Mounir Saouma describes 2010 as a mix of 2005 and 2009 but admits that he doesn't know how they will turn out. "They were supposed to be very full-bodied but they're not. The vintage is humiliating us so far. The key will be long alcoholic fermentations," he said, adding that some of his wines still had some unfermented sugar and most of the malos hadn't even started. So on my latest visit I focused on the 2009s, which were still in barrel. Most of them only finished their malos during the summer of 2010. "The key in 2009 was being able to pick early with sufficient ripeness. The fruit was low in acidity and for the first 14 to 16 months we were talking about a good year. But the mistake was to rack the wines too early." As my notes show, Saouma has some stunning 2009s in the making. He planned to bottle them later than his '09 reds.
($95) Sexy aromas of iodine, menthol, smoked meat and spices. Chewy with extract, with dominant elements of dusty minerality and peaty single-malt scotch. Superb body and length, and classically dry on the aftertaste.
($125) Pale yellow. Tangy yellow fruits, orange peel and honey, lifted by a floral topnote. Very rich and floral in the mouth, conveying a strong impression of acidity, especially for the vintage. Then long and ripe on the aftertaste.
Bright pale yellow. Lower-toned aromas of smoky oak and flowers. Tight and minerally in the mouth, with slightly hard-edged acidity and a strong rocky character leaving this wine rather austere today. But the finish is zesty and long.
($140) Pale yellow. Ripe pear, lemon, lime and musky white flowers on the nose. Perfectly harmonious acidity gives sharp definition to the intense citrus and crushed stone flavors. Very long, rising finish stains the palate on the piquant finish.
Reticent, subtle nose hints at pear, apple, peach, smoke and salty minerality. Pliant and sweet but very unevolved and serious; showing strong apple fruit but needs time to develop more charm. The richest and sweetest of these Chassagne premier crus but at the same time quite vibrant. Finishes long and firm-edged. This should age for a long time.
($115) Sexy aromas of ripe peach, flowers, butter and grilled nuts, complicated by suggestions of mint and dried herbs. Rich, fat, broad and sweet, with considerable power to its flavors of ripe stone fruits and clove oil. Finishes with excellent length.
($145) Pale, bright yellow. Musky, perfumed aromas of dried apricot, crushed stone, rose oil and cinnamon. Very spicy and aromatic in the mouth, offering excellent definition and cut and an impression of high dry extract. Serious, bracing wine, not high in acidity but with bracing saline minerality and strong spice character carrying the fruit through an impressively long finish.
Bright pale color. Brilliantly pure aromas of lemon oil and white flowers. Rich and silky, with outstanding complexity--and a slight viognier-like quality--to its flavors of pineapple, apricot, melon, lichee and salty oyster shell. This has more body than most Puligny examples from this vintage, but the youthfully bitter-edged finish delivers strong soil tones. Mounir Saouma believes that Puligny-Montrachet was the favored white wine appellation in 2009.
($150) Bright, light yellow. Smoky, ripe aromas of honey, white truffle and white pepper; conveys a strong limestone character. Then tight and stony on the palate, much less silky than the Folatieries that preceded it. Ripe and powerful but distinctly taut today, even a bit brutal. Hard to get a handle on.
($150) Aromas of mirabelle, minerals, clove oil and earth, with a suggestion of oyster shell. Fat, rich and spicy but quite dry, with a lightly mentholated quality accentuated by the wine's alcohol. Boasts a suave texture but this rather powerful wine is quite closed today.
Estery aromas of yellow peach and smoke. Fat, oily and sweet, with the sheer mid-palate thickness of texture to carry its strong oakiness. But with a tannic structure almost like a red wine, this very young Meursault comes across as a bit aggressive today and not yet expressive. Quite long on the finish, though.
Initially shy nose opens to reveal very pure aromas of underripe plum, wild herbs and flinty crushed stone. At once dense and weightless, with terrific precision and cut to its citrus zest and crushed stone flavors. Best today on the explosive, sappy, rising finish, which saturates the palate with dusty minerality. Very hard to spit! Grand cru quality here.
(14% alcohol; contains 15% pinot blanc picked at 15% alcohol; finished its sugar fermentation a year after the harvest): Light straw-yellow. Mirabelle with hints of red berries on the nose. Fat, rich and sweet; very full in the mouth, with well-integrated acidity and notes of crushed rock and menthol giving it good chewy definition. Classic stony Corton aftertaste.
(from vines on the Pernand side; finished its malo very early, in February of 2010): Light medium yellow. Pungently mineral aromas of pineapple, wild herbs and crushed stone. On the palate, powerful rocky minerality is perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the vintage. Much deeper and more layered than the Corton Blanc, not to mention more nuanced. A wonderfully silky, backward wine that finishes with palate-staining salty minerality.
Bright medium yellow. Very ripe aromas of orange marmalade, pear, apple and honey. Silky and rather exotic in the mouth, showing a strong spicy character as well as a faint bitter edge. Youthfully aggressive and distinctly disjointed today, in need of time to combine its disparate elements. Saouma added some more lees during the spring of 2010. He told me that the wine "had no weight" until February of this year, and that it "just tasted like chardonnay. The Poruzots also has a lot of different elements, but it's a premier cru so it's more harmonious today."
Bright medium yellow. Smoky, salty, estery nose, with a biscuity nuance ("smells like the Dead Sea," says Saouma, who is from Lebanon and once made wine at a Trappist monastery in Israel). The palate offers almost painful intensity, with penetrating lemony acidity and pungent minerality currently keeping the fruit under wraps. Best today on the reverberating, extract-rich aftertaste. Lacks charm now, but there's grand cru energy and nobility here. This will probably not be bottled until at least September.
Captivating nose combines candied lemon peel, ripe peach flesh, clove and vanilla. Wonderfully sweet but young and powerful too, with a noble silkiness of texture given shape and grip by a fine dusting of stone. Offers an exhilarating combination of full ripeness and harmonious acidity. This very deep, layered wine stains the palate on the aftertaste. Much sexier today than the Bienvenue and the Batard.
Bright yellow. Exotic aromas of apricot, ripe pear and honey. Fat, glyceral and sweet; a plush fruit bomb with a distinctly exotic aspect. Conveys an impression of great solidity, but the very long finish is still a bit youthfully aggressive. Saouma refers to this Montrachet, from the Puligny side of the appellation, as "a project" that will need a lot of patience. Like the Montrachet from the Chassagne side, it was scheduled to be bottled in September after spending nearly two years in barrel without a racking.
(from vines in Chassagne-Montrachet): Pale, bright yellow. Laid-back nose hints at peach and white flowers. Tighter and less obviously sweet than the "P", delivering great intensity without excess weight. Sappy fruit is complicated by a peaty, iodiney quality. A wine of great clarity and class, with a gripping, precise finish that builds inexorably. Saouma blended his two cuvees of Montrachet in 2005 and 2008 but bottled them separately in 2007. In 2009, the two wines are completely different, and the blend is less interesting than the two wines on their own, he adds.