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Most readers will be aware that 2014 is simply a wonderful vintage at the best addresses. It was very quickly established as one of the great white harvests, and now that the wines of the top producers are being released, we are all now realising the wonderful quality of the reds. At a Domaine like this, which regularly outperforms the vintage, you can expect something special. In short, Laurent Ponsot and his team have delivered a killer set of wines from 2014. As you would rightly expect from one of Burgundy’s most iconic growers, the purity, refinement and vineyard identity of these 2014s is something to behold.

While the upcoming 2015s from this Domaine are heroic, the 2014s are wonderfully layered and seductive. They will live a long time but should drink far earlier then the next release.

The Vintage

In terms of the vintage, Ponsot started picking in the whites on the 18th September, followed by the red harvest, which commenced on the 23rdand progressed into the first week of October.  While the yields were a little healthier than 2013, volumes did not exceed 25 hl/ha – the ‘normal’ levels at this low cropping Domaine. In terms of the winemaking, there are no changes to previous years. For more information our regular Ponsot ‘dossier’ can now be accessed online. It is worth repeating, however, that these wines have zero additions at all, unless Ponsot feels a touch of S02 is necessary he does not add any and there is zero new oak. Because of the low/no sulphur approach, all the wines necessitate storage in appropriate, temperature controlled environments. But then again, that really goes for all quality wines and in particular Burgundy, which suffers more than most wines styles when the cellaring is poor.

This year we have been fortunate to receive, for the first time, a small parcel of Ponsot’s Chapelle-Chambertin as well as a micro parcel of the Domaine’s almost mythical Clos-Saint-Denis. As you may recall, Ponsot’s Gevrey-Chambertin villages parcel was replanted after the 2012 vintage, so we will not be seeing the Cuvée de l’Abeille for some time.  Regardless, you can buy any of the wines below with total confidence. While the upcoming 2015s from this Domaine are heroic, the 2014s are wonderfully layered and seductive. They will live a long time but should drink far earlier then the next release.

Changes Ahead at Domaine Ponsot

As many of you will already know, Laurent Ponsot has left the building, so to speak, in order to start his own eponymous Estate. Obviously, with this having only occurred earlier this year, this news has no bearing on today’s offer. Laurent also oversaw the two subsequent releases we will offer down the track, from the vintages of 2015 and 2016.

“It was an excellent, occasionally spellbinding set of 2014s from Ponsot, the seemingly never-ending array of Grand Crus achieving great heights, the highlights being the Clos de la Roche Très Vieilles Vignes and a wonderful Chapelle-Chambertin.” Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

The short story is that Laurent had planned to retire from his role as régisseur of Domaine Ponsot in 2020. For private reasons, he agreed with the family to bring this date forward. Everything at the Domaine has, and will, remain as is – the vision, the team, the dedication etc. – with Laurent’s sister, Rose-Marie Ponsot (who has been co-managing the estate since 1997) stepping in as the new ‘face’ of the Domaine. Laurent remains a part owner and is assisting with the transition away from his leadership. The only immediate change I am aware of is the new appointment of an export manager to provide physical support to the Domaine’s overseas clients. For his part, Laurent has not retired. Instead, he has gone on to set up a new estate with his son, Clément. Based in Gilly-les-Cîteaux, close to Vougeot. The first wines from ‘Laurent Ponsot’, as the entity will be known, will be from the 2015 vintage, focusing on Côte de Nuits’ reds (some of which will come across from vineyards that were historically offered by Domaine Ponsot) and Meursault whites. Exciting times—surely two Ponsots are better than one! More details will be forthcoming with subsequent offers.

“Laurent has the easy smile of someone who is entirely comfortable with his approach and the wines that he makes – and he makes some of the best wines in Burgundy.” Bill Nanson, The Finest Wines of Burgundy (A Fine Wine Edition)

The Ponsot Domaine

Domaine Ponsot, one of Burgundy’s most revered, innovative and iconoclastic domaines. There are so many important things to note about Domaine Ponsot it is impossible to know where to start and when to finish. Here are a few key points:

• This is a domaine very rich in history. This is perhaps the only historic Domaine in Burgundy to have always bottled it’s own wines (since the 1870s) and began selling the wines under the Ponsot label in the 30’s (around the same time as Gouges and Rousseau began Estate bottling). Clonal selection in Burgundy also began here and Jean-Marie Ponsot provided the “mother plants” from his ancient Clos de la Roche vines for the first approved Burgundy clones – all of the so called Dijon clones were taken from Ponsot cuttings in the Clos de la Roche.
• Ponsot has fabulous holdings including perfectly situated parcels of very old vines in Clos St Denis (100+ years) and Clos de la Roche (where Ponsot is the largest land owner with some 3/4 of the original vineyard). There are also small quantities of Chambertin, Griotte Chambertin, Chapelle Chambertin, Clos de Bèze, Charmes Chambertin, Clos de Vougeot, Corton, Corton Bressandes, Corton Charlemagne, le Montrachet, Chambolle Musigny 1er cru Les Charmes, and Morey 1er cru Clos de la Monts Luisants (white & red). Then there is also some Bourgogne rouge and superb village wines from Morey, Gevrey and Chambolle.
• No new oak is used and Laurent Ponsot buys five year old barrels from other respected domaines to use on his own wines. Most barrels are 10-50 years of age.
• The wines are harvested late (Ponsot is regularly the last Domaine to harvest in the Côte de Nuits) and a strict sorting occurs so that only perfect fruit makes it to the press.
• Very low or no sulphur is used (including none at bottling if it can be avoided).
• The wines are aged slowly on lees, for up to 30 months with typically only one racking for the reds, after 12 months.
• These elements (amongst others!): late harvesting, long (reductive) lees ageing, no new oak and very low sulphur make for very different, yet exceptional wines that typically require long ageing to show their best and ALWAYS must be stored in a appropriate temperature controlled environment. They often benefit from a long decant when young. Wine buyers should be very cautious therefore about acquiring older wines in Australia when there was no official Australian importer.

They often benefit from a long decant when young. Wine buyers should be very cautious therefore about acquiring older wines in Australia when there was no official Australian importer.

Ponsot has a new state of the art winery with all the modern gismos, including temperature controlled fermentation vats (open topped wooden vats) that can be operated via remote control. And yet the wine is made very naturally with indigenous yeasts, low sulphur and minimal intervention.

As to the wines, they are some of the greatest we have tasted. They are some of the most powerful in Burgundy and also some of the most expressive of their terroir. They are obviously not inexpensive, but they are also profound.


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About the Wines

Domaine Ponsot's 2014 Whites

Saint-Romain Cuvée de la Mésange

Ponsot “I wanted to produce a village white and I had two opportunities, one in Meursault and one in Saint-Romain. In the end I much preferred the terroir in the wine from St Romain”. One wonders whether a return to the Ponsot family roots helped sway the decision-the first Ponsot vigneron, William, was originally from this village before settling in Morey-Saint-Denis in 1872. Nestled in an elevated valley behind Auxey-Duresses, Ponsot’s stony, rugged source vineyard is typical of Saint-Romain’s cool, limestone rich terroir. Typical terroir – atypical wine (as you would expect). It’s an outstanding white Burgundy by any measure. A mésange is a small songbird by the way.

Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Clos des Monts Luisants Blanc

Some background: This is a “…standard-bearer of the iconoclasm of the Domaine” says Bill Nanson, and he is right on the money. It is a very special, age worthy 1er cru that is unique on several levels. Not only is it a monopole, it is also the only 1er cru for white in Morey-Saint-Denis and the only Burgundy 1er Cru that is 100% (old vine) Aligoté! At different times in this vineyard’s history there have been small quantities of Chardonnay and ‘Pinot Gouges’ (a white mutation from Pinot Noir) in the blend, yet from 2006 it returned to its pre 1930s origins of 100% Aligoté, from an ancient selection planted in 1911. There is a good reason for this – Aligoté has always produced outstanding wine here, better than anything the Ponsot clan could muster from Chardonnay. This high altitude, rocky site seems to have a natural affinity with the Aligoté grape. Once upon a time there would probably have been many other vineyards across the Côte of which we could have said the same. Today the wine commemorates its ancient Aligoté vines on the label with the Très Vieilles Vignes designation (only given to vineyards that are over 100 years old). It is a wine of incredible depth, racy energy, pulpy texture and longevity.

It was whole bunch pressed in Ponsot’s vertical press and was aged in old, neutral barrels (all between 10-60 years old). It’s been a few years since Clive Coates wrote the following, and while the price has risen, this is, in many ways, a priceless wine: “There is a brilliant complexity and delicacy about today’s Clos des Monts Luisants. It is delicious and it really is unique. And yet it is not prohibitively expensive.” The 2014 is a gorgeous Clos des Monts Luisants and the finest since 2007. Expect striking aromatics of white flowers, sap, lemon pith and mixed peel and gripping, spicy clarity. That palate is fleshy yet with chalky grip, ripe acidity and terrific length.  Extraordinary, as usual, and you should be able cellar for ten to twenty years comfortably. Obviously Meadows tasted at a difficult time.

89-91 Points

“Here the nose still displays notes of fermentation aromas that render it hard to assess. Otherwise there is terrific intensity and energy to the markedly stony medium weight flavors that display fine depth on the persistent finish that is also notably lemony in character.”

Allen Meadows, Burghound issue 63

Domaine Ponsot's 2014 Reds

Morey-Saint-Denis Cuvée des Grives

Usually very richly coloured, with vibrant reds (bright ruby, carmine, intense garnet) and hints of purple. The bouquet is shared between black fruit (blackcurrants, blueberries) and red stone fruit (cherries). There are some variants with sloes, brambles, violets, carnations, liquorice, and fruit brandies. With age, it often evokes hunting aromas (leather, moss, game) or reveals some hidden truffles! Sustained and structured, this wine waits for you on the palate with just the right balance between strength and expression of fruit. The equivalent of a tenor in the Burgundy choir, it offers well-rounded tannins and generous substance.

Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Cuvée des Alouettes

An alouette is a lark. This comes from the Morey 1er cru Monts Luisants vineyard (much of which is today AOC Clos de la Roche). Ponsot labels it Cuvée des Alouettes in order to differentiate it from his white, which also comes from this lieu-dit – specifically from the Clos des Monts Luisants (which was historically sold as Clos de la Roche before the AOC was put into law, and before that it was sold as Le Chambertin!) Previous vintages of this label have been described variously as ‘mini Bonnes Mares’ and ‘mini Clos de la Roche’. There seems to be a bit of a pattern emerging. The 2014 is another high-class showing, showcasing Ponsot’s mastery of fruit purity.

89-92 Points

“A slightly riper and more complex nose presents notes of red currant, floral, spice and notably earthy aromas. The energetic, punchy and well-delineated flavors culminate in a lightly mineral-inflected, delicious and well-balanced finale. This moderately firm effort should be drinkable after only 6 to 8 years if desired.”

Allen Meadows, Burghound.com, Issue 61

Corton Grand Cru Cuvée du Bourdon

Corton is one of the four most recent Grand Crus in the Ponsot line up and every release so far has been insanely good. Ponsot began making Corton in 2009, the same vintage as his good friend Aubert de Villaine. There’s an old Burgundy joke that runs something like,“Corton would be better if only it was situated in the Côtes de Nuits.” The suggestion is, of course, that the winegrowers north of Corton know better how to handle Pinot. Aubert de Villaine and Laurent Ponsot are doing their best to prove that there might well be a kernel of truth in this gag. The fruit comes from three small parcels on the Corton hill (although Laurent refuses to reveal their exact location). The name means ‘cuvée of the bumblebee’ by the way.

91-93 Points

“Firm reduction completely dominates the nose. There is excellent concentration to the big-bodied and overtly powerful flavors that exude a fine bead of minerality on the mouth coating, well-balanced and very firm but not hard finish. The underpinning tannins are ripe and this should reward from 12 to 15 years of cellaring.”

Allen Meadows, Burghound.com, Issue 61

Corton Bressandes Grand Cru

This is our second allocation of this wine, which hails from a 0.26 hectare parcel of this powerful terroir. The vines here are on the younger side, but low yields of less than 25 hl/ha and Ponsot’s typically late picking offset the relative youth of the vines. It’s a deeper, more concentrated and mineral example of the Corton Hill and every bit as brilliant as the Bourdon above.

92-94 Points

“The 2014 Corton Bressandes Grand Cru has a far more generous and giving bouquet than the 2014 Cuvée de Bourdon. It offers lush red cherries and raspberry preserve aromas, dried orange peel, menthol...like a Corton Clos du Roi in some ways. The palate is medium-bodied with ripe red berry fruit and cracked black pepper, very saline in the mouth with impressive depth and structure on the finish. It starts closing up in the glass, but I think this will ultimately turn out to be an excellent, delicious and quite cerebral Corton Bressandes.”

Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate #222

Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru

As with the Corton-Bressandes above, the Domaine’s Charmes-Chambertin is another rarity. We haven’t received an allocation since the 2008 vintage. Drawn from 0.3 hectares of 35 year old vines, this wine (along with the Clos de Vougeot) is the result of a contract established in 1999. The parcel is right on the Morey border, so technically this is a Mazoyères-Chambertin.

94-96 Points

“The 2014 Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru Cuvée des Merles has a precise, almost pixelated, limestone-infused bouquet that blossoms in the glass with its vibrant red cherries, strawberry and bergamot scents. The palate is medium-bodied with very supple tannin. The acidity here is very well judged, smooth and silky in the mouth, extremely pure with stupendous precision on the long finish. It is the kind of Charmes-Chambertin that you instantly fall in love with. Beautiful...just beautiful.”

Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate #222

92-94 Points

“A cool, pure and exceptionally spicy nose of red berries and earth is trimmed in a deft touch of wood. The rich, concentrated and caressing middle weight flavors immediately tighten up on the robust, powerful and impressively persistent finish.”

Allen Meadows, Burghound.com, Issue 61

Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru

Our first allocation of Ponsot’s Chapelle-Chambertin outside of his famous ‘mixed box’. The stats are similar to the Griotte Grand Cru below; a small parcel (60ha in this instance) of vines planted in 1990. The first Domaine bottling dates back to 1970, so this is a site well known to the Ponsot clan. In particular, this bottling hails from En Gémeaux, the lieu-dit that borders Cherbaudes, and En la Chapelle, which borders En Griotte. Both parcels lie on particularly poor, skinny topsoil. Rippling with palate-coating fruit, this is a deeper and more structural wine than the Griotte. Where the Griotte is lithe, seductive and floral, the Chapelle is denser, more savoury and spicy. This was bottled in June, three months after the wine below.

92-95 Points

“A super elegant nose is composed of an ultra-pure essence of red berries, violet, plum, spice and discreet floral nuances. There is excellent volume and serious punch to the delicious and tension-filled middle weight plus flavors that possess a caressing mouth feel on the lightly mineral-inflected finish. This is a beautifully complex and seamlessly well-balanced wine that should drink well young and old.”

Allen Meadows, Burghound.com, Issue 61

93-95 Points

“The 2014 Chapelle Chambertin Grand Cru behaved like the Griotte-Chambertin in that it needed a prerequisite two or three minutes to fire up its engines. When it did, it sprung a gorgeous floral bouquet with red roses, kirsch and blood orange, all struck through with wonderful mineralité and tension. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, supple tannin. It resorts back to its broody nature. There is appreciable density here, quite tangy and spicy in the mouth with layers of red berry fruit on the very saline finish. It will require 4-5 years in bottle, but the class is here.”

Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate #222

Griotte-Chambertin Grand Cru

Through a métayage arrangement since the early 1980s, Ponsot has just under a hectare of vines in En Griotte (the largest holding). Griotte is a tiny, 2.7 hectare site, completely surrounded by the other Grand Crus of Gevrey. The Ponsot’s vines are now 30 years old. It’s always fascinating to compare each year the difference in the style of this wine and that of the Chapelle-Chambertin. Only a few metres separate these parcels, both sitting directly below the Clos de Bèze. Both were planted at the same time (‘84/’85) with the same selection of vines. Both are picked on the same day each year, made exactly the same way, and typically bottled together (though not this year where the Griotte was bottled a few months earlier). For all these similarities, both wines are always staggeringly different. Terroir! Juicy, fragrant and silky, here we’re seduced by gorgeously aromatic notes of the purest red fruits and white cherry; it’s a dizzyingly pure and beautifully sustained Griotte of remarkable voltage and poise. Promises to evolve into a wine of Byzantine complexity.

92-95 Point

“The cool, pure and airy nose is consists of red currant, earth and spice nuances that display a top note of rose petal. There is terrific intensity to the sleek and mineral-driven medium-bodied flavors that possess fine size, weight and focused power on the saline finish where a touch of bitter cherry appears.”

Allen Meadows, Burghound.com, Issue 61

93-95 Points

“The 2014 Griotte Chambertin Grand Cru is certainly not as immediate as that temptress, the 2014 Charmes-Chambertin. This insists upon more coaxing from the glass, more swirling to eke out those attractive scents of blackberry, raspberry preserve and rose petals, all very well defined. The palate is medium-bodied with supple, ripe, sappy red berry fruit. There is pleasant tang of sour cherry here, even a hint of licorice on the finish that has more density than the Charmes-Chambertin, if not quite the nascent "Charmes." Give it 4-6 years in bottle and then I think you might have a serious Griotte on your hands.”

Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate #222

Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru Cuvée Vieilles Vignes

1999 was the first year that this Grand Cru was offered at the Domaine. Laurent Ponsot clearly thinks this is a remarkable wine (so do we) and has priced it accordingly – only behind the Clos de la Roche! Sadly we have very little. It derives from 0.4 hectares of vines (spread across three parcels) on the upper slope, averaging 50 years of age. These vines are on the western edge of the vineyard, very near Grands-Échezeaux, “…behind the château like everyone else,” quips Laurent. In other words, forget about the location, the wine speaks for itself.

92-95 points

“This is so deeply colored that it's opaque. The expressive and strikingly complex nose features broad-ranging notes of cassis, plum, sandalwood, spice, earth of the sauvage. There is superb richness to the voluminous, powerful and punchy flavors that display plenty of muscle on the youthfully austere finish. This is a seriously impressive effort though note well that this is going to need at least 10 to 12 years of cellaring first”

Allen Meadows, Burghound.com, Issue 61

Clos de la Roche Grand Cru Vieilles Vignes

This is Ponsot’s first among equals. The Domaine is the largest landowner in the Clos de la Roche with perfectly situated vines (almost all within the Clos itself) and some of the oldest vines (average age approximately 60 years). Clos de la Roche was expanded in the 50s to include a range of neighbouring sites (Les Fremieres, Genevrières, Mochamps, Monts Luisants, etc.) that surround the original vineyard or ‘lieu-dit’ – Clos de la Roche. It is therefore important to understand that of Ponsot’s 3.4 hectares, 3 are within the original 4 hectareClos de la Roche itself! That is, Ponsot’s holdings represent ¾ of the original vineyard, which is widely considered to be the finest part of theClos de la Roche AOC, rightly or wrongly. It is certainly it’s own terroir! It is also certain that the reputation of this AOC has relied heavily on the wines of Domaine Ponsot. How much of this quality is related to terroir and how much to the age and quality of Ponsot’s vines as well as the quality of his farming and winemaking is impossible to know. It is often hard, in Burgundy, to separate the quality of the grower from the quality of the terroir. Or at least the lines are blurred. The rest of Ponsot’s holdings are within the part of Monts Luisants that was always bottled and sold as Clos de la Roche (it has the same soil). Terroir aside, this wine is clearly the reference for the AOC. To us, it is not only Ponsot’s grandest wine, but also one of the greatest red wines in Burgundy. The price needs to be viewed in this context. Interesting to note that while Ponsot usually bottles this wine last, the 2014 was the first red to go to bottle. The notes portray this thrilling wine well. In short, this is a killer Clos de la Roche.

94-97 Points

“Don’t Miss. There is enough wood to notice along with a hint of menthol on the markedly earthy red and dark berry fruit aromas where background hints of spice and floral elements are in evidence. The overtly powerful and concentrated broad-shouldered flavors display almost painful intensity before culminating in an explosively long and very firmly structured finish where once again a hint of bitter cherry appears. This is an interesting wine of contrasts as the mid-palate, even with all of its intensity, possesses a caressing palate feel yet the finish is bold, robust and unyielding. As the description confirms, this is going to require a long snooze in a cool cellar.”

Allen Meadows, Burghound.com, Issue 61

95-97 Points

“The 2014 Clos de la Roche Vieilles Vignes Grand Cru has a corker of a nose: here, a rush of raspberry and Morello cherry infused with limestone and flint aromas. The palate is stately, regal, with filigree tannin and a beguiling sense of symmetry. It bides its time in the mouth before fanning out with effortless ease. This is a fabulous, vivacious Clos de la Roche.”

Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate #222