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2015 Harmand Geoffroy The Best of a Generation

Harmand Geoffroy comes from a handful of Burgundy producers that for about a decade now, I have been touting and selling to private customers. The prices have always been spectacular. The quality magnificent and the style old school. I have had a chance to try a handful of the iconic 2015 vintage and as others have been chatting around the fireplace, this is the start of something new. I believe we are onto something great here, in which this unknown producer will finally start to have his day in the sun.

The Harmand-Geoffroy family has worked the land in Gevrey-Chambertin since the end of the 19th century, and today the nine-hectare domaine is undergoing a passing of the torch from father Gerard to son Philippe. Although their wines have always displayed an attractively unforced classicism, they have made notable strides in terms of precision, balance, and expressiveness over the past five years, due in large part to improvements in their cellar work: employing better temperature control during fermentation; managing extraction with greater gentleness and sensitivity; eschewing pumping and moving the wines by gravity only; and refining their oak sources and barrel regimens. The wines today express the telltale meat-and-mineral core of Gevrey-Chambertin with a combination of robust power and an almost glowing clarity of fruit, and the widely varying terroirs are always vividly differentiated, even in the richest of vintages. The vast majority of Harmand-Geoffroy’s holdings are between 55 and 95 years of age (some are even older), and the wines offer a wonderful concentration commensurate with these extremely old, low-yielding vines. Add to that the fact that the family vineyards sweep across the entirety of the appellation from north to south thus providing a rare and breath-taking immersion into the fabled terroir of Gevrey Chambertin.

The imminently arriving 2015s offer the experience of a domaine bringing to bear their significantly improved methodology on a vintage of thrilling quality and enormous potential. Philippe judged the timing of his harvest perfectly, picking between the 5th and 11th of September—slightly early, to preserve acidity—and narrowly escaping an intense rainstorm that took place on the 12th. The fruit was in impeccable condition, although the exceedingly dry growing season resulted in thick-skinned grapes with miserly quantities of juice, resulting in an overall 20% reduction in yields. Philippe was careful not to over-extract, given the potential for such thick-skinned fruit to translate into extremely tannic wines, and indeed the 2015s from Harmand-Geoffroy are harmonious and lovely despite their richness. 

This is a chance to take advantage of a great producer now and tell your the others that you were first to the game. 
  • 10% off any 6, 15% off any 12
  • Wines Ready to Ship Mid-October

2015 Gevrey-Chambertin 
Sale Price: $63.99
Produced from four hectares’ worth of small parcels scattered throughout the village, Harmand’s Gevrey- Chambertin boasts a vine age of up to 80 years. Old-vine sappiness dominates the palate of this 2015, with thick, kirsch-like fruit, and an unabashed warm-earth element—true, visceral Gevrey-Chambertin with an appealingly old-school bent. 20% new oak.

BH 87-90: Deep ruby color. The fruit profile is once again dark and ripe with notes of black cherry, plum and plenty of earth character. There is excellent richness to the caressing and rounded flavors that tighten up on the lingering and balanced if not especially complex finale though more depth should develop with a few years of cellar time.

2015 Gevrey-Chambertin “En Jouise”
Sale Price: $77.99
“En Jouise” is situated just about dead-center in the appellation, downslope from the village itself and adjacent to “Clos Prieur” (see below). The Harmands exploit a solid hectare here, and the wine they wrest from their 60 to 80-year-old vines is always a standout in the cellar. Higher-toned than the Gevrey-Chambertin above, with a greater sense of precision, this 2015 nonetheless offers formidable stuffing and sap as befitting these elderly vines. 30% new oak.

BH 88-91: Here the expressive and ripe nose combines notes of both red and dark berry fruit along with spice, earth and floral nuances. Despite the relatively supple mid-palate the middle weight flavors manage to exhibit fine delineation on the dusty, sappy, more refined and slightly more complex finale. Good stuff.

2015 Gevrey-Chambertin “Clos Prieur”
Sale Price: $92.99
“Clos Prieur” is one of those vineyards that makes the complexity of Burgundy’s classification system feel almost like a practical joke: part of it is classified as premier cru (and sits just underneath Mazis-Chambertin on the slope), and the other (lower) part is classified as villages. If that weren’t enough, Harmand-Geoffroy’s half-hectare parcel here actually straddles the boundary, with two thirds of it in premier cru territory and one third invillages. But, rather than produce two separate cuvees from this single contiguous holding, they make one wine—a villages in name but a premier cru in personality. Here, minerality comes to the fore, and the palate is no less rich but is more chiseled than the above wines, with a more umami-like sense of earthiness. 40% new oak.

BH 89-91: A more restrained though still exceptionally pretty nose grudgingly reveals aromas of plum, black raspberry and an array of floral elements and in particular violets. There is a bit more volume to the delicious and more mineral-inflected medium weight flavors that are shaped by fine but firm tannins on the focused and relatively powerful finish. This excellent effort will demand at least some patience.

2015 Gevrey-Chambertin “Vieilles Vignes”
Sale Price: $92.99 
This standout cuvee is a blend of holdings in three different lieux-ditsChamperrier, Combe du Dessus, and En Champs—which sit just below the great premier cru “Les Champeaux” (see below). Harmand’s 55 to 85- year-old vines here imbue the wine with a powerful sappiness, an extra layer of density and concentration. The 2015 displays a striking inner-mouth perfume and a gorgeous floral overlay which nicely counterbalances its firmly structured, densely fruited personality. 30% new oak.

BH 90: A deft touch of wood frames the very earthy and quite sauvage notes that is composed mostly of various dark berry fruit elements. There is excellent volume and intensity to the rich, bold and full-bodied flavors that brim with dry extract that helps to buffer the notably firm tannins on the beautifully long finish. This equally robust effort is an excellent Gevrey villages but patience definitely required.

2015 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “La Perriere”
Sale Price: $117.99 
The first stop on Harmand-Geoffroy’s tour of Gevrey premier crus, “La Perriere” is nestled just below grand cru Mazis-Chambertin on the slope, immediately north of the premier cru section of “Clos Prieur.” The family owns a third of a hectare of 50-year-old vines here, which typically yield a chiseled wine of great finesse. Indeed, the 2015 shows a markedly cool personality for the vintage, with a lifted impression of menthol and exotic spices on the nose, and a driving, red-fruit-dominated palate. 40% new oak.

BH 91: A wonderfully fresh, cool and airy nose features scents of black cherry and earth with a floral top note that are trimmed in subtle but not invisible oak. There is fine mid-palate density and minerality to the delicious, intense and serious flavors that are also shaped by a firm tannic spine that will require at least a few years of cellaring to soften enough such that this will be sufficiently civilized to enjoy.

2015 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “La Bossiere – Monopole”
Sale Price: $117.99
A unique and striking wine in the Harmand-Geoffroy arsenal, “La Bossiere” is a 0.45 premier cru—the smallest premier cru in Gevrey—situated at the very top of the Combe de Lavaux, a parcel owned in its entirety by the Harmand family. At this extreme part of the slope, nearly nonexistent topsoil and a cooler average temperature tend to lead to a wine of drive and focus rather than sheer power. In 2015, this shows the vintage’s succulence and is perhaps slightly less racy than usual, but it finds a real sweet spot between fruit and acidity, shimmering with tension on the long, penetrating finish. 40% new oak.

BH 91: This is very ripe yet quite fresh with its layered mélange of liqueur-like raspberry, cassis and violet aromas that are also trimmed in just enough wood to merit mentioning. The succulent, vibrant and well-detailed medium weight flavors are underpinned by bright acidity on the relatively refined finish that delivers solid length. This mildly austere effort is unusually ripe for what is normally a very cold terroir.

2015 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Les Champeaux”
Sale Price: $129.99
“Les Champeaux” rests at the northernmost limit of Gevrey-Chambertin, high up on the hard and thin-soiled bedrock of the Combe de Lavaux. In an appellation of many outstanding crus, Champeaux ranks among the very best and most striking. The Harmands exploit a mere 0.2-hectare plot here, and their 85-year-old vines always produce one of the highlights of their cellar. The 2015 shows more obvious structure than the preceding wines (as befits the terroir), with focused, dark red fruits framing an intensely concentrated palate of almost forbidding minerality. 50% new oak.

BH 92: Mild reduction renders the seemingly ripe nose tough to evaluate. By contrast there is both solid freshness and energy to the rich and delicious mineral-driven flavors that are quite tightly wound at present; indeed this strikingly persistent effort is almost old school in style so plenty of patience is going to be necessary.
 
2015 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Lavaux Saint Jacques”
Sale Price: $132.99
Nestled in the heart of the Combe de Lavaux, “Lavaux Saint Jacques” is one of the more famous and coveted sites in the appellation, and for good reason—it encompasses a panoply of seemingly at-odds characteristics with ease, and many consider it a grand cru in all but name. The Harmand family is fortunate to work three quarters of a hectare here, with vines between 45 and 95 years of age. This 2015 combines the intensity of the “Champeaux” above with a more profoundly gamy core, and it displays a level of refinement that is almost startling considering the massive scale of the wine. The palate displays grand-cru-like density and length, and this will prove ravishing in time. 50% new oak.

BH 92: A discreet application of wood sets off the cool essence of black raspberry, humus, forest floor and game nuances. There is first-rate punch to the even more intensely mineral-inflected medium-bodied flavors that possess excellent underlying material along with a very firm and presently prominent tannic spine that makes its presence felt on the hugely long finish. This is terrific provided you have the patience to allow it the considerable time it will require to soften as well as to add some supplemental depth.

2015 Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru
Sale Price: $239.99
Harmand-Geoffroy exploits over three quarters of a hectare in this great vineyard that lies just north of Clos de Beze and just below Ruchottes-Chambertin on the prime fillet of Gevrey-Chambertin grand cru turf. Produced from vines between 45 and 75 years of age, the Mazis-Chambertin is always the firmest and most youthfully reticent wine in the cellar. This 2015 is positively explosive, brimming with spices both musky and fresh, and offering a kirsch-like core of fruit that completely coats the immense tannins lurking below the surface. The palate unfolds slowly and regally, with great persistence and an underlying sense of energy that speaks to both the quality of the vintage and the skill with which Harmand rendered it.

BH 93: Here the toasty and menthol-inflected nose is slightly more deeply pitched with attractively spiced aromas that include iron-infused warm earth notes as well as animale and underbrush hints. The succulent yet overtly powerful big-bodied flavors are blessed with ample dry extract that coats the palate on the very firm, concentrated and driving finish where a touch of warmth arises. There is real energy here and while the tannins are notably prominent at the moment, this is actually fairly refined for a young Mazis.

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