The last bottling of the 2016 vintage was carried out in the week of 23 April, respecting the tradition of ending with the monopole of Le Clos Blanc de Vougeot. This wine is always the last to go into bottles, in keeping with the languid pace of its fermentation, and demonstrating year after year that Burgundy whites can be aged for as long as, and sometimes longer, than the reds.
At the same time, all our other great whites were bottled: Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru Champ Gain, the grand crusof Le Charlemagne and the trio of Bâtard-Montrachet, Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet, and Chevalier-Montrachet.
Plus the last of the reds: Pommard Les Petits Noizons, the cuvée of Gevrey-Chambertin, and the Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Les Corvées Pagets.
These reds were racked off two months ago, at the same time as the white grand crus, which spent their last few weeks in stainless-steel vats. The reds were racked off only once, from barrel to barrel. We decide on this by tasting when the oak threatens to dominate the wine. In some years, when the oak is nicely incorporated, no racking off is carried out.
Ageing followed the same sequence as usual, although it was slightly longer for the reds, since the tannins took a little more time to evolve – no doubt due to the exceptional proportion of whole bunches used. For certain cuvées, this was as much as 100%, which was the case for nearly all the grand crus. The premier cru wines were vinified with 50-80% whole bunches, while the village wines and Terres de Famille kept 30%, an approach which provides additional freshness and complexity. This was a relatively difficult ageing phase because the wines fluctuated significantly, before finally stabilizing prior to bottling.
The latest tasting confirmed the excellent profile of the vintage: Freshness, structure, and a prevalence of small red berries for the reds. The whites are more taut, forthright, pure and long. Both colors have very nice acidity, with superb balance, and no sign of flaws. Some of the wines are currently rather closed in the bottle, a reminder that this is a living product. This is a vintage for keeping, which will certainly richly pay back patience before drinking.
But it’s also a frustrating vintage, because the yield was tiny due to frost on 28 April which has gone down in history as a dark day. It resulted in the estate’s lowest-ever production. Only three of our plots escaped the freeze: Pommard Les Petits Noizons, Le Clos Blanc de Vougeot, and Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Les Damodes. Fortunately, 2017 is a whole different story, with its abundant harvests.