On the 31st May 2018, we organised a dinner looking at the 2015 vintage at the Peacock Room in Shanghai.
Whilst the wines presented during the evening are of course too young to fully show their full potential, the idea of this dinner was to give the attending guests an overview of the vintage and its style. Looking at wines from 8 producers we import into China, it was an exciting opportunity to compare wines of such different styles next to one another.
The first flight consisted of two whites from producers who share a certain similarity in their stylistic preferences: Thierry Pillot’s (Domaine Paul Pillot) Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Clos st Jean and Olivier Lamy’s (Domaine Hubert Lamy) St Aubin 1er Cru en Remilly. Both of these producers use very little if any new oak and have a preference for larger barrels when it comes to ageing. Despite this, the two wines could not have been more different. The Lamy is extremely concentrated and minerally, with beautiful acidity, and hardly any detectable oak influence. On the other hand, the Pillot has a richer, more yielding personality with a touch more creamy aromatic nuances coming through. Whilst most preferred the Pillot, the Lamy almost drank like a Burgundian interpretation of a great Keller Riesling. So far so good!
This was followed by two very different reds: Sebastien Cathiard’s (Domaine Sylvain Cathiard) Chambolle-Musigny Clos de l’Orme and Charles Lachaux’ (Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux) Vosne Romanee. Cathiard uses very little if no whole cluster, and around 20-30% new oak on his village wines. In contrast, Charles’ wines have seen close to 100% whole cluster fruit and hardly any new wood in 2015. The contrast could not be bigger. The Cathiard is a big wine that seriously needs to be left alone for a good 10 years to really show what it can do. The Arnoux-Lachaux has a bouquet that was simply to die for, and showed how a beautiful whole-cluster wine can smell without much new oak. On the palate, it was so vivid that it counted among one of the wines of the night for me. Whilst the Cathiard will certainly be a superb wine in due course, it really needs a few years. The Arnoux-Lachaux on the other hand can be drunk now without any regret!
Next up we moved north and into Gevrey-Chambertin, comparing two of the village’s finest wineries, which have seen the next generation take over and slowly implement their own vinification style. First was Arnaud Mortet’s (Domaine Denis Mortet) Cinq Terroirs. This has to be one of the best values in Burgundy at the moment, given the quality that Arnaud produced with this wine in both 2015 and 2016. It’s a bomb that left everyone at the table completely blown away. As far as we’re concerned, Charles Lachaux and Arnaud Mortet are likely to be among the very finest vignerons of their generation and these two wines only confirmed this point of view. Next up came another, and possibly, the finest village Gevrey made at the moment: Dugat-Py’s Coeur de Roy. Coming from parcels mostly located in the Combe de Lavaux and from vines of up to 115yr of age, this is a stunning wine in 2015. Since Loic Dugat-Py took over running the estate in 2014, he’s refined the wine-making here and his 2015s and 2016s are a lot more supple than his father’s wines used to be in their youth. This was a refined monument in the making and will be fascinating to follow over the next 20-30 years!
The final flight saw us look at two premier crus: Felettig’s Vosne 1er Cru and Mugneret-Gibourg’s Nuits Vignes Rondes. The former is now a blend of Petits-Monts and Chaumes, combining one of Vosne’s most elegant and aromatic premier crus with one of its earthier ones. This is usually a superb wine, and on this night our particular bottle needed a lot more time to open up compared to some of the other wines. Once it did, it ended up being a favourite of some of the guests and making it easy to see why Christophe Roumier holds Gilbert Felettig in such high esteem. Finally, the Mugneret-Gibourg Vigndes Rondes was another wine that seriously needs to be left alone in the cellar even though it promises to be a stunning wine in 10-15 years.
This was a fascinating tasting. The most striking points were to note that none of the wines seemed overripe, which correlates with what we tasted from barrel whilst the 2015s were in ageing. The fears of it being another 2003 are thus completely unfounded, at least at the top addresses. Furthermore, the fact that the wines (even the whites) have plenty of freshness and acidity to balance their very ripe fruit, combined with huge concentration makes us believe that it really is a vintage that lives up to the hype. That being said, whilst some of the wines are certainly ready to be drunk now, most of them will need at least 5 years to really show what they’re made of and are likely to give decades of prime drinking!