2020 Domaine Follin-Arbelet, Corton, Grand Cru, Red Burgundy, France.
Some of my favorite wines from the Kermit Lynch 50th Anniversary Portfolio Tasting in San Francisco was Domaine Follin-Arbelet’s gorgeous set of 2020 Red Burgundies, and led by this spectacular and beautifully aromatic Corton Grand Cru, a wine of depth, class and transparency. As I’ve mentioned before, my experience with Follin-Arbelet was mostly with their impressive collection of whites, but at this Kermit Lynch celebration, their reds were out of this world, again especially this Corton and the Aloxe-Corton Premier Cru “Clos du Chapitre”, I reviewed first, plus the 2021 Aloxe-Corton, that was a delight even in a lighter vintage. The Corton, coming from, as Kermit Lynch notes, vines planted in 1988 on clay and limestone on the Corton Hill is dark and densely fruited Pinot Noir with loads of mineral, earthy intensity, a touch of smoky wood and an array of spices, led by a core of black cherry fruit and floral accents. This wine stands out for its mouth feel and generosity of texture and lingering elegance with crushed rose petal, a hint of graphite, orange tea and red currant, it is an elegantly styled Burgundy that hits all the right notes, but doesn’t over do it. The winemaking was subtle, 100% de-stemmed grapes, a five day cold soak and 10 day fermentation and maceration, after which the wine was aged in about 20% new French oak barriques for close to 12 months, all of which promotes that purity and clarity of focus.
The Domaine Follin-Arbelet, as mentioned in prior reviews, is run by Franck and Christine Follin-Arbelet since 1993, is focused mainly around the vineyards of Aloxe-Corton (their hometown) and the Côte de Beaune, but they also have a small parcel in the famous Romanée Saint Vivant Grand Cru, which is their unicorn bottling. With a great collection of plots, with lots of old vines, including in Aloxe-Corton, Pernand-Vergelesses, Corton Grand Cru, as seen here, Corton Bressandes Grand Cru, Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru and the mentioned Romanée Saint Vivant Grand Cru, Follin-Arbelet makes a stellar set of wines, interestingly of which I previously mostly enjoyed their whites, especially the Pernand-Vergelesses offerings. The terroirs are classic with clay and limestone soils and all the vines are grown using sustainable methods and, as Kermit Lynch notes, without synthetic fertilizers or weed killers, working the soils regularly to aerate them and keep them healthy. Going on Berkeley’s famous importer and talent spotter says the vinifications, at Follin-Arbelet, are in the old-school style, fermenting slowly in open-top wooden vats, using only indigenous yeasts, and the wines are bottled in, he adds, all of their unadultered glory, unfined and unfiltered. This 2020 vintage, a richer and deeper year than most, is fabulous for Domaine Follin-Arbelet, allowing for some profound wines, such as this one, and while not a bargain, it still is a very savvy buy for a Grand Cru of such quality!
($208 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive