An early harvest, with the first grapes picked before the end of August, has given the wines longer in which to settle down before they are auctioned on 19th November. There are 787 barrels on offer this year, the most since 2009, with 630 barrels of red wine and 157 of white. For the first time 50 different cuvees are being offered, thanks to the arrival of the first Hospices vineyard in Puligny-Montrachet, the Cuvee Bernard Clerc.
All wines are being matured in new barrels this year, except the barrel of Chablis 1er Cru, Côte de Léchet, Cuvée Jean-Marc Brocard, which is in one year old wood. Some white wines are being matured in double barrels of 456 litres (as noted in the text for relevant wines). Not all of the whites had completed their fermentation at the time of writing, so notes on those with residual sugar are necessarily provisional. Even so, it is not difficult to tell even as early as this that 2017 is likely to prove to be a great vintage for the white wines of Burgundy.
Monthelie Les Duresses, Cuvée Lebelin
Because of a doubt over the exact delimitation between the 1er cru part of Les Duresses and the communal appellation sector of the same lieu-dit, this cuvee is not being declared as 1er cru this year while the question is resolved. The grapes do however come from exactly the same vines as in previous years. Fine bright purple of medium density. Lifted raspberry aromatics, some fermentation aromas. Middleweight, dark fruit, refreshed by a little acidity. Picked late (20th September) to ensure optimum ripeness.
Santenay, Cuvée Christine Friedberg
Having delivered a full crop last year, these vines were more miserly in 2017. As a result, the wine is impressively concentrated. Rich mid purple in colour, with dense ripe fruit on the nose, this Santenay offers sweet raspberry aromatics, which continue on the palate backed by just the right acidity. Not a heavyweight but beautifully poised.
Pernand-Vergelesses, 1er Cru Les Vergelesses, Cuvée Lamarosse
Fresh pure purple with impressive density. The nose shows a certain amount of latent power, like a concentrated raspberry coulis. Brisk red fruit surges across the middle palate, the raspberry notes continue with lively acidity which is not over dominant, leading to a graceful medium length finish
Savigny-lès-Beaune, Cuvée Arthur Girard
All three Savigny cuvees were picked on the same day, with equal ripeness, but the grapes for this cuvee looked particularly good. It has the intense colour of ripe pinot, with dark red fruit notes. Enjoy the lovely texture in the mouth, supported by good acidity. The fruit and the oak marry very well at the finish.
Savigny-lès-Beaune, Cuvée Fouquerand
A bright but lighter colour indicates the style of the wine. It displays a perfumed, stylish nose, less muscular than Cuvee Arthur Girard, but the fruit is lifted, balanced and persistent. A wine for spring or early summer drinking, accessible relatively rapidly.
Savigny-lès-Beaune, 1er Cru Les Vergelesses, Cuvée Forneret
Strict work was needed in the vineyard. A large crop set, but bunches were dropped to ensure the correct yield at harvest time. Plump dark fruit is immediately apparent at the front, then something rather earthier behind which defines the final texture of the wine.
Auxey Duresses, 1er Cru les Duresses, Cuvée Boillot
This year’s Auxey-Duresses has a surprisingly deep colour. The firm fruit evident on the nose goes with this particular territory. It is sturdy and satisfying on the palate, backed by some useful wood tannins along with light acidity giving a fresh, lifted finish. A good result with some durability.
Beaune, 1er Cru Les Montrevenots, Cuvée Cyrot-Chaudron
A cuvee which will make a delicious bottle of pinot in the shorter term. The wine has a slightly lighter hue than some, an easily accessible nose, juicy fruit with a softer finish, without too much acidity or indeed significant tannins. A wine designed to give pleasure without waiting too long.
Beaune, 1er Cru, Cuvée Hugues & Louis Bétault
Glowing rich purple colour with a velvety touch even to the nose. A lovely middleweight wine, very suave and sensual. It displays a bright even purple colour, with high class fruit on the nose, some red and some black fruit notes on the palate, good tension. Altogether a clean, clear cut, precise wine with medium plus length.
Beaune, 1er Cru, Cuvée Brunet
Excellent vigorous dense colour, the nose shows the wood a little but with good fruit weight alongside. This is very tightly knit with a closely wound raspberry and blackcurrant fruit, few tannins, good acidity and length. Still very backward at this stage.
Beaune, 1er Cru, Cuvée Maurice Drouhin
Fine bright clear colour, with rich, crimson notes. The nose is notably elegant with some intensity too. This clarity of attractively perfumed fruit continues on the palate, until a slightly firmer feel at the finish.
Beaune, 1er Cru, Cuvée Rousseau-Deslandes
Ripe purple in colour, the quite heady nose is boosted by some attractive wood. This is beautifully elegant throughout, silky, fine boned, finishing on fresh cherry and raspberry notes. Ludivine Griveau is particularly pleased with the progress made on this cuvee.
Beaune, 1er Cru Les Grèves, Cuvée Floquet
Brisk mid purple. There is a clear concentration of fruit on the nose, with a sense of the power to come. The Grèves vineyard offers undoubted density of both red and black fruit. This is naturally one of the more tannic wines, with ripe fruit backed by enough acidity, a fine structure here for at least medium term ageing.
Beaune, 1er Cru Clos des Avaux
The rich dense youthful purple colour is very impressive. The concentration of fruit evident on the nose is almost inky but of startling quality. This is very tightly knit, brimming with youthful fruit, but the essential elegance of the wine bounces through nonetheless. Fresh red fruit on the palate, dynamic with excellent tension. Some cherry notes, lively and long.
Beaune, 1er Cru, Cuvée Dames Hospitalières
The recent decision to pick plot by plot rather than by cuvee has really paid off here, as the Bressandes component ripens nearly a week before Theurons. Medium deep colour, with an initial bouquet of ripe griottine cherries. On the palate, it delivers very intense dark raspberry fruit as well as the cherries, yet with the supple, caressing style of Bressandes, backed by weight, tannin and acidity. There is a solid structure to this with very good acid balance, and pure fruit which stretches out right to the back.
Beaune, 1er Cru, Cuvée Guigone de Salins
“You can let this one make itself” opines Ludivine. Fresh bright purple, bright and deep. Some floral notes, damask, serene, with a beautiful balance on the palate between the fruit, the bone structure and the flowers. This is a very lovely, middleweight, refined Beaune. There may be more powerful Beaune’s than this but not classier.
Beaune, 1er Cru, Cuvée Nicolas Rolin
Dense purple, backward, but clearly displaying huge intensity. This is powerful and masculine with a dense, crunchy core. A huge weight of fruit right is evident from the start, carrying through to an impressively long finish. A little more muscular than the serene Guigone de Salins cuvee, but none the worse for that: it is a question of style.
Volnay 1er Cru, Cuvée Général Muteau
The first of the Volnay cuvees immediately shows its origin, in the nobility and elegance of the bouquet. Medium deep purple in colour, some high class fruit, discreet rather than flamboyant. The different plots comprise all aspects of Volnay, making this a very complete and balanced cuvee of middleweight with good ageing potential.
Volnay 1er Cru, Cuvée Blondeau
The Cuvee Blondeau has a much darker, deeper colour than Cuvee Muteau, and is still showing some primary fermentation aromas. Solid dense fruit appears on the palate, very dark in style, a weighty wine all round leading to a long, sumptuous finish.
Volnay 1er Cru Les Santenots, Cuvée Gauvain
Very dense purple colour with a black centre. Really intense, yet showing exceptional balance, an extremely backward nose but the class exudes from the start. Some blackcurrant notes are tied in with fresh raspberries. A beautiful thread of seamless concentrated but not massive fruit, lovely integration with the acidity, pure and positive throughout. Dancing!
Volnay 1er Cru Les Santenots, Cuvée Jéhan de Massol
Another very good colour while the nose seems a touch more sombre at first, because this is even more backward than Cuvee Gauvain. But do not worry. On the palate it has a little more body, while again offering a lovely balance between red fruit and darker notes, a little more in reserve here, though not as immediately pretty. The finish is strikingly persistent and very classy.
Pommard, Cuvée Billardet
Ripe purple in colour, Cuvée Billardet has a muscular nose with an impressive concentration of fruit. The balance is just right between the fruit and the wood, acidity just in the background. A balanced, middleweight Pommard, with nonetheless an additional surge of fruit at the back of the palate.
Pommard, Cuvée Suzanne Chaudron
Deep damson in colour, with dark ripe fruit, some mulberry notes. Voluminous in the mouth, much more opulent than Cuvee Billardet, albeit more at the front of the palate, with good acid balance. A Pommard with accessible charm rather than a more typically tannic version.
Pommard, Cuvée Raymond Cyrot
There are three plots of 1er cru in this blend, along with three at village level. Rich purple, with some floral notes on top of the concentrated core of fruit. Raymond is more reserved than Suzanne though, with excellent interplay between the fruit, the wood and the acidity, with notable persistence.
Pommard 1er Cru, Cuvée Dames de la Charité
An exceptionally impressive cuvee this year. Bright mid purple. Some mineral qualities to the nose, then a beautifully velvety fruit on the palate, absolutely filling the mouth. The fruit brilliantly covers the structure, the acidity is in balance, and there is wonderful length of flavour and concentration. A very complete wine which will age well. Bravo.
Pommard, 1er Cru Les Epenots, Cuvée Dom Goblet
Excellent pure purple, very high class nose, offering the exceptional refinement of Les Epenots. The texture singles this wine out, serene fruit with just enough acidity, but above all sheer class on the palate. Silky yet durable, a beautiful wine for the medium term and beyond. Note the superbly persistent finish.
Corton, Grand Cru, Cuvée Charlotte Dumay
A bright vigorous crimson colour. Fresh, floral, energetic, this is refined rather than muscular Corton. Delicately precise all across the palate, with a deliciously perfumed aftertaste. This refinement is the hallmark of the Bressandes vineyard, making a beautifully stylish Corton.
Corton, Grand Cru, Cuvée Docteur Peste
Slightly the deepest of the three Cortons in colour, with exuberant dark fruit and a little glossy oak. Robust, almost rugged but the richness of the fruit pardons the classically firm nature of the structure. Indeed there is so much fruit that it covers the undoubted acidity too. A Corton for the long term.
Corton Clos du Roi, Grand Cru, Cuvée Baronne du Baÿ
This is the stand out wine of three excellent Corton cuvees. It has a rich deep dense purple black colour, indeed even the colour shows a sense of majesty. Dark plum fruit, a vast mouthful yet still with elegance. Without falling into the blockbuster character, this gorgeous wine enjoys very supple rich fruit, with seamless texture on the palate, refreshed by just the right amount of acidity. Fine persistence, indeed a fabulous finish.
Echezeaux grand cru, Cuvée Jean-Luc Bissey
The clear bright imperial purple colour is a good starting indicator of quality. The ready but stylish bouquet maintains the good impression The fruit is ripe but fresh, very persistent with complex lacy notes, nicely balanced, not in your face, discreet without being in any way light. This grand cru shows a lovely tensile strength, with a fine thread of acidity. Above all a superb aftertaste showing the heady splendours of this terroir.
Clos de la Roche grand cru, Cuvée Cyrot Chaudron
Clos de la Roche grand cru, Cuvée Georges Kritter
There is just one wine made from the two donations of Clos de la Roche, which are sold separately. This is the most backward wine in the cellar, much less seductive in its extreme youth than the other grands crus, but nonetheless a fabulous wine for the long term. At the moment it is in an adolescent phase, with intense fruit, new barrel, and notable structure all competing for attention. Every year it is the same, yet with time in bottle this becomes one of the silkiest and most refined of the Hospices de Beaune cuvees. The power, concentration and amazing persistence of the aftertaste are already there.
Mazis Chambertin grand cru, Cuvée Madeleine Collignon
This gorgeous Mazis-Chambertin is very backward of course but still readier to show its charms than the Clos de la Roche. Rich imperial purple in colour, with a bouquet to bring a smile to the face. As last year, this is a wonderfully complete wine, starting in elegance, moving through a beautifully rich poised mid palate and finishing seamlessly. It is very similar in style to the beautiful 2016
THE PRESIDENTS’ BARRELS
The Pièces des Presidents are being raised in special Taransaud ‘T5’ barrels for which the wood has been air-dried over five years. Essentially the wine is the same cuvee as the Corton Clos du Roi, Grand Cru, Cuvée Baronne du Baÿ, but the exceptional quality of these two very special barrels handcrafted by Taransaud makes all the difference. The wine is defined by an immaculate sense of precision which supplements rather than tames the richness of the fruit. These barrels present an exceptionally noble wine for three very noble causes.
Chablis 1er Cru Côte de Léchet, Cuvée Jean-Marc Brocard
Raised in one year old barrels. Right from the first sniff, this can only be Chablis, with its quintessential marine character. There is a fine swathe of white fruit on the palate, backed by some citrus notes, with a very good density of fruit. It is lively and complex in the mouth with persistent, dancing fruit. Very elegant, not a massive wine, but with impressive purity.
Pouilly Fuissé, Cuvée Françoise Poisard
This wine is currently being matured in new 456 litre barrels. Clear light colour with a faint primrose touch. Spring flowers, a little ripe grapefruit, an immediately expressive and adorable nose. Plenty of fruit but it is stepping lively this year, with a lovely balance and very good marriage with the barrel.
St Romain, Cuvée Joseph Menault
This wine is currently being matured in new 456 litre barrels. Fine pale yellow, the bouquet shows ripe fruit - this cuvee was the last white to be picked - and there is a wealth of fruit on the palate with a tiny bit more fat than is typical for St Romain. Lifted grapefruit notes, fresh apple, some citrus, medium bodied, excellent balance and very good length. Unusually complex for St Romain.
Beaune 1er Cru Les Montrevenots, Cuvée Suzanne & Raymond
This wine is currently being matured in new 456 litre barrels. The nose is softer than the St Romain and the fruit is quite rich on the palate but still with good energy and an attractive elegance. After the accessible bouquet, there is surprising concentration of fruit on the palate, with agreeably ripe flavours being brought back into focus by correct acidity.
Puligny-Montrachet, Cuvee Bernard Clerc
A brand new cuvee for 2017, although there is only one barrel this year. What a promising start, though! The bouquet is very lively, full of floral notes, superb fruit including ripe apples -altogether very lovely. The palate is a little bit more restrained at this early stage, but the concentration of flavour and the sense of harmony are clear to see.
Meursault Cuvee Goureau
Please note that this cuvee is in fact made up only of Les Peutes Vignes and Les Grands Charrons, as the Poruzots component has been transferred to Cuvée Jéhan Humblot. There are little green tints to the colour and a bouquet showing plenty of class. It is a rounded, classical Meursault, displaying white fruits with some high notes of mirabelle. Note the long finish of this well- balanced, complete wine.
Meursault, Cuvée Loppin
This cuvee had not quite finished its fermentation. Bright pale lemon colour, while the bouquet still shows fermentation aromas. The palate has the expected weight of Meursault, balanced by good fresh acidity. The aftertaste shows the class.
Meursault 1er Cru Porusots, Cuvée Jéhan Humblot
The pure, bright, pale lemon colour promises well, as does the complex, rich, yet dynamic nose. White fruit appears on the multi-layered palate, which delivers quite exceptional density, perfect acidity, ripe citrus notes along with the juiciness of a peach at perfect ripeness. This is going to be exciting wine with its boundless energy and perfect poise.
Meursault 1er cru Genevrières, Cuvée Baudot
The fermentation has not finished, so more detailed notes will follow later. Even now this is a succulent stylish and balanced wine with lots of mineral detail: the freshness of the wine carries through the residual sugar.
Meursault 1er Cru Genevrières, Cuvée Philippe Le Bon
Also in an unfinished state. A chiselled purity appears on the nose. The fruit is ripe but balanced, a sunshine serenity matched by the lively stoniness from the soil. Nuanced, complex, fine and very persistent.
Meursault 1er Cru Charmes, Cuvée de Bahezre de Lanlay,
This wine has not quite finished fermenting, though the colour has nearly fallen clear. There is a concentrated weight of white fruit, not much detail yet, some lemon and even orange blossom, with the fruit holding together really well on the palate.
Meursault 1er Cru Charmes, Cuvée Grivault
Also unfinished. This wine has a very impressive density of fruit, with some lemon, lime and grapefruit notes providing a counterpoint to the concentration of intense white fruit derived from old vines. Perhaps the most concentrated of the 1er cru Meursaults, yet with excellent attention to detail as well.
Corton Blanc, grand cru, Cuvée Docteur Peste
This cuvee was presented for the first time in 2016 after a proportion of the pinot noir vines in the lieu-dit les Fiètres had been replanted with chardonnay. Fine bright colour, an as yet unevolved bouquet, then tightly concentrated, with pure white fruit in the mouth, excellent acidity, and a fine long finish.
Corton Vergennes, grand cru, Cuvée Paul Chanson
Pale primrose colour. Currently this cuvee shows much more personality than the Corton Blanc. An impressive sense of weight is apparent even on the nose. This is a multi-layered wine with proper complexity: the fruit is perfectly ripe while the acidity offers a fine counterpoint. Note the exceptionally persistent aftertaste. A Ludivine favourite in 2017.
Corton Charlemagne Cuvée Le Roi Soleil,
This wine has a sunny disposition, the bouquet immediately showing an accessible ripe and rounded character. Clear and bright in colour, the nose has the expected mineral notes and silky fruit typical of Corton-Charlemagne. What seems only medium bodied at first blossoms on the palate with a lovely tensile strength. For the medium term.
Corton Charlemagne, Cuvée François de Salins,
Quite a different wine from Le Roi Soleil. It is clearly very high class but also extremely backward. The nose does offer the flinty notes which are so classic of this appellation. There is a brilliant concentration of fruit throughout Lovely level of fruit throughout, magical texture, and a sense of absolute balance. The glory of this wine shows on the palate, lemon citrus notes, an abundance of stones and a thread of steely concentration that finishes beautifully. This will take longer to come round than Le Roi Soleil.
Bâtard-Montrachet, grand cru, Cuvée Dames de Flandres
This magical grand cru delivers a pure, concentrated, lemon yellow colour and a magisterial concentration of bouquet. Our Bâtard is broad shouldered yet still unquestionably very fine. The wine displays a glorious opulence, lightly oaky, sumptuous in bouquet and on the palate, with a glorious texture throughout. This certainly merits its grand cru status in every aspect.
What a relief to come back to a normal sized harvest after a biblical 7 years of scarcity! The region came so close to suffering disastrous frosts again in the spring, but survived to produce a plentiful crop of delicious wines. Ludivine Griveau and her team can be proud of this range, and prospective purchasers have the chance to add some beautiful wines to their cellars.
Please be generous in your bids for the very worthy cause of the Hospices Civils de Beaune. A successful auction will be a great way to welcome the new Director of the Hospices de Beaune, M. François Poher, to his post.
Jasper Morris MW