(92 - 94)
2021 - 2040
29th Dec 2017
234, The Wine Advocate
The 2016 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Cras was severely affected by the frost, with 70% less production than normal, or just six barrels this year. It has a tightly wound bouquet with dark berry fruit, wild strawberry, mulberry and light graphite scents that come through with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, impressive density and energy, a little confit-like towards the finish that has more spiciness than the Véroilles or Les Fuées. Excellent, maybe one of the longer-term Chambolles from the domaine.
There was some trepidation as Ghislaine Barthod came out to greet me with her husband Louis Boillot. The question spinning around in my mind: how bad was it? Chambolle-Musigny was acutely affected by the frost and with practically all their vines located within that very appellation, I prepared for the worst. The empty cellar was an ominous sign. Where usually there are two tiers of barrels on top of each other, for the most part there was just one. “The frost was terrible,” Ghislaine confirmed. “This vintage there is no Chambolle-Musigny Combottes or Chatelots. They were completely wiped out and we just had a handful of crates. I have made a few vintages so I am used to things like this, but the affect on my son…he was devastated. We picked from 24 September and over the following six days, using around half the team, the same that pick Louis’ wines.” I have included exact quantities of each surviving cuvée within the tasting notes. The only vineyard that offered some relief from the frost was Les Véroilles, which Ghislaine believes escaped the worst because it is located in a small hollow. At least the 2017 vintage is plentiful and Ghislaine has not lost her sense of humor. “I had one UK importer who asked about his allocation. I told him that he had just drunk it,” she told me. While their 2016s are not up there with the 2015s, they managed to eke out small quantities of fine-boned, elegant wines that might not have the depth or the power of a more benevolent growing season, yet attest to the high standard of winemaking, so that they make the best of what they can. The Chambolle Les Fuées still captures the essence of what makes this vineyard one of the best premier crus in the appellation while the Les Véroilles is one of the best that I have tasted in recent years. There is always consistency across the range from Ghislaine-Barthod and despite the sturm und drang of frost and mildew, that remains in this vintage with the exception of a rather lean Bourgogne Rouge. Ghislaine will be back next year with much more quantity to offer and hopefully that UK importer will not drink his company’s entire allocation (though knowing the gentleman in question that would not surprise me).