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.
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.