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From what could be considered one of the most difficult growing seasons in memory in the Côte d'Or (devastating frost, followed by two months of rain and mildew pressure), has arisen what may be one of the finest vintages we've tasted. And while the memory of the huge crop losses from the catastrophic frost of April 27 and subsequent herculean efforts in the vines throughout May and June to stave off some of the worst attacks of mildew many vignerons had ever encountered, the weather broke and Burgundy saw perfect growing conditions from July through September. And though yields were down dramatically, the fruit that remained was in excellent condition. The resulting wines are truly magical and leave one struggling to find synonyms for brightness and energy. Where the 2015s are dense, powerful, and often brooding, the 2016s are luminous, perfumed, and positively exuberant in the purity of the fruit with etched detail to the terroir expression and sneaky structure. And while I am hesitant to add hype to a vintage where yields were excruciatingly low, these are wines of startling beauty and emotionally satisfying for lovers of vibrant, energetic, mineral Burgundy and should make for thrilling drinking with time in the cellar. Happy hunting! John McIlwain
In the decidedly difficult 2016 Comte Armand's Clos des Epeneaux is a lovely wine in the making, though with a more lifted and energetic character, rather than a stern one. The nose offers aromas of black and red cherries, with cool herbal aromas and hints of oak and spice. The midweight palate is supple, rather than sinewy with loads of black and red fruits, savory earth notes and a cool, yet pungent sense of minerality on a deceptively long finish. John McIlwain
The 2016 Faiveley Clos de Bèze already offers a dazzling array of dark and red fruits, wild berries, pure cherry, and turned earth on the nose. The concentrated palate offers spicy cherry and plum flavors with notes of game, mustard seed, and black tea over a layered and dense mineral core of impressive length and complexity giving way to a long, detailed, stony finish. This will take the better part of a decade to integrate all of its elements, but should provide rewarding drinking for the patient. Excellent Clos de Bèze. John McIlwain
From 8 lieux-dits across Gevrey-Chambertin. Considering the escalation in prices at all levels in Burgundy, Louis Boillot's Gevrey-Chambertin remains a fantastic value, brimming with Gevrey character, while remaining affordable. The 2016 is heady, fresh, and cool-toned on the nose offering black cherry, plum skin, raspberry, game and wood smoke aromas. Dark-fruited and savory flavors intermingle on the medium-bodied palate, with ripe notes of black cherry, hedge fruit, cherry pit, and crushed herbs. There is good mineral detail to this lending a sapid counterpoint to the fruit. Nice freshness here with fine structure lending an earthy, masculine Gevrey character. This punches above its weight and should shine with 5-7 years of cellaring and drink beautifully for the next decade. John McIlwain
Bright tones and moments. Limpid and ruby robe. Red flowers (hibiscus!) wild strawberry, griottes, beetroot and wet stone on the nose. Supple, finessed: roses, silken with sneaky structure to go with a world of stoniness. This is deeply mineral and pure and has the core to age effortlessly. A vibrant and lithe Brouillards, decant now, better still in 5-10 years and beyond. John McIlwain
Dark ruby robe. Tightly wound, black-fruited on the nose, with aromas of game, iron, violets, black cherry, and blackberry giving way to loamy soil notes and wood smoke. Great sense of sauvage wildness—unmistakably Gevrey. The palate isincisive on the attack with punchy minerality giving way to dark fruit flavors, notes of grilled meat, mustard seed, and a sapid earthiness on the long, deeply-pitched, concentrated finish. Great acidity and savory notes lend drive and lift to this pitch-perfect Gevrey. The wine is delicious with a burger, but holds plenty of complexity to accompany game birds, daube, or braised rabbit. Decant now to enjoy the nascent complexity, better still, cellar for 7-10 years and beyond. Burguet does sensational Gevrey at the village level, that rises to 1er Cru quality and offers great value to those who love the wild and earthy face of the appellation. John McIlwain
From 32-year-old vines on shallow stony soils. Champeaux is one of the brightest and most vibrant of the Gervrey 1ers. Burguet's is easily one of my favorites. Bright red fruits and violets dominate the nose, the palate is cool, refined, and has great concentration, exhibiting a finely mineral finish. (Verging on cerebral were it not for the prettiness of the fruit.) John McIlwain
If Domaine des Croix's 2016 Beaune Premier Cru assemblage is bright and high-toned, the Bressandes is the earthier, richer counterpart. Again there’s that startling energy, though deeper-pitched and more soil-inflected than the Premier Cru. Dark floral notes, black fruits, and a touch of sauvage gaminess on the nose. Denser and darker fruit and spice on the richer, broader palate, with a pure core of ferrous minerality that carries over on the long, detailed, sapid finish. Here’s the specificity, the punch, the structure. There’s a sophisticated, albeit sterner character here, but this is deeply satisfying and beautiful. I suppose more Bud Powell than Bill Evans, but immensely pleasurable. Great job in an admittedly difficult vintage. Domaine des Croix is worth a serious look in 2016. Decant now, or better still cellar for 7-10 years and beyond. Fantastic depth and purity and a sublime pairing with duck with wild mushrooms in a red wine sauce. John McIlwain
40% whole cluster, from parcels in Grands and Petits Epenots. The 2016 Les Epenots from organic Domaine Parent has a dark ruby robe. The nose is a touch reticent on opening; with air, lovely black fruit and soil aromas emerge with plum, iron, and crushed herbs giving way to game notes. The palate is densely concentrated with flavors of black cherry, plum skin, black tea, and spice over a vibrant and deeply-pitched mineral core, framed by ripe tannins and leading to an admirably long, detailed finish. This has great purity and energy and should age effortlessly. A beautiful Epenots! John McIlwain
Ripe, perfumed, and dark-fruited on the nose with a mélange of floral and spice notes and a discreet touch of oak, the 2016 Clos des Cortons has a sensational sense of brightness and complexity. The palate offers a dramatic combination of pure fruit, supple tannins, and vigorous minerality on a layered, harmonious, classy finish. This is lovely and should age effortlessly. Beautiful Corton, indeed. John McIlwain
From 50-year-old vines in four parcels below the village of Volnay. Cherry pit, iron, and spice box with notes of black tea on the nose, freshly turned soil and violets emerge with air. There is a deft interplay between the bright hedge fruit and stony earth notes on the detailed, mid-weight palate. This is a fine Bourgogne, with enough savory elements in relation to the charm of the fruit to warrant a few years in the cellar. John McIlwain