6 November 2023
Burgundy Diaries – Day 1
By Jason Haynes, Burgundy Buyer
Having completed the first day of my 5-week adventure in Burgundy, tasting the soon to be released 2022 vintage, I am starting to struggle to contain my excitement: the wines are simply delightful.
I began the week in Chassagne, at one of the village’s very finest vignerons, Thierry Pillot, son of Paul. Having tasted a few whites back in June, I was pretty optimistic that Thierry would have crafted some beautiful wines, and I was not disappointed. Once again, I was using descriptives that I would not have expected to litter my notes, given the warmth of the vintage. The wines were poised and energetic, at times even crackling with electricity, yet also full of fruit. What was not to love? Both the Caillerets and the Grande Montagne were faultless delights.
I left feeling very chipper and made my way to one of the new kids on the block, Simon Colin, son of Philippe. He now has 9 hectares in his armoury, and talked confidently about his wines and his winemaking, as, indeed, he should. There was much to admire here and those who jumped on board early with his 2021s will be pleased, as this 2022 vintage is an excellent follow-up.
A much-needed plate of food at the nearby and always excellent La Cabane set me up nicely for a prolonged but very satisfying afternoon of tasting. First up was Simon’s uncle, Bruno Colin, who now has an impressive new winery and tasting room overlooking Maltroie. Tasting with his right-hand man, Antoine, we went through the whole range from Bourgogne Blanc up to Chevalier Montrachet. Bruno makes a richer style of wine than Thierry, but there was plenty of mouthwatering bite and energy on the finish of most cuvées, with the aforementioned Maltroie, the very rare En Remilly and the even rarer Blanchots Dessus being particular highlights.
I continued in Chassagne and visited young Bastien Duvernay, son of Philippe who has now assumed control at Domaine Coffinet Duvernay. His relaxed approach hides his true drive and passion for his métier, and he put on a very fine tasting. It began with a quite delicious Aligoté made from 70-year-old vines, and just one of what has proved to be an already large and ever-growing number of fine examples of this varietal that has clearly flourished in the 2022 vintage. Other highlights here included the village Blanchots Dessous (he also makes a 1er Cru Blanchots Dessus – spot the different spelling), which was wonderfully salty and cohesive, a very complete Fairendes, part of the behemoth that is Morgeot, and a stunning Dent de Chien. I left the village with an energised palate and an enhanced view of the whites of this vintage, which says something given my very positive starting point. Yet, this barely containable enthusiasm for the whites might pale into insignificance if the reds I tasted at the end of the day are any indication of the vintage as a whole.
I headed north for Nuits and ruined Thibault Liger-Belair’s evening by rocking up at his cuverie at 6pm to embark on a rather extensive tasting. But what a tasting it was! I have little doubt that this was Thibault’s finest set of wines to date, with everything singing and in its place. There was great energy throughout, real freshness and definition and some wonderful tannin integration. He also showed me his self-designed and patented new steel vats which have been devised with the ideal proportions to create the perfect flow of juice within the cuve as the temperature of the wine rises. Judging by what I tasted, they clearly work well! A real highlight was what will prove to be the last vintage of the Gevrey-Chambertin ‘En Créot’, which had the fragrance and délicatesse more commonly associated with a fine Chambolle.