2016 Domaine Coche-Dury Meursault

Year: 2016
Appellation: Cote de Beaune
Country: France
Wine Advocate: 93
Vinous Media: 91
White Wine
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"The 2016 Meursault Village wafts from the glass with notes of crisp apple, pear, almond paste and lemon oil, displaying a pure bouquet that isn't marked by the reductive signatures of yesteryear. On the palate, it's medium to full-bodied, intense and incisive, with excellent concentration and a tangy line of acidity that lends the wine enormous length. Right now, it's youthfully tight-knit, but there's immense promise here. This note applies to a bottle from a cuvée produced from the lieu-dit Les Chaumes that also contains some juice from La Barre. Raphaël Coche told me that he produced three other cuvées, one from Vireuils, another from Narvaux and a third assembling multiple parcels that together filled a press. As usual, the only way to know which bottling you possess is to ask the importer.

This was a fascinating visit to Domaine Coche-Dury, where Raphaël Coche is now firmly established, having taken over direction of the estate in 2010 after working alongside his father Jean-François full-time since 1999. I tasted the domaine's current releases, which derive from the 2016 vintage—with the exception of the 2013 Corton-Charlemagne, as Raphaël is now holding back his sole grand cru for five years after the vintage. Readers should note that the 2015 Meursault Perrières, reviewed here, hasn't yet been released, as it is also being retained for additional aging. In the future, Raphaël hopes to systematically releases the Perrières, like the Corton-Charlemagne, five years after the vintage.

The last few vintages have witnessed a stylistic evolution at Domaine Coche-Dury that I took the opportunity to discuss with Raphaël. In Raphaël's words, the domaine now works with "less new oak, less bâtonnage and less lees." The distinctively toasty, reductive signature that marked out the Coche-Dury wines of yesteryear is no more. But, as Raphaël emphasizes, that has been the case for some time. "The last vintages marked by pronounced reduction were 1999 and 2007," he observes. "And I didn't initiate the move toward a purer, less stylized approach alone: Jean-François and I agreed on the change of direction together." Some clients, Raphaël says, have complained, but his response is uncompromising. "They may want the vinification [techniques] in the glass, but I want to taste the terroir."

The fundamentals of Domaine Coche-Dury's greatness, it's important to emphasize, remain the same: high-quality viticulture, a rare aptitude—which seems to have been passed down from father to son—for knowing how hard to press and for how long, careful choice of barrels and long, meticulously supervised élevage. The wines continue to be distinguished by their incisive acids, striking intensity and frequently appreciable presence of dry extract—the latter is something Raphaël argues can bring structure and freshness to wines from the warm vintages that Burgundy is witnessing more and more frequently. There isn't a Coche formula, rather there is a Coche palate, for decisions are made by tasting. "When my grandfather used to say winemaking was an art, sometimes I wondered what he had been smoking, but more and more I agree—it's all a question of feeling," says Raphaël. Jean-François, I should add, is also very much a continuing presence at the domaine. "My father comes by every day and gives his opinion," Raphaël confirms.

Tasting Coche-Dury's 2015 Meursault Perrières—pure, searingly intense and structured like a red wine—it was impossible to argue with the domaine's evolution. It's a magical wine that represents the essence of this great vineyard. The 2016 portfolio is also very compelling. After the year's frosts, Jean-François advised his son to "sell everything in bulk and buy nothing—the wines will never be good." Raphaël, however, opted to persevere, harvesting only first-generation grapes (and not the second- and third-generation fruit included in many of the year's less successful white Burgundies) and purchasing some fruit to supplement some of the domaine's more depleted cuvées, notably the Bourgogne Blanc and Meursault Rouge. The result is a set of wines that rank among the vintage's best and that I suspect may give the Domaine's 2014s stiff competition. Our tasting concluded with the 2013 Corton-Charlemagne, a wine that hails from what Raphaël calls the most challenging vintage of his career." (WA)

"(from Narvaux, which was not affected by frost and yielded close to 48 hectoliters per hectare): Pale, bright yellow. Aromas of lemon, lime and stone. Firm on the attack, then sharply chiseled but not at all hard in the middle palate, with lovely fruit intensity and classic Meursault citricity. Tightly coiled yet somehow pliant, this village wine shows terrific citrus lift and cut. Finishes pure, fresh and long. Raphaël Coche told me that this wine, along with his Meursault Perrières and Corton-Charlemagne, "are what 2016 could have been."" (VM)