STEPHEN TANZER'S International Wine Cellar
SEP / OCT 2007
"The grapes were very ripe in 2006, and acidity levels were slightly low," said Mounir Saouma. "Some wines reached 15% potential alcohol but in this growing season even 13% means more physiological maturity than the numbers would suggest." Saouma's approach to making the wines was "to delay everything." As he explained it: "The flavors were already great in the juice, so we wanted to slow down the evolution of the wines. We had our growers put the barrels in the coolest part of their cellars. And then when we took the barrels we placed them under our roof in January, with a slight sulfur addition, where they remained very cold." Saouma's plan was to bottle the wines earlier than in previous years, as he did for the 2005 reds (but not the whites). While he believes that the '06s will never really shut down in bottle, he predicts that the wines will age for a long time on their balance, and he emphasized that "the numbers don't accurately reflect the balance of the wines." As always, my late spring tasting of white wines here was tricky, as some wines still had a bit of unfermented sugar, while others were not yet finished with their malolactic fermentations. I have omitted notes on certain cuvees that were impossible to assess with confidence. Not only that, but a few of the 2005s I tasted were still in tank awaiting bottling. Due to missed communications, I was able to taste only 2005 grand crus during my visit to the Lucien Le Moine cellar at the beginning of June.
2006 Lucien Le Moine Pernand Vergelesses Sous Fretilles 88-90
(primary and secondary fermentations done) Ripe aromas of apple and clove. Rich, fat and sweet, with a supple texture to the spicy fruit. Nicely concentrated wine that's plenty ripe but retains very good freshness. Persistent on the back end.
2006 Lucien Le Moine Beaune Les Reversées 87-89
(still a bit of sugar left to ferment) Good pale color. Very ripe aromas of grilled nuts, clove and smoky oak. More minerally than the Sous Fretilles, with firm acids to leaven the ripe fruit. This rather masculine wine boasts more energy and tension than the Sous Fretilles but comes across as a bit chunky and tannic, lacking in personality today.
2006 Lucien Le Moine Nuits St. Georges Terres Blanches 89-91
(just a bit of malic acidity remaining) Pineapple, crushed rocks and smoky oak on the nose. Suave and silky but very fresh, thanks to firm acidity, a pronounced iodiney minerality and a sexy element of five spice powder. Finishes stony, fresh and firm, with lingering notes of minerals and fresh herbs. This boasts excellent energy for the year. A very interesting cuvee
2006 Lucien Le Moine Chassagne Montrachet Grands Ruchottes 90-93
(14+% alcohol) Captivating aromas of flowers, stone, ginger and quinine. Sweet, silky and rich, with lovely inner-mouth energy and a felicitous sugar/acid balance. Vibrant flavors of white flowers, citrus fruits and quinine. A big but lively wine with excellent length. Considering that there's still a bit of sugar and malic acid yet to be fermented, this is awfully tasty.
2006 Lucien Le Moine Chassagne Montrachet Caillerets 90-93
(not quite finished fermenting its sugar or malic acid) Peach, stone and clove on the nose. Sweet, fat and exotic for 2006 in this cellar, with flavors of pineapple, lichee and spice. Not yet elegant in the middle palate, and in need of refining, but the rich finish is fine-grained, subtle and long.
2006 Lucien Le Moine Meursault Genevrieres 91-94
(still a few grams of sugar remaining) Musky, reduced aromas of lemon, lime, ginger, spices and nuts; already highly complex. Then intensely flavored, deep and sappy, with superb mineral grip and a tactile saline element. This boasts wonderful inner-palate tension for the vintage. Finishes with a palate-dusting impression of extract. Saouma does more lees stirring with this wine.
2006 Lucien Le Moine Meursault Perrieres 92-95
(14.5% alcohol) Knockout nose combines white peach, lemon and dusty stone. Very rich, sweet (still a bit of r.s.?), generous and open, but the combination of firm minerality and brisk citrus peel flavors gives this outstanding life in the mouth. A real high-wire act, and very long and vibrant on the aftertaste.
2006 Lucien Le Moine Puligny Montrachet Folatieres 91-94
(at the end of its fermentation) Reticent, pure aromas of apple and white flowers. Juicy, sharply delineated and tight, with impressive energy to its flavors of stone fruits, flowers and hazelnut oil. This boasts a distinctly oily quality but has the sheer verve to support it. A very classy, consistent, fruit-driven wine with terrific length.
2006 Lucien Le Moine Corton Blanc 91-94
(finished; from an east-facing parcel that contains a bit of pinot blanc) Pure, spicy aromas of apple, fresh apricot, wild mint and talc. Sweet on entry, then extremely young and impressively intense, with a youthful bitterness to its tactile crushed stone flavor. For all its dustiness, this boasts a lovely light touch. Fascinating wine in the making.
2006 Lucien Le Moine Corton Charlemagne 92-95
(finished) Crushed stone, nut oil and a bit of oak on the nose, along with the metallic quality sometimes found in this grand cru (Saouma calls it "the cold side of rocky"). At once rich and gripping, with very unevolved flavors of lemon and crushed rock. Pure, wiry and extremely long: this will need a good seven or eight years of bottle aging to express itself.
2006 Lucien Le Moine Batard Montrachet 91-95
(13.8% alcohol, with a bit of sugar yet to finish) Superripe, slightly high-toned aromas of pineapple, peach nectar and clove, plus a whiff of mocha. Superconcentrated, velvety and sweet, showing more sheer fruit extract today than real definition and grip. A huge but somewhat monolithic wine with very strong material. Hard to assess today with confidence; Saouma believes that this will get iodiney and mineral by the end of its elevage
2005 Lucien Le Moine Meursault Genevrieres 92-94
($111; tasted from tank) Spiced apple, gingerbread and white pepper on the nose. Minerally and penetrating, with strong acidity but less early fruitiness than the 2005. This began with slightly oxidative aromas but grew fresher with air, revealing elements of powdered stone, white pepper and menthol, and a very long, dry, saline finish with terrific cut. "The worst thing to do with the 2005 whites was to speed up the wines and bottle them early," noted Saouma.
2005 Lucien Le Moine Corton Blanc 94
($145-$155; bottled three weeks prior to my visit) Aromas of smoke, oatmeal and nutmeg, with more exotic, viognier-like apricot. Hugely rich but high in acidity and a bit youthfully disjointed. The peach and apricot flavors are leavened by a powerful stony quality that gives penetration to the middle palate. The long, slowly building finish features a dusty, saline quality. This will need time.
2005 Lucien Le Moine Corton Charlemagne 95
($175; bottled in March of '07) Very fresh aromas of cold steel and menthol; distinctly medicinal in the context of the year. Then wonderfully full but with superb energy, combining flavors of lemon, lime, ginger and crushed rock. The minerality here is almost painful. A compellingly taut wine with great palate-staining length and cut.
2005 Lucien Le Moine Batard Montrachet 93-95
($415-$437; tasted from tank; very late malolactic fermentation) Reticent steely aromas of crushed stone, clove and honey. Offers a sweet impression on entry, then an explosively spicy, tangy, honeyed character and a texture just this side of viscous. A highly concentrated, powerful wine with a tactile, dusty texture giving it an almost solid impression. Finishes virile and very long, with a note of marzipan. More soil than primary fruit showing today. Saouma noted that most of his 2005s finished with between 2.5 and 3 grams of residual sugar. "Acid levels were high in 2005, and it was necessary to wait until the acids went down before harvesting," he explained. "Today the richness of the '05s is hiding their very strong acidity. People talk about the greatness of the 2005 reds, but we had the same conditions for the whites."
2005 Lucien Le Moine Montrachet 94-97
($525-$591; the malo finished in August of '06, and the sugar fermentation lingered until the second winter) Reserved but nuanced nose combines menthol, white pepper, minerals, clove, iodine and anise. Hugely rich, tactile and sweet, with a black hole of spicy fruit. This has moderate alcohol of 13.2% but comes across as fully ripe. Less open than the Batard but also finer-grained. Like an essence in the mouth. Perhaps most impressive today on the back end, which features a sappy, chewy texture; building, soil-driven flavors of licorice and spice; and great lift. Wow