Our Private Sales team have gone out to the vineyards of Burgundy, to taste the Burgundy 2022 wines ahead of the next en primeur campaign. On their second day, they visit Domaine Odoul-Coquard, Domaine Michel Lafarge and Domaine de Bellene…
“The 2022 vintage seems tailor made for producing joyful red Burgundy with plenty of character”
We set out from Beaune under a grey, drizzly sky. Thankfully, the team morale in our 7-seater people carrier was high. The success of the previous day’s tastings and the pain au chocolates for breakfast have helped.
We headed North for our first appointment of the day at Domaine Odoul-Coquard in the village of Morey-Saint-Denis. The gentle slopes of the Côte D’Or are shrouded in a low-lying fog as we pass them by. It’s all very picturesque. Yellow leaved vineyards are just gently easing themselves into Autumn.
As we pull into the winery, Sebastien Odoul greets us with a cheery smile. Despite the weather, the ex-rugby player is out in just a tee-shirt. Once we get settled and start tasting, it’s clear, he has a lot to be pleased about.
A thoughtful vigneron, recent years have seen Sebastien move to picking his vineyards slightly earlier to ensure freshness and delicacy, without sacrificing that sense of generosity and what we in the wine trade ambiguously refer to as, “midpalate”. In 2022 he has hit the absolute sweet spot. The wines are already a great pleasure to taste, with a natural charm that is underscored by their lack of makeup.
The 2022 vintage seems tailor made for producing joyful red Burgundy with plenty of character: expressive right out of the gate. As Sebastien says, “the real pinot noir that we love”. To pick out just one highlight from Odoul-Coquard, Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Argillats – on the Vosne side of the appellation and produced from mostly 70-year-old vines – is a delight. And if you can get your hands on the Gevrey Combottes…
Volnay is our next stop: Domaine Michel Lafarge (vineyards pictured top). We taste with the maestro, Frédéric Lafarge, who stresses the classical quality of this 2022 vintage. Each one of his family’s great Volnay 1er Cru Vineyards expresses itself in textbook fashion and does so at moderate alcohol level and with brilliant freshness. Tasting in their 13th century cellar, right in the heart of the village, gives a sense of the history imbued in these wines. Lafarge are one of the great reference points for perfectly balanced Pinot Noir.
2021 was an extremely difficult vintage for the Côte de Beaune, and Volnay was particularly badly hit with frosts. So bad in fact, that all the Lafarge 1er cru wines had to be blended into one bottling – there was so little of them produced. To find they have rebounded so strongly in 2022 (and with another very promising vintage in 2023!) is no surprise, but great to see.
Do not miss the Lafarge project in Beaujolais, which has only been in production since 2014. Working with very old vines of Gamay, in phenomenally well-located vineyards, worked by hand and ploughed by horse, these wines are treated like top Volnay, and have distinct “Pinoté” character. Allocations of their top 1er Crus are strictly limited. These Beaujolais Cru are not.
We concluded the day with a hugely informative tasting at Domaine de Bellene with the Potels – Nicolas and his son, Alphonse. Few people in Burgundy have the depth of knowledge, relationships, and total regional oversight that Nico has. He dubs 2022 a “lucky vintage”. Finding some similarly with ‘09 for the whites, and maybe ’10 for the reds. But more than that, he believes the wines are reflective of the best aspects of the modern era of Burgundy.
Nico further explains, the natural power and concentration of the vintage’s wines means that they often do not need excessive oak – they are already weighty enough. While the rich and expressive fruit sometimes masks what serious and structured wines actually lurk beneath. Laboratory analysis is all well and good, but the key is to work by taste. Few are more skilled or experienced than Potel.
A confident set of Domaine wines this year was led (for me) by the Beaune Hommage, Nuits-Saint-Georges Aux Chaignots and the Meursault Les Forges. While on the Maison side, the Gevrey Lavaut Saint Jacques makes a welcome return – with the contract for fruit re-established with the previous source. From the Grand Crus – Grands Echezeaux is once again a masterclass of finesse, while on the whites, the Corton Charlemagne is a gorgeously stony powerhouse of a wine. Chapeau!