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Neillon Chassagne Montrachet Les Champgains 1996

Tasting Note(TN) 16 June 2010 - 94 points out of a 100

I’m a big fan of Domain Michel Neillon wines, which are white Burgundy’s and hence chardonnay. I don’t even think Neillon makes reds, or at least I haven’t seen any before. In any case, it’s his whites that make him famous.

I opened this one with trepidation as it was the 1996 vintage. I’ve found a lot of white burgs from 1995 and 1996 to suffer from premature oxidation. This means they start aging absurdly quickly and die, and in become totally useless and undrinkable, very young. No one knows why and it’s a major reason I don’t buy many white Burgs anymore like I used to. I haven’t seen this problem in the 99s or later (and my 97s and 98s, much lesser years, were designed for eary consumption although I must admit my few 97s brought me a lot of pleasure!).

For example I had 2 Ramonet Batard Montrachets and 2 Bienvenue-Batard-Montrachets from 1995, fairly expensive wines. Both were drunk early, a few years ago, and the batards were absolutely dead and undrinkable, killed by premature oxidation. The Bienvenues may have been aging a touch early, I’m not sure, but were lovely 93-4 point wines. I seen plenty of other 95s and 96s go down the drain, with often wines from the same case being absolutely brilliant or totally dead and undrinkable!

Color – light golden yellow with almost a tinge of orange, or is the nose affecting what I think I see?

Nose – Lemon/Orange rind, clean and clear white slate

Palate – Big and round with plenty of acidity. This would go great with a rotisseried chicken I bet (I like the Ronco ones, seriously)! No hint of oxidation. A mouth puckered – and very long. Maybe a touch of honeying, with to me means graceful aging. Some wonderful marine briney notes, reminiscent of live sea urchins

This started almost, but not quite, disjointed. With 30-45 minutes of air this wine just rocks! It’s still young no doubt, and I’ve change my mind on the chicken. Yes, it would work wonders with chicken, but I think Maine lobster, perhaps cooked Chinese black bean style, would absolutely rock my planet. And I know Maine lobster well; I’ve got a house on the coast in Scarborough.

It’s not complexity that earns this wine 94 points, although it has nearly endless notes and tones of flavor lingering in its lemon-ness, but the perfect integration.

Let it breathe for 30-45 minutes, warming up a bit if you had it in the fridge, and serve with food and friends!

Got maybe 3 bottles left now. And half an open bottle too. I’m happy :)

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