Our tasting impressions
The great thing about working with Nicolas Potel is when unexpected gems like this appear, seemingly out of nowhere. One of the top 1er Cru's from Puligny from a terrific vintage that's 5 years old. Beautiful citrus and steely flavors are focused and precise. It appears to be evolving away from its youth. This is really, really good, satisfying the heart, mind and soul - not to mention the taste buds. Just because a wine is expensive doesn't mean it can't be an exceptional value.
About this wine
Les Combettes is a 6.7ha premier cru vineyard that is among the most northerly in Puligny, near Meursault. Terroir-driven examples tend to have some characteristics from both villages. It is on a gentle slope with excellent morning sun exposure and good drainage. It is considered one of the top 1er Crus from this great commune.
Potel's Chardonnay comes from a 2ha plot planted on average 40 years ago. It faces east at an elevation of 200 meters in clay/limestone soil. Grapes were manually harvested on 9/28 to a yield of just 25hl/ha.
Following a fermentation with native yeast, the wine aged in oak barrels (1/3 new). Bottled on 3/28/18 after fining and filtering. 6,600 bottles were produced. This is a late release. Potel holds back some wines from abundant vintages to release in years (like 2021) with diminished yields.
About the grape
Chardonnay is the most popular wine variety in the US. Winemakers love the green-skinned grape as well because it’s so easy to grow and adapt to many different production techniques. Grown everywhere, Chardonnay’s greatest expressions are widely believed to come from Burgundy. Indeed, this is believed to be where the grape originated. Chablis, in Northern Burgundy and Champagne also offer superlative examples of Chardonnay.
Nicolas' view of the vintage
High spring temperatures meant early budding, so the late April hail and frost was very destructive. Renewed heat helped to put things back on track, but many vines were lost. As is often the case, the remaining fruit was highly concentrated. Ripeness and balance were strong.
Suggested Glassware: Grassl Cru
Roche de Bellene was established in 2008 by Nicolas Potel. It is a diversified and global wine production and trading company. The company includes Domaine de Roche Bellene, which offers wines from estate owned vineyards in 10 different Côte d’Or appellations.
Maison Roche de Bellene is the company’s négociant arm. Potel and his team source grapes from respected and consistent sources throughout the Côte d’Or. All are very old vines from which Roche de Bellene produces white and red wines. Another part of the Maison operation is Collection Bellenum. In the first decade of the 2000’s, Potel began purchasing large quantities of outstanding wines from the personal cellars of 26 domaines, starting with 1959. A wine must be at least 10 years old to be included in this special collection. After extensive tasting to ensure the wines were sound and of high-quality, he offers them with his label. Some of the corks will reveal the seminal source.
Nico is the son of the legendary Volnay producer, Gerard Potel. In addition to learning “at home,” he trained at excellent estates in Australia, California and Burgundy. Potel is widely respected by his peers for his remarkable wine production talents, as well as his keen sense for sourcing grapes and wines.