Lots of the top releases this October originate from Burgundy, starting with a range of superb white Burgundies from Henri Boillot and Paul Pernot. With our first 2017 white Burgundy release of the year – Henri Boillot’s Bourgogne Blanc – being offered this weekend, expect to see other top releases from Paul Pernot and Henri Boillot’s 1er and Grand Cru sites come out over the next few weeks.
A key positive with regard to the 2017 vintage for white wines of the Cote de Beaune, confirmed by Stephen Tanzer in his latest Vinous report, is that the wines do not suffer from the “surmaturite” that plagued the 2015 and to some extent 2016 vintages – “few wines display super ripe notes of tropical fruits. On the contrary, the better 17s entice, with high pitched notes of minerals, flowers and white pepper and noteworthy delineation of flavour.”
He goes on to say “The 17s will be considered more classical in style than either the 2016 or 2015 by those who prefer supple balanced wines without extremes”. Judging from this, 2017 is without question the best vintage for whites in Burgundy since the epic 2014.
Henri Boillot – Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Mouchere 2017
Henri Boillot’s top two Grand Crus (Montrachet and Chevalier Montrachet) are the highest scored white wines in Stephen Tanzer’s entire report – outscoring Domaines Leflaive, Pierre Yves Colin-Morey, Comtes Lafon and Ramonet. His cuvees are some of the highest scored and most highly sought-after white wines to be released this year. Whilst the top Grand Cru will be in shorter supply, we will have good access to his village and 1er Cru wines which are a great value buy from the one of the best white wine producers in Burgundy, if not the world.
The top pick from Henri Boillot is the Puligny Montrachet 1er cru – Mouchere – a monopole site exclusively managed by Henri Boillot, which is an enclosure within the top 1er Cru site of Perrieres, and comes from 78 year old vines. This is a wine that regularly receives similar scores to their Grand Cru wines at a fraction of the price.
Samuel Billaud – Chablis 1er Cru Sechet 2017
Another top Burgundian producer to release his wines later this month is Samuel Billaud – one of the rising stars of Chablis. Neal Martin’s recent report on Chablis is full of genuine excitement over the rise in quality from certain producers, of which Samuel is one. He states Chablis is “a region that is becoming one of the most exciting in Burgundy… That tang of struck flint. The tension and energy sprung-loaded into great Chablis… In talented hands Chablis can satisfy both the senses and the intellect”. Neal Martin is not alone. William Kelley from the Wine Advocate and Nick Stock from James Suckling all singing the region’s praises with the 2017 vintage.
After tasting through a large selection of 2017 Chablis’ ourselves, the quality from the top producers is outstanding. The wines have great tension as well as a fruity core (very much on the citrus spectrum, rather than the riper melon and orange). It is a much more classic vintage than 2015 and 2016 and reminds me of the very underrated 2012s.
In Chablis there is a growing movement raising the bar in terms of quality. Whilst Raveneau and Dauvissat are leading the way with regards to quality and collectability, a new generation of growers are hot on their heels and represent astonishing value. As Neal Martin of Vinous attests: “Some oenophiles’ interest in Chablis does not extend beyond [Raveneau and Dauvissat], which is understandable but short-sighted since there is a clutch of growers who are making Chablis on almost the same level, such as Samuel Billaud, Gilbert Picq and Patrick Piuze…”.
The 1er cru Mont de Milieu is one of Billaud’s higher scoring wines according to both Vinous and the Wine Advocate. It comes from 80 year old vines, with 20% aged in old barrels adding to the concentration and intensity of the wine; described by Neal Martin as “superb”.
Bibi Graetz – Colore 2015
A major release from Italy this month comes in the form of Bibi Graetz’s flagship wine, Colore. Graetz’s philosophy is to produce wines from Tuscany’s oldest and rarest vineyards, blending the three key varietals of the region that, when combined, best express the highest potential of Tuscan wine: Sangiovese (structure and power), Colorino (fruits and velvety tannins) and Canaiolo (minerality and intensity). After extensive tasting from his barrels, Bibi Graetz chooses the top three plots of that year to go into his flagship wine.
Monica Larner of the Wine Advocate describes the 2015 Colore as “a breakthrough wine” for Bibi Graetz and on our visit to the winery in the spring of this year, he explained to us the change in his winemaking philosophy responsible for this breakthrough. The realisation came from tasting the 2009 and 2010 vintages. 2009 was a very cool and wet vintage in Tuscany and he initially thought the wines would be too weak to produce good wine – but the results were beautiful. He preferred his 2009 to his warmer, riper 2010 and that’s when he realised he needed to change his viticultural philosophy. Less became more. Rather than pushing for the extremities of ripeness which lost the balance of the wine, he instead wanted energy in the wine. He stopped green harvesting, opted for low sulphite intervention and reduced new oak maturation to 2-3%, opting for older barrels instead. Rather than the green harvest, he removed the extra bunches three weeks before harvest, which causes a gentler, even ripening of the grapes. These changes together created a very different interaction with the grapes.
If you missed the release earlier in the week, you can view the details here.
Champagne Pol Roger – Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill 2008
Finally for all the Champagne aficionados out there, Pol Roger’s top cuvee Sir Winston Churchill Vintage 2008 is released this month. The 2008 is described by Stephen Reinhardt of the Wine Advocate as “one of the finest of this century and one of the greatest Churchills of modern times”.
The Winston Churchill cuvee is a Pinot Noir dominant blend sourced from 100% Grand Cru vineyards and released with significant bottle age, in keeping with Churchill’s preference for aged Champagne.
Unique to the Pol Roger vinification process, the Champagne goes through two settlings, providing incredibly clear must, leading to a slow fermentation process adding complexity to the wine. Hand riddled in cellars 33 metres below ground, it is the extended ageing in these deep cool and damp cellars that the Champagne House believes is behind the very fine and persistence mousse created in the wine. Ever popular, there is sure to be huge global interest on release, making it a solid investment for the future.