La Paulée New York Part II: The Red wines

by Robert Millman

See also: A Synopsis of Burgundy Tastings at La Paulée in NYC, Part 1

I made the point in part 1 of the Paulée NYC article that the white wines were easier to read and seemed happier than the dense, dark, closed in reds. Some of this is a function of tannins. Tannins largely derive from the skins of the grapes, especially in an era in Burgundy in which less use of new oak barrels is the norm. The skins of the 2020 Pinot Noirs were more shriveled than those of 2018 and 2019, This translates into less juice and more skin influence in the finished wines. I last tasted a group of 2020 reds about a year ago. Full of young fruit, they seemed relatively approachable. A year later the reality if the constitution of the wines is more evident. I strongly recommend long aging, longer than for the 2018s and 2019s. Nevertheless, I tasted several wines which showed attractive youthful qualities with long aging potential. The wines are discussed in alphabetical order:

Domaine des Croix 2020 Beaune Les Cents Vignes                      92+

David Croix has been running his eponymous domain since 2005. His estate has expanded significantly beyond the original five Beaune 1er Crus. I have always had a great fondness for the most delicate and nuanced of his wines, the Cents Vignes. Less chunky and dense than the other 1er Crus, the Cents Vignes does well in deep concentrated vintages. Al the delicate terroir influences emerge in fine balance. An excellent wine which will drink well over a decade. Drinking Window: 2024-2034

Michael Lafarge 2020 Beaune Grèves 1er Cru                  94

This beloved estate is more famous for its Volnays than its other red wines which are no less superb. The vines from this outstanding vineyard are very old- 99 years in the 2020 vintage. The wine is so deep and rich that the skin tannins are simply background support. Glorious raspberry favors with firm earthy undertones. This will doubtless age a long time. One of the highlights of the tasting. Drinking Window: 2026-2040

Domaine Henri Gouges 2020 Nuits St. Georges Les St. Georges 1er Cru            96-99

Those familiar with the Gouges wines know that they are some of the most formidable and slowest maturing wines in Burgundy. Even with the changes instituted by the young Antoine Gouges– earlier picking shorter macerations, less time in barrel– the basic character of the wines is much the same. After tasting the accessible and delightful Nuits St.Georges from Robert Chevillon, the Gouges wines came as something of a shock. Normally I would have said that the wines are simply not to be touched for a decade and leave it at that. But the Les St. Georges was so profound and compelling that its youthful bear-n-the mouth structure could not prevent me from experiencing a wine that seems to start and develop life way under the surface of the vineyard. This is a grand Cru wine in all but official classification. Unlimited potential here. Drinking window: 2034-2050

David Duband 2020 Morey St. Denis Clos Sorbe 1er Cru                94

I have recently written about Duband’s superb 2019 Gevrey Chambertin, a wine which transcends its village category. All his wine seems to walk the line between intensity and freshness, not an easy thing to accomplish in 2020. Duband expressed great fondness for this terroir in the discussion I had with him at the La Paulee Tasting. Very Morey in its spice and richness animated by fabulous acidity and crunchy overtones. Brilliant 1er Cru!            Drinking Window:  2025-2035

Clos des Lambrays 2020 Morey St. Denis Les Loups 1er Cru         92

There have been significant changes both in ownership and vineyard management at Clos des Lambrays since the manger of nearly 40 years, Thierry Brunet left in 2018. Under Brunet the wines were as gentlemanly, elegant and refined as the man running the show. The terroir of course is the same. But there will be much more division of this large site into sub units for terroir exploration. The 2020 Lambrays seemed very much in accord with earlier versions. In every vintage certain plots are declassified into 1er Crus wines. In 2020, the 1er Cru Les Loups is strikingly beautiful. A wine of great fluidity and graceful accents, it is a Morey St, Denis in Chambolle clothing so to speak. The freshness is wonderful in this hot vintage. One of the elegant wines of the tasting. This can be approached young. Drinking Window:  2024-2032

Domaine Duroche 2020 Gevrey-Chambertin En Vosne            93

Alas, the Duroche Gevreys have achieved near cult status. Pierre Duroche took over from his father in 2007 and elevated the wines to among the best in Gevrey. He has a light touch which works wonders in warn low yield vintages. He farms 4 lieu-dits, 4 Grand Crus and 3 1er Crus. Quantities except for the village Gevrey are very small. I was particularly taken by the wine from the lieu dit named En Vosne. The vines were planted in 1934! This small vineyard is located in north-eastern Gevrey. Duroche’s wines each have their own texture and weight. The En Vosne was particularly expressive in 2020 with a salty mid palate and deep, iron rich flavors. The wine fills the palate and lingers as long as the taster wishes. One of the most impressive Gevreys I have tasted recently. Drinking window: 2025-2035


Robert Millman

Robert Millman’s wine career began in the early 1980s, when he began working from Morrell & Company, one of the USA’s top wine retailers. During that time, he co-founded Executive Wine Seminars (EWS) with Howard Kaplan, which over the years became one of NYC’s most highly regarded wine events companies. EWS organized and conducted over 1000 wine events during its prestigious thirty-three year history. High points included Robert Parker being a regular guest presenter at the tastings, and through 2011, the results of the tastings were published on the Wine Advocate website. Having reached an age where taking a step back from the wear and tear of life in the wine fast lane made sense, Millman currently enjoys being a taster and wine writer for Grapes the Wine Company, an excellent, leading e-retailer based in Westchester (NY). 

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Robert Millman