The beginning of June was too early to venture judgments on this estate's 2010 white wines, as none of the malolactic fermentations had finished and some hadn't even started. "There was lots more malic acidity than in 2009," noted consulting winemaker Nadine Gublin. "The wines are very delicate and we didn't want to do anything that risks losing finesse. For example, we did not do any lees stirring." Gublin was not the only winemaker to tell me that the 2009s benefited from the long, cold winter of 2009/2010. "The wines found more structure after the malos," she said. "Before that, they were too facile, too varietal." At the beginning the estate thought they'd be bottling these wines early but in the end they did their normal long aging on the lees.
($95) Pale color. Ripe peachy nose. Ripe and warm but fresh, with peach, apricot and quince flavors dominating. Very fruit-dominated wine, attractive for early drinking but not particularly complex.
($92) Bright straw-yellow. Ripe but nicely restrained aromas of stone fruits and vanillin oak. Then drier and more withdrawn on the palate than the Clos de Mazeray, with a flinty minerality that reminded me of Chablis. A distinctly rocky, limestone style of wine with very good structure and grip. Tight today. These vines are now 20 years of age.
($80) Pale, bright yellow. Apricot, butter and a whiff of toast on the nose. Fresh apricot fruit is enlivened by juicy acidity and a suggestion of yeasty minerality from the chalk. Rounder than the Clos de la Feguine, and more typical of the vintage. Nicely concentrated and persistent wine with a solid finish.
($166) (this was to have been bottled a few days after my visit): Medium yellow. Quince, white peach and vanilla on the nose. Supple, sweet and fine-grained, with ripe acidity accentuating the impression of concentration. The long, echoing finish is both bright and powerful.
($120) (tasted just prior to bottling): Good full yellow. Very ripe, expressive apricot and nectarine aromas perked up by a touch of minerality. Sweet and a bit warm, with ripe stone fruit, spice and honey flavors offering moderate nuance. Powerful in a 2009 style but a bit hard-edged on the lingering finish. These vines are now nine years old.
(tasted just prior to bottling): Good full yellow. Pineapple, lemon drop and wild herbs on the nose. Juicy, savory and dry, with very good mid-palate cut. Finishes quite firm, with strong saline minerality. There are just two barrels of this juice in 2009, both done in one-year-old oak.
($234) (tasted just prior to bottling): Pale bright yellow. Candied peach, lemon drop and a whiff of flint on the ripe, expressive nose. At once fat and powerful, with fresh apricot, crushed stone and mint flavors framed by penetrating grapefruit/pineapple acidity. This has the density and force of a grand cru, not to mention the minerality. Really opens out and builds on the back.
($550) (this was racked off its lees the day before my visit and was slated to be bottled before the 2011 harvest): Slightly cloudy yellow. Aromas of peach, apple, spices and crushed stone, with a hint of noble reduction. At once chewy and smooth, with a distinctly taut quality to its flavors of apricot, minerals, anise and flint. Finishes saline and powerful, with a flavor of custard pie as well as a note of grapefruit pith that tickles the taste buds. Lots of aging potential here.
($985) (racked the day before my visit): Good medium yellow. Ripe pineapple and tangy peach on the nose, complicated by white flowers. Sweet, dense and built like a rock; an enormous and powerful wine that's almost bitter today. Crushed rock and saline elements give the finish a chewy, tannic quality that reminded me of a red wine. Nadine Gublin compares this wine to the 1999 in its density and richness. But monolithic and very hard to assess today.
($300) (racked the day before my visit): Palish yellow. High-pitched aromas of elderberry, violet, lavender, linden flower and spices. Youthfully imploded on the palate, with penetrating acidity and powerful chalkiness giving it great inner-mouth tension but making this wine extremely hard to taste. Distinctly salty on the back end. Plenty of ripeness here but totally closed today. This wine did not finish its malo until September of 2010. Hardly your typical 2009, but boasts outstanding potential. Like the Montrachet, this has a structure like a red wine.