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Our small allocation of 2016s from Sylvie Esmonin has just arrived and while quantities are proscribed due to the historic frost and the subsequent two months of near-constant rain and attendant disease pressure, we're excited by the bright aromatics, fruit purity, and terroir specificity of the vintage. During our visits to the estate many years ago, the importance of plowing and good farming to create deep root systems was emphasized frequently, especially in a vintage like 2003 when her vines suffered less than others from the heat and dryness. Though not certified organic, the use of herbicides was stopped in 1990 which led to cutting out systemic fungicides and pesticides as well. This was a change from her father's methods as was the use of whole-clusters in fermentation, approximately 70% in the Gevrey VV and Clos St. Jacques, which came from tasting old wines and wines from DRC that were vinified without de-stemming. "So I tried it for myself, and I think you really gain more complexity, specifically floral aromas." Sylvie feels that the current use of total de-stemming and cold macerations blurs the distinction between wines by exaggerating a one-dimensional fruitiness. More controversial, perhaps, is the estate's use of a high percentage of new oak. Sylvie feels, however, that the quality and type of oak she uses does not mark the wine excessively and that a ripe vintage, especially, necessitates its use. The quality of the vineyard work, the age of the vineyards, the use of whole clusters and the judicious use of new oak at Domaine Esmonin create distinctive and substantial Burgundies. The 2016s are unique and delicious wines that show the success of the estate's philosophies, in their complexity and elegance and their certain ability to age beautifully - we encourage you to put a few in your cellar...
Esmonin, Sylvie 2016 Bourgogne Cuvée Sylvie
20% whole cluster. Dark ruby robe. The 2016 Sylvie Esmonin Bourgogne Cuvée Sylvie is a bit circumspect on opening with a nose offering notes of underbrush, turned earth, and violets, giving way to aromas of wild strawberry, game, and pomegranate. The nervy, racy palate is similarly taut offering flavors of tart wild berries, spice, crushed herbs with a pungently mineral core and framed by somewhat firm tannins. With air the fruit rounds out and the palate gains weight. This shows the punch and drive of the vintage and is (dare I say it) a serious Bourgogne, with a fine tension between the hedge fruit flavors and savory earth notes. This will benefit from a brief decanting or a couple of years in the cellar to allow the elements to knit. John McIlwain
Esmonin, Sylvie 2016 Côtes-de-Nuits Villages
From 50 to 85 year-old vines in "La Croix Violette" and "Les Vignois," mid-slope in Brochon, close to Fixin. 35% whole-cluster.
Esmonin, Sylvie 2016 Gevrey-Chambertin
From 30-35+ year-old vines from 4 hectares in many parcels. 40% whole cluster fermentation, aged in 20% new oak.
Esmonin, Sylvie 2016 Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes
From the oldest vines, 75+ years-old up to 95 years-old, 50% whole cluster fermentation.
Esmonin, Sylvie 2016 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos-Saint-Jacques
From 45 to 55 year-old vines in 1.6 hectares with parcels at all three levels of the slope, 50% whole cluster fermentation, aged in 90% new oak. Always the class of the Sylvie Esmonin lineup, the Clos St. Jacques consistently illustrates why many consider the vineyard to be of grand cru breed.