Saturday, January 16, 2010

Domaine Parent, 5th Jan

On the Tuesday morning we had a 10 a.m. appointment at Domaine Parent in Pommard. This was my third visit to the domaine and each time it has been a highlight of the trip.

Anne Parent is very eloquent and always gives a good talk about how she sees the vintage. Everyone has been raving about the 2009s but Anne said they wouldn't be as big as 2005. In her opinion, while everyone could make a good 2005 - "a good vintage for bad wine-makers" - the same would not be true of 2009, which was 70% nature and 30% wine-making. You can see I was writing this all down!

We began by tasting some cask samples of the 2009 vintage, which had only been in barrel for 4 months. The white Corton (grand cru) was heaven in a glass on the nose, but still undergoing malolactic fermentation. Anne said it's important to have a long, slow malolactic fermentation as it takes time to fix the good elements of the wine - the colour, finesse, elegance etc. "It is a young baby and it takes time to grow."

Then we tasted some of her red Pommards including - Croix Blanche, les Argillieres 1er cru and the jewel in the crown, les Epenots 1er cru, effectively the grand cru of Pommard. My notes on this were: "beautiful colour, lovely perfume, complexity, v. distinguished, wow! this needs to be kept a while." Can't wait to get my hands on some.

We moved on to taste some 2008s, beginning with the Bourgogne Rouge which had lovely strawberry fruit on the nose. Anne puts it in 4 different barrels made by different coopers, and then blends them together. There's very much a spirit of experimentation - she loves to play around with things. I won't list out all my tasting notes but on the whole I was impressed by the 2008s which were powerful, elegant and complex wines. Anne strives for balance above all. Les Epenots stood out - Anne described it as majestic and noble, and it was impossible to disagree. We also had the red Corton les Renardes grand cru which was wonderful. She told us how she had a special cuve tailor-made for this wine.

Then the wine I'd been looking forward to most of all - the white Corton 2008. When ACC and I visited Anne back in September 2008, we'd tasted the 2007 vintage and it completely knocked me for six. This time, again, the nose was heavenly and it had a lovely weight and balance. Very long, very fine, not fat but rich. Again, Anne vinifies it in several different barrels and combines them. The wine from the second barrel she described as having bacon on the nose, and as soon as she said that one could immediately see what she meant, but it had a lovely mouthfeel. This is no.1 on my list for buying when the 2008s come out en primeur. Must remember to open a packet of Frazzles to go with it.

An honourable mention has to go to the Ladoixs (? not sure what the plural is!) that we tasted, a lesser-known appellation near Corton. Next to the Pommards these wines were relatively light and charming, and as Anne said, don't need to go with a specific food, whereas it's impossible to imagine drinking the Pommards without some serious red meat.

After that, we tasted some of the 2007s from bottle. I was particularly struck by the les Argillieres which Anne compared to a grand Echezaux, and told us about her friend who makes a Nuits St Georges les Argillieres - they get together from time to time to compare them. Apparently Argillieres means there is a lot of clay in the soil, which gives the wine finesse and elegance. More generally, Anne said that wines from the north of Pommard have finesse and elegance, while wines from the south have body and structure.

Les Epenots 2007 was also a stunner but will take time to come round. Anne said "you need to deserve it" and explained that it is a sophisticated, complex and intellectual wine - the haute couture of Pommard! I also adored the Corton les Renardes 2007 - the lightness and charm of the vintage seemed to suit it well. I have to admit I didn't spit the last mouthful out, it was just too good!

Overall we tasted 22 wines over the course of two and a half hours, an unexpected marathon. It was incredibly generous of Anne to spend so much time with us and as always her enthusiasm was infectious and we came away uplifted and thrilled to have tried these magnificent wines.

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