February 23rd, 2014
Stephen TANZER

"The 2012s are large wines but elegant, like a better version of 2009," said Claude de Nicolay. The estate made just half of a normal crop in 2012--15 hectoliters per hectare--with mildew in May and coulure during the flowering resulting in tiny bunches on vines situated at the bottom of the slopes. Her brother Francois carried a longer cold soak than usual, including a bit of carbonic maceration with whole clusters, then more pigeages than in 2011 (two per day during the active days of fermentation), followed by a longer post-maceration fermentation than usual because the tannins were not dry. The malos then finished very early, said Claude, "right after the fermentations, and in some cases in vat." The 2012s are lower in acidity and higher in pH than average, and all the wines except for the Ile de Vergelesses and the Beaune Bressandes were in tank by the time of my visit. The estate now buys just ten new barrels each year but is not using its barrels as long as previously. "People now are looking for fruit more than for structure," Claude explained. "With older barrels we were losing fruit."

2012 Savigny-Les-Beaune Aux Fourneaux

(10% vendange entier; from limestone-rich soil high up the slope): Bright medium red. Perfumed aromas of redcurrant and rose petal. Precise and aromatic in the mouth, with enticing floral lift to the strawberry and raspberry flavors. Nicely supple and round for all its energy. Finishes with sweet tannins and lingering perfume. 88-91

2012 Savigny-Les-Beaune Les Lavieres

(vinified with 20% whole clusters): Medium red. High-pitched aromas of raspberry, rose petal, smoky minerals and blood orange. Brisk, shapely and delineated, with red fruit, floral and mineral flavors showing almost riesling-like citrus lift. A distinctly stony wine finishing with serious tannic reserve and strong minerality. 90-92

2012 Pernand-Vergelesses Les Vergelesses

(20% vendange entier): Bright medium red. Aromas of strawberry and raspberry complicated by earth tones; less showy and high-pitched than the Lavieres, as the soil here has a higher clay content. Then refined on the palate, displaying good precision to the flavors of red berries, flowers and spices. At once dense and polite on the back end, lifted by a hint of citrus zest and framed by late-arriving tannins. 88-91

2012 Pernand-Vergelesses Ile Des Vergelesses

(still in barrel): Palish red. Less pretty on the nose than the foregoing samples owing to some reduction but reveals aromas of licorice, flowers, citrus pith and crushed stone with aeration. Hard to taste today following the purer wines from tank, but tightly wound and minerally, with a firm tannic spine and a strong crushed stone character. I'm usually a big fan of this wine, and I suspect I'm underrating it today. 90-92

2012 Aloxe-Corton Les Valozieres

Palish red. Aromas of redcurrant and iron are totally different from the estate's wines from Pernand and Savigny. Juicy and saline in the mouth, showing little of the floral lift of the previous samples. Finishing notes of herbs and pepper give the firmly tannic finish a dry edge. 87-89

2012 Corton Les Marechaudes

(40% vendange entier): Palish medium red. Cherry and raspberry aromas are lifted by a floral topnote. Juicy, spicy and sweet, with sharp delineation to the vibrant cherry, crushed stone and mineral flavors. Initially a bit clenched on the end, but the flavors of red fruits, flowers and salty minerals display sneaky length. 90-93

2012 Corton Les Bressandes

(racked in February and still in barrel; 50% vendange entier; 10% new oak): Palish cherry-red. Aromas of strawberry, crushed stone and underbrush are accented by exotic spices. Juicy, tight and penetrating; on the lean side today but precise and minerally. More a wine of finish than the Marechaudes, which is more impressive on entry. Crushed stone and salty mineral notes on the long, subtle back end. 92-94

2012 Corton Clos Du Roi

(one of three barrels was new; just racked into stainless steel tank): Good bright red. Redcurrant, red cherry, rose petal and clove on the nose and palate. Rounder, creamier and sweeter in the mouth than the Bressandes, showing more obvious oakiness and rather Corton Charlemagne-like notes of white pepper and white truffle. Hasn't quite the grip or energy of the Bressandes but this is longer and riper. 92-94