The old adage that great producers make good wines even in tough times is true everywhere, but nowhere as much as Burgundy. Coming off the 2010 vintage, which was ideal for long term aging, 2011 was more challenging in Burgundy but in the end many vintners were satisfied with the wines, especially now that the results are coming into better focus.
One of the many 2011′s we have just received
The weather was erratic with a very hot April, producing a summer-like climate. May was also warm but temperatures dipped in June and July only to get very hot again in August. It was dry until mid-July and then the rains came for a month. By mid-August it was hot and dry again and many growers started picking before September. This marks only the sixth time since the year 1710 that harvest started in August. Philippe himself began picking on August 28th.
Philippe and Monica Pacalet
What does all of this mean? Given that the entire growing season was accelerated from the early Spring, there was less of a chance for disease so the number of treatments (always organic) in the vineyards was actually less than usual. It also allowed for uniformity in ripening.
In spite of the heat, the grapes were picked at a lower alcohol degree than 2009 or 2010, coming in around 12 – 12.5%. Perhaps because he picked as early as he did, Philippe’s wines are bright and have ample acidity and minerality, yet still abound with fleshy fruit. While many of the wines are already drinking well, they will also age due to his customarily low yields and tannic structure.
Philippe in his underground cellar in downtown Beaune
A few notes on Philippe’s wines in the field and cellar:
- All of the fruit sources are organically farmed. All fruit is harvested manually.
- Philippe’s fruit is generally from older vines, most being at least 45 years old.
- Native yeasts are used exclusively.
- No SO2 is ever added before or during fermentation.
- Red wine fermentation occurs without thermoregulation.
Meursault Premier Cru “Charmes,” Philippe Pacalet, 2011
Philippe makes this wine from vines averaging 45-years-old on clay and limestone soil. Southeast facing, it has a warmer microclimate, most noticeable in the wine’s body. It was whole cluster pressed without settling and underwent malolactic in barrel. The wine was aged on its lees and SO2 was added at bottling only.
“Nose: roasted notes, floral notes and licorice. Palate: full and mineral rich finish. Opulent.” Philippe Pacalet
Meursault Premier Cru “Les Perrières,” Philippe Pacalet, 2011
Meursault does not have any designated Grand Crus but if there is one parcel that certainly qualifies, it is “Les Perrières.” Slightly uphill from “Charmes,” it has stony, clay soil that intensifies its mineral character and body. Made from 50-year-old southeast facing vines, Philippe vinifies it pretty much the same as his Meursault “Charmes.”
“Nose: roasted notes, floral and licorice. Palate: full and mineral, powerful and fresh finish.” Philippe Pacalet
Puligny Montrachet, Philippe Pacalet, 2011
Pacalet’s Puligny Montrachet is a composite of three 45-year-old fruit from three east facing climats, “Les Noyers Brets,” “Les Petits Noizerots” and “Les Reuchaux,” on limestone, clay soil. The freshly pressed wine is immediately transferred to cask where it undergoes alcoholic and malolactic fermentation. It was aged on its lees for one year without racking. SO2 is added at bottling only.
“Nose: white flowers, lime green. Mouth feel: rich and mineral, chalky and tasty final. It is an elegant, straight wine.” Philippe Pacalet
Beaune Premier Cru “Les Perrières,” Philippe Pacalet, 2011
Made from vines that are on average 45 years old, Pacalet’s Beaune “Les Perrières” has above average intensity. On a steep, southeastern facing slope of clay and limestone on scree (broken rocks), it has a cool microclimate, getting both wind and sun. As with all reds, it was fermented whole cluster in large tonneau with twice daily punchdowns for 3 ½ weeks. Raised 15 months in barrel and bottled with a touch of SO2.
“Meaty and mineral wine. It is fruity and gourmand: red and black fruits.
Its flavor is round, slightly tannic.” Philippe Pacalet
Pommard, Philippe Pacalet, 2011
Made from four south facing climats of clay and limestone pebbles on limestone, its warm microclimate helps promote fleshy body. Whole cluster fermented without SO2, it was punched down twice daily for four weeks and transferred to cask without racking for 14 months.
“Sunny wine , and mineral rich . It is spicy and fruity , with notes of red berries . It is full -bodied and slightly tannic.” Philippe Pacalet
Nuits Saint Georges, Philippe Pacalet, 2011
Made from two climats, “Les Longecourts” and “Bas de Combes,’ both east facing with clay and limestone, this is one of Philippe’s cornerstone wines. It was whole cluster fermented without SO2 for four weeks, with twice daily punch downs and transferred to barrel where it underwent malolactic. The wine stayed in oak for 18 months, without racking.
“Wine ‘square’ and mineral. It is rich, the shape of its flavors is right, they are fruity: small red berries and black musk. Its flavor and creamy and salty.” Philippe Pacalet
￼Gevrey-Chambertin, Philippe Pacalet, 2011
Philippe’s Gevrey-Chambertin is a composite of grapes from six sites that are on average 45-years-old. With a southeastern exposure, the fruit benefits from a cool, sunny microclimate. The soil is composed of clay and limestone pebbles on limestone. It was whole cluster fermented without SO2 for four weeks, with twice daily punch downs and transferred to barrel where it underwent malolactic. The wine stayed in oak for 18 months, without racking.
“Fresh, generous and mineral. It is round , salty , fruity : small red and black berries , wild and musky scents. The shape of its flavors is right, they are fruity : small red and black fruits and rosewood and wildflowers. Its taste is strict and fleshy.” Philippe Pacalet
Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru “La Perrière,” Philippe Pacalet, 2011
The soil in “La Perrière” is rockier than Pacalet’s village level Gevrey-Chambertin but it is also clay and limestone based with alluvial deposits. Located under Grand Cru Mazis-Chambertin, it has a sunny, southeast facing position. Whole cluster fermented without SO2, and twice-daily punch downs for 3.5 weeks, it was transferred to cask and left on its lees for 15 months without racking.
“Mineral and elegant. In the beginning it is round and fruity; the end is strict with notes of musky berries, black and red fruits, rosewood and wild flowers. Its flavor is fleshy, fresh and chalky. Elegant, round, fruity aromas, excellent with meat.” Philippe Pacalet
Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru “Bel-Air,” Philippe Pacalet, 2011
“Bel-Air” has a thin layer of limestone clay soil on limestone rock. Though east facing, it has a colder microclimate than “La Perrière.” Whole cluster fermented with twice-daily punch downs for four weeks, it was transferred to cask and aged on its lees without racking for 16 months.
“Elegant and mineral. It’s a wine with floral scents: blackberry bush, wild roses, musk and pepper notes. Its flavor is salty, fresh and upright.” Philippe Pacalet
Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru “Lavaux Saint Jacques”, Philippe Pacalet, 2011
This Premier Cru has a complicated soil of limestone-clay on limestone-clay scree on a limestone slope. South facing in the “Lavaux Valley,” it has a mild, sunny microclimate. Whole cluster fermented without SO2 and punched down twice daily for four weeks, it was then transferred to casks where it rested on its lees for 16 months without racking.
“Powerful, sunny and mineral. This wine has fruity, floral (violet) scents, with sandalwood and musk notes. Its flavor is tannic, complex and deep. Powerful and elegant. Very classic of the expression of Gevrey-Chambertin, with red fruit aromas. It has a big aromatic complexity.” Philippe Pacalet
Echezeaux Grand Cru, Philippe Pacalet, 2011
Philippe’s Echezeaux parcel is situated on limestone-clay soil laced with sand and iron. Southeast facing, it is sunny and well exposed. Whole cluster fermented, it was punched down twice daily for four weeks, then moved to casks where it rested for 16 months without racking.
“Elegant, structured and deep. It’ a wine with scents of red fruits, flowers, fur and sandalwood. Its flavor is slightly salty, complex and tannic. This wine combines strength and elegance.” Philippe Pacalet
Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru, Philippe Pacalet, 2011
This Grand Cru bottling comes from a rocky limestone slope with some clay and limestone-clay topsoil. The vines are an average of 45 years old. Whole cluster fermented with twice-daily punch down for 3.5 weeks, it was transferred to casks and left on its lees for 16 months without racking.
“Elegant, powerful and profound. It’s a wine with red berry scents, “sous bois”, furring and sandalwood. Its flavor is slightly salty, complex and tannic.” Philippe Pacalet