Robert Parker 91-93
The 2014 Corton Renardes Grand Cru already has an intriguing bouquet that is forming in barrel, a little more open at the moment with dark berry fruit, a touch of Earl Grey and bay leaf. It is nicely defined, somehow effortless. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins, nice and saline in the mouth, very harmonious and silky smooth, so much so that you might think this was Côtes de Nuits. Lovely. The dogs were yapping away when I rang the doorbell chez Leroy in Vosne. I think they recognize me now, know my smell. Stranger danger? No, it’s just Neal. And behind them came their owner, Lalou-Bize-Leroy, still as fit as a fiddle and full of energy, flanked by her loyal assistant Frédéric. Pleasantries done, we made our now ritualistic descent in the lift, dogs in tow, down into the caves to taste through her 2014s. Instantly I saw that they cellar was occupied by a few more barrels than last year, the yields a tad higher at a still very modest 21 hectoliters per hectare. Lalou told me that July and August was rather poor in terms of the weather, but matters improved after August 15 and that she ended up picking from September 17. “I like the 2014s a lot. They are very ‘jolie’,” she tells me, flitting between barrels, making sure that each is not too reduced before giving the nod to pour into my glass. “But the 2014s are different to the 2013s. They were more ‘gentile.’ I find these a little more tannic than the 2013s, with very good acidity levels. The pH was around 3.30. I find the very precise with lovely fruit.” Lalou traditionally bottles earlier than her peers and she told me that she intends to bottle in December. Though there was some reduction to overcome, it is clear that the 2014s represent a very fine vintage for the domaine and I found the wines as Lalou described, full of energy and nervousness, precise and mineral-driven, not overtly powerful wines but with what you might call “streamlined intensity” — and often deliriously silky-smooth textures. No doubt there will be difficultly to find and warrant a second mortgage, but these are seriously fine expressions of the vintage crafted by a one-off who truly deserves the title of ‘legend.’ As you expect, these are wines that, like Lalou, are full of energy despite the reduction that one inevitably encounters out of barrel. They are very terroir-specific, perhaps not abiding by the Burgundy hierarchy as much as other vintages; that is to say, some of the premier crus I thoughts ranked equal to the grand crus and vice versa. The grands crus are exceptional, especially the Richebourg, which ranks as one of the finest 2014s that I tasted. This is closely followed by the Romanée-Saint-Vivant, Musigny and Chambertin, incidentally the latter augmented by a new acquisition that the domaine are currently converting to biodynamic viticulture. Some of the village crus are truly wonderful and I was particularly taken with the Nuits-Saint-Georges Aux Allots this year.
Anticipated maturity: 2017-2035
A rush of fruit and tannin explode across the palate in the 2014 Corton-Renardes. The most classically structured and overtly powerful of the Grand Crus, the Corton-Renardes will take a decade or so to come around, but it will always remain somewhat tense and piercing. Even so, the Corton-Renardes is simply magical in this vintage.
Anticipated maturity: 2026-2044