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There's nothing like received wisdom. Older wine books will tell us some hoary truths, which turn out to be at best dated, and often untrue. If many basic wine texts are to be believed, a monk invented bubbles, Muscadet doesn't age, and Nuits St. Georges is a sturdy, verging on coarse, wine short on charm and long on fierce tannins. And while that may have been the case thirty, forty, or even fifty years ago, many of today's growers' wines belie this reputation, fashioning wines with soaring aromatics, detailed minerality, and supple, albeit firmer structure. And while its neighbors in the big-name Côte de Nuits have become quite expensive, there's still great relative value to be had in Nuits St. Georges.
One of our favorite growers in Nuits St. Georges is Domaine Jean Chauvenet, whose wines are soulful, elegant, and precise. Christophe Drag, son-in-law of the late Jean Chauvenet, farms 9.5 hectares of old vines across the village. The grapes are 100% de-stemmed, there is a brief cold soak, and approximately three weeks cuvaison before the wines are put into barrel. There they age for approximately 18 months before being bottled unfiltered and unfined. The wines are perfumed, mineral, and show a great deal of finesse and style, rather than the brute force and power for which Nuits St. Georges is often known. The 2014 premier crus and villages wines we are offering today combine terroir specificity, pure fruit, impeccable balance, and are not to be missed. Though perhaps overshadowed by the flamboyant 2015 vintage, these wines will age effortlessly and make for excellent drinking in the years to come. John McIlwain
From vines averaging 45 years-old, located on the northern end of the village in Aux Allots and Aux St. Jacques. The 2014 Nuits St. Georges is an excellent villages wine that knits the pure fruit of the 2014 vintage with a savory sense of minerality. The fragrant nose offers aromas of wild blackberry, black cherry, and red currant, with hints of orange oil and wood smoke. On the palate the beautifully pure pinot fruit is underlain by pungent mineral and soil notes giving way to firm, ripe tannins and sauvage notes of game and spice on a long, mouth-filling, velvety finish. This has the fruit to enjoy in the near term, but also has the bones to age for 10-15 years. A wonderful villages from a sensational vintage at Chauvenet! John McIlwain
From .23 hectare of vines dating back to 1948 between the parcels farmed by Gouges and Regis Forey. Les Perrières is located high on the slope between Les Poulettes and Les Poirets. As Clive Coates has noted, somewhat atypically for Nuits St. Georges, the wines from this climat are more floral and feminine, though certainly displaying great minerality. The shallow soil contains many stones, which retain heat and Christophe Drag says this is the first vineyard harvested after the Bourgogne. Perennially one of my favorite wines from Chauvenet (and the village, as a whole) the 2014 Les Perrières is effusively floral with cherry blossoms and white flowers giving way to bright, pure cherry aromas with notes of spice box and wet stone. In the mouth it shows pretty wild cherry flavors, herbs, and minerals on a medium-bodied, but fine, palate with good sap and excellent energy following through on the succulent, persistent, dancing finish. This is a beautiful Les Perrières and should age effortlessly. John McIlwain
From a .41 hectare parcel planted in 1940 and 1984. Les Vaucrains is situated upslope of the premier crus Les St. Georges and Les Cailles in the middle portion of Nuits St. Georges. The soils are a blend of brown clay, limestone, sand, and rock producing vigorous, powerful, and elegant wines of great ageablity. Vigneron Christoph Drag says of the climat, “the fat clays make it hard to work the earth.” Domaine Chauvenet’s 2014 Vaucrains has a darker robe than Les Perrières. The nose is effusive, offering a kaleidoscopic mélange of black fruit aromas, cassis, brown spices, game and iron; over time notes of crushed blackberry, grilled meat, and wet stone emerge. On the palate the wine is medium-bodied and supple, offering flavors of ripe blackberry, Italian plum, iodine, game, and wood smoke on a long, layered, and mouth-watering finish. There is plenty of power and intensity here, without a sense of weight; deft acidity offers a sense of lift and freshness. This is a beautiful and complex Vaucrains and exciting wine in the making, with a sensational interplay of pure, ripe fruit and savory minerality. While one could enjoy this now, it has the structure and balance to age harmoniously for years. John McIlwain