2006 Volnay 1er Cru Champans - Domaine Nicolas Potel
From ancient vines, the 2006 Volnay Champans (two-thirds de-stemmed) is another tight, tart, darkly-hued Potel Pinot. Notes of savory fungus, peat, and forest floor mingle with blackberry, and while the tannins here are firm, there is a promising underlying sense of richness, and a finish more enveloping than it is gripping. Here is another instance where over-14% alcohol does not seem to have conspired with the wines palpably high tannin to engender any roughness. This should be fascinating to follow and versatile to employ over the next 4-6 years.
Nicolas Potel consistently favors promoting ripeness at low potential alcohol and consistently eschews chaptalization. He is also a fan of freshness and clarity in Pinot, while maintaining notably low levels of sulfur. A vintage where a significant share of fruit came in near or above 14% potential alcohol and was shadowed by botrytis was thus a challenge, which seems to have been selectively well met. (For more on the style and methods associated with Maison Nicolas Potel – whose wines are sourced from a mixture of contract fruit and purchased juice – consult my report in issue 171.) Despite the huge number of 2006s I tasted here, incidentally, they did not represent the entire Potel vintage collection. In May, 2009, Potel left the negociant firm that bears his name (and which belongs to the Cottin brothers, owners of Laboure-Roi) to devote himself entirely to his own domaine and negociant operation, Maison Roche de Bellene, which crushed its first grapes with the 2007 vintage (in part from Potel holdings that were showcased in Maison Potel bottlings of vintages 2005 and 2006). Long-time cellarmaster Fabrice Lesne has now assumed direction of Maison Potel. By the way, suggested retail prices for the 2006s here took a sharp downturn vis-a-vis those for the 2005s, an occurrence worth noting for its rarity. (That said, of course the effective, eventual retail prices for all 2006s have turned on market factors that transcended cellar door prices, let alone the parameters envisioned by national importers).
Importer: Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York, NY; tel. (212) 355-0700