December 14, 2009

2005 Nicholas Potel Savigny Les Beaune Les Hauts Jarrons

Nicolas Potel is a young négociant in Burgundy. With his father, Gérard Potel, who was manager of a well-known domaine in Volnay, he began a négoce house in July 1996. Upon his father's sudden death in October 1997, Nicolas left the domaine and took over the négoce business full time. Potel's wines have some new world leanings. They are perhaps a good way for a new world pinot lover like me to explore Burgundy. Further, 2005 was a bit of a home run for red Burgs.

This 2005 Les Hautes Jarrons is from a premier cru in Savigny Les Beaune. This wine was young, but showed great promise. Very primary on opening. Lots of darkish fruit, almost syrah like. However, that is really short-lived; as the wine gets some air, it stiffens a bit. Nose becomes pleasantly smoky, with dark cherry notes. With food, the palate slowly reveals tea notes and crunchy red fruit, but it clamps down pretty hard on the back side. Nice, but I will revisit again in a couple of years.


  1. Dude: You've got a sliver of the Potel story here, but there is a lot more to it. Domaine de la Pousse d'Or in Volnay was the Potel family property for a good long time, when a wealthy foreign investor bought the property and showed the Potels the door. Nicolas struck out on his own, and had a negoce operation in Nuits St. Georges, which ran into financial difficulties and was bailed out by Cottin Freres, who also own Laboure-Roi -- these guys are into volume, not artisanal wine making. Let's just say that the Cottins and Nicky did not see eye to eye -- as Nicky is a guy who goes on passion, not on the bottom line. A wonderful thing, of course, but it did get him into a bit of hot water.

    Nicky went on to cellars in Beaune, where he has launched his own business, Domaine Potel, sourcing grapes primarily from properties he has been acquiring or leasing around Beaune. I cannot agree that his wines are "new world" at all -- au contraire, Potel is about as dedicated to organic and bio winemaking, and to terroir driven winemaking, as anyone I know.

    In 2009, the picture is a bit muddled. The Cottin-owned business, called Maison Nicolas Potel, refers to negociant wines made by the Nuits St. Georges operation. Through the 2007 vintage, those wines were largely made by Nicolas and his team. In early 2009, the Cottins split the sheets with Nicky entirely. They own his name, and they will apparently keep making wines under the name Maison Nicolas Potel -- but Nicky will have nothing to do with those wines, except as a 'brand name.' Kinda like he sold his soul to the devil, unfortunately.

    There is also Domaine Potel. These wines will continue to be grown and bottled and will be the creation of Nicolas and his team.

    Finally, there is Selection Potel. These are older wines Nicolas has found and purchased from various cellars around Burgundy; he has "selected" them as fine mature examples of their type.

    As for the 2005 Savigny, no surprise you found ripe fruit with a blue/black fruit profile, although calling this wine "syrah like" is a stretch. We're talking about a warm growing season -- not freakishly so like 2003 but definitely a vintage of big ripe wines with ample structure. Les Hautes Jarrons and the vineyards around it, down by the main road from Beaune, typically yield up reasonably muscular wine with a tendency to the rustic. They can age remarkably well by the way. Most '05s are tight as a drum at the moment and while they may give you a blast of fruit at the front end they typically will shut down on you pretty quickly. As usual, everyone wants to drink the 'best' vintage but doesn't want to wait for it, so many of these 2005 red burgundies will be drunk far too young and will disappoint those looking for instant gratification.

  2. Chambolle-
    Awesome info. Thanks for bringing the knowledge!
    Have you tried any of Nicky's '06s? I enjoyed his SLB VV the other night. I like some of the '06s I've had.
    Trying to leave '05s alone.
    Thanks again!

  3. Dude: Yes, I also had the Potel '06 SLB VV recently, it is quite appealing. There have been a number of '06s in the marketplace for fire sale prices (including that SLB) -- after the economic meltdown and following the frenzy over the '05s, the '06 reds landed in the distribution channel with a thud. But very appealing young wines, ripe and forward, probably with some aging potential too --I'd liken them to 2002 perhaps with a bit less structure. With careful selection, you may also find '04s that are good drinking and well priced, but '04 is an inconsistent vintage and something of a minefield. Some good wines I've had recently from '04 that are (or were) in the US market at good prices and that are drinking nicely now include Roty Gevrey Champs Chenys; Boillot Beaune "Clos du Roi"; Mugneret NSG "Chaignots." From '06, I've recently liked Regis Bouvier Marsannay "Longeroies"; Chandon de Briailles Savigny "Fourneaux" and "Lavieres"; and in whites, the '06 Deux Montilles St. Aubin "Sur Gamay" is very nice and well priced. A few "open for business" '05s are about -- Charles Audoin Marsannay "Clos de Jeu" and "Cuvee Marie Ragonneau" drink very well already and may still be available for under $25 a bottle.

  4. I've had some nice '04s recently as well, though I realize it's a tough one. Pavelot's Dominode and Thibault Bel Air Charmotte have been great.
    Thanks again for great suggestions!