TN: Grands-Echezeaux Dinner + 1996 Salon / 2000 Krug

GRANDS-ECHÉZEAUX DINNER - Summer Pavilion, Ritz Carlton, Singapore (12/2/2020)

Grands-Echézeaux is one of those vineyards in Burgundy that I had never really gotten a handle on in the past - the wines were just too rare, and the few producers who make good examples too expensive, so much so that they quite rarely show-up en masse at a tasting. This then was a rare, and wonderful opportunity to taste a whole lot of bottles assembled from our individual collections: from a great range of top makers, and some very nicely matured examples as well.

Like its bigger neighbour, Echézeaux, Grands-Echézeaux is often associated with the great Grand Cru vineyards across the village border in Vosne-Romanee. It is, however, technically in the village boundaries of Flagey-Echezeaux, and actually just next to the top (and arguably finest) part of the Clos Vougeot. Like Clos Vougeot, this vineyard was created by Cistercian monks of the Cîteaux Abbey, and much later got its AOC Grand Cru status in 1936. It is, incidentally, a single lieu-dit, widely acknowledged as being the best of the 12 that make up the Grand Crus of Flagey (the remaining 11 being merged to form Echézeaux). You can tell that in the wines too - they are consistently grander, and finer than those from Echézeaux.

In terms of character, these wines lie somewhere between a top Clos Vougeot and one of the more muscular Grand Crus of Vosne- Romanee - say Richebourg. Here, one gets a range of red to darker berry fruit meeting secondary notes of earth, meat and warm spice. Quite of the few of the wines also had a hint of dried roses about them. In terms of structure and feel, the best examples all showed an elegant purity and transparency about them, but also almost always a sinewy, muscular strength. This is certainly terroir capable of producing wines of great finesse, but of velvet rather than silk.

What did strike me as well were how consistently good the wines were - it may have been a function of the winemakers represented (all quality), but I think a lot also has to do with the terroir itself. A very proper Grand Cru then, which is not always something you say about parts of Clos Vougeot or Echézeaux.

Special mention must go to the pair of champagnes we had as well. Both were very good indeed, with the Salon knocking my socks off - in the midst of a red wine dinner, that was probably my favourite drink of the night.

  • 2000 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut - France, Champagne
    Very solid, but just a touch more oxidative than I thought it would be at this stage of its development. This was clear from the nose, which had typical Krug notes of red apples yeast and bread, along with sweet honey and caramel aromas, but all this edged with some browned fruits and an oxidative, rather savoury rancio character. The palate was really full and generous, with a muscular seam of powerful flavours filling the mouth - sweet red apples and ripe lemons, yeast and some cream, a dollop of honey, and then touches of spice and mineral pulling away into a long powerful finish. The mousse had tamed into a soft robe, and the oxidative notes were in there somewhere as well, showing in a bit of browned pear notes. Overall very good and still solid, but this was really drinking as though it was leaving its peak window behind. (93 pts.)
  • 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut - France, Champagne
    Wow - still a long way away from peak, but this was absolutely lovely. The nose was pure Salon, with sleek, alluring aromas of red apples laced with flinty, stony minerality, and just that shade of yeastiness coming out at the edges. The palate was bursting with strength and energy, with a spine of juicy, lemony acidity racing its way through snappy flavours of red apples and some white fruit, all this still carried on a bed on fine, vigorous mousse, into a finish that had a lovely flint and mineral length to it. Sleek, polished, and full of sinewy tension and effortless strength - this showed a lot youthfully than the bottle I had a couple of years ago (which had the benefit of double-decanting and a couple of hours of air). This bottle seemed to be just about coming out from its awkward adolescence at the moment. All still quite tight then, but this is a superlative wine in the making. I would easily lay this aside for another 6-8 years on this showing. (95 pts.)

  • 2012 Georges Noellat Echezeaux - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Echezeaux Grand Cru
    From one of wunderkind Maxime Cheurlin’s first few vintages chez Noellat - he made just one barrel of the 2012 Grands-Echezeaux. This was really young, but very nice. The nose still had a strong shade of caramelly new oak on it, but past that, there was a beautifully perfumed bouquet of red berries and sweet strawberries, earth, broiled meat and a blush of wood spice. Attractive, if not for all that wood. The palate started with a full mouthful of woody, peppery spice, and then lots of sweet strawberries and raspberries, this underpinned with a lovely, deep bed of earthy, stony, minerally tones. There was serious power and strength here, great length too, stretching through the backpalate with another lovely flush of spiciness and then another kiss of oak. Delicious, if lacking a bit of subtlety at the moment, and just a touch too much sweet oak on both and nose and palate for me. Great structure and balance though - with fine, firm tannins and bright acidity - all boding well for a long aging curve. This will be interesting to try a decade or more down the road. (93 pts.)
  • 2007 Domaine Thenard Grands-Echezeaux - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Grands-Echezeaux Grand Cru
    This needed a bit of air to get going, but this was pretty nice when it did. A different animal from the more modernly styled George Noellat and Jean-Marc Millots on the same flight, but no less pleasing for that. It had a lovely nose, full of earth, meat and spice, and a touch of mature Burg funk, all dancing around a core of dark cherries and perfumed violets, with a just a touch of woodiness in there as well. The palate was perhaps slightly skinnier than expected after that nose, with notes of black cherries and berries, wood and warm spice spreading out towards a nicely lengthy finish. Old-school, but not lacking charm of finesse - this was clearly blessed by the friendly tannins and bright acidity of the 2007 vintage. Just a bit lean over the midpalate and into the finish for a Grand Echezeaux maybe, but a very good wine nonetheless. Drinking well now with a bit of air, but it should age pretty well over the next few years. (93 pts.)
  • 2005 Jean-Marc Millot Grands-Echezeaux - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Grands-Echezeaux Grand Cru
    This was very impressive - my favourite amongst a decent first flight of other Grands-Exhezeaux. The nose was quite marked with an unfortunate touch of Brettanomyces at first, with a waft of funk, sweaty sous bois coming out of the glass. Thankfully, this blew off a little with time to reveal much more pleasant aromas of dark cherries and berries, along with earth, meat and mineral, and than a dash of spice and a little linger of some new oak. With time, a suggestion of rose petals drifted out as well. A darker and deeper nose than the 2009 Jean-Marc Millot GE that we had alongside; more masculine - but then again, that may have been the influence of the Brett. In any case, when the funk blew off, this was actually quite a nice bouquet. The palate was very impressive. In true 2005 fashion, it was still really well-structured, with bright acidity and noble tannins framing a full, generous mouthful of dark berry fruit, all with a nice transparent feel. Past the midpalate, a hint of florals - dried roses I thought - and a touch of spice emerged, all held in perfect balance as the wine moved into a long, full finish of mineral and earth and warm spice. There was lots of substance and quiet intensity here. A very complete wine; quietly impressive, with an elegant strength to it - this showed-off the quality of the 2005 vintage beautifully. Starting to drink well now, but with many years ahead of it yet. (94 pts.)
  • 2009 Jean-Marc Millot Grands-Echezeaux - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Grands-Echezeaux Grand Cru
    This showed very young indeed. It had a pretty nose, if a touch sweet for my tastes, with notes of new oak dancing out of the glass alongside candied scents of red cherries and strawberries. With time, some savoury notes of earth, button mushrooms and deep wafts of wood spice starting emerging from the sweet oak and fruit as well. It was the palate that I really liked - elegant, pure, and light on its feet, this was a lithe, mineral wine. On the attack, it showed charming flavours of red cherries and raspberries liberally seasoned with wood spices - pepper, cloves and cardamom I thought - and then trail of mineral moving into finish that was still marked with noticeably sinewy tannins. Less sweet here then the nose suggested actually; it was all very linear and defined, with a surprising amount of fresh, juicy acidity for a 2009 keeping it very fresh and drinkable. It seemed to fade a little quickly on the backplate at first, leaving behind a herby brambly note, before a real spicy linger came out again. Altogether, a wine of real character and finesse - it just carried lots of puppy fat and showed some sharp elbows at the moment. This should age nicely though. It will be lovely to try again sometime in 2025-2030 or so. (93 pts.)
  • 2005 Pascal Lachaux Grands-Echezeaux - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Grands-Echezeaux Grand Cru
    Another good, fairly solid GE to round up the flight. This certainly felt deeper, darker, slightly more stubborn than the pair of Jean-Marc Millot wines that preceded. More masculine and old-school in its stylings. The nose showed dried earth, mineral and dark fruit, along with a meaty savouriness, and then drifts of spice and ferrous mineral. Like the Millot, there was a shade of new oak in there too surprising, but otherwise the character was very different. A little tight, but a rather pleasant bouquet. The palate started out with lots of wood spice, dried earth and mineral speared through a core of dark berries and cherries, and a litter of dried violets, these riding on a bed of powdery, but muscular tannins that gave the wine a real sense of structure. It was certainly less filigreed and elegant than the pair of Millots, or indeed the Georges Noellat that preceded it; but that is not to say that this lacked any precision of focus. While just a bit blunter, less sharp than say the very on point 2005 Millot, this was still quality, and gave a real sense of masculine charm. I do not think it will ever be a world-beater, but it is nevertheless a nice wine that should continue to grow and evolve nicely over the next decade or so. (93 pts.)

  • 2000 Nicolas Potel Grands-Echezeaux - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Grands-Echezeaux Grand Cru
    One of two surprisingly good bottles of Potel Grands-Echezeaux (that bested a trio of Engel on the same flight), this was lovely. What amazing aromatics it had, bursting out of the glass with fireworks of dried roses and sweet red fruit - cherries and berries I thought - then fragrant spice, some earth, some meat, and a little twist of bramble in there too - just absolutely wonderful, perfumed stuff. The palate was delicious too, with silky tannins and lovely fresh acidity framing a mouthful of sweet red cherries and strawberries, and then a little stream of mineral and spice leading into a gently, velvety finish. The feel was very much that of a good wine from its vintage - not the most complex, but so pure and transparent and delicious. A wine of elegance and finesse - really lacy and appealing, seductive even. I loved this. If there was any criticism at all, it was perhaps a bit on the lighter side for a Grand Cru, especially a Grands-Echezeaux, but this still had a nice quiet intensity and length to it. A lovely drop, drinking at absolute peak. (94 pts.)
  • 2003 Nicolas Potel Grands-Echezeaux - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Grands-Echezeaux Grand Cru
    Different in character from the lacy, elegant 2000 that we had alongside, but every bit as good. This was perhaps closer to what one would expect from a Grands-Echezeaux. It had a deeper, meatier nose, with darker cherries and red berries, and then a deep bed of savoury earth and meat aromas, all wreathed with lots of spice and bramble. Lovely, alluring stuff. The palate was certainly deeper and fuller than the 2000, with a real sense of Grand Cru depth to it. Here, it was still a light marked by the remnants of powdery 2003 tannins, but it all felt very fine and nicely balanced, with soft acidity wrapped around a surprisingly bright palate of red berries, some apple flesh, and then a distinct note of orange peel - really delicious stuff. There was just that tiny hint of 2003’s drying woodiness again right at the very finish, along with a nice blush of warm spice leading into a tail of mineral and earth. Otherwise, this was open, generous and fresh. Less filligreed than 2000 for sure, but really well-balanced and elegantly shaped for 2003. Very yummy and drinking well now, but this will get better with time too. A smashing bottle - one of the best I have had from Potel for a very long time. This pair of wines really made us wonder where he sourced the Grands-Echezeaux from - they put a trio of underperforming Engel GEs in the shade, and that is really saying something. (94 pts.)
  • 2002 Domaine René Engel Grands-Echezeaux - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Grands-Echezeaux Grand Cru
    Good, but underwhelming. This was one of the wines I anticipated most on the night, but served blind in a pack of 5 other Grands-Echezeaux, it did not stand out at all. While the quality was there, it just felt a bit grumpy and sleepy. The nose was deep, but tight, with bass notes of earth and mineral, and savoury roast meat, along with subtler aromas of black cherries and plums and then a little dash of spice. The palate had very much the same feel to it. It was very 2002 in character - lots of clarity and transparency, with fine, firm tannins and good juicy acidity margin for a lovely structure. However, it felt a bit obtuse, stubborn almost - with fresh, pure notes of dark cherries and berries leading into a mineral and spice finish - all showing very clean, with plenty of definition, but also coming across very tight and rather unyielding. This was a very complete wine though - long, pure and very refined, with a quiet power and strength flowing through its veins. Very Engel I thought: an elegant charmer, but with a bit of an old school feel, built like a gentleman farmer. A solid Grands-Echezeaux then, but on this showing, really needing plenty of time yet - 6-8 years more at least. (93 pts.)
  • 2001 Domaine René Engel Grands-Echezeaux - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Grands-Echezeaux Grand Cru
    Another solidly good, but rather underwhelming Engel GE on the night. Like the 2002 that preceded it, this started out with a rather tight nose of earth and savoury meat alongside notes of dark berries and black cherries. The palate had a fresh, juicy 2001 feel to its black cherry and dark berry character, but it was also full and muscular underneath, with a deep undertow of dried earth mineral and spice. Delicious on first blush, but it then tightened up and leaned down rather dramatically past the midpalate, until it felt a touch drying, lacking a bit of the weight and plushness of the 2002, Thankfully, a better finish then set in, showing a nicely filigreed lattice of spice and mineral. The wine was very solid, with plenty of good material and showing an impressive structure and shape throughout; unfortunately, it just lacked a bit of charm on the middle palate somehow on the night. Like the 2002, I suspect this bottle was going through a a bit of dumb phase. A real pity - it would be good to try it again in say 5-6 years to see where it goes. (93 pts.)
  • 2000 Domaine René Engel Grands-Echezeaux - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Grands-Echezeaux Grand Cru
    Unfortunately corked. A pity - I was looking forward to retrying this after a bottle I enjoyed almost 7 years back. On the nose, there was plenty of the dreaded cardboard character of a TCA’ed wine underneath otherwise pleasant notes of sweet red fruit, spice, dried roses. The palate was round and soft on the attack, but still showed some strength in its red fruited core, with nice bits of spice and mineral hovering about. Unfortunately, it felt a bit scalped past the mid palate and into the finish. Sad one this. NR (flawed)

  • 2002 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grands-Echezeaux - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Grands-Echezeaux Grand Cru
    On to the big-hitters now, and this was excellent - probably my favourite of the many Grands-Echezeaux bottles on the night. The nose was pure DRC, with magic whole cluster aromas of meat and earth, brambly herb and wood spice, and then a core of blackberries and plums, edged with a sweeter lilt of cherry liquer and some dried roses, maybe even violets. Wow - that was some nose. It was very full and complete on the palate - marrying the best of the Grands-Echezeaux terroir with the lovely shape and poise of the 2002 vintage. This just felt like such polished wine, with velvety tannins and fine acidity wrapped around a core of sweet dark berries and plums, a bit savoury meat and earth, and just lovely mouthful of warm spice unfolding in the background. Mouthfilling and full, yet this was a wine all bout purity and transparency, with a gentle, almost velvety strength to it. So well integrated too. The finish was midlengthed rather than truly long, but very satisfying indeed, with a quiet tug of warm spice lingering at the end. Super stuff - an absolutely delicious wine, drinking so well now. No such though. This has all of the hallmarks - balance, integration, fruit and structure - of a wine that will age effortlessly through the decades. (95 pts.)
  • 2001 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grands-Echezeaux - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Grands-Echezeaux Grand Cru
    A beautiful - coming in just perhaps a half-step behind a lovely bottle of the 2002 DRC GE on the same flight. This too had a lovely DRC nose, with ripe stems and bramble curlings around savoury note of earth and meat, then sweet, ripe aromas of dark berries and plums, all this garlanded with gentle reams of woody spice and some perfumy florals. Beautiful. The palate was very bright and juicy, with lemon peel acidity and fine velvet tannins shaping a core of black cherries and dark plums. Not quite as complete a wine as the 2002 I thought - this lacked some of the fullness of its younger sibling - but there nevertheless an elegant strength to this, with a long mineral backbone pulling delicious into a finish that blossomed with a nice bloom of spice at the end. A beautiful wine, so charming and elegant. This felt a bit more classical in style to the more generous 2002, more defined and cut. A gentle wine that doesn’t shout its qualities I thought; very subtle, almost unusually so for a DRC. Really good though, and starting to drink quite nicely now. I would love to try it again in 4-5 years - I have a sneaky feeling there is some opening up to do yet. (94 pts.)
  • 1966 Maison Leroy Grands-Echezeaux - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Grands-Echezeaux Grand Cru
    Mature and lovely. This had such a deep, ripe nose, with complex aromas of coffee, mushrooms and sous bois, herb and broiled meat, and then plenty of sweet black cherries and berries. Tons of character on this. The palate was still very full and fresh - amazingly so for a 1966 - with velvet tannins draped around a core of black cherries and berries, earth, meat and spice. This had a masculine character to it, but was matched with a pure, transparent feel - really charming, elegant almost. Nice finish too, with sweet floral notes coming out alongside the meatier, spicier tones. A lovely, ageless expression. I must say that it suffered a little being put next to two much younger, and slightly more vibrant DRC Grand-Echezeaux, but that this held its own and stood-out really says something. A real treat. (93 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

A prediction? [wink.gif]

Thanks for sharing Paul, I have virtually zero experience with this vineyard, I can probably count the wines I have had on one finger. Seems like a common theme was dark fruits and a bramble edge to them as an overarching style.

I don’t have a big Grands experience either but find it a muscular wine, kind of like Corton with spice, a step up from Echezeaux. It used to be the ”value” DRC wine, if that can be said. There isn’t much of it and it needs a long time to mature. Great tasting.

Thanks, Paul,
I own a few examples, I think probably all from Mongeard-Mugneret, and I have yet to open any. I appreciate your characterization of the vineyard, which is pretty much what I imagined. I know M-M takes a long time, but I look forward to the comparison–maybe try the '07, which could possibly be ready.


Lovely notes. Nothing surprising about JM Millot. Truly an incredible producer.

I need to check out Nicholas Potel’s wines, if a 2003 has such a great showing, it tells something about the quality of the producer or maison in this case.

Interesting, take first time anyone comparing it to a Corton. Many people including Jasper Morris, Becky Wasserman have called it an extension of Musigny.

Little word of warning - I have had very mixed experience with Potel wines from this era, and I have had quite a lot (friend imports them).

Rumour has it that between 1999 to the early 2000s, some of Nicolas Potel’s wines were from barrels made from DRC’s young vines that they sold to him. His late father Gerard Potel (of Pousse d’Or fame) passed away in 1997, just after that domaine was sold. Gerard was one of the greats of his generation, and there was a lot of goodwill after his passing, with people stepping in to Nicolas after that.

The trick has been to find bottles like RSV and Grands-Echezeaux from that era - if the rumours are true (and Nicolas refused to confirm or deny whenever we asked him on his visits to Singapore), chances are you will hit a baby DRC. And, while not always on the money, I have had some really nice bottles of Potel RSV (and now) GE from that period.

I have no experience compared to those two but don’t see the Musigny parallel at all. RSV-Musigny parallel maybe, but Grands is harder, which is why I wrote Corton.

Interesting, I thought the rumour was that the Gaudichots thgat Potel offered was purchased from DRC, I thought DRC used the young vine GC wine for their premier cru bottling

Alan I have very little experience and am just learning. Your inputs are just as valuable!

wow! That’s some insider knowledge. Thanks for sharing!

Paul, i have also heard that DRC was the source for potel’s gaudichot - in 1999.

I always wonder where their Suchots goes. I know they keep the Batard there—I got to taste it when there on an amazing visit long ago. Thick oily dense yet lifted wine. Crazy good.

I had one bottle of Nicholas Potel from the mid aughts, an 05 Clos vougeot, but gave it away as a wedding present, wonder whose vines it was from.

This is a good assessment in my opinion. And yes, they need a long time to mature. The DRC version is damn near immortal- the 1959 tasted 20 years ago was still at full peak and showing zero signs of going downhill.

Paul- great tasting you put together there. For future reference- if you ever come across the Drouhin version, it is one of their best offerings. The 1993 is particularly outstanding. In a good vintage I personally would put the Drouhin version second only to that of the Domaine de la Romanee Conti. But I should caveat that with the comment that, like many who have posted here, I do not have a ton of experience with Grands Echezeaux outside of the DRC version.

I think Prieure Roch got the use of those vines