Marchand-Tawse Nuits St Georges 2019
This village Nuits St Georges is an assemblage of three parcels, 'Les Allots' and 'Aux Lavieres' on the northern side of town nearer to Vosne-Romanee; and 'Les Maladieres' on the south side of town. The wine is ruby and bright with the fresh berry of youth, but with a structure that shows Pascal Marchand's judicious use of oak with light, sweet toast. Charming now, but will age beautifully.
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 NUITS
Nuits-Saint-Georges gives its name to the Cotes de Nuits, the northernmost part of the Cote d'Or and a rival to Beaune as a center of the business of wine in Burgundy. It is a lively wine sitting on either side of the base of the beautiful Vallerots combe and the Meuzin river. Its patron saint, Georges, gives his name to the most famous vineyard of the appellation, which in turn became part of the hyphenated town name in the 19th century. The Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, Burgundy's most famous wine-brotherhood, was founded here in 1934.
Produced in the communes of Nuits-Saint-Georges and Premeaux-Prissey, appellation Nuits-Saint Georges includes 41 premiers crus.
The appellation Nuits-Saint Georges is really two distinct zones, divided by the town itself on either side of the Meuzin valley. The northern part extends as far as the border of Vosne-Romanée, and the southern section lies partly in Nuits-Saint-Georges and partly in the commune of Premeaux. The wines from the vineyards of Premeaux are considered to be lighter than the rest in the southern section. The richest and most highly prized of the vineyards to the south of town are the premiers crus that come up to the village (including 'Les Saint Georges' itself) To the north, the premiers crus lie in a band that stretches to the borders with Vosne-Romanee, and show a lot of the finesse associated with the wines of Vosne. Color should be brilliant crimson with a bouquet of roses and liquorice. You get that Cotes de Nuits black cherry in youth with strawberry and blackcurrant in the mix, and the usual Pinot Noir secondary aromas with age. The southern wines are more muscular and full-bodied, while the wines on the Vosne side show more restraint and elegance. There are some rare whites which reputedly are dense, floral, biscuity and honeyed.
The soils in the northern sector derive from pebbly alluvium washed down from the slopes above, or, in the low-lying parts, silty deposits from the river Meuzin. In the southern sector the alluvia at the base of the slope originate in the combe of Vallerots where there are deep marly-limestone soils, while at the top of the slope, the rock is almost at the surface. Exposures are mostly to the east or south-east.
Almost all red wines - Pinot Noir
White wines - Chardonnay
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
Reds : 299.03 ha (including 141.62 ha Premier Cru)
Whites : 7.30 ha (including 4.30 ha Premier Cru)
Powerful and structures, this is the wine that gives the Côte de Nuits its reputation as full-bodied and sturdy. It goes with any full flavored meat. Game, especially, is often mentioned with mature wines from Nuits. Locals will serve it with river fish in red wine sauces. Soft-centered cheeses in the style of Époisses, Langres or Soumaintrain are the classic combo.
On the label, the appellations 'Nuits-Saint Georges' and 'Nuits-Saint Georges 1er Cru' may be followed by the name of a specific vineyard, known as a climat.
The following climats are classified as premier cru:
Aux Champs Perdrix
Clos de la Maréchale
Clos des Argillières
Clos des Corvées
Clos des Corvées Pagets
Clos des Forêts Saint-Georges
Clos des Grandes Vignes
Clos des Porrets-Saint-Georges
En la Perrière Noblot
Les Hauts Pruliers
Les Terres Blanches
Rue de Chaux
The following climats are village wines from a single vineyard, known as a lieu-dit.
Au Bas de Combe
Aux Croix Rouges
Aux Pertuis Maréchaux
En la Perrière Noblot
La Petite Charmotte
Le Coteau des Bois
Les Hauts Poirets
Les Hauts Pruliers
Plantes au Baron