"The 2014 Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru les Folatières was picked on September 17 and will spend 14 months in oak. It has a classy nose, perhaps more detailed and nuanced than the Meursault Genevrières with white flowers and nutmeg accompanying the citrus fruit. There is a simmering sense of energy here. The palate is saline on the entry with a hint of bitter lemon, clean and precise with a subtle marine influence towards the sustained finish. Bon vin - as they say.
The 2014s from Maison Joseph Drouhin were the only ones that I tasted outside Burgundy, in November 2015. This was because they conduct a tasting in a quiet, formal setting, Véronique Drouhin is present and also, because I know that they spend four or five days assembling samples so that they are close to the what they believe will be the final blend. That said, I still returned my bottle of Montrachet because it felt a little oxidized (a second was representative) and I asked Véronique if the samples corresponded to those tasted in Beaune the previous week (they did). I tasted most of their Côte d'Or white and reds, also their Mâconnais wines and their first releases from Beaujolais. These three cuvées comes from the Hospices de Belleville. There was already a connection with hospitals since Véronique's grandfather was an administrator for eastern France in respect of its hospitals. They did a tender to find someone who would be able to assist them with their 14 hectares of vine and chose Drouhin. “We are not going to change much,” Véronique assured. “But the growers for the Hospices did not have much equipment so for example, we bought a new destemmer.”
Véronique's summary of the 2014 growing season was similar to those expressed by fellow vignerons. She did point out that in the Mâconnais, they were hit by hail on July 4 and also that this year, everything went through malolactic.
“We had some problems with the drosophila suzukii, the small fruit fly,” she explained. "They went from berry to berry, made them lose their juice so that they smelled like vinegar. However, it was only in the Côte de Nuits. We were fearing we would see it again in 2015, but we didn't. We had to sort for the botrytis, and also berries that had been affected by suzukii and the berries affected by hail. We used a vibrating sorting table for any shriveled dried berries because that can impart a dusty taste. You used to see it a lot in Burgundy, but not now.”
“September made the vintage. We started on September 10 in the Mâconnais and September 13 or 14 in the Côte d'Or. September made the quality. It was not too difficult a year, but there were challenges. We are happy with the vintage and the 2014s are showing very good quality in the white from Chablis down to the Côte d'Or, with nice precision and terroir expression. You should not forget the reds. Sometimes the wines are quite structured here.”
As expected, it was the white 2014s that really shone and you don't need to splash out on the big names to obtain some really lovely wines. I was impressed by the Village Cru quality here, in particular the Puligny-Montrachet and Véronique's own favorite, the Chassagne-Montrachet. Also, look out for the first release of their Meursault 1er Cru La Pièce Sous le Bois. “We don't own the vineyard, but we have been making it for a long time. Usually it is blended with the Village Cru, but this year we decided to bottle it on its own. It's very exciting though I am not sure we will do it every year,” Véronique explained. There are a couple of superlative Premier Crus as well, the Puligny Clos de la Garenne absolutely stunning and a Chassagne-Montrachet les Embazées that is an absolute thrill. Both the Corton-Charlemagne and the Montrachet (Marquis de Laguiche) are excellent, but frankly I would be just as content with these Premier Crus.
Véronique was enthusiastic about the reds. For me, they were a bit more up and down. I could not get my head around the Musigny Grand Cru, which like the Grands Echézeaux had been bottled before the harvest. Maybe they were both suffering after bottling, but I was surprised to see these already in bottle and I cannot help but feel that an extended élevage would have engendered more body and complexity. I preferred the Charmes-Chambertin and their debut Mazis-Chambertin 2014 -- both very impressive wines that have the density to last the long haul; not to forget, a beautiful Vosne-Romanée les Petit-Monts that shows how great this Premier Cru can be. Towards the Village Crus, things are a little more up and down as you would expect since 2014 was not a perfect growing season. There were a couple where I felt the stems were not fully enmeshed into the fruit and stuck out, but otherwise, you cannot go wrong with a wine like Drouhin's Vosne-Romanée Villages that was ever so pretty. The three Beaujolais crus from the Hospices de Belleville were fine, although I think there will be better to come.
Overall, it was a very decent year for Drouhin, in particular a set of whites that they can be proud of, occasionally benchmarks for this Burgundy stalwart." (WA)
"Bright, light yellow. Pure scents of apple and flowers are more open and inviting than those of the Morgeot Marquis de Laguiche. (Frédéric Drouhin noted that this wine is "always gracious and pleasant, like Chablis Vaudésir.") Juicy and intense, but with a sexy touch of sweetness to its orchard fruit flavors. A lemony element emerged with air. With its gripping, mineral-tinged finish, this wine would cut through shrimp and fin fishes done with cream sauce." (VM)
"Soft wood frames the slightly riper array of spicy white peach, apricot and acacia blossom scents. There is once again fine mid-palate volume to the succulent and sappy medium weight plus flavors that deliver excellent length on the balanced finale. Overall this is a bit less refined than the best in the range but this is still quite an elegant effort that should age well over the medium-term." (BH)
The central part of the Côte de Beaune comprises an area predestined to produce great white wines, and Puligny-Montrachet is certainly one of its most glorious examples. Among its Premier Crus, the vineyard of Les Folatières is one of its most famous, occupying a central position on the higher part of the slope, next to Les Pucelles and Clavoillons. The soil of Les Folatières is very chalky and stony : a great part is actually limestone debris, which encourages good drainage.
The Chardonnay is the unique grape variety used to produce these great white wines. The House of Joseph Drouhin brings to the making of these wines its utmost care, in the respect of tradition. At the time of harvest, usually around mid-September, the grapes are hand-picked in small cases and then brought to the winery "en Chavet", in Beaune. The grapes are gently pressed. The juice settles down for a few hours before going into oak barrels. Once the alcoholic and malolactic fermentations are completed, the wine is racked off its lees. It is aged in oak barrels for 9 to 10 months. "Les Folatières" shares with the other wines of Puligny its distinguished and distinctive aromas of fern, honeysuckle and toasted bread. Due to its position, there is also a characteristic "goût de terroir", a firm backbone and the proven ability to age very well. Although the wines are very pleasant when young, they can be kept for a long time, 6 to 8 years in a normal vintage, up to 15 years for a great vintage.
Like all great white wines, Puligny-Montrachet Folatières deserves to accompany the best fish and shell fish dishes, such as lobster or crabmeat in a light wine sauce, salmon, trout or Dover Sole simply grilled or poached. The wine should be served no colder than 13°C (57°F).