Dominique Laurent Chambolle-Musigny Vieilles Vignes 2008

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photoDominique Laurent is a controversial figure amongst Burgundy enthusiasts. The reason? Heavy reliance on new oak and a high potency style that can turn off those who seek the purely ethereal side of Burgundy. On the other hand, you have leading wine writer Andrew Jefford giving Laurent one of his highest accolades in his now decade+ old “The New France” – an essential text on French wine. Laurent also saved a lot of old-vine material in Burgundy by his micro-negocient model that sought to make wine only from old vines and would pay growers well not to rip these vines out to replace them with newer clones.

On top of the controversy, the wines are very hard to find, though surprisingly not that expensive when put side by side other Burgundy.

The Oak Misnomer

Jefford states, “This is burgundy that pushes at the boundaries, that provides altogether new quality perspectives that should make all of the region’s red winemakers think about their work again.”. Big words, but fair. Laurent owns his own cooperage to perfect his barrel regimen and researches old-school techniques by pouring over old texts. Because of this, the early days that gave Laurent the reputation of an oak lover (and inventory of “200%” oak, or racking from one new barrel into another) are no longer accurate. His constant evolution now means that he doesn’t use as much new wood because he coopers his own barrels to produce the effects he wants (i.e. long air-drying of the wood that means the barrels retain their influence for longer). If you still don’t believe in the quality of Laurent’s barrels, well he sells them to DRC and Pingus. Laurent also no longer racks to keep the lees and gas from the original barrel.

The Wine

This is good and true wine. The nose is big, round cherry fruit and the wine is quite perfumed as you would expect for Chambolle, but the perfume is much denser and richer than the norm. It is not an ethereal Ghislaine Barthod – but with the Dominique Laurent stamp you have to expect more power. The palate is sharply bright with very high acids and lightness on its feet. Terroir speaks through this wine even with its oak stamp. It’s got a lot of stuffing in the mid-palate too and can age for a while. A little sous vide really rounds out the palate. It’s a nice example both of Chambolle and Laurent’s style.

Very Good+ to Excellent
~$90 at Marquis Wine Cellars


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