I’m back at Domaine Georges Noëllat to taste the 2020s now that malolactic fermentation is finished.
After Maxime Cheurlin decided to cool down his cellars, the elevage is quite a bit slower. Tasting the wines during the summer following the harvest is now a bit premature, as the malolactic fermentation is not completed, making the wines difficult to accurately judge.
Last year, I visited Domaine Georges Noëllat in June to have an early peek at the 2020 vintage. But now – eight months later – the wines are easier to taste. In the end, this didn’t change my evaluation of the wines markedly, but a few were upgraded.
Delaying malo – a note
Maxime Cheurlin has begun cooling the cellar to delay or slow malolactic fermentation and the vinification in general.
Some producers have a naturally cooler cellar, and therefore slower malolactic fermentation. Sebastien Cathiard sees malo completed more than a year after the harvest for his slowest wine, usually the Malconsorts; Amelie Berthaut is another producer with slow malolactic fermentation, hence tasting in summer is difficult.
Normally this is how it is, and I have rarely comparatively tasted wines with earlier malo versus later. But it’s different in the case of Domaine Georges Noëllat, as I have tasted Maxime Cheurlin’s first vintages with earlier malo, and now the more recent vintages with later.
So what is the difference, based on my experience with wines from 2017, 2018, 2019 and now 2020? My initial opinion is that the wines with later malo are a bit firmer and more precise. This could – perhaps – translate eventually into more complexity. One could also say that they have a slightly tighter note, promising greater cellaring potential.
Tasting a wine like the Petits Monts 2019 (tasted in March 2022), it’s clear that the more recent vintage has greater depth and intensity, yet still shows a lovely, generous palate.
The wines have over the years gained focus, and gone is the rather early, forward, blossom and accessibility seen in Cheurlin’s first vintages, replaced by a somewhat tighter, more precise fruit.
The 2020s from Domaine Georges Noëllat
Based on my two tastings, the 2020s from Georges Noëllat follow the tendencies seen at other estates. The wines are concentrated, with good intensity. They are – or should I say appear to be – cooler than the 2019s and 2018s, although the temperatures and drought in 2020 were equally severe.
The acidity is very good, and this gives an interesting element to the wines, along with that certain coolness. They have a more classical Burgundy stance, with the fruit seemingly cooler and the acidity a forward, powerful, structural element.
The 2020s are a miracle in this world of global warming, giving us the cool Burgundies that many of us have been hoping for.
Notes from the tasting on February 2
The Vosne-Romanee 2020 is ripe and sweet, with good concentration for a Noëllat village. It shows the more intense, focused style of the changed elevage, and is more controlled than the sensual, sexy 2019. This is a more classic Burgundy. Better than 2019? Perhaps. My experience shows that many vignerons prefer the cooler style of the 2020s.
(Drink from 2028) – Very Good+ (90-91p) –
The Chambolle-Musigny Les Feusselottes 2020 is always a success here, it appears. I found the sensual 2019 delightful, to say the least, and while the 2020 lacks a bit of hedonistic sweetness, it has the vivid acidity and freshness to make up for it. A more classical, slightly more serious wine. I adore it nevertheless.
(Drink from 2030) – Very Fine+ (94-95p) –
Beaune Clos de la Mignotte 2020 is one of the estate’s newer wines, having made its first appearance in 2016. It’s a small monopole located just south of Aux Cras. The 2020 is generous and lively with excellent intensity. It has joyful energy and tension, and I hope it will remain ready and open after bottling.
(Drink from 2030) – Fine+ – (92p) –
The Chambolle-Musigny Les Lavrottes 2020 is a new addition to the line-up. This interesting 1er cru is located below the southern part of Bonnes Mares. It is intense and vivid, with discreet oak, and with the acidity adding gorgeous freshness.
(Drink from 2032) – Very Fine (93p) –
A rare bird, the Morey-Saint-Denis Monts Luisants 2020 is from the plot above Clos de la Roche. Even better than when I tasted it last summer, it’s cool and vivid, with lovely tension from the impressive acidity. It has a delightful floral bouquet with a remarkable mineral note for a Morey. Very interesting.
(Drink from 2032) – Very Fine – (93-94p) –
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