Yesterday we met up with the indefatigable Nicolas Potel, who was visiting Hong Kong yet again! He comes often through these parts to promote his two projects: his négociant company Roche de Bellene, and his own biodynamic estate Domaine de Bellene.
We've been huge fans of all his wines since we first tried them two years back, as they offer consistent quality from village-level all the way to Grand Cru.
If you haven't heard of Nicolas Potel yet, his history is pretty extraordinary and well documented. He grew up as heir to the legendary Domaine de la Pousse d'Or in Volnay, but upon his father Gérard's death in 1997 it was acquired by a businessman called Patrick Landanger.
Nicolas went on to found his own estate called Maison Nicolas Potel, which became a huge success. But complications with his investors led to him being ousted from his eponymous estate in 2007, leaving him legally unable to sell wines under his own name.
He now operates exclusively under his two Bellene estates, so if you want his older wines from Maison Nicolas Potel, note that his last vintage there was in 2007. Everything since that year has been significantly worse as Potel took all his vineyards and contracts with winegrowers with him when he left.
Anyway let's get on to the wines. We tasted a total of 17, and the *'s mark my favourites. All are fermented with indigenous yeasts, and most of them are unfiltered & unfined:
Domaine de Bellene
- Domaine de Bellene - Savigny Les Beaune 2012* - Muted and tight at first, but after two hours a lovely roundness and minerality emerged although the acidity was a bit disjointed. Very young, but I've long been a fan of this wine!
- Domaine de Bellene - Meursault Les Forges 2011 - Potel recommended I try the reds first. By the time I finished them all, this was sadly all gone.
- Domaine de Bellene - Cote De Nuits Villages 2009 - Showed the ripe vintage with a good bite. Dusty red fruits and an earthiness. Lacks precision though.
- Domaine de Bellene - Cote De Nuits Villages 2010* - I enjoyed the 2010 a lot more. This had the same intense character but with less ripeness. The 2009 was a bit over the top, but this wine had freshness, vitality, and a more elegant expression of fruit.
- Domaine de Bellene - Volnay Les Grands Poisots 2011 - Soft, well-made, but not overly spectacular. Finish wasn't as charming as I would expect from a Volnay.
- Domaine de Bellene - Savigny Les Beaune 1er Cru Les Hauts Jarrons 2010* - I always love this wine, although it seemed more exciting a year ago. Now this bright and racy Savigny has calmed down and become more balanced. Still very fresh & delicate though.
- Domaine de Bellene - Vosne Romanee Les Quartiers de Nuits 2011 - Well balanced and aromatic. Had a touch of earth to it. Surprisingly blunt and silky at the same time.
- Domaine de Bellene - Vosne Romanee 1er Cru Les Suchots 2011 - Definitely a class above in elegance, this shows more of what you would expect from Vosne. Honestly though, can't say I loved it.
Maison Roche de Bellene
- Maison Roche de Bellene - Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Hameau de Blagny 2009 - Again, gone by the time I tried!
- Maison Roche de Bellene - Vosne Romanee 1er Cru Les Rouges 2009 - Found this far more coarse than his estate Vosnes.
- Maison Roche de Bellene - Latricieres-Chambertin Grand Cru 2010 (37.5cl) - The half-bottle made this wonderfully accessible. Complex, mineral, and concentrated style. Was a bit of an exaggerated Gevrey with powerful violet & stone notes. Not too subtle, but beautiful nonetheless!
Nicolas's extensive influence in Burgundy has given him access to the cellars of the region's finest winemakers. He has gone through and selected beautifully stored vintage wines from other estates and relabeled them under the name 'Collection Bellenum'.
Maison Roche de Bellene, Coll. Bellenum,Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Combettes 1995* - This was really a prime example of how extraordinary aged white Burgundy can get, especially if its from Puligny Montrachet. There was a burst of hazelnuts and minerals along with a round, creamy texture that was finished off by a lingering, long acidity. Still has a few years to go, but it is unbelievably layered now.
- Maison Roche de Bellene, Coll. Bellenum, Chambolle Musigny Vieilles Vignes 1996 - These were some super fun wines to try. This 1996 was copper-toned, but still had fruit left and life. Elegant, dry-ish tannins, but in a good place now. Needs food.
- Maison Roche de Bellene, Coll. Bellenum, Chambolle Musigny Vieilles Vignes 1999* - Undoubtedly this wasn't the most elegant of them all, but I enjoyed it the most. It is hard to believe this is only a village Chambolle since it has so much intensity and concentration left. Beautiful example of a ripe vintage. Loved it.
- Maison Roche de Bellene, Coll. Bellenum, Chambolle Musigny Vieilles Vignes 2001 - Great to drink now, or with food. Better than the 2002 and a nice little classic Chambolle.
- Maison Roche de Bellene, Coll. Bellenum, Chambolle Musigny Vieilles Vignes 2002 - A bit dusty and disjointed. I found it quite disappointing. The structure seemed to be falling apart and the fruit didn't have a clean profile. Perhaps nearing the end!
- Mystery Wine - I know it was a Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, but can't remember if it was 2003 or older... Either way it had an enormously tannic bite. Was kind of brash and all over the place with lots of dark berry character. Surprisingly young. It will need a few more years before its ready, but this will most likely never be a real stunner.