Producer note: Technical director Frederic Barnier succinctly described 2012 as simply 'difficult. Somewhat ironically we had an excellent start to the season but it didn't last for very long. The winter was extremely cold and then when a warmer than usual March arrived the vegetation exploded. April and May though were not propitious as there was alternating warm, cold and wet weather with frost in certain sectors, particularly in Chassagne and Santenay. Moreover the frost was quite late as it occurred on May 17th so it did a lot of damage in some lower lying vineyards, particularly in those that had been recently plowed. We had huge amounts of rain and often in very short periods of time. This pattern held into June and the predictable result was a very, very poor flowering. It really wasn't all that cold but the humidity was very high and it resulted in lots of shatter and a very high incidence of shot berries. As if this wasn't sufficient there was a violent hail storm that primarily hit the areas of St. Romain, Meursault, Monthelie, Volnay, Pommard and Beaune though there was scattered damage elsewhere as well. Volnay and Monthelie were the worst affected by that particular storm as it hit the vines 3 times in one 24 hour period! This particular storm was sufficiently early that it was more a factor in reducing yields than really affecting quality. Shortly thereafter that was a massive attack of mildew that hit pretty much the entire Cote that was so virulent that it was even present on the bunches themselves which is something that you rarely see. Those that didn't treat both properly and immediately had zero crop and I do mean zero. Thereafter, there was an attack of oidium which was almost as bad with the worst sectors being Nuits, Vosne, Chambolle and Morey yet for some reason it seemed to stop there and didn't really affect Gevrey, Fixin and Marsannay. At the end of July there was a pretty serious heat wave that sunburned some fruit though we were less affected than some because we had done less in the way of canopy thinning. Those that did their leaf pulling by machine were particularly hit hard because the thinning is much less precise and exposes more bunches to the dehydrating effects of the sun. Immediately thereafter on the 1st of August there was another hail storm that pummeled much of the southern Cote de Beaune and most particularly Puligny and Chassagne though there was damage everywhere. What is interesting when you look at each individual factor, nothing among them would have been really all that serious yet when you add them all together you arrive at a figure of around negative 50% and that hurts, particularly since the yields in 2010, 2011 and 2013 can hardly been described as generous. We began picking the whites on the 22nd of September and the reds on the 24th. Remarkably with all of the ups and downs of the growing season there was almost nothing that required serious amounts of sorting. Some sectors were a bit worse than others but overall it would have been easy to expect much much more. In fact when we loaded the first few harvesting bins on the sorting tables I couldn't believe how clean the fruit was as I flatly did not expect what I saw. The skins were super thick but unfortunately there just wasn't much juice in the berries. I believe that this partially explains why we had almost no botrytis in pinot though there was a bit in chardonnay. Potential alcohols for the reds were in the 12 to 13% range and 12.5% is a good average figure. The musts were thick and almost like jam rather than juice but even so the vinifications for the reds were pretty straightforward. I cannot say the same thing for the whites as we had any number of sticky fermentations that didn't want to finish. As to the style of the reds they are concentrated and serious yet they have excellent freshness and balance. One of the things that I find interesting is that almost everything is good in pinot despite the chaotic growing season. And perhaps the best thing of all is that notwithstanding the high concentration and ripeness levels the wines reflect perfectly their respective terroirs. They should age effortlessly but again because of the impressive densities be approachable young too if that's what people prefer.' Note some 11's were revisited below in bottle. (Kobrand, Inc., www.kobrandwine.com, NY, NY; Hatch Mansfield Ltd., www.hatchmansfield.com, Uncorked Ltd, www.uncorked.co.uk, both UK).
Tasting note: A ripe but cool and restrained nose features notes of red currant, earth, spice and soft warm earth nuances. There is excellent volume and vibrancy to the seductively textured, intense and mineral-driven middle weight flavors that possess a sophisticated mouth feel before culminating in an impressively persistent, balanced and complex finish. This is a wine of harmony and grace but underneath the velvet is a sleek muscularity and notably firm tannins so this is not likely to make the best candidate for early accessibility.
Tasted: Apr 15, 2014