2011 at Domaine Arlaud

My first tasting during my trip to Burgundy was with Cyprien Arlaud at his family Domaine. What a total delight it was! We only tried 2011s from cask but these showed that Cyprien continues his intrepid climb up the quality ladder.

Cyprien Arlaud brewing tea

Cyprien continues to make reasoned, intelligent changes to his winemaking and the thought he puts in really pays off. He is very enthusiastic about the advances he has made with the health of his vineyards after moving to biodynamism (the picture shows him brewing up some biodynamic tea to treat his vines). He says biodynamism has made his vines more resilient in the face of climatic irregularities.

Cyprien is also extending his experiment of 2010 with a proportion of whole-clusters in the fermentation. Most wines now have 30-40% whole-cluster fermentation. I think this is a Good Thing and he is very pleased with the results. I’ll tell you about the 2011s.

First up was the Bourgogne Rouge and what a hilarious way to kick off a tasting. This wine is pocket-money sweeties for grown-ups. It is totally delightful and made to charm yet will be sold for embarrassingly little money. You could drink this fruit-driven, light and elegant little number all day and grin with each slurp.

Domaine Arlaud’s three village appellations showed that the pure expression of fruit in the Bourgogne was going to be characteristic of the Domaine’s wines in 2011. The fruit was very clean and bright in all three wines, with good concentration and plenty of style. My favourites were the silky smooth Gevrey-Chambertin and the earthy, structured Morey-Saint-Denis. The Chambolle wasn’t bad, but the others seemed a step ahead.

Two of Cyprien’s invariably excellent Morey Premier Crus burnt with coruscating life. The Aux Chezeaux was totally delicious; a wonderfully poised and balanced Morey and real energy and complexity. A delight. The Morey Premier Cru Ruchots was simply amazing. It had Grand Cru-levels of density and complexity yet remained harmonious and vivacious thanks to its bright, fresh fruit. The finish was just amazing.

After that the Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru Aux Combottes, charming as it was with its svelte tannins and livid acidity, just seemed a bit of a let down. So it was a good job we moved onto Grand Crus! Hooray for Grand Crus!

Cyprien Arlaud made the best young Charmes-Chambertin I think I’ve ever tasted. Its fruit had the vibrant energy of the vintage but almost visibly throbbed with complexity. It was just so sophisticated both Editor Dani and I started doing the now-almost-obligatory one-legged dances of pleasure. The finish went on and on and its whole aspect just left one totally compelled.

The Editor will sneer at me for this but I thought Arlaud’s Clos de la Roche was even better. It was totally poised and beautiful on the nose, showing incredible restraint and intricacy of aromas. On the palate you could feel its tightly-wound power and density. It didn’t seem massive, but there was one hell of a lot going on there to tease out as we tasted. It will develop into a gloriously intense and structured wonder.

Finally there was what is usually my favourite Domaine Arlaud wine, the Clos Saint-Denis. There was the real power and intensity showing from the vines right at the heart of the Grand Cru enhanced by the incredible depth of flavour resulting from Arlaud’s old vines. This was coupled with a glorious scented perfume of perfectly ripe fruit and heavenly flowers. An amazing wine that is going to provide extraordinary pleasure throughout its life.

Domaine Arlaud’s 2011s provided a lewdly pleasurable introduction to what seemed like a very good, if not quite supremely perfect, vintage. Cyprien remains one of the most thoughtful and careful winemakers in Burgundy and with him improving the recipe each vintage I have no hesitation in classifying Arlaud as a top tier producer. Buy them before people notice. Buy! Buy!!