Bouchard Père & Fils Le Corton 2015 / 92-95 points : Here the wood treatment is a bit more discreet though it's still not subtle on the exceptionally cool and fresh but ripe nose that offers up plenty of sauvage and earth hints that suffuse the black cherry and lilac scents. The dense, bold and overtly muscular and powerful big-bodied flavors possess an abundance of sappy extract that coats the palate and buffers the extremely firm tannic spine on the immensely persistent finish that is less austere than it usually is. This is breathtakingly good and despite my extended drinking window, it should be approachable after only 7 to 8 years.
Winemaker Frédéric Weber is always a wealth of detail regarding the intricacies of the growing season and regarding the 2015 vintage, he explained that "the vines seemed to get what they needed just when they needed it. The early season was hot and dry and in my view the huge rainstorm that we had, which dropped between 55 and 100 mm, just after the flowering not only saved the vintage but transformed it into a great one. I say this because it enabled the vines to endure the baking July heat without too much hydric stress. Moreover we had several other storms at the beginning, middle and end of August that provided the vines with just enough water to keep the photosynthetic processes working as they should. A significant number of growers started picking in the last week of August but we felt that it was necessary to wait for the proper maturities. We had good sugars by the end of August but we didn't have exactly what we wanted phenolically and this was particularly true for the chardonnay. Ultimately we chose to begin picking on the 2nd of September and we first attacked the deeper clay terroirs as the better water retention of these soils allowed for better ripeness levels earlier. The fruit was the cleanest that we've had since 2005.
We still sorted everything but in the end we paid the people manning the sorting tables to watch the fruit whiz by untouched! The skins of the pinot were exceptionally thick and the seeds were brown and interestingly, almost crispy. Moreover there wasn't much juice in the berries so we took care not to extract too much as it would have been easy to do. In fact we did almost no punching down and used more of an infusion approach using between 20 to 25% whole clusters in the Côte de Beaune and 30 to 35% in the Côte de Nuits. Moreover we chose to eliminate all of the press wine because it tends to be very rich in potassium which obviously lowers the acidities. As good as the raw materials were, yields though were another story. There was a bit of shatter but nothing too significant but even so, between the heat and the accumulated stress from the hail that hit the Côte de Beaune in 2012, 2013 and 2014, yields were low. This is to say between 28 and 35 hl/ha in the Côte de Beaune and around 35 hl/ha in the Côte de Nuits. As to the wines, I would describe them as a blend of 2005 and 2010 with surprisingly good terroir expression and while the reds are certainly ripe, they are much fresher than one might think given how hot the growing season was.
Our sense is that the reds from the Côte de Beaune are a bit more homogenous and concentrated than those from the Côte de Nuits but the difference is not significant." My sense is that Bouchard obtained mostly excellent results in the context of the vintage. More specifically I would completely agree with Weber that Bouchard's Côte de Beaune wines really stood out. Please see also the associated reviews for the Château de Poncié in the En Plus section below. I would also comment that even though Bouchard has progressively reduced the amount of new wood they use since 2005, it would still be fair to observe that in more than a few instances it remains prominent. In vintages like 2015 there is limited risk that it will not ultimately be absorbed and thus it is not really a concern. However, for those readers who prefer to drink their reds young but don't care for wood, they may find the wines to be less appealing. (Henriot, Inc., www.henriotinc.com, NY, USA; The Rare & Fine Wine Company Limited, www.therareandfinewinecompany.com, and John E. Fells and Sons, www.fells.co.uk, both UK).