Robert Parker 91
Roche de Bellene’s 2007 Chambertin is quite leathery and gamey on the nose but incorporates a satisfyingly fresh ripe abundance of black fruits as well as site-typical rose petal. Sweetness of fruit and inner-mouth perfume follow strongly into a finish where the hirsute notes so prominent in the nose are put into the background as subtle elements of complexity, and a soy-like note adds saliva inducing savor and umami too often missing from too many of this wine’s stable mates. With its fine-grained tannins and relative polish, this is a Chambertin one can enjoy early but that ought to reward a decade of cellaring as well. Operating with a crew of more than a dozen from the same imposing facility as his domaine (for more about which, consult under -Domaine de Bellene-) Nicolas Potel is assembling contracts (favoring organic and moreover biodynamic growers) to support an array of negociant wines in red and (around one-third) white nearly as vast and as studded with illustrious crus as was that associated with Maison Nicolas Potel (which became a subsidiary of Laboure-Roi in 2003, and from which Potel has been estranged since last year). I find the ambitious scope of this project – encompassing the sophisticated remodeling of an ancient Cistercian press house – even more impressive than I do its two initial collections of wines, but then, the exceptional, often very tiny lots of young wine or fruit that informed the best lots from Maison Nicolas Potel and the degree of control that could be exercised over them are not things one would expect anyone to replicate in two years, not to mention years of meteorological challenge as well.. (All Roche de Bellene contracts so far have been for must or young wine, not fruit.) Since most of the 2008 collection had only just been bottled when I tasted it in March, allowances should be made for the possibility that many wines were suffering from this – I could almost have added a “+?” after each entry – which time did not permit me to re-taste. (And for all of the wines I tasted, and report on below, these do not represent the entire 2008 Roche de Bellene collection, as Potel did not assemble samples for me of a number of wines that were still in barrel at the time of my visit, nor, regrettably, could I have found time to taste them all since I had not anticipated such a vast collection.) No U.S. importer has yet been named for these wines.