28 June 2011 News

Antonio Galloni blogged about an interesting blind tasting at Lucien Le Moine on the Wine Advocate’s Web site today:

“My day wrapped up with a 2+ hour tasting a Lucien Le Moine. We started with the 2009 grand crus from Vosne, which I missed last time. Richebourg was probably my favorite. Then we tasted all of the 2009 whites. As far as I know, Le Moine is the only winery where the 2009 whites are still in barrel. The wines went into barrel with their lees and have not been moved, racked or sulfured since harvest. The best of the 2009 whites are gorgeous.

At the end of the tasting proprietor Mounir Saouma served two wines, blind from bottle.
Wine #1 had a golden color. It also showed a grainy green streak I associate with some 2004s. I thought it was a good, but not great wine that had aged OK at best.

Wine #2 had a very similar color as #1, so I thought it was probably the same year. The nose was pure Meursault Perrieres in my mind. Wine #2 showed incredible class, with layers of fruit, persistent minerality and a gorgeous finish. It was clearly more complex and pedigreed than Wine #1.

It turns out both wines were 2004 Meursault villages from the same vineyard. Wine #1 was made with a pneumatic press, Wine #2 was made with a mechanic press. Wine #1 went into barrel with 4 liters of lees, Wine #2 went into barrel with 8 liters of lees. Both wines were aged on their lees for 18 months with no rackings until they were bottled straight from barrel with no SO2. According to Saouma at bottling Wine #1 had eaten through all of its lees, while Wine #2 had about 2 liters remaining in the barrel.

I was amazed at how different these wines showed today.”

Antonio Galloni

29 April 2011 News

In his preview of 2009 Red and White Burgundy, Wine Spectator’s Bruce Sanderson found that a near-perfect summer resulted in ripe, charming Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti codirector Aubert de Villaine likened 2009 to 1959, one of Burgundy’s notable older vintages, while Lucien Le Moine’s Mounir Saouma  said the 2009s tended to have two distinct personalities:

“The first went through malolactic conversion by Christmas 2009 and were racked early. These are gentle wines that will be pleasant to drink over the next 10 years. Indeed, I have already tasted some 2009s in bottle here in the United States.

The second are wines with density and purity that are capable of long aging. In the cellars at Le Moine, the malolactic occurred from June to July 2010, and when I visited at the end of January 2011, the wines had not yet been racked. Most of the growers I visited in late January were just beginning to bottle, or will bottle over the next few months.

Saouma described 2009 as “a vintage of details, with a lot of small pieces to put together.” The vintage is very transparent, he added, but doesn’t favor any specific terroir.”

According to Bruce Sanderson, “the style of 2009 will have broad appeal for wine lovers because of their ripe, pure fruit flavors and fleshy textures. Unfortunately, they will be expensive because of the exchange rate and strong worldwide demand. Importers I contacted quoted price increases of 5 to 20 percent over the 2008s. The good news is that I tasted several excellent ripe, fruit-filled bottlings at the basic Bourgogne level, which will provide some value and relief from the sticker shock of the ’09 crus. Burgundy lovers should also buy some 2008s, which in retrospect, will look like bargains compared to 2009.”

19 April 2011 News

Can wines made to be approachable soon after release actually reward extended cellaring, or is this simply a case of trying to have it all?

This was the subject of a recent winemaker roundtable discussion on Stephen Tankzer’s blog, Several different winemakers, ranging from Rupert Symington to Olivier Humbrecht, weighted in on the debate. Here is Lucien Le Moine’s take on the subject:

“I feel that there are two categories of consumers today: people who want everything NOW and people who would like to play the game and wait.

After 20 years of winemaking and 11 years of making the Lucien Le Moine wines, I can say that Burgundy and specifically our style here at Le Moine is enjoyable in the first two years in bottle and then the wines need five or six years of rest before we can enjoy them again. In other words, the wines provide two different experiences—fresh and fruity early, more soft and spicy later.


I am against making wine to satisfy a certain category of wine drinker. We do it our own way and with our own convictions, and then we help people to understand these crus of Burgundy that are made in this way. We know that we can never satisfy everyone; that’s why we make 30,000 bottles a year and not more.

Normally Burgundy is a place where great wines are great from the beginning. I never buy a Burgundy that’s not enjoyable during the two years after the bottling. Ageability is another matter. If we let our wines deal with oxygen early on, and during long barrel aging, they will be more fine and elegant and they will age better. I don’t believe that tannic wines age better than elegant wines. To us, classic Burgundy means light extraction, fine vinification, and more than 18 months of aging on the lees, with a late malolactic fermentation, no early sulfuring and gentle bottling without fining or filtration. All of these techniques produce wines that can be very sexy young and will sometimes age forever. Our 2002, 2006 and now the 2009 vintage are perfect examples of this style.”

Read the rest of the roundtable discussion here

13 April 2011 News

The Wine Spectator’s Insider Report features top scores for two recent Lucien Le Moine releases:

Lucien Le Moine Nuits-St.-Georges Les Vaucrains 2008
93 points | $110 | 20 cases imported | Red
Exuding ripe, effusive cherry, raspberry and boysenberry aromas and flavors, this is underscored by a vein of mineral. There’s great tension, balance and structure, so give this time to show all its facets. Terrific length. Best from 2013 through 2025. —B.S.

Lucien Le Moine Vosne-Romanée Les Suchots 2008
92 points | $135 | 33 cases imported | Red
A sleek red, full of sweet red cherry, floral and spice aromas and flavors. Firm but bright, this is well-balanced, with a lingering aftertaste of fruit and mineral. Decant if you must drink now. Best from 2014 through 2027. —B.S.

Wine Spectator critic Bruce Sanderson notes that 2008 was a challenging year, marred by a triple threat of mildew, oidium and botrtytis, as well as rain just before harvest. Those producers that harvested carefully still managed to produce excellent wines.

13 April 2011 News

International Wine Cellar’s Stephen Tanzer rated the 2008 Lucien Le Moine Mazis Chambertin 97 points, the highest score he awarded to any red Burgundy in the 2008 vintage.

“Medium-deep red. Wonderfully pure, primary aromas of blackberry, violet, licorice, lavender and smoky minerality. Superconcentrated, sappy and dense as a solid, with outstanding intensity to its blackberry and violet flavors complicated by leather and game nuances. With its firm mineral spine this is like a tightly coiled spring today. Finishes with suave tannins and superb, palate-staining flavor. This wine gained substantially during its final months of elevage.” – ST

23 March 2011 News

Climate change in the past few decades has had a significant impact on the evolution of winemaking. Just last weekend, Stephen Tanzer invited Mounir Saouma of Lucien Le Moine, among others, to discuss how climate change has impacted his work and the way the legendary Lucien Le Moine wines are made.

“I see a big change in Burgundy in the last 20 years. In the ’80s we used to pick in September/October; today, we pick in early September or even the end of August. It’s GREAT for the harvest dates: we can pick when we want…In the ’80s when we had a potential of 11% alcohol we were happy; today it’s a kind of competition to see who has more alcohol and who picks later than the rest.

“What is supposed to be positive for a northern area like Burgundy—the ability to pick mature grapes when we want—is, I am sorry to say, becoming a source of short life for the wines. To fight against these quick phenomena of fermentation and aging we invested in air-conditioning in our room for the ‘new’ wines and we searched for more than six years to find our very cold and humid cellar, so that we are able to ferment and age slowly.”

The rest of Tanzer’s roundtable discussion may be viewed here.

7 November 2010 News

At a recent tasting in Wilmington, DE, Anthony of the sat down with VINTUS’s own Philippe Newlin to try 11 Lucien Le Moine selections, which Anthony described as “some of Burgundy’s best and cleanest wines.” Writes Anthony:

“Our agenda for the evening was four pairs of Premier, 1er, or 1st Cru wine, 2 white and 2 red, with each pair representing a different vineyard or Cru from the same Village. This was an eye opening experience in how elevation, slope, soil composition, i.e. “Terroir” can influence wines that come from vineyards grown within meters of each other. In addition we sampled Bourgogne white & red first to establish a base line & finally a Grand Cru to top off the evening.”

Refined, decadent, and eye opening, the tasting inspired Anthony to add a few Lucien Le Moine wines to his cellar shortly. Read it all here.

15 April 2010 News, Videos

Steven Tanzer has a great video up of Mounir Saouma, the man behind Lucien Le Moine, posted on his blog, Winophilia. Mounir discusses the 2008 vintage (still in barrel) methods, including extensive lees stirring (even topping his barrels off with lees!), late malolactic fermentation, and one of the longest barrel aging regimes in all of Burgundy. The result, says Mounir, is an extremely principled one; to not simply make wines that have pleasant fruit, but wines that have real character, both of their vintage and their vineyard.

“I am against this point where people say, ‘I bottle early to capture the fruit.” We saw it in the last years, we finished bottling the 2007’s in September 2009,  and we have a lot of fruit, we just tasted a lot of fruit, out of 2007. So these years, these ‘classic’ years like ’06, ’07, ’08, there is a lot of fruit, and I think it is a mistake to make weak body. The fruit is there, but are you going to buy a bottle of Première Cru or Grand Cru for $150 or $200 to have just the fruit, or do you want that depth and aftertaste and something that stays for a long time in your palette.”

We couldn’t agree more. The full video as follows:

Mounir Saouma interview from Stephen Tanzer on Vimeo.

26 February 2010 News

Mounir Saouma took his 2007 vintage wines to St. Louis, Boston, New York, Washington DC and Maryland this week.  Talking about these wines it’s difficult to contain your excitement – like trying to hold inside a monster secret you’re dying to tell somebody, or anybody.  These 2007s are very, very special.  The way in which Mounir is returning to traditional methods of élevage is really without comparison in Burgundy, and these wines just have “it” – spectacular purity and complexity, the ability to transfix you for hours.  What is more astounding is that from Bourgogne Blanc to Bonnes-Mares, each of the twenty or so wines we ended up tasting this week had this magic in its own specific way.  It’s almost overwhelming to spend an evening with ten of these wines sitting in front of you, and beautiful to imagine the decades of divine moments that await.

Mounir in Washington DC earlier today

5 February 2010 News

We’ve loved the 2007 Lucien Le Moine wines since the day we tasted them in barrel.  Pure, racy, they are truly great wines.  The Wine Spectator Insider listed some reviews that will be upcoming, adding to the fantastic reviews the 2007 LLMs have already received.

Mazis Chambertin 94 Points

Marked by bacon fat and smoke notes, this muscular red also exhibits a core of sweet black cherry and blackberry flavors that are concentrated and intense.  It’s all backed by a firm, vibrant structure, and this resonates on the long, mineral-tinged after-taste.

Gevrey-Chambertin 2007 94 Points

A core of pure black cherry and black currant is wrapped in smoky bacon, toast, chocolate and mineral flavors.  It’s all displayed on a sikly frame, lithe and well-toned.  Terrific length and harmony.