Domaine Georges Noellat Echezeaux Grand Cru 2016
Having purchased Maxime Cheurlin’s wines from this important Vosne-Romanée domaine since his debut 2010 vintage, I can chart the evolution of his winemaking with the insights of an early adopter. Gently extracted and matured in hefty percentages of carefully chosen new oak—largely from Tonnellerie Cavin—those early vintages were thrilling to taste from barrel and tank: supple, gourmand and extravagantly fragrant, they were hard to spit on a cold February morning. Those early years, however, haven’t always gained in complexity and range with bottle age: in several instances, I found myself regretting waiting, as the wines were so delicious in their youth that anything less dramatic seemed like a missed opportunity.
In the last couple of years, however, there have been significant changes. Cheurlin tells me he is training his canopies higher and working the soil—although along the Côte, it must be said, his reputation as a viticulturist has yet to catch up. In the cellars, air conditioning has been installed and malolactic fermentations, formerly rapid, now take as long as a year to complete. The result is that the wines taste considerably more primary and reserved at the same stage, making them harder to read from barrel but potentially more interesting from bottle. Certainly, the pace of the wines’ evolution has been radically transformed, so it will be more than usually interesting to follow their evolution. So while 2017 appears to be a strong vintage for Cheurlin, it’s worth noting that several of these cuvées were among the most backward wines I tasted in the Côte de Nuits.
- William Kelley, The Wine Advocate
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