New Arrivals from Domaine Henri Prudhon: Tradition, Harmony, and Value

Posted on Posted in Domaine Henri Prudhon, Producer Spotlight

Those who decry the lack of access to fine Burgundy need look no further than Domaine Henri Prudhon in Saint-Aubin. While it is undeniably true that the prices of many wines from the most battled-after growers have reached the level of pure commodity, there are still areas of this hallowed region where one can find great Burgundy at affordable prices – villages like Saint-Aubin, with vineyards on a high-slope, in a cool-microclimate lying paces away from grand cru turf.

Rosenthal Wine Merchant was there at the very outset of Domaine Prudhon, having purchased the very first vintage the family decided to estate-bottle rather than sell to negociant: 1983. It was Henri’s son Gerard who decided to start bottling his own wine, and we have since overseen the slow, careful passing of the torch from Gerard to his sons Vincent and Philippe, who today run the domaine with great care and skill, and with a deep and profound respect for Burgundian tradition.

With the soon-to-arrive 2014s (along with a handful of 2013 reds), Domaine Prudhon has reached new heights of refinement, purity, and balance.  The Prudhons have built a fiercely loyal US following over the years for their entirely unfussy, non-ego-driven wines, but even those long-time fans will be in awe over the chiseled perfection of the 2014s. These wines will hit our shores around March 6th, and we greatly look forward to sharing them with you.

2014 Bourgogne Aligote
Prudhon’s exemplary Aligote comes from two plots—one in Saint-Aubin and one in Puligny-Montrachet—totaling just under a half-hectare. The vines are between 30 and 60 years old, and the wine is aged in stainless steel and bottled on the early side to preserve freshness. This 2014 is direct and zingy, with palpable mineral drive and an attractive fruit presence to complement its bright and racy character.

2014 Bourgogne Blanc “En Jorcul”
“En Jorcul” is a well-situated lieu-dit which abuts the appellation of Saint-Aubin on its western edge, just past “Le Ban” (see below), where the Prudhons own 0.8 hectares of vines. The wine is fermented and aged in barrel, but no new oak is employed, thereby allowing the minerality to take center stage. This 2014 offers real value, with a vivid, limestone-drenched nose, and a beautifully harmonious mouthfeel—driven but not dominated by vigorous acidity, and with a saliva-inducing interplay of fruit and mineral.

2014 Saint-Aubin Blanc “Le Ban”
Always a terrific value, this wine has nonetheless really improved in recent vintages. The Prudhons farm just over two hectares in this southeast-exposed site, with vines between 10 and 60 years of age. This 2014 is the best example they have yet produced—refined and mineral-driven on the nose, with an intriguing note of chamomile. The gently vibrant attack shows great balance, and again the lack of new oak in the elevage allows the wine to express its chalky depth without interference.

2014 Saint-Aubin Blanc 1er Cru “Les Castets”
“Les Castets” sits just underneath “Le Ban,” and it marks the beginning of a swath of premier crus that form the “fillet” of the slope above the village itself. Produced from 15 year old vines on  a miniscule 0.3-hectare parcel, Prudhon’s 2014 is again more refined than it has been in the past, showing more richness and breadth on the palate than “Le Ban” above, but with a similar vibrancy and balance. For this bottling, the Prudhon’s employ a modest 25% new oak—which the premier-cru flesh of the wine absorbs completely.

2014 Saint-Aubin Blanc 1er Cru “Sur le Sentier du Clou – Vieilles Vignes”
Always a standout in Prudhon’s cellar, “Sur le Sentier du Clou” produces both white and red wine of great character and complexity. The Prudhons own a 0.4-hectare parcel of 35-year-old Chardonnay in this vineyard, which lies in the heart of the western flank of Saint-Aubin, completely surrounded by other premier crus. The 2014 is remarkably expressive on the nose, a blast of powdered limestone and sea salt. On the palate the wine is rigorous, firm, and mineral-dominated, almost Puligny-like in its stature. This is already delicious, but it promises greatness with a little patience.

2014 Saint-Aubin Blanc 1er Cru “Les Perrieres”
“Les Perrieres” sits just below “Sur le Sentier du Clou” on the slope, immediately north of the village itself, where the Prudhons own a half-hectare of 35-year-old vines. It is typically more firmly mineral and linear than “Sentier du Clou,” and this 2014 is no exception—a bit quieter on the nose at the moment, with a strict, tightly focused palate of immense electricity.

2014 Saint-Aubin Blanc 1er Cru “Sur Gamay”
Located in the center of the eastern, lower-lying sector of Saint-Aubin, “Sur Gamay”—like “Sentier du Clou” above—is completely surrounded by premier crus. This sector is within striking distance of the fabled Le Montrachet, and it is where Saint-Aubin really shows off its ability to deliver mindboggling value. Prudhon owns three-quarters of a hectare here, with vines between 20 and 60 years of age. This 2014 is positively singing right now—kaleidoscopic and regal on the nose, with a vibrant, humming, chalk-driven palate and an elegant, lingering finish.

2014 Saint-Aubin Blanc 1er Cru “La Chatiniere”
The beautifully situated “La Chatiniere” sits right next to “Sur Gamay” on the slope (its northern edge is the southern edge of “Sur Gamay”). Prudhon owns a painfully tiny parcel here—barely a tenth of a hectare of 40-year-old Chardonnay—and the wine is always a standout. This 2014 has a similar carriage to its neighbor above, but with a bit more detail and refinement, and a hair’s breadth more richness on the palate hints at its close proximity to grand cru territory. The wine sees one-third new oak each year (Prudhon typically produces just three barrels, one of which is always new oak), but the wine bears no trace of wood influence.

2014 Saint-Aubin Blanc 1er Cru “En Remilly”
“En Remilly” is a secret-weapon cru of Saint-Aubin, situated literally across a narrow road from Chevalier-Montrachet, one of the most fabled vineyards in the world. Soils here are very poor and very rocky, and Prudhon owns a mere quarter-hectare, with vines around 25 to 30 years of age. As one would expect, this is typically the most complete, most complex, and most dense Saint-Aubin Blanc in Prudhon’s arsenal. The 2014 is still ultra-primary, but its palate-staining minerality and its impressive but well-controlled richness suggest a bright future and a long evolution. And, as a testament to Prudhon’s non-flashy approach, even a wine of this stature sees only 25% new oak each vintage.

2014 Saint-Aubin Blanc 1er Cru “Les Murgers des Dents de Chien”
The Prudhons own just one-fifth of a hectare in this amazingly situated premier cru. Also a mere stone’s throw from Chevalier-Montrachet, “Les Murgers des Dents de Chien” sits just to the north of “En Remilly” and just below “Sur Gamay” on the slope—the most prime real estate in Saint-Aubin. As is typically the case, this bottling is less exuberant and forward than “En Remilly” in its youth, with a quiet, deep minerality, and a bit less sumptuous fruit character. It nonetheless holds great, great promise.

2014 Puligny-Montrachet “Les Enseigneres”
“Les Enseigneres” is one of those stealth values in the complex world of Burgundy. Its western border is the eastern edge of Batard-Montrachet, and it is one of the rare spots in the Cote d’Or where grand cru slopes directly down into village-level with no premier cru in between. The Prudhons own just shy of a hectare of quite old vines here—between 30 and 80 years of age. This 2014 is a showstopper, full of smoky, intensely calcareous power, with a long and relentless finish. While it is certainly different in character due to its Puligny birthright, it’s no more flashy than their Saint-Aubins—again receiving only 25% new oak during its elevage.

2014 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru “La Garenne”
“La Garenne” sits high on the slope, just above the great Puligny-Montrachet premier cru “Champs Gains,” and bordering Blagny to the south. This represents Prudhon’s smallest holding, a parcel of 60-year-old Chardonnay vines  on less than a tenth of a hectare (!). As befits is premier cru status, the 2014 “Garenne” is broader than “Enseigneres”, with a richer, more viscous texture, but still with the characteristic scintillating acidity of the 2014 vintage. Because they produce only two barrels per vintage, this wine sees 50% new oak, but the sheer grandeur and density of the wine prevents it from being at all obtrusive.

2013 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru “Les Chenevottes”
Though the differences between Saint-Aubin, Puligny-Montrachet, and Chassagne-Montrachet can be more difficult to pinpoint when tasting them in isolation from one another, the positively Chassagne character of this wine screams out loud and clear in the context of Prudhon’s other white wines. “Chenevottes” sits right at the nexus of Puligny-Montrachet, Saint-Aubin, and Chassagne-Montrachet, and the Prudhons own just over a tenth of a hectare of 40-year-old vines here. The 2014 boasts a full-on, creamy limestone nose with notes of quinine and lime pith. The palate is the broadest yet—very Chassagne-like and generous, but with characteristic Prudhon chiseled-ness.

2014 Bourgogne Rouge “Les Charmeaux”
The Prudhons own a total of 0.7 hectares of 10-to-40-year-old Pinot Noir in this vineyard just outside Saint-Aubin. Like the Bourgogne Blanc, no new oak is employed during its elevage, and the wine has a similar purity and mineral-driven honesty. This 2014 is bright and tightly focused, with flavors of strawberry and tart cherry framed by cleansing tannins and perky acidity.

2013 Saint-Aubin Rouge “Les Argillers”
“Les Argillers” sits on the upper reaches of the slope of Saint-Aubin, just south of “Le Ban” and bordering the forest. Prudhon farms two hectares of 30-to-60-year-old vines here, and the wine they produce tends to be snappy, mineral-driven, and floral—less about Pinot Noir plushness and more about the freshness and drive of a cool-climate red wine. The 2013 displays a strict mineral character, with a lifted, violet-inflected nose, and a medicinal edge to its bright red fruit.

2013 Saint-Aubin Rouge 1er Cru “Les Frionnes”
The Prudhons own a solid hectare of vines between 30 and 60 years of age in this premier cru that lies just to the north of “Les Perrieres.” In keeping with the Prudhon house style, “Frionnes” emphasizes the freshness and raciness of Saint-Aubin—there is virtually no new oak used in its elevage, and there is a certain restraint and brightness to the fruit that feels self-assured and very terroir-loyal. The 2013 has a delicious savory streak, and the fruit is high-toned yet supple. It’s a very impressive effort which should reward a few years of cellaring.

2013 Saint-Aubin Rouge 1er Cru “Cuvee les Rouges Gorges”
This bottling blends tiny parcels in several different premier crus—one from the hill just above Gamay and one on the border of Saint-Aubin and Chassagne-Montrachet. The vines range from 40 to 60 years of age, and the total surface area is just 0.7 hectares. More brooding and rugged on the nose than the “Frionnes” above, this 2013 is dense, dark, and firm on the palate at the moment. Its persistent finish and the palate-staining quality of its fruit suggest terrific age-ability.

2013 Saint-Aubin Rouge 1er Cru “Sur le Sentier du Clou – Vieilles Vignes”
The red counterpart to the outstanding Blanc outlined above, this 2013 gives the impression of tiny, concentrated berries on the nose, with a gentle overlay of savory spices and herbs. It is thicker on the palate than the above reds, with a driving, long finish.

2013 Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge “Les Chambres”
Prudhon owns a third of a hectare of 40-year-old Pinot Noir in this lieu-dit, nestled in the heart of Chassagne-Montrachet. This impressive, unapologetically savory wine illustrates very clearly the potential for classic Cote de Beaune red Burgundy in this once-red-wine-dominated appellation. The 2013 has a beautiful nose of pipe tobacco, freshly turned earth, and ripe red fruits, and the palate is mineral-tinged and focused—appetite-stoking in its freshness.

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