93 – 95 Points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate, 29th Dec 2017
There are just four casks of the 2016 Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru les Amoureuses this year. They are all used as winemaker Fran?ois Millet?s only option would have been to use 25% new oak, which he felt was excessive. There is something almost sedate about the aromatics, unfurling gracefully in the glass with scents of blackcurrant, bilberry, wilted violet and a splash of ink. The palate is medium-bodied with a succulent and overtly fruit-driven opening sporting cassis and blackcurrant. There is a touch of chalkiness to the texture that counterbalances the tightly coiled opulence, while the finish brims with energy. Overall, this is not a deep or especially concentrated Les Amoureuses yet it is as precise as a Swiss watch.
“Comte de Vog?e was my last of over 100 visits in Burgundy. It almost never happened. Firstly a miscommunication with the time meant that the first visit had to be cancelled. Returning the following day I found that the electricity for the entire village of Chambolle-Musigny had been cut off. Winemaker Fran?ois Millet and I were preparing to taste at the top of the cuverie stairs when someone must have chucked some money into the meter. Lo and behold the lights came back on. Hoorah!
Of course, the headline during the growing season was the damage to the vines by frost, particularly in Musigny. ?It is rare for frost to damage down-slope, mid-slope and up-slope,? Fran?ois told me. ?The village cru was damaged 100%. It was difficult to understand. There must have been a draught from the valley and some kind of thermal inversion. The problem was that there were subsequently two vegetative cycles from the primary buds and the second-generation buds which took three weeks to show. It was a problematic gap. After that period May is usually a nice month-the heart of spring. I have the feeling that the specificity of 2016 came from the fact that most of the buds are countre-bougeons that came in May. These had a different shape and they were a little smaller. The unique freshness might well come from this. I would have expected to be more toward the black fruit but there is more red fruit. The summer was very hot and a little dry and the heat was able to close that gap. We checked if the grapes from the primary and secondary buds were equal in terms of ripeness and they were and so we harvested everything at the same time. We had 60 guys in the vineyard. You cannot teach them to prune in such an exacting way, differentiating between primary and secondary bunches in such a short time. We finally picked 24 September and it was ripe, both skin and sugar, with no vegetal notes, which is usually the way when you have stress in the vineyard. The yields for Chambolle-Musigny Village consists of 1.8 hectares, plus 0.13 hectares in Les Baudes and 0.14 hectares in Les Fuees, which makes 2.10 hectares in total. That gave us three casks-just three hectoliters per hectare. So there is no new oak in the village because 33% would have been too much.?
The sight of such an empty cellar, just one tier of barrels instead of the usual two, was arresting. Thankfully the 2017 is far more abundant. It was interesting to see how Fran?ois opted to eschew new barrels rather than increase the proportional amount and risk obscuring the terroir expression. I asked whether he had considered whole-bunch fruit in order to increase volume but again, he felt that this would erase the terroir. Overall, this was an intriguing set of wines. Fran?ois believes that they emphasize red fruit, although I discerned an equal proportion of red and black, with slightly chalky tannin and a surfeit of freshness. I was particularly taken with the Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru, a significant step up from the village cru and the Les Amoureuses, perhaps as good as the Bonnes Mares. The Musigny is an interesting one-a great wine no doubt although will it rank among the greats? Time will tell.
I was also afforded the chance to taste the Musigny Blanc, which returned in 2015 after the young vines were demoted to Bourgogne Blanc until they reached an age worthy of grand cru status. When we discussed this wine, Fran?ois told me that he treats the white in the same way as the red, describing the red as the ?body? of Musigny and the white as its ?soul.? Though I have tasted mature bottles until the last in 1993, this was the first time that I had tasted the wines from barrel. As I commented to Fran?ois, if I were served it blind I would not have nailed it as a Chardonnay. It certainly marches to its own tune, almost a hybrid of Burgundy and a Marsanne! It is a white Burgundy outlier, but one that has a tantalizing future.”