Potinet-Ampeau Meursault 1er Cru 'Les Perrieres' 2015
If there were to be a Grand Cru in Meursault (and the proposition has been tabled) it would be 'Perrieres'. There are many styles of Meursault, but it's always 'Perrieres' that gets us. And the traditional methods of the Potinet-Ampeau production are exactly what this great vineyard needs to shine. Exceptional complexity, vibrant fruit, with exotic notes and good firm minerality. It's one of those we call a 'grown-up's wine'!
The Domaine Potinet-Ampeau is situated in the village of Monthelie in the southern part of the Cote de Beaune, between Meursault and Volnay. The domain is one of very few remaining who have a policy of holding vintages in their own cellars to allow them to age correctly before release. For this reason we can offer you not only older vintages, but older vintages that have been perfectly stored.
BURGUNDY 2015 VINTAGE
We have resisted writing the Elden Selections Burgundy 2015 harvest report until now (April 2017), mainly to let the hub-bub and hyperbole settle down, but more importantly to be sure that the claims we are about to make are justified. We’ve seen too many vintages vaunted as ‘the year of the century’, when really the wines simply showed well young. Burgundy 2015 is a truly extraordinary vintage. The reds are rich, ripe, balanced and powerful. And from all over the region they express chiseled, focused terroir. Despite their youthful seductive charm, these are wines to keep, with serious ripe tannins already melted into explosive fruit.
Comparisons have been drawn with the 2005 vintage, though there is more concentration in the 2015s than in the 2005s. Like a caterpillar changing to a butterfly, great vintages often go to sleep in the bottle. And 2005 is just reawakening from several ‘dumb’ years. It’s been worth the wait. The wines have metamorphosed. 2015 might be similar. And if the comparison is apt, investors in 2015 should appreciate the youthful beauty of this great vintage now, but be prepared to be patient.
That said, 2005 was no ‘year of the century’. But 2015 is also being compared to 1990, which arguably was. And I hear that Michel Lafarge, one of Burgundy’s respected elders, says he remembers drinking 1929s, and he draws parallels. The whites are a bit more uneven, and early reports claimed that the vintage lacks acidity. Certainly, these are wines which are riper and more luxuriant than the exquisite purity of 2014 white Burgundy. But there is no risk that well-made wines will be overly ample or flabby. The best wines will have benefited from the barrel. Comparisons are drawn to 1985, one of the great vintages in white.
The heterogeneity in 2015 white Burgundy is due to the tricky growing season, which was mostly hot and dry, but which cooled significantly in September. Was it better to pick early or late? And did the wine deserve more or less barrel aging? These are questions which will be answered producer-by-producer, bottle-by-bottle over the coming years. But what is clear is that they 2015s are concentrated, fresh and structured.
We believe that to understand a vintage, it is important to look at the weather. Because Burgundy is a single-grape wine, the only thing that changes from year to year in a producer’s vineyard is the weather. So we look for patterns and try to analyze what makes a good year, a bad year…and in this case, an excellent year.
The winter of 2014-2015 was uneventful. It was never really cold, but when it was, it was dry. Mostly it was mild, so we had more rain than snow. We would need the replenished water reserves in the long hot summer ahead.
April was warm and dry, and bud-burst took place early. Mornings in May were sunny, afternoons cloudy, and overall cool and dry. The vines began to flower in the last week of the month, so we knew we were looking at a harvest in early to mid-September.
In early July, the mood started to mount towards hopeful. The weather had been steady, dry and cool. But slowly during the month, temperatures began to rise, and in the last week of July hit 30C. The flowering had been successful, so there was a good crop on the vines.
Day after day of warm dry conditions brought drought considerations into play. But no hail for once! August continued in this way. Hot and dry. A little welcome rain later in the month, but just enough to keep the stress levels down. But no storms or hail. And extremely healthy fruit on the vine. No rot, no mildew, no odium. The mood was optimistic, even euphoric.
Harvest ostensibly started the first Monday of September. And days later the weather broke, and a cool period set in for ideal harvest conditions, stabilizing acidity levels. It stayed this way until September 12th when the first serious rain in two months fell in the southern part of the region. Harvest was disrupted for a few days, but the 19th, it was pretty much all over.
COTE DE BEAUNE
The hard comblanchian limestone that disappears deep underground around Nuits-Saint-Georges reappears here in the southern part of the Cote de Beaune where red wines give way to whites. Nowhere in the Côte de Beaune does the Chardonnay grape do better than it does in the 'golden triangle' of Meursault, Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet. A small amount of red wine is produced here, though white definitely dominates.
Produced only in the commune of Meursault, appellation Meursault includes 19 premiers crus.
There are appreciable differences in and among the wines of the different Meursault climats. And even more important differences in the perceived style of Meursault among the producers. This translates into two distinct types of Meursault, and then, because the climats themselves are so distinctive, we see almost a spectrum of variety in wines that are all appellation Meursault.
The first of the two distinct styles, what many would call 'traditional', is greeny-gold in color, almost yellow, and going to bronze as it ages. Limpid and fat, its bouquet in youth is grapey toasted oak. This gives way to less fruity but honeyed notes and big buttery volume. Classic Meursault is toast, butter and honey.
The other style, what might be called 'modern' plays more on minerality and acidity. The robe is greeny-gold, but with silvery hints and, while brilliant is notably leaner. The young wine is nutty, floral, gun-flint smoky and above all lemony. Honey notes develop with age, but are carried by the fruit and minerality. Because less new oak is used in the winemaking process, structure is less obvious, but no less an important part of the finished wine. Meursault is perhaps the greatest white Burgundy for aging, and this can be said of either style.
The best soils are found at heights of 260-270 meters with exposures along an arc between east and south. They consist of jurassic marls and marly limestone. There are some patches of magnesian limestone. Ancient callovien limestone and argovien marls appear in the premier cru climats.
Nearly all whites - Chardonnay
Red wines - Pinot Noir
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
Whites : 383.03 ha (including 103.43 ha premier cru)
Reds : 11.02 ha (including 1.77 ha premier cru)
Power and balance between alcohol and acidity make Meursault potentially noble. A great one has a natural affinity with noble fish or meat where it can match without overpowering. It goes well with roast veal and poultry, and creamy sauces work well here. Still better are grilled lobster, shrimp and famously, crawfish in sauce. Foie gras is often served with the traditional style Meursault, as are rich cheeses like Roquefort. The modern style Meursault is more apt to less rich and extravagant flavors.
On the label, the appellations 'Meursault' and 'Meursault 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 des Perrières
La Pièce sous le Bois
Les Gouttes d'Or
Les Santenots Blancs
Les Santenots du Milieu
Sous le Dos d'Ane
The following climats are village wines from a single vineyard, known as a lieu-dit:
Au Moulin Judas
Au Moulin Landin
Au Murger de Monthélie
Clos de la Barre
Clos des Mouches
En la Barre
La Barre Dessus
Le Bois de Blagny
Le Buisson Certaut
Le Meix sous le Château
Le Meix Tavaux
Le Pré de Manche
Les Chaumes de Narvaux
Les Clous Dessous
Les Clous Dessus
Les Gorges de Narvaux
Les Grands Charrons
Les Meix Chavaux
Les Narvaux Dessoux
Les Narvaux Dessus
Les Petits Charrons
Les Peutes Vignes
Les Santenots Dessous
Les Terres Blanches
Les Vignes Blanches
Les Vireuils Dessous
Les Vireuils Dessus