© Michel Joly

Hospices de Beaune Cuvées, 2018 Vintage

Tasting notes by Jasper Morris MW

There are 828 barrels on offer this year, with 631 barrels of red wine, almost constant with 2017, and an increase to 197 barrels of white wine. 50 different cuvees are being offered, 33 red and 17 white.

These tasting notes were compiled in early November.

RED WINES

2018 is a beautiful vintage for red wines – a year which could have been too much of a good thing, with a risk of over-ripeness. However Ludivine Griveau has judged the picking dates exactly right and she also took the crucial step of employing the sorting tables to eliminate any grapes which were beginning to show signs of shrivelling. The result is a series of fine, perfumed, predominantly red-fruit wines which will be rated as belonging to an exceptional vintage.

The Grands Crus

There are three cuvées of Corton and three Grands Crus from the Côte de Nuits on offer. Of the former Charlotte Dumay offers the sensual approach for medium-term drinking, Dr Peste is a little bit more structured and will certainly keep, while the Clos du Roi is very clearly the most complete of the three and likely to be priced accordingly.

Sensualists will also particularly enjoy the Echezeaux and the Mazis-Chambertin. Those who want to look to the long term should also consider the Mazis-Chambertin, but the Clos de la Roche absolutely has the attributes for cellaring, and indeed will need to be kept well into its second decade (or longer) to show at its very best.

Auxey Duresses, 1er Cru les Duresses, Cuvée Boillot (9 barrels)

The dense purple colour is unusually deep for Auxey: ‘crazy grapes this year’ was Ludivine’s immediate reaction when she saw the juice. This is a firm, powerful wine, no lightweight from the backwoods here. The intensity of fruit with a fine underlying acidity is consistent right across the palate, leading to a fresh, tense, very persistent finish. An excellent example.

Beaune, 1er Cru, Cuvée Nicolas Rolin (33 barrels)

The colour of Nicolas Rolin is very similar to that of Guigone de Salins but the style of fruit on the nose is certainly different. It is weightier, darker in style with more black fruit aspects. The fruit is if anything even more intense on the palate, with more significant tannins at the back, and a mineral crunch to finish. A thoroughly robust Beaune which will keep very well.

Beaune, 1er Cru, Cuvée Guigone de Salins (33 barrels)

A rich imperial purple colour means that the weight of fruit on the bouquet comes as no surprise. In fact there is an astonishing intensity which follows though on the palate, but the wine is light on its feet as well with a dancing energy. This really is a beautifully balanced wine in 2018. The velvet richness of the bright red fruit at the finish is sublime. We owe a lot to Guigone de Salins and this cuvée is worthy of her.

Beaune, 1er Cru, Cuvée Rousseau-Deslandes (25 barrels)

The rich mid purple colour offers promise of a fine healthy fruit, not too dense and dark, but lively and appealing. This is one of the middleweight Beaune cuvées that is nonetheless a delight on the palate, with red berry fruit throughout and a suave texture.

Beaune, 1er Cru, Cuvée Dames Hospitalières (32 barrels)

A rich purple colour blossoms in the glass. There is a floral aspect to the bouquet which is particularly pleasing, then a generous finely tuned fruit right across the palate, offering subtle nuances of flavour. The tannins at the back are fine-boned, this opening cuvée at the auction is exceptionally fine, and will appeal particularly to those seeking for the more ethereal side of Burgundy.

Beaune, 1er Cru, Cuvée Hugues & Louis Bétault (19 barrels)

A fine bold colour heralds plenty of fruit on the nose. The bouquet shows an attractive ripeness of dark fruit, while there is a welcome structure on the palate, ripe tannins and a little fresh acidity, which will enable this cuvee to keep well across the medium term.

Beaune, 1er Cru, Cuvée Maurice Drouhin (28 barrels)

Clear bright crimson-purple. The yield is a little lower this year than last and the wine is showing a corresponding increase in concentration. The fruit has a very agreeable purity, especially on the nose, with some grainy tannins showing at the back of the palate

Beaune, 1er Cru, Cuvée Brunet (15 barrels)

Clear bright colour, the bouquet is a little affected by the start of the malolactic fermentation, adding transient apple notes which will soon fade. The fruit on the palate however is more easily judged and is of magical quality, a dark velvet raspberry fruit infusing the whole mouth. This cuvée often slips under the radar but merits more attention.

Beaune, 1er Cru Les Montrevenots, Cuvée Cyrot-Chaudron (12 barrels)

Bright purple in colour, with dense fruit on the nose, a chocolate note or two creeping in. This is an easy-going cuvee built around the charm of the fruit, capable of giving pleasure a little earlier than most. It is very attractively perfumed throughout and without aggressive tannins or acidity.

Beaune, 1er Cru Clos des Avaux (24 barrels)

The vines in the Clos des Avaux have a tendency to give generously so they received a severe pruning and careful attention across the growing season to make sure that they did not offer too much in 2018. This care shows in the intensity of the colour and the vibrant dark fruit on the nose. Together the fruit and the correctly judged acidity make for an extremely impressive Avaux with firm structure at the finish.

Beaune, 1er Cru Les Grèves, Cuvée Floquet (14 barrels)

This cuvée displays an intense fresh purple colour and a fresh raspberry bouquet of great intensity. There is a wealth of fruit, justifying the reputation of Grèves as Beaune’s No 1 vineyard, in a very pure linear style, with extra intensity at the back of the palate. This is most impressive in 2018.

Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, Cuvée Cyrot Chaudron (4 barrels)

Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, Cuvée Georges Kritter (3 barrels)

There is just one wine made from the two donations of Clos de la Roche, which are sold separately. The colour is very intense while the bouquet shows in a more restrained backward style than the Echezeaux. Medium-bodied at first but then with real sinews behind. While the Echezeaux wears its heart on its sleeve from the very first, the Clos de la Roche requires a little more teasing out, but then delivers superbly. This is the wine for those who want a bottle to last for two decades.

Corton, Grand Cru, Cuvée Charlotte Dumay (26 barrels)

A rich dark red colour. The nose shows an impressive weight of fruit but not yet much detail. It is just on the palate that a huge wealth of dark fruit shows through, sustained by just enough acidity at the back. Actually this is quite a supple Corton despite the weight of fruit. Not all Cortons need be massive, and Charlotte Dumay is instead exceptionally graceful.

Corton, Grand Cru, Cuvée Docteur Peste (26 barrels)

The very solid dense purple black colour indicates a wine of considerable intensity. The fruit is luxurious in quality, definitely showing some black-fruit notes, and full enough to match the firm structure of the finish. This is a powerful Corton for the longer term, the darkness of fruit coming from old vines in the Chaumes lieu-dit.

Corton Clos du Roi, Grand Cru, Cuvée Baronne du Baÿ (10 barrels)

The Clos du Roi is the absolute heartland of the Corton appellation, undoubtedly worthy of its grand cru status. The colour is a rich purple but not markedly deeper than others. It is the sensuality of the fruit on the nose which demonstrates the class. There is some fresh red fruit at the front of the palate along with deeper plum notes behind, leading to a rich finish where the fruit is more apparent than the undoubted structure. Beautiful grapes which were picked on 5th and 6th September, at the heart of the vintage.

Echezeaux Grand Cru, Cuvée Jean-Luc Bissey (6 barrels)

One barrel less than last year, sadly. The colour displays a magical density. There is a delicious dancing quality to the fruit that fills out the bouquet with raspberry and blueberry notes. The wine has a sumptuous mouth-filling density on the palate but never descends too far towards a vulgar weight, retaining its stylish structure through to an exceptionally intense long finish.

Mazis Chambertin Grand Cru, Cuvée Madeleine Collignon (21 barrels)

Four fewer barrels than last year, which is a great shame considering the quality of this wine. It probably has the densest bouquet of the three Côte de Nuits grands crus. The intense raspberry fruit spreads dramatically across the whole palate, with very fine-grained tannins and just enough pleasing acidity to provide the counterpoint. It leaves a glow of pure yet intense red fruit suffusing the palate. Magical persistence, probably enjoyable quite early, but definitely capable of lasting for the long term.

Monthelie Les Duresses, Cuvée Lebelin (15 barrels)

This cuvee is entirely from the Les Duresses vineyard where part of the plot is classified as village wine and part as 1er cru. The intense purple colour is a promising start. The bouquet shows unusually dark fruit for this hillside site, which delivers a mineral balance to the pure dark raspberry fruit on the palate. Clean, pure, a little more intense than usual. Good work in the vines here is paying off.

Pernand-Vergelesses, 1er Cru Les Vergelesses, Cuvée Rameau-Lamarosse (8 barrels)

This cuvee always shows a very dense purple colour and 2018 is of course no exception. In other vintages it can be a trifle angular, but in 2018 there is a little more fruit weight while remaining loyal to the classical style of Pernand-Vergelesses. The intense dark fruit is well spread across all parts of the palate.

Pommard 1er Cru, Cuvée Dames de la Charité (28 barrels)

Rich imperial purple colour. The nose has a delicious toasty aspect typical of François Frères barrels early in the maturation cycle. There is some fine dark berry fruit at the front of the palate but it absolutely explodes later on, with lifted dark cherry fruit defining the second half of the wine. A very fine result for at least the second year in a row. One key to this is that Ludivine picks the fruit when each component of the cuvée is ripe – which meant in 2018 a full week between Les Rugiens and La Refène.

Pommard, Cuvée Billardet (12 barrels)

Glowing purple, even the colour of this wine demonstrates exceptional energy. There is a fresh, lifted, red fruit bouquet, including some griottine cherries. It may be the under-rated Noizons vineyard which is speaking. The fruit is perfectly balanced right across the palate and the wine finishes with a tingling acidity beautifully in harmony with the fine grained tannins. But it is really the fruit which wins out at the finish.

Pommard, Cuvée Suzanne Chaudron (21 barrels)

This wine is a classical Pommard. The colour has a medium depth of crimson tones, while the bouquet shows a powerful, darker fruit and the tannins firm up the finish. So it is less seductive in youth than its Volnay classmates, but with the potential to develop into an excellent long term cuvee.

Pommard, Cuvée Raymond Cyrot (25 barrels)

From the dark purple colour through to the brooding fruit on the nose, this is a backward Pommard for the long term. There is however such a concentration of fruit that it covers the tannins, while the acidity keeps the fruit lively all the way through. Perhaps the most complete of the three village level Pommards, though nearly half the vines here are in fact in 1er cru territory.

Pommard, 1er Cru Les Epenots, Cuvée Dom Goblet (12 barrels)

The colour is a rich mid purple and the bouquet displays the essential elegance of the Epenots vineyards. This is a high class Pommard, with a superb graceful texture and exceptional length. Despite this graceful class, there is a mineral thread which runs throughout. Superbly balanced, this is a wine of intellectual poise and sensuality.

Santenay, Cuvée Christine Friedberg (6 barrels)

Full crimson-purple in colour. There is a weight of fruit on the nose, not yet much detail. There are some damson plum notes with a good thread of acidity running through, the fruit filling out the mid-palate nicely before ripe raspberry notes appear at the finish. An attractive middleweight Santenay, though perhaps more powerful in 2018 than before.

Savigny-lès-Beaune, 1er Cru, Cuvée Arthur Girard (22 barrels)

Medium deep crimson colour. This cuvee of Savigny has a particularly attractive bouquet, the fruit on the cusp of red and black, with some fresh cherry notes intertwined with some darker fruit. It encapsulates the elegance to which Savigny should aspire, and the finish is beautifully poised. It was one of the earlier cuvees to be picked, thus the elegance of the fruit.

Savigny-lès-Beaune, 1er Cru, Cuvée Fouquerand (20 barrels)

Clear bright purple. The nose has impressive density while waiting for the detail. Pure and clean, there is a lively acidity to balance the redcurrant and raspberry fruit, which shows good maturity this year. Not a heavyweight but this wine will give pleasure in 3 to 5 years.

Savigny-lès-Beaune, 1er Cru Les Vergelesses, Cuvée Forneret (25 barrels)

From two plots at the top and bottom of the vineyard, which ripened better in 2018 than 2017, a tribute to redoubled efforts in the vineyard to optimise yields. There is impressive concentration on the palate, the fruit marrying very nicely with the toasty style of oak supplied by François Frères. There is excellent generosity of ripe deep red fruit at the finish.

Volnay 1er Cru, Cuvée Blondeau (26 barrels)

Rich purple in colour, the Cuvee Blondeau delivers an exceptional intensity of ripe deep cherry and dark raspberry fruit. This supple intensity continues through on the palate and though the malolactic fermentation has been completed here, there remains adequate acidity to maintain an excellent balance in this wine through to a fine clean long finish.

Volnay 1er Cru, Cuvée Général Muteau (22 barrels)

All the Volnay cuvées had gone through their malolactic fermentation at the time of tasting, and this cuvée was harder to judge than most. It was in fact the first to be picked as the grapes had ripened very well in their respective vineyards. Bright purple in colour, the nose has some post-malolactic green apple notes. There is also lively raspberry fruit, excellent intensity, but the overall composition of the wine is a little bit hard to judge.

Volnay 1er Cru Les Santenots, Cuvée Jéhan de Massol (24 barrels)

Of the two Santenots cuvees, this has a little more intensity of colour, nearly black at the centre, and indeed fruit on the nose. There is immense weight of fruit on the palate, very dark, extremely succulent, absolutely covering the tannic structure at the finish. This is a wine which always takes time to show and keeps very well in bottle thereafter.

Volnay 1er Cru Les Santenots, Cuvée Gauvain (25 barrels)

Dense pure purple colour. There is a relatively soft nose as a result of completed malolactic fermentation. The fruit swamps the front of the palate and then continues through to a distinguished finish, with the correct support from the tannins typical of the predominantly clay soil in Les Santenots, and useful acidity. Note the fine persistent finish which rounds the wine out.

THE PRESIDENTS’ BARREL

The Pièce des Presidents is being raised in a special 36 air-dried barrel from the La Grange tonnellerie where every barrel is made entirely by hand, including carving out the dowels. Essentially the wine is the same cuvee as the Corton Clos du Roi, Grand Cru, Cuvée Baronne du Baÿ, but the exceptional quality of this barrel plays its part. The wine has an extraordinary sense of harmony from the first sip, showing a filigree of fine-boned tannins supporting the wealth of damask rose and silky red fruit which permeate the palate. It is a superb barrel of wine to be offered for two fine charitable causes.

WHITE WINES

The white wines are matured in barrels from the Tonnellerie Damy. All wines are being matured in new 228 litre barrels this year, as is the custom, with the following exceptions among the white wines: Beaune Blanc is in new 456 litre barrels, the St Romain and Pouilly-Fuissé in one year old 456 litre barrels, and the Chablis in one year old 228 litre barrels. The 456l barrels are provided by François Frères. Please note that bidding for wines in 456l barrels is still per 228 litres, which corresponds to the volumes quoted.

The 2018 whites show the sunshine of the vintage but with an admirable sense of restraint. The fruit profile is ripe, though most wines are closer to 13% than 13.5%, yet the wines are never heavy. The tasting notes will indicate which cuvees show a fresher, tenser style, and which tend more to a pleasing voluptuous weight.

Bâtard-Montrachet, Grand Cru, Cuvée Dames de Flandres (5 barrels)

Fine clear bright primrose in colour, this wine joins Le Roi Soleil in demonstrating a wealth of concentrated fruit from the first sniff. The barrel adds a slight inflection of toast to what is otherwise a massive concentration of ideally ripe fruit – there is nothing overdone here, just a perfect expression of magically concentrated fruit. A flamboyant citrus intensity dominates the finish.

Beaune 1er Cru Les Montrevenots, Cuvée Suzanne & Raymond (14 barrels)

Clear bright fresh colour, the nose is perfectly poised, showing elegance in the floral bouquet, pure white fruit notes on the palate, a very happy marriage with its wood and excellent persistence. The sunshine of the vintage seems to suit this vineyard which is located relatively high on the hill.

Chablis 1er Cru Côte de Léchet, Cuvée Jean-Marc Brocard (4 barrels)

The colour has fallen clear and bright. Ripe fruit including some lemongrass complements the essential minerality of the Hospices’ single cuvée of Chablis, double the volume this year compared to last but still well below a normal yield. Some ripe pear fruit appears on the palate, this is a sturdy structured Chablis with excellent weight. There is enough acidity to keep the finish crisp.

Corton Blanc, Grand Cru, Cuvée Docteur Peste (7 barrels)

Fine bright pale colour. There is an immediate weight of intense white fruit here, the fine summer enabling the youngish vines here to perform as well as their elder siblings. There is a fine sense of freshness throughout and an excellent acidity to balance the generosity of fruit. This should be the best example to date of this cuvée first offered in 2016.

Corton-Charlemagne, Grand Cru, Cuvée Le Roi Soleil (5 barrels)

From the first moment on the nose, this wine shows a grand cru intensity. Hugely weighty fruit with a light yellow plum character, is backed by intelligent oaking. On the palate the wine continues to display the same exceptional intensity, while the acidity at the finish maintains the balance. This has a very long aftertaste and will develop into a wonderful bottle. Now with three previous vintages of experience, Ludivine Griveau has worked hard on the vinification (more lees, less sulphur) to achieve a really fine result.

Corton-Charlemagne, Grand Cru, Cuvée François de Salins (8 barrels)

This wine was still fermenting so was cloudy to the eye, and confusing on the nose. It is not possible to give a helpful tasting note at this stage. All that can be detected is the linear mineral intensity. Suffice to say that every year this is, along with the Bâtard-Montrachet, an outstanding cuvée of white Burgundy.

Corton-Vergennes, Grand Cru, Cuvée Paul Chanson (5 barrels)

This cuvée was exceptionally difficult to taste as it was undergoing malolactic fermentation which had distorted the bouquet. However the broad lines could be discerned. Full pale yellow in colour, with a concentration of ripe apples and some pears in the bouquet, it is a heavyweight for sure, with a significant volume of fruit and fine persistence.

Meursault 1er Cru Porusots, Cuvée Jéhan Humblot (15 barrels)

Please note that all the Hospices de Beaune’s vines in the 1er cru Porusots have now been reserved for this cuvée. The bouquet is already complex with some of the chiselled limestone character associated with Porusots. There is a marvellous fresh core to this, some fresh apple, some lime notes, a fresh mineral backbone cutting through the flesh. Admirable, and suited to those who prefer marginally less ripeness in their white wines.

Meursault, Cuvée Loppin (16 barrels)

This cuvée has a fine pale primrose colour, full of energy. With attractive fruit and flowers together on the nose, this has the full-on density of classic village Meursault, with a sense of the nuttiness which will develop with time in bottle. The acid balance is just right too.

Meursault Cuvée Goureau (8 barrels)

The blend is a little different his year, coming from the following vineyards: Peutes Vignes (0.21ha), Grands Charrons (0.08ha) and a whisper from Les Cras. A little paler in colour, this has a fine racy nose, with an impressive energy of fruit at front, a little more rounded behind, yet still with some citrus notes in the background. Persistent and classy.

Meursault 1er Cru Charmes, Cuvée de Bahèzre de Lanlay (16 barrels)

Fine pale colour. The bouquet immediately demonstrates the concentration of this cuvée. Predominantly white fruit in style, with some pears in the mix, this displays the full rounded weight of a classic Meursault Charmes, relieved by a correct balancing acidity. The fragrance of balanced yet ripe chardonnay from a great terroir persist beautifully at the finish.

Meursault 1er Cru Charmes, Cuvée Albert Grivault (12 barrels)

Clear bright colour. The bouquet has a similar intensity to Cuvée de Bahèzre de Lanlay but is currently more backward. The fruit is tighter knit on the plate, with more citrus notes, lean but long, with impressive energy. More intense and linear here, a wine of great promise.

Meursault 1er Cru Genevrières, Cuvée Baudot (26 barrels)

A pale bright clear primrose, the bouquet shows some delicious ripe pear fruit, but the underlying lacy detail of fine Genevrières is sitting clearly underneath. A little touch of warmth and barrel toast behind, with good persistence of the fruit.

Meursault 1er Cru Genevrières, Cuvée Philippe Le Bon (15 barrels)

Fine pale lemon colour. This has plenty of ripe fruit evident from the start but with a little more restraint than the Cuvée Baudot. The fruit continues beautifully across the palate, freshening up towards the back, with an excellent integration of fine-boned acidity and fruit right at the finish. Very persistent, this cuvée is as magisterial as ever.

Pouilly-Fuissé, Cuvée Françoise Poisard (26 barrels)

The colour has not fallen clear yet as the very last sugar finishes fermenting. The rich full bouquet is evocative of the sunny south. Some citrus notes support the undoubted flesh of this wine, complemented also by some toasty barrel notes – but not excessive given the wood regime (one year old 456 litre barrels). There is fine elegant finish with an excellent fruit-acid balance.

Puligny-Montrachet, Cuvée Bernard Clerc (1 barrel)

Fine bright clear colour. The nose displays a tension and energy, the grapes coming in a little less ripe than some cuvées, but still with enough flavour. Tightly wound, with bright apple fruit and good acidity behind, this will suit those who want a less ripe wine. But sadly there is only one barrel…

St-Romain, Cuvée Joseph Menault (14 barrels)

This cuvée has not finished its fermentation so the note cannot be definitive. It shows some lively fresh citrus notes nonetheless with a good volume of fruit, alongside the hillside mineral acidity for which St Romain is known. The style of the 2018 vintage should work very well here.

Jasper Morris MW