Drawn from 25-year-old vines planted on the steep, north-east-facing hillsides above Davayé, the 2015 Domaine Corsin Saint-Véran Tirage Précoce is pale green-gold in hue.
It’s the Chardonnay stop we never miss. Each year since our initial visit 28 years ago, we’ve gone to Davayé. What keeps bringing us back is the Corsin brothers, Jean-Jacques and Gilles. In our book they’re the greatest winegrowing team in the Mâconnais, turning out astoundingly age-worthy, chiseled Chardonnays from their calcareous hillside holdings in and around the tiny village.
The first time we ducked into the cellar at Domaine Corsin was way back in the summer of 1988. At first, Gilles — a legend in the region — was cautious, sizing us up with his small, darting blue eyes, serving a limited lineup of the just-bottled 1987s. But as the younger Corsin warmed up, he took us on a mesmerizing beeswax-scented trip back in time. It set a precedent that would repeat for decades: Gilles starts us off with the current vintage, before leading us back 10, 20, 30 years, to taste older Chardonnays drawn from growing seasons much like the last.
This past summer, our appointment was for 3pm, as always. But instead of going from youngest to oldest, as is Gilles’ custom, this time he wanted to work from the past forward. The main point of comparison? 1989, one of the richest, most opulent vintages in the last 30 years in Burgundy. That year was warm, and the greatest Chardonnay cellars — those able to marry ripe apple/honey lusciousness with superb calcareous minerality — put out gorgeous wet-stone gems.
“The parallels to the 2015 vintage are remarkable,” said Gilles, as we stooped our heads beneath the cellar’s dusty rafters. “As in 1989, ‘15 had a mild winter and spring that led to early flowering. The summer was very hot and dry — long hours of sunshine. We started harvesting late in August. The last four days of the month were game-changers, raising sugar and acidity simultaneously due to moisture evaporation. We had no doubt we were going to have superb richness and concentration. The small-berry Chardonnay clusters were exquisite. The question was, could we balance voluptuousness with pristine freshness, maintain terroir transparency, avoid flabbiness?”
The key to finding that balance was what the Corsin brothers call “tirage précoce,” which translates as “early racking.” This means that following primary fermentation, the wine goes straight to stainless steel fermentation. This “naked” unoaked wine has it both ways: preserving the region’s phenomenal freshness and pure wet-stone minerality while allowing the show-stopping richness of the vintage to shine through.
After tasting through a dozen or so other years we at last arrived at 2015, and understood why Gilles had reversed the chronology this time. The opulence of the vintage, echoing 1989, hit us with the revelatory force of a Wagnerian leitmotif: a tour-de-force crescendo, powerful but measured, the likes of which only the Corsin brothers can produce.
Drawn from 25-year-old vines planted on the steep, northeast-facing hillsides above Davayé, the 2015 Domaine Corsin Saint-Véran Tirage Précoce is pale green-gold in hue. Wonderfully aromatic, filled with ripe pear, a hint of honey, plenty of wet-stone cut. In lieu of simple apple tart flavors, this one features fabulous apple/pear richness, beautifully offset by zesty Riesling minerality, finishing with brisk, high-toned acidity.
The last 468 bottles from this historic harvest are up for grabs — after we grabbed a case for ourselves. $27 on release. Just $21/bottle today for one of the most tantalizing white Burgundy bargains of the year.
Everything you could hope for in a less than top class French Chardonnay.
Very nice wine, a little dear for the quality
This is full of fruit, but it comes off as sweet. I first thought this was great, but sometimes the apparent sweetness is just too much. I need to be in the right mood for this, which, for me, means it is not more than a 3. I've never rated a Corsin this low.....
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