Côte Chalonnaise 2018 Burgundy's best kept secret

 

The 2018 vintage in Burgundy is proving to be quite fascinating, yesterday had the first chance to taste comprehensively reds and whites. There is no question, the vintage is very rich, probably in comparison to 2015, more acidity is evident. Stylistically the pinot noirs are quite close to syrahs from the northern Rhône, lots of ripe red and dark fruit, in numerous cases, dried prunes/hoisin sauce aromas were evident and lots of spice; blind I would go as far too say it would be difficult to identify numerous wines as pinot noir. The colours are very dark and often not translucent, the ephermal/floral fragrances I associate with pinot noir are not readily identifiable. Also the spices, from one Chambertin producer pepper was really dominant. The whites due to the abundance of the harvest have a vibrancy that was missing in 2015. The real profiteers are the periphery appellations, Ladoix, Pernand, Savigny les Beaune, Marsannay, Monthelie - where in the past the producers have had problems getting the grapes ripe, here the wines are more balanced, have a nice tension and the prices are agreeable.

 

The prices are the biggest problem, considering the style of wines, especially Grand crus and Premier crus, in my opinion customers are going to get a similair stylistic at a much better value for money from the northern Rhône. The real sweet point in the Côte de Nuit are probably the Bourgogne rouges, if it were not for the Côte Chalonnaise.

 

2018 is as one producer put it, the vintage has produced the best harvest for this underestimated region. Where climate change has pushed the big appellations in the Côte de nuit to the edge of being viable for Pinot Noir, and for the likes of me, who perhaps prefer cold climate vintages, the wines although juicy and fruity lack the real precision of terroir, one was accustomed to in the past. In the Côte Chalonnaise, climate change has also added a lot of juiciness and fruit that was often lacking in past vintages without masking the minerality. Where the wines in past were often mineral driven and took getting used to, the 2018 have an upfront fruitiness which combined with the minerality give thes wines an edge which in the past has often been lacking.

 

 

 

I have had in the past wines from Domaine Feuillat-Juillot from Montagny, they were nice but nothing to write home about. The 2018s however are a massive step forward. The simple Montagny Les Crêts“ 2018 is mineral driven, has nice stone fruit aromas, slaty type minerality and medium acidity. The real value wines are the 1er crus. The 2018 Montagny 1er Cru „Les Grappes d'or“ is again more mineral driven, has Côte de Beaune style power and tension and really good acidity, it sells for about 25€, in the Côted de Beaune the price tag would be about 50€.

 

The real stunner is their 2017 Montagny 1er cru Les Coères. Without wanting to sound too enthusiastic, this wine is simply fantastic, more power and grip and rounder than the Les grappes d'or, really good finish. If I was criminally minded, I would fill this in Puligny-Montrachet bottles from big named producers and make a tidy profit.

 

 

 

The other big eye opener was Domaine de la Vieille Fontaine. This is a relatively young domaine founded by David Déprés in 2004. I tasted two whites, a straight Mercurey 2018, the wine has a gun powder nose, on the palate quite rich, mineral driven with medium acidity, a nice white but not in the same league as Feuillat-Juillot. His second white, Mercurey 1er cru „ Les Crêts 2018, is a different beast; the wine has a Corton like structure, fruity, almonds, lots of minerality, more acidity than the straight Mercurey and elegant with an extremelöy long finish.

 

His reds are real good, hus Bourgogne rouge 2018 comes in at at about 12-14 €. nice fruit, minimal acidity, light hint of spices, considering the price very good. From the Côte de Nuit such a wine would cost 20-25 €

 

The Mercurey 2018 is a big step up, ripe, red fruit, spices, really good finish, at under 20€ a fantastic pinot noir. The Mercurey 1er Cru „Les Crêts“ is in comparison a serious wine, 50%, old barrique, 50% new barrique. The oak at this moment is present, subdues the aromas but everything is in place, you feel the power, the acidity, this wine needs serious cellaring. I would drink the Mercurey over the next 3-5 years and cellar the 1er cru for 8-10 years, I think one would be pleasantly surprised.

 

 

 

If Burgundy has been a turn off due to the prices but you still want to experience the magic of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay without spending exorbitant sums of money, my advice would be to explore the wines of the Côte Chalonnaise. The vintage 2018 might just be a turning point for this seriously underrated region. As much as I love the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune, I am not going to be buying these wines for myself but am going to go big on the Côte Chalonnaise, knowing in the vintage 2018 there is real value for money to be found there.