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2016 Burgundy: The Glittering Whites


Frost and mildew made up the story of the 2016 growing season in Burgundy. Together they ravaged the Côte and led to a sharp diminution in volume. Fruit was thin on the ground.

That's the bad news: little fruit; little wine. Yet so often little fruit also means lots of quality and so it is with 2016. The vintage has produced wines of exceptional loveliness, both red and white. 

Both reds and whites are wonderfully pure things: fresh and transparently lovely. They also carry their origins minutely etched upon them. Where in 2015 the wines' terroir was rather obfuscated by their wealth of ripe fruit, in '16 they wear their characters on their sleeves. This is a fine vintage in which to get to the bottom of commune and vineyard differences.

I have been putting together a range of what I consider to be touchstone '16s: wines that express soil, vintage and, where possible (of increasing difficulty), value. First up, the whites (reds will be detailed in separate email):


Remi Rollin - quite stunning, user-friendly wines from Monsieur Rollin. Bowes Wine clients visiting M Rollin's winery always come away waxing about how charming the man and how lovely the wines. And they always depart with a bootful!

Jean Pascal - a perhaps lesser-known estate, but one of which I am extremely fond. I tasted a very smart white burgundy recently sold to a friend by a well-known Mayfair merchant. And I have to say that the lavish oaking deprived my nose and palate of a clear view of what lay beneath. Which is why I love the wines of Alexandra Pascal. They are naked, blatant expressions of soil-through-grape. And they are bottled under Guala seal,which means that one never gets a dud bottle.
Bachelet-Monnot - two brothers - Alex and Marc - absolutely rocking their thing down in their domaine in the fabulously named Dézize-lès-Maranges in the very south of the Côte de Beaune. A visit here is akin to being plugged into an electric burgundian ley-line. The whites are vigorous, chiseled, expressive, mineral and choc-full of energy. And I was struck this year by the equal brilliance of their red wines. A major player, this estate.


The wines of Remi Rollin

2016 Pernand Vergelesses, Remi Rollin
£123 in bond per 6  Drink 2019-25

N.B. You can see my video tasting note of the 2011 vintage of this wine here.
Lovely pure and precise nose expressing a lemon ripeness. This is crunchy-firm in the mouth; really energetic and a touch saline. Dense and long. There's lots going on here. A rich wine of fine, dense minerality.

2016 Pernand Vergelesses Blanc Les Cloux, Remi Rollin
£144 in bond per 6  Drink 2019-25
A riper nose that includes the delicious scent of small oranges, plus a hint of toast. The entry is richer than the above, a touch plusher too. There's a very fine core of mineral density in this long wine and it becomes really quite smoky/spicy. A very different expression but no less delicious!

2016 Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, Remi Rollin
£450 in bond per 6  Drink 2024-35
This is pale in the glass and the nose is rather reserved and shows a touch of the wood spice over fruit of pear and those small oranges. Across the tongue, this is all about a rich density that gathers into a proper nutty sustain. This also adds a steely thrust that develops into spiciness at the back. All here. A belter of a grand cru. 

The hill of Corton

2016 Bourgogne Blanc, Jean Pascal
£120 in bond a dozen  Drink 2019-22

Every year I offer this, but have found it tricky to sell and I suspect that is because of its moderate ticket. Once people taste it...that's another story. A bloke in our village bought two dozen and all he'd had was a mouthful. This shows a deliciously rich nose of green fruits, along with touches of spice and almonds. There's a lovely, quick freshness about the palate that arrives with the fruit density. It has clay-like, mild grip. This is long, but a touch compact in its youth and there's delightful, lime-like acidity. 

2016 Auxey Duresses Blanc, Jean Pascal
£201 in bond a dozen  Drink 2019-23
Lovely colour: a very pale lemon 'n' lime. A nutty-fresh nose showing a hint of toast to the crisp green fruit. Then the palate greets one with delicious, ripe Golden Delicious apple fruit. The richness of the fruit is allied to freshness from the very front. There are lime flavours hidden here. Lovely length and grip. And lovely spice at the back. This is really superb.

2016 Chassagne Montrachet, Jean Pascal
£171 in bond per 6  Drink 2020-24

Very Chassagne nose expressing rocks and minerals, all a touch smoky, with the lovely fruit aromas of lemon and lime and crisp apple. The palate is firm and compact, wearing its youth with pride. A rich, dense and transparent mouthful of wine. Lemon and apple remains. The finish is long and deliciously nutty. Going back to it, I picked up a wisp of toast to the nose.

2016 Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Hameau de Blagny, Jean Pascal
£231 in bond per 6  Drink 2021-26

I've written elsewhere about the hamlet of Blagny that sits of the side of the hill between Puligny and Meursault where the vines are planted at greater altitude and tend to produce wines that are cooler, more mineral and precise.
Aromas here are lovely and rich and nutty, of melon and apple fruit with a dash of toastiness. Smells completely delicious. Then the palate offers more melon fruit and that hint of toastiness returns. This is a delightfully direct wine, dense and pure. It gains in mineral, almost granular grip. A very, very long thing, very spicy at the back, all coming down to a spicy death. Fabulous Puligny.
N.B. You can see my video tasting note of the 2013 vintage of this wine here.

The wines of Jean Pascal

2016 Bourgogne Chardonnay, Bachelet-Monnot
£153 in bond a dozen  Drink 2018-23

Lovely pure aromas meet the taster: russet apple fruit. This is a touch shy, however, albeit rich and dense. Lots going on, evidently. The palate is stuffed with granular mineral interest. A long wine of clay-like mineral grip through the very long finish. Acidity is that of green apples.
N.B. These wines last for a long time. We are still drinking the 2010 here at home with great pleasure. You can see my video tasting note of that wine - along with my 2016 burgundy report - here.

2016 Maranges 1er Cru Fussière Blanc, Bachelet-Monnot
£123 in bond per 6  Drink 2021-26

Ravishing nose of dried white flowers, Golden Delicious apples and nut. There's a lime-like note, too. A very pretty thing to smell. Palate is firm and structured from the off. Fruit is of lemon and apple and contains a classy earthy minerality. Very spiced at the death, this and the finishing acidity is russet apple. There's something crystalline about this wonderful white.

2016 Puligny Montrachet, Bachelet-Monnot
£186 in bond per 6  Drink 2021-27

This is an assemblage of fruit from Meix, Corvées des Vignes and Houillère.
The nose is all about oaten, cereal notes, lemon and a hint of toast. This is firm from the front of the palate; very fresh, with lemon and just-ripe Golden Delicious apple fruit. It pushes elegantly through the mid-palate and then returns in force at the back to a rich, upright, fresh and assertively structured, spiced death. Very long and altogether fabulous.  

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