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Elden Selections

Elden Selections
September 1, 2015 | Elden Selections

A Clutch of 07s


Domaine Potinet-Ampeau 2007 Whites

2007. The locals say it was the worst summer in 30 years. We have seen 30 first hand, and this one was undoubtedly the strangest. There was no winter to speak of. We did have a very pretty snowfall in late January; but overall the year started out warm and dry. Then came April.
No rain, none; and hot: 75°F. The vine was awake by then, and must have thought it was already summer. Flowering took place four to six weeks earlier than usual. We count 100 days from flower to harvest, so here we were, faced with the prospect of picking in August!
May was fairly normal, wet and warm. But June and July were rainy and cool; and August was like a long, grey winter that you thought would never end. The doom-and-gloomers were reporting that there might not even be a harvest at all. And by the end of the month it was all too believable. Growers we spoke with said it would take a miracle: it would take a perfect September, warm (but not too warm) and dry, and with a constant north wind. In the happy-ending version, miracle of miracles, Burgundy got exactly the September it needed. The harvest was saved. The End.

We all know that there are no miracles in winemaking. But there are sometimes wonders. Burgundy 2007 looked a lot worse from the outside than it actually was. Bizarre? Yes. Risky? Not if you knew what you’re doing. A good winemaker is not just someone who makes good wine. It’s someone who consistently makes good wine. And in good hands, 2007 was one on the most typical Burgundian vintages of recent times.

The Domaine Potinet-Ampeau in Monthelie is as meticulous as they come. They have to be: they specialize in wines meant for keeping. In fact, they keep most of their production in perfect cellar conditions until they are ready (or almost ready) to drink. The style is tight and precise, with solid levels of acidity and the purest fruit extraction. We are never surprised to find vintages in the Potinet-Ampeau cellars in the full bloom of youth that elsewhere would be past it.

So when we decided to add the Potinet-Ampeau 2007 whites to our latest shipment for the new Elden Burgundy Selections website, we were confident. Still we wanted to be sure they were on form. So recently we re-tasted:

Meursault ‘Les Rougeots’
Meursault 1er Cru ‘Les Perrieres’
Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru ‘Les Champs-Gains’

We needn’t have been worried. All three shared a lemon drop acidity and deep, compact ripe pear fruit. Signs that they are still young, and have lots of legs yet to run with. They were also all three slow to open, showing themselves gradually over the course of a half hour or so. We don’t often think of opening Chardonnay much in advance, but here the firm grip of the winemaking keeps these babies wrapped in swaddling clothes.

We have often said that the 2007 harvest was perhaps the most ‘typically Burgundian’ vintage of the decade, with flecks of green here and there reflecting the long slow struggle to reach maturity. But that’s what Burgundy is all about: Chardonnay, and particularly Pinot Noir, like to mature slowly. We’re at the northernmost limit (at least for the time being) of quality dry still production in Europe wine for a reason.

As we always say, you have to know who made the wine. But if you do come across 2007 from a good producer like Potinet-Ampeau, these are wines worth an evening’s contemplation.

All the best from Burgundy!


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