2017 Red Burgundy Offer: Jean Grivot, Tollot Beaut and Michael Magnien
2017 Red Burgundy
Folks, the 2017 Burgundy vintage is in full affect. As I had a son born in 2017, this is a special vintage for me, which whatever I don't sell will be used for pre-college, wedding and Grammy award festivities. But we have plenty to go around. 2017 is a great and unique vintage. Gallioni calls it a "modern classic." Jasper Morrissays 2017 "offers a lighter, fresher style, inevitably calling for epithets such as ‘this is a more Burgundian vintage’," while Jancis says "there is an added sense of satisfaction this year because this bounty is not just the work of Nature but of the growers themselves."
For today, I am featuring three producers that are all over the map both physically and reputationally. The big dog here for me is Michael Magnien. Not to make him the focus of this newsletter, but this is a producer whose quality has soared in the last couple of years, while he was kind of a no name when I first got into Burgundy in the 00s. I wouldn't be surprised to see this producer soar to even greater heights in the next few years and you can say you discovered him first and I can say "told you so!"
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Burghound on 2017 Michael Magnien: Frédéric Magnien described 2017 as one with a "much less complicated growing season than what we suffered through in 2016. We had many fewer required treatments and beyond a bit of hail in the northern part of Morey, there were no climatic events of consequence. I chose to begin picking on the 5th of September and the fruit was ripe and clean as I would put our sorting losses at no more than 3.5%. One interesting aspect though is that despite averaging around 40 hl/ha across all appellations, there was a relatively high percentage of shot berries. I used varying amounts of whole clusters during the vinifications, which is to say between 25 and 30% for the villages wines and around 50% for the upper level wines. As to the wines, I think the best descriptor for them is charming plus they should drink well early and over the medium-term." Note that Magnien has become arguably the leading specialist in Burgundy in the use of amphorae (the French call them 'jarres') during the élevage. Others, such as Pousse d'Or and Jean-Marie Fourrier, are experimenting with them as well though Magnien has made them an essential part of his approach. For example, many of these offerings were raised with significant proportions of amphorae that averaged around 50% with the rest in traditional casks. Some though, such as the Clos St. Denis were as high as 75% though others none. Magnien believes the amphorae better preserve the freshness and they obviously do not mark the wines with toast or vanilla characteristics. Note: there is often confusion relating to the difference between the wines of Domaine Michel Magnien and those of Frédéric Magnien. All the wines are made by Frédéric and thus the difference between the two names is one only of grape sources. The Domaine Michel Magnien wines are from vines owned directly by Michel (Frédéric's father). All of the wines labeled as Frédéric Magnien."
2017 Michel Magnien Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Cazetiers
BH 90-93: A distinctly earthy and sauvage-inflected nose is composed mostly of dark currant and plum scents. The relatively concentrated and muscular broad-shouldered flavors possess outstanding intensity with ample minerality emerging on the powerful, focused and impressively long finish. As is typically the case with this wine it's very tightly wound and should have no difficulty rewarding extended keeping. Worth considering.
2017 Michel Magnien Gevrey Chambertin Seuvrees
BH 89-91: A completely different aromatic profile is present with its combination of red and dark currant, forest floor, earth and a suggestion of the sauvage. There is more evident mid-palate density adding volume to the energetic middle weight flavors that culminate in a youthfully austere and softly rustic finale that exhibits sneaky good length. This is a very good Gevrey villages and one worthy of consideration.
2017 Michel Magnien Morey st. Denis
BH 88-90: Here too the cool, pure and airy nose is comprised by the essence of red fruit, and in particular cherry, cut with hints of earth and rose petal. The middle weight flavors are on the lighter side while the supporting tannins are once again relatively fine on the moderately complex but sneaky long finish. This is a comparatively refined Morey villages that should age well over the mid-term
2017 Michel Magnien Morey st. Denis 1er Cru Chaffots
BH 90-92: Here the expressive nose is a bit more elegant with softly spicy and earth-inflected aromas that derive mostly from the red side of the fruit spectrum. There is a bit more concentration to the slightly more refined medium-bodied flavors that flash a hint of salinity on the firm and built to age finale. Good stuff.
2017 Michel Magnien Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru SentiersBH 90-93 Points: An elegant, pure and beautifully layered nose reflects notes of dark cherry, raspberry and violets. The mouthfeel of the medium weight flavors is at once refined but muscular with both good delineation and a subtle minerality adding interest to the complex and lingering finish that exhibits hints of chocolate and warmth. This is lovely and again, a wine that should amply reward mid-term keeping.
2017 Michel Magnien Charmes Chambertin
BH 91-93: This is the first wine to display any appreciable wood influence and this includes both menthol and toast elements on the otherwise attractive aromas of various dark berries, plum, earth and a top note of lavender. There is excellent intensity to the caressing middle weight plus flavors that retain good detail as well as power on the anise-inflected finish where a hint of anise appears. This solidly structured effort will require patience.
2017 Michel Magnien Clos de la Roche
BH 91-93: This is more aromatically expressive than usual with its combination of relatively elegant notes of red currant, raspberry, spice, earth and discreet floral nuances. There is once again fine volume to the detailed and muscular big-bodied flavors that display power on the palate coating, youthfully austere and very firm finish. While this could be approached after only 5-ish years, it should improve for 15+.
2017 Michel Magnien Clos st Denis
BH 91-94: Aromas of red currant, earth, poached plum, violet and spiced tea precede succulent and refined medium-bodied flavors that are softly stony while exhibiting excellent persistence on the lengthy, balanced and notably firm finale. This is structurally interesting as the mid-palate is quite generous yet the serious finish makes clear that this is going to require extended aging to realize its full potential.
Burghound on 2017 Tollot Beaut: Nathalie Tollot described 2017 in an unusual way, saying "we're just not used to these yields and it was immediately clear that our picking team was much too small! What is all the more amazing is that in July we dropped quite a bit of fruit. We began the harvest on the 5th of September and we normally pick in eight days but in 2017 it took us 11 and this was with fruit that was basically spotless and uniformly ripe. But with that said, our yields were still smaller than most as everything came in between 35 and 45 hl/ha with an average of 38 hl/ha. Potential alcohols were good too at around 13% with reasonably but not high acidities. Otherwise we did our usual vinification and initially I was somewhat skeptical about the quality of the new wines. What's interesting is how much they changed during the élevage and in particular they really fleshed out and added weight and in the process became more serious. I can honestly say that I've come full circle on the wines as I really quite like them now." This domaine remains one of the finest sources of top value Burgundy and the quality achieved here in 2017 will only enhance that reputation. Note that the Tollot wines are deliberately bottled with slightly higher levels of CO2 so decanting the wines is always a good idea. Also, the 2017s were bottled between December 2018 and February 2019.
2017 Tollot Beaut Chorey les Beaune
BH 88: A more elegant if similar nose offers up just a bit more complexity that is also the case for the equally succulent and rich medium weight flavors that also flash a hint of bitter cherry on the slightly firmer finish. This too would make a nice choice for an upper level house red that also could be enjoyed young but cellared for a few years as well.
2017 Tollot Beaut Savigne les Beaune 1er Cru Lavieres
BH 91: Here the expressive if cool nose offers another step up in both elegance and complexity offering as it does notes of red currant, cassis, anise and spiced tea. There is a finer mouth feel to the more mineral-inflected medium-bodied flavors that possess solid density before concluding in a sneaky long and well-balanced finish. This needs to add a bit of depth but the material is present such that more should develop.
2017 Tollot Beaut Beaune 1er Cru Greves
BH 91: This is also quite ripe though again it remains fresh while offering up a well-layered nose of cassis, black raspberry, spice and newly turned earth. There is slightly better energy and lovely detail if not quite the same concentration to the middle weight flavors, all wrapped in a solidly mineral-driven, balanced and youthfully austere finish. This is pretty much a classic Grèves.
2017 Tollot Beaut Corton Bressandes Grand Cru
BH 93: A subtly floral-inflected nose combines notes of violet and lavender with those of spiced plum, dark currant and plenty of spice influence. The Tollot Bressandes is typically a fairly muscular wine but in 2017 it is more a wine of refinement on the moderately concentrated flavors that deliver good punch on the well-balanced and more complex finish that flashes just a hint of youthful austerity.
2017 Tollot Beaut Corton Grand Cru
BH 92: There is enough reduction to dominate the underlying fruit though I doubt that it will persist for long. Otherwise there is a lovely sense of underlying tension to the sleek, delicious and vibrant medium weight plus flavors that possess an attractive texture while delivering solid length and focused power on the firm but not really austere finale. This is not especially complex but more depth should develop in time
2017 Tollot Beaut Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru
BH 92: A touch of post-bottling sulfur dominates the fruit at present but it doesn't affect the palate impression of the sleek, intense and muscular middle weight plus flavors that are blessed with good levels of sappy dry extract, all wrapped in a bitter lemon and mineral-inflected finish. This tension-filled effort is sufficiently forward to be approachable after only 3 to 4 years yet it should reward up to a decade of cellaring.
Burghound on 2017 Jean Grivot: Etienne Grivot describes the 2017 growing season as one where "we finally had a real winter as there were numerous frosts though March was relatively warm, in fact the warmest since 1957. Bud break was early and closely resembles 2011 in that respect. The second half of April was cold and again and we narrowly avoided frost damage for the second year in a row. May began with dry but cool temperatures that helped to slow down the vegetation. The second half of the month though was again temperate and dry and thankfully the spring had been sufficiently wet to allow the vines to draw on those water reserves. Disease pressure continued to be light so there were no worries there either. By the 7th of June we were already in the middle of the flowering, which again underscored how far in advance the vines were. On the 9th and 10th of July we had heavy storms but thankfully there was no damage of consequence and the water again allowed the vines to continue to ripen the fruit quickly. We began picking on the 12th of September and brought in clean and ripe fruit that required very little sorting. The vinifications were easy and there is really little out of the ordinary to report. One of the best aspects of the wines is how transparent they are and another is their freshness and vivacity. I would describe them as serious but supple wines that should be multipurpose in that they should provide for pleasurable early drinking but have no difficulties aging well too." Grivot noted that the domaine is now using corks that have been individually tested to guarantee against cork taint. Grivot also noted that his superb 2016s, several of which are reviewed below, were bottled in February and March 2018.
2017 Jean Grivot Vosne Romanee
2017 Jean Grivot Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru "Les Beaux Monts" (Highly Limited)
BH 91-93: This is firmly reduced though the underlying fruit does not seem quite as ripe. The medium weight flavors are less concentrated but more mineral-driven and markedly more refined with a lovely inner mouth perfumed and delineation that also suffuses the lingering finish. This is certainly very good but it doesn't quite have the same depth of material compared to the best of these Vosne 1ers.
2017 Jean Grivot Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru "Aux Boudots" (Highly Limited)
BH 91-94:Mild reduction pushes the fruit to the background but I doubt that it will last. Otherwise there is excellent volume, weight and intensity to the muscular and powerful big-bodied but seductively textured flavors that culminate in a youthfully austere and gorgeously long if quite firmly structured finale. This is a very dense wine in the context of the vintage and one that is going to require at least some forbearance.
2017 Jean Grivot Echezeaux Grand Cru (Highly Limited)
BH 92-94:This too is firmly reduced though the moderate wood treatment is perceptible. By contrast here too there is a succulent and caressing mouthfeel to the solidly concentrated and relatively powerful flavors that possess excellent punch on the lingering and youthfully austere finish that really fans out as it sits on the palate. There is a hint of warmth but overall this notably firm effort remains quite well-balanced.
2017 Jean Grivot Clos de Vougeot (Highly Limited)
2017 Jean Grivot Richebourg Grand Cru (Highly Limited)