A Superb Amphora White Burgundy Sure to Make Wine Geeks Weak at the Knees – Tasting Jean Marc Millot’s New Aligote 2017…

Jean Marc has been in charge of his family’s small domaine for nearly two decades now. He has combined his experience with a relatively new chai at Nuits Saint Georges and is coming out with some very solid wines indeed.

There is a tendency to pick a little later (though never the last for the Cotes de Nuits Villages), use careful selection and then vinify in the natural way. There is just a little new oak on the Grand Crus and the Suchots but the wines rely on a very natural feel and intensity of fruit.

The Cotes de Nuits Villages has been a great value wine for some years. Jean Marc and Christine’s second daughter, Alix is making her mark … this is her fourth vintage and the wines have now become highly prized both in Europe, America and Asia.

Jean Marc is also dabbling with a delicious new Amphora wine made with bought-in Aligote grapes and was kind enough to include a sample bottle in his 2016 red Burgundy sample shipment sent over for his annual London En-primeur tasting.

Jean Marc Millot Bourgogne Aligote 2017, Burgundy, France

Still bright lemon yellow with a hint of haze, this is an exotic Aligote brimming with energy and character. The aromatics are quite lifted and phenolic, showing notes of baked apples, apple skins, pear purée and a savoury, earthy, white pepper, yellow pastille fruit intensity. This wine is still in amphora and so retains a vibrant crunchy green fruit concentration, plush fleshy depth, nervy energy, and a most delicious sweet apple bon bon finish. While not a finished wine yet, if Jean Marc can preserve the impressive textural breadth at bottling, this is going to be an absolute cracker that should make natural wine geeks week at the knees.

(Wine Safari Score: 88-90+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Bordeaux Babble in a Nutshell… The Antidote to Bordeaux En-primeur…

It’s old but it’s still very very funny at this time of year, doing the annual pilgrimage to Bordeaux. So, having spent a week in Bordeaux, having gums assailed by giant tannins, somebody has finally got to grips with some basic French…. enjoy! 

French: A good year

Translation: a bad year

French: A classic year 

Translation: most of the wines are undrinkable

French: A Parker wine

Translation: lucky bastards

French: an elegant wine

Translation: a wine with no fruit

French: a wine with great structure

Translation: a wine with ferocious (probably unripe) tannins

French: A vintage for the purist

Translation: please buy my wine – somebody, anybody…

French: prices will be the same as last year

Translation: make me an offer

French: It is a Cabernet vintage

Translation: My winery is in the Médoc

French: It is a right bank vintage

Translation: My winery is in St Emilion / Pomerol

French: It is impossible to generalise

Translation: It was crap everywhere.

Burgundy En-primeur 2015 Kicks Off with a Head to Head Montrachet Shoot Out… 

This week marks the start of the annual Burgundy En-primeur tasting week in London. Fantastically, Burgundy and its importers have achieved what neither Bordeaux nor the Rhone has managed to do… isolate a specific tasting window in the annual London tasting calendar, focus industry minds both in Burgundy and in the UK merchant shipper trade, and present a concise, well organised series of comprehensive tastings over 1 to 2 weeks that now draw journalists and buyers from across the globe. A real achievement indeed. This could only happen in London. 

So for this occasion, I thought it would be fun to highlight one of the greatest white wine appellations in Burgundy and pitch two Montrachet Grand Cru whites against each other, head to head, with bare knuckles!

Le Montrachet has its origins in the 13th century. The Cistercian monks were donated a few vineyards on ” le Mont Chauve ” or ” Mont Rachaz ” between Puligny and Chassagne. Over the centuries, Le Montrachet was nicknamed the “vigne blanche du Seigneur” or “Roi des rois”. It is today considered to be one of the greatest of all dry white wines in the world. With vines grown on extremely barren triassic gravelly limestone soils, it is the very proof that the greatest wines often come from the most extreme sites.

Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils Montrachet Grand Cru 2015 ~ 0.89Ha 

Pale crystalline brightness. Lovely rich sweet nose of lemon butter, honey suckle, white blossom and leesy, mealy nuances. Wonderfully complex in its youth, there is such alluring depth with a real glycerol textured, full bodied palate that’s round and honied, fresh, succulent and endlessly long on the finish. Normally aged 12 to 13 months in up to 15% new oak, this is a beautiful expression but lacks the tension, drive and acidity of vintages like 2011, 2013 or even 2014. But certainly every bit as regal and seductive as you imagine it should be. (Wine Safari Score: 95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW) 

Domaine Drouhin Marquis de Laguiche Montrachet Grand Cru 2015 ~ 2.06Ha

This shows a rich dusty nose of limestone, white grapefruit and wet chalk, spliced together with nuances of creamy lemon pie, white buttered toast, lemon biscuits, and stoney pithy minerality. The palate is so vibrant and fresh, almost zippy, with massive concentration and intense power. There’s a majestic focus to the purity, soft crystalline acids, liquid mineral power, and a complex green apple and lemon cordial concentration on the finish. Exudes breeding and class. Slightly softer with less “coiled spring” tension than some years, but still eye wateringly fine. A real icon wine. (Wine Safari Score: 96+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

So the Drouhin takes it by a clear point. Their 10,000 vines per hectare yielded approximately 28-32 Hl/Ha in 2015 and with less than 50% new oak used, they left the wine on its lees but employed no battonage this year due to the lower acidity. Two regal wines, tasted side by side, both a splendour in their own right.