Regis Forey’s 2017s: A New Milestone of Elegance

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With over thirty harvests under his belt, Regis Forey exudes the calm, warm confidence of a seasoned Burgundian vigneron operating at the apex of his powers. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Regis crafted robust, dense wines from his family’s enviable holdings in the Côte de Nuits—impressive wines which have aged superbly, but which do occasionally bear traces of a certain youthful striving. In recent years, however, he has honed a style that prioritizes subtlety in numerous ways: a shift from traditional 228-liter Burgundy barrels to 500-liter demi-muids in order to reduce the influence of oak; less manipulation of the cap during fermentation (once-per-day punching down at most) to promote gentler extraction; an increasing incorporation of whole clusters (which reduce color and emphasize higher aromatic tones); and a markedly reduced sulfur regimen. Like Jean-Marie Fourrier, Regis has also begun to experiment with terracotta jars, whose relatively large volume and low porosity allow for slower evolution during elevage. In today’s warming climate, Burgundy’s average cellar temperatures are higher than in eras past, and vessels such as these—as well as the large conical foudres with which he is also experimenting—counteract the accelerated development these warmer cellars foster. Always on the brink of a good laugh, Regis jokes that his newfound lighter touch is a function of not wanting to work as hard in his advancing age; however, it is clear that he is laboring thoughtfully in order to locate new expressive registers for his great terroirs. Indeed, his wines today rank among the most graceful of our entire Burgundy portfolio, even evoking the beautifully understated wines of his father Jean—Rosenthal Wine Merchant’s very first partner in the Côte de Nuits.

Compared with the devastating 2016 vintage whose twin ignominies of frost and mildew netted Forey a miserly yield of 16 hectoliters per hectare, 2017 felt downright merciful. A relatively even flowering and problem-free growing season—Regis treated only four times—culminated in a harvest whose restrained temperatures allowed him to pick carefully rather than to rush. Regis began picking on September 10th, bringing in a clean and bountiful crop for which very little sorting was required, and his overall yields ended up at 40 hectoliters per hectare. The wines completed their alcoholic and malolactic fermentations relatively quickly and smoothly, and the finished 2017s display a gorgeously silken, fresh character, with fine tannins, vibrant red fruit, and a sense of harmonious digestibility which belies their inherent complexity. Regis’s lighter touch suits the vintage particularly well, allowing its innate energy to emerge without obfuscation, and Forey fans both historic and recent will find much to celebrate in this inspired collection of 2017s.

2017 Bourgogne Rouge
The 40-to-60-year-old vines of Forey’s Bourgogne Rouge—produced from various parcels in Nuits and Vosne—typically yield a wine of impressive depth for its category. Vinified with 50% whole clusters and aged in 10% new 500-liter demi-muids, this 2017 is a vibrant, lip-smacking example of pure Pinot Noir pleasure, offering beaming red fruits and an attractive dusting of spices in its juicy and easygoing personality.

2017 Morey-Saint-Denis
Forey’s village-level Morey-Saint-Denis consists of two minuscule holdings of vines between 30 and 50 years of age (one in Clos Solon and one in Les Crais.). Fermented with 70% whole clusters and aged in demi-muids like the Bourgogne above, the 2017 displays impressive density on its otherwise lithe and energetic frame.

2017 Nuits-Saint-Georges
A villages-level wine of considerable depth, Forey’s Nuits-Saint-Georges comprises a hectare’s worth of 60-year-old vines in the lieux-dits of Charbonnières and Plantes Aux Barons. Despite its relative wildness and a glimmer of that classic Nuits-Saint-Georges rambunctiousness, it offers a similarly alert freshness to the Morey above and displays terrific poise. Regis employed 30% whole clusters during the vinification here.

2017 Vosne-Romanée
As one would expect from the appellation, this 2017 Vosne-Romanée is notably silkier and more elegant than its village-level cousins above. Produced from fourteen small parcels planted between 1942 and 1974, mostly in the northern sector of the appellation, it was aged in a combination of demi-muids and smaller barrels. What it lacks in flesh it more than compensates for in its mineral drive, and its tight-grained tannins counterbalance the fruit’s suaveness with an appealing hint of austerity. 40% whole clusters.

2017 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru
From small holdings in the premier crus Clos Baulet and Les Blanchards, Forey’s 2017 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru—made with 50% whole clusters—exudes pure energy, offering tangy red fruits, fine-grained tannins, and intense minerality. The classic note of savory Morey earth is present but understated, marrying wonderfully with the wine’s stem-inflected overlay of spice.

2017 Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru “Les Perrières”
Regis works a 0.42-hectare parcel of 75-to-80-year-old vines in this vaunted cru, and this 2017—vinified with 30% whole clusters—is an immediate leap forward in complexity from the previous wines. All its elements present with greater force: juicier fruit, firmer yet more fully enrobed tannins, and a more intense earth-mineral interplay. 2017’s inherent silkiness emerges in the wine’s caressing and lengthy finish.

2017 Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru “Les Saint-Georges”
Forey owns a 0.1-hectare sliver of 85-year-old vines in what many consider the great vineyard of the village. Nuits-Saint-Georges often distinguishes itself by its sheer force of minerality—one much more iron-inflected and punchy than that of its northern neighbors. This version is unapologetic in that regard, yet Forey’s deft handling of the vintage prevents the wine from becoming monolithic. 30% whole clusters.

2017 Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru “Les Petits Monts”
Forey’s duo of Vosne-Romanée premier crus justifiably represent some of the most coveted red Burgundies in our entire portfolio. Les Petits Monts is situated just above grand cru Richebourg in the prime fillet of the appellation, adjacent to the legendary Cros Parantoux, and Regis exploits a mere fifth of a hectare here, planted in 1970. Less sternly built than either of the Nuits-Saint-Georges premier crus above, its kinetic, mineral-drenched palate culminates in a notably long and graceful finish.

2017 Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru “Les Gaudichots”
The most fabled wine of the Forey cellar, Gaudichots is the climat from which La Tache was born—the beating heart at the very center of the Vosne-Romanée appellation. In fact, it was Neal back in 1983 who first convinced Jean Forey to begin bottling it separately rather than blending it into his village-level Vosne-Romanée (!), and it has been one of our rarest and most sought-after jewels ever since. The 2017 is riotously aromatic, exploding with a panoply of spices and glowing red fruits, and offering the most enchantingly silken texture of Regis’s entire lineup. 30% whole clusters.

2017 Echezeaux
Forey owns 0.3 hectares in this exalted cru, in the climats of Les Treux and Clos Saint-Denis, flanked by the grand cru Grands-Echezeaux to the north and Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots to the south. All but a small recently replanted portion of the holdings are between 40 and 65 years old, and Forey always wrests a wine of refined power from these old vines. 70% whole clusters.

2017 Clos de Vougeot
Clos de Vougeot is the defensive lineman to the Echezeaux’s running back—massively scaled and more squarely built. Regis works a third of a hectare of 40-to-45-year-old vines here, and the 2017 is, appropriately, the densest and most currently inscrutable wine of the lineup. Still, at its core is that telltale 2017 elegance, which imbues this broad-shouldered wine with a real sense of refinement and should allow it to drink well earlier than certain vintages. 60% whole clusters.

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