Solid Aged Volnay, but Over the Peak

Today’s Story: Maison Nicolas Potel

Maison Nicolas Potel was established in 1997 as a négociant business by Nicolas Potel following the passing of his father Gérard Potel of Domaine de la Pousse d’Or. Thanks to his father’s influence and respect within Burgundy for helping to improve quality, ripeness, and concentration in the region’s wines, Nicolas was able to access some of the great 1er and Grand Crus of the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune. For example, Roumier, Lafon, and Jean-Marc Boillot (all who looked up to Gérard) sold Nicolas fruit to help jumpstart his namesake venture. By 2002, Nicolas was making wines from 50 different appellations. Shortly thereafter, however, Nicolas ran into cash flow issues during the global economic uncertainty and sold his Maison (including naming rights) to the Cottin brothers of négociant Labouré-Roi in 2004. Nicolas stayed on until 2009 when tensions boiled over, with the Cottin brothers saying his side projects competed with Maison Nicolas Potel and Nicolas saying they disagreed with his philosophy of quality over quantity. Though Nicolas moved on and established Domaine de Bellene with his own vineyards, Maison Nicolas Potel continues making wines under his name to this day.

A traditionalist and staunch proponent of quality over quantity, Nicolas worked with 35+ year old vines whose growers often practice organic or biodynamic viticulture. In the cellar, he practiced minimally invasive winemaking which included pressing with a vertical wine press, maturing the wines for 12-16 months on the lees without racking, and adding minimal SO2. All told, Nicolas adapted each wine to the vintage but at his core wanted to make wines as naturally as possible so they could express each terroir in the truest sense. Though this philosophy remains at Maison Nicolas Potel after he left, the wines bearing Nicolas’ name naturally don’t seem to be the same.

Today’s Wine: 2002 Volnay 1er Cru Pitures

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

The 2002 Volnay 1er Cru Pitures is translucent medium garnet in color with slight bricking (though not too bad). This needed about an hour to blossom in the glass, helping to lift the fading nose to showcase aromas of forest floor, earthy mushroom, leather, grilled green herbs, and gravel followed by red fruits of cherry, raspberry, and strawberry all on their way out the door. The fruit is slightly more alive on the palate but is certainly still fading, displaying notes of tart red cherry, black raspberry, cranberry, truffle, tobacco, leather, loamy earth, garden herbs, and slight smoke. This is light-bodied with medium acidity, medium (-) tannins, and a medium length finish (shorter than I’d like, but that’s the age). There’s still decent structure here, but overall the fruit is fading fast. Drink up if you have any.

Price: $130 (looks like it used to be $70 when last priced on wine-searcher in 2017). I think at its peak drinking window this would’ve been a fantastic bottle for the price. However, given how advanced this is now I would pass on it if you come across it.

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