All images by Robin Goldsmith.
En Primeur tastings offer a glimpse to the future. Is it possible to tell how great a wine will be from a barrel sample one year before it's ready to be released? This is something of an intellectual and gustatory gamble, but one which can reward the wine lover, investor or buyer with something special before prices rise into the stratosphere.
Louis Jadot held their 2016 En Primeur Tasting in the classy surrounds of London's BAFTA HQ, a fitting venue for a star billing of Burgundy Domaines. The vintage was challenging with late and devastating frosts, reducing volumes but not necessarily quality. While many producers picked earlier in September, Louis Jadot started their harvest on 26th/27th, allowing the fruit to ripen more fully and focussing on sourcing the best grapes from the best vineyards with a decent, albeit reduced, yield. While the white wines were described as providing a greater challenge, reds are showing well with ripe yet tender, approachable tannins.
Chablis is one of the world's most well-known and enjoyed styles, but how many of us would age a bottle for 10-15 years? I was reminded of this while tasting Les Clos, a beautifully complex Grand Cru with good acidity and great length that will of course become even more rounded with time and undoubtedly has fantastic ageing potential.
It's a wonderful experience to try En Primeur wines that already show beautiful aromatics, fresh acidity, richness and great length on the palate.
Meursault Porusot Premier Cru is certainly one of these, while Meursault-Blagny Premier Cru and Meursault Charmes Premier Cru also demonstrate levels of complexity that augur well for their future development.
Domaine Duc de Magenta Monopole Clos de La Chapelle "Morgeot" Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru was a delectable mélange of aromatic intensity with notes of stone fruit, toasted oak and a savoury/earthy edge.
What an opportunity to taste four Beaujolais back-to-back grown on different terroirs, each showing a very different character. Château des Jacques' selection was one not to miss and the Clos de Thorins Moulin-à-Vent, in particular, demonstrated ripe and juicy wild forest fruit notes with soft tannins, balanced acidity and a little touch of sweet spice and liquorice.
Monthélie Champs Fulliot Premier Cru demonstrated both lightness and ripeness of fruit with a fine acid/tannin balance.
Pommard Clos de la Commaraine Premier Cru was deep and fruity with power and structure.
Two more impressive stars of the tasting were Domaine Gagey Chambolle-Musigny "Les Drazey" with its attractive fruit, earthy/savoury edge plus complexity and Domaine Louis Jadot Chambolle-Musigny Les Feusselottes Premier Cru, which was full of luscious fruit notes with wild strawberries and blueberries plus a little herbal touch.
Better be quick to land some of the limited availability wines, including Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cazetiers Premier Cru, a beautifully aromatic delight with juicy red cherry and berry flavours, fine tannins and good acidity.
Domaine des Héritiers Louis Jadot Corton Pougets Grand Cru is rich, fruity, aromatic and layered with soft tannins, balancing acidity and a classy, persistent finish.
Domaine Louis Jadot Clos Vougeot Grand Cru is another homage to the wonders of Pinot Noir with its aromatic elegance and complexity on the palate.
The signs for 2017 look encouraging, so at next year's En Primeur tasting, it will be interesting to hear if expectations of a full crop have been met and whether there will be greater consistency in vintage across Burgundy than in 2016.