Importer Domaine Wines invited to a tasting of a red Corton from the excellent vintage 2015, bottled by the Burgundy Négociant Patriarch Père & Fils. The wine was Corton Cuvée Docteur Peste from Hospices de Beaune.
First a few words about Hospices de Beaune which history starts back in 1443, when Nicolas Rolin (Chancellor of Philip “the Good”, Duke of Burgundy) and his wife Guigone de Salins donated money to a hospital for the sick and the poor. The result was a building in central Beaune, also known as Hôtel-Dieu, which was completed in 1457. The building is an attraction in itself. Even today the practice continues, healthcare, nursing and care for the elderly, but in a more modern hospital in the outskirts of Beaune. Since 1471, the hospital has also received many donations from vineyards used to finance the business.
The vineyards today count 150 acres (60 hectares) in very good locations. The wines are sold annually at auction. In particular, the wines are sold by barrel (228 liter pièce), and the auction is already in November of the harvest year, when the wines still need at least one year before they are ready to be bottled. The Hospices de Beaune auction is seen as a first estimation of how the new vintage is received by the market.
Buyers of the barrels are often wine-traders (négociants) but sometimes even private individuals, and the bottling is taken care of by the buyers. All the Hospices de Beaune wines have the same appearance on the label, but you can read the fine print to discover where the wine was bottled and who was the buyer of the barrel. In this case, the buyer Patriarche Père & Fils, one of the great old Beaune négociants, was founded in 1780 and is since 2011 owned by the Bordeaux company Castel.
The wines of Hospices de Beaune are usually named after the donor, and today there are 49 cuvées. In 2015 a total of 575 barrels of 48 different wines were auctioned and brought in about 10 million euros. From the Corton Hill, three red grand cru wines of Hospices de Beaune are produced: Cuvée Charlotte Dumay, Cuvée Docteur Peste and Cuvée Baronne du Baÿ.
Doctor Peste, with first name Jean-Louis, was active as a doctor at the hospital in the mid 1800s. In 1924, his daughter, countess du Baÿ donated vineyards to the hospital, in memory of her father. Cuvée Docteur Peste comes from four different vineyards on the Corton Hill: Chaumes et Voierosses, Les Grèves, Les Bressandes and Les Fiètres. These vineyards are located on the lower part of the south and east of the hill. With normal rules of thumb, these positions should give a relatively powerful wine that matures earlier than Corton wines from vineyards higher up, such as Le Corton and Clos du Roi. At the same time, it should be remembered that red corton generally needs time to develop.
Now to the wine!
Hospices de Beaune 2015 Corton Grand Cru Cuvée Docteur Peste
Clear red colour. Strong and intense aroma with a distinct pinot-character, mature dark cherry and some blackberries, spices, well-integrated tones of barrels, some perfume and discreet elements of licorice and vegetation. Taste with good concentration and tight character, red dark cherry, some cranberries, spices, distinct acidity with green apple in the middle, rocky and chalky mineral tones, relatively intense tannins that are well integrated with the fruit. The taste is cooler in style than the aromas indicate. The barrels are present with intense spicy tones, but the character of barrels is well polished. The wine is quite accessible now and will develop, but will probably go through a closed phase in a few years before it comes out on the other side, 93 (+) p.
2015 is an absolute top vintage for red wines in Burgundy, good ripe fruit, which typically gives good concentration, distinguishes it and gives a lot of dark berries in the wine. At the same time, I think that many red 2015 have a good acidity and structure. This wine is an excellent example of these features of the vintage. If you want to compare the style with another vintage from the 2000’s, 2009 is close to hand, but on the red side I think that 2015 has a bit less of that warm character feel than in 2009.
The wine is sold for about 1000 euros for six bottles in Sweden.
Tomas Eriksson is one of the contributors on BKWine Magazine. He is active in the wine tasting association AuZone in Stockholm and in Munskänkarna, where he sometimes holds wine courses. Tomas also runs a blog called Vintomas.
This post is also available in: Swedish