Produced from purchased grapes, the 2018 Montrachet Grand Cru was showing brilliantly, soaring from the glass with aromas of vine blossom, pear, golden orchard fruit and warm bread. Full-bodied, multidimensional and layered, it’s concentrated and complete, with a sumptuous core of concentrated fruit and a precise, elegantly fragrant finish.
Benoît Riffault, who has directed this important estate since the 2002 vintage, describes the 2018 vintage as “surprising”—both for the wines’ abundance and for their fresh, lively profiles. While the year can’t match the concentration and energy of 2017, it is shaping up very nicely, and these wines merit a place on even the most fastidious of shopping lists. I also took this occasion to revisit some of the domaine’s 2017s from bottle (for already published reviews of Sauzet’s lower appellations from bottle, see our End of November 2019 Issue) which roundly confirmed that this is a great vintage at this address, indeed it’s arguably Riffault’s best to date. What are the rudiments of winemaking at this address today? In short, hand-harvested fruit is pressed without crushing, the press cycle lasting around three-and-a-half hours and performing “quite a few,” which is to say more than 20, rotations. The must is sulfited at the end of the press and settled for 24 hours, but Riffault retains most of the lees, fermenting in wood with ambient yeasts. The wines are racked to tank in July-August before the new vintage, whereas the premiers and grands crus spend as much as six months on their lees before bottling. All Sauzet’s wines are closed with high-quality unbleached and unwaxed cork.
(94 – 96) William Kelley February 2020 Week 2, The Wine Advocate)