2001 Puligny Montrachet Les Enseigneres Coche-Dury

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Average critic rating : 92.5 points



Within the quartet of Puligny Enseignieres tasted, the 2001 Puligny-Montrachet les Enseignieres is the finest of them all. It has a brisk chalky, orange zest and apple-blossom nose that has so much vitality and energy that it does not know what to do with it all. The palate is extremely well-focused with an electrifying line of acidity, wonderful detail and a vibrant citrus and mineral-laden finish that is pure class. I can see this going the long haul. This is Puligny plugged directly into the mainline. eRobertParker.com.October, 2014



Harvested at 13.5 degrees natural potential alcohol, the chewy, sexy 2001 Puligny-Montrachet Les Enseigneres has a nose of buttered toast and spices. Deep, dense, lush, and exceptionally long, this is a velvety-textured wine crammed with spicy poached pear flavors. Projected maturity: now-2009. *Note: Jean-Francois Coche labels three different wines as “Meursault”, the Vireuils-Dessous, Vireuils-Dessus, and Narvaux. His US importer, Kermit Lynch, typically purchases only the Meursault from the Narvaux vineyard. By the time I entered the cellars of Jean-Francois Coche, I’d been tasting in Burgundy for nearly three weeks. The vintage remained perplexing. A plethora of unripe wines had been encountered (with green acid and sharp textures), some plump, delicious, near-term drinkers were located, but only a handful of great offerings had been unearthed. My mind contained many pieces of the puzzle as to why this vintage was so heterogeneous, even within a single estate. Within minutes of my arrival, Coche took all those pieces of the puzzle, rearranged them, and showed me a clear picture of the vintage. “People simply harvest too early, and they’re thinking about finishing before they even start, so they harvest too early and too quickly.” He went on to explain that he takes 11 days to harvest his 9.43 hectare (23.3 acre) estate even though he could do it much more quickly. “The key is to wait for each parcel to ripen. I wait seven days between my Vireuils-Dessous and Vireuils-Dessus because that’s what it takes. I don’t simply send the harvesters up the hill just because they happen to be in the vicinity.” In a year where many vignerons were whining about the difficulties associated with the vintage, an ecstatic Jean-Francois Coche could be found gleefully slurping his wines, joyfully uttering such comments as “magnificent yellow-pink grapes”, “pure and rich”, “incredible flesh, the grape’s resin in fact”. While others bemoaned the rot and botrytis, Coche extolled the virtues of his “stunning grapes, without a trace of botrytis.” To Jean-Francois Coche, 2001 is a great vintage for whites, “because the grapes were healthy, perfectly ripe with golden colors, yields were moderate, certainly lower than 2000 and 1999, and the malolactic fermentations took a really long time, from early winter to September for most of them (one was still gurgling away). These wines will age extremely well, in fact I’m considering not releasing the top wines for a number of years like I’ve done with the 1996s.” On the issue of the red Cote de Beaune’s (Coche produces a number, none of which were tasted), he said, “it was a really tough year, rather mediocre in fact.” What sets Coche apart from the world’s hordes of winemakers is more than his picking dates and harvesting techniques. It is dedication. With exceedingly few exceptions, producers throughout the world wish for their wines to be tasted between 10am and 11:30am, because somebody’s told them the wines showed best during that time-frame. Coche demands that tastings be conducted after nightfall, “I’ll be in the vineyards starting at dawn, so we must meet at night.” Therein lies the answer as to why Coche has yields low enough that they can ripen, healthy bunches, and the conscientiousness to harvest only when the grapes are fully mature. Pierre Rovani. Wine Advocate # 147

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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