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Hospices de Beaune

Hospices de Beaune Cuvées, 2012 Vintage Tasting Notes by Anthony Hanson, MW, Christies

Batard Montrachet Hospices de Beaune 2012BY ANTHONY HANSON MW

Listed in the order in which the wines will be auctioned on Sunday 18 November 2012


The Red Wines
It is now clear that many great red Burgundies have been made by the Hospices de Beaune in 2012.  The quality is at a comparable level to that of 2005, which was the first year that Christie’s ran the Beaune auction.

The vast majority of red wines show admirably ripe, dense fruitiness, with energy, harmony, length and potential complexity.  Natural acidities are in balance, and the tannins in 2012 are riper and rounder than those of 2005.

It is a particularly beautiful year for the Beaune 1ers Crus, the Cortons and the Grands Crus of the Cote de Nuits.  Many Volnay and Pommard 1ers Crus are also exceptional.

The White Wines
Only after malolactic (secondary) fermentations – which have not yet begun – will we know for sure how many wines will achieve perfect balance.  But Hospices wine-maker Roland Masse remarks that ideal levels of natural sugars were achieved, with healthy grape-skin ripeness, and that the acidity levels are admirable.  These are comparable to those of 2007, reflecting that the grapes were not over-ripe.    He believes that the 2012 white wines will be better than the 2009s, or the 2008s.

Indeed, many white wines are very impressive, showing beautiful potential.

The colours of the Hospices 2012 red Burgundies are generally an attractive, bright purple-ruby of medium depth, so I only make mention of colour intensity, or hue, when there is variation from the norm.

Beaune 1er Cru, Cuvée Dames Hospitalières
Ripe, black fruit aromas introduce a palate which is well structured, with rich fruitiness and good harmony.  The natural sugar level of this wine was a remarkable 13.3 degrees at harvest time.  The tannins are full and fine, with elegant aftertaste.

Pommard 1er Cru, Cuvée Dames de la Charité
Black fruits and kirsch on the nose, solidly built, once again the most classic of the Pommard Cuvées – with real richness and great length.  This has the potential to gain complexity and smoothness for 20 years or more, if stored in good conditions.

Volnay 1er Cru, Cuvée Général Muteau
Strikingly beautiful aromas are followed by a palate which combines natural richness with silky, dense fruit.  This is a very pretty wine, showing the classic elegance of 1st Growth Volnay at its best.  Tannins are suave.

Beaune 1er Cru, Cuvée Guigone de Salins
This has cherry aromas which are complex and ripe.  The attack is impressive, the structure powerful, with profound fruitiness and rich, fully ripened tannins.  The is one of the Hospices’ greatest Beaunes in 2012, with beautiful harmony.  It may be laid down in confidence for medium and long-term ageing.

Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, Cuvée Cyrot-Chaudron
N.B. There are always two Cuvée names for the Hospices Clos de la Roche, Grand Cru.  3 barrels in 2012 are offered as Cuvée Cyrot-Chaudron,  and 3 more as Cuvée Georges Kritter (see below). The grapes fermented in one vat, then the wine was given the names of the two generous benefactors who each donated funds to buy the vineyards.

On the nose, this shows ripe black fruits with spice and smokiness.  The palate has real volume, with full-bodied, fleshy texture and powerful, fully ripened tannins. This is a truly magnificent wine, with remarkable sweet fruitiness, and impressive, long-lasting aftertaste. It is complete, fresh and beautiful, and will gain complexity and smoothness for at least two decades.

Corton Grand Cru, Cuvée Charlotte Dumay
2012 is certainly a great vintage for the Hospices red Cortons, of which this is the first to come under the hammer. These grapes came principally from Corton-Renardes, bringing power and structure, and from Corton-Bressandes, bringing  perfume and finesse.  In 2012, this has very pretty aromas, sweet middle-palate, perfect balance, with fine tannins and succulent, fresh aftertaste.  It is a very lovely wine.

(A specially constructed, fine-grained oak tonneau, holding 350-litres, of this wine will be the Pièce des Présidents in 2012, sold in aid of specified causes).

Beaune-Grèves 1er Cru, Cuvée Pierre Floquet
Coming 100% from de-stemmed grapes which fell by gravity into its fermentation vat, this wine shows aromas of strikingly lovely fruitiness.  The palate is intense, with great elegance, long aftertaste, gentle tannins and silky aftertaste.  One might be tempted to enjoy this youthful, but this wine – from Beaune’s most famous 1st Growth plot  – consistently benefits from 4-5 years bottle-age.  So this is a wine for enjoyment 2018-2025+, we believe.

Pommard-Epenots 1er Cru, Cuvée Dom Goblet
Like the Beaune-Grèves, these de-stemmed grapes tumbled uncrushed, thanks to gravity, from the sorting table onwards into their vat for fermentation.  Evidently they were super-ripe – but not over-ripe – on picking , for aromas are freshly fragrant, complex and seductive.  The palate shows black fruits character, very elegant, silky-textured, and succulent. This wine fully demonstrates how exceptional is the Epenots 1st growth site, within the commune of Pommard.

Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru Les Duresses, Cuvée Boillot
The production was much reduced by hail-storm damage, so only 3 barrels were produced this year.  But quality is exceptional.  Aromas are discreet yet impressive, the palate being rich and fleshy, well-structured, with gentle, fully ripened tannins and lively, fine length.

Volnay 1er Cru, Cuvée Blondeau
In most vintages this Cuvée marries, in almost equal parts, grapes from two of Volnay’s greatest 1st Growths: Champans and Taillepieds (with smaller quantities of Ronceret and Mitans).  But in 2012 Champans suffered considerable hail-damage, where Taillepieds was less affected.  So this year, the wine has unaccustomed structure, with dense fruitiness (from Taillepieds influence).  It certainly requires several years bottle age to soften and reach maturity.  The nose is open, and impressively ripe.  Palate has dense fruit, with lovely freshness, strong tannins, lingering aftertaste.

Pommard, Cuvée Billardet
The nose is open and fragrant, the palate well structured, with very charming fruitiness, showing elegant, fine aftertaste.  This is Pommard of real finesse and harmony.

Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru, Cuvée Madeleine Collignon
The nose of this wine is magnificent, recalling fresh, red cherries, with subtle spiciness from the tight-grained oak staves of the new barrels in which it is ageing.  Palate is full-bodied and fleshy, with a texture which is beguilingly creamy.  No discussion, this is a great wine – with dense fruitiness, tannins which are powerful, fine acidity, and superb potential. This is a thrilling and strikingly vibrant wine, which will mature superbly.

Corton-Clos du Roi Grand Cru, Cuvée Baronne du Baÿ
It is now six vintages since the Hospices first decided to vinify the grapes from Corton Clos du Roi separately, allowing the beauty and individuality of this most famous Corton hillside to be fully expressed.   Here, the nose shows succulent fruit intensity. On the palate, this is powerful, with fine structure, wonderful fruit intensity in mid-taste, and mouth-coating, fully ripened, rich tannins.  The aftertaste is harmonious and very long, with great finesse.

Volnay-Santenots 1er Cru, Cuvée Jéhan de Massol
This wine shows particularly vibrant, purple-garnet colour, with discreetly fine, fully ripened, Pinot Noir aromas.  The palate is generous and concentrated, with marked silkiness.   It shows intense fruitiness, with considerable harmony and length.  The secret of this Cuvee’s consistent beauty, year on year, is the tiny Pinot grapes, with thick skins, produced from its fine, low-yielding Pinot plants, which are some of the noblest in the Hospices Domaine.  This will be a wine of real beauty.

Meursault-Genevrières 1er Cru, Cuvée Philippe le Bon
Aromas here are complex, ripe and vivacious.  The palate is full-bodied, sweet in the middle, with creamy texture and absolutely splendid length.  A magnificent wine, with admirable freshness.

Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, Cuvée François de Salins
Nose is strikingly rich, ripe and complex.  Palate is full-bodied, with intense fruit, superb freshness, complexity and length.  The grapes in this vineyard are small, giving highly concentrated, fully ripened juice.  This is again one of the greatest whites in the Hospices cellar, and will prove to be superbly harmonious in bottle, with creamily textured, long aftertaste.

Meursault-Charmes 1er Cru, Cuvée Albert Grivault
This vineyard is situated in the best section of Les Charmes dessus, at the heart of Meursault’s finest, gently sloping hillside.  It regularly gives wines of spectacular opulence, allied to minerality and finesse.  The grapes in the past have sometimes been allowed to over-ripen, but in 2012 the picking date – one third of the way through the harvest – was perfectly judged.  This is one of the most outstanding Meursault-Charmes I ever recall.  Its fruitiness is intense and pure, the body showing power, vivacious roundness and superb, refreshing length.

Meursault-Genevrières 1er Cru, Cuvée Baudot
Mercifully there are 19 barrels of this lovely wine, where many of the Hospices best whites in 2012 saw their productions cut to single figures, by hail storm, uneven pollination or heat spikes.

The colour is attractive, green-gold, with very fresh, lemony aromas.  The palate shows plump texture, with intense, lively fruitiness throughout, and very fine, bracingly refreshing aftertaste.

Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru, Cuvée Dames de Flandres
The bunches here were extremely healthy, with well-spaced berries, often tiny in size, with the potential to give highly concentrated juice. Aromas are ripe, spicy and very rich.  On the palate, this wine is full-bodied, splendid, and complete, with sensational richness.  It is deeply fruity, with magnificent length.

Corton-Vergennes Grand Cru, Cuvée Paul Chanson
Located directly downhill from Grand Cru Corton-Charlemagne Cuvée Roi Soleil, this wine vies with it for fruit intensity and length of flavor, and sometimes beats it – as here, in 2012 – for opulence.   The nose has orange-peel character and superb concentration. Palate is sumptuous, lively, creamy-rich and very long.

Meursault-Charmes 1er Cru, Cuvée de Bahèzre de Lanlay
The nose shows fresh, clean fruitiness, the palate being medium full, with intense fruit and lively acidity.  Always one of the raciest 1st Growths in the Hospices cellar, in 2012 this is true to form, and – like the 2007 version, which today shows remarkable freshness, length and complexity – this wine is destined to mature slowly, revealing intense minerality, with bracingly refreshing, complex length.

Meursault, Cuvée Goureau
Nearly half of this Cuvée – 48% – comes from old vines in First Growth Les Porusots, which account for its rich body, sumptuous mouth-feel and impressive length.  This 2012 has concentrated, passion-fruit character on the nose, with rich, full-bodied palate, luscious fruit and fine acidity.

Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, Cuvée du Roi Soleil – previously known as Cuvée Charlotte Dumay
These vineyards face due east, and lie high on the Corton hill. The vines’ roots, planted 11 years ago, are penetrating deeply into the limestone, where the plant can draw perfume, minerality, body and complexity.   The 2012 is developing slowly in its barrel, with weekly lees-rousings, gaining in palate-texture.  The nose is very clean, spicy and fresh. The palate has a full start, with remarkable fruit intensity, linear rather than plump structure, with finely refreshing, vibrant aftertaste. 

Echezeaux Grand Cru Cuvée Jean–Claude Bissey
We welcome this generous, new donation to the Hospices Domaine in 2012 from Monsieur Jean-Luc Bissey.  These vines are planted in the climat of “Les Echezeaux du Dessus”, where the land becomes slightly sloping, towards “Les Rouges du Bas”.  They were planted by Monsieur Bissey’s father after 1945, following his return from the war. In colour, this is deep, rich purple, the nose showing black and red fruits character, very fresh.  The palate shows thrilling fruit concentration, with silky texture, refreshing acidity, gentle tannins and the characteristic, great finesse of Echezeaux, on the impressive aftertaste.

Beaune 1er Cru, Cuvée Nicolas Rolin
Nicolas Rolin is made from a high proportion of really fine Pinot plants, with small bunches and tiny berries, and is again an outstanding success among the First Growth Beaunes. This shows intense fruitiness of aroma, the palate having a strong attack, with concentrated  mid-palate.  The wine is impressively structured and fruity, with silky texture.  The finish is complete, with rich tannins and evident potential for mid-term and long-term ageing (for drinking 2017-2025+).

Corton Grand Cru, Cuvée Dr. Peste
Approximately half the grapes for this Cuvée come from the south-facing Chaumes sector of the Corton hillside, with most of the balance being from east-facing Les Bressandes.  As in past years, the wine shows more structure and richer tannins than Cuvée Charlotte Dumay, and it may benefit from longer cellaring.  This year’s wine has exceptional depth of colour, with vibrantly fruity, fully ripened aromas.  The wine is broadly structured, with magnificent fruit concentration, fully ripened tannins, and superb length.  You almost feel you need to chew this wine before swallowing it, there is so much, seemingly solid, matter passing across the tongue.  A great wine for the longer haul.

Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, Cuvée Georges Kritter
N.B. There are always two Cuvée names for the Hospices Clos de la Roche, Grand Cru.  3 barrels in 2012 are offered as Cuvée Cyrot-Chaudron (see above),  and 3 more as Cuvée Georges Kritter. The grapes fermented in one vat, then the wine was given the names of the two generous benefactors who each donated funds to buy the vineyards.

Tasting note, same as Cuvée Cyrot-Chaudron :
On the nose, this shows ripe black fruits with spice and smokiness.  The palate has real volume, with full-bodied, fleshy texture and powerful, fully ripened tannins.  This is a truly magnificent wine, with remarkable sweet fruitiness, and impressive, long-lasting aftertaste.  It is complete, fresh and beautiful, and will gain complexity and smoothness for at least two decades.

Beaune 1er Cru, Cuvée Clos des Avaux
Very deep in colour, with kirsch and bright, red fruit aromas.  This is a vibrant, lively wine, with good structure; tannins and bright acidity are both in evidence.  This wine benefitted from a long, slow maceration, lasting 18 days, which has resulted in admirable extraction of fine fruitiness, with vibrant aftertaste.

Pommard, Cuvée Raymond Cyrot
Grapes from 10 different Pommard plots make up this Cuvée in 2012, as bunches from the best sectors of Pommard Cuvée Suzanne Chaudron  (those not hail-damaged) were assembled here.  The wine has rich purple-garnet colour, with fully ripened, meaty and spicey aromas.  On the palate, this is powerfully built and well-structured, with impressively dense, concentrated fruitiness and well-ripened tannins.

Volnay-Santenots 1er Cru, Cuvée Gauvain
This is one of the earliest ripening sites in the Hospices Domaine.  It was harvested on the first day of the vintage, all grapes being de-stemmed, then dropping, thanks to gravity, into their open-topped fermentation vat.  Aromas are vibrant and fresh, with the palate showing beautiful, full fruitiness. There are gentle, finely-balanced tannins, with a harmonious aftertaste of real elegance.

Beaune 1er Cru, Cuvée Brunet
Aromas here are fully ripened and very fragrant.  The palate is richly built, with admirable balance of fruit, freshness and ripe tannins.  There is exceptionally elegant aftertaste, and fine length.

Saint-Romain (blanc), Cuvée Joseph Menault
This wine comes from two plots in Saint-Romain at different altitudes, with just 50 metres between them.  The higher plot, known as Le Village Haut, lies alongside hilltop scrubland, and may be protected from the depredations of wild boar – who will eat the grapes, if given the chance – by carefully installed, electric fencing.

This wine is pale, green-gold in colour, with cleanly fresh, lemony aromas.  The palate is lively, with good fruit concentration, fine length, and a bracingly refreshing aftertaste, which needs its secondary fermentation, to bring it into balance.   This was fermented in large tuns, contributing to its subtle, fine harmony.

Meursault-Porusots 1er Cru, Cuvée Jéhan Humblot
This shows very ripe, complex aromas, recalling orange rind.  The palate is magnificently full-bodied and sumptuously textured – a splendid, luscious mouthful, which has sufficient freshness, and impressive length.

Pouilly-Fuissé, Cuvée Françoise Poisard
As is traditional, the Hospices harvest began here, in its most southerly vineyard.  Some additional vineyards have been added to the land-holding, which accounts for the larger than average production : 30 welcome barrels in 2012.  The wine is absolutely splendid, having very pretty, floral and lemony aromas.  Palate shows fine, ripe fruitiness, with a long, dry, refreshing, yet gentle finish.  It fermented and is stored in barrels which are 1-year old, so the input from oak has been very carefully judged.  The finish is rich, and this may be enjoyed from its moment of bottling.

Meursault, Cuvée Loppin
Clear, green-lemon in colour, with open, very fresh aromas.  Palate is full-bodied and intensely fruity, with sweet middle, brisk acidity and appetizing length.

Beaune 1er Cru, Cuvée Rousseau-Deslandes
Nose shows open, fully ripened Pinot Noir aromas, the palate being dense, with rich fruit character, and mouth-coating fleshiness.  Ripe tannins are present, but show no bitterness.  Texture is satisfyingly well-rounded, the aftertaste being rich and long.

Monthelie 1er Cru Les Duresses, Cuvée Lebelin
This is one of the most beguilingly fruity and appealing Cuvées for youthful enjoyment, this year.  The grapes came to ripeness relatively early in 2012, and were picked on the 3rd day of harvest.  They were fully de-stemmed, with uncrushed berries then falling gently, by gravity, into vat.   Aromas are very pretty, recalling raspberries.  On the palate, there is lovely harmony between fruit, freshness and gentle tannins.

Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru, Cuvée Forneret
The majority of this Cuvée comes from les Vergelesses, which many would rate as Savigny’s most richly harmonious  Premier Cru.  Aromas are fully ripened and impressive, the palate being well-structured and powerful, with dense fruit and admirably balanced, fine tannins.

Beaune 1er Cru, Cuvée Maurice Drouhin
This has bright, blackberry aromas on the nose, the palate showing luscious, sweet fruit, with  lively aftertaste and well-balanced, gentle tannins.

Santenay, Cuvée Christine Friedberg
This comes from a vineyard, Les Hâtes, which is just uphill from Santenay village, and is bordered by First Growths. Aromas are very clean and open, the palate being lightly structured but brimming over with refreshing, exuberant fruitiness.  This is a wine to be enjoyed in the 2+ years following bottling.

Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru, Cuvée Arthur Girard
This has impressively deep, purple-garnet colour, with aromas which are fresh, ripe and spicy.  The palate is full-bodied, with very pretty, well concentrated fruitiness, lovely balance, and refreshing, fine length.

Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru, Cuvée Rameau-Lamarosse
On the nose, there is an intriguingly smokey fruitiness here, the palate showing a full start, with bright fruitiness, and a lively, gently tannic finish.

Beaune 1er Cru, Cuvée Hugues et Louis Bétault
Bright Pinot Noir aromas spring from the glass, the palate following logically with very pretty fruitiness, medium structure and gently mouth-coating, fine tannins on the finish.  This will make charming drinking, from the moment of bottling onwards, and for 5-8 years while it softens and blossoms fully.

Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru, Cuvée Fouquerand
This has admirably fresh aromas, the palate being well-structured, with dense fruitiness and a strong, richly fruity finish.  After careful tending and bottling, this may mature for youthful drinking, or benefit from 3-4 years bottle age.


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