’98 Raphet Clos de Beze-
Mature nose of sous bois, fine earth and sandalwood. Delicious and fully resolved with some sweetness on the palate. This has the typical '98 traits of breadth and generosity (but not precision). There is a sophisticated earthy complexity and this has integrated its oak. There are much better Bezes out there, but this is excellent and delicious. Fully mature, drink now to 7 years.
’98 Raphet Gevrey Chambertin Lavaut St Jacques-
This is not in the same leaugue as the Beze. There is a minty green note and I cannot decide if it is from under-ripe fruit or under-ripe wood. In either case it is distracting. Otherwise this is quite good in a similar style to the Beze. There is some sweetness from integrated oak. I really would like to see more precision in a wine from the Combe. Overall this is good but not much more. Drink now to 7 years.
I think the wines have a bit of oak (at least the NBI cuvees), but overall I don’t consider the style to be heavy-handed. They do seem a bit commercial in the sense that they are not very diligent on yields etc.
Overall, I think Raphet’s wines are quite good if not competitive with the best.
I worked in the NB shop when these were on release. I never felt that Raphet had much NB influence, compared to Magnien, Arlaud and others that seemed more squarely under the barrel program. The comment on yields is interesting. The Raphet wines then generally seemed lighter and more acid than the “typical” producer in the portfolio. I thought is was an old school kind of thing – not green harvesting and leaf pulling and all that. Just making the wine, ideally letting the vineyard shine. Sometimes the wines seemed a little neutral, sometimes ethereal. I always wondered how they aged. But I never thought it was a yield issue, rather a lack of concern for cropping so low that you end up with black wine and jammy flavors. Perhaps though some of the misses were due to over cropping. I always wondered why the wines weren’t simply stunning across the board. Great terroir in that cellar, that’s for sure. Good, sometimes great wines, but not so consistent.
I can’t speak for them. Back then, I asked the same question and essentially the party line was that there wasn’t any substance to the accusations of a barrel fetish or overoaking. My tasting showed otherwise, but some producers seemed more impacted than others. Certainly there are some great wines in the portfolio. I first tasted Paul Pernot’s wines through NBI, for example. Great, great producer to my taste.