STEEN ÖHMAN 2021
Hand-destemming grapes bunch by bunch – or a variation on this technique – is being tested and implemented more frequently by some of Burgundy’s winemakers.
Domaine Moron-Garcia, headed by Pierre-Oliver Garcia, was presumably the first to practice « baie par baie » (berry by berry) destemming in many of the estate’s wines, but other are following, or were even co-innovators.
Domaine Duroché uses the technique in its Griottes-Chambertin and new Le Chambertin cuvee. Domaine Marchand-Tawse hand-destems part of its Musigny. Thibault Liger-Belair and Mme. Bize-Leroy employ it to a greater or lesser extend. More practitioners could be mentioned, but this is just to illustrate the trend.
And the different names and methods for this technique are admittedly somewhat confusing. I try to use the names that I know, and the ones used by the vigneron in question. This is not a competition that I can judge… May the best wines win!
In Vosne-Romanee, Domaine Jean-Pierre Guyon is taking a step forward by using the technique, which Jean-Pierre calls “tri en nuage” (cloud sorting). This was almost fully implemented in the estate’s portfolio in the 2020 vintage.
The hand destemming of grapes is not identical at all
domaines; there are large variations in the share of handdestemmed berries among the individual cuvees. Some only take the main and middle stem of the cluster while others leave the pedicels.
Some wines have 15% hand-destemmed clusters, others are 100% grape caviar – meaning single, undamaged berries that are removed from their stems by hand.
Furthermore, there are vinification differences among the estates, so there is wide latitude among the interpretations of the technique.
Guyon: 100% whole cluster and low sulphur
Jean-Pierre Guyon runs a medium-sized domaine in Vosne located on the D974. The estate has been organically certified since 2012, and Jean-Pierre is clearly both an inventive and a thoughtful vigneron.
« To manage this process, we take pains to accompany the grapes, intervening as little as possible in their transformation into wine. In tank after tank, the bunches of grapes are piled up carefully, because we work with 100% whole bunches and without the addition of sulphur. The grapes we work with are healthy, wholesome, and alive. We prepare a pied de cuve (starter) from each plot to start the alcoholic fermentation off rapidly. »
Jean-Pierre Guyon has produced a stunning range of 2020s, the best vintage from this estate so far, based on my admittedly limited tastings of other vintages. They are strikingly perfumed, sumptuous, and with a deep, detailed scent of roses. There was also magnificent work done by the Tonnellerie Rousseau, which developed a discreet toast for Guyon’s barrels.
In 2020, Guyon vinified his wines with the “tri en nuage”technique. The whole clusters were cut up by hand, removing the central stems of each bunch while leaving – as I understand it – the pedicels, the very small stalks that hold each individual grape.
The result is an otherworldly perfume in the wines which takes them to higher levels of hedonistic joy. I have no doubt its basis is to be found in the special destemming.
I tasted the 2020s at Domaine Jean-Pierre Guyon, a somewhat early sample to be sure. However, the wines have some evident qualities, and the modified vinification is farther along in 2020. The sulphur levels in the Guyon wines are very low, and will, for the ’20s, be below 10mg/l total – in other words, undetectable. So, to the notes!
- Bourgogne 2020
A rich, generous nose – a bit vin de soif – with seductive notes of cherries, strawberries, and raspberries. Quite velvety and silky, this is drinking tremendously and will continue to do so over the next 3-5 years. In this cuvee there is 15% “tri en nuage,” and no new oak.
(Drink from 2021) – Good – (86-87p) – Tasted 15/03/2021
- Chorey-lès-Beaune 2020
Chorey-les-Beaune is more and more on consumers’ radar, and I find that many of these wines offer very good value. Guyon has embraced the terroir and made a rich and quite expansive wine with an open, sensual nose. With good depth, as is found in many Choreys, this also shows fine acidity. A vin de soif? Why not! Again, 15% “tri en nuage” and no new oak.
(Drink from 2021) – Good – (87p) – Tasted 15/03/2021
- Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er cru Les Peuillets 2020
This is showing a delightful bouquet of raspberries, very lively, with delicate, energetic fruit, accommodating and vivid. With 50% new oak, it is perhaps best to wait a couple of years before quaffing. Relatively complex, this shows variants of strawberries and even an orange note to complete the picture. I know – I have to wait! In this cuvee, 100% “tri en nuage.”
(Drink from 2025) – Very Good – (87-89p) – Tasted 15/03/2021
- Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Herbues 2020
Herbues is the first of the wines that reveals the true baie-par-baie character, meaning an unfolding of the delicate floral aromas resulting from the fermentation of whole, hand-destemmed grapes. The rosaceous delicacy is comparable with what I have found in the Moron-Garcia wines, and this is perhaps even further enhanced by the omission of sulphur. This has an explosion of spices and perfume; I adore Herbues. In this cuvee, 15% “tri en nuage” and 50% new oak.
(Drink from 2027) – Fine – (90-92p) – Tasted 15/03/2021
- Gevrey-Chambertin Les Platières 2020
This is more restrained, and a bit cruder. It’s vivid and lively, but does not truly reveal the hand-destemmed scents and flavours. This does nevertheless have notes of violets and peony – and wood; 50% new oak is used. I am wondering why this is not unfolding in my glass, but I anticipate a lovely wine eventually from the bottom of the Lavaut alluvial fan. In this cuvee, 15% “tri en nuage.”
(Drink from 2027) – Very Good – (89-90p) – Tasted 15/03/2021
- Vosne-Romanée 2020
Home sweet Vosne! This is very perfumed, exploding with pink and deep red roses. Elegant and quite cool, showing the strong side of the 2020 vintage, it is delicate and refined and has a – pardon my French – fan-f******- tastic bouquet. Coming from the lieux-dits Les Chalandins and Hautes Maizières, this has deep red fruit and is intense, yet rather light-footed structurally. In this cuvee, 15% “tri en nuage” and 35% new oak.
(Drink from 2028) – Fine – (91-92p) – Tasted 15/03/2021
- Vosne Les Charmes de Mazières 2020
This is a very special wine, made from a selection of individual vines older than 60 years in Hautes Maizières. There’s 50% new oak, but it is discreet. Very delicate, this shows cool raspberries and forest strawberries. The bouquet is otherworldly, with deep red roses and hints of violets and peonies. What a beauty in its delicacy and refinement! In this cuvee, 100% “tri en nuage.”
(Drink from 2030) – Fine++ – (93p) – Tasted 15/03/2021
- Vosne-Romanée 1er cru Les Brûlées 2020
This is a true beauty, with smoky notes of Vosne spices and red fruit. It has perfumed aromas of raspberries, cherries, and boysenberries, and the 100% new oak leaves very little discernible expression aside from a minor dryness on the finish, which could well be slight reduction also. The nose is graced by pink and red roses – sexy. In this cuvee, 100% “tri en nuage.”
(Drink from 2032) – Very Fine – (93-94p) – Tasted 15/03/2021
- Vosne-Romanée 1er cru En Orveaux 2020
En Orveaux is a beautiful vineyard sadly overlooked by many Burgundy fans. The Cathiard version is often one of the most delicate wines in his portfolio. This is also the case with the Guyon line-up: an explosion of roses – deep pink and deep red – with a gorgeous scent of late spring beauty. In this cuvee, 100% “tri en nuage” and new oak. Adorable!
(Drink from 2030) – Very Fine+ – (94-95p) – Tasted 15/03/2021
- Clos Vougeot 2020
Not revealing itself fully bouquet-wise, although some white roses grace the nose, along with red and dark berry fruit. Currently, this is more serious than the 2019. Lovely red cherries and blackberries combine with magnificent depth and light-footedness despite the intense density of the vintage. It is from a plot below the chateau just above the de Montille parcel. Old vines – 80 years – give a silky touch, and also very fine structure. In this cuvee, 15% “tri en nuage” with 80% new oak.
(Drink from 2032) – Very Fine+ – (94-95p) – Tasted 15/03/2021
- Échezeaux 2020
The Echezeaux, in contrast, is showing all its complexity. Gorgeous scents of pink and white roses, violets, even lilacs – a veritable flower garden within the Echezeaux vineyard, coming from the En Orveaux plot just above the Clos de Vougeot castle. This is delicate and intense, with a deep mineral note. What a fantastic bouquet! In this cuvee, 100% “tri en nuage” and new oak.
(Drink from 2032) – Outstanding – (95-96p) – Tasted 15/03/2021
More about these “tri en nuage” wines later … when we know more …. The whites from Jean-Pierre Guyon are also interesting, but not a part of the destemming “experiment”.
- Coteaux Bourguignons 2020
This is one third pinot blanc and the rest chardonnay, from the Glapigny vineyard below Vosne-Romanee. Honestly, this grumpy old man has limited enthusiasm for this wine. It’s good, even quite enjoyable, but – and there is a but – it does not seduce me and bring out my enthusiasm or even interest. That said, I expect it will evolve after some time in the bottle. I shall taste it again.
(Drink from 2021) – Good – (85-86p) – Tasted 15/03/2021
- Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Argillats 2020
This is another story: vivid and very lively from the cool Les Argillats vineyard. It’s from the village part at the rear of the NSG appellation near Les Creux Fraîche-Eau (a new name in my book, and possibly also in yours). It should be mentioned that Aux Thorey also has a village part in this section of Nuits. Easy? Never! The Argillats has a lovely saline note, with classic pear and vivid vivacity – a cool customer. This would be ideal with classic white fish dishes, although with a moderate sauce richness-wise.
(Drink from 2027) – Very Good – (88-89p) – Tasted 15/03/2021
- Morey-Saint-Denis La Bidaude 2020
La Bidaude – what a name! It is above Clos de Lambray, and populated by chardonnay. This is a mineral, quite refined white from high on the slope with some reduction, yet quite an intense bouquet. I prefer the NSG for its salinity and the cool acidity. I need more time with the MSD…
(Drink from 2028) – Very Good – (88-89p) – Tasted 15/03/2021
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