There’s little secret as to the outstanding quality of the 2016 harvest in many, indeed most, parts of France. For Beaujolais it is a great vintage in the sense that the wines are concentrated, fresh and possess a sense of power with clarity. Quantities are not high but this is often the trade off when quality is exceptional and mother nature is a little cruel.
Having said that, the trio of 2016 Morgon wines from Jean Foillard are outstanding and trace a very close line of terroir-driven style from three different parcels. The newest is the 2016 Morgon Les Charmes Eponym (A$68), which hails from schist soils but with a soft sheen of approachability. This dark-fruited and elegant iteration from Foillard has a strong thread of purple violet-like florals, blackberry and black cherry. The palate has a succulent, glossy, lozenge-like core of blackberry and blackcurrant flavours, tannins are gathered towards the middle of the palate, explosive at the finish. It’s good drinking straight off the bat.
The grey labelled 2016 Morgon Cuvée Corcelette (A$68) offers up vibrant fresh red cherry and strawberry aromas with background red florals. The palate texture is derived from sandstone origins and plush, pastry-like tannins carry a very juicy, bright and mouth-watering array of red berry fruit flavours. This is Beaujolais at its silky and seductive best and, while it’s super drinkable now, it will happily wait in the cellar for up to 10 years.
The most age-worthy of the 2016s is, as always, the Morgon Côte du Py (A$68), which is a wine that should be left alone for two to three years. The nose has crushed violets, and deeply alluring aromas of ripe strawberry, blackberry and raspberry with a sexy, stony, graphite-like edge. As elegant and precise as it may be, the palate wields some real power and kicks into the finish with plenty of energetic, shimmery tannin. This is arguably the wine of the vintage, so seek it out.
The world of Dom Pérignon is so heavily layered with marketing and elaborate brand play, it’s nice to be reminded of what is actually inside the bottle once in a while. Whether your bottle of the 2008 vintage is glowing in the dark, sporting a nightclub sparkler or just being served at home, you’ll be pleased to find that what's inside it is as good as it gets.
Yes, we’ve waited an extra year for this one, with 2009 being brought forward in the schedule, but the 2008 Dom Pérignon (A$260) is worth the wait. Simply put it is the best release of Dom Pérignon since 2002 and it is a vintage that delivers classic appeal, terrific structure and concentration and has the potential to evolve effortlessly to what Dom Pérignon now calls the second plenitude.
Blessed with the sort of restrained power that calls for some time under cork, this delivers beautiful fruit purity in the glass with vibrant yellow citrus fruits and deeper blood orange and pink grapefruit. The über-fresh palate has light pink berry fruit flavours as well as white peach and builds into subtly spiced pastry flavours and textures. Smoothly refined, long and piercing, tuck it away as it has so much to offer. Try it around 2025.
This vintage also marks a change of the guard at the top, with chef de cave Richard Geoffroy departing and passing the responsibility for Dom Pérignon to his understudy Vincent Chaperon, who has worked with Geoffroy since 2005. Geoffroy, who commenced in the role in 1990, has presided over a very prestigious and transformative period for Dom Pérignon, delivering an impressive 15 vintages during his tenure.
Geoffroy’s shoes, always immaculately buffed, sported notoriously well-worn soles as he travelled the world tirelessly as one of the most high-profile winemaker ambassadors. They are large shoes to fill, such is the magnitude of the transformation Dom Pérignon has made during Geoffroy's tenure. But Chaperon will certainly deliver the quality of Champagne required to carry this most famous brand through its next generation. Having tasted one-on-one with him, his focus on the details of winemaking and his dedication to the technical responsibility that comes with the role will underpin an exciting era for this iconic luxury Champagne.
The 2008 vintage has already been launched in to the Australian market with a Continuum Release (A$280) label bearing both Geoffroy and Chaperon’s names, to celebrate the chef de cave handover. The regular label is due to be released in the
early months of 2019. Collectors take note!
Is Weingut Keller the world’s greatest dry riesling producer? Very likely, and the 2016 vintage was fantastic for Klaus-Peter Keller. It was a vintage that accentuated qualities of power, structure, precision and length and played straight into the hand of this great riesling maker.
Apart from the obvious, the great thing about Keller is that the wines are uniformly excellent. They don’t just magically kick into gear at a higher level of quality, they actually deliver scintillating drinking at each and every step, and the quality in the basic wines is very hard to beat.
The lone 2017 Riesling Trocken (A$49) is a beautifully fresh and precise wine with peach, nectarine and sweet-smelling white flowers. The palate has intense acidity and drive, a burst of minerals and is very succulent with plenty of acid. It's a pristine, fragrant riesling that will blow others clean off the table.
The 2016 Von der Fels (A$67) is suggestive of its name – meaning from the rocks – and moves into slate-like, stony influence on the nose, distinct from the fruit-focused Trocken bottling. This is full of wet stone aromas, a little honey and plenty of green apple and lemon. The palate has a lithe, juicy and succulent edge, good depth and drive, and a refined, javelin-like finish.
The 2016 Riesling Limestone (A$51) twists in a more floral direction with a background of wet stones and minerals ahead of peach, apple, apple blossom and elderflower. The palate has a cool, refined and concentrated feel, with plenty of flavour presented in an elegant style, finishing really pithy and succulent.
A step into off-dry territory and the 2016 Riesling Kabinett Limestone (A$64) delivers fine flinty minerals with attractive floral perfume, lime and crushed white flowers. The palate’s lithe, juicy and gently off-dry with enough acid to carry the load. This is the drink-now bet for Keller. Spicy food is your friend here.
The stand-out of Keller’s rieslings is unequivocally the 2016 Westhofen Abts E Brunnenhäuschen Riesling Grosses Gewächs (A$379). Granted, it is not cheap, but if you compare this to the best bottles in Burgundy or Bordeaux, it actually stacks up exceedingly well. It delivers a wild array of almost every citrus fruit under the sun – yellow, green and orange tones. It is super complex and at the same time ferociously focused. The palate is phenomenal – so tight and so sheer, like a wall of perfectly cut rock. There’s a wave of incredible mineral depth and superior length. It is one of the greatest rieslings of our time.