2016 Domaine Drouhin-Laroze Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru

Year: 2016
Appellation: Cote de Nuits
Country: France
Wine Advocate: 96-98
Burghound: 92-95
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 13.0%
Price :
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"The 2016 Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru was made from two cuvées, one destemmed and the other not, so that there is around 30% whole bunch. It has a very well-defined bouquet with outstanding tension and focus. The palate is pure and silky smooth, more red fruit than black, very harmonious with very well-integrated new oak (80%). This is the best that the domaine has ever made. Period. Chapeau Nicolas and Caroline.

They’ve done it! “What have they done, exactly," you rightfully ask. Well, Drouhin-Laroze has finally produced a clutch of wines commensurate with their stellar array of holdings. Without wishing any disrespect to Philippe Drouhin, since first encountering their wines in the late nineties, myself and other mavens felt that they were a bit “over-produced.” Maybe picked too late? Certainly they were often burdened with an excessive use of new oak that obfuscated terroir, and when you have half a dozen grand crus under your wing, that is a shame.

When the gauntlet passed to the next generation a couple of years back, daughter Caroline and her brother Nicolas (absent due to a newborn arriving two days earlier) exchanged views on their wines, and I translated what I felt were their shortcomings with candor. I just wanted them to ratchet up the quality. If I recall correctly, I cited their 2014 Latricières-Chambertin as indicative of what they could achieve with a change in approach. Their 2016s bear witness to a different Drouhin-Laroze. Their 2016s are the best that I have tasted out of barrel. The wines are collectively fresher and more tensile without compromising fruit intensity. They were much more terroir-driven. There was far more personality. You want to get to know these wines better. The makeover can be attributed to simple, perhaps obvious tweaking to the formula: less use of new oak since 2014 albeit still higher than some, with the village, premier and grand crus raised in 20%, 40% and 80% new oak, respectively. But that prudence pays dividends. It allows the terroir to “breathe.” Secondly, they have altered the toasting of barrels (Rousseau, Billon, Raymond and Seguin Moreau) so that they are now low-toasted plus rather than medium-toasted plus. Thirdly is the introduction of stems, again, since 2014. 2016 marks the first vintage whereby all cuvées include some proportion of whole bunch (see tasting notes for details).

I must confess that in numerous previous visits, as much as I always enjoy chatting away with the ever-delightful Caroline, the two words lingering in my mind were: “If only…." Not this time. This time I waltzed away with a spring in my step, convinced that the domaine is on the cusp of a new chapter. From the Bourgogne Rouge up to their Clos-de-Bèze and a single barrel of the sadly quantity-depleted Musigny, these were wonderful, life-affirming, quite cerebral wines in the making. Given the enviable, glittering array of holdings, trust me, Drouhin-Laroze could rapidly be up there with the very best, alongside the likes of, say, Rousseau or Mortet. Put aside whatever prejudice you might have against the Drouhin-Laroze of the past and take a look at the future." (WA)

"Reduction and wood dominate the wood today. Otherwise the palate impression confirms that there is plenty of volume to the rich and very concentrated large-bodied flavors where the supporting tannins are buried beneath an impressive reserve of dry extract that carries over to the mineral-inflected, long, linear and powerful finish. This is clearly built-to-age and will need at least some cellar time first."(BH)

Winery Notes:
The Grands Crus are matured in oak barrels (80% new barrels) made from wood from the Allier and Nivernais region. We favour light to medium-plus toasts as this ensures the perfect harmony between the wine and wood tannins. The Chambertin Clos De Bèze has an intense purple colour with a fragrance of small red fruits and liquorice on the nose providing strong aromatic majestic quality. On the palate the attack is balanced, clear, sound and rich. Its melted, spicy and precise tannins offer roundness and lightness on the finish. With a hint of rose, this elegant wine suggests its sensuality. A wine to be laid down.

Serving Temperature:
16° to 18°C

Matching Food:
This great wine is perfect with fine food, suchas lièvre à la royale (hare in red wine), estouffade de perdrix (partridge with lentils) and dishes with truffles.