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In a decidedly difficult vintage beset by catastrophic frost and significant disease pressure, which required heroic work in the vines, some pretty remarkable wine resulted, even if in miniscule quantities. From barrel these were some on the brightest and purest Burgundies I’ve been lucky enough to taste. In bottle the wines are positively gorgeous, luminously fruited, with fine sap, ripe tannins, and vibrant energy with fine terroir expression.
Domaine Arlaud, led by the capable Cyprien Arlaud, made especially beautiful wines in 2016. The vines are biodynamically farmed and horse-plowed. Cellar work has evolved from the early 2000s with less extraction and new oak, with the emphasis on balance and finesse. Over the last few years, the domaine has been on a roll. The 2014s were balanced and harmonious, the 2015s showed great precision and flair despite the warmth of the vintage, while his 2016s are lights-out good: bright, lifted, expressive, detailed and precise with achingly pure fruit. These are beautiful, emotionally-satisfying Burgundies for the table, with the poise and structure for long term cellaring. John McIlwain
50+ year-old vines from the top of the Mazoyères section of Charmes-Chambertin, beneath Latricières, adjacent to Domaine Leroy's vines. 20% new oak. This is also a step-up from the already excellent 1ers. Effusively aromatic, with scents of perfectly ripe orchard fruit. Pure cherry, red and black plums, spice box, and game notes. The nose is kaleidoscopic, layered, and dazzling for Charmes. The palate is equally impressive, with layer after layer of perfectly ripe Pinot fruit, vying with a profound stoniness for attention. This has a deeply mineral core and has the lift to carry all the stoniness. Finely-grained tannins and succulent acidity run through the finish. This is great Charmes! Needs 10-15+ years, but just electric. Wow! John McIlwain
40+ year-old vines. Adjacent to Mazoyères on the Gevrey side of the the village. One of the cooler locations with a long ripening period. 15% new oak in 2016. This is a step up in class from the village level wines with a similar intensity, if different character than Les Millandes premier cru. Effusively perfumed with aromas of violets, hedge fruits, cassis, black tea and baking spices, mustard seed, and turned earth on the nose. The mid-weight palate is a bit cooler-toned than Millandes, with mouthwatering pure berry fruits and tangy minerality. Great persistence and sap on a finely-detailed, succulent, classy finish. This verges on cerebral, were it not for the equipoise between earthy and fruit notes. Doesn't shout, but speaks eloquently in paragraphs. A great Cheseaux that should age effortlessly! John McIlwain
45+year-old vines in clay limestone soils. 15% new oak. The 2016 Arlaud is a sensational expression of Les Millandes. On the nose it offers pure-fruited, pretty aromatics with ultra-ripe (not over ripe) pure cherry and violet aromas. Coltish and nervous on the palate, this shows great energy, ripe fruit flavors, with a tactile mineral spine, ripe tannins, generous fruit, with a long, driving mineral finish. This is excellent. Beautiful after-aromas and a good amount of the 'peacock's tail.' Lovely now, but this has the elements to age for 10-15 years and beyond. John McIlwain
60+year-old vines planted in a walled clos on Chambolle side of Morey beneath Bonnes Mares and Clos de Tart. 15% new oak. More structured, deeper-pitched, and masculine than Les Millandes. Pure plummy black cherry fruit with sauvage/animale elements and a frank, ferrous minerality within. Great density and agility. You can taste the proximity to Sentiers and Bonnes Mares. This is dynamite! Nearly painfully long, stony, palate-staining finish. This isn't a wine to enjoy in its callow youth, but will reward with 12-15+ years in the cellar. Patience is a virtue here. John McIlwain
From biodynamically farmed 45+ year-old vines. Aged in 1 year-old barrels. The 2016 Arlaud Clos St. Denis is perfumed and earthy at the same time. Stony, deeply fruited, gorgeous nose. Exuberantly aromatic, with aromas of roses, game, black cherry. Fabulous concentration. This has Grand Cru breed. Pungent stoniness and dense orchard fruit on the palate. Dazzling intensity and sap over a profoundly mineral core. Great persistence and the classic 'peacock's tail' on the lingering finish. This is sophisticated, energetic, and displays great nascent complexity at this stage. Again, wow! This is excellent juice and will be glorious in 10-15 years. John McIlwain
Bonnes Mares Grand Cru 2016 (from Barrel) 35+ year-old vines 20% new oak. Touch of reduction initially, then deeply aromatic, freshly turned earth, roses, violets, stone fruits, animale, notes of forest floor. Tightly wound and knit; there's almost too much going on and all of it's interesting. Dense, verging on sinewy on the palate, taut, structured, muscular. Deep fruit core of black and blue fruits, great ripeness and sap. Vibrant energy coiled within. This is tightly wound and will take time. Perfect ripeness and very Bonnes Mares. Fine breed and energy. Masculine and majestic. Hold 12-15+ years. Great potential. John McIlwain