2021 Domaine Frédéric Esmonin, Gevrey-Chambertin “Lavaux Saint-Jacques” Premier Cru Red Burgundy, France.
For many, myself included, these Frédéric Esmonin red Burgundies are savvy buys and go to wines for personal use drinking, they always deliver purity, class and distinction at a very fair price, especially these days with sky rocketing Burgundy pricing and the Gevrey-Chambertin bottlings are my favorite. Another thing, Esmonin has a great selection of mature vines in some fabulous plots, like this Lavaux Saint-Jacques, one of the most coveted Premier Cru sites in the region, rivaling some very costly Grand Crus, as this 2021 shows. I was thrilled to sample this vintage and while not a blockbuster year and less concentrated than 2020, it is a divine wine, that is sultry, aromatic and serious by nature, with a deep ruby/garnet hue in the glass and medium bodied on the palate, showing off classic, slightly reductive dark red fruits, earthy elements, rose petal, a touch of toasty wood and baking spices. This lightly tannic wine is poised and pedigreed, it opens nicely to reveal black cherry, red currant, cranberry, plum and blood orange fruit, plus a bit of mineral, and it gets more expansive and textural, making for an impressive Pinot Noir that is best with food, where its depth, complexity and length all fills out. I have been lucky enough to taste with the domaine’s namesake Frédéric Esmonin a few times at tastings in San Francisco and I am a big fan of wines here, in particular I love Esmonin’s Gevrey offerings like this Lavaux Saint-Jacques rarity and the Clos Prieur, which is a real bargain!

The Frédéric Esmonin winery is becoming one of the most consistent, high quality producers in Gevrey, and they draw upon some prime vineyard holdings. Their Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards were mostly re-planted in the 1950s so the wines and are reaching sublime levels of complexity and consistency that can only be achieved with these older vines. André Esmonin, who has worked with dad Frédéric and taking on the duties of winemaker at the domaine, has beautiful Premier Cru parcels in Gevrey-Chambertin, including “Estournelles St-Jacques,” “Lavaux St-Jacques,” and “Champonnets.” The Premiers Crus, like from the Lavaux Saint-Jacques, which is Grand Cru quality, is a touch darker in fruit, with mineral and iron notes. Esmonin uses a bladder-press which gives excellent control over the amount of pressure exerted on the grapes, which are picked only when they have reached ideal ripeness. The grapes are de-stemmed and after a short cold maceration gives the wines an extra dimension of fruit, and only indigenous yeasts initiate fermentation. The domaine ages its wines in oak for between 14 to 17 months, with carefully selected French oak barrels of Allier and Nevers forest wood, which are exclusively made by coopers Radoux and Berthomieu. Typically, at Esmonin, the Grand Cru bottlings, and this Lavaux Saint-Jacques Premier Cru sees about 80 percent new oak, which incredibly still feels subtle and well judged, especially in this 2021 version, not an overly concentrated vintage, but rewarding non the less. I high recommend all the Esmonin Burgs, from the basic village wines all the way to the exceptional Grand Crus, they are some of the best red Burgundies for the money you’ll find.
($89 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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