Domaine Jean Fery Pernand-Vergelesses 'Les Combottes' 2017
Pernand 'Les Combottes' lies in a heat trap above and behind the village of Pernand-Vergelesses. In a sense it is the last vineyard in the line leading off of Corton-Charlemagne, which explains why you often see this village appellation bottled as a single vineyard lieu-dit. The Domaine Jean Fery has its roots in Echevronne, just above the village of Pernand-Vergelesses, so this is, in a sense, their signature white. Floral and mineral, uniquely Pernand, there's a freshness and a purity that is fleshy and fruity but well-cut and firm.
Domaine Jean Fery
Nestled in the Hautes Cotes village of Echevronne, the Domaine Jean Fery is the master plan of Jean-Louis Fery, the latest in a wine line dating back to the mid-1800s. From 1994, with the help of Alain Meunier of the Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron, the Domaine Jean Fery went bio (without actually claiming the certification) and started expanding their vineyard holdings. From the 2006 harvest, Pascal Marchand took the reins, continuing the domain's quest for quality and integrity.
BURGUNDY 2017 VINTAGE
If 2016 tested the faith and resolve of wine makers in Burgundy, 2017 has to be seen as recompense, and as a miracle of sorts. While the rest of wine-growing Europe suffered crippling late-spring frosts in 2017, Burgundy for the most part (for once!) survived.
A mild winter and an accelerated spring left the Burgundy vineyards in a vulnerable position when, in the second half of April, temperatures across France barely rose above freezing for two weeks.
Three hard-frost nights pretty much did in Right Bank Chablis once again. But as the rest of Burgundy survived the first week, the growers found the will to fight back. And on the night of April 27th, a year and a day after the 2016 frost that took 80% of the 2016 harvest, a severe frost was forecast for the length of the Cote d’Or.
It’s now a part of local legend how, on the following morning, we awoke in a thick cloud of smoke. In the early hours, from north to south, the vignerons had mobilized to set alight dampened bales of hay, sending up a cloud cover to filter the first burning rays of dawn. And it worked.
The air was thick, and driving was tricky. A customer at the butcher shop in Meursault jokingly asked for a smoked chicken. And, of course, the authorities were up in arms over the pollution risks. But the crop was saved, and there has been ever since a spirit of cooperation and solidarity not often seen in farming communities.
After the freeze, May brought in an extended period of warm dry weather. No mildew or oidium to speak of, no thunderstorms or hail. Sunny periods, but no lack of rain. And the vines went in to flower at a very-normal first week of June. Pretty much ideal.
July had a couple of heat spikes, and a hailstorm hit the fancy vineyards in Morey St Denis on the 10th. But nothing worse. August was warm; the lead up to the harvest at the end of the month, hot and dry.
The first grapes were picked in the Cote de Beaune in the last few days of August. And most everyone was out picking in the first week of September.
There was (as there often is in Burgundy) serious disagreement in 2017 about when to pick. Do you pick early to preserve the acid-sugar balance and freshness? Or do you hang in there and wait for a little rain to kick-start a stalled photosynthesis, and thereby achieve the holy grail of phenolic maturity?
It’s hard to say who was right. There are very good wines coming from both camps. But there are iffy wines too. And that’s the key to understanding 2017.
Picked early, the best wines, both red and white, are fresh, fruit-driven and floral with long minerality. The iffy wines seem not have adjusted for the solid levels of tartaric acid which left them tart rather than bright, dry and tannic rather than juicy.
Picking late did not seem to have an effect on the balance between alcohol and acidity. But then, there was no ‘over maturity’ in 2017. The extra phenolic maturity seems to mean more density and riper tannins, with no sign of flabbiness.
The whites shine, particularly in hard-done Chablis (where there is better balance even than the marvelous 2014s). In the rest of Burgundy, the whites have the tension of 2014 but the open flattery of 2015.
The reds are juicy and crisp and open, and the regional appellations will be ready to drink soon. More serious appellations will be considered ‘typical’, in the best sense of the word: classic wines from a vintage that Burgundians will love. They are likely to be lost in the hub-bub that the 2018s will bring. But the yields were good in 2017, so you will be able to find them for a while. And you’ll do well to seek them out.
COTE DE BEAUNE
Pernand-Vergelesses is tucked into the junction of two valleys behind the Corton mountain which it shares with two other villages, Aloxe Corton and Ladoix-Serrigny. There also you find the prestigious grands crus of Corton and Corton-Charlemagne. Eight premiers crus vineyards are found in two distinct zones. One group is situated south of the village in the direction of Savigny les Beaune, touching on the Savigny 1er Cru and, in some cases, sharing the vineyard name. The other group is located immediately to the northeast of the village, on a hill adjacent to the Corton mountain, like a continuation of the grand cru Corton Charlemagne vines, and, not surprisingly, produce only white premier cru wines.
Produced only in the commune of Pernand-Vergelesses, appellation Pernand-Vergelesses includes 8 premiers crus. The commune of Pernand-Vergelesses also produces 3 grands crus: Corton, Corton-Charlemagne and Charlemagne.
Pernand-Vergelesses Pinots should be intense ruby going towards crimson. In youth, the nose is strawberry, raspberry, and flowers. When older, it evolves typically into underbrush and spices. The mouth is unaggressive but muscular with well-melted tannins. Fleshy and robust, it is nonetheless one of the perkiest reds of the Cote de Beaune, with juicy fruit and balanced acidity.
The Chardonnays are white gold or pale yellow turning gold with age. They have a unique minerality with aromas of sweet acacia in youth and later, notes of amber, honey and spices. On the palate it is mineral, like most whites of the Corton mountain, harmonious and charming.
Most of the vineyards face east or south, with a few facing north-east, at altitudes of 250-300 meters. On the lower slopes are clayey-limestone soils mixed with chaillots (flinty residues from siliceous limestone). These soils are easily-worked and rich in potassium and phosphoric acid. Mid-slope, the pebbly limestone soils suit Pinot Noir, and at the top, the brown or yellowish marly soil favors Chardonnay.
Red wines - Pinot Noir
White wines - Chardonnay
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
Reds : 82.31 ha (including 43.93 ha premier cru)
Whites : 53.01 ha (including 17.60 ha premier cru)
Fleshy and fruity, the reds are very seductive, and with age soft tannins go well with forceful meats like leg of lamb, feathered game, grilled pork or roiasted beef. From the cheese board, most any creamy cheese works, Mont d'Or, Vacherin, Tomme de Savoie, Reblochon, Cîteaux.
The whites are fresh and lively. Of all the whites of the Cote, this is the first choice for sushi, which may or may not be coincidence that the local restaurant is fusion Japanese-French. The same goes for fresh-water fish in white sauce, and for seafood pasta or risotto, which its vivacity will lend depth and contrast. It also works well with cheeses of the gruyère type.
On the label, the appellations Pernand-Vergelesses and Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru may be followed by the name of a specific vineyard, known as a climat.
The following climats are classified as premier cru:
Clos du Village
Creux de la Net
Ile des Vergelesses
The following climats are village wines from a single vineyard, known as a lieu-dit:
Clos de Bully
Es Larret et Vignes Blanches
Le Devant des Cloux
Les Plantes des Champs et Combottes
Sous le Bois de Noël et Belles Filles
Sous les Cloux