The Obsession with New Oak

I have been wondering about the obsession with new oak. Now I don’t mean that in a pejorative way, and I don’t want to get into the details of how and why use of new oak has somewhat declined recent years. I’m not looking at this so much from the winemaker’s point of view as from the taster’s. Why is it that one of the first questions you ask when assessing (at least certain types) of wine is: how much new oak does it have? I have found myself questioning winemakers all over France about this during visits this year. I suppose it’s a sort of quick metric for getting a handle on style.

But the responses have left me feeling that the question is simplistic to the point at which answers can be misleading. The reason for my confusion is that all too often I have tasted a significant amount of oak on wines where in fact there is little use of new oak. My notes on one Chablis producer, who always used to use quite a lot of new oak but now uses very little, make comments to the effect that the oak may have been cut back but I can still see enough that I want to wait a few years for it to integrate. So the stats on usage of new oak (when available) don’t tell me very much.

Why do producers use new oak? This is not such a silly question as it sounds. Often enough it’s not because they want the taste of oak in the wine. “We use just enough new oak for each vineyard but I don’t want to taste it in the wine,” says Dominique Lafon in Meursault. “If a wine comes from new oak without the (sense of) oak, it’s a sign of purity of terroir,” says Mounir Saouma at Lucien Lemoine in Beaune. “(Oak flavor) is the taste I hate most.” There’s a widespread belief that barriques of new oak results in more exposure to oxygen than old oak: “It’s not the new wood that’s interesting for me, it’s the oxygenation,” says Olivier Bernstein, one of the new micro-negociants in Beaune. I am a bit uncertain about this: I thought oxygen exposure comes more via the bung than between the staves.

Anyway new oak can usually be sensed in the wine, but the impression of oak can also come from use of first or second year barrels. I wonder whether a formula such as

oak = (100% x new oak)+ (50% x one-year oak)+ (25% x two-year oak)

would give a better sense of the impression of a young wine? I’m afraid, however, that winemakers might not have the patience to provide the detailed stats needed to work this out. The moral is not exactly beware of new oak but beware of believing that the proportion of new oak will directly predict the style of the wine.

Burgundy Diary part 6: Sea Change in Meursault – Visits to Comtes Lafon, Guy Roulot, Michel Bouzereau, and Pierre Morey

My recent visit to Meursault showed a real change in style from the old view that Meursault is soft, nutty, and buttery (compared with Chassagne Montrachet that has a more citrus edge, and Puligny Montrachet which is taut, precise, and mineral). As Jean-Baptiste Bouzereau explains, “There has been an evolution in Meursault over 20 years, the wines are less rich and opulent than before. People are looking for a finer style.” This applies especially to the premier crus, as “the exposure naturally makes the village wines a little heavier.”

Dominique Lafon has made a similar transition since he took over in 1987 at Comtes Lafon. “During this period (the late eighties and early nineties), winemaking was close to what my father had been doing; he was a classical winemaker, so there was long aging, two years in barrel, with lots of new oak. The premier crus were 100% new oak. That’s what people wanted at the time: big round toasty white Burgundy became very successful, especially in the U.S.A. All the work we’ve done since then has been focused on a move towards elegance. We use just enough new oak for each vineyard but I don’t want to taste it in the wine. Now aging depends on the cru and some spend longer than others.” Is this change typical for Meursault, I asked. “I think it’s typical for the good producers,” is Dominique’s view.

What is the typicity of Meursault, I asked Anne-Marie Morey at Domaine Pierre Morey. “What sort of style should Meursault be: buttery or mineral? Meursault is more butter, Puligny is more mineral, but Meursault is the largest appellation and has terroirs that express both styles. We have the chance to have terroirs that express minerality,” she says. But when asked what changes she has made since taking over, she says, “I think we are not great revolutionaries in Burgundy.”

So you might ask: if there’s something of a consensus to move to a lighter, more mineral style, away from oak and vanillin, what’s the real typicity of Meursault, and what price terroir? If the distinction between Meursault and Puligny is less clear than it used to be, the distinctions between different terroirs within Meursault seem clearer now that the cover of oak and vanillin and butter has been removed. Take the lieu-dits at Domaine Guy Roulot, where Jean-Marc Roulot says, “The style was defined in the sixties by the decisions my father made to separate the cuvees. If you see the difference in the glass it’s justified, but if you don’t there is no point. Excess is the enemy of terroir – too much alcohol or too much oak… Our wine is lightly colored for three reasons: early harvest dates, not too much oak, and not too much battonage.”

“The first difference between the lieu-dits is the exposition, then elevation on the slope, finally the clay-limestone proportions. There’s about a week’s difference in harvest between Luchets and Narvaux.” Going through the 2013s with Jean-Marc, you move from the restraint of Meix Chavaux or Tillets to the rounder impression of Luchets, the gritty texture of Narvaux, and the more powerful Tessons. Each is distinct.

Comtes Lafon may have the widest range of premier crus in Meursault. I tasted all six from 2012 with Dominique Lafon. Bouchères is vibrant and lively, pointing towards citrus, then Poruzots is more stone fruits, Genevrières is rounder with a silky sheen, Charmes, always more backwards, has a smoky restraint, and Perrières is the most powerful. Once again, all are distinct, yet showing that commonality of Lafon’s elegant style.

I didn’t mention Coche Dury because I didn’t visit on this trip, but his wines are really the epitome of minerality in Meursault. Some feel that Arnaud Ente is a very close second in this style. No doubt there are still Meursaults in the old style, fat and oaky, but I have to say that I didn’t encounter any on this trip. Previously I’ve always been a devotée of Puligny for expressing terroir in that ineffably steely, mineral style, but Meursault is now running it a close second. Here are four examples to make the point.

Domaine Pierre Morey, Meursault Tessons, 2009: “This is a mineral terroir: the rock is about 30 cms down and the roots tend to run along the surface. This was a precocious vintage but the wine was slow to develop and elegant,” says Anne-Marie Morey. A slight sense of reduction brings a really savory impression to the citrus fruits – this one won’t succumb to premox. Fruits are elegant, citrusy, and emerging slowly. 89.

Domaine Guy Roulot, Meursault Charmes, 2012: Faintly smoky, mineral nose with citrus fruits. More subtle than Bouchères, more texture, less obvious gloss on surface, but deeper flavors with good extraction and depth. Very fine indeed. 92.

Domaine Comtes Lafon , Meursault Charmes, 2012: Restrained smoky nose. Most overt sense of structure among the premier crus, more granular on palate with strong impression that the structured citrus and stone fruits will last a long time. Tension and texture would be a fair summary. 93.

Domaine Michel Bouzereau, Meursault Genevrières, 2013: Similar to Charmes with citrus hiding some nuts, but more intensity. Lots of extract here, great concentration of fruits marked by citrus and apples, long finish. Deep and concentrated, this might be what Meursault would be like if it had a Grand Cru. 91.

Burgundy Diary part 5: A Peak of Natural Wine? – a Visit with Lucien Lemoine in Beaune

A Bach cantata was playing when I arrived for a meeting at Lucien Lemoine in Beaune. From outside the premises look like a run down property in a street just outside the town center, but workmen were coming and going, and the interior had been handsomely renovated, practical rather than flashy, but with a certain contemporary flair. LeMoineTW1Lucien Lemoine is the creation of Mounir and Rotem Saouma, who have been making wine here since 1998. It’s perhaps Burgundy’s top micro-negociant. The name reflects Mounir’s past experience working with monks. Mounir is a complicated person – “I listen to Dylan every day and read Nietzsche” – and conversation with him is thought-provoking, running in every direction like quicksilver. For every question I asked, the answer provoked more lines of investigation. He has a very definite view of winemaking. “I saw the need for a place where we would make wine in the old tradition – not the young tradition, which is the last 30-40 years. There was a window for a policy of ‘I don’t do.’ Many people were saying ‘I do so and so.’ The objective was to be as classic as possible.”

Before coming to Burgundy, Mounir was a winemaker in many places with many varieties, including Pinot Noir in hot climates. “It was hard to make good Pinot Noir so I came to the birthplace to see. I wanted people to see many examples of terroir and to see the difference.”

“Hundreds of years ago there was polyculture, there was a simple way of making wine: if it’s red, put it in a tank, push down the cap, press, wait, bottle. I tried experiments in 1997 in making wine very simply putting it in tank and leaving it. In 1998 we decided how to proceed. We are two people and we wanted to do 100 barrels of wine in premier and grand crus. We reached this size in 2006 and we are still at that size today. I have seen many negociants start small and become large. We do it all ourselves,” Mounir says, waving his hand to show a bandage where he hurt himself moving barrels yesterday.

There is just one village wine to show the potential of lower appellations. In the first year, there were 33 barrels representing 19 premier crus and 15 grand crus. In 2012, there were 112 barrels representing 75 premier and grand crus. 55% is red and 45% is white. “We could have done 10 barrels from each village, but we are making many more wines, in smaller amounts. Why do we have so many wines? Because I find the variety interesting.” 85% of the wines are the same every year. “Most of the growers from 1999 are still our growers today.”

The approach to winemaking is direct: let the wine have a slow and very long fermentation, and keep it on full lees for élevage. “We have very cold cellars so we never complete fermentation before ten months after harvest. Today (July 2014) we are at the end of the alcoholic fermentation and the malo is now starting for 2013.Mounir emphasizes. “We put all the lees in the barrel, we use the heavy lees, I hate ‘fine lies,’ it means nothing.” There is no filtering or fining., and minimal use of sulfur. “I have a very curious friendship with sulfur…If I were the big boss of Burgundy, I would forbid the use of sulfur at two times: now in the spring, and at bottling. When you sulfur young wines very early, you keep them virgin and very shy. So when the wine finally sees oxygen it will be destroyed. Great Burgundy must be approachable when it is young. The problem with the sulfur is that it kills the wine. You can put makeup on, but it’s dead… We do not do wines without sulfur, but we age wines for 18 months without sulfur; this is a religion but it’s a risk thing. And then the sulfur is 15 ppm where Burgundy is usually 50 ppm. The key is that with slow alcoholic fermentation, late malo, and no racking, my wines are bottled with three times the average carbon dioxide for Burgundy.” The back label of every bottle carries a warning that the wine needs to be decanted before drinking in order to shake off the gas.

I don’t know whether aficionados of natural wine would apply the term “natural” to Mounir’s wines, but when I raise the question he says “I don’t like titles, natural means others are not, I do wine like people did in the old days, before the new tradition , I don’t know how you call it , we don’t add and don’t take out.” One of the charms of Lucien Lemoine as a producer is that it’s hard to peg by conventional descriptions. Take the question of new oak.”The policy in oak is not to talk about oak…  I am happy you did not mention the presence (in the wines we tasted) of what I hate the most – oak flavor. New oak is expensive, it’s very complicated to use , but the moderate oxygen is very important for agibility of the wines. If a wine come from new oak without the (sense of) oak, it’s a sign of purity of terroir.”

“Unfortunately a lot of wines are more the man than the terroir, and they are boring. They do not change in the glass. And they are dead, they do not age. At the end of the day you open the bottle, you carafe it – any bottle we produce must be carafed – and it should last a week. The wine should change every day. It’s an obligation to respect the terroir and to keep the life in the wine. The definition of great wine in Burgundy for me rests on three points: the first is the place, the wine should smell and taste of the place; second is that it must have a life, it must change in the glass; third is that it must be able to age.

Do you control the vineyards? “We do the opposite of the others: I consider the best growers in the world are here, with a relationship between man and terroir. Who is going to stand in the vineyards and tell the growers what to do?” Basically, Mounir has confidence in his growers. “We try to find the person who makes the best interpretation in a cru. All arrangements with growers are on handshakes. We buy every year, we pay the price, we never say to a grower you must do something. In 2003 some growers said to me, you’ve made wine in hot countries, what do we do, but I wouldn’t intervene. I have no control, I learn from the growers, The growers have thirty vintages and then you have someone who arrives here and says, I’ll buy your grapes, and I’ll make wine. A lot of people ‘make’ Burgundy but you don’t have to ‘make’ Burgundy.”

For me, these wines are as natural as they need to be, with a wonderful purity of fruit allowing terroir to show itself at every level of the range. They are expensive and hard to find, but an eye opener as to the potential for minimal manipulation.


Why Does Wine Criticism Try to be Objective When Everything Else is Personal?

“The wine has a ruby appearance and the nose shows a mixture of earthy strawberries and red cherries. The palate has delicate nuances of tobacco and chocolate to offset the red fruits, and there is a lingering bitterness on the finish from presently unresolved tannins.” Sounds sort of objective, doesn’t it? You have to wonder whether really the purpose of a tasting note in the modern fashion to identify the various influences on nose and palate wouldn’t be served better by a direct chemical and physical analysis of color hue, aromatic components, acidity, alcohol, phenolic compounds, etc. At least that would be objective instead of pretending to be, although whether it would tell you whether you would like the wine is another matter.

But how can a tasting note tell you whether you would like a wine when everyone has a different palate? Sample the diners at a restaurant – everyone likes a different amount of salt on their food, why should they all like the same wine? (And what is it with restaurants that refuse to put salt on the table? Isn’t it the height of arrogance for a chef to decide that his level of salt and pepper is perfect for everyone? Is that different from the position of the wine critic? I have noticed a correlation, by the way: at restaurants with salt on the table, I rarely need to add salt to my food; at restaurants without it, I often have to ask for salt. I suspect this reflects an attitude problem with the chef – for some reason that is obscure to me, chefs who under-salt are adamant about it…)

The old style of wine criticism that went in for flowery metaphors wasn’t to my mind much more useful than today’s more technical analyses. “This wine is like a friendly Labrador bounding out to meet you,” is one that has stuck in my memory. I suppose technical criticism gives you more sense of what a wine might be like, although I am puzzled by the contrast between the trend to soi-disant objective analysis with the general focus in today’s environment on personalization. Look at Twitter and Facebook: it’s all about ME, and the more personal the anecdote, the better. Look at the decline in newspapers, where in desperate attempts to keep readership, half the articles are about the writer not about the news? Why is wine an exception, why do we look for comment that’s actually about the wine instead of about the taster’s totally subjective reactions and reminiscences?

It’s interesting that in a group of tasters, people can usually distinguish different wines but often describe them in different, sometimes opposing, ways. The difficulty of relating to someone else’s tasting notes may be less in differences of perception than in differences of description. I used to taste with someone who often distinguished wines as having black olives versus green olives. I could see what he meant, although my own descriptors were quite different – but I would have been puzzled if not quite misled to have tried to assess wines on the basis of his notes alone. I keep tasting notes on every wine I drink; they are useful to me, but I don’t fool myself that they would necessarily be useful to anyone else.


Burgundy Diary part 4: a Visit with Olivier Leflaive (a Force of Nature)

Officially retired, but in practice evident everywhere, Olivier Leflaive is a force of nature. He greets the diners every night at his restaurant and hotel in the town (recommended as an excellent base for visiting producers south of Beaune), and he or his brother conduct tours and tastings every morning at the winery, a modern building on the outskirts of the town.

OlivierLeflaiveTW3Olivier Leflaive’s winery was built in 7 stages over several years

The history of Maison Leflaive is a series of happy accidents. Olivier likes to start at the beginning, in 1635 when Domaine Leflaive already owned vineyards in Puligny, but then he fast-forwards to 1981 when his father Joseph and uncle Vincent were co-managers of Domaine Leflaive. Olivier became co-manager when his father died, and he remained until 1994. “But Leflaive was a small domain, and it had a maître de chai, and it was famous so it wasn’t difficult to sell, it wasn’t challenging enough, and in 1985 I decided to create a negociant. Everyone in Leflaive put in some money.” The business started in the old cellars of Domaine Leflaive – it was big enough for tanks, barrels and bottling; we made 10,000 cases then. The office was my living room and the lab was in the bathroom.” But it expanded rapidly when Frederick Wildman came to Olivier to say they needed a new source of white Burgundy.

The emphasis of the domain is on buying grapes and making the wine. Today there are 120 growers and 80,000 cases. Most of the wine (about 85%) is white; there are 80 different white wines from Montagny to Corton Charlemagne, and a dozen red wines complete the range. “In terms of philosophy and character of wine, I was born in Leflaive style which is finesse and elegance. We don’t want to be champion of the world, for example in alcohol. I don’t want to make wine at 14%. And we use reasonable amounts of new oak, it’s usually about 15%. We don’t want to make excessive battonage. For me I don’t like the garage wines at 15-20 hl/ha, they are too heavy. All this is to explain that my philosophy is to be reasonable, never to excess.”

The profits of the business went into buying vineyards, mainly in Chassagne and Puligny, today totaling about 15 ha. There are also some vineyards that represent Olivier’s part of Domaine Leflaive, which he took over after ownership of the Domaine and Maison separated in 1994. When a wine comes solely from estate grapes, it’s indicated on the label as Récolte de Domaine. This is always true for Chevalier Montrachet, for which the only source is estate grapes: in other locations, there are also purchased grapes, and usually but not always they are blended with the estate grapes.

Control of the vineyards varies according to the arrangement with the grower. “We harvest 35 ha (including our own 15 ha), but we go to each vineyard and check the grapes as they are harvested and brought here. We stay in the vineyard until harvest is finished. We don’t believe anybody here,” is part of the reason for success. About half the white grapes are pressed at source, by the grower, and then the must is immediately transported to the winery. Typical élevage is 10 months in barrique, assemblage, and then tank for several months. There is never more than 20% new oak.

The difficulty in visiting Maison Leflaive is what to taste. “You can taste all 92 wines, from all three vintages that we have at the moment, but then you will have to stay for three days,” Olivier says. We compromise on a selection from the 2012 vintage including premier crus from the three principal communes (Puligny Montrachet, Chassagne Montrachet, and Meursault), and then taking in Corton Charlemagne. The Puligny Folatières shows focused minerality, Pucelles is richer, Meursault Poruzots has a fuller, broader impression than the Puligny’s, and the Abbaye de Morgeots from Chassagne is the broadest in its expression, with oak just a touch more evident. The Corton Charlemagne has the backbone of the grand cru, with rich fruits of stewed citrus. If I had to choose a single word to describe the style at Maison Leflaive, it would be flavorful.

Burgundy Diary part 3: the Revival of Pousse d’Or, a Neat Invention, and the 2013 vintage

I remember the wines of Pousse d’Or from the early nineties as being among the most elegant in Volnay, with an indefinably delicate expression of Pinot Noir. Then with Gérard Potel’s death in 1997 the domain somewhat fell out of view. A visit this week explained the history and demonstrated its return to full form.

Patrick Landanger, who had been an engineer and inventor, bought the domain in 1997, and started by employing a régisseur (general manager). But it was very difficult to sell the 1998 vintage: many of the contacts with clients had been personal, and there wasn’t much confidence after Gérard Potel’s death. “Patrick was told that if he wanted to regain confidence he would need to make the wine himself. So he went to oenology school… The first vintage he made was 1999, which was well received,” explains commercial manager Marleen Nicot.

There’s been major investment here in a new building that houses a gravity-fed winery. It’s built into the side of the hill, with three levels to allow berries to come in at the top, go down into the barrels, and then down again for bottling. “We are happy to have the slope of Volnay here and to able to the work by gravity,” says Marleen.

Production is focused on red wine. There are 17 ha today, which is significantly more than in 1997, but the only white wine comes from a vineyard that was purchased in Puligny Montrachet. The heart of the domain remains the premier crus from Volnay, but Patrick has extended the domain first farther north on the Côte de Beaune with two vineyards in Corton, and then into Chambolle Musigny with some village wine and four premier crus. If Volnay is the most elegant appellation of the Côte de Beaune, Chambolle is its counterpart on the Côte de Nuits, but you don’t often get the chance to compare wines from these two appellations coming from the same winemaker.

Patrick has not stopped inventing. All the barrels of red wine have a glass structure on top that looks like a decanter. Called a ouilleur (from ouillage, which means topping-up), it’s a device that keeps the barrel completely full. A polythene top with holes and a flap allows gas be expelled, but air cannot enter. So the head space above the wine is filled by carbon dioxide that is released naturally from the wine. It means that opening the bung for topping up is required less often. You can also see whether malolactic fermentation is proceeding without needing to open the bung.

For all the premier crus there is one third new oak, one third one-year, and one third two-year; grand Crus have 40-45% new oak. Larger barrels (350 liter) are used for the white wine – Patrick prefers to reduce the oak surface – and oxidation will be lower. (I wonder if that will help to avoid premox). Ouilleurs are not used for the whites because of the need for battonage.

PousseDor-BarrelTW1The ouilleur reduces the need for topping up

We tasted the 2013s from barrique. The name of the Volnay Bousse d’Or reflects the refusal of the authorities to allow the same name to be used for both the domain and a premier cru, and the wine gives a precise, yet intense impression that will be very Volnay-ish as it develops. Two more premier crus from Volnay are in the same general style. Clos des 60 Ouvrées has a bit more punch and structure, but is less generous at this stage. People who like wines younger generally prefer Bousse d’Or; those who prefer to wait may prefer 60 Ouvrées. Clos d’Auvignac is concentrated and structured. The Chambolle Musigny’s seem a little rounder, a little more feminine, rising from the village wine with fruits that are lighter than the Volnays, to the premier cru Charmes, which is more restrained but promises to move in the direction of finesse and silkiness, to Les Amoureuses, which adds a touch of spice and a glossy sheen; then moving to the grand cru Bonnes Mares there’s just a bit more roundness and power, that indefinable difference that marks the grand cru. The 2013s have been successful here, and my two favorites of the moment are Bousse d’Or and Amoureuses, but in the future it would make a fascinating blind tasting to compare the exression of terroirs in the premier crus from Volnay and Chambolle Musigny as they mature.

Burgundy Diary part 2: Domaine Leflaive – the Quintessence of Puligny & the 2012 Vintage

Domaine Leflaive has become very grand. The first time I visited, twenty years ago, things were casual: I called the domain when I was in Beaune, and made an appointment to visit that afternoon. I met with Anne-Claude Leflaive, who had recently started the experiment with biodynamics, and we had a long tasting, punctuated by discussion about potassium levels in the soil (a sensitive issue in Burgundy at that time, as much of the soil had been poisoned over the previous decades). This time, an email to the contact address on the web site produced an automated response to say that there are no direct sales to new customers, no visits for consumers, and professionals should contact the local importer.

Once you arrive in Puligny, you have to know where to go, as there are no signs to the domain, and no nameplate at the entrance; perhaps to discourage casual visitors, there’s a line with domestic washing hanging up at the entrance to the rather grand courtyard where the domain is located in the Place des Marronniers. But just to complicate matters further, the Place des Marronniers no longer has any chestnut trees and has been renamed the Place du Pasquier de la Fontaine, perhaps to represent its gentrification with a fountain. This is a sad turn of events for an area proud of its history. But the wines of Domaine Leflaive are more splendid than ever.

LeflaiveTW3Domaine Leflaive was one of the first to take up biodynamics, is probably the most ardent biodynamic practitioner in Burgundy, and has been fully biodynamic for almost twenty years. From 1992 to 1997 there were experiments in which some vineyards were organic and some were biodynamic, and the wines were bottled separately. As a result of the trial, Anne-Claude decided in 1997 to go biodynamic. That was a difficult vintage when acidity generally dropped fast, says general manager Antoine Lepetit, but the biodynamic vineyards retained acidity better than others. Better acidity has continued to be one of the main benefits of biodynamics.

Winemaking is fairly traditional, with everything going into oak, a delay of about 6 days before indigenous yeast start fermentation, and then a delay of some months before malolactic fermentation happens. (Because Puligny has a high water table, cellars are above ground, so temperature responds to external conditions and it’s too cold for malolactic fermentation over the winter.) After a year in barrique, there is assemblage, and then the wine rests on full lees in small stainless steel tanks for most of another year. “We keep barrels for up to five years so we buy 20% of new oak each year. Bourgogne has 10% new oak, village has 15%, there’s 20-25% for premier crus, and 30% for grand cru (apart from Montrachet which is often one barrel). It’s been the same for the past twenty years. What’s important for us is to give the wine no more oak than it can take,” says Antoine.

We tasted all the premier crus from 2012, and the grand crus from 2011. “2012 is not the easiest vintage to taste now, it has high dry extract,” Antoine warns me. Indeed, the wines are pretty reserved at the moment. The Puligny has faintly smoky notes emphasizing a mineral impression, but hasn’t yet developed that steely backbone of minerality that is the hallmark of Domaine Leflaive. Clavoillons (for which Leflaive has almost a monopole as the domain owns almost all of the Cru) shows some steel but is relatively muted, Folatières is dumb on the nose but more rounded on the palate than Clavoillons, Combettes (where there is only a tiny plot) has a more forward impression of stone fruits, and Pucelles is the knockout of the vintage, showing a delicate nose, smoky palate, and silkiness on the finish. The vines of Bienvenues Bâtard are the oldest in the domain, and the wine shows lovely citrus with notes of oak showing at the end, Bâtard Montrachet has more depth on the palate, and Chevalier Montrachet takes the prize for the most subtle mélange of citrus versus stone fruits, smoke versus minerality, fruits versus steel. It would be vinicide to drink any of these wines now, but if forced to choose one for dinner, I would have the Pucelles.