Spotlight on Red Burgundy: Chateau de Chorey Tante Berthe Beaune Premier Cru 2008

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Moving from Auxey (the focus of the last article in this series) to Beaune means moving from niche to one of the largest production zones in Burgundy. Because of its size, Beaune provides considerable diversity in wine styles from north to south, though rarely are Beaune reds considered amongst the best Pinot Noirs of Burgundy. A few growers, however, elevate Beaune to compete with premier crus from Volnay and Pommard.

Blending Beaune

Chateau de Chorey is one of the top grower-producers in Beaune, with old-vine holdings in several of the very best climats. The Domaine has been around since the late 19th century and has become known for both single vineyard bottlings and blends of various vineyards. This latter approach was actually commonplace in the past when growers believed blending produced better wines. These days in Burgundy many may view blending as sacrilege. However, Chorey proves it is well worth pursuing.

The Cuvee Tanthe Berthe blends Chorey’s best and oldest holdings in Cras, Teurons and Vignes Franches, three of the very best premier cru climats out of the 44 in Beaune. The vines are all over 70 years in age, and grown on the mid-Beaune gravel soils. Clive Coates claims wines from these middle-Beaune vineyards tend to be “medium weight, plump, [and] succulent”. But Tanthe Berthe brings a lot more to the table.

The wine is aged in 500 litre barrels for two years (100% new in 2008, but 50% in 2009). There is 30% stem inclusion. Very little is made (only 2 barrels). According to an interview on Burgundy Report, winemaker Benoit Germain suggests that the wine blends the “masculinity” of Teurons, the “femininity” of Vignes Franches with the “minerality” of Les Cras.

Rich and Youthful Pinot Noir

The first thing I noticed was the wine’s surprising richness, both on nose and palate. The extract is palpable and impressive, though the 2008 is clearly too youthful at this stage to fully strut. I would recommend at least 3 more years in bottle.

As for flavours, you’ll find intense, dark cherry, herbs and a savory finish. The wine is medium bodied with superb fruit concentration. Right now the finish is a bit short, but that will develop with bottle age. With air the substantial structure started to show, demonstrating just how much fruit is in this wine to hide the tannin for well over an hour after decanting. A very impressive Beaune Premier Cru that compares to other superb wines from Pommard and Volnay in quality, though seems to lean more towards Pommard in style. I look forward to revisiting this in a few years.

Very Good+ to Excellent
$58 at Garagiste

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