A fine effort, the 2018 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clavoillon wafts from the glass with notes of white flowers, crisp yellow orchard fruit, fresh pastry and blanched almonds. Medium to full-bodied, bright and precise, it’s elegant and fine-boned, with—as I observed last year—none of the blockiness of yesteryear’s Clavoillon.
This year, I met with Brice de La Morandière and Pierre Vincent to taste not unfinished 2019s but rather the Domaine’s 2018s from bottle—a change in the estate’s policy that I warmly encourage and support—and I found the wines showing very well indeed. As I wrote last year, while many producers along the Côte de Beaune were inclined to accept the generous yields of the 2018 as nature’s gift, arguing that Chardonnay can sustain an elevated crop without suffering dilution, de La Morandière and Vincent opted to perform an aggressive green harvest, jettisoning around 40% of the potential crop. “I’m glad we have something to show for it,” remarked de La Morandière when I complimented the concentration of the domaine’s Combettes. As usual, the wines fermented and matured in barrel before finishing their élevage in stainless steel tanks on the lees, and they were bottled under Diam with some 25 parts per million free sulfur dioxide. As is the case in Chardonnay along the Côte de Beaune in the 2018 vintage, the appellation hierarchy does make itself felt—I tend to think that low yields efface some of the disadvantages of humbler sites, whereas large crops exaggerate them—but the highest appellation bottlings here are really quite serious; and, having evoked the comparison with Leflaive’s superb 1982 vintage when I tasted them from barrel last year, I continue to think that they will blossom beautifully with bottle age.
(91pts) William Kelley February 2020 Week 2, The Wine Advocate)