Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Robert Chevillon Nuits-Saint-Georges Village Vertical 2002-2012

Domaine Robert Chevillon is considered by many the top producer of Nuits-Saint-Georges in Burgundy. Certainly not the only one, as Henri Gouges, Faiveley, Leroy, Comte Liger-Belair, Meo-Camuzet and others make admirable wines there, but the sheer breadth of vineyard holdings combined with long-term track record of Chevillon puts them into the highest bracket. Recently I was able to taste a vertical of his village vieilles vignes (old vines) bottling, which is always a very good representation of the village, domaine's style and vintage.

The Wines

2002 Domaine Robert Chevillon Nuits-Saint-Georges vieilles vignes - 30 min after opening. Nose: wow, great nose, great maturity and complexity, medicinal herbs, licorice, meat / game. Palate: almost silky, sweet, long, medicinal licoricey slightly bitter-sweet finish, yummy, still a little tannic, touch of rusticity, fragrance of flowers / stems, hints of tomato paste and beets, game, distant campfire, salty mineral bath, champagne-like aftertaste (in a red!). Great food wine and feels like this is what Burgundy is all about - complex, imperfect, delicious, absolutely awesome with food! (duck? oh yeah!) My favorite from all the vintages of this wine this century. From how great this is tasting, I can imagine that 2002 1er's must be spectacular.

2005 Domaine Robert Chevillon Nuits-Saint-Georges vieilles vignes - this is probably objectively Chevillon's best village wine of the century, but it still needs more development time to come together and mellow out. Not as meaty as the 2002, this has a lot of everything - density of material, acid and tannin. Almost chalky, with long, bright finish that spreads and lingers in your mouth, a slightly creamy / cheesy flavor, cherries with a hint of orange peel, with real energy and lift. Give this at least 3 more years.

2006 Domaine Robert Chevillon Nuits-Saint-Georges vieilles vignes - drank this over three days. Showing signs of maturity, secondary flavors quite developed, but still with some mild tannins present. Sweet medicinal spicy berries (cherries, strawberries), caramelized root veggies, menthol, pine, flower pollen, Asian spices (almost like Sichuan peppercorns and star anise), hibiscus tea and bright orange (peel) flavor, and also a little bit like a grape bubble gum. Not as concentrated as the 2002 or 2005, but overall, an enjoyable wine in a good spot on the maturity curve.

2007 Domaine Robert Chevillon Nuits-Saint-Georges vieilles vignes - had this several times in the past year - a light, more elegant vintage, this wine is at or slightly past its prime, it has been oscillating between being ethereally nuanced, with elegant aromatic sweet root veggies and licoricey tones and slightly hollow, light/thin uncomplicated maturity. Can't quite decide.

2008 Domaine Robert Chevillon Nuits-Saint-Georges vieilles vignes - tasted as a part of the Chevillon 2008 horizontal a few months ago (documented here), this wine was the weak link in the otherwise very impressive set of Chevillon's 2008's. Nose: hibiscus and herbs, at the peak. Palate: good chocolate and spice flavor but finishes very short as flavor fades almost immediately, this is light and savory without enough substance. Uninspiring.

2009 Domaine Robert Chevillon Nuits-Saint-Georges vieilles vignes - drank over several days. Imagine rich "melt-in-your-mouth" beef short ribs, with roasted veggies, and pomegranate glaze. That's what this wine tastes like! Nose: roasted coffee, game / paté, bay leaf, and zesty brown (allspice?) spices. Palate: smooth, velvety, "pomegranate meets chocolate" accents. I have always loved Chevillon's impactful 2009's, and this wine was no exception. Somehow the richness of the vintage goes well with the "beef stew" meatiness of the Nuits-Saint-Georges village, sprinkled with zesty spices. Very good, slightly darker than other vintages, with coffee and bitter-sweet herb nuances, tobacco, leather, beef stew (or short ribs), echos of sweet stewed carrots, and softly tannic velvety palate impression. Also perfect with Chinese chicken stew (infused with soy, sugar, black vinegar, star anise, cinnamon, and Sichuan peppercorns, see photo below). The mouth is left tingling with gentle spices for minutes. The 2009's have been enjoyable from the get-go, and this seems open for business, and should continue so for many years with no signs of shutting down.

2010 Domaine Robert Chevillon Nuits-Saint-Georges vieilles vignes - had this wine 3-4 times in the past year with consistent notes. Very charming, pretty, subtly honeyed red berries, hibiscus tea, distant herbs, this is drinking great already and will continue for several years at least. Very well balanced wine, the only detractor being consistently medium-short finish, which puts this behind few other vintages in this lineup.

2012 Domaine Robert Chevillon Nuits-Saint-Georges vieilles vignes - drank this over several days. This was my least favorite. Perhaps due to its youth, but I suspect the vintage has much to do with it. This wine is fluffy and vacuous, lacking shape or depth. Nose: smoke and pomegranate, fresh cut flower stems. Palate: tart, smoky cranberry / cherry fruit salad, very young and primary, slowly building tannins, stemmy woody spices, doesn't seem to have focus or depth of material, finish is medium-short, with sour aftertaste. Maybe time will allow structure to reveal itself and the fruit to deepen, but right now, it's unformed, mellow, somewhat hollow / shallow, oaky berry/stem compote, and quite unpleasant and cheap-tasting.

2012 Domaine Robert Chevillon Nuits-Saint-Georges vieilles vignes blanc (white) - nose: yummy, sweet, ripe, grapey. Palate: tasty, good substance, fleshy, grapey, lemon marmalade, spiced peach. On the other hand, a bit thick, ripe and not too fine. Overall, not bad, but lack of minerality makes this come across thicker and new-worldly. Decent acidity though, if one tries to compare to California. Should be a crowd pleaser, especially for new world Chardonnay drinkers who are transitioning to white burgundy. Creamy, buttery aftertaste. This is a relatively rare wine, hence the price is rather high ($70-100), and I while I appreciate it, I don't think it's worth the $$.

Village-level wines of Nuits-Saint-Georges (NSG) are expected to have some rusticity and meatiness, especially if compared to the more prestigious villages of Chambolle-Musigny and Vosne-Romanee. Chevillon's Nuits-Saint-Georges in particular are full of spicy cherry, herbs, earthy veggies, licorice, and beefy / gamy, smoky food-friendly goodness, more so as they age. They always strongly reflect personality of a vintage, combined with the relatively (un)refined style of the domaine, though they never seem to have the polish of the more boutique producers like Leroy, Meo-Camuzet, or Comte Liger-Belair. They are tasty, with medium-short finish (being the main detractor for me), except for the very best vintages (like 2002, 2005, and 2009). Although they obviously do not approach the heights of Chevillon's tremendous 1er cru's (Les Saint Georges, Cailles, Vaucrains, etc...), they provide plenty of pleasure for what used to be a great bargain. Alas, not anymore as prices have kept climbing, especially if purchased via the official importer Kermit Lynch - the 2012 village wine is nearly $80, and it is my least favorite vintage in the line-up so far. You can still get older vintages for ~$50-60, they are better and readier to drink, and have a whole lot more attractive looking labels (than the one they adopted in 2011).

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