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Robert Chevillon Nuits St. Georges “Les Vaucrains” Vertical: ’02-’07

September 8, 2010

ROBERT CHEVILLON NUITS ST. GEORGES “LES VAUCRAINS” VERTICAL: ’02-’07 – Vin Vino Wine, Palo Alto, California (9/4/2010)

This is one of the tastings that Vin Vino Wine in Palo Alto is doing as part of their month-long celebration of their upcoming 25th anniversary. VVW is unique in offering serious tastings on a daily basis, and for focusing on particular top producers with long track records, such as Dauvissat, Joguet, J.L. Chave and Robert Chevillon. This month-long celebration features a different tasting each day, focusing on the wines of a particular producer and in some cases, like this tasting, the wines from a single vineyard.

There are no grand cru vineyards in Nuits-Saints-Georges, the town at the southern end of Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits. N-S-G does contain, however, 27 premier cru vineyards, the greatest of which is Les Saint-Georges, the vineyard whose prestigious name was added to that of the town of Nuits in 1892. According to virtually all critics, the honor of second best vineyard in Nuits-Saints-Georges falls either to Les Vaucrains or Les Cailles, both of which abut Les Saint-Georges. Les Vaucrains lies further up the hill from Les Saint-Georges, with rockier soil, which, like Les Saint-Georges, includes clay and sand. Les Vaucrains comprises 6.2 hectares, and has several owners, but the greatest producers usually cited are Henri Gouges and Robert Chevillon. I have personally always preferred Chevillon, whose parcel of Les Vaucrains includes very old vines, 75 years and older.

Domaine Robert Chevillon is famous for the transparency and consistency of their winemaking–really letting the terroir and vintage speak without any significant winemaking interference. The “recipe” at this domaine includes a relatively small proportion of whole cluster, no more than 25%; hot macerations; and 18 months maturation in wood, of which only one third, at most, is new. Given the similarity of non-obtrusive winemaking technique from year to year, and the fact that each of these wines was from the same vineyard parcel, this tasting really made for a dramatic opportunity to “listen” to the vintage characteristics expressed in each of these wines.

I was surprised that my very favorite vintage in this tasting was the most recent, 2007. Top Burgundies are typically appealing and approachable in the first year or so after release, before heading into a “dumb” phase from which they may emerge several years later (often 10 or more years in the case of typically very structured and tannic Nuits-Saints-Georges premier crus). The ’07 does have appealing red and black fruit and spice, which is typical of the vineyard, but very good definition and structure as well. It may not be destined to be as long aging as the highly tannic and structured ’05, but I think it will have a good long life. My next favorite was the ’05, muscular and tannic, but also showing good spice and fruit characteristics, with one of the most complex noses of the tasting. Third ranked for me was the ’02, another great vintage, still showing a little tight, but already taking on lovely secondary mushroom aromas, and possessing strong minerality. Next best for me was the ’06, which had some reduction initially on the nose, but which is also showing some of the lovely fruit of my favorite vintages, albeit with less complexity and structure. The ’03 came next to last for me, showing very mature flavors already, along with the black and roasted fruit characteristics to be expected from such a hot and ripe year. The least of all for me (and everyone else in the store who was doing the tasting while I was there) was the ’04, which was very green, stemmy and earthy, showing very little fruit.

In sum, these were all very good Burgundies, full of complexity and terroir, and all but the ’04 should continue to age beautifully, but the best and potentially longest aging are the ’07, ’05 and ’02.

The Vintage Speaks

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 9, 2010 6:23 am

    Great tasting and notes Richard.
    Was the 04 showing green?
    Sounds a bit like the greenies from your note.
    The ’04 Chevillon’s I’ve had recently (Vaucrains and Roncieres) were both showing the greens pretty hard imo.

    • September 9, 2010 2:47 pm

      Thanks for the kind words. Yes, the ’04 Vaucrains was another green ’04. The green pea note midpalate is becoming a great way to identify ’04 white Burgs blind. With ’04 reds, there’s the stemminess, greenness and camphor.

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