Preconceptions and old habits sometimes or even often leads to mistakes and this is also the case in Burgundy – especially in times of change.
A lot of estates in Burgundy are taken over by new generations and this often leads to a change of style and better quality. The new generation often comes with a better education, new ideas and a network of vigneron friends – from whom they can find inspiration and good advice.
I have seen progress from Domaine Lamarche over the last years but to be honest I was nevertheless surprised how fine and refined the 2015s are.
The tasting began very well as it was held in the quite formal reception room where the fireplace was burning brightly and the samples were ready for the tasting when I arrived for my 09:45 appointment with Nicole Lamarche.
After quite a few tastings in cold cellars and with outdoor temperatures around minus 7 Celsius .. this was luxury.
Domaine Lamarche history in short
Domaine Lamarche is one of the old Vosne estates. First generation in Vosne-Romanée was according to Clive Coates1 a Jean-Constant Lamarche – who came from Sombernon in Hautes Côtes in 1835. He married a local girl who brought some vineyards from the family heritage.
The couple had a son Henri Lamarche who was born in 1871. He was married to Marie Grivelet from the rather notorius Grivelet family in Chambolle thus gaining more vineyards. Henri also worked as a tonnelier. The couple had a son – Henri Lamarche II who was born in 1903 who was one of the first in Vosne-Romanée to sell wine in bottle to the restaurant trade – alongside DRC and the Gros family. On the side he was also cellar master for the Marey-Monge estate – who owned a large part of the Romanee Saint-Vivant vineyard at this time.
Henri Lamarche II further expanded the estate. When he was married to Jeanne Demur in 1933 his uncle Edouard Lamarche gave him La Grande Rue as wedding present – a vineyard he bought at an auction on August 31st 1933 from the Liger-Belair family.
Henri Lamarche II had three children – the eldest Elizabeth who married Joseph Moissenet and this part of the family got the vineyard holdings in Pommard (vineyards from the Demur family). The two younger Francois Lamarche born in 1944, and Geneviéve Lamarche born in 1949 took over the estate in Vosne-Romanée. Francois retired in 2007 and left the wine making to his daughter Nicole – sadly Francois Lamarche passed away in an accident in 2013.
Today the estate is managed by Nicole Lamarche who is in charge of the wine making, Natalie Lamarche – the daughter of Geneviève is in charge of the commercial side with her aunt Marie-Blanche.
The estate have a beautiful selection of vineyards – mostly owned but also others in metayage – with some interesting terroirs from the Lamadon family. Lamarche and Liger-Belair shared the vineyards when the wine production at Domaine Lamadon seized after the 2005 vintage.
2015 a quite late harvest with showers
Domaine Lamarche began the harvest relatively late in 2015 (start 10th of September) and this means that some of the wines have been harvested after or inbetween the showers that hit Cotes de Nuits after September 12th 2015.
From what I have tasted at other late harvesting estates the rain has apparently in some cases given the wines more freshness and delicacy … and presumably reduced the slightly dense feel found in some 2015s. Hence the rain seems to have given the wines a fresher balance and a more defined acidity …
A lot of estates reached a sufficient phenolic maturity well before the rain, but for others the optimal situation seem to have been to harvest later and henceforward after or in between the showers … this is individual from estate to estate.
In my view it seems like a good decision by Nicole Lamarche to wait, as the 2015s from Domaine Lamarche are very balanced, detailed and delicate – with a lovely fresh and juicy tension.
The style of the Lamarche 2015s
The Lamarche 2015s are quite light in color, fresh and detailed in the bouquet and effortlessly light-footed yet intense on the palate.
These are very balanced and transparent wines – with none of the dense and weighty tendencies of the 2015 vintage. The use of oak has been reduced over the recent years but fruit is mainly destemmed, although whole cluster is used when deemed appropriate.
While they are light-footed the concentration and length is excellent and in a both delicate and refined way – very Burgundian and hedonistic.
The fruit is more balanced towards red berries than many wines that was harvested earlier … or this is at least my impression.
I must say I quite adored the style, and I was delighted to find these wines … they are by quite a fair margin the best wines I have tasted from this estate – chapeau Nicole.
Tasting notes from January 25th 2017
When I begin a tasting I always hope that I will absolutely adore the wines … so it’s always a nervous moment to take the first sip. I do hate to write negative reviews – and try to avoid this …
I was therefore really delighted when I took the first sip of the Bourgogne Rouge 2015 from Domaine Lamarche – a delightfully elegant effort for this level. The nose offer fine and delicate red and dark berry fruit – transparent with a hint of Vosne (vineyards are located below Vosne-Romanée across RN74). On the palate light-footed, fine mid-palate fruit intensity – pure and silky – offering a fine little hedonistic treat – Good (85 – 87p)
After a great start with the Bourgogne Rouge the Bourgogne Hautes Côte de Nuits is a step up in concentration. The nose offer fine cool fruit – predominantly red fruit – a nice mineral touch. On the palate more power and edge than the Bourgogne Rouge – but also with silky and transparent fruit with a nice cool freshness. Good+ (87 – 88p)
The Vosne Romanée is a delightful glass offering a elegant and cool expression of the 2015 vintage. The nose is bursting with fresh and juicy fruit spiced with violets and a hint of peony rose. On the palate generous yet transparent and refined with a lovely delicate mid-palate fruit. A very pure and balanced Vosne village … Very Good+ (89 – 91p)
The Vosne Romanée Les Chaumes is quite a step up in weight and quality … offering the most delightful energetic fruit – this vineyard has produced some very fine wines in the 2015 vintage. The bouquet is very expressive with red juicy fruit – notes of red currant, strawberries and pomegranate. On the palate very vibrant and energetic with a juicy balance between rich sweeter fruit and the fresh notes of red currant. Finely balanced and just gorgeous. Fine+ (92 – 93p)
Vosne Romanée Les Suchots – another vineyard that did very well in this vintage. This is also the case with the Lamarche edition – the bouquet is brimming with layers of juicy predominantly red fruit – very transparent and energetic and spiced with violets and peony rose – textbook Vosne. On the palate generous, rich and velvet – still elegant and sensual with a beautiful light-footed intensity. A delightful wine .. Very Fine (93 – 94p).
Vosne Romanée La Croix Rameau 2015 is from a difficult vineyard – and until this example I have never seem to have identified the potential and quality in this vineyard. But the Lamarche 2015 La Croix Rameau is a delightful glass. It’s a darker, deeper wine than Les Suchots – with more tannin’s and a deeper more earthy soil. The nose offer more dark berry fruit – a bit more restrained. On the palate layers of generous red and dark berry fruit .. very fine length – a quite serious wine. A very interesting wine .. Very Fine (93 – 94p).
The Vosne Romanée Les Malconsorts 2015 is more backward – as Malconsorts often are from cask. The Lamarche Les Malconsorts comes from two plots in the southern end of the vineyard – one at the top and one at the bottom. The bouquet offer layers of red and dark berry fruit – red and dark cherries, strawberries .. spiced with violets and other Vosne spices. On the palate more generous with a decadently charming red mid-palate fruit. Very delicate and refined – not a blockbuster Malconsorts – Very Fine+ (94 – 95p)
Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Cras is a tremendous vineyard … and this plot owned by the Lamadon family is a treat – Liger-Belair has the other half. The bouquet is bursting with fresh and juicy red fruit – notes of red currant and pomegranate. On the palate rich and juicy fruit with quite some weight and power … surprisingly powerful even after the Malconsorts. A delightful glass … Very Fine+ (93 – 95p)
The Echezeaux is made from plots of Les Cruots, Les Champs Traversin and Clos St. Denis. It’s a fresh and light-footed Echezeaux. The nose offer juicy and perfumed red fruit – notes of violets, rose petals brought forward by a nice minerality. On the palate forward and airy – medium weight – offering fine balance and drikability. A delightful wine – although lacking some intensity to match a top end Echezeaux from Grivot and Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair. Outstanding (94 – 95p).
The Clos de Vougeout is a step up in density offering a very fine mid-palate weight and intensity. In the bouquet layers of ripe and juicy fruit – very balanced with a refined and intense earthy minerality. On the palate rich and silky fruit – finely balanced by a very good acidity – it’s long and very harmonious – a refined textbook Clos de Vougeot 2015. Outstanding (94 – 96p)
The Grands Echezeaux is a further step up – and a more effortlessly refined and airy wine. The nose is brimming with layers of vibrant red fruit .. layered and intense with a tremendous depth. On the palate rich, generous, lavish and delightful … offering so much decadently voluptuous fruit … it’s openly knit yet focused … a true hedonistic treat. Outstanding (95 – 96p).
Finally La Grande Rue 2015 – a very refined and delicate wine. The bouquet offer layers of focused red fruits – very detailed and juicy – matched by a filigree minerality and perfumed Vosne spices. On the palate rich, focused and intense with a very filigree mid-palate – sensual and hedonistic – offering a beautiful pure and vibrant fruit and a very refined mineral spiciness. The best La Grande Rue I have tasted – a quite Exceptional wine (96 – 97p).
It should be noted that Domaine Lamarche also produced a special cuvée of La Grande Rue called Cuveée 1959- from a plot with old vines exchanged with Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in 1959 – when the border between La Tâche and La Grande Rue was adjusted. I did not have the possibility to taste this cuvée but presumably its even better than the “standard” cuvée of La Grande Rue…
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