Peer Reiss conducted a rapid tasting of 20 wines for what had become a large group of tasters. With time for questions somewhat limited, our notes on the vintage in general are therefore rather sparser than the tasting notes themselves! Peer said, “It is a pretty nice vintage,” he said, continuing “the wines probably won’t go as far, ageing wise, as the 2015s and 2016s.” They started picking on 6th September.
Méo-Camuzet’s cellars are on the northern side of the village of Vosne-Romanée, almost a stone’s throw from Romanée-Conti grand cru. Jean Méo, father of present incumbent Jean-Nicolas Méo, was born in the village before, as he put it, ‘going astray’ in Paris with a petrochemical and political career that included a stint in Charles de Gaulle’s cabinet. The estate came down from Jean Méo’s great-uncle, Etienne Camuzet, the last private owner of Château de Clos Vougeot, via his daughter Marie who had no children. Jean-Nicolas came to the domaine in 1989 from Paris and California to take the reins under the tutelage of the great Henry Jayer, working with the talented vineyard manager, Christian Faurois. Jean-Nicolas’s 20th anniversary of joining and the Golden Jubilee of the domaine in 2009 were celebrated by a spectacular dinner which we attended at the Château de Clos Vougeot.
The wines come from a Marsannay in the north to Corton in the south with only one white, the Hautes Côtes ‘Clos St-Philibert’. There are wines from the 12 ha estate as well as ‘mini-négoce’ under the ‘Frère et Soeurs’ label, referring to Isabelle and Angeline, Jean-Nicolas’s two sisters. Jean-Nicolas not only buys the grapes but also monitors the cultivation of the vines thought the year. The heart of the estate is around Vosne-Romanée however with grand crus, Richebourg, Clos de Vougeot and Echézeaux, and Vosne-Romanée premier crus Cros Parantoux, Aux Brulées and Chaumes and Nuits-St-Goeorges premier crus Aux Murgers and Aux Boudots. Tiny yields, strict vineyard management and high levels of top quality oak mean that all the domaine’s wines are of a velvety grand cru level in quality, if not always in name. Only in the worst climatic conditions do they treat their vineyards conventionally, temporarily suspending their organic ideals. It's good to have an ideology and philosophy, but one has to draw the line somewhere and have some grapes, says Peer Reiss, assistant winemaker at the domaine. Méo-Camuzet’s is always a stellar tasting of some 15 plus wines and the Méo-Camuzet Frère et Soeurs wines express some of the magic of the estate wines!