The 2016 Nuits Saint-Georges Les Chaliots has a well-defined bouquet with raspberry coulis and bergamot scents, just a hint of Earl Grey tea that emerges with time. The palate is crisp and fresh with fine-grain tannin. I appreciate the tension and energy conveyed by this Chaliots, demonstrating more precision and details than the village cru and with better persistence on the aftertaste. It will require 2 or 3 years to absorb the oak, but it should turn out well.
I have been visiting Michel Gros for two decades now, one of my regular port of calls in Vosne-Romanee where various strands of the Gros family live. He is one of the most congenial winemakers, traipsing between his office and the barrel cellar to bring me each sample.”The frost was remarkable,”he explained” It was from 27 April. All burgundy region was affected but by chance, there was less in Vosne-Romanee than in Nuits-Saint-Georges. For example, in front of the village, most of the grand crus and the village appellations suffered little from frost. This was because of the fog. I was in the vineyard at seven in the morning. I could see fog covering the vines and protecting them from the sunshine, plus the temperature did not increase too quickly. Also, the village of Vosne-Romanee is between two valleys, so it was not exposed to cold air coming down from the Hautes Cotes and why there was so much damage in Chambolle and Savigny-l?s-Beaune. There was some damage in Echezeaux and Clos de Vougeot because they are exposed to two small valleys. This type of frost is uncommon because frost usually affects the lower reaches of the vineyard on the plateau. The second generation buds did not form bunches so it was bad for quantity, but it meant that we did not have to select the bunches at harvest. The second challenge was the bad weather in April, May and June. It was rainy and cold. There was a big mildew pressure and we had to do a lot of treatments at the beginning of the season. This weather meant that there was a late flowering around end of June, mid-July for the Hautes Cotes, so the harvest was late. By chance, the end of the season was better. July and August, the temperature and sunshine was normal, September particularly sunny with temperatures 2 degrees Celsius above normal, which explains why we could reach maturity. We began the harvest on 28 September and finished 2 October. For the Hautes Cotes de Nuits, we began picking on 6 October and finished on 9 October, which is very late compared to previous vintages.”I asked Michel what he lost in 2016. ”In the end, I lost fruit in Nuits-Saint-Georges, Clos Vougeot and Hautes Cotes de Nuits, although the Saint Martin was not touched because the forest created a fog.” Michel can make excellent Pinot Noir. As usual, my main gripe is that the new oak comes across too strongly and obstructs the fruit underneath. In 2016 he admitted that, like many winemakers, he ordered his barrels months in advance, and so proportionately, he ended up with more than needed because of the depleted quantities. I just think 50% to 60% for the grand crus instead of 100%; 25% to 35% for the premier crus instead of up to 60% would meliorate these wines, allow the nuances of the terroirs to come through rather than the modus operandi in the winery. Sometimes it does work. For example, I loved Michel’s Vosne-Romanee Clos des Reas because, unlike the grand crus, the wood is simpatico with the fruit profile, lend a supporting rather than dominant role.