Wednesday Wines – Episode 121 – The 2020s from Château Corton C

Episode 121 – The 2020s from Château Corton C

10th August 2022

There is no doubt that Caroline Frey’s Château Corton C portfolio has gained even more finesse and detail in the 2020 vintage. Each label has improved in terms of clarity, expression and purity; these are some of the most expressive and downright enjoyable wines on the Côte right now. While some will age and further improve, I find the immediacy and deliciousness compelling here. Acid and tannin balance perfectly with fruit and oak, making these wines indulgent, rewarding, super-accurate, and honest to their precise vineyard origins. I know they are all made in tiny quantities, but I hope to see them on the UK market soon because I know that my followers deserve to drink wines of this quality and flair.

White

2020 Corton Blanc, Grand Cru, Château Corton C

I am mightily impressed by this mineral-soaked wine, and comparing it with the ‘Charlemagne’ below was fascinating. I do not think it is too far-fetched to suggest that virtually everyone who tasted these two wines blind would guess which was which with tremendous accuracy. This is because they taste like the textbook definitions of their type, plus the magical spell Frey casts on each of her wines. This wine is ‘green’ not ‘gold’, ‘chalky’ not ‘silky’ and ‘tangy’ not ‘indulgent’. It is liquidised Corton poured into a bottle, in the same way, that Narvaux was Narvaux and not Les Tillets or Les Grands Charrons. I love the drama, the keen edge and the citrus pith notes underpinning this luxurious wine. It makes it racy, daring and rather sexy.  18/20 (Drink now – 2030)

2020 Meursault, Narvaux, Château Corton C

I cannot think of a wine from this vineyard that I have preferred in my 35 years in the wine trade. This is the authentic essence of this delightful plot of land, carefully decanted into the bottle, and all of the trademark silkiness and generosity is balanced by the energy and dramatic situation of this lieu-dit. Sensational and up there with the very finest wines made in this legendary village, with a tiny difference – it is drinking now!  18.5/20 (Drink now – 2026)

2020 Corton Charlemagne (Le Corton), Grand Cru, Château Corton C

In contrast to the Corton above, this is a regal creation dripping in finery and resplendent in layers of couture flavours. Unlike many of its rival wines, the oak is effortlessly integrated into the whole, and there is tenderness and precision here as opposed to just bulk and power. It is very nearly drinking, and it shows why the fruit from this part of the hillside is so prized worldwide. This is the finest white wine I have tasted from Corton C to date, and it is a sniff off a 19-score, so the class is undeniable. But the most important factor in its favour is the joyous immediacy of its flavours. This is a gorgeous drink, and I shudder to think what will happen over the next two-ten years!  18.5+/20 (Drink 2024 – 2035)

Red

2020 Aloxe-Corton, 1er Cru Les Paulands, Château Corton C

I feel that there needs to be a slightly dodgy wine in any portfolio tasting to prove that the winemaker is human and that I analyse every wine I taste with the same level of forensic attention. The 2019 vintage of Les Paulands was a ‘miss’ with me, and I noted that it was ‘spicy, angular and rather coarse’. While there is a slight improvement in fruit clarity in 2020, these same underlying hallmarks are present here. I cannot attribute this low score and ‘question mark’ to anything in particular especially since its stablemate below has lifted its own game immeasurably.  Let’s hope the same is true of Les Paulands in years to come.  16?/20 (I cannot decide when this wine might drink at its peak)

2020 Ladoix, Château Corton C

While Ladoix is one of the lesser-known villages on the Côte d’Or, occasional wines offer delightful juiciness and refreshing immediacy. This ebullient fellow is open, feisty, spicy and welcoming. As with all of the Pinots, the fruit is pure and precise, making it a lovely treat.  17/20 (Drink now – 2025)

2020 Monthélie, Château Corton C

While the Ladoix shows a little earthy spice under the fruit, this village Monthélie is polished and silky, and the nose leaps from the glass showing sensational freshness. There is a little more exoticism on the nose with plummy notes joining the black cherry theme, and yet the palate shows no seams or imperfections whatsoever – this is an amazingly succulent and enticing wine.  17.5/20 (Drink now – 2027)

2020 Monthélie, 1er Cru Les Champs Fulliot, Château Corton C

Raising the level of intensity a couple of notches over the village Monthélie, this Premier Cru wine seems riper and deeper, and it also shows a little more weight on the mid-palate. This means that while it will last the course longer than its counterpart, it also demands more intensely flavoured cuisine. What I find remarkable about this wine is that while it is a more involving version of a Monthélie, it does not carry more tannin, nor does it lack any momentum, which means it is gorgeously textured, flattering and appealing.  17.5/20  (Drink now – 2028)

2020 Aloxe-Corton, 1er Cru Les Petites Lolières, Château Corton C

Last year’s wine is a distant memory now that I have found 2020 Les Petites Lolières. This is a huge step up on the occluded 2019, and while there is a harder edge here than found on the other wines, with a noticeable crunch of both mineral tones and acidity, there is a pure core, and the whole experience is accurate and, importantly, clean. I can see this wine appealing to purists because of its Aloxe tension and focus coupled with the juiciness of the Pinot fruit that Frey and her team have captured from this vineyard.  17.5/20 (Drink 2024 – 2030)

2020 Volnay, Château Corton C

I could barely control myself when I tasted this wine. It is not a brain teaser, nor is it particularly challenging. Instead, this is a direct, indecently pure and thrillingly accurate Volnay that reads like a poem to the singular beauty and immensely charming attributes of this village and its velvety, perfumed wines. I find so few wines with the precision aromatics on this nose. This is an unencumbered, pinpoint Pinot Noir, and it is already drinking beautifully. If I had to describe this village to a newcomer, I would reach for this bottle first.  18/20 (Drink now – 2030)

2020 Pommard, Château Corton C

I was delighted to report that the Volnay and Pommard in the 2019 vintage showed exactly the ‘correct’ characters that I expected and hoped for in these two wines. They were similarly hued, perfumed and flavoured, but completely different in attack, perceived silkiness, drinkability and muscularity. These subtle links and dramatic contrasts are even more evident and thrilling in 2020. There is more earth, depth and a faint growl of power here, and yet the calibre of raw materials is tip-top, making this a sensual and deeply rewarding wine.  18+/20 (Drink 2024 – 2030)

2020 Savigny-lès-Beaune, Clos des Guettotes, Monopole, Château Corton C

I cannot remember tasting wines from this Clos before, aside from the thrilling 2019 vintage of this wine, but this is very special real estate because this is another magnificent creation.  With stunning, mouth-filling texture and a fair wallop of grandeur too, this is a wine that soars above most Savignys with its exquisite perfume, silkiness and impressive length. I would be hard pushed to guess that this was a wine from this village if I tasted it blind, plumping for a starrier origin, and so I think this shows just how much care and attention has been paid to this beautiful wine.  18+/20 (Drink 2025 – 2032)

2020 Auxey-Duresses, 1er Cru Le Val, Château Corton C

Is Auxey the most underrated source of surprisingly action-packed red wines in the Côte? Le Val is a roller-coaster ride of excitement with more structure and a touch more tannin than I was expecting, and the trademark Corton C gloss is liberally applied, too. While it makes sense to suggest that the Volnay, Pommard and others taste like dictionary definitions of their kind, suggesting that this wine tastes like a benchmark Auxey might not make sense to many, given that these wines are rare. There are only a handful of truly serious wines that pre-date this one. So, perhaps this wine might act as a pointer to what can be achieved in this beautiful hillside ‘corridor’ for those keen drinkers anxious to nail this village’s potential in their minds.  Either way, this is a wonderful creation, and I cannot wait to see how it evolves.  18+/20 (Drink 2026 – 2035)

2020 Aloxe-Corton, Château Corton C

This is one of the most arresting village Aloxe I have ever tasted. Last year, the 2019 was bright, fruit-driven and accurate, but it lacked depth and also length. It is clear that this 2020 has doubled up on both its depth of flavour and persistence on the palate, and the result is a considerable improvement. With outstanding purity and depth of flavour and incredible resonance and drama, this is one of the most delicious Aloxe-Corton wines of the year.  18/20 (Drink now – 2030)

2020 Corton, Le Clos du Château Grand Cru, Monopole, Château Corton C

If the Aloxe-Corton above was the final wine in the range, I would have been more than satisfied, but it is not. Moving with determination and intent, this magnificent Corton Grand Cru positions itself on the palate, hunkers down, and beds in. This is a stellar wine. It manages to do something that only a handful of Cortons have achieved: to seem friendly and welcoming on the nose and initial palate flavour volleys and then switch modes into a truly breath-taking vin de garde.  The quality and calibre of fruit here are outstanding, and these raw materials sing in this wine. Exquisite power is coupled with effortless beauty, and both elements are in harmony. I am so tempted to give it a 19, but I sense there is more to come here, so I wait with bated breath to unleash this score in years to come.  18.5+/20 (Drink 2025 – 2035)

FIN