L'Assemblage Blog

Domaine Prieure Roch 2016 – Tasting

Posted on 05/11/18, filed under Burgundy, Wine Tasting | No Comments

Domaine Prieuré Roch consists of 14 hectares of vines mainly in the Côtes de Nuits, around Nuits Saint Georges. The owner, Henri-Fréderic Roch, is also co -gérant of Domane Romanée-Conti and nephew of Mme Bize Leroy. He established the Domaine in 1988, applying similar meticulous care in both the vineyard and the cellar. Roch’s mission is to make the purest and most natural expression as possible from great pinot plots.

Today, the talented Yannick Champ manages the operations from their cellars in Prémeaux. With 15 years at the helm, the strive for perfection is clear to see. These wines may not have the power and body of DRC or the polished tannins of Domaine Leroy, but they exude a similar class. Their burgundies are packed with terroir expression and flavour, whilst still being light on their feet. The 2016s we tasted last week were sensual compelling pinots, bursting with vibrant aromas and delicate, detailed textures.

Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Clos des Corvées Vieilles Vignes 2016 (0.69ha Monopoly)

As much as 85% of the grapes were lost to frost in 2006, so for the first time the 1er Cru Clos des Argillières and Villages VV were blended with the 1er Clos des Corvées monopoly. High quality whole bunch millerandage grapes from 40-45 year old vines were vinified together. Yannick was pleased with the outcome but never wants to experience the challenges of having to blend affectively the ingredients of three wines together. Around 5000 bottles were produced organically, using no additives, no pumping over and no filtration. The wines were bottled under usual natural high pressure weather conditions in July 2017.

Intense raw pure cranberry, black berry aromatics infused with subtle herbs, medium bodied yet well structured tight fruit and a fresh seam of acidity right through the long finish. Linear style without the breadth of the more opulent 2015, gentle tannins, spice and a mineral, saline edginess. 91-93/100

Vosne Romanée Vieilles Vignes 2013

As with the previous wine, this was another challenging vintage. It was not just down to frost damage but rain and achieving optimum ripeness in a cool growing season. Yannick produced something very special considering. He blended the Vosne Le Clos Goillotte and Vosne Les Hautes -Maizières together, so you have the most serious village VV that money can buy from a difficult vintage.

The aromatics are off the charts, intense red berries and cherry pith, floral nuances with notes of cinnamon and rhubarb. Medium, light in body but so flavoursome reflecting the greatness of the terroir, especially the layered limestone minerality from the Clos Goillotte. Combined with mixed herb, spice and subtle tannins, this culminates into a long, dry, precisely balanced finish. 92/100

Vosne Romanée 1er Les Suchots 2016 (1.02 ha)

Since 1994 they have rented this plot from DRC. Whole cluster vinification in 100% new oak. Classic perfumed aromas of violets, raspberries and spice notes. Fresh vibrant red fruits follow through with medium depth and a long mineral drive. Linearity with firm acidity and crystalline fruit. Elegantly composed. 93-94/100

Clos Vougeot 2016 (0.68ha)

Ruby red with red berry fruit aromas. The palate displays solid raw fruit extract showing depth, earthiness and a layered structure. There is a dry, savoury, tannic character. It needs at least 3-4 years to evolve. Too tight and tense for now. 92-94/100

Chambertin Clos de Bèze 2016 (1ha)

Deep black and red fruits, fresh and intense. That ripe pure fruit is layered and beautifully textured on the palate, balanced by superfine tannins and fresh acidity that lifts the finish. There are subtle herb and oak nuances in the background and a mineral backbone that lingers down the length of the wine. Very fine detail here compels you to take another sip. Will drink best from 2025 onwards. Very impressive. 96-98/100

Vosne Romaneé Le Clos Goillotte Monopole 2016 (0.55ha)

Bright ruby and mauve robe. Powerful aromas of raspberry, cherry skin and white flowers. Medium to full bodied on the palate displaying layers of ripe fruit, subtle dry tannins and that mineral spine that seems to hold it all together with precise acidity. There is a creamy texture that gently unfolds on a perfectly balanced long finish. This is rich and seductive in style, very much like its neighbour La Tache, and an ethereal charm closer to grand cru Leroy. Fabulous stuff  95-97/100

Tasted by Guy Willings, 1st November 2018

France’s 2018 vintage so far and our Autumn selections

Posted on 14/10/18, filed under Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, News | No Comments

After a slow start, perturbed by a cool damp spring followed by a hot dry summer, the 2018 vintage has turned out to be an unexpected success throughout much of France. Apart from the south which experienced an abnormally wet season.

At last Chablis has been blessed with the vintage they’ve waited four years for, having suffered hail, frost and flooding in recent years. Domaine Defaix say this has been ‘a fantastic vintage in terms of yields, concentration and acidities’. Very clean Chardonnay bunches, unaffected by oidium or mildew, were gathered by mid September. Healthy natural yeast growth on the dry skins ensured prompt alcoholic fermentations. So far Champagne and white burgundy have enjoyed similar conditions. The champenois are already hyping this up as a great vintage, in-line with 2008, 2002 and 1996. The Loire and Bordeaux whites also seem to have faired well. 

The red grapes have almost been harvested in Bordeaux. Chateau Le Grand Verdus picked all their merlot by the first week of October. Owner, Thomas Le Grix de La Salle reported ‘Good quality and quantity, it makes our heart warmer after 2017..’ when they lost 80% of their fruit to late spring frosts. The Cabernets could be even better than the merlots this year. As with the Pinot Noir in Burgundy, there will be many success stories and a few disappointments. Some vineyards received last minute showers to cool and plump up their dry bunches, whereas others missed the rains and suffered from heat stress. Both grapes are extremely fickle to grow and must be harvested in a small weather window, having achieved optimum ripeness whilst conserving their aromatics, acidities and fresh fruit qualities. The best wines will taste similar to the great 2015s.

Full reports for each region will be assessed next year when the wines will be tasted. Meanwhile, we have the brilliant 2015/2016 Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Rhône arrivals. Our list is studded with the best performers. The magnificent 2008 Champagne vintage continues to interest our connoisseurs as does our 2016 Vintage Port offerings. Elsewhere, more greats from 2015 and 2016 are pouring in from Italy, Spain  and the Americas. 

Finally we have a full range of wonderful back vintages purchased directly or from the finest cellars. We hope you enjoy these Autumn selections.

The 2017 Bordeaux Vintage – Classic, refined and ‘terroir’ driven

Posted on 24/04/18, filed under Bordeaux, Wine Tasting | No Comments

Châteaux owners and their managers informed us that crop levels were reduced by 30-100% in some areas, mainly on the right bank, Entre-deux-mers and the Graves. Here some vineyards suffered from late Spring frosts and others were hit with hail during harvest, including Châteaux Climens, Haut Bergey and Fieuzal, who made no wine at all. However, this is not like the 1991 or 1956 vintages when the frost damage was widespread. There are many success stories as well.

The better performers were clearly those who sorted their harvests with a rigorous selection of ripe berries followed by careful winemaking practices, such as gentle macerations, tannin management and judicious use of oak. There was no room for error in this terroir driven vintage. The best red wines have a transparency akin to the 2008 and 2014's. They display deep colours, ripe phenolics, high acidities and comparatively lower alcohols than in recent years (12.5-12.7% for the reds and 12-13% for the whites).

Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vines in the northern Médoc were largely unscathed, especially from great terroirs on the banks of the Garonne. Most achieved normal 37-45 hl/ha yields. There were several shining examples from Pauillac, St Julien, Margaux and St Estephe. Some sites in the Péssac that escaped frost and hail also made some very fine wines. On the right bank, the most notable successes came from the Pomerol plateau where the Merlots were hardly affected. 

The best dry white wines tend to have fresh, intense citrus aromas and fleshy fruit from Sauvignon, Sémillon and Muscadelle grapes picked in late August, just before the September rains. This was a superb vintage for Sauternes with reasonable yields from botrytised bunches picked late into October. The best are full bodied with layers of opulent fruit and balanced acidities. 

To be a successful ‘en primeur’ campaign, the release prices need to be realistic to justify any investment.  We hope that those with depleted yields won't be raising prices to cover their losses. Others with normal yields from great terroirs have, in most instances, produced well made wines with even a few achieving the finesse and depth of their 2015 and 2016s.

The 2017 vintage will go down in history as a fine vintage to be consumed over the mid-term. The best are not the biggest wines but classically structured, medium bodied with moderate alcohols, subtle fresh fruit behind their terroir expressions, high acidities and textured ripe tannins. 

There are many exciting wines to offer that will be worth buying and others that won’t meet our high standards. Our favourites will be offered on release, complete with notes and scores.