A great vintage for one of the great wines of the world, the Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne 2012. A 97+ point effort so impressive that Neal Martin ran out of superlatives, it is at the pinnacle of white wine and one of the most collectable on the planet.
Coche-Dury is a Burgundian icon. The tiny amounts of wine produced are typified by opulence and an open generosity that means they can be enjoyed young or cellared for years. The quality has made Coche a superstar of the region and praise from the critics is fully reflective of this:
• “Coche-Dury is one of the three greatest wine producers in Burgundy” – Parker
• “Buyers around the world clamour for stocks and those lucky enough to succeed know they have yardstick bottles” – Remington Norman, The Great Domaines of Burgundy
• “This is one of the finest white wine domains in the world” – Clive Coates
Their Corton Charlemagne is the jewel in their crown and in 2012, clearly a staggering achievement.
0 immediate, 3 marketplace
Average critic rating : 96.0 points
In contrast to the relatively expressive aromatics of the prior wines this is quite reserved and almost mute though aggressive swirling ultimately reveals notes of green apple, floral, stone and various citrus elements. As is typically the case with this wine there is excellent power, weight and punch to the big-bodied, well-muscled and concentrated flavors that possess almost painful intensity yet despite the sheer scale of this wine, there is no sense of undue heaviness as there is actually fine delineation on the stunningly long and mineral-driven finish. This too will need at least 7 to 8 years of bottle age to begin to show its true potential but should more than amply reward 10 to 12 years. The word 'WOW' definitely came to mind when tasting this!
Raphel Coche told me that the 2012 Corton Charlemagne was the only vineyard that escaped hail damage this year. It has a very succinct nose, not predisposed to go out and grab you by the lapels. The aromatics unfurl with a sense of ease prioritizing finesse over power: beeswax, linden, lemon thyme and fresh pear. The palate is exquisitely balanced with fleeting glimpses of Seville orange and apricot. But there is more about the tension, the effortlessness and that it just rolls out across the finish like a huge Turkish rug. This is the kind of wine that exhausts superlatives. (Jun 2015) www.erobertparker.com Drink 2017-2035
Coche-Dury: The Importance
Even critics seldom get to taste the top wines of Coche Dury, but the last two decades have seen the elusive and mysterious Jean-François Coche emerge as “the essence of Burgundy’s vigneron culture,” in Antonio Galloni’s words. And as John Gilman observes, “Jean-François Coche’s name is now murmured with the same respectful awe that is reserved for Henri Jayer. From three starred Michelin restaurants to the auction floors of New York and London, it is the white wines of Monsieur Coche that are the most ardently sought after.” Jancis Robinson tells her readers that he is “perhaps the single most intriguing winemaker I visit. The ‘King of Meursault’ and ‘the best winemaker in Burgundy’ are just two expressions coined to describe the legendary J.F Coche-Dury.” However she also adds that “if you want to visit Coche-Dury you are almost certainly out of luck,” and sure enough, although Robert Parker acclaims Coche-Dury as “one of the greatest winemakers on planet Earth,” he himself never got the chance to taste at the Domaine. Scores have little bearing on the market for Coche, since whatever is available is bought up at lightning speed by fans of the Domaine.
Coche-Dury: The Insight
“The two crown jewels amongst the white wines in the Coche cellar are the Meursault-Perrières and the Corton-Charlemagne”, writes John Gilman. Surprisingly, Coche makes only one Grand Cru wine: Corton-Charlemagne, which Neal Martin describes as “liquid mineral. Imagine a limestone quarry being melted down and then distilled multiple times until there is just enough to fill your wine glass.” Coche makes Burgundy’s most sought-after Premier Cru whites: Meursault-Les-Perrières, Meursault Genevrières and Meursault Caillerets. The Meursault Villages, and lieu-dits like Meursault Rougeots, Meursault Vireuils and Puligny Montrachet Les Enseignères are also noteworthy. Some red wines are made: Auxey Duresses, Monthelie, a Volnay Premier Cru, and up until 2013 a parcel in Pommard called “Vaumuriens” which was sold to fund the purchase of more Corton-Charlemagne. One whole third of the Coche’s 9 hectare total production is regularly declassified and labelled generically, which partly explains the high quality level of the Coche Bourgogne Blanc and Bourgogne Aligoté, which in Galloni’s words “emphasizes crystalline focus, energy and tension” and can match many a Meursault for quality.
All the white wines are famous for their “prodigious resistance to premature oxidation,” in the words of Jancis Robinson, who explains that the influence of the Domaine’s house style is “at least partially responsible for the international trend of ‘struck match’ Chardonnay making” as countless others, both in Burgundy and elsewhere, have adopted more closed, tightly-knit styles for their Chardonnay to emulate the long ageing potential of Coche-Dury. The independent consumers’ website Oxidised-Burgs classes Coche-Dury among those producers “who have very little premature oxidation as a percentage of bottles opened and indeed seem to have no higher incidence of premature oxidation since 1994 than they did before.” The only other members of this category are François Ravenau in Chablis, DRC, and the affiliated Domaines Leroy and d’Auvenay.
Miniscule yields from ancient vines, meticulously sensitive vinification and no filtration before bottling give the Coche-Dury wines their characteristic intensely concentrated fruit and crisp but balanced acidity. They also have the potential to age for a very long time. The white wines of Coche-Dury have cult status, with prices and rarity to match. The red wines, which are made in a soft, gentle style, are often overlooked, and offer a perfumed and seductive style of Pinot Noir.
Coche-Dury: The Background
“The true golden age of Coche began,” according to John Gilman, in 1972 when a young Jean-François Coche took over the small Meursault-based Domaine that was founded by his grandfather Léon Coche in 1920. In 1975 he married Odile Dury, and the merging of their family estates gave the name we see on labels today. Jean-François was very meticulous in the vineyard and in cellar, but the secret to his enormous and unique success is still a mystery. According to Steve Öhman, “there are no secrets, just hard work in the vineyards.” While he tops up his barrels as often as possible to prevent oxidation, Jancis Robinson remarks that “he is one of the very few Burgundy growers who definitively does not want you to pour the remains of your precious wine sample back into the barrel.” As a character she finds him “miraculously unworldly. He really does care for little other than his precious vines and the barrels that he tends under the most modest of modern villas on the outskirts [of Meursault].” Since 2003 his son Raphael Coche has gradually taken over the day-to-day work at the Domaine, though it appears Jean-François still plays an important role. Tasting the 2013s from barrel, Allen Meadows finds Raphael still referencing his father’s remarks on the mildew-stricken vintage, which reminded him of 1968.
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