Stephen Tanzer’s March – April 2007 issue

By Stephen Tanzer

« Two thousand five was a year to put a lot of lees in the barrel, » summarized Mounir Saouma. « The wines needed the polysaccharides from the lees to balance their strong tannins. It was a year not to rack and not to sulfur. It was a year to age the wines with a lot of oxygenating lees so that the wines could open by themselves. » Still, Saouma stirred the lees monthly until the end of the malolactic fermentations. Saouma always makes a point to offer at least two different crus from favored villages-in white as well as red-and he told me that he would much rather his customers taste his wines from Vosne-Romanee side by side, for example, than for them to compare his Bonnes-Mares to another producer’s Bonnes-Mares in a competitive tasting. After all, his ultimate objective is simple: « To produce typical wines, without defects, that showcase their sites. » To that end, he uses only barrels made from tight-grained Jupilles oak (from a forest between the Loire Valley and Normandy), which he considers to be « neutral. » Of course, the Lucien Le Moine wines tend to drip early sex appeal owing to their sheer sweetness, so I would not bet against them in blind tastings. These 2005s, though, have been evolving slowly in barrel and appear to be structured for long life in bottle. (Vintus, New York, NY; Atherton Wine Imports, Atherton, CA)

2005 Lucien Le Moine Volnay Caillerets


Medium red. Pretty aromas of red raspberry and white truffle, with a whiff of reduction. Juicy, spicy and perfumed in the mouth, with primary red berry flavors that reminded me of Chambolle. Nicely delineated, intense and quite fine. This was the first sample I tasted on my visit here, and it shocked me to attention.

2005 Lucien Le Moine Pommard Les Epenots


Good deep red. Quite reduced following the recent (September) end to the malolactic fermentation, hinting at musky red berries and chocolate. Broad, dense and backward, with reduced flavors of black raspberry and smoke. This very young wine’s strong tannic spine is accompanied by an impressive whiplash of flavor on the back.

2005 Lucien Le Moine Pommard Les Grands Epenots


Good red-ruby. Perfumed aromas of black and red cherry lifted by flowers. Supple in the mouth but focused and tangy, with lovely verve to the black raspberry and violet flavors. The tannins here are classier and finer-grained than those of the Epenots.

2005 Lucien Le Moine Nuits Saint Georges Les Vaucrains


(just finished its malo) Red-ruby. Black fruits, licorice and bitter chocolate on the nose, along with a violety whiff of reduction. Quite tight and subdued, conveying an impression of firm acidity. Rather withdrawn blackberry and blueberry flavors still show a faint malic edge, as well as a leesy nuance. Hard to taste today: am I underrating this? (The densely packed Les Saint-Georges had not yet finished its malo and was impossible to taste; this wine is sure to get an extended elevage

2005 Lucien Le Moine Gevrey Chambertin Les Cazetiers


Good bright, deep red. Pretty aromas of raspberry, maraschino cherry and minerals; I find this rather Chambolle-like in its tangy perfume. Supple and precise but juicy and tight; not a big wine but dusty with extract. Finishes with firm tannins and excellent persistence.

2005 Lucien Le Moine Gevrey Chambertin Lavaux Saint Jacques


Red-ruby. Wild aromas of raspberry, coffee, game and animal fur. Suave, smooth and mouthfilling, with dark fruit flavors complicated by violet and game; this is a step up over the foregoing samples in concentration and breadth. The wild character carries through on the palate. Finishes with palate-staining length.

2005 Lucien Le Moine Chambolle Musigny Les Charmes


(this was vinified with a portion of its stems and just finished its secondary fermentation) Good red-ruby. Musky aromas of raspberry, minerals and rose petal. Sappy, minerally and bright, with sneaky density of texture and a lightly saline character without any excess weight. Mounir Saouma noted that the line of clay that runs through Clos Vougeot also crops up here. Most wines from Chambolle needed a gentle extraction in 2005, he volunteered.

2005 Lucien Le Moine Chambolle Musigny Haut Doix


Good medium-deep red. Cherry candy and minerals on the rather musky nose; smells like boiled sweets. Then densely packed if less detailed than the Charmes, with distinctly darker flavors of blackberry, violet and bitter chocolate. This has a Musigny-like reserve and finishes quite firm.

2005 Lucien Le Moine Chambolle Musigny Les Amoureuses


Good medium-deep red. Smoky raspberry, minerals and a whiff of wet stone on the nose. Fat, dense and sweet; really saturates the palate. Rather large-scaled for Amoureuses but this is less fully formed today than the Charmes and in need of further elevage The density and length are impressive, though.

2005 Lucien Le Moine Vosne Romanee Les Suchots


Good red-ruby. Musky black cherry, bitter chocolate and minerals on the slightly medicinal, nuanced nose. Hugely rich and broad in the mouth, but with superb lift of sappy minerals and blood orange to the black fruit and mineral flavors. A wine of grand cru depth and complexity. This vineyard is magic in 2005, and this is certainly one of the best examples. (The Malconsorts had just been stirred, and was much too disturbed to rate.)

2005 Lucien Le Moine Clos St Denis


Good medium-deep red. Very sexy nose dominated by violet and dried rose, with a note of meaty reduction. Dense, sweet and thick; offers unusual volume for a young Clos Saint-Denis. But this impressively broad-shouldered wine finishes with terrific grip, vibrant acids and outstanding subtle persistence.

2005 Lucien Le Moine Clos de la Roche


Good full red. Smoked meat, animal fur, minerals and crushed rock on the reticent nose. Large-scaled and compellingly sweet, with terrific breadth to its black fruit and mocha flavors. Finishes very long, with smoke and iron notes. If you’re ever tempted to try this one in its youth, give it a lot of time in a decanter.

2005 Lucien Le Moine Clos Vougeot


Bright red-ruby. Lovely floral lift to the perfumed, precise aromas of cherry and blood orange. Almost painfully concentrated, with the wine’s superb sweetness and vibrant acids currently battling to a draw. Powerful underlying minerality contributes to the overall impression of sappiness and verve. This needs further elevage and is likely to require at least six or eight years of bottle aging.

2005 Lucien Le Moine Mazis Chambertin


Good red-ruby. Highly perfumed nose offers raspberry, redcurrant, blood orange and superb mineral lift. Vibrant and penetrating on the palate, with terrific cut and precision to the intense fruit and mineral flavors; in fact, this is uncommonly fruity for a young Mazis. Finishes with superb grip and length.

2005 Lucien Le Moine Chambertin Clos de Beze


Full ruby-red. Reticent, pure aromas of black cherry and flowers. Tightly wound and sharply delineated, with black fruit and mineral flavors. Very penetrating but unforthcoming today; this will need extended bottle aging to unwind. Very long on the aftertaste, but hard to taste now.

2005 Lucien Le Moine Bonnes Mares


Red-ruby. Wild dark berries, smoked meat, mocha and wild herbs on the vibrant nose. Huge, lush and sweet, as deep as it is wide. Brooding earthy low notes are balanced by superb violet lift. A Bonnes-Mares of great palate-saturating persistence. A fabulous showing today, and built for a long life in bottle.

2005 Lucien Le Moine Echezeaux


Red-ruby. Full-blown, somewhat sauvage nose offers small wild red berries, leather, mocha and smoked meat. Round, broad and compellingly soft and sweet for young Echezeaux, with distinctly wild flavors of red cherry and leather. This has a viscosity of texture that should give it relatively early appeal in the context of these grand crus.

2005 Lucien Le Moine Grands Echezeaux


Good red-ruby. Much higher-pitched on the nose than the Echezeaux, hinting at crushed stone and blood orange. Then sweet, juicy and quite tightly wound in the mouth, a bit youthfully clenched and imploded. Very pure, classy wine with superb intensity of flavor and very fine-grained tannins. This could hardly be more different in style from the Echezeaux.

2005 Lucien Le Moine Romanee Saint Vivant


Bright ruby-red. Wild, leesy aromas of black raspberry, blackberry, graphite, minerals and musky earth. The palate offers incredible sweetness and palate-saturating texture, with wonderful breadth to the flavors of purple fruits, violet and minerals. This mounts inexorably on the back half, suffusing the mouth with perfume on the endless finish. A knockout.

2005 Lucien Le Moine Richebourg


Good full ruby-red. Reserved, brooding aromas of creme de cassis, chocolate, smoked meat and roasted nuts. Then pure, silky and powerful; an intense essence of pinot. Offers great power and verve in the middle, but this is most impressive today on the brooding, explosive back end, which features mounting dark berry, chocolate and mineral flavors of incredible persistence and subtlety. What a treat it would be to return to this and the RSV in ten years. In 2005, Saouma purchased a single barrel of Richebourg from a new supplier, at twice the price he paid for Richebourg the previous year, and he told me he felt privileged to have a barrel like this.

2004 Lucien Le Moine Volnay Caillerets Locate the Wine


($75) Good bright, deep red. Blackberry aroma lifted by a peppery nuance. Sweet and lush in the mouth, with the red fruit flavors perked up by a peppery nuance. Finishes broad, sweet, long and aromatic, with a hint of peppery restraint.

2004 Lucien Le Moine Chambolle Musigny Les Charmes


($95-$105) Good deep red-ruby color. Raspberry and minerals on the nose. Lush and sweet, with lovely inner-mouth perfume to the spicy red berry and rooty cherry cola flavors. A floral delicacy contributes to the impression of detail and definition here. Finishes persistent and gripping, with a spicy perfume.

2004 Lucien Le Moine Chambolle Musigny Les Amoureuses Locate the Wine


($130-$150) Deep red-ruby. Dark raspberry and sassafras aromas. Fairly large-scaled and broad but with a restrained sweetness. Rich and supple but initially lacking the lift and detail of the Charmes. With air, though, this showed aromas and flavors of blackberry, violet and minerals and a building sweetness. The substantial but fine tannins suggest that this rich, creamy wine will benefit from five or six years of cellaring.

2004 Lucien Le Moine Echezeaux


($100-$140) Deep, bright red-ruby. Primary aromas of red cherry, violet, dried rose and minerals. Juicy, scented and tactile, with very good density and focus to the red fruit and mineral flavors. Pliant, broad and rich, finishing with substantial but thoroughly ripe tannins. A lovely example of this grand cru.

2004 Lucien Le Moine Gevrey Chambertin Les Cazetiers Locate the Wine


($80-$94) Bright, full red. Sexy oak complements aromas of red cherry, rose petal, game and underbrush. Rich, fleshy and suave, with a sappy quality to the flavors of redcurrant, briary raspberry and dried rose. Not at all overly sweet. This very vibrant wine communicates a strong impression of soil. Finishes with spicy, ripe tannins.

2004 Lucien Le Moine Clos Vougeot


($125-$180) Good medium-deep red. Red cherry, raspberry and flowers on the nose. Sweet and succulent if a bit reduced and youthfully clenched. This opened nicely to reveal very good flesh and density, a rather pliant texture and dominant flavors of redcurrant and darker berries. Finishes very long, with silky, fine tannins.

2004 Lucien Le Moine Mazis Chambertin


($165-$190) Deep red. Black cherry and minerals dominate the nose. Sweet, lush and spicy, with penetrating but surprisingly accessible fruit flavors of dark cherry, blackberry, minerals and spices lifted by the new oak component. There’s an exotic character to this wine but plenty of underlying power. Not at all a gamey style of Mazis.

2004 Lucien Le Moine Chambertin Clos de Beze Locate the Wine


($190-$209) Good dark red. Ineffable, noble aromas and flavors of raspberry, red cherry, violet, white pepper and minerals. Creamy-sweet and vibrant, with an uncanny suavity of texture and outstanding inner-mouth aromatic character. This has the energy of the vintage in spades. Finishes very long, with extremely fine tannins.

2004 Lucien Le Moine Bonnes Mares


($180-$199) Deep red-ruby. Knockout nose combines cherry, dried flowers and sappy brown spices. Supersweet and concentrated, with outstanding depth and thrust to the primary berry, mineral and spice flavors. Boasts superb precision; great perfume and sweetness; and a palate-saturating finish I rarely found in this vintage. Very Bonnes-Mares, almost deceptively easy to taste today.

2004 Lucien Le Moine Richebourg


($475) Deep, bright red-ruby. Vibrant aromas of dark raspberry, violet, licorice and minerals. Thick but sappy, with superb density and a saline quality that leavens its sweet berry, mineral and floral flavors. This fills the mouth like few wines do in this vintage, but there’s no impression of excess weight. Finishes with spherical, tongue-dusting tannins and superb lingering sweetness.