During the last year or so I have heard from many that Charles Lachaux has made tremendous progress at Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux – the style has changed to a lighter and more floral style – with less oak and less extraction.
I must say that I was slightly skeptical when I turned off the D974 and through the gate to the large Arnoux-Lachaux estate .. as the wines previously have been quite far from my preferred style. I have tasted some wines over the last years indicating fine progress – but I was never over the moon exited about these wines.
I was greeted by the young and very dynamic Charles Lachaux who has taken over the vinification recently – and only have a few vintages under his belt. The question was however – how far has he come during this short period .. and would I be really exited about the wines at Arnoux-Lachaux.
Charles quickly began to explain about the estate and the changes done in recent vintages – and spoke about less new oak, less extraction and the introduction of a quite high percentage of whole cluster grapes in the wines.
For the village wines only 15% new oak is used, around 20% is used for the 1er crus and for the Grand Crus only 30% … so quite moderate use of oak in the 2015 vintage. For the top wines 100% whole cluster is used – this apply to Nuits-Saint-Georges “Les Poisets”, Clos des Corvées Pagets, Vosne-Romanée Les Suchots, Aux Reignots, Echezeaux, Latriciere-Chambertin and Romanée Saint-Vivant.
These alterations all promised a change in the right direction – as did Charles own preferences regarding how a fine glass of Burgundy should be in 2017.
And let me just say .. Charles Lachaux has done tremendously well in 2015 and the 2014 wines also showed great improvements.
It is pretty clear that Charles has just begun his journey towards higher quality … and with the results in the glass from the 2015 vintage – I think it’s fair to expect that we in the years to come will be able to count Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux among the top end estates in Vosne-Romanée and in Burgundy as a whole. There are still details to be improved .. but the 2015s show that Charles Lachaux is on the right fast-track.
It should be noted that it’s not only the changes in the cellar that have improved quality, also changes of the viticulture is responsible for some of the quality gains seen in the last vintages – and further improvements will follow as the viticulture is optimized.
To the notes ….
Tasting notes from the tasting on January 25th 2017
The wines showed remarkably well despite all the wines had been racked and were tasted from tank. The Bourgogne Pinot Fin is already bottled.
Starting out with the Bourgogne Pinot Fin 2015 – a tremendous generic wine from excellent plots below the road (D974) in Chambolle-Musigny, Vosne-Romanee and Nuits-Saint-Georges. The bouquet is forward and quite floral (80% Whole Cluster) offering a lovely expression of red and dark fruits and a nice impression of minerality for this level. On the palate generous and weighty fruit – nice vibrant freshness (relatively high percentage of millerandage berries). It’s very complex and intense for this level – a magnificent Bourgogne rouge – Very Good (87 – 88p).
The Nuits-Saint-Georges 2015 is a blend of several different vineyards – with the majority of the area located north of Nuits-Saint-Georges. The bouquet offer rich and ripe fruit – quite floral (using 70% whole cluster) – with a nice earthy NSG character. On the palate quite weighty and generous with a nice fruit driven mid-palate only 15% new oak is used here. Not quite as vibrant and sharp as the two other villages. Very Good (88 – 89p).
Back to home turf the Vosne-Romanée 20155 is a more juicy and vibrant effort – 70% whole cluster used here. This wine comes from Aux Communes, Aux Saules and is a delightfully complete village. The nose offer juicy red and dark berry fruit – raspberries, red currant and plum – spiced with cinnamon and a hint of violets. On the palate quite energetic with a nice freshness – fine and juicy mid-palate fruit – very balanced and and enjoyable. Fine (90 – 91).
The Chambolle-Musigny is a beauty made from several different plots located quite high in the Chambolle appellation south of the village – i.e. from a quite cool area. This translates into a gorgeous village – the bouquet is brimming with fresh red fruit with notes of red currant, pomegranate and forest strawberries – infused by a classic Chambolle minerality. On the palate very vibrant offering gorgeous mid-palate fruit brought forward by a fresh acidity and the filigree minerality. A truly lovely Chambolle village – Fine (91 – 92p).
One of the best village terroirs is Vosne-Romanée Maizieres Hautes and Arnoux-Lachaux has nice plot in the Flagey-Echezeaux part of this vineyard where they produce a lovely village. The Vosne-Romanée Les Maizieres Hautes 2015 is a step up en concentration and complexity from the generic Vosne. The bouquet offer layers of deep red and dark fruit – notes of raspberries, plum, cherries, soy – fresh hints of red currant – with the airy and effortless earthy minerality of this fine terroir. A elegant village with a lovely airy feel … Fine+ (91 – 93p).
The Nuits-Saint-Georges “Les Poisets” is a lieu-dit located below Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Cailles. This cuvée is made from very old vines – 60 years – 100% whole cluster – and the result is a hedonistic treat. The bouquet offer layers of ripe but fresh fruit – complex with a fine selection of red and darker berries. On the palate both fresh, refined and airy with a silky mid-palate fruit (old vines) – very balanced and effortless. Love the tension between the red fruit and the darker notes from the NSG soil. Fine+ (91 – 93p).
The Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Procès is a 1er cru located just south of Nuits-Saint-Georges below Chateau Gris. It’s a quite heavy soil with clay – classic Nuits-Saint-Georges. It’s a dark and relatively dense wine – the bouquet is offering dark cherries, hint of plum spiced with cinnamon and licorice. On the palate rich, generous and rather dense – with some reduction in the finish. A robust and classic NSG in the making – Fine (90 – 92p).
The Nuits-Saint-Georges Clos de Corvées Pagets is a fabulous 1er cru located in Premeaux just south of Clos de Corvées. This is a very exiting terroir and much more me than the austere Les Procès. This is made from 70 years old wines and presumably from a soil with more limestone .. 100% whole cluster and very low yield 19 hl/ha. The nose offer plenty of vibrant fruit – floral with fine notes of red currant, raspberries, pomegranate and boysenberries. On the palate very juicy and fresh with a lovely tension and focus – love the energetic mid-palate fruit. Very Fine (92 – 93p).
The Vosne-Romanée Les Chaumes is from a relatively large plot in the center of Les Chaumes running from bottom to top below Malconsorts. As many other wines from this vineyard in this vintage it offers a generous fruit and a vibrant energy. The nose offer ripe and juicy red and dark berry fruit – notes of raspberries, red currant and strawberries – brought forward by a nice deep earthy minerality, On the palate nice generous fruit – nice tension between some more weighty darker fruit and the fresh pomegranate and red currant notes. It’s ripe yet fresh and very charming … this a hedonistic glass and not a academic exercise .. very gratifying and Very Fine (92 – 93p).
The Arnoux-Lachaux Clos de Vougeot is from the climate Quartier de Marei Haut in the top of the vineyard. Like many other Clos de Vougeots of the 2015 vintage offering a surprising freshness and good acidity. The bouquet offer fine detailed fruit – oak well integrated – with a nice deep earthy minerality – quite vibrant and floral for a Clos de Vougeot. On the palate very balanced and focused offering a fine verve and freshness. A fine year for Clos de Vougeot … and this is a lovely and focused effort build for pleasure. Outstanding (94 – 95p).
The Echezeaux 2015 – from the terroir Rouges du Bas is a elegant and floral Echezeaux, The nose offer both red and dark berry fruit – spiced with violets, asian spices and cinnamon. On the palate fine fruit – not dense – but focused and with quite some tannins in the background … the oak is currently a bit forward with some reduction showing (could well explain the tannins also). Need time to settle down – a quite refined wine – Very Fine or even Outstanding (93 – 95p).
The Latriciere Chambertin is from the very southern part of this Grand Cru – from a plot located separately at the top of the slope into the woods next to Clos de la Roche i.e. above the rest of Latrichere – a lovely cool place in a vintage like 2015. This is a brilliant wine .. although slightly reduced .. offering the cool and vibrant side of the 2015 vintage. In the bouquet lovely juicy red fruit – raspberries, red cherries, red currant and pomegranate – focused by the filigree minerality of the refined Latricieres terroir. On the palate elegant and refined with a almost velvet and silky mid-palate fruit – courtesy of the 100% whole cluster grapes .. its long, delicate and gorgeously hedonistic .. what a magnificent wine – Outstanding+ (95 – 96p).
The Arnoux-Lachaux plot on Les Suchots is located in the top part – the supposedly best half of the vineyard – and at the very top on the border to Echezeaux Les Cruots and just below Vosne-Romanée Les Beaux Monts. This is a signature wine for this estate but can not match the cool and vibrant Latricieres in this vintage. The bouquet offer juicy and vibrant predominantly red fruit – raspberries, red currant – hint of pomegranate spiced with cinnamon and violets. On the palate juicy and focused with a lovely freshness and vibrancy on the mid-palate. Build for pleasure – a Outstanding Suchots in the making (94- 95p).
The Vosne-Romanée Aux Reignots 2015 is a truly magnificent wine – coming from a plot in the bottom of Aux Reignots – just above La Romanée. Charles did some experiments by letting the top of the vines grow and weave them down – just as Domaine Leroy does on most of the vineyards. This seem to have produced a very fresh and vibrant Reignots rivaling the best on this vineyard with a very fine acidity. The bouquet offer fresh and juicy red fruit – notes of red currant, pomegranate, plum and raspberries spiced with cinnamon, violets and peony rose. On the palate silky, rich and hedonistic with a very fine acidity and freshness for the vintage .. this is a remarkable and magnificent Aux Reignots. Outstanding+ (95 – 96p).
The Romanée Saint-Vivant is a tremendous wine made from a plot in the southern corner just next to the Domaine Cathiard plot. The RSV is a step up in concentration and weight … and will in the future outrank the delightful Aux Reignots. The bouquet offer layered and detailed red and dark fruit spiced with cinnamon, rose petals and all spice. On the palate layered deep fruit – darker and more backward then the vibrant Reignots – and perhaps lacking a bit of its vibrant freshness. It’s a big and complex wine that needs time to unfold – Extraordinary (96 – 97p).
Congratulations to Charles Lachaux on a beautiful line-up in 2015 … I’m really expecting great things from the Arnoux-Lachaux estate in the future.
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Tasting Notes for this producer
- Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux, Romanee-Saint-Vivant 2014 February 13, 2017
- Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux, Romanee-Saint-Vivant 2006 January 10, 2017
- Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux, Vosne-Romanee Aux Reignots 2008 December 18, 2014
- Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux, Romanee-Saint-Vivant 2008 February 19, 2013
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