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January 27, 2015

Domaine Hudelot-Noëllat 2013

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Domaine Hudelot-Noëllat is now unquestionably one of the greatest estates in Burgundy, leading the field of the great but not stratospherically expensive producers. This is the first year we have done a general release of Hudelot-Noëllat and we are very excited to do so.

The Domaine was established in 1960 when Alain Noëllat inherited several parcels in Chambolle-Musigny from his father, Noël. Alain married well, wooing Charles Noëllat’s granddaughter Odile that very year, inheriting further vineyards, although not without a long and bitter legal battle for succession. Alain ran the Domaine for over 30 years increasing its holdings to 6.6 hectares. In 2008, at the age of 67, Alain passed the reins onto his grandson Charles van Canneyt. Charles had winemaking in his blood and his education held that course, completing his formal wine studies at the University of Dijon. With the help of Vincent Munier, who had joined Alain in 2005, the upward trajectory has continued apace, known for being one of the best in the entire Cote d’Or, with particular strength in the villages of Vosne Romanee, Chambolle Musigny, Nuits St. Georges and Vougeot. While the helm has changed hands, the style has not, remaining true to their fine, finessed, fragrant and ethereal style of wine, abounding with intense complexity and depth.

When we talk about Hudelot-Noëllat we must talk about vine age, their Grand Cru plot in Romanee St. Vivant was planted in 1920, with the remainder of the vineyards and parcels, planted from 1920-1970. Yields remain a modest 40hl/ha or below, achieved through strict selection, not green harvesting or viticultural intervention. Each wine comes from wonderful parcels of organically farmed old vines. Correspondingly, the winemaking is non-interventional, seeing 100% destemming and pre-fermentation cold maceration that lasts seven days, thereby extracting the natural finesse before natural yeast fermentation. Their village level wines see 20-30% new oak, 1er Crus around two thirds and the Grand Crus 100% new oak. The wines are racked once and are bottled around 18 months after harvest, unfined and unfiltered. The vineyards are run in accordance to lutte raisonnee, sensible farming where chemical treatment is used only when absolutely necessary.

At the risk of guiding the lily the wines of Hudelot-Noëllat are as good as it gets, yet remain well priced, providing immense pleasure without costing a small fortune, at least for now. Stylistically the wines are supple, elegant, with stunning aromatics. Broadly speaking across the range the wines drink well young, putting on weight in bottle, which adds to their focus and concentration. In 1997 Clive Coates said Hudelot-Noëllat is “one of the unsung heroes of Burgundy for he makes excellent wine, though his efforts are largely unrecognised.” Not so any more, the wines are highly sought after, hard to find and are rising in price year one year, it is worth securing some before the prices moves in line with the uber expensive Leroy, Meo Camuzet et al.

The Domaine’s holdings began with those passed through the Hudelot and Mongeard side; the Chambolle-Musigny Village and 1er Cru Charmes holdings, along with the Vougeot. This included the holdings in Les Petits Vougeot, which is a parcel for those in the know, a rarity, a little commune alongside Clos Vougeot itself, where Hudelot-Noëllat have one of the best venerable parcels, next to Meo-Camuzet – in fact the Hudelot home is found in one of the houses near Vougeot so this plot gets special attention. At £290 a case of six, and in 2013 89-91 points from Burghound, there is so much to love here.

Hudelot-Noëllat is often referenced under Nuits St Georges, which is an oddity, but a legacy of the quality they produce here. Nuits St. Georges ‘Les Bas de Combe’, is a vineyard at the northern tip of the village, bordering Vosne Romanee, above Aux Reas and straddling Les Chaumes. It is often described as halfway between Village and 1er Cru quality and is stylistically halfway between Nuits St.Georges and Vosne. Burghound scores it an excellent 88-91 points, Neil Martin 90-92, as such it offers immense quality for £290 for a case of 12, or £24 a bottle!

The Nuits St. Georges ‘Les Murgers’ is a step up from this, a superb 1er Cru found in the northern segment of Nuit St.Georges, again near Vosne Romanee. This proximity allows the wine to demonstrate the extra finesse associated with Vosne. Hudelot-Noëllat ‘Les Murgers’ is a triumph in this vintage, scoring 90-93 from Burghound, 90-92 from Stephen Tanzer and 91-93 from the Wine Advocate, priced at a very reasonable £270 per case of six.

Hudelot-Noëllat’s winemaking prowess extends to Chambolle-Musigny, the most elegant, stylish and balanced village of the Cote de Nuits; the commune closest to Margaux in style ordaining delightful violet notes. Hudelot-Noëllat’s Village Chambolle-Musigny is impeccable, creamy and beautiful, the wine is always very pretty, displaying balanced oak, cherry, strawberry and welcome spice. For the price point it is as good as it gets at village level. In 2013 it scored 87-89 from Burghound and 89-90 from the Wine Advocate, representing immense value at £24 a bottle.

Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Charmes is another step up, located in the middle of the village, known for allying power and femininity. Hudelot-Noëllat’s plots is revered here, along with Pousse d’Or and Domaine Leroy, although the former is double the price, Leroy’s Charmes is £500 plus a bottle. It is instructive that the Wine Advocate awarded Leroy’s Charmes 91-93 points in 2013, Hudelot-Noëllat’s looks a steal at £340 a case of six, scoring 92-94 points.

Finally, while top producer Burgundy 1er Cru and Grand Cru are often synonymous with mouth-watering prices their generic Bourgogne offers an opportunity to taste their winemaking prowess. Our Head of Sales, Renee Kuo, likens it to buying the cheapest house on the nicest block and I agree, at £9.50 a bottle Hudelot-Noëllat’s generic Bourgogne can be drunk later in the year, or savoured for five years.

Charles Noëllat believes his wines are better in 2013 than in 2012 and Neil Martin agrees, he describes the wines as remarkable in 2013. That concludes our magnum opus of this great producer, we are seduced by the wines, as Alfred Hitchcock was, who willingly offered Hudelot-Noëllat’s wines to his Heroines, at least Grace Kelly generally survived to enjoy more than one bottle! These are not to be missed.

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