In Chablis, Benoît Droin’s wines stole the show in almost every flight they appeared in. My personal favourites were his 1er Cru Vaillons, Grand Cru Vaudésir, and Grand Cru Les Clos. Jean-Claude and Romain Bessin’s 1er Cru La Forêt was another standout that scored highly across the group, as did Samuel Billaud’s 1er Cru Mont de Milieu.
One slight word of caution: the weaker wines in Chablis were verging on the over-ripe, and some could do with drinking up. The tasting showed two clear strata emerging: those who picked early enough to maintain freshness (those mentioned above), and those who didn’t, whose wines have lost a bit of shape and drive.
Meursault was the most consistent of the Côte de Beaune’s villages, almost universally excellent. Comtes Lafon’s class was on full display, a particular highlight for me being 1er Cru Charmes. Anyone with Roulot’s 1er Cru Boucheres in their cellar can pat themselves on the back, and I was particularly pleased to see both Michel Bouzereau and Ballot-Millot’s 1er Cru Genevrières score so highly: full credit to both for producing such characterful Meursault.
St-Aubin was more varied than Meursault, with the likes of Hubert Lamy’s wines still looking very tight and young. Leave these alone for a few more years if you’re lucky enough to have any tucked away.
Chassagne-Montrachet ranged from good to exceptional. Fontaine-Gagnard’s 1er Cru Caillerets had one of my highest scores of the week: it was stony, elegant, energetic, and driven. With a blinding performance across all four wines submitted, the clear and consistent winner of the village was the brilliant Domaine Paul Pillot. Indeed, I’d go as far as saying, along with Olivier Leflaive, this was the biggest success story of the week.
Which brings me on to Puligny-Montrachet, where Folatières, Pucelles, and Combettes soared, with Domaine Leflaive and Olivier Leflaive often going head-to-head, vying for first and second place. But it wasn’t simply a two-horse race: Etienne Sauzet, Jacques Carillon and Domaine de Montille offered a lot to get excited about. Some of the best wines here were impressively big, but remained well-proportioned. These were premiers crus that often encroached on grand cru territory, and certainly generated some of the most animated discussions of the week.
The grands crus were tasted on Friday morning - the crescendo of a thrilling week. The Corton Charlemagnes were well proportioned, with impressive volume. A well-deserved first place amongst this sizable flight was scooped by Camille Giraud, which just goes to show the high level at which skilled négociants can operate.
The grands crus of Puligny and Chassagne were, quite frankly, an absolute honour to taste, and it was little surprise that both Leflaives picked up more top marks here. Le Montrachet racked up, naturally, high scores, but actually, the flight of eight Chevalier-Montrachets that came before offered more interest and discussion. One common theme that the best wines shared was their constantly changing nature in the glass, as their layers of complexity unfurled.
2017 white Burgundy was released with a great degree of hype. I’m fully satisfied the hype was deserved. They are harmonious, balanced, with deliciously ripe freshness.