2007 Clos de la Roche Domaine Ponsot

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Average critic rating : 95.0 points



Bacon fat, game, dark berries and decadent suggestions of faded lily and musky, nose-wrinkling narcissus scent the Ponsot 2007 Clos de La Roche Cuvee Vieilles Vignes. Reconvening on a finely-tannic, expansive palate, the game and smoked meat elements take precedence at least for now over the wines black fruits. But much of the sense of clarity and buoyancy as well as primary juiciness that rendered the corresponding Clos St.-Denis so thrilling return in the finish here, too, along with a persistently deep alliance of carnal and stony mineral elements. I would expect this to perform profoundly over the next two decades. ||I asked Laurent Ponsot what he though were the critical factors in avoiding the prevalent pink, under-ripe grapes scattered within the clusters of 2008 vintage Pinot Noir, whose undesirable flavors were bound to have concentrated under the influence of late September wind right along with those of the properly ripe berries. “First of all,” he replied, “you had to prune correctly, which is the beginning of everything – like being in front of a piece of wood or stone as a sculptor and beginning to carve a statue. It’s artistic – not simply something that will determine how many grapes (you end up with). After that, you focus on working with and not in opposition to nature’s cycle. Why are we always the last in Burgundy to pick their grapes? It’s because we pick on time.” In the case of 2008, that meant commencing on the eighth of October; and Ponsot’s 2007s – which taste as though they must come from a completely unfamiliar not to mention remarkably great vintage – were not picked until after the middle of September. “I wasn’t sure in early tastings,” says Ponsot about his 2008s, “that all of the elements would fit together into something harmonious.” For the most part, though, they have – at least, based on my tastings from a range of barrels in late winter. With regard to the distinctively delicious and atypical personality I discovered in Ponsot’s 2007s, readers should bear in mind that he employs some of the lowest levels of sulfur in Burgundy, so there’s no pepping-up going on here by means of dosage, which is seldom employed at all! I couldn’t help thinking as I tasted them: was this much excitement really implicit in 2007 generally and somehow the opportunity to capture it was missed at more than 90% of the addresses where I taste? Incidentally, the big news at Domaine Ponsot last year – although, Laurent Ponsot’s choice of synthetic closures for future bottlings and his remorseless pursuit of forgers and security justifiably made headlines – was that there will be Corton, Corton-Bressandes, and Corton-Charlemagne here beginning with vintage 2009. Wine Advocate.June, 2010

Domaine Ponsot: The Importance

It is fair to say that Laurent Ponsot makes some of the best wines in Burgundy, fully exploiting a roster of some of the most profound sites. Based in Morey-St-Denis and with a long and very illustrious history, the domaine is the largest owner in Clos de la Roche and their 60-year-old vines are responsible for wines of simply staggering complexity, with layer upon layer of flavour. Robert Parker finds that “the wines from this domaine can be absolutely staggering … These are perhaps the most powerful wines in Burgundy, profoundly impressive and proven to age magnificently.” While for Allen Meadows the domaine has produced numerous “wow” wines, and driven other critics to poetic exaltations.


Domaine Ponsot: The Insight

Ponsot’s proprietary Grand Cru Clos St. Denis Vieilles Vignes (labelled as Trés Vieilles Vignes from 2006 onwards, since when the average vine age exceeded 100 years) has been described as “breathtakingly good” by Allen Meadows, regularly achieving superlative praise from every critic, such as Antonio Galloni, who credits the 1985 with “a multitude of aromas, flavors and sensations which mere words fail to capture,” but also commends recent vintages such as the 2008.


The true star of the domaine is the Clos de la Roche Vieilles Vignes, made from what Allen Meadows calls a “whopping” 3.4 hectare holding in this legendary Grand Cru in Morey-Saint-Denis. The 1971 got 100 points from Neil Martin in January 2016, while the 2005 vintage of this great vineyard stirred Allen Meadows to hyperbole at 99 points: “Given how many reference standard vintages Domaine Ponsot has produced of the Clos de la Roche over the years, it would be presumptuous to anoint this as the best ever but if it isn't, it will certainly take its rightful place among the very greatest,” while more recent vintages have been deemed no less promising.


On the slopes just above Clos de la Roche, the domaine produces the only Premier Cru Aligoté in Burgundy. Laurent Ponsot explains with justifiable pride how in 1911 his grandfather Hyppolite Ponsot planted a single hectare of Aligoté in Monts Luisants, a plot that visibly “shines” every autumn when the Aligoté leaves turn yellow. The vineyard name translates as “The Shining Hills.” While others grow Pinot Noir here to make Morey-Saint-Denis Monts Luisants Villages, Ponsot’s Morey-Saint-Denis Clos des Monts Luisants Premier Cru is a Monopole of the domaine, “truly unique, with all the same depth, interest, class and aging potential of the best of the Chardonnays of Meursault and Puligny-Montachet,” according to Clive Coates.


Ponsot also produces a host of Grands Crus thanks to an extensive list of domaine holdings and sharecropping relationships with vineyards in Chambertin, Griotte-Chambertin, Chapelle-Chambertin, Chabertin Clos de Bèze and Clos de Vougeot in the Côte de Nuits, as well as Montrachet and Corton-Charlemagne in the Côte de Beaune. For a preliminary foray into the Ponsot style, Morey-Saint-Denis Premier Cru and the Morey-Saint-Denis Cuvée des Grives are highly recommended, being produced for many years in Ponsot’s home village.


Domaine Ponsot: The Background

In terms of winemaking, Laurent Ponsot is an intellectual, an experimenter, and a risk-taker. Fruit is harvested late for maximum ripeness, though in some vintages such as 1993 this results in large swathes of the production being de-classified. When the grapes are brought in they are gently sulphured and kept under inert gas, but after fermentation they are not exposed to any SO2 at all, even at bottling. No new oak is used whatsoever for the élevage, with the youngest barrels purchased at ten years of age.


Innovation has always been key at Domaine Ponsot. In the 1930’s Hyppolite Ponsot worked with the Marquis D’Angerville and Henri Gouges to draft Burgundy’s current appellation system; he was also among the first to understand the importance of vine material, and the “Dijon Clones” used around the world today orgininate from his cuttings. In 1989 Ponsot became the first winery in the world to have its own website, designed by Laurent Ponsot, who remains fiercely dedicated to guaranteeing the consumer’s high-quality experience of his wines in every possible way. Since 1999 all bottles have been released with heat-sensitive ink dots on the label, designed to change colour if a bottle is subjected to extreme temperature fluctuations. More dramatically, in April 2008 Laurent Ponsot was thrust into the limelight when he received an email from a friend alerting him to the sale at auction of a 1945 Ponsot Clos Saint-Denis, which the domaine did not produce until 1982. This caused him to travel to New York City, appearing at the auction house “like Banquo’s ghost,” according to one eye-witness, and demand the counterfeit bottles be taken off sale. Ponsot has since invested in state-of-the-art anti-forgery technologies.

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