The Top Tier: 2016 Hudelot-Noellat

Posted on: 01/24/19 7:33 PM

Hudelot Noellat

Hudelot-Noellat has long been a “must have” address for serious Burgundy collectors. But since 2005/6 when Charles van Canneyt, Alain Hudelot’s grandson, took over, the ascendancy of the Domaine to the highest echelons of Burgundy’s aristocracy has been as meteoric as it has been obvious. With the arrival now of the 2015s, it seems that the vintage is poised to crown this Domaine as firmly among the elite. And with good reason. The wines are EXCEPTIONAL. A little critical notice, not that any is necessary.

“In between our jabbering, I tasted through a terrific set of 2015s that serve notice that this domaine is really ratcheting up the quality. From the entry-level Bourgogne Rouge onward, these barrel samples reaffirmed my estimation of Hudelot-Noëllat rapidly ascending to one of Vosne-Romanée’s top growers by dint of the location of their vines, rather than the location of the winery that almost seems misplaced in Vougeot. ” – Neal Martin

Simply put: you should buy these wines. However, be aware demand will very certainly outstrip supply.

“Innovation” is a funny word in Burgundy, because it often implies very small departures from previous generations. So, too, at Hudelot-Noellat, where Charles has improved upon Alain’s exacting perfectionism with some techniques very much in vogue these days at cult addresses, such as Fourrier, Pacalet and Bachelet. The core remains the same: systematic selection massale replanting in the vineyards to retain very old vines, planted at high density; destemming and 5-6 day cold soak macerations before natural yeast fermentations; followed by 18-months in oak before bottling without fining or filtration. What has changed though are two important steps in that last stage of the process: elevage. 1. Charles prefers to keep racking at a minimum, thus retaining a good deal of natural CO2 and keeping added sulfur to a minimum, a la Jean-Marie Fourrier. 2. He has cut down on the use of new oak from during Alain’s era. Now instead of 100% new oak for Grands Crus, 50% for 1ers and 33% for Village, the new program looks more like 50%, 33% and 25% respectively.

The wines now have a freshness, intensity and explosiveness to the fruit that is undeniable, and yet remaining elegant, pure and focused, the wines can be exciting for their sheer transparency and vibrancy. If there is a better producer of humble village wines, I’d like to meet him. Any and all of the range are suitable “introductions” to their respective origins: the Chambolle, bright, floral, fresh and mineral; the Vosne, silky, spicy and suave; the Nuits, richly fruited, with an undercurrent of earth and stone, throwing a tannic elbow or two. Purity, elegance and “truth in terroir” – is there anything more we look for in Burgundy.

The 2016s are every bit the 2015’s equal, and in some instances may be their betters. More supple, long and vibrant, with great fruit and balance, they have a more approachable expression than the large-scaled 2015s. The sen-like harmony and balance is impressive, and it is this balance and minerality on which the wines will age.

Posted in Burgundy List By Ian Halbert