1986 Domaine Jean-François Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru and 1989 Meursault Les Perrières 1er Cru 


In the fledgling days of my wine career, long before I put pen to paper, I used to visit a reputable merchant in deepest Suffolk. These were thoroughly enjoyable away days from the office. We would often repair to a local fish restaurant to imbibe the rest of the afternoon away, skivers that we were. I vividly recall one occasion when the merchant regaled a bottle drunk recently. He rhapsodized that wine so much that his words have always stayed with me. Unfortunately, even then, 20-plus years ago, this wine was so unfathomably rare that the chances of even finding a bottle, let alone drinking one, were remote. Of course, back then, I had not counted on munificent wine friends…

The bottle was the 1986 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru from Domaine Jean-François Coche-Dury. It was the maiden vintage from a parcel planted in 1960 in the climat of Le Charlemagne and yielded just six casks per year, around 1,800 bottles. I believe this was en fermage at the time, as Clive Coates writes that the owner lived in Chambery. Following a horizontal of bottled 2020s at Dorian restaurant, it was served blind to an unsuspecting audience, thankfully including yours truly.

The 1986 has a burnished hue, light straw in color. The nose is fully mature and smells of melted beeswax, sea spray, peach skin and guava. It is actually more tropically driven than expected, far more than the 2005, which I consider the apogee of this cuvée. The palate is well balanced, though I would not describe it as ‘complex’. Oddly, there is an almost Germanic feel to this Corton-Charlemagne, slightly waxy in texture and honeyed towards the finish at the expense of tension. Perhaps this bottle falls far short of the eulogy that I heard all those years ago. Nevertheless, it was another “I’ll never drink that” to tick off my list. If you are lucky enough to own a bottle, I wouldn’t keep it too much longer. 91/Drink 2024-2029.

In fact, it was surpassed by another bottle from the Domaine served in tandem. The 1989 Meursault Les Perrières 1er Cru is superb. The nose is, again, fully mature, yet there is much more delineation and mineralité than in the 1986 Corton-Charlemagne. Dried honey, chai, hints of petrichor and beeswax are all very complex and involving. The palate is quintessential Les Perrières, that mineralité undeniable. There is impressive depth and concentration counterbalanced by superb acidity. White chocolate, chamomile and white peach appear towards the elegant and pure finish. Superb. 94/Drink 2024-2036.

© 2024, Vinous. No portion of this article may be copied, shared or re-distributed without prior consent from Vinous. Doing so is not only a violation of our copyright, but also threatens the survival of independent wine criticism.