Lucien Le Moine - Charmes-Chambertin, Grand Cru

Charmes-Chambertin, Grand Cru

As the name suggests, wines from this vineyard are full of charm - beautiful aromatics and weight.  The vineyard is near Mazis, but Mounir has used different parts of the vineyard, from both Charmes or Mazoyères; so sometimes his fruit comes from the heart of the Gevrey Grand Crus and sometimes it is almost in Morey-St-Denis where there can be an influence of sand and iron in the soil.  Mounir looks for the "charm" in Charmes-Chambertin - a wine with sweetness, fruit, spice, chocolate notes.  He feels it is at its best when it is attractive and approachable.

  • 2009 Vintage

     There is more talk and interest about 2009 in Burgundy than in any vintage since 2005.  Mounir Saouma has warned us to be careful, however.  He loves this vintage, and in fact believes it is the greatest he has seen in his two decades in Burgundy.   He believes the fruit had everything from the start, and the wines from the beginning were healthy and beautifully balanced.  The major issue was to understand and respect the wines, and avoid working them, since they already had everything they needed in superb balance.  Overly working the wines, he believes, resulted in a loss of freshness and delicacy.

      2009 is the first vintage at Lucien Le Moine that Mounir did not do any lees stirring whatsoever, and as usual he never racked the wines in their nearly two years in barrel.  He didn’t add sulfur until a few months before bottling, and yet his wines are still completely fresh; some whites he describes as even having a tint of green.  The Lucien Le Moine 2009s across the board are beautifully pure and focused, with the exquisite harmony of truly great wines.

     
    •  "The 2009 Charmes-Chambertin is muscular and intense but also light on its feet. A burst of dark berries, cinnamon and cloves makes a great first impression. The Charmes shows terrific precision and elegance in its deep layers of fruit as it builds towards the long, polished finish. The firm tannins will require patience, but this is a spectacular wine in every way. Anticipated maturity: 2019-2034." 93-96 Points Wine Advocate

    •  "An earthy and extremely ripe nose of red berry liqueur aromas is very much in keeping with the sappy yet detailed and lightly mineral-inflected big-bodied flavors that are quite linear and focused on the lingering finish. It's interesting as the texture here is completely different from that displayed by the Bonnes Mares, which is neither good nor bad though the underlying material is not quite as strong." 91-93 Points Burghound

    •  "Good bright, deep red. Wild aromas of blueberry, exotic spices, flowers, licorice and mint, plus a whiff of chlorophyll. Pure and fine on the palate, with strong floral lift accentuating the wine's impression of sharp definition. Not a fleshy style and a bit youthfully imploded today but this finishes with captivating perfume and length. The tannins are firm but fine." 91-94 Points International Wine Cellar

    • "This red starts out with pure cherry flavors, dense and expressive, building on the palate to the long, mineral-laced aftertaste. Offers muscle, grace and balance, with a beautifully integrated structure. Best from 2016 through 2035."  94 Points Wine Spectator

  • 2008 Vintage

    There is a big difference in how most people in Burgundy see 2008 and how Lucien Le Moine sees its 2008s.  In a typically unique perspective, Mounir Saouma believes 2008 is a great vintage in Burgundy, one of the greatest of the decade.  2008 was the third in a series of historically normal vintage conditions.  Over the last hundred years, on average the rainiest month in Burgundy has been June and the driest month has been September; rain in the summer is common, occurring more than half the time.  The light, fine skin of Pinot Noir benefits from the freshness in the summer, needs it, and it helps the fat Chardonnay on its way to maturity as well.  The idea that only the “modern” vintage – hot and dry – can be great is a big issue for Mounir.

    In June 2008, within a given week rain always alternated with hot sunny periods.  The results were small bunches of grapes that were getting mature while keeping acidity, and slowly ripening.  Ultimately, there was a naturally low yield, an excellent sign, with 20% fewer grapes than a normal year, providing sweet fruit and high levels of tannin.  Very importantly, Mounir believes that in recent times Burgundy has lost its simplicity to some extent – when you tasted the grapes in 2008, there was no issue with rot.  Most people looked at their vineyards, were terrified of the rot and pressed very lightly to get clean juice, only did short macerations with not a lot of lees, didn’t stir, and then fined or filtered to bottle clean wines. 

    Lucien Le Moine did the opposite.  They pressed hard, bringing a lot of lees into the wine.  To balance the high acidity and some of the unripe bunch areas due to the cool weather, they topped with fine lees every ten days instead of topping with wine.  They did not stir, and so the lees would take a full week to fall to the bottom of the barrel, slowly imparting complexity and richness.  For about five years, Lucien Le Moine has been the last producer in Burgundy to bottle, and they were again with the 2008 vintage.  Malolactic Fermentation was not as late as usual because of the lees that was added, and finished in April/May instead of June/July.  Lucien Le Moine has never never acidified or de-acidified, so while some people de-acidified 2008, they didn’t touch the wines, and watched them over the summer become sweeter, fatter and more balanced, more attractive.  They started bottling around May 2010, and finished beginning of October 2010, after the harvest of 2010. 

    Looking at surrounding vintages, the 2005 is ageable, full of body, massive, tannic, with high acidity.  2006 has almost late harvest flavor, very deep, beautiful maturity, and nice acidity.   2007 is transparent, the perfect example of terroir in Burgundy, but will not age perhaps as long as 2006.  The 2008s are going to be the year for people who care about Burgundy.  They will be appreciated the next two-three years, for their very fresh fruit and balanced bodies.  Then they will sleep for a few years, but not like 2005s which are so big they will need a long time to awaken.  The 2008s will come back as classic wines of Burgundy, but not in a spicy, sous-bois manner; they will be traditional, but have a little bit of flashy fruit.  A very particular combination. 

    Lastly, the particularity of the Lucien Le Moine 2008s – a lot of wines are cloudy due to the lees; make sure to stand them up before decanting. 
     

    • "Medium red.  Knockout perfumed nose offers raspberry, dried flowers, smoked meat, menthol and spices.  Sweet, concentrated and spicy, with a deep core of sappy red fruits and terrific definition and lift.  The tight, subtle finishing flavors spread out to saturate the palate.  This outstanding example of Charmes-Chambertin has more than delivered on the promise it displayed from barrel." 94 Points International Wine Cellar

    • "Le Moine's two barrels of 2008 Charmes-Chambertin (one from Mazoyeres) offer sweet aromas of cherry jam and pistachio extract wreathed in hyacinth, rose, and hibiscus, which follow on a seamlessly rich, subtly creamy palate, deep in the senses of plushness and fruit intensity as well as of layered complexity. This pure-fruited beauty certainly lives up to its name, and should perform well for 15-20 years, though it would be a shame not to relish some of it much younger." 93-94 Points Wine Advocate

    • "Here the nose is extremely pretty with expressive aromas of red berry fruit, underbrush and warm Gevrey-style earth nuances that can also be found on the admirably pure and relatively fine flavors that display a hint of tanginess on the otherwise extremely long finish." 90-92 Points Burghound

  • 2007 Vintage

    As Mounir Saouma says, “2007 saw a fresh summer – when we say fresh summer, we mean well-balanced rain and sunny days.   There were cool but not cold days, days with some rain and sun, but not exaggerated either way.  And you see in the wines there is beautiful acidity, but not as much as 2008, and nice sweetness, but not as much as 2006.” 
     
    This character of mid-way but not extreme in many areas resulted in wines that took a long time to reveal their nature.  “The wines started fruity and the tannins were firm, and slowly we started seeing a kind of melding between sweetness and acidity after the malolactic a year later; we started seeing the real character of the wines after 14 months.  
     
    This development of the vintage is the reason that 2007 was the latest bottling Lucien Le Moine has ever done, and why they were the last producer in all of Burgundy to bottle.  Typically Lucien Le Moine starts bottling in January or February; in 2007 they started in February, but the majority of bottling took place from May to September.  Mounir aged all his 2007 wines on their lees, without sulfur, and never racked.   
     
    Mounir compares 2007 and 2006 a lot; they will both be vintages that are approachable and will last, and their technical numbers are similar, but they are physically and aromatically in completely different worlds.  “2006 is more about sweetness and for some people a heavier character; 2007 is more about freshness.  We will enjoy 2007, but it doesn’t take anything from the aging. 
     
    Some general commentaries on the Crus in 2007:  for people who love freshness and silkiness, with tannins that melt away, the Vosne-Romanées, Volnays, Chambolle-Musignys, and Morey-Saint-Denis show ethereal balance and almost transparent tannins.  For those that think 2007 is a light and easy year, the Gevrey-Chambertins, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Pommards and Cortons will show them depth and power.  
    • "Mild reduction cannot completely hide the notes of red berry fruit and earth lurking beneath the funk that lead to vibrant, intense and rich flavors that possess a certain fullness yet with no loss of detail on the delicious, complex, sappy and impressively persistent finish. There is fine balance as well as plenty of underlying material that enable this to age well into the next decade." 91-93 Points Burghound

    • "Medium red. Redcurrant, spices and a floral nuance on the high-pitched nose. Fresh but tight, with a suggestion of dried flowers. Nicely juicy but not yet showing much complexity. Finishes with firm tannins and good verve." 90-92 Points International Wine Cellar

  • 2006 Vintage

    Mounir Saouma’s approach to the 2006 vintage differed from many. His growers picked late, allowing the fine September weather to draw out the maturity of the grapes and compensate for a cool, wet August.  It was a risk, and not a typical vintage for Mounir, who usually harvests earlier than most, giving him the good acid levels he likes.  The reds express the typicity of their terroirs, and will be enjoyable to drink earlier than the 2005’s, but also possess the heft and structure to age nicely. 

    • "Deep, lightly-cooked plum and blackberry - together with a mincemeat-like combination of carnal, spicy, candied citrus peel, and dried fruit notes - rise from the glass of 2006 Charmes-Chambertin (actually from Mazoyeres). A whiff of bitter herbs and things fusil adds to the impression of a fantasy Pinot-Riesling blend. In the mouth, this projects rich fruit, if not the purity or transparency of some of the most amazing wines in the Le Moine collection." 93 Points Wine Advocate

    • "Unobtrusive wood surrounds the fresh, airy and layered red berry fruit nose that evidences notes of Gevrey style earth with hints of underbrush and a sauvage note that can also be found on the relatively elegant and notably pure flavors that are rich, pure and sweet, all wrapped in a solidly powerful finish. This doesn't have the depth of the best in the range but it's lovely in its own right." 91 Points Burghound

    • "Good full red. Brooding aromas of dark berries, licorice and violet. Big, rich and sweet but a bit youthfully simple, with a wild aspect to the black raspberry and floral flavors. The saline, savory finish communicates a strong impression of soil. This needs a few years of aging to express its full personality." 91 Points International Wine Cellar