Tasting of the best vintages since 1947 to mark the appellation's 70th anniversary with commentary by Pascal Morel, a Les Riceys wine producer, and Philippe Jamesse, head sommelier at the two Michelin-starred restaurant Les Crayères in Reims.
Pascal Morel: This is a young vintage showing great finesse. Philippe Jamesse: Lovely breadth, spicy highlights, limpid, cherry-hued, fresh vegetal fatness; it shows interesting fatness and density, even if it still has a semi-tonicity, a rather rich physiognomy... Powerful with aromas of cherry flesh and cherry stones, a foresty character, very light notes of cocoa bean. Tighter tannic palate. Structure and nicely- textured density, rich and generous. Already delicious and showing promise.
Ph.J.: Slightly shyer, but it is tending towards a foresty character – mushroom, chanterelle, as well as a little cigar tobacco - the palate is a little bit shy but very interesting.
P.M.: A typical year for the appellation. Ph.J. identifies several dimensions to this wine: a dairy dimension, an earthy dimension, redcurrant-type fruit, a distinctive impression of candy which makes this wine very pleasant and highly appetising; it can lead us towards a stony and very earthy impression.
P.M.: a very hot year, which the winegrowers certainly remember. Ph. J.: Liqueur-like impressions, reminiscent of Port. A wine showing a typically Pinot character, elegant, concentrated, long. Lovely notes of peony and dried flowers, very delicate scents that lend a lot of elegance to this wine’s very concentrated structure. This vintage shows strength and length even if the mid-palate is slightly contracted; this remains an unusual profile.
P.M.: An excellent year... Ph.J.: Magnificent balance, still fresh fruity aromas (strawberry, raspberry) and an interesting contrast with an ambience of damp earth and black truffle, a superb wine.
Ph.J.: Great intensity, dried smoked meat flavour; big on the palate, even if not as big as the 2002.
Ph.J.: Sumptuous. Showing a fruit character, generous, with ‘crème de fruits’ aromas. Hints of liqueur, loads of flesh and richness. Unctuosity and remarkable length.
P.M.: also a hot year. Ph.J.: a slightly salty taste, fresh meat, scents of citrus fruit and candied oranges, a palate underpinned by the limestone, it's very well-honed, it's long - a very trim texture ...- nice balance but possessing more tension than the 96.
P.M.: A magnificent, abundant harvest, another very hot year. Ph.J.: Spice, oriental patina, dried fruit, dates and prunes... A sweet, sensual wine. A few oxidative notes, the palate shows a slightly Port character..., magnificent hallmark of the vintage.
P.M.: very tricky vintage, record-breaking cold weather when temperatures dropped as low as -32°C, not a big year. The vines only started growing again at the start of July. Although this had the winegrowers somewhat worried, the result is very good. Ph.J.: A subtle wine that you have to go to (rather than it come to you). Delicate too (truffle, maritime humidity, quince, leather), delicate even, with elegance yet a certain timidity.
Ph.J.: Here we have nobility, the quintessence of the Pinot Noir. Notes of soya and smoked meat, very elegant and long on the palate. Everything is just right, it's perfect, magical, it's simply splendid. Flavour of this grape variety, it unfolds all by itself...
P.M.: a better year after the very challenging years of 1980 and 1981. Ph.J.: a wine that asserts itself with some difficulty, single register; emerging cherry fruit, a simple expression.
P.M.: a year of drought, a small harvest picked on 28 August. The cows were grazing on grape pomace due to the lack of hay... It rained just before the harvest, which was a blessing. Ph.J.: Powerful, concentrated, rich, everything is just right! A Gevrey-Chambertin profile, with a lovely signature.
P.M.: very hot year. Ph.J.: a build reminiscent of a multi-layered millefeuille. Saint George’s mushrooms, an autumn stroll through the forest, a mixture of sweet and tart. It takes at least half an hour to explore it fully. Showing great energy and depth, very concentrated. A fresh oaky aftertaste.
A very hot year, the first real post-war harvest when the wines could be conserved. Harvest in August. The wines contained 14 degrees of alcohol, the fermentation problems increased and half of the wines went into vinegar making. Ph. J.: It's wonderful, this wine first plunges us into the depths of the soul, into the depths of a cellar with a slightly mushroomy ambience. Then on the surface, a heady character reminiscent of lily. Very fine smoky dimension (great Iberian cured hams), black trumpet and morel mushroom aromas. Maritime overtones too, land and sea ambience (shellfish bisque, iodised character). Exceptional vintage, you have to take the time to live with it and write about it.
P.M: an interesting year, the first oil crisis, drop in champagne sales... a year that came out later. Ph.J.: surprising and subtle, very limpid, a very energetic, intense and powerful wine, expansive limestone aftertaste... a wine that looks back on its youth.
P.M.: two different producers, two different lands. The AOC's remembrance years: they allow us to share a thought for our ancestors. Ph.J.: Surprising, it’s like being in another wine region, another environment: Sauternes, Jurançon... there's an ambience of mistelle and aperitif wine (quince, apricot, dried plum). Yet another personality of the Pinot Noir from Les Riceys, and two signatures