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The wines of Nicolas Potel, Nuits St Georges, Burgundy

21 Rue Thurot, 21700 Nuits-Saint-Georges, France

In a relatively short space of time Nicolas Potel has established himself as one of the leading red wine negociants in Burgundy. He’s young-ish, personable and is apparently very well connected, with a good supply of growers who are in possession of some excellent vineyard sites.

Potel owns no vineyards, buys in from some 40 growers, and for three estates he is in full control of viticulture. The son of Gérard Potel of the Domaine de la Pousse d’Or, as well as his considerable experience in Burgundy Nicolas has worked in California and Australia. He told me that he’s very keen on biodynamics, and of the growers he works with many work organically. His vinification depends on the year, and he says that his decisions are made when the grapes are on the sorting table in front of him. Nicolas asserts that the key to quality is time in the vineyard. The natural approach extends to the winemaking: ‘I’m against every oenological product’, says Potel, although for the moment he has been unable to replace sulphur dioxide, used almost universally in winemaking to help prevent oxidation and any untoward microbial growth. However, he uses much lower SO2 levels than many. 

When I spoke to Nicolas, his business was in the process of being sold to negociant Cottin Frères. This is going to greatly assist the cashflow situation, allowing Nicolas to expand the business sustainably. It also brings him three new vineyards where he has full control, which along with the existing three will make up over half of production. This eases reliance on the many growers he’s currently using.

Of the extensive Potel range, I tasted just a small number, including some from the much lauded 2002 vintage: not enough to give a definitive verdict, but a chance to get a feel for what he’s up to. These wines are available from the Wine Society, whose prices are indicated, or en primeur from Berry Bros & Rudd.

Nicolas Potel Savigny-lès-Beaune (Wine Society Own Label) 2000
Vivid cherry fruit on the nose carries through to the palate, with a savoury twist. Nice enough. Very good+ 85/100 (Wine Society £12.50)

Nicolas Potel Savigny-lès-Beaune 1998
Quite rich cherryish fruit with a slightly tarry, spicy edge. Some structure here in this satisfying wine. Very good+ 88/100 (Wine Society £13.95)

Nicolas Potel Santenay 1er Cru Gravières 1997
Herby, mushroomy nose. The palate is savoury, herby and slightly medicinal . Evolved and quite tasty for current drinking. Very good+ 87/100

Nicolas Potel Volnay Vieilles Vignes 1999
Light colour. Perfumed aromatic nose with cherry, spice and herb notes. The palate is rich and spicy: quite soft but structured. Very good+ 88/100 (Wine Society £18)

Nicolas Potel Volnay 1er Cru Mitans 1999
Expressive cherry herby fruit here with some spicy tannins. Not a big wine but quite elegant. Very good+ 89/100 (Wine Society £25)

Nicolas Potel Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chênes 1999
Spicy, taut nose with some herby complexity. Silky, elegant palate with some tannic structure and a spicy edge. Tasty and already showing some evolution. Very good/excellent  91/100 (Wine Society £25)

Nicolas Potel Volnay Vieilles Vignes 2002
Ripe elegant fruit here: very appealing with good balance and nice acidity. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£144 per case in bond, Berry Bros & Rudd)

Nicolas Potel Nuits St Georges Aux Boudots 1er Cru 2002
Rich, ripe pure fruit on the nose with some chocolatey character. Concentrated palate with spicy fruit. Structured. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£222 per case in bond, Berry Bros & Rudd)

Nicolas Potel Vosne-Romanée Les Beaux-Monts 1er Cru 2002
Rich, ripe and spicy with lots of concentration, nice pure fruit and some structure. Very good+ 89/100 (£264 per case in bond, Berry Bros & Rudd)

Nicolas Potel Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 2002
Very perfumed and elegant with lovely ripe fruit on the nose. The palate is open with elegant fruit and a hint of herbiness. Quite lovely. Very good/excellent 94/100 (£420 per case in bond, Berry Bros & Rudd)

Nicolas Potel Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2002
Very ripe, forward, elegant nose: perfumed and alluring. There’s some structure to the palate which is elegant and expressive. Very good/excellent 94/100 (£432 per case in bond, Berry Bros & Rudd)  

see also: tasting notes of Burgundy wines

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