I have followed Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux closely for the last five years, as it was clear to me that something exciting and potentially magical was happening there.
Not surprisingly, this continued in the fantastic 2019 vintage, a year that produced the opportunity for winegrowers to shine and consumers to bask in the hot summer nights of Burgundy.
The 2019s from Charles Lachaux were outstanding when I tasted them from cask in February. I was therefore very excited to attend the (first) official tasting of the bottled wines on November 9 – a day to remember!
The 2019s are the first of what one could call the “fully converted” vintages Charles has produced, although we presumably will see further changes in the years to come, as his is a dynamic project. Let’s call 2019 Stage One.
The ’19s here are otherworldly, evoking descriptors like joie de vivre. Calling them true vins d’émotion only begins to encompass and describe the huge changes made at this ground-breaking estate.
Let me say this upfront: They live up to the tasting from cask, although there are some small amendments. So let’s go!
Vinification in short
As in other contexts, changes – whether in vinification or viticulture – raise some critical voices amongst other winegrowers and connoisseurs. This also the case with Charles Lachaux.
One of the main criticisms is his shorter maceration of the wines, and while it is indeed short, we still need to evaluate the result in the glass.
The Arnoux-Lachaux wines are made with very short maceration: six to nine days. That’s all, from arrival of the grapes in the winery to press. This is indeed very short. The maceration happens with whole-cluster grapes and no sulphur, and while this perhaps worked well in 2019, one could ask what the result will be with the 2021s, where the grapes weren’t as ripe and the wines are less substantial.
One can debate the duration of vinification – some like it short, others very long. But in the end, the truth is in the bottle and the glass. And the results of the bottled 2019s here are stunning in their explosive expression.
Now that time has passed and the wines have settled down a bit, some of the top-end cuvees have actually developed additional complexity, whereas the lesser wines in some cases have been restrained a bit by the sulphur and bottling.
This is natural, but it is rarely to taste a full range again only two years after harvest.
The lively, effortless 2019s from bottle
The Arnoux-Lachaux ’19s are moving the bar higher for The Winehog’s definition of vin d’émotion. This is particularly true for the wines with the longest track record in the viticultural transformation: Vosne-Romanee Aux Reignots and Nuits-Saint-Georges Corvées Pagets are showing such progress that one can only expect further improvements across the range.
The details and refinement of the top wines are both encouraging and tremendous. However, we will see if 2020 and 2021 can live up to the ’19s. No doubt Charles is working hard, but inevitably, we will see small setbacks and bumps on the road. He is regardless making a truly heroic effort.
According to Charles Lachaux, he is planning to stop tastings of the new vintages from cask, and only do them once the wines have been bottled.
This will change the modus operandi, and modify the focus the wines get. This tasting included some of the leading critics: Neal Martin; William Kelly; and Jasper Morris; as well as Jean-Emmanuel Simond, who writes for “La Revue du Vin de France;” and Matthew Hayes, who works for Jancis Robinson.
A small and select group, which was in for a treat.
The notes from November 9
Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux Bourgogne Pinot Fin 2019
Starting out with the Bourgogne Pinot Fin, a delightful regional from excellent plots below the road (RD974) in Chambolle-Musigny, Vosne-Romanee, and Nuits-Saint-Georges. The bouquet is enticingly forward and floral (100% whole clusters, as in all the wines), offering an airy, energetic expression of red fruits with fine minerality for this level. On the palate, quite delicate and vivid, with a gorgeous, graceful expression of berries. Currently relatively tight and discreet, and the cloudberries have vanished for the moment.
(Drink from 2021) – Very Good (88-89p) – Tasted 09/11/2021 –
Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux Nuits-Saint-Georges 2019
The Nuits-Saint-Georges village is a blend from several different vineyards, mainly from the northern side of Nuits. The bouquet offers rich, energetic fruit, flowers, and a good NSG mineral character. On the palate, it’s lively and energetic – very charming – offering a complex expression of airy fruits. Still, a bit closed at the moment.
(Drink from 2027) – Very Good+ (89-91p) – Tasted 09/11/2021 –
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