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Read about the wines in this tasting

This Week's Tasting:

Nicolas Potel & his 2009 Bellene Burgundies
February 9, 2012

Special Thursday Tasting this week - meet the winemaker.


Nicolas Potel

“They are classic in the best sense of the term.” - Alan Meadows, Burghound


Meadows’ comment is half of what I loved about Nicolas Potel’s 2005s. The grands and premier crus were wonderful. His commune or village-level wines which in the hands of lesser winemakers can be more generic Pinot-Noir-and-stone than expressive of Savigny or Gevrey, were so marvelously precise that we put together a sampler case of them as an introduction to the terroirs of Burgundy.

Would that we could have as wide a variety in the 2009 vintage, but Nicolas is recreating himself in two new startups, Domaine and Maison Bellene. As the names would imply, he farms the first and buys grapes for the second. I would guess from what I have tasted so far, that many of the Maison Bellene wines come from the same vineyards as did those of Maison Potel. They are certainly as good.

Something has changed though, I think for the better. Nicolas is moving toward a more organic and sustainable wine making, one that makes uses whole grape clusters and eschews fining and filtering. I think his 2009s will have less of his 2005’s forward amiability, but will have more layering and depth. They’ll take a bit longer to approach but will be the richer for it.

That said, many of the wines at this tasting are or will be very good very soon. We will see how his very good Bourgogne Blanc is developing. Montagny is a commune in the Cote Chalonnaise which has attracted Cote d’Or winemakers because its chardonnays show the direct stoniness of Puligny, lacking only some of Puligny’s finesse and much of its price. Nicolas’ Montagny 1er Cru. is particularly fine.

His old vines Meursault is young and powerful, initially closed,. It opens to a taut very nicely concentrated expression of the town. You can drink it now but it will age well for 3 - 4 years.

The Bourgogne Pinot Noir is a solid expression of the grape, but the Savigny les Beaune Vieilles Vignes is a stunner. 2009 Savignys wines have seemed to me particularly successful. This is one of the best and most immediately pleasurable that I have tasted. I strongly recommend it for near-term drinking. We have little now, but expect more at the end of the month.

Give the old vines Gevrey Chambertin some air and it responds with a racy and wild expression of classic Gevrey, smooth textured and with bright intense fruit. It will be fine for the next five to six years.

This will be a rare chance to meet a winemaker who is already being recognized as one of Burgundy’s best. Don’t miss it.


Image above - M. Nicolas Potel

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(c) Federal Wine and Spirits Inc. 2012