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The exacting Denis Bachelet has been making top-notch Burgundy at his tiny domaine since 1983. Since then, his vineyard holdings have doubled in size – to just four hectares. His wines are supremely elegant. This one comes mainly from his Queue de Hareng vineyard in Brochon and is fresh as a daisy at 11 years of age, with pure, pretty pinot fruit.
Product Code: BU45711
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The small quantities of expertly crafted wines produced here are almost disproportionate to the magnitude of Denis Bachelet’s fame. His remarkably modest cellars in Gevrey-Chambertin are located in an old building which was the local post-house during the reign of Louis XIV. They house the whole of Bachelet’s production, the fruit of just four hectares of vines he took over from his father as a teenager.After his father left to pursue a new life in Belgium, Denis began tending the vines himself. He produced his first vintage in his late teens, and, from the very beginning, his wines were noteworthy, in an intensely elegant, subtle and harmonious style. All the wines are made from old, low-yielding vines. Pruning in the vineyards is severe and Denis is firm about excluding any fruit that is not perfect. In the winery the approach is traditional with minimal intervention: no yeasts are added and there is no filtration. If his grand cru, Charmes-Chambertin and premier cru Les Corbeaux are impossibly hard to come by, his village Gevrey-Chambertin is an outstanding example. In slightly more plentiful quantity, his Côte de Nuits-Villages is exceptional value, with its pretty, bright fruit and smooth texture. Since 2009 Denis has been joined by his only son Nicolas and has recently indicated that he is considering a small increase in his holdings. Although it is not yet clear what form this expansion will take, it is welcome news for his many fans. This is a domaine, perhaps short of hectares, but certainly not of class or commitment from its hugely dedicated and thoughtful owner.
Taking its name from the town at its heart, Nuits-St-Georges, the Côte de Nuits is the northern half of the Côte d’Or, the escarpment upon which lie the greatest of Burgundy’s vineyards. Though there are a number of very fine white wines made it is the reds for which the Côte de Nuits is truly famous. Compared with the red wines of the Côte de Beaune the reds from Nuits have more sophisticated tannins, extra body and a more sumptuous texture than their southern counterparts. The soils of the area are predominantly limestone of various types, which is excellent for drainage but also retention of water. The finest have a happy conjunction of silt and scree over marl with protected and sunny aspects in some of the side-valleys that cut into the escarpment from west to east. These cuts provide a number of meso- and microclimates as well as the various aspects. The best sites are neither at the top or the bottom of these slopes where the soils are too impoverished or too fertile respectively. More generic wines are produced at the top and bottom of these slopes, with the Premiers Crus and Grand Crus in a band running along the upper middle. The climate here is semi-continental, though northerly winds can temper a hot summer while warmer winds from the south can bring warmth. Westerly winds that ultimately originate in the Atlantic can bring rain but at its worst may deliver devastating hail in incredibly localised storms. There is a degree of unpredictability about vintages in Burgundy that mean more variation than in any other fine wine region.The appellations that sit above the generic regional ACs in the hierarchy are Marsannay, Fixin, Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-St-Denis, Chambolle-Musigny, Vougeot, Vosne-Romanée, Echézaux and Nuits-St-George. Côte de Nuits –Villages is made from grapes grown at either end of the Côte, where the soils and sites are less impressive. Gevrey-Chambertin is a complete and balanced wine, full and harmonious. Wines from Nuits-St-Georges are the most tannic and, like Pommards, need long maturation. For many Vosne-Romanée is the summit. Its wines have beautiful velvety palates: dense and soft, sensuous and tactile. Chambolle-Musigny is the lightest yet one of the most fragrant wines of the Côte de Nuits. It is perhaps Nuits's equivalent of Volnay; a pretty, fine boned wine with exquisite perfume and a silky palate.
This was a vintage of low yields and ripe but fresh wines that display plenty of concentration. The wines possess an unusual combination of concentration and considerable weight leavened by a lovely freshness that is the result of maturation by evaporation after a north wind blew through the previously damp vineyards at harvest time. The wines produced are quite extrovert and approachable in youth but have the balance to keep well. Once again, the quality hierarchy is well respected in this vintage.The summer was a serious disappointment with unsettled and cold weather almost throughout. May alternated between the cool, the warm and the wet leading to the threat of mildew. Flowering was extended in a cool and frequently rainy June and led to poor fruit set (coulure) and then July alternated between cool and hot. August was downright poor. All in all conditions mitigated against a high, or even an average yield, and the coulure mentioned above, rot, localised hail storms and the north wind at harvest (which alone reduced yields by about 10%) all conspired to bring the yield down by between 20% and 30%, though in fact some harvested even less. On top of all this, the best producers cut bunches from the vines in July and August in order to speed up the retarded ripening process. As ever, sorting tables were vital at the winery to remove rot-affected bunches.It was fine mid-September weather that saved the day, as clear blue skies and the aforementioned north wind combined to dry out the vineyards, diminished the threat of rot and accelerated maturation. The wind resulted in a concentration of sugars and acid in the wine as water was removed leading to wonderful freshness in the white wines for which the fruit was harvested relatively late. The whites are taut and firm and concentrated. A little shy when bottled, they have blossomed into lovely wines, some close to the superb 2010 in quality and style. 2008 reds are still a little firm but are beginning to open up. Pinot from cooler years can seem a little pinched at bottling but then develop over a decade, becoming softer as it sheds some of its tannins. 2008 may well develop like 2001, which is now superb.
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