2011 Domaine Pinson Freres Chablis Mont de Milieu
Expert Rating
BH 91-93 points
(Read the full review below)
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Domaine Pinson & 4.1 out of 5 stars! Perfect Timing and Burghound's 91-93pt Rave

Last year, some of you made off with a few bottles of Charlene Pinson's superb 2010 single-vineyard Chablis. We told the story of her father's moonlight call to harvest, one that guaranteed that neither Charlene nor her newborn would sleep through the night.

A week before many neighbors began to harvest, the Pinsons would snip every golden Chardonnay cluster in their prized "Mont de Milieu" and "Les Clos" vineyards -- a decision that would pave the way for two of the more startlingly mineral Chablis of that extraordinary harvest.

The 111 buyers who took the time to rate Charlene Pinson's 2010s, came in just as Allen Meadows did. There would be 41 5-star ratings, 47 more at 4-stars, in one of the more remarkable white Burgundy showings in WineAccess history.

But as we would learn last October in Chablis, Laurent Pinson's second consecutive early call to harvest would raise the bar a notch in 2011. Charlene -- perhaps the most talented young winemaker in the appellation -- would work her cellar magic, accounting for one of the richest, most electrifyingly mineral "Mont de Milieus" since 2002.

In many respects, the final act of the 2011 growing season chez Pinson would mimic 2010 -- even if the early growing season scenes were drawn from a different script. Unlike 2010, when the summer was unusually cool, in 2011, temperatures were warm. Ample rainfall proved challenging for those less accustomed to manual labor in the vines. But the Pinsons never missed a beat. Throughout July and August, the family worked painstakingly, thinning crop -- leaving profits on the ground -- so as to provide plenty of airflow between the bunches that remained. Beginning in the third week of August, each morning, the Pinsons trekked their prized holding in First Growth "Mont de Milieu," plucking berries, evaluating sugars. By the end of the month, they'd seen enough.

"By the end of August, the sugars were exactly where we like them. The Chardonnay was golden -- sweet and juicy. The skins weren't overly thick. There was no upside in postponing the harvest, but in our view, plenty of downside. Had we waited (as many did) another week, sugars wouldn't have risen much, but acids would have dropped. In 2010, I honestly wasn't sure I'd made the right call, but this time I was certain. We were among the very first to begin picking on September 1. Our timing was perfect."

As collectors of the most complex, mineral Chardonnays are now fully aware, the greatest 2011 Premier and Cru Chablis will most resemble the staggeringly opulent 2002s and 1989s. The top names in town -- Dauvissat, Raveneau, Fevre, Pinson and Louis Michel -- navigated the harvest brilliantly, turning out bottles that not only rival -- but in cases like this one -- may actually overshadow the acclaimed 2010s. If you're fond of rich, steely, highly mineral Chablis, buy whatever you can get from the names above -- at least until your Amex Card gives out.

Allen Meadows, whose Burghound.com has become night table reading for every serious Burgundy collector from NYC to Tokyo, was particularly tough on many Chablisien estates in 2011. But when it came to the Pinsons, and their equally starstruck neighbors, the stingiest Burgundy critic in the world couldn't hold back.

Charlene's magnificent 2011 "Mont de Milieu" would be Meadows's highest-rated Premier Cru Chablis of this startling vintage at under $30/bottle. It's not too tough to figure out why.

Pale gold in color, with exotic aromas of ripe apple, apricot pit, a faint touch of French cooperage. Unusually rich and ripe, lushly concentrated, still juicy and fresh, much reminiscent of the superb 2002s, with its rare combination of high energy, vibrancy and persistence. Delicious now, but history tells us this one will still be going strong a decade from now.

Tasting Notes

2011 Domaine Pinson Freres Chablis Mont de Milieu
"The bold, rich and robust medium weight plus flavors ooze a mouth coating dry extract that buffers well the firm acid spine on the almost painfully intense and driving finish. This is one concentrated but finely balanced effort that delivers outstanding length. I very much like this and Pinson's track record with this wine is nothing short of outstanding."
91-93 points -- Allen Meadows, Burghound

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    • This is a Pre-Arrival Offer: Weather permitting, wine will begin shipping upon arrival, in April, 2013.

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