Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux Chambolle-Musigny 2017
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Barrel Sample: 88-91
The 2017 Chambolle-Musigny Village is showing beautifully from bottle, soaring from the glass with an extravagant bouquet of rose petals, peonies, warm spices and cherries. On the palate, it's medium to full-bodied, supple and satiny, with succulent acids, melting tannins and a long, saline finish. This is already very hard to resist, and I can't imagine it will ever shut down.
Earlier in the year, the Bowler team tasted the 2014’s from barrel with Charles’s father, Pascal – who is still very much present in the winery. It was unanimously a highlight of our trip in 2016. We’ve always been impressed when tasting at Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux. After all, they have some of the most prized vineyards in Vosne-Romanee and equally high-quality vineyards in Nuits-Saint-Georges.
It's no doubt that Pascal Lachaux must have gone through the same pressure when he took over from his father-in-law, Robert Arnoux, in the early nineties. Pascal worked side-by-side with Robert for more than ten years. The changes that Pascal made in the nineties were a natural progression at the time: pruning for lower yields, working the soil, destemming grapes 100%, and using more new oak for aging. The reputation of Domaine Robert Arnoux soared with Pascal Lachaux at the reigns. In 2010, Remington Norman and Charles Taylor MW said, “This is one of the very best domaines of an exceptional village.”
Charles Lachaux gives an immense amount of credit to his father for the work that he has done over the last thirty years. He said that if he has elevated the wines to a new level today, it is thanks to the health of the vineyards and the organization of the winery when he started in 2012.
Chambolle-Musigny represents the charm of the Côte de Nuits district of Burgundy. But you’ll find that term mainly in reference to the vineyards in its southern stretches, which border Clos Vougeot: the Grand Cru of Le Musingy and in part, its neighboring and most exceptional Premier Cru, Les Amoureuses. Some producers argue for the primacy of Les Amoureuses and its eligibility for Grand Cru status given its wines can sometimes surpass other Grands Crus.
Le Musigny ranks on par with the most acclaimed Grands Crus for Pinot Noir: Romanée-Conti, La Tâche, Richebourg, Chambertin, and Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. It is also the only Grand Cru in Côte de Nuits for Chardonnay. All of the others are in Côte de Beaune.
This village can in fact claim only two Grands Crus vineyards and—in the context of breaking down the minutiae—they are markedly different. Bonnes-Mares, the other one at the far northern end above the village, bordering Morey-St-Denis, offers power, strength and great aging potential. But Chambolle-Musigny includes a nice handful of exceptional Premiers Crus, as noted above with Les Amoureuses as the finest. Le Fuees and Les Cras are other noteworthy Premiers Crus.
Overall, a top Chambolle-Musigny offers pure aromas of violets, dark cherry and damp earth, coupled with a velvety elegance, supple mid-palate, an abundance of black and red berry, and finesse and power through a long and fine-grained finish.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”