The distinctly more accurate terroir character of the 2008s caught my attention last year, so it was time to go back for a visit. I tasted with Guillaume Lavolee, the son-in-law of owner Francois Delaby who now manages this estate. Working with enologist Nicolas Ludwig, Lavolee has made numerous changes here in a very short time. The estate has started organic treatment and ploughing of the soil. They are no longer using herbicides, or adding enzymes, or stirring the lees. Everything is harvested by hand and the alcoholic fermentations are longer. And the wines are now fermented with native yeasts, in barrels (35% new for the premier and grand crus). They spend their first 12 months in barrel, then pass the second winter in stainless steel tanks. The chardonnay harvest of 2010 began late, on September 23. The quality of the '09s and '10s make clear that this large family domain is back on track.
Bright, pale yellow-green. High-pitched aromas of candied citrus peel and lemon oil. Juicy, nicely delineated and energetic, with calcaire-driven cut and lift. Shows good soil character on the back end, and a brisk flavor of ripe grapefruit as it opens in the mouth.
Medium bright yellow with a green tinge. Perfumed, pure aromas of lemon, lime and oily white flowers. Dense and pure, with a steely intensity and good acid grip to its citrus flavors. Nicely concentrated village wine with a thickness of texture perfectly leavened by strong acidity. An excellent showing.
Bright yellow with a green tinge. Pungent, high-pitched aromas of lemon, lime tea, minerals and acacia flower. More pliant than the Nosroyes but with just as much cut and harmonious acidity giving shape to its very ripe citrus and floral flavors. Not yet complex but ripe, sweet, fruit-driven and persistent, with subtle floral aftershocks.
Full yellow. Very ripe aromas of stone fruits, gardenia and acacia flower. Fat, lush and rich; a distinctly full, sweet style with a hint of fresh almond on the back. Just enough of an acid edge here to maintain its shape. Not a minerally style. Estate manage Guillaume Lavolee calls this "starter Meursault." Incidentally, he noted that the estate's Meursault cuvees are the highest in acidity in 2010, and that their malos started later than the rest.
Green-yellow. Very pure, laid-back nose melds peach pit, clove, camphor, flowers and stone. Firm and quite intense in the mouth, with a saline, steely minerality giving the palate a dusty, tactile quality. Finishes bright and very long, with a flavor of comice pear. More about minerals and soil than primary fruit, and very promising.
Bright yellow. Pure, precise aromas of peach and flowers accented by spicy oak. Wonderfully sweet on entry, but with a strong acid spine and lovely floral lift giving this dense, rich wine palate-staining lift and extending the finish. By the way, the blend I tasted included a higher percentage of new barrels than the final cuvee will contain, as the malos in a number of the used barriques had not yet finished. These vines are more than 50 years old, according to enologist Nicolas Ludwig.
(a blend of 15- and 45-year-old vines): Green-tinged yellow. Spearmint, lime and white flowers on the vibrant nose. A dense, sweet fruit bomb in the mouth; a tad aggressive following the two premier crus from Puligny but boasts intense orchard fruit flavors and finishes with a firm citric edge. Less complex and deep, though, and probably for drinking before the Pulignys.
High-pitched tangy aromas of stone fruits and honeycomb; suggests a bit of delicate botrytis. Lush, sweet and very ripe, with concentrated stone fruit and spice flavors of noteworthy richness and depth. Finishes ripe, full, honeyed and long, with a slight warmth (the alcohol here is 13.8%).
(from south-facing vines in Le Charlemagne): Bright yellow with green highlights. Vibrant aromas of lime, clove, crushed stone and flowers. Dense and fat but at the same time powerful, with lovely citrussy acidity giving shape to the fresh apricot and stone flavors. Too ripe on the end for really classic Corton-Charlemagne, but the finish pleases with its fresh apricot and peach fruit.
($60) Bright yellow. Very ripe aromas of nut oil and acacia flower. Fat, rich and sweet, with superripe flavors of apricot and peach complicated by stony and salty nuances. Much plusher but less precise than the 2010. Holds its alcohol well on the lingering finish.
Very pale yellow-green. Pure but reticent nose hints at lemon, lime and acacia flower; still a bit stunted from the March bottling. Then silky but juicy and light on its feet, with nicely integrated acidity and a citrus character giving it more energy than the Nosroyes and extending the finish. A more elegant wine from a cooler exposure.
($69) Captivating, high-pitched aromas and flavors of lemon oil, pineapple, stone and white flowers. Ripe and densely packed but juicy, thanks to strong minerality and firm acidity that cuts the wine's sweetness. Finishes aromatic and long. Concentrated, vibrant wine with the structure to age.
($69) Bright pale yellow. Pineapple, crushed stone and strong minerality on the nose. Fresh and stony in the mouth, with a penetrating quality to its pineapple fruit. This is tight verging on musclebound today, and extremely vibrant. Best today on the long, round, impeccably balanced finish. This, too, appears to be balanced for a positive evolution in bottle. I find this clearly more mineral-driven than the 2010 version.
($66) Good pale green-yellow. Lime, mirabelle, menthol and a slatey minerality on the nose. Then big, rich and opulent but a bit disjointed and not yet showing much detail; rather closed today owing to the sheer power of the vintage. Finishes strong but youthfully aggressive.
($144) Bright yellow. Very pure nose of spearmint and crushed stone. Powerful but ripe and fine-grained; large-scaled, round and nicely dry, with a strong pineapple fruitiness. The long finish shows a light bitterness. Today I prefer the 2010, even though it's quite muscular for the year.