2012 Romanee St Vivant Follin-Arbelet



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£1,777.00
£1,777.00

Average critic rating : 92.0 points

91-93

91-93

The 2012 Romanee-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru was only just finishing its malolactic fermentation when I tasted it from barrel. It comes from a 0.5-hectare parcel planted in 1973, located at the southern extreme of the grand cru, just next to the vines of Domaine de l’Arlot. Despite its inchoate form, it expressed a sense of brightness and clarity on the nose – hints of boysenberry and black currant fruit – even a smidgen of marmalade. The palate is structured on the entry with firm, what you might call “rigid” tannic structure. Indeed. Follin-Arbelet’s Romanee-Saint-Vivant is known to be one that is less immediately gratifying than growers’. It is very nonchalant towards the finish: harmonious and focused, though bashful and indifferent to revealing its true complexity and breeding. This is a grand cru destined to bide its time more than its peers, but it is well worth seeking out. Finishing with the domaine’s solitary white wine, well, if you are going to have one, you might as well make it a grand cru. ||I became familiar with Domaine Follin-Arbelet in the village of Aloxe-Corton, around a decade ago at the London Burgundy tastings, though this was the first time I had visited the domaine. It is a traditionally run estate, the barrel cellar beneath the grand maison built in the 1760s with the entrance headroom built for the vertically challenged. The cellars are deep and colder than others. I had to warm up my hands afterwards so that I could continue typing my notes. I met with winemaker Franck Follin-Arbelet, whose brother runs Bouchard Pere, one of Burgundy’s amiable but more self-effacing, unassuming vignerons that quietly goes about his business with his wife Christine. He grew up amongst the local vines, although his family opted for metayage agreements rather than making wines themselves, leaving time for the young Franck to study geology. His father-in-law, Andre Masson, used to make the wines for the Hospice de Beaune and owned parcels of vines around Aloxe-Corton. Franck joined his company in 1990 and when Andre retired took over the running of the domaine. I began by asking his impression of the 2012 growing season. “The 2012 vintage had difficult condition during flowering. It was small harvest with good maturity. It was ‘demi-recolte’ between 35 and 50% down depending on site. We lost up to 25% of the crop due to grillure. We started the harvest on the 20th of September and it took around 6½ days to harvest. We de-stemmed around 80 to 85% of the crop.” These are elegant refined expressions of Pinot Noir, even if their sole white almost stole the show. My own wallet would be heading straight towards the superb Clos du Chapitre in Aloxe-Corton – a regular performer down the years. Alternatively, head up the slope to the pair of Corton grand crus that are refined and elegant. The crown jewel Romanee-Saint-Vivant was perhaps not showing its best when I tasted it, the malolactics incomplete, but personally the excellent Corton-Bressandes will do the same job without quite the same “label cache.” eRobertParker.com.December, 2013

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