To quote Joni Mitchell: You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. For many of us, the freedom to travel, converse, exchange and enjoy is often taken for granted, yet in the current environment it is clear how fragile are these moments with friends and compatriots.
One such moment was last week’s Pacalet tasting, held on October 23, with Philippe Pacalet and his charming wife Monica attending. It was geat to see the Pacalets in Copenhagen in this otherwise challenging time.
The program was interesting, showing new Pacalet wines but also looking back on some of his earlier vintages.
First up were two Rhone wines – one of Philippe Pacalet’s passions. And frankly, he makes both interesting and very drinkable Rhones.
- Cornas 2018
- Côte-Rôtie 2018
Next were some of his new wines from the Corton hill and below (the first vintage for Pacalet was 2016).
- Aloxe 1er Cru Les Valozières 2016
- Corton Bressandes Grand Cru 2016
Last but not least, three sets of two of my favourite Pacalet wines: Gevrey-Chambertin Bel-Air and Ruchottes-Chambertin.
- Gevrey 1er Cru Bel-Air 2018
- Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2018
- Gevrey 1er Cru Bel-Air 2012
- Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2012
- Gevrey 1er Cru Bel-Air 2009
- Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2009
While I`m not a Rhone fanatic, I do enjoy Pacalet’s products from the region.
The Cornas 2018 is spicy and forward; classic, yet with a Pacalet touch. Fresh and vivacious, this shows remarkable energy for the relatively dense 2018 vintage. It certainly has a lively note for a Syrah wine.
The Cote Rotie 2018 is bigger and denser. It is a fine glass, but for me it is missing the contribution from viognier that is found in many Cote Roties. This omission results in a denser, very syrah-dominated character. While this style may claim more Sucklings, I prefer the Cornas (I never thought I would write this!).
The Corton Hill
Pacalet is relatively new on the Corton hill, and his 2016s are prominent examples of this low-yield vintage.
Philippe Pacalet Aloxe 1er Cru Les Valozières 2016
Very low yields here – 50% lost due to frost – give the wine a lovely intensity and density. It has fine Aloxe generosity in the mid-palate fruit. Showing very well for the vintage, with only a bit of the 2016 austerity.
(Drink from 2026) – Very Good (89-90p) – tasted 23/10/2020
Philipe Pacalet Corton Bressandes Grand Cru 2016
The first vintage of the delightful Corton Bressandes is a fine, quite serious wine. It sings a lovely, stony tune; vivid, with fine whole-cluster notes in a relatively classic style for Pacalet. Like other 2016s, it is a bit serious and weighty due to the low yields. Nicely balanced though, and drinking very well. The nose is offering intense red and dark berry fruit, floral and organic, spiced with cinnamon and allspice.
(Drink from 2032) – Very Fine+ (93-94p) – tasted 23/10/2020
Philippe Pacalet Gevrey Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Bel-Air 2018
The Belair is not revealing itself currently, and seems dense and weighty for the terroir. The nose is rocky and somewhat floral, but is lacking energy and the zappy liveliness normally found in this 1er cru. Perhaps slightly unripe phenolics are preventing the fruit from expressing itself – we will see.
(Drink from 2028) – Very Good+ (89-90p) – tasted 23/10/2020
Philippe Pacalet Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2018
The Ruchottes is a different ballgame: bigger, but seemingly lighter on its feet and simply dancing over the palate. Cinnamon and allspice are well integrated with the vivid red fruit, and there is a lovely palate of red and darker berries enhancing the beauty of the Ruchottes. This has magnificent mineral balance – and presumably better phenolic ripeness.
(Drink from 2028) – Very Fine+ (93-94p) – tasted 23/10/2020
Older vintages – do they keep?
One of the topics that turn up from time to time is the longevity of Pacalet wines. While I do not find the expected lifespan of his wines problematic at all, they are perhaps not wines for 50 years of cellaring. They do keep for the amount of time that suits me.
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