2014 Joseph Drouhin Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru

Year: 2014
Appellation: Cote de Beaune
Country: France
Wine Advocate: 91-93
Vinous Media: 91-94
Burghound: 92-94
White Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 13.5%
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"The 2014 Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru was picked on September 13, whole cluster fruit and aged for 14 months in oak. It has one of the better Corton-Charlemagne noses, perhaps more intensity and vigor on the nose with almond and coconut sprinkled over the citrus fruit, yet not quite fully letting go. The palate is fresh on the entry with lime and green apple, quite saline in the mouth. The oak here is nicely integrated and just extends the finish, yet still, I found myself wanting this to fan out a little more, spread the peacock's tail further.

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)

"(Drouhin's vines are in the east-facing lieu-ditLa Guette, which received less hail in 2014 than the Pernand side of the hill): Pale bright yellow. Very reticent nose hints at rose water and crushed herbs. Fat and rich but dry and closed. Ripe and tactile but very shy in the early going, conveying a dominant flavor of mineral dust. The broad finish shows subtle length and lingering perfume." (VM)

"A gorgeously fresh, airy and cool nose combines notes of green apple, white flowers, wet stone and a pretty array of spice elements. There is a notably refined mouth feel to the tautly muscular and overtly mineral-driven medium weight flavors that possess focused power on the impressively long finale. As examples of CC from Les Languettes often are, this is not an especially big or weighty wine but rather one that is built more along the lines of sleekness and refinement that should age effortlessly." (BH)

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