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Average critic rating : 88.0 points
The 2012 Savigny-les-Beaune Les Planchots du Nord comes from vines directly behind Blair’s winery that were planted in 1977. It has a fragrant, open-knit bouquet with plenty of clean fresh strawberry and red cherry fruit. The palate is tart and playful with crisp acidity and a slightly angular finish that will hopefully round out by the time of bottling. ||“How many English-speaking proprietors are there in Burgundy?” I ask winemaker Blair Pithol as he reaches with his pipette into a barrel of his excellent Chassagne-Montrachet. He pauses to think. The only name that enters his mind is the same as mine, David Clark, and he is just about to depart the region for pastures new. Tucked just behind the electrical generators near the A6 artery to Chablis, Blair is a foreigner, one that was bewitched by wine during the 1980s when he worked as a political and financial journalist. Instead of merely collecting and drinking wine, he took his passion to its final conclusion and became one of the few outsiders to tend the land, encouraged by the likes of friends such as vigneron Patrice Rion, with whom he worked a harvest back in 1999. Since then he has turned a tractor shed into the small, cozy winery we are standing in today. It remains a small operation, Blair seeming to control every facet of creating his wines, fastidious down to every last detail. I have to confess that it was somewhat of a novelty listening to Blair pronouncing his cuvees with that distinctive American southern drawl. It infers an American influence on the style of his wines, but on the contrary, they are resolutely classic in style: pale hues, minimal use of new oak and several mentions of that abstract, yet fundamental notion of “transparency.” Eschewing all herbicides and chemicals in the vineyard, Blair explained that he does not pick according to sugar measurements, wishing to capture that all-important acidity in his wines. He works in the winery in a more oxidative style, which he believes helps counter premature oxidation, dispensing with it before, not after, bottling. Though he is against acidification, he does chaptalize when necessary but refrained from doing so in 2012, when he commenced the harvest on September 18 . These wines were tasted in barrel in their final form and are due to be bottled in May. Readers should note that one or two were too reductive to assess professionally at the time of my visit in September 2013. I have to say, I found a lot to like in Blair’s wines. His 2012s are finely crafted, nuanced and pure, really nailing the “pinote” in his wines and expressing each terroir in detail, without denuding the wines of fruit. They come strongly recommended. eRobertParker.com.December, 2013
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