Domaine de l’Arlot is often overlooked by today’s busy, stressful world of flashy media and expressive, modern, low-sulphur wines.
L’Arlot is a return to more classic values, although the wines are far from “old school” or, for that matter, outdated. There are some beautiful, classical characteristics in the Domaine de l’Arlot wines; qualities a lot of busy – and inattentive – people should well remember.
The wines might require time, but given this, they will provide rewarding depth and, in some instances, a hedonistic burst that is rarely seen from the Nuits-Saint-Georges appellation.
Geraldine Godot is the master of the Domaine de l’Arlot portfolio these days, and she is very much a part of this classical style. Like her wines, she was a bit cautious at first, but revealed her personality as we got deeper into the tasting.
This careful, slightly discreet style of wine is perhaps not of the Facebook/Instagram world of today. But it does perhaps show virtues that need to be rediscovered. Even I could perhaps drink a glass without posting the bottle on five different media outlets. Pinot for your thoughts?
A bit of history
The name l’Arlot comes from the small stream which flows out of the rock at the foot of the clos of the same name, and continues under the road below. Both the vineyard and the estate took their name from this stream – the latter in 1987.
The history of Clos de l’Arlot
The ownership history of Clos de l’Arlot is quite simple. as there have only been three owners over the last 160 years.
Jean-Charles Vienot was the owner when Lavalle wrote his book in 1855 1. He created the estate in the eighteenth century, and it was passed on to his son Francois Vienot, who renovated the chateau and the estate buildings and laid out a park with sculptures behind them2.
Francois’ children sold the estate to negociant Jules Belin in 1891. Danguy & Aubertin, accordingly, mention only one owner in their work from 18923 – Jules Belin. Moving on to Rodier in 19204, Jules Belin was again mentioned as the only owner of Clos de l’Arlot.
In the beginning, Jules Belin was quite successful. But after most of his family was killed in a car accident in 1933, the company and the estate began to decline5. This process took more than 50 years, and some vineyards were sold off along the way.
Jules Belin did, however, keep vineyards in Premeaux – including monopoles Clos des l’Arlot and Clos des Forets (the latter acquired after 1920, as Rodier mentions Julien Guillemot as its only owner, as did Danguy & Aubertin).
In the end, after owning the estate for almost 100 years, the Belin family sold it all to insurance giant AXA, which had formed a partership with Jean-Pierre de Smet.
The AXA and de Smet period: 1987-2005
Jean-Pierre de Smet, an ccountant and businessman, had taken an interest in winemaking after a 1977 visit to his friend Jacques Seysses at Domaine Dujac. He then decided to pursue the vigneron “dream,” and attended the University of Dijon to qualify as a winemaker, and he began looking for an estate5.
His eye fell on the old Jules Belin domaine, and he initiated the deal with Belin in 1987, bringing the insurance company AXA in as partner and owner of the estate and vineyards.
The style of the AXA/de Smet wines was inspired by Dujac – i.e. a high percentage of whole clusters, giving very expressive and floral wines. I recall tasting the 1990s in their youth, and they were indeed very forward and expressive at that time.
In 1998, Olivier Leriche was hired as a stagiaire, and he worked together with Jean-Pierre de Smet until 2004, when he took over the winemaking.
In 2000, de Smet began to experiment with biodynamic viticulture, and since 2003 the entire estate has been cultivated biodynamically.
De Smet retired from the domaine in 2006, upon which Christian Seely took over as managing director, with Leriche continuing in charge of the winemaking.
The post-de Smet era – 2006 and beyond
Olivier Leriche stayed on until 2011, when he decided to retire – or rather retire to run his own estate in the Ardeche.
Leriche was replaced by Jacques Devauges, who came from Maison Frédéric Magnien/Domaine Michel Magnien, having previously worked at Domaine de la Vougeraie.
The first full vintage for Devauges was 2012, and the wines were promising. But in 2014 it was time to find a new technical director, as Jacques Devauges got an offer no winemaker could refuse: taking on the vinification of the mighty Clos de Tart. He later moved on to Clos de Lambrays.
Devauges was replaced with Géraldine Godot, who had previously managed and vinified for Alex Gambal in Beaune. She was in full charge by the 2015 vintage at Domaine de l’Arlot.
And here we are now with Geraldine Godot presenting a gorgeous line-up of 2019s – a vintage that brings out the best sides of the l’Arlot wines. They inspired me to remember the Beckett quote:
“Dance first. Think later. It’s the natural order.”Samuel Beckett
To the wines!
Tasting notes on the Domaine de l’Arlot 2019s
The whites were bottled in December; the reds in December and April 2021.
Domaine de l’Arlot Hautes Côtes de Nuits Le Mont 2019
This wine is from the area above Premeaux, at an altitude of 400 metres. It’s a rich, quite exuberant wine; ripe, with nice acidity, forward fruit, and a vivid character – very much a component of the vintage. Good hedonistic values, and it’s drinking well.
(Drink from 2021) – Good – (87p) – Tasted 11/05/2021 –
Domaine de l’Arlot Côte de Nuits Village Au Leurey 2019
This is located just below the RD974 opposite the estate. It is richer and broader, and the alcohol is more prominent. There’s a vivid grape note, along with some reduction, but overall it’s a bit simple due to ripeness and alcohol. It has nice balance and weight, yet doesn’t quite show the expressive generosity of the Hautes Côtes.
(Drink from 2024) – Good – (87p) – Tasted 11/05/2021
Domaine de l’Arlot Nuits-Saint-Georges La Gerbotte 2019
From young vines in the 1er cru Clos de l’Arlot planted in 1992-1993 (with some from 2006 as well), it has a rich, velvety character, with expressive with notes of almonds and honey. It is quite intense, and shows a lovely mineral note from this fine terroir. Currently somewhat closed, but this will definitely provide beautiful drinking when a bit of age opens it up.
(Drink from 2028) – Very Good – (89p) – Tasted 11/05/2021
Domaine de l’Arlot Hautes Clos de l’Arlot 2019
This is from the steepest slopes of the vineyard just north of the estate. The wines are old: some planted in 1955, others in 1984. It is rich, intense, and delicate with an almost silky, creamy feel. Very good acidity provides excellent balance. This has a regal feel of greatness – although not of grand cru intensity. A perfect match for the 2019 vintage. I adore the minerality on the finish and the mid-palate.
(Drink from 2031) – Fine – (92-93p) – Tasted 11/05/2021 –
Domaine de l’Arlot Hautes Côtes de Nuits Le Mont 2019
The red Hautes Côtes Le Mont is a bit over the top, with somewhat overripe fruit and its consequent notes. There is cherry and blackcurrant, but also a strong hint of ripe prune that gives the wine its overripe expression. Add to this notes of tobacco leaves, mint, liquorice, and pepper, and it becomes too much for my palate.
(Drink from now) – Average – Tasted 11/05/2021
Domaine de l’Arlot Côte de Nuits Villages Clos du Chapeau 2019
This comes from a small vineyard below the village of Comblanchien. With 35% whole clusters, it is pure and quite refined for the vintage. Notes of sweet Morello cherries mix with scents of clove and sandalwood. Perhaps lacking a bit of energy and expressional force – the relatively high sulphur level (25-30mg/L) does exact a price.
(Drink from 2025) – Good – (87p) – Tasted 11/05/2021 –
Domaine de l’Arlot Nuits-Saint-Georges Mont des Oiseaux 2019
This Nuits 1er Cru is located inside the Clos de l’Arlot, coming from the upper part of the clos with white limestone soil, and from a plot of young vines located at the bottom of the clos on marl. There are 40% whole clusters in this cuvee, and it is elegantly expressive, vivid, and lively. I find beautiful notes sweet red cherries and a hint of roses – light-footed, yet with good length. An adorable vin de soif.
(Drink from 2028) – Very Good – (90p) – Tasted 11/05/2021 –
Domaine de l’Arlot Nuits-Saint-Georges Clos de l`Arlot 2019
The 2019 Clos de l’Arlot is the wine of the vintage, with a gorgeously perfumed and expressive nose and palate. While 66% whole clusters and 40% new oak do give it some power, the nose is blooming with roses, peonies, and rosehips. It’s sensual and delicate, with a complex mineral note following the floral bouquet. What a beautiful wine!
(Drink from 2028) – Fine+ – (92-94p) – Tasted 11/05/2021 –
Domaine de l’Arlot Hautes Vosne-Romanée Les Suchots 2019
The Suchots is open for business; it’s rich and saline, with some violets and even chocolate notes. The 75% whole-cluster vinification, with 40% new oak, seem to add other notes to the Vosne terroir – darker, and with more depth and masculine force. It has tremendous length, and the acidity is very good, giving the wine fine energy and hedonistic presence.
(Drink from 2033) – Fine+ – (92-94p) – Tasted 11/05/2021 –
Domaine de l’Arlot Nuits-Saint-Georges Clos de Forets St. Georges 2019
Very silky, rich, and perfumed, and quite velvety coming after the Suchots. With 35% whole clusters and 35% new oak, this is a big wine with an intense reference to Nuits-Saint-Georges, and fine acidity. It’s rich, with complex aromas of blackcurrant and blackberry, as well as spicy notes of blood orange and Grand Marnier. I appreciate the greatness here, but find the Clos de l’Arlot sexier in 2019. This will need time, but still – what a treat!
(Drink from 2035) – Very Fine – (93-94p) – Tasted 11/05/2021 –
Domaine de l’Arlot Romanée-Saint-Vivant 2019
The 2019 RSV is just an infant, with 40% new oak and 25% whole clusters used. It’s tight and intense, with plenty of Vosne spice and violets, peonies, roses, as well as light notes of curry and cinnamon. This has layers of deep fruit – raspberries and cloudberries – although it’s not particularly talkative at the moment. It’s struggling to compete with the top RSVs, but this is clearly a lovely effort.
(Drink from 2035) – Very Fine+ – (94-95p) – Tasted 11/05/2021 –
References & Sources:
- Jules Lavalle, Histoire et Statistique de la Vignes et Des Grands Vins de la Côte d’Or (1855)
- Batault-Morot, E. Plan statistique des vignobles produisant les grands vins de Bourgogne (1861)
- M.R. Danguy et M. Ch. Aubertin, Les Grands Vins de Bourgogne (1892)
- Camille Rodier, Le Vin de Bourgogne (1920)
- Clive Coates, Cote d’Or (1997)