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2011 Côte de Nuits Villages Blanc, Sylvain Loichet
The Loichets come from Comblanchien (southern end of Cote de Nuits), as well known for its marble quarrying industry as for its vines. Indeed the previous two generations of Loichets have been stone masons rather than vignerons but they kept ownership of their vineyards (Cote de Nuits Villages, Clos de Vougeot and Ladoix blanc) which the talented Sylvain (early 20s) has taken back.
Since he does not own enough vines to make a really decent living, he has added some well chosen negociant cuvees (mostly white) which are equally impressive. The white wines are made with a great sense of precision and are full of energy. The reds are vigorous, full of fruit and look set to age very well.
Chardonnay is the "Big Daddy" of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world. It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.
The wine appellation of Côte de Nuit Villages in Burgundy includes wines from a small number of villages, mostly in the extreme north and south of the Côte de Nuits: Fixin and Brochon in the north, Comblanchien, Corgoloin and Prissey to the south. The wines are usually red and are often good value.
Côte de Nuits Villages lies above the basic AOC Bourgogne in the hierarchy of local appellations. Hautes-Côtes de Nuits is also mostly red and is produced in the hinterland to the south-west of Nuits-St Georges.
Recommended producers: Sylvain Loichet, Patrice et Michele Rion
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