2016 Domaine Coche-Dury Meursault-Perrieres 1er Cru

Year: 2016
Appellation: Cote de Beaune
Country: France
Wine Advocate: 97
Vinous Media: 95+
White Wine
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"The 2016 Meursault 1er Cru Perrières is the most distinctive wine in the range, unfurling in the glass with notes of lemon oil, crushed chalk, tart green apple, dried white flowers and struck flint. On the palate, the wine is medium to full-bodied, elegantly satiny and searingly intense, with tangy acids, huge concentration and the pronouncedly mineral, stony signature that always seems to mark out this bottling. Along with Genevrières, Coche's parcel in Perrières was largely spared by the 2016 frosts. Given its utterly classic profile, a dozen years' patience is advised.

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 what Raphaël Coche described as perfect grapes, untouched by frost): Penetrating scents of crushed stone and lemon; classic Perrières! Smooth and very dense on the palate, with its flavors of crushed rock, lemon, lime, underripe pineapple, flowers and saline minerality showing great inner-mouth tension. This, too, boasts terrific dry extract. Finishes with extraordinary sappiness and rising length, like an electric shock to the palate. This wonderfully juicy, digestible wine spreads out horizontally to excite the taste buds." (VM)