Selected Tasting Notes: 2018 Domaine de Bellene & Maison Roche de Bellene
Because of the very warm growing season in 2018, there were fears that the wines, especially the whites, would be over-ripe, lacking in structure and too high in alcohol. But I am happy to report that those fears were not realized.
The wines are definitely ripe, but not overly so, displaying gorgeous fruit that is beautifully balanced by a surprisingly brisk acid structure. Several of the Bellene wines hit 14% alcohol, but their purity of fruit and firm backbone keep them nimble and elegant. The wines of this gregarious vintage are delicious to drink now but have the structure to age well.
As Bellene winemaker, Sylvain Debord, put it, “This vintage produced wines of pleasure. Wines to share!”
Domaine de Bellene
2018 Santenay Les Charmes Dessus (blanc)
Slightly smoky, with toffee and nutmeg in the aroma. On the palate it’s lush and round, with a juicy mid-palate and a nutty, buttery finish. At this stage in its youth, the bready/yeasty effects of barrel fermentation and full malo are dominant. A white Burgundy for those who prefer the softer side of Chardonnay.
2018 Savigny-lès-Beaune (blanc)
The other side of the Chardonnay coin, this shows beautifully pristine citrus, white currant and lightly tropical fruit. It’s quite ripe and fruity, as you would expect from this vintage, but it has excellent structure that keeps it lively and refreshing, with a crisp, delicate finish.
2018 Beaune Premier Cru, Les Perrières (blanc)
This shows the cool influence of its high-elevation climat on the slope behind Beaune. The bright and complex aroma bursts forth with kumquat, orange peel and an edge of white pepper. It’s very pure and elegant, with a firm acid backbone and fine, delicate length. Impressive density from rather young vines (planted in 2013).
2018 Savigny-lès-Beaune Vieilles Vignes
Brisk and bright aromatically, with pure, lifted dark cherry fruit scented with a touch of mint. It has good weight on the palate with dried plum fruit underpining lovely, balanced acidity and well-integrated tannins. Lingers through a gentle, persistent finish.
2018 Beaune Premier Cru, Hommage à Françoise Potel
A blend of five premier cru climats, this homage to Nicolas Potel’s late mother has a lovely and engaging aroma that combines delicate floral nuances with finely structured dark cherry and blueberry fruit. Even some cranberry emerges on the superbly focused mid-palate. A very elegant wine, with fine length.
2018 Nuits-Saint-Georges Vieilles Vignes
Excellent depth of color and a velvety, ebullient aroma that has an intriguing whiff of lavender, with an edge of sea salt flying above it all. The full structure and earthy richness clearly express the character of these parcels that lie on the north side of Nuits-Saint-Georges, near the hallowed ground of Vosne-Romanée.
Maison Roche de Bellene
Stony and flinty in the aroma, with brisk fruit that leans a bit tropical without being over-ripe. It hits the palate with a juicy blast that’s given a firm structure through a spicy texture and bright, saline acidity. A delicious and refreshing example of the Mâconnais style.
Richer and deeper in structure than the Saint-Véran, this is cool and lush, with a delightfully silky texture. The complex aroma combines stone fruits, ripe pear and a touch of melon with a flinty mineral edge. A well-rounded and fully satisfying structure leads to a long, juicy finish.
2018 Meursault Vieilles Vignes
An elegant aroma of absolutely gorgeous complexity, combining pear, lemon peel and apple blossom emerging through the youthful yeastiness. Very refined on the palate, with a lively acid structure and silky texture as layers of flavor build throughout the lovely, languorous finish.
2018 Chassagne-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes
A fine, tight, delicate aroma, with a mineral edge and a touch of smokiness. This is intensely stony on the palate, with a chewy texture and a citrus-floral dynamic that is mouth-watering and quite engaging. A parade of fennel, white flowers, lime, licorice, lemon custard and passion fruit floats across the palate toward a firm, drying finish. Gorgeous wine!
2018 Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Cuvée Réserve
A fine aroma, redolent with red fruits, raspberry and rose hip leads to a fruity palate that’s made juicy through its excellent acid structure. Lovely in color with a rounded, smooth texture and medium length, this is a superb value in Bourgogne rouge.
2018 Côtes de Nuits-Villages Vieilles Vignes
This characteristically light-bodied Côtes de Nuits-Villages has a very pretty, dark berry perfume that’s given added complexity through a blend of black currant, licorice, savoury spice and a delicate touch of black pepper. The gentle attack unfolds with juicy, lifted fruit leading to a piquant, lingering finish.
2018 Volnay Vieilles Vignes
This is lush and juicy on the palate, but remains lifted and lively, with delightfully dark fruit, gentle tannins and a captivating length on the finish. The lightly smoky aroma also shows a leathery touch of brettanomyces, which seems to be a regular feature of these old vine Volnay parcels and this grower’s traditional cellar.
2018 Nuits-Saint-Georges Vieilles Vignes
A very pure wine, with cool, deep fruit that leans toward blackberry with touches of black pepper, tobacco leaf and smoke. It’s substantial weight is nimbly supported by lithe acidity. It is robust and very expressive of the village, with a hauntingly delicate fruit aroma that floats over its deep structure.
2018 Gevery-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes
A beautifully structured wine, with luscious, well-structured blackberry and blueberry fruit. It is rich and full on the palate, but never feels heavy because of its superb focus and dried-fruit grip. Very solidly Gevrey-Chambertin, it is beautifully balanced and has the power and persistence this village is known for.
2018 Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru, Champeaux
A basket of delicate flowers, with a hint of eucalyptus, this shows the cooler nature of the Champeaux climat, which lies up the slope of the hill of St. Jacques. It has brooding depth and complexity on the palate, held aloft by a graceful balance of power and finesse. A very fine premier cru that will reward cellaring.
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