Sunday, January 09, 2011

Domaine Parent, 5th Jan

On Wednesday morning we were up bright and early to visit Domaine Parent in the village of Pommard. We visited on 5th Jan last year too - maybe this could become an annual tradition...

We were welcomed by Anne Parent who took us down to the cellar for a quick tasting of the 2010s which are still in barrel. It was fascinating to try the white Corton, which had not yet undergone malolactic fermentation when the wine turns from being appley to being creamy. The bad news is that the 2010 vintage is much smaller than the 2009 vintage, for reasons Clive Coates explains here. Anne made only two and half barrels (800 bottles) of the white Corton, instead of the usual six.

We also tried the Pommard Croix Blanches, the Beaune 1er cru les Epenottes, the Pommard 1er cru les Chaponnieres and the Pommard 1er cru les Epenots from barrel. This was just out of curiosity as they are still babies, it was very cold and the weather was doing funny things. Anne tastes her wines every day and said the changing air pressure can make quite a difference to how they taste.

Then we went back upstairs to a cosy tasting room where we were able to sit down and get warm.

The 2009 whites were about to be bottled, and the reds will be bottled at the end of Jan / beginning of Feb. The bottles in the photos below are from my own stash and are not from 2009, they are just for illustrative purposes to liven things up a bit and to show that I've now got round to reading the camera manual and have actually learned to take a photo in focus!

My tasting notes were as follows:

1. Bourgogne rouge. This had a lovely fruity nose and was quite light and approachable.

2. Bourgogne rouge special selection. Anne made this for the first time this year. If I understood correctly, it's made from declassified village wines from Beaune, Volnay and Monthelie and is aged for 14 months. Altogether a more serious wine than the first, with greater finesse and complexity.

3. Pommard La Croix Blanche. I liked this very much, as I usually do - it's Anne's entry-level Pommard and more approachable than the premier crus. She said it was "square" which I thought was a great description. It could be drunk in the next 2-5 years.

Then we moved on to the premier crus. Anne emphasised that there are no major differences in the vinification techniques used on these, so it's the expression of the climat that differs.

4. Beaune 1er cru les Epenottes. This had an absolutely beautiful nose. I haven't written down much by way of description except "God this is delicious" followed by "Sensational!" I'm a big fan of the classic Beaune style, which is elegant and perfumed, and this ticked all the boxes.

I asked Anne if there was any connection between the "Epenottes" of Beaune and the "Epenots" of Pommard. They are not next to each other, but she told us that the word has something to do with thorns. I have just googled it and apparently the word "Epenots" comes from "épines", meaning that these vineyards used to be surrounded with thornbushes. Hands off those grapes then!

5. Pommard 1er cru les Argillières. This vineyard is in the north of Pommard and the name refers to clay. This was one of Anne's classic wines, what I think of as "monster" Pommards, with a brooding, dark nose, very powerful, which would need considerable time to come round.

6. Pommard 1er cru les Chanlins. This is in the south of Pommard, close to Volnay and is a young vineyard. This had a lovely deep purple colour and an enticing nose. It was rich and in a more opulent style than the Argillières.

7. Pommard 1er cru les Chaponnières. I liked this one too, and thought it very long and fine. Anne told us that part of the vineyard is 75 years old, and part is 45 years old. She needs to replant some of the 45 year old part, but the 75 year old part is very healthy!

8. Pommard 1er cru les Epenots. This had a lovely colour again but was more closed on the nose. It had structure and weight and was a very serious wine. Anne said Epenots is the most distinguished, elegant wine in Pommard - subtle and complex (last year, she memorably described it as the "haute couture" of Pommard). This is a wine which must not be drunk too early - it would easily last 20-30 years in my opinion. Time to stash some away for 2033 perhaps?

Note for vineyard anoraks - there are two separate Epenots vineyards in Pommard, les Grands Epenots and les Petits Epenots. Anne told me that she has vines in both but blends them. I think most people who make Epenots do, so this will be an interesting challenge for the Premier Cru Project.

9. Corton grand cru les Renardes. I found this very powerful and rugged, which came as a surprise as at the dinner we had a couple of months ago, it was the Pommard les Epenots that I found powerful and I thought the Corton more elegant. In my defence, the wines we were tasting were all extremely cold!

Then we moved onto the whites, which had just been filtered.

10. Bourgogne blanc. This is unoaked. It had a lovely nose of tarte au citron, good weight and quite high acidity.

11. Corton grand cru. This receives 100% new oak. I found I was not getting the usual heavenly choirs on the nose, possibly due to the filtering. Anne said it had great minerality, which was certainly true, and that the 2009 vintage would be drinking before the 2008. As time went on, it grew on me and by the end of the tasting I decided that I would like to get some this year, allocation permitting (must be extra-nice to ACC).

Anne had also made a white Monthelie in 2009 but it was literally being filtered that day, so we didn't get to taste it. I'd like to try it another time though, if I get the chance, as white Monthelie is very unusual.

During the course of tasting, we had plenty of discussion of vintages. A summary of Anne's views would be:

2002: elegant. Anne mentioned that this was a great vintage for Champagne too - of interest as the prestige cuvees such as Pol Roger's Winston Churchill will be released soon.
2005: the perfect vintage, as good as 1990 which is the vintage as far as Anne is concerned. Even bad winemakers made good wine!
2007: easy to drink immediately, a charming vintage drinking relatively young.
2008: a classic vintage.
2009: bigger, but not as big as 2005. Nature did 70% of the work, and the winemaker did 30%. I love the precision of these percentages!
2010: somewhere between 2008 and 2009.

Anne also told us lots of great stories, like the time she and some of her pals from the women Burgundy winemakers group went to the 3-starred restaurant Lameloise and had a blind tasting. Apparently the sommelier was very disappointed that they guessed all the wines correctly!

It was yet another wonderful tasting from Anne, and the quality of the 2009s was as high as I'd expected. The Beaune in particular was my wine of the tasting.

Finally, I shall end with a link to this interview with Anne where she answers a slightly adapted version of the questionnaire de Proust, fabulous.

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