I’m very lucky to experience media tastings, and since the pandemic, my opportunities have expanded to international tastings as well. While not all events fit into projects I’m working on for traditional media outlets, I love sharing particularly special tastings with you all here on my personal website.
Last week I had the privilege of tasting through premier and grand crus wines with Benoit Landanger, owner and estate manager of Domaine de la Pousse D’or. The 2018 vintage marks the first vintage in which the domaine has been Demeter Biodynamic-certified (though they have been practicing biodynamics since 2014). This year is also marked as one of the most challenging vintages in Burgundy of Benoit’s recent memory. Excessively warm days and severe lack of rainfall forced him to make the difficult decision to start picking in mid-August.
“We are usually one of the last in Volnay to do the harvest,” says Benoit, “In 2018 we were the first. It was a risk. We were constantly checking acidity, and I knew the maturity was there.”
The effects of climate change are an ongoing struggle for growers of Burgundy, where mitigation techniques like shade cloth and irrigation are not permitted. Benoit attributes his vines’ success to his biodynamic practices, siting the soils’ ability to retain more moisture (from environmental humidity and morning dew) as just one of the many benefits to this environmentally aware form of viticulture.
If pick-dates are the hardest challenge in the field, sitting still is the hardest decision in the cellar. “It’s very difficult to say ‘we don’t do anything,’ because we want to. The challenge is to say that, some days, we don’t work at all,” Bennoit says. With all the hard work he and his team put toward soil, vine, and environmental health, it’s no wonder that grapes come into the cellar in perfect condition to make top-quality wine.
In the end, these wines are absolutely beautiful. To my palate these are wines that I can easily enjoy now (and will, since they’re open), but can also age for years, decades, maybe more. When asked his opinion on his wines’ age-ability, Bennoit says, “It is difficult to answer and it depends on the moment. If the wine is well done, it is forever … We are making this for the true love of our wine, to share, and to be proud of the wine we are making.”
Below are my notes on four of Domaine de la Pousse D’or’s 2018 vintage, written prior to our virtual tasting. Post-tasting, I’ve added the comments from the winery.
All photos are courtesy of Domaine de La Pousse d’Or.
Puligny- Montrachet 1er Cru Le Cailleret 2018
Cote de Beaune, Burgundy
Appearance: pale lemon
Aroma: medium (+) intensity—minerality straight away, lemon and lime zest, delicate white blossoms, under-ripe white peach and nectarine, green apple and pear, hint bread/toast, lemongrass, a touch of ginger spice, hints of vanilla
Palate: dry, medium (+) acid, medium body (round, smooth texture), medium alcohol, medium (+) intensity of flavors, confirming all of the above
Finish is long
Conclusion: This is an outstanding wine. Immediately on the nose I get this wet stone minerality that just tells me there are levels to this wine. As the wine opens, it proceeds to speak of a variety of primary fruits that range from citrus through to just ripe or under-ripe stone fruit expressions. There is a hint of toast or biscuit, indicated some lees aging and just the most delicate scent of vanilla (almost more like vanilla flower) indicating some time in barrel. On the palate those secondary characteristics come forward just a touch more, bringing with it the spices reminiscent of dried/powdered ginger. This is all delicately done, never overwhelming the primary fruits but instead working to enhance the overall profile of the palate and lead toward a wonderfully long lingering finish.
Indeed, I do not think I really knew what a long, lingering finish was in a white wine until tasting this one. Outstanding, indeed.
And utterly age-able. If I search, I can already get a breathy scent of almond; I can predict how these flavors will further concentrate; I can see how the delicate elegance will evolve into voluptuous decadence.
From the winery: The name of this wine symbolises a strong pebble presence ‘Cailleret’. The vineyards are part of a clos, bordered by a stone wall on upper and lower parts at an altitude of 260 metres. The terroir is very stony limestone. The soil’s superb potential is due to a variety of factors, including pebbly, permeable soil and a slope providing excellent drainage. This wine is 100% Chardonnay planted in 1976.
Available for RRP (euros) 98,9
Les Groseilles Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru 2018
Cote de Nuit, Burgundy
Appearance: medium ruby
Aroma: pronounced—red cherry, black cherry, red currant, chocolate, roses, vanilla, raspberry, hint toasted wood/smoke, hint baking spice—nutmeg, star anise
Palate: dry, medium (+) acid, medium (+) mature, soft tannins, medium alcohol, pronounced flavor intensity, confirming the nose, adding cranberry and wild strawberry, a touch of black tea and fresh tobacco
Finish is long
Conclusion: This is an outstanding wine. The level of acidity is just enough to keep the fresh fruits forward and balance the amount of tannins present. And those tannins—I never thought I’d love tannins. Medium (+), borderline full, but so soft that they just delicately and slowly dissipate from the palate leaving it clean and ready for another sip. The moderate use of oak adds just enough spice notes for intrigue and depth of flavor without intruding on the beautifully fresh, ripe nature of the fruit and herbal notes innate to the grape.
I know this wine will age well—the tannins will engage further with the liquid, the fruits develop into decadently baked expressions, complemented by those spice notes. This is a wine I am fully enjoying now, but wish I had yet another to cellar and re-live in the future.
From the winery: This wine is from a 0.3286-hectare plot, south easterly facing. The soil is largely limestone, also including rock, marl, sand, red silt, and large crushed pebbles. This wine is again 100% Pinot Noir with 50% being planted in 1990 and the other 50% a year later in 1991.
Available for RRP (euros) 108,1
Clos de La Bousse D’Or Volnay 1er Cru
Cote de Beaune, Burgundy
Appearance: pale ruby
Aroma: medium (+) intensity—tomato leaf, violet, red currant, wild strawberry, hint vanilla and baking spices, cranberry, rose
Palate: dry, medium (+) acid, medium (smooth, silky) tannin, medium alcohol, medium body, medium (+) intensity of flavors—adding red and black cherry, red plum a hint of smoke, a touch of black tea
Finish is medium (+) in length
Conclusion: This is a very good wine. Lighter in body than the previous expression, as those silky tannins just slide off the tongue and down through the palate. The flavors, though still concentrated, have a light, lively, almost airy quality about them. There’s a good level of acidity to keep everything in balance. Oak here is very subtle coming through predominantly on the palate, but playing just a minor background role which, again, I think contributes to the overall medium body.
Finish falls just shy of long and does so, really because I’m tasting it up against all others. One may be able to argue a long finish here (and win) if drinking this wine on its own.
Despite the fact that it’s lighter in every way, I’m fully convinced this wine has aging potential. The tannin structure is there, as are the other components needed for longevity (acid, alcohol, flavor concentration) and everything seems so delicately stated now, that I think, with time, this wine will find a higher volume, as fruits mature and flavors concentrate further.
From the winery: This outstanding wine derives from a walled vineyard situated just downhill from the Volnay town hall. The sun exposure comes from the east, and the vineyards are at an altitude of 270 to 280 metres. The grapes are 100% Pinot Noir, planted at different points between 1958 and 1991.
Available for RRP (euros) 79,35
Corton Le Clos du Roi Grand Cru
Cote de Beaune, Burgundy
Appearance: medium ruby
Aroma: medium (+) intensity—red and black cherry, red and black plum, rose, violet, clove, boysenberry, chocolate, hint of cinnamon, hint wet leaves, pomegranate
Palate: dry, medium (+) acid, medium tannins (mature, course), medium (+) body, medium alcohol, pronounced flavor intensity—confirming the nose with the hint of cinnamon, and notes of boysenberry, pomegranate coming forth stronger on the palate; there’s something else spice-full here (paprika?), and background aura of smoke
Finish is long.
Conclusion: This is an outstanding wine and I can already tell its meant for longevity because even through the course of this tasting it’s evolved, revealing more depth of flavor and complexity as I swirl swish and spit.
Fruits are fully mature in nature, complemented perfectly with the level of acidity. Along with those fully mature and slightly course tannins, this wine has a voluptuous medium (+) body.
Oak integration here is a true spice rack. But the chef knows how to sprinkle instead of pour. Truly this is the definition of restraint. And I’m still tasting that combination of fresh fruit flavors along with that spice-sprinkling well after my last sip.
This is another bottle I wish I had two of so I could enjoy one now and one in the future. I know these tannins will soften, the fruits develop. And that solitary note that indicates a little bit of tertiary, those wet leaves, I can’t wait until that becomes a full-on forest floor expression.
From the winery: This wine derives from a vineyard following a stone wall along the upper and lower parts of the site. The sun exposure similarly is eastern, with the soil forming a mixture of clay and limestone. The grape variety is 100% Pinot Noir with the vines being planted 50% in 1979 and 50% in 1987.
Available for RRP (euros) 95,45
To learn more about Domaine de La Pousse D’Or, their Burgundian history, and their wines, please visit lapoussedor.fr
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