Rollin Les Cloux Pernand Vergelesses Blanc 2015
One of the favorite domaines of our very finicky distributor Neal Rosenthal. Here's what he has to say: Over the years, first with Maurice and his son Remi, and today with Remi and his son Simon, this rock-solid domaine has provided us with wines of finesse, character, and startling purity—and at prices that put to rest the notion there is no value to be found in Burgundy anymore. Each visit at this estate is a master class in the unique terroir of their northern sector of the Cote de Beaune, those less-appreciated vineyards in and around Pernand Vergelesses that flank the imposing hill of Corton. Humility, it would seem, is written into the very character of the Pernandois. Whereas most villages in the Cote d’Or advertise the pedigree of their terroir by suffixing the name of their commune’s greatest vineyard onto the village name itself—Chassagne-Montrachet, Gevrey-Chambertin, Chambolle-Musigny, etc.—the folks in Pernand settled on “Vergelesses,” even though the vineyard “En Charlemagne” (a component of the legendary Corton-Charlemagne) accounts for a significant portion of their local DNA. As with other notable unsung-hero zones within the Cote d’Or (e.g., Saint-Romain, Saint-Aubin), the vineyards of Pernand-Vergelesses run at an “off-angle” to the main swath of east-facing, contiguous hillsides that comprise the bulk of the Cote. In the case of Pernand, the vineyards are wedged into a narrow crevasse formed by the disjunction of the imposing hill of Corton and the primary escarpment of the Cote de Beaune, and quite a few of its key sites face westward (or even northwestward) in this modest valley. In bygone days of more feeble temperatures and less precise vineyard work, perhaps growers in Pernand felt somewhat bashful for their wines’ less voluptuous, more rustic character—whites of lean, spicy angularity, and reds marked by the bare-knuckled intensity of their iron-rich soils. Now, in this era of a warming climate, it is these areas—vineyards less exposed to the sun’s full brunt, vineyards that allow for a slower phenological maturation, which engenders complexity—that regularly produce the most compelling Burgundies: wines of tense equilibrium and profound complexity unobscured by the surface flash of blatant ripeness. Convinced as we have been from the start that the wines produced at the Rollin estate are amongst our most regal Burgundies, we are reminded powerfully of this fact when, on those occasions where we are fortunate enough for our visit to coincide with dinnertime, Remi or Simon plunder their deep cellar, blind-tasting us on bottle after bottle about which we regularly err—inevitably mistaking villages for premier cru, or premier for grand, and marveling at how goosebumps-raising even the most difficult vintages have turned out with time in bottle. Neal relates often his first experience at the Rollin table when dinner began with a 6 year old Aligoté from the 1976 vintage the carriage of which was far more noble than this modest appellation is known to offer. As with the most special of Burgundies, the hand of the grower is virtually invisible at Rollin, the wines tasting as if they crawled directly out of the mother rock and into the bottle. There is no flash, no pretense, and no forcefulness here—just the cool, elegant dance of acid, fruit, and mineral. Even in their great and iconic Corton-Charlemagne, although there is no shortage of terroir-derived power, there is an elegance and grace rarely glimpsed in some of the more brawny and elevage-driven versions of this cru from other cellars. It is a true privilege to work with such growers as Rollin, people who understand the profundity and ineffable magic of the earth they farm and allow it to speak without putting words in its mouth. Simon Rollin and his wife Caroline Rollin’s relatively restrained, poised approach married perfectly to the high-octane power of a vintage like 2015—power easily exploited into vulgarity in the hands of less-sensitive vignerons. The white wines, while built less on acidity than the scintillating 2014s, display remarkable tension between succulent fruit and livewire energy, with a profound sense of dryness that effectively tames the fruit’s inherently ripe character.. As for the red wines, Rollin’s 2015s are among the best produced over our long collaboration. The vintage’s broad, sun-drenched heft is honed to a missile-point of devastating impact through Rollin’s guidance, with the firm structure of the vintage’s thick-skinned grapes leavened by a purity of a basket of red fruits. “Les Cloux” is a well-situated lieu-dit on the north side of the hill of Corton, adjacent to the premier cru “Sous Fretille” (see below). It faces southeast on a high, steep part of the hillside, and a general lack of any direct breeze there encourages notable ripeness. The wine possesses a lower-pitched, deeper nose than the basic Pernand-Vergelesses above, but with an equivalent limestone intensity more solid in its character than powdered. The palate is richer and thicker as well, but suffused with the alert acidity typical of the Rollin style. Only 20% of the oak employed during the elevage is new.