Last Saturday our wine-tasting circle met for its monthly get-together. Each month we meet in a member’s home, rotating to spread the burden or hosting. The hosts provide a main course, others arrive with other parts of the meal. The wines are chosen around a certain theme, often a grape variety, a geographical area or appellation, or whatever. This time unusually we were tasting wines from a single domaine, chosen by the makers.
We drove to the Côte d’Or and back over a beautiful sunny weekend in early December. Calling into another favourite domaine in the Côte de Brouilly en route, we were amazed to see Mont Blanc clear on the eastern horizon and, once seen, we realised that it’s visible from the motorway almost all the way northwards to Beaune. We arrived on the Saturday evening in good time to collect delicious white wines and pink crémant de Bourgogne from the domaine Naudin Ferrand in Magny les Villiers, another maker we’ve known for many years.
But the main reason for our trip was a visit to the Jacobs’ open weekend, with several dozen wines to taste from their own domaine and that of The Domaine Lucien Jacob is in the neighbouring tiny village of Echevronne, in the hautes côtes de Beaune, not far from Pernand Vergelesses and Savigny lès Beaune. The hillsides around are wooded – this is the limit of the vineyard area on the slopes above the Saône valley. It is named for Jean-Michel Jacob’s father, a well-known figure in the Côte d’Or, who had been instrumental in developing new strains of pinot noir better suited to the higher vineyards of the hautes côtes.
I wrote about domaine Jacob in this blog in September 2011. We have known Jean-Michel and Christine since the mid-1990s, when Mary and the family clubbed together to buy me a kind of ‘share’ in a vineyard for my 50th birthday She decided to visit the domaine to get a couple of bottles and to see it for herself. From then on, and up to the present day (long after the early ‘share’ arrangement was over) we have visited them regularly and watched the evolution of their wines in quality and variety. We've also enjoyed seeing Jean-Michel's evolution as an artist, using the barrels and other materials around him.
The wines we tasted this December included the wines of the hautes côtes and from premier crû vineyards at Savigny, but also from Gevrey Chambertin some distance to the north in the Côte d’Or, and from Mercurey in the Côte Chalonnaise to the south. The latter was the source of much of their white wine this year as hail destroyed almost all their local grapes. Over several years we’ve developed a simple scoring system out of 50 – appearance (4), nose (10), taste (20), finish (8), label (2), value for money (3) and something we call ‘emotion’, or the wow factor perhaps, also 3 points. We tasted the wines as usual alongside a meal and over a friendly evening together.
The results were interesting because although the scores varied more widely than usual between one person and the next, in the end the scores and rankings clustered close together. So though several people scored the top wines in the 40s, others were much less enthusiastic. Probably the main reason is that some people really don’t like the pinot noir grape – for others like us it is among our favourite cépages. So here are the combined scores of 11 tasters:
Mercurey 2012 (selected by the Jacobs) 36.1
Savigny Vergelesses 1e crû blanc 2012 38.3
Bourgogne hautes côtes de Beaune 2008 32.3
Savigny Vergelesses 1e crû rouge 2008 38.5
Savigny lès Beaune 1e crû "les Peuillets" 2008 37.7Gevrey Chambertin 2008 36.6