Domaine Jean Fery Pernand-Vergelesses 'Les Combottes' 2018
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 2018 VINTAGE
There has been talk over the past year of the 2018 vintage in Burgundy being one of the greatest of all time. Comparisons with the mythical 1947, and all that. But let’s be careful and take a closer look.
We’ve tasted some marvelous wines, both white and red, and from all of the appellation levels. Purity and concentration would be the key words across the board.
But lest we forget, 2018 was the hottest vintage in Burgundy since 2003. And frankly, we were expecting wines like we got in 2003: flabby whites and Cote du Rhone-like reds. But that did not happen. And the secret to understanding 2018 Burgundy lies in understanding the difference between these two very hot years.
If you look at 2018 from start to finish, not only was it hot, it was dry: 50% less precipitation than the annual average over the past 30 years. However, if you were here in the early part of the year, you’ll certainly remember the rain.
After a very dry summer in 2017, winter 2017-18 was wet. It rained nearly every day through March and into April. And the vine was slow to bud.
That all changed in the middle of April. Wet soil and higher temperatures brought on explosive growth in the vineyards that the vignerons had a tough time keeping up with. In a week we went from bud burst to unfurled leaves.
The first flowers burst in mid-May. The crop set regularly with very little disruption, and summer settled in. The early wet conditions followed by April’s warmth saw the onset of mildew, but the fungus never stood a chance.
It was a hot and sunny summer. Some would say it was a heat wave and a drought. And we started to see signs of stress in vineyards in certain sectors. Things were better where there was a little rain. But August was bone dry. In fact, there was no rain from June 15th to the end of October.
It was about this time that comparisons to 2015 cropped up. You could see ripeness rapidly approaching, and there was talk of harvest starting at the end of August.
The vines were incredibly healthy; no moisture means no threat from mildew or odium. No rot. Good ripeness.
And, for the first time since 2009….a normal yield! So, let the harvest begin!
And it did, in the last days of August. What was most astonishing right from the start was that the perceived acidity levels seem OK. Granted, there’s no malic acid, but the levels of tartaric acid seem to be compensating, and there is an over-all impression of balance.
Also amazing was the amount of juice the crop produced. Not only was the yield bigger than the past 10 years’ average, but the amount of juice set a record for Burgundy. So there will be a lot of 2018 around.
And all this in a year that felt more like the south of Spain than Burgundy as we know it. The only thing we can attribute the quality of 2018 to is the abundant winter rains, and the vine’s ability to go searching for water when it needs it.
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