buzz has reached fever pitch this weekend with all of the leading critics
publishing their thoughts and scores on the vintage, followed by the majority
of Burgundy’s top producers showcasing the vintage in both London and Hong Kong.
all the chatter we spoke to winemaker and proprietor Chantal Tortochot whose
wines in 2018 offer fantastic value for the quality. If you are slightly
blindsided by the volume of releases over the last few weeks, you won’t go
wrong with Domaine Tortochot’s stunning Chambertin! A great buy of the vintage.
Tortochot doesn’t carry the cachet of the very top domains in Gevrey Chambertin,
it does offer some of the best value, producing wines with great terroir
transparency in their top Premier Crus and Grand Crus and fabulous drinkability
with their village wines. They are a domaine that truly excelled in 2018.
consistency in style is testament to the skills at work at the domaine. They
have a distinct finesse and lightness of touch and the tannin profile remains
incredibly elegant right through their portfolio of wines whilst the natural
concentration of fruit and earthy minerality provide structure and intensity on
winemaker in his own right Sylvain Pataille has been the consultant winemaker
at the domaine for the last 20 years alongside owner and winemaker Chantal
Tortochot, who has a real energy and honesty to her approach. When we
met, she spoke a million miles an hour as I tried to scribble down all her
evident words of wisdom. Whilst the team have been working together for 20
years, in the last 5 years they have amended their winemaking to accommodate
the obvious climatic changes they see affecting this new era of Burgundy.
and Climate Change
introduced 25% whole bunch grapes into their fermentations to counter the lower
acidity brought about by the warmer climate. Initially this might seem
counter-productive as the stems contain lots of potassium, something that effectively
lowers the acidity in the wine. But as Chantal explains, the stems bring three
additional things to the wine – potassium, water and most importantly mineral
salts. These mineral salts produce a distinct salinity on the palate, which
creates a similar effect to acid. Tasting the wines, the stemmy, herbal notes,
sometimes more overt in higher proportions of whole bunch fermentation, is not
at all evident in the wines of Tortochot, but the vibrant salinity on the
finish certainly is, creating a lovely uplifting vibrancy to the wines.
in New Oak
also greatly reduced the amount of new oak. With the fruit naturally riper and
the tannins more subtle in the warmer climate, they felt they can diminish the
new oak allowing more fruit purity on the palate. Chantal talks about how over
the last 20 years, she feels the climate has completely changed and for the
moment, for the better. They now have no need to chapitalise (adding
sugar at fermentation to raise the potential alcohol level), a traditional
process carried out throughout Burgundy. Outside of France the process is seen
by many as a manipulation of a wine, a process banned in many other fine wine
Pinot Noir growing regions.
raising the alcohol levels through chapitalisation, Domaine Tortochot are
looking at ways to lower the natural alcohol levels. They are currently
experimenting with special yeasts that effectively lower the alcohol through having
less efficiency in converting sugars to alcohol whilst still fermenting to dryness.
Chambertin 1er Cru - Lavaux St Jacques 2018, Domaine Tortochot
site in Gevrey excelled in 2018 contrasting a wonderful mouth-watering
freshness with viscous, dense, juicy fruit. There is deceptive power too underlying
the raspberry, and fresh red cherry fruit. The wine retains a wonderful finesse
with fine tannins, incredibly silky in texture, and an underlying earthy
minerality adding nuance and a quiet intensity to the wine. Not as nervy as the
2017 tasted alongside, but much more concentration and textural richness.
Chambertin Grand Cru 2018, Domaine Tortochot
Out of the
Grand Crus it was the less open at this stage and deceptively structural for
Charmes. Despite this, the Tortochot style is here in spades with wonderful
perfumed, pure, red berry fruit and very fine tannins. The structure on the
back end of the wine combined with a sustained pure, perfumed fruit flavour is
impressive. The balance and structure to this wine gives it a great ageing
Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru
2018, Domaine Tortochot
powerful Mazis Chambertin, whose structure just builds and builds on the
palate. The tannins are dense, yet fine grained, providing a beautiful layering
on the palate. The fruit profile remains firmly in the red berry spectrum and
opulent in its character, providing fantastic breadth on the palate, the
counter-pointing vibrant acidity creating lift too. This wine is both refined
and powerful managing to balance the contrasting elements beautifully.
Chambertin Grand Cru
2018, Domaine Tortochot
beautiful barrels of this made, of which we had the fortune to taste from two
separate barrels with similar notes. It was the highlight of the tasting at
Tortochot and incredibly impressive. The wine is so dense and opulent yet nervy
and energised, with both the gourmand structural power and the uplifting
ethereal notes. The savoury, darker, brooding spice notes beautifully contrast
with uplifting bright red berry fruits (red cherry, redcurrant). The wine is
both viscous and refreshing with a fabulous purity, clarity and a long length.