Agnes Paquet Auxey-Duresses Blanc 'Patience No 12' 2019
Great acidity remains on these whites, giving the vintage a “brighter” feel than hot vintages prior. Alcohol may be a touch higher, though it is balanced with the structure. Riper fruit, of course, with zippy mineral notes and lingering complexity in the finish.
Agnes Paquet’s family has held an important parcel of vines in the appellation Auxey-Duresses since the mid-1950s. Until 2000, the family rented the land to local vignerons. It was then, when the family decided to sell the vineyard, that Agnes decided to take on the land herself and become a winemaker.
So she went back to school, became an apprentice, and slowly developed a viable domain, adding new parcels of vines and creating a wine style in her own name and image.
The Domaine Agnes Paquet today extends over 13 hectares (over 31 acres), and is considered locally as one of the locomotives and innovators of the current generation.
She has vines in Cotes de Beaune and Hautes Cotes de Beaune in appellations Bourgogne Aligoté, Bourgogne Chardonnay, Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Hautes Cotes de Beaune white and red, Auxey-Duresses (today 5 ha or 40% of the total domain), Pommard, Chassagne-Montrachet, and Saint Aubin.
She is extremely attentive to the subtleties of terroir and pursues a fairly classic approach in the vineyards. Since 2004, there have been no chemical herbicides, and currently treatments are copper and sulphur-based. She has not pursued organic or bio certification, but adheres to those principles.
Manual vineyard work is primordial, and during the period when the vine is most active (May to July) the normal team doubles in number to 12.
Harvest too is manual, with triage in the vines and again on tables in the winery.
Only indigenous yeasts are allowed to lance fermentations, SO2 is kept to a minimum, and it’s rare to need to add sugar to the must.
For the whites, both fermentations take place in the barrel, and are aged between 11-18 months, depending on the vintage.
Red fermentations are in cement tanks and last 15-20 days, with a part of the harvest left whole. Aging is in barrels (15-30% new) for 10-12 months, depending on the vintage.
BURGUNDY 2019 VINTAGE
There’s a popular saying here in Burgundy which points out that, since the start of the 20th century, vintages ending in ‘9’ have been exceptional. So when 2019 came around, we were secretly anticipating something special. Little did we know!
Every vintage comes with its own hyperbole: best of the decade; greatest of the century; another 1990. And it’s true, as the climate continues to warm, there has been some remarkable wine produced in recent years. But in Burgundy in 2019, it got hot.
Both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay like to come to maturity slowly. Too much heat cooks the elegance out of them. So climate change is an existential issue for Burgundy wine as we know it.
But in 2019 something remarkable happened. I hesitate to call it a paradigm shift; it may well be a one-off. But in a year where, in some places, grapes turned to raisins on the vine, Burgundy has given us a vintage worthy of the hyperbole.
You won’t find many lacey, delicate wines this year. The vintage will be unapologetically bold and unbelievably concentrated. The whites are indulgent, often explosive, and pinned to a mind-bogglingly good acidic framework, given the summer heat. The reds are sophisticated and elegant, alive.
Perhaps most tellingly, despite the hot summer, this was not one of those late-August harvests that we’re getting accustomed to. The harvest got underway in the Cote de Beaune on 12 September. And some in the Cote de Nuits did not begin picking until the 23rd. The fruit was ripe earlier, but the fine conditions allowed the growers to wait for the holy grail: phenolic maturity.
You rarely get fruit maturity (the sugar part of the equation) plus phenolic maturity (the tannins in the pips and stems) coming together at the same time. Usually you sacrifice one for the other. You can’t force it to happen. Nature bestows it upon you. But when it does happen, that, almost by definition, is a great vintage.
2019 will be a great vintage. Think 2018 with more energy. The only downside is that, as opposed to the bumper crop we saw in 2018, 2019 was a small crop. Down by as much as 60% in the southern zones where it was hottest.
Let’s look quickly at how the season developed. The winter 2018/19 was mild, with higher than average temperatures in December and February. There was a lot of rain in December which many claim could ultimately have saved the vintage from the summer’s drought.
Spring was warm and the growth cycle started earlier than usual. There were precocious zones with bud burst in early April. But cold weather set in on 5 April with frost in many areas. Frost damage would have an effect on yields, particularly in the Maconnais. The cold weather held on through mid-April with several consequential frost risks.
Warm weather returned in May and remained until early June when temperatures dropped again, slowing growth again and hindering flowering. There was a good bit of flower abortion (millerandage), which, again, took its part of the yield at harvest.
Then mid-summer was hot-hot And dry-dry. The vines, for the most part, were in good shape going into the heat wave, but the stress was excessive. Vines handled the conditions differently from one plot to the next. Consensus is that old vines, with their deep roots, were able to find water in the subsoil. And that younger, well-tended vines, had a similar advantage. Vines with roots that went looking for water near the surface, however, suffered towards the end of the season, as they scorched and shriveled.
There was just a bit of rain in August, and from then on through September was hot but fine. In certain areas Pinot Noir ripened before Chardonnay, so harvest planning was complicated. The first Cremant vineyards were picked at the very end of August, and the harvest continued through to mid-October.
Harvest was a joy for the most part. Good weather. No disease. And the fruit that survived frost and fire was beautiful. Fermentation in both white and red went off easily. Whites finished slowly, gently, giving balance and purity. The length of red fermentation varied a lot, but the tannins are fine and the wine has vigor.
COTE DE BEAUNE
Auxey-Duresses (pronounced " Aussey ") stands at the entrance to a valley which runs from the Côte de Beaune into the Hautes Côtes, following the road that leads from Beaune to Autun below hump-backed hills. Together with its hamlets of Petit-Auxey and Mélin, Auxey-Duresses is one of Burgundy's oldest wine-growing districts, with Celtic and Gallo-Roman traces. It was formerly an outlying property of the abbey of Cluny, producing both grain and grape. The corn-mills have now gone but there are still ancient wine presses hidden away in locals barns.
The appellation Auxey Duresses includes 9 premiers crus produced in the village of Auxey Duresses and the hamlets of Petit-Auxey and Mélin.
The reds are generally a bright ruby color of medium intensity. The bouquet is well-balanced between rich aromas of small black fruits (blackcurant, blackberry) and floral scents. In the mouth, the attack is refined and supple, measured and sometimes meaty. When young, there may be a touch of rustic green tannin but these soon soften and the texture becomes velvety with earthy notes, as well as leather and spice.
The whites are generally a pale straw color with crystal clarity, with aromas of fresh almond and green apple, and often biscuity and smoky flinty minerality. Sprightly when young, fuller and meatier with age, with a good shot at persistence.
There is a bit of everything in this zone. Nature determines which plots suit white wines and which ones reds. On the hill of Bourdon, geologically an extension of Volnay and Monthélie, the soil is a pebbly marl-limestone mix which gives vigor to the east/south-east facing vineyard of Les Duresses. The Climat du Val, on the other hand, faces south and has very limey soil, while in La Chapelle marl predominates over limestone. And on the hill of Mélin, the fine-textured soil resembles that of nearby Meursault and Puligny, producing excellent Chardonnay.
Red wines - Pinot Noir.
White wines - Chardonnay.
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
Reds : 96.45ha (including 27.55 ha premier cru)
Whites : 38.16 ha (including 2.08 ha premier cru)
Red: rich and well-moderated tannins make Auxey-Duresses an ideal for delicate or white meats. Its supple attack and its notes of red and black fruits give it a wide range. It shines when paired with cold cuts, roast pork or veal, kebabs, rabbit, pasta dishes with herbs. Grilled fish also works.
White: juicy and lively, its fruit retains fullness through a long finish and for this reason it goes well with shrimp, fish in spicy sauces, as well as cooked shellfish. It can likewise be paired with cheeses of the Gruyère family, and young but dry-textured goat's cheese.
On the label, the appellations 'Auxey-Duresses' and 'Auxey Duresses 1er Cru' may be followed by the name of a specific vineyard, known as a climat.
The following climats are classified as premier cru:
Bas des Duresses
Climat du Val
Clos du Val
Les Grands Champs
The following climats are village wines from a single vineyard, known as a lieu-dit.
Creux de Borgey
Creux de Tillet
Derrière le Four
La Montagne du Bourdon
Le Larrey des Hoz
Le Moulin Moine
Le Pain Haut
Le Plain de Lugny
Les Grandes Vignes
Sous la Velle
Sous le Marsain