"Fresh and invigorating, a bit like the 2000s in their energy," said Vincent Girardin about his 2010 whites. "Puligny-Montrachet was the best village, but only if you picked early, because these vines were very sensitive to rot," he added. Girardin has been steadily reducing his percentage of new oak in recent years; he has also been picking earlier, at lower levels of potential alcohol and with better acidity. The 2010s came in mostly in the 12.8% to 13% range and he did not chaptalize. He is also working more reductively, racking his new barrels protected from air, and not racking his old barrels until the assemblage. And he's doing a longer elevage these days: in fact, he had just finished bottling his '09s a few weeks before my visit. Girardin has bought an old Vaselin press, which he believes helps him preserve dry extract. He did a double pressing in 2010, then a 12-hour debourbage, so that he could start with all the fine lees. His hope is that this will allow him to bottle "juicy, less demonstrative wines that are more minerally and austere."
Cloudy full yellow. Racy aromas of grapefruit, crushed rock and wild herbs. At once creamy and invigorating, with enticing flavors of white peach, citrus peel, spices and herbs. From a very minerally terroir but not at all hard. Very promising.
Pretty yellow-green color. Very ripe aromas of stone fruits and musky grapefruit. Sweet and a bit soft but with slightly edgy lemony acidity. This is in an awkward stage today, perhaps with a hint of malic acidity remaining. Not hugely concentrated though.
Bright yellow. Captivating nose of powdered stone, white flowers, ginger and nutmeg. Suave on entry, then fine-grained, silky and elegant in the middle and more harmonious today than the Chaumees. Ripe nectarine and spice flavors build impressively on the back end, which offers good stony cut.
Bright, pale yellow. Strong gingerbread spiciness along with a suggestion of malic acidity on the nose. Fat, ripe and sweet; less subtle and suave than the Clos du Caillerets and perhaps a bit more typical as Chassagne. Finishes broad and ripe, with a light touch but a slightly edgy quality.
Bright pale-medium yellow Pungent aromas of orange oil and spices; smells like an exotic Alsatian riesling. Fat, sweet and densely packed; quite pliant and open-knit today. Not yet complex but very ripe and round, with nectarine, yellow peach and nut oil flavors dominating. I would have picked this blind as Meursault. Not the most energetic of these 2010s, but really coats the palate.
Bright pale-medium yellow. Yellow peach, fresh pineapple, white flowers and a hint of stone on the nose. Very ripe and mouthfilling, but with brisk, harmonious acidity giving lift to the ripe pineapple and peach flavors complicated by nuts and marzipan. Finishes fresh, with nothing austere about it.
Hazy yellow. Sexy aromas of musky stone fruits and pineapple. A real peach bomb in the mouth, with floral and nutmeg notes providing energy and a light touch. Lovely rich but bright wine with terrific fruit. Girardin is now seeking to make "more chiseled" crus. In contrast to the 2010s, he told me, his 2008s showed riper, more exotic, more exuberant aromas.
Pale greenish yellow. Perfumed aromas of pineapple, nut oil and flowers. Rich, ripe, full and sweet, with impressive palate presence and a firm, citrussy finish. As plump as this is, it's still rather unforthcoming in the middle palate. In fact, this is even a bit austere in a positive way.
(not a domain wine; from vines that touch those of Comtes Lafon, according to Girardin): Greenish-yellow. Captivating aromas of pineapple, flowers and hazelnut. Sweet, rich and thick, but without the flavor definition or precision of Girardin's Puligny cuvees. Here I feel a bit of alcoholic warmth. These old vines planted on SO4 rootstock yield wines with a bit less verve, notes Girardin.
Bright yellow with a green tinge. Lemon, lime and musky, stony minerality on the nose. Dense and chewy, with a captivating sweet/saline quality to its crushed stone and spice flavors. Very well balanced wine with much more structure than the Charmes. Finishes very long, with a citrus edge.
Pale green-yellow. Aromas of apple, lime and ginger. A step up in intensity and minerality from the premier crus; quite ripe and pliant but rather unforthcoming. Best today on the subtle, rising whiplash of a finish, which coats the palate with powdered stone. Very long and gripping wine: am I underestimating it today?
Pale bright yellow. High-pitched aromas of pineapple, vineyard peach, brown spices, violet and lavender. Suave on entry, then deep, smooth and very ripe, with lovely precision to its intense apple, pineapple and spice flavors. This tactile, highly concentrated wine saturates the palate without leaving any impression of weight. Really perks up the taste buds on the very long, rising finish.
Pale-medium yellow. Clove, menthol and mirabelle on the nose; more soil- than fruit-driven. Sweet, dense and rather powerful, with sound acidity framing the flavors of peach flesh and nut oil. Finishes spicy, long and youthfully austere--in fact almost aggressive for Bienvenues, almost certainly owing to a bit of unconverted malic acidity.
Light medium yellow. Highly perfumed nose combines crushed stone, minerals, white flowers, mint and menthol, with subtle notes of brown spices and wild herbs. Densely packed but silky and fine-grained; saturates the mouth with stone fruit flavors without leaving any impression of weight. Really grips the palate on the dusty, rising, very long finish. This highly concentrated wine should be long-lived.
Bright light-medium yellow. Expressive, nuanced aromas of spearmint, menthol, smoked meat, nut oil and smoky minerality; an essence of Burgundy. Utterly silky on entry, then wonderfully rich and complex in the middle, saturating every square millimeter of the palate with flavor. Builds slowly and inexorably on the very broad finish. Like so many examples of Chevalier, this seems showy early, but it has all the elements for a graceful evolution in the cellar.
Pale yellow-green. Very ripe but fresh aromas of lime, mirabelle, white flowers and menthol. Ripe, concentrated and dry, with lovely purity to its lemon drop and floral flavors. Boasts serious stuffing and length. These 2009s were bottled in April and May of 2011 but had been taken out of oak before the 2010 harvest.
($66) Bright pale yellow. Reticent nose of stone fruits, smoky minerality and musky lees. Broad, bright, dry and firmly structured; less expressive and open-knit than the comparatively explosive Chaumees but this really vibrates with crushed stone on the finish. Offers terrific potential.
($58) Polished medium-yellow color. Apricot, peach, smoke and nut oil on the nose. Sweet and smooth but a bit unforthcoming today; less dense than the Clos du Caillerets and in need of time to express its personality. A bit less gripping and precise on the finish, as there's less minerality here.
($75) Bright pale yellow. Smoke, minerals, menthol and flowers on the slightly reduced nose. Juicy, spicy, intense and bright, with terrific penetration and cut for 2009. A hint of nutty oak gives this very young wine a touch of sweetness but it will nonetheless need several years of bottle aging to harmonize. Loads of potential here.
($81) Pale green-yellow. Reticent but pure aromas of lime and spearmint. Then rich but juicy in the mouth, with pepper and spice notes conveying an impression of precision. Quite tightly wound; this struck me as more classically Puligny than the 2010 version. Finishes very long and dusty.
($101) Pale yellow. Pure, high-pitched aromas of violet, white pepper, herbs and white truffle; very restrained following the recent bottling. Supple, chewy and intensely flavored, with the pepper and herb notes following through on the palate, which is currently dominated by crushed stone minerality and spices. Finishes with a positive bitterness and terrific lift.
($167) Bright pale yellow. Sexy smoky oak and strong minerally silex on the nose, lifted by a violet high note. A densely packed wine with terrific force, offering outstanding cut to its citrus, apple, floral and mineral flavors. At once laid-back and powerful, and extremely unevolved. This really titillates the taste buds on the long, rising, lemon-and-stone finish. Wow! Girardin purchased a bit more Corton-Charlemagne in Aloxe-Corton this year but it's unlikely to find its way into this special cuvee: he wants the Quintessence bottling, which is always from the same 80-year-old vines in the heart of the hillside on the Pernand side, to remain rare.
($216) Palish yellow. Reticent nose shows an apricotty ripeness. Sweet on entry, then fruity and almost unctuous in the middle. This very fat wine offers excellent breadth but does not quite come alive. Hard to taste after the more forceful Quintessence. I wanted more definition and grip for grand cru. At 13.3% alcohol, this is the highest of the 2009s along with the Clos du Cailleret, despite the fact that it was picked very early.