Puligny Montrachet Les Pucelles Tasting
2 Nov 2019
Les Pucelles is a top premier cru plot in Puligny Montrachet, bordering Bienvenues Batard Montrachet and Batard Montrachet, both Grand Cru lands, thus the significance of Pucelles. Many regarded Pucelles as a super Premier Cru that’s almost Grand Cru status, the prices also somehow reflected that. Will this tasting placed Pucelles in the Grand Cru, or they remained as a Premier Cru? I’ll guide you through what we have tasted.
Two Master of Wines (MW) attended the session, with attendees randomly contributing a bottle of Pucelles for tasting, and somebody even contributed a “pirate” bottle (i.e. not a Pucelles). All wines were tasted blind with no influence of labels.
In order to save you from all the technical chores of tasting notes, I’m not going to write detailed tasting notes for such tasting. I’ll present and reveal the wines here for your reading pleasure.
Vincent Girardin Pucelles 2006 *
Vincent Girardin Pucelles 2009
Henri Clerc Pucelles 1998
Olivier Leflaive Pucelles 2014*
Henri Boillot Pucelles 2015
Leflaive Pucelles 2002*
Leflaive Pucelles 2006
Leflaive Pucelles 2010
Paul Pernot Pucelles 2011
Henri Boillot Pucelles 2011**
Domaine Bruno Lorenzon Mercurey 1er Cru Piece 2017
Frankly, if you think the traditional producer Leflaive, who owns the largest plot of Pucelles, and with a superstar status of being the best producers, you’re in for a shocking and nasty result. Many producers like Girardin, Olivier Leflaive, Henri Boillot and Paul Pernot was not a well known producer of Pucelles, but the tasting gave them a chance to prove many audiences wrong. The battle between the classic producer Leflaive versus the new-styled producers head on show down ended up with the classic producer being phased out, while the new-styled producers winning a definitive upper hand. 32
Flight 1: Vincent Girardin 2006’s (9.25/10) opening show has already surprised all attendees. Apart from being stunningly elegant, it was smooth, round and friendly, and to an extend addictive. The acidity also improved over time. It has put the 2009 (9.0/10) to a second class citizen although the acidity was really focused for 2009. Henri Clerc’s 1998 (8.75/10) was a tad too old with loads of honeysuckle notes, apricot and barley, it’s bordering a dry sauternes style.
Flight 2: A close tie, with 6 pax voting for Olivier Leflaive 2014 versus 4 pax for Henri Boillot’s 2015. I can understand why, as most people really enjoyed the clean and good acidity of Olivier Leflaive, plus 2014 is a great white burgundy vintage. Whereas Boillot’s wine is more flavorful and classic, which is a very typical 2015 style, surely lacking in great acidity for this vintage.
Flight 3: A goliath flight of Domaine Leflaive that underperformed. The 2006 was corked and certainly pre-mox. The 2010 was a close fight against the 2002, with the 2002 an edge over the 2010, with very rich and fat fruits, loads of layers of flavor here, I’d consider 2002 as the closest to Grand Cru style. But sadly this label is overpriced and underperformed, as at this stage, most people preferred Flight 1 or 2.
Flight 4: Paul Pernot was sadly pre-mox as well. While the pirate Bruno Lorenzon did a good job masking as a Pucelle, although an MW sharply picked it up as a very different style. The star of the day was the Henri Boillot 2011, and almost unanimous that it was Wine of the Day; very saline and clinical bouquet, the acidity was focused and sharp, slightly burned and smoky, lovely content.
Is it a Grand Cru status? Sorry I don’t see how this can be a Grand Cru level wine, as it obviously lacked the X factor of charm and elegance found in many Grand Cru wines. The only Grand Cru level wine in this tasting was perhaps Leflaive Pucelles 2002, but it’s closer to Bienvenues Batard Montrachet rather than a Batard Montrachet style. However, this tasting has taught me that there are some stunning producers and new-kids-on-the-block (no, Girardin, Olivier Leflaive and Henri Boillot are not new players) from Pucelles willing to challenge the old backward classical style of Domaine Leflaive, this gave consumers a lot more choices without burning a hole in the pocket!