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Average critic rating : 90.0 points
Smoky black tea; decadent lily perfume and forest floor; dark, ripe berries; and a hint of cocoa scent Laurent’s 2007 Chambolle-Musigny Charmes Vieilles Vignes, then follow in a fascinatingly complex palate performance marred slightly by gum-numbing tannin. The finish here bespeaks the nobility of its cru and certainly delivers on the promise of the wines aromatic complexity. It would be wonderful to imagine that the tannins will soften but I would want to reassess this within 3-4 years before laying any odds. ||Dominique Laurent – for more on whose methodology consult my report on his 2005s in issue 171 – purchased very cautiously from 2008 just as he had in 2007, and even then rather radically declassified barrels or relegated them to the second label he sells inside France (as opposed to those labeled “Vieilles Vignes”). Hail, he noted, put his sources in Volnay out of contention. “It is a nugatory vintage that leaves me discontent; one that had to be solely for the sake of cash flow – and, of course, to get access to 2009s” he said, in ludicrous exaggeration and unfairness to himself and the wines he was about to show me. Ripeness was not the issue, he insists (though some wines were chaptalized by as much as a degree – typically a matter on which Laurent doesn’t call the shots) but rather the fact that the vintage did not conduce to the long elevage that is Laurent’s trademark, or at least, the trademark of those wines that have been vinified and are then raised by Laurent in keeping with his notion of methode ancienne (as opposed to those he considers representative of “peasant” or “naive” practice – which could arguably be more accurately termed “do-no-harm” vinification and elevage). “The two things that most differentiate a wine of mine from the same wine raised in the grower’s cellar,” volunteers Laurent, “are more lees and less sulfur. The barrels are secondary.” But he adds that he’s not about to back-off significantly on the share of new wood he uses, seeing its hygienic aspects as critical to precisely his ability to maintain those regimens of long lees contact and low sulfur. The scents and flavors of new wood are sometimes more prominent in Laurent’s 2008s – whether simply due to the contrast they present with the fresh, often tart-edged fruit character this vintage’s wines, or perhaps due to high tartaric acidity literally serving somehow for greater extraction from barrel – yet in most instances I found productive tension and synergy to prevail. While he deemed 2007 to be – like its successor – inferior to 2006 not to mention 2005, and declassified many lots, Laurent also scored impressive results (of which I tasted only a modest subset). In these 2007s, new wood was less noticeable, which Laurent suggests is in part – but probably only small part – to his having utilized a bit less. Having noted Laurent’s skepticism as to the suitability of most 2008 material for long elevage, he still acquired numerous wines that had been fermented with a high percentage of stems and whole clusters; furthermore, save for his two Domaine Laurent Pere & Fils wines, none of the 2008 reds were bottled before last spring when I caught them all in barrel. (Volumes being as small as they are chez Laurent, one misses scarcely a barrel of most lots; thus, a highly reliable impression can be obtained via pipette – although, this years declassification has resulted in some larger-than-usual batches.) Speaking of the domaine that Laurent started a few years ago with his son, and with only modest generic and village acreage, it will blossom with the acquisition (which took place in time for vintage 2010) of the 10-acre estate of retiring Alfred Haegelen (Domaine Haegelen-Jayer, which includes Echezeaux and Clos Vougeot).||Imported by Martin Scott Wines, Ltd., Lake Success, NY Tel. (516) 327-0808 Wine Advocate.June, 2010
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