Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Arnoux Pere et Fils and 2006 vintage in Bourgogne

Arnoux Pere et Fils and 2006 vintage in Bourgogne

Located in the Cote d'Or department (county), eastern France, Beaune is probably one of the most visited cities of Burgundy for its wines and more especially for one of the most well-known wine events in the wine world: the Hospice de Beaunes. It is also the wine capital of the Cote de Beaune region, home of the best Burgundy whites, where a few more bright, aromatic, earthy reds can also be found, like Beaune, Chorey-lès-Beaune, Pommard and Volnay.

Here is some info about the Arnoux Père et Fils winery taken from the importer website at

"Pascal Arnoux is yet another graduate of the Lycée Viticole in Beaune. After working with his uncles Michel and Rémi for most of the past two decades, he took over complete control of the family domaine in 2007.

Based in the village of Chorey-lès-Beaune, Domaine Arnoux covers just under 50 acres (roughly 20 hectares) spread out over several parcels in Chorey and Savigny-lès-Beaune, Beaune, and the hill of Corton. A practitioner of lutte-raisonnée (sustainable culture), Pascal works his vineyards by hand and employs natural alternatives to chemical pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, including the introduction of pheromones to sexually confuse grape-worm butterflies. He confers frequently with a government eco-protection agency in Beaune and also the Côte d’Or Chamber of Commerce to keep up on the latest bio-friendly viticulture methods.

Pascal is a non-interventionist in the cellar, though he does put a lot of thought into the oak selection process. He knows a thing or two about barrels, as his father was a cooper. Arnoux’s Chorey-lès-Beaune, Savigny-lès-Beaune and Beaune reds are textbook, and what to look for on the lists of better restaurants when visiting Beaune. The domaine’s Aloxe-Corton 1er Cru Les Fournières and Grand Cru Corton Rognet are beautifully structured, with layers of complexity. Pascal also makes excellent white wines, the JWS favorite being his fleshy, mineral-driven Pernand-Vergelesses blanc."

As for me, I always loved the wines from the Cote de Beaune and its surrounding sub-regions and appellations. The Beaune whites have always been some of the most sought after and complex whites in the world. The Beaune reds, somewhat less well-known and appreciated than the established reds from the Cote de Nuits (the upper part of Burgundy), are getting a bit more recognition and attention from amateurs and connoisseurs, being greater values yet still offering complexity, length, earthy flavors and balance from smaller, less recognized artisanal producers.

Although, the name of Arnoux has been around for quite a few decades and is pretty well established among the big brands of Beaune, in my opinion, Arnoux remains among the more traditional, artisanal and environmentally friendly winemakers of the area. Arnoux' Chorey-lès-Beaune and Savigny-lès-Beaune are both benchmark in their own appellation.

The following wines are 2006 vintage which, in my opinion and despite what the wine-press was saying about it (see my post "Follow the wine press or not?"), is a much better, consistent and brighter vintage than the so acclaimed 2005 vintage which was more opulent, fleshier yet less balanced or characteristic (in my opinion) from traditional Burgundy wines.

2006 vintage in Burgundy (like in Bordeaux and a few other French regions) brought fleshy, ripe fruit and body like in 2005 yet with brighter acidity, giving a more balanced, juicier, more enjoyable, fresher attitude to most wines.

2006 Arnoux Pere et Fils Bourgogne Pinot Noir France

Suggested retail price $17-$20

Selected by Jeff Welburn and distributed by Winebow in NYC

Made from declassified young vines of Chorey-lès-Beaune, this is a very enjoyable, juicy yet earthy, well rounded yet with good acidity example of a good Bourgogne Pinot Noir. The robe is light to medium intensity, bright ruby red. The nose is expressive with fresh aromas of red cherry, earth, touch mineral. The palate is light to medium bodied, with red berry flavors and earthy tones with a fruity, fresh and approachable attitude. A good compromise between the rather esoteric, too earthy burgundy and the sometime too extracted new styler. An easy pick for the summer.

2005 Arnoux Chorey-les-Beaune "Les Confrelins" Burgundy France

Suggested retail price $27-$30

Selected by Jeff Welburn and distributed by Winebow in NYC

From the so acclaimed 2005 vintage (despite my opinion about it), come a fleshier, more opulent than usual Chorey from Arnoux. Fortunately, it is one of his benchmark wine and the terroir of "Les Confrelins" add in complexity. The palate is nice, ripe, supple and medium bodied with red and dark cherry fruit flavors and moderate yet present soft tannins. It remains among some of the good Burgundy that I tasted under $30.

Regarding my view about the 2006 compared to the 2005 vintage in Burgundy (and Bordeaux), here is my opinion.

You see, I think that quite a few Burgundy and Bordeaux 2005 vintages were fleshier, riper (like in 2003) than most previous vintages. However, what the wine-press forgot too mention (in many cases), is that they were also a bit angular, unbalanced and not as consistent as most 2006 (that I tasted, in my opinion). Moreover, a lot of 2005 Burgundy (and Bordeaux too) presented (in way too many cases) overripe fruit and touch of alcohol (like in 2003 due to the summer heat wave) but also unharmonious mid-palate and weird acidity, and often green, bitter tannins in the finish (due to, like some producers did in 2003, mixing early harvest with later harvest and other mistakes -here again- read my post on "Following the wine press or not?").

My opinion, real traditional Burgundy drinkers should avoid the 2003 and 2005 vintage, and focus and buy the following vintages, which offers (in my opinion here again) the best characteristics and flavors and the most consistent, traditional attitude and profile a good burgundy wine should have: 1999, 2002, 2006.

Don't get me wrong, 2005 is a good vintage overall, but it is more a pick and choose type of vintage and definitely not a great vintage (despite what the wine-press said about it), more over the skyrocketed prices (because of the wine-press here again) are ridiculous and far from affordable (like in Bordeaux for 2003 and 2005, the wine press went to quick, to fast and certainly didn't measure the consequences of such a hasty enthusiasm for a vintage which gradually revealed more flaws than attractive features....).In most cases, I preferred most 2006 Burgundy (white and red) that I tasted, than the 2005.

For Bordeaux: 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 offer some great values, but 2001 and 2007 weren't great, and 2003 and 2005, although 05 was much better than 03, still present too many angularities, here again (overripe fruit, alcohol, green, bitter tannins, weird acidity and so on, and the prices don't necessarily represent the quality of the wine...).

However, this was just a few parentheses about the fact that (in my opinion) the wine-press (in general) is too often influenced by labels, brands, winemakers, and especially a handful of wine-critics dictating the vintage, the market and prices. Although very important, vintage characteristics about an entire wine region are often too global and aren't necessarily representative of the sub-regions and diverse appellations, and definitely doesn't take in consideration the different winemakers' style.


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