Burgundy 2016: a great tasting at Faiveley

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The new red wine cellar at Faiveley

Domaine Faiveley, located in Nuits-Saint-George, are one of the big players in Burgundy. We visited with Erwan Faively, who took charge of the domaine in 2005. When he took over there were two changes that he wanted to make. First, the top wines of Faiveley had a reputation for being quite hard and needing decades to become drinkable; he has tried to make wines that are a little more approachable in youth while still being ageable. Second, the domaine was 90% red and he wants to have more top whites. In order to get top whites, says Erwan, you need something to trade – it’s not easy to just go in and buy grapes from the best sites.

Erwan Faiveley

Erwan Faiveley

2016 was marked by the most severe frosts in recent memory in Burgundy, but these struck some areas and spared others. There was a knock-on effect for 2017. Erwin says that of recent vintages, everything was good in 2015 and everything that survived the frost in 2016 (which for Faiveley was one-third of normal volume) was good. For 2017, the whites are really good, but the reds are heterogeneous: you can’t buy blind, but will have to taste. ‘After the frosts in 2016, the vineyards compensated big time,’ he says. ‘In some places the vines with very little crop in 2016 will have experienced crazy rebound in 2017. I had an idea that this might happen and so was quite intense on pruning, but in some places there were walls of grapes. So for the vines that were frosted in 2016, I doubt they will be interesting in 2017.’

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As well as the domaine, there is also the negociant house Joseph Faiveley, but the domaine side of things at Faiveley is much bigger now, with 130 hectares of domaine vineyards. For Burgundy, this is huge. Holdings were boosted by a 20 hectare acquisition in Gevrey-Chambertin in 2012.

The exterior of the new red wine cellar

The exterior of the new red wine cellar

We visited the new cellar, which is quite stunning, and will be used for the fermentation of the top red wines. It’s like a cathedral of wine, and will be open for the 2018 vintage.

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We tasted extensively through barrels. These scores are a range, reflecting the degree of uncertainty of barrel samples – but they were directly from barrel, which I think is often better than sending a sample in bottle to London to be tasted a week or two later, as happens in the January primeur tastings.

Inside one of the new fermenters

Inside one of the new fermenters

 

Joseph Faiveley Meurault Charmes 1er Cru 2016 Burgundy, France
This is from a vineyard where Faiveley do all the work and then buy the grapes. Tasted from a 1 year old Francois Freres barrel. Toasty and mealy with lovely depth, good acidity and nice finesse. Shows some generosity. 92-94/100

Domaine Faiveley Puligny-Montrachet Les Referts 1er Cru 2016 Burgundy, France
This is from a plot that’s part of a large domaine bought by an investor, who then gave plots to winemakers he likes. From a new Cadus barrel. Linear and fine with nice citrus fruit and a hint of toast. Very expressive with lovely purity and some spice and nuts. 92-94/100

Domaine Faiveley Bienvenue-Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2016 Burgundy, France
From a one-year old Cadus barrel. So fine, mineral and expressive with lovely intensity. Lemony and taut with subtle wax and spice notes. Fine, linear and expressive. 95-97/100

Domaine Faiveley Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2016 Burgundy, France
One year old Francois Freres barrel. While Bienvenue is a little more lean and mineral, Batard has thicker soils. This is very fine and saline with some precision and minerality as well as subtle toast and nuts. Very refined with real intensity. 94-96/100

Domaine Faiveley Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2016 Burgundy, France
One-year old Francois Freres barrel. Taut with some meal and cedar and spice notes. Lemony, fine and nicely expressive with lovely citrus fruit core. Powerful but linear with lots of potential. 93-95/100

Domaine Faiveley Pommard Rugiens 1er Cru 2016 Burgundy, France
Two-year old Francois Freres barrel. This is from an 0.5 ha plot in the bottom of the top part of the vineyard. Very powerful and vivid with nice purity and intense raspberry and cherry fruit. Good structure. There’s a hint of beetroot, and it’s powerful and vivid with tannins but also silk and perfume and joy. 93-95/100

Domaine Faiveley Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les Porets St Georges 2016 Burgundy, France
From a two-year old Taransaud barrel. Floral and fresh with pretty, juicy cherry and raspberry fruit. Good concentration and nice structure. Fine, direct and expressive. 95-95/100

Domaine Faiveley Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux St Jacques Burgundy, France
South-facing with a sunny exposure. 2 year old Francois Freres barrel. Very aromatic, pure and fresh with floral interest. The palate has lovely generosity, some meaty hints and bright raspberry and cherry fruit, with amazing tannins. Such a beautiful wine. 95-97/100

Domaine Faiveley Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Cazetiers 2016 Burgundy, France
This faces more east than Lavaux and tends to be a more precise wine. Faively have nearly 4 hectares of this vineyard. Two-year old Francois Freres barrels. Very linear, taut and fresh with juicy raspberry and red cherry fruit, as well as some spice. Nice firm structure. Cherry and raspberry dominate with a linear personality and lots of energy. 94-96/100

Domaine Faiveley Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 2016 Burgundy, France
Faiveley have three plots here, and this comes from two of them. One-year old Taransaud barrel. Very aromatic cherry and raspberry fruit. Generous but with some grippy tannins. Pretty wine, with taut raspberry fruit and some herbs. 92-94/100

Domaine Faiveley Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2016 Burgundy, France
This large Grand Cru in Gevrey is varied, just like Clos de Vougeot. Their plots here are the best, just below Chambertin. One-year old Francois Freres barrel. Very pure with floral aromatics and pretty cherry fruit. The palate has great acid and structure with lovely purity and density. Has brightness and vitality, and prettiness. 94-96/100

Domaine Faiveley Latricières-Chambertin Grand Cru 2016 Burgundy, France
This was purchased by Faiveley in the 1930s. It’s the first Grand Cru in Gevrey right after Clos de la Roche. One-year old Francois Freres. Bright, fine and quite mineral and expressive with some pretty red cherry and raspberry fruit. Has a brightness of body but also nice sweet fruit and a mineral dimension. Some saline character, too. 95-97/100

Domaine Faiveley Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru 2016 Burgundy, France
The last Grand Cru in the north of Gevrey. The soil is different: stony rocks and chalk from the mountain, resembling an avalanche. New Francois Freres barrel. Chocolatey new oak twist on the nose. Very fresh with nice perfumed, focused cherry and raspberry fruit. Good structure with some fine spicy notes. Linear with good acidity. 93-95/100

Domaine Faiveley Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru 2016 Burgundy, France
Very close to Latricières and Charme, this is supposed to be the greatest Grand Cru of Gevrey. One-year old Francois Freres barrel. Floral, enticing raspberry fruits nose. So fine and expressive with pure, direct fruit. Vital and fresh yet pretty too. Good structure. 95-97/100

Domaine Faiveley Corton Grand Cru Clos des Cortons Faiveley 2016 Burgundy, France
This vineyard was purchased in 1872, and Faiveley are the only living family whose name is part of a Grand Cru appellation. ‘This is the most consistent vineyard we have,’ says Erwan. Its 2.7 hecatres always deliver good yields, too. One-year old Taransaud barrel. Refined, floral raspberry fruit nose. Very fine, pure, fruity and expressive with good acidity and great acidity. Perfumed and pretty but also with seriousness. 95-97/100

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