With Burgundy, it’s a truism that producers make all the difference. So, the same premier cru may vary wildly in reputation based on who has grown the grapes and made the wine. All of which seems sensible, until one places it on the context of terroir and the defining place Burgundy seems to hold in terms of this idea of wine. In the immortal words of Michael Veitch, there’s a lesson in that for all of us.
Perhaps because I cleaned my bathroom today, I’m detecting a hint of Domestos Regular (the blue bottle) in the aroma of this wine, along with what I initially thought was some cork taint. Not a great way to start a tasting; it’s just not one of those wines that emerges, fully formed, when it’s first poured. Rather, it needs time to collect its thoughts. After an hour or so of air, funky cashew nuts, oatmeal, piercing fruit flavours that are both blossom and juice, and some toasty oak. Alain Chavy’s wines tend towards restraint and delicacy, and that’s very much the case with this wine too, which makes it quite elusive. Despite the complexity, what shines most on the nose is sharp, slightly sour fruit for which I’m struggling to find an appropriate descriptor. A cross between lemons and white stonefruit is probably the best I can do. No matter — with enough time, there’s a beguiling sense of harmony that is attractively sensual, beseiged by discordant minerality that never allows things to become too easy.
The palate is characterised by fresh acidity and good thrust. A really attractive entry that’s surprisingly soft, with cashews and furry white peach flowing to a middle palate that shifts up a gear. Bang, there’s an orange juice-like mouthfeel, delicious fruit that shows good intensity, and an overall sense of brisk efficiency. Funky oatmeal remains an underlying flavour component until the after palate, where fruit begins to take a back seat to this and a range of other nutty and mineral notes. A surge of these flavours carries through to the finish, which vibrates for some time.
This isn’t a wine to lust after, as it asks you to work a bit and live with its idiosyncrasies. I wonder if falls between stools, stylistically; part of me wishes it were more expressive and softer. But then I take another sip and this tension between luscious fruit and nervy minerality seems very much of the essence. I’m almost convinced, in the moment, its vision of Burgundy is right. I’m very happy to debate it.
Domaine Alain Chavy