«Viola Odorata» – a poetic name for a very lyrical wine. This is more or less where my infatuation starts…
I have tasted Claire Naudin’s wines and, while I really liked and enjoyed them, thus far the tastings had been in more informal “hippie”-like circumstances.
These wines are, however, deep; and they deserve more focus and time for the all-encompassing emotional spark to ignite.
But on a slightly laid-back Pommard evening with a good friend – let’s call him the Nerd – the Viola Odorata was special, and sharing its magic.
Ohh yes; the Naudin-Ferrand Côte de Nuits-Villages Viola Odorata 2012 was clearly brimming with delicate hedonism and pleasurable emotions.
At this stage (last September) I was already working on what was to become my vin d’émotion manifest in November, and the Viola Odorata was like a sensual jazz singer caressing my senses with delicate, maturing notes. The wine was so very alive and vibrant – truly a vin d’émotion.
So this wine – along with a few others – is responsible for the birth of the term and concept of vin d’émotion.
Realities, and a visit above
I had, as mentioned, tasted wines from Claire Naudin before, and the interest was definitely there: I wanted to visit the estate. But since tasting the Viola Odorata I felt a need to understand this estate further, and to comprehend why these wines can have such a delicate emotional side, coming as they do from what one normally would call modest terroirs.
On the Côte above Corgoloin
On the border between the Hautes Côtes de Beaune and Hautes Côtes de Nuits – and located above the core of Côte de Nuits villages – is the village of Magny-lès-Villers. It is close to Pernand and Nuits-Saint-Georges, just above Corgoloin and Comblanchien, yet unknown to many Bourgogne aficionados.
Domaine Naudin-Ferrand is one of the largest and most prominent estates in Magny-lès-Villers, and it’s located just down the road from the old Jayer-Gilles estate (now called Jayer-Hoffmann). Two very different estates that enjoy the fruits and challenges of the Hautes Côtes as they change from Beaune to Nuits.
Claire Naudin and her family estate
Claire Naudin is the owner and manager of the family estate. In this context I should also mention that Claire is married to Jean-Yves Bizot, who is creating magical wines from Vosne and the northern appellations of Bourgogne.
There is a common hedonistic value to the sensual quality of the Viola Odorata and a maturing wine from Bizot. But in the case of Naudin, one can both find it and afford it!
The estate and the wines
The estate is very well described on its website, and while it is interesting, I do feel the sudden urge to jump to the pages on Viola Odorata and Myosotis Arvensis and Clematis Vitalba – simply to indulge and be thrilled.
What is more important than the area of the estate – and yes, it’s a large domaine with 22 ha – is for me to understand Claire Naudin’s winemaking philosophy.
In Burgundy, the Naudin estate makes two kinds of wine: a classic range made with a modest addition of sulfites during vinification, and a low-sulfur top range, which includes Viola Odorata. It is important to note that a tiny amount of sulfur is added to the top range before bottling, but in a very limited dose. There is none at all during vinification and elevage. In the end, the level of free SO2 at bottling is not that different from the classic range, the difference being seen when measuring total sulfur. Yet this difference in total SO2 gives one an impression of the inpact of sulfur in the character of the classic wines!
The classic wines are more – surprise – classic or, if you like, traditionally enjoyable and affordable wines. They fill a segment of the market for everyday enjoyment for the non-hippie consumer, rather than offering the intellectual challenge and hedonistic pleasure of the more complex low-sulfur wines.
To me, the low-sulfur wines take complexity and hedonistic joy to another level. They are not easy wines as they, I feel, require reflection to find the full depths of their delight.
The top-end wines can easily be seen as “vins de soif,” as they are not (yet) that expensive – aside from the Echezeaux. But give them time and the Viola Odorata will blossom, with poetic, maturing notes and complexity worthy of a top Chambolle village.
So a tasting at Domaine Naudin-Ferrand is a tasting of at least two styles, and even more if one dives into the more exotic endeavors of Claire Naudin … including wines like exotic “Rouge Gorge Syrah Grenache.”
Please don’t ask me about Syrah. Let me stay with the Burgundy cuvées.
Tasting notes from March 10
The cuvées are shown in the order tasted. (C) means classic, the others are the low-sulfur wines.
Domaine Naudin-Ferrand Bourgogne Aligoté (C) 2018
The bouquet in the classic Aligote is intense, both mineral and fruity, yet it’s fresh and energetic. On the palate, relatively round and forwardly charming; it would speak to all kinds of Aligote fans. Aligote works very well with the hot climatic conditions of 2018, especially in cooler terroirs like Magny-lès-Villers.
(Drink from 2020) – Good – (86p) – Tasted 10/03/2020
Domaine Naudin-Ferrand Aligote “Les Clou 34” 2018
An aligote from old vineyards, this is a treat. The main plot in Corgoloin’s Le Clou was planted in 1934, and other, older, plots are included. One planted in 1902 in Magny-lès-Villers is the oldest. This wine is, according to the website, an atypical aligoté, and therefore the choice was made to sell it under a “Vin de France” classification. It’s rich, forward, and intense, with some passion fruit and slightly perfumed floral notes. It has a lovely saline note … powerful and intense.
(Drink from 2020) – Very Good – (88p) – Tasted 10/03/2020 –
Domaine Naudin-Ferrand Hautes Cote de Beaune Blanc (C) 2018
This chardonnay comes from the backside of the Corton hill – the area in Pernand called En Bully. The nose is intense and on the fresh side, with some influence of wood (20% new oak). A bit on the generous side perhaps, this is good, but perhaps a bit flat in its 2018 ampleness.
(Drink from 2020) – Good – (85p) – Tasted 10/03/2020
Domaine Naudin-Ferrand Hautes Côtes de Beaune Blanc Bellis Perennis 2018
From Magny-lès-Villers, and raised in 30% new oak, this is an intense and forward wine with a nice salty balance and very fine acidity. An oak impression suggests that this wine will need a few years to integrate. I really like its saline tone, however, as well as its lovely, energetic tension.
(Drink from 2020) – Good+ – (87-88p) – Tasted 10/03/2020 –
Domaine Naudin-Ferrand Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits Blanc Clematis Vitalba 2018
The Clematis Vitalba is made in Magny-lès-Villers from the lieu-dit Les Tilles. The vines are relatively young (20 years). There is a delightful saline note, and a beautiful roundness with exotic fruits like peach and pineapple. The oak and mineral background give nice structure and freshness. For medium-term drinking.
(Drink from 2022) – Very Good – (88p) – Tasted 10/03/2020
Domaine Naudin-Ferrand Hautes Côtes de Nuits Blanc Clematis Vitalba 2017
The 2017 version of the Clematis Vitalba is fresher and more vivid. It is more in line with my palate with its energetic fruit and intensity. It’s better balanced, finer and livelier than the weighty 2018. I do adore the 2017s for their purity and clean, vivid fruit.
(Drink from 2020) – Very Good – (88-89p) – Tasted 10/03/2020 –
In Denmark the wines of Claire Naudin is imported by Krone Vin
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