new facility, he appears to be able to keep the high-pitched floral perfume of his wines more successfully than previously.


2009 Domaine Michel Niellon Chevalier-Montrachet

($300) Reticent, serious nose offers wet stone, clove and a medicinal menthol quality; fruit in the deep background here.  Then dense, tactile and stony on the palate, with penetrating, high-pitched flavors of lavender, minerals and yellow plum.  Impressively mineral and floral for the year, this excellent, refined, very young grand cru will need time in bottle to expand.  A triumph of terroir over vintage here.

(Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines, New York, NY)
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