|Regis Forey’s 2017s: A New Milestone of Elegance|
With over thirty harvests under his belt, Regis Forey exudes the calm, warm confidence of a seasoned Burgundian vigneron operating at the apex of his powers. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Regis crafted robust, dense wines from his family’s enviable holdings in the Côte de Nuits—impressive wines which have aged superbly, but which do occasionally bear traces of a certain youthful striving. In recent years, however, he has honed a style that prioritizes subtlety in numerous ways: a shift from traditional 228-liter Burgundy barrels to 500-liter demi-muids in order to reduce the influence of oak; less manipulation of the cap during fermentation (once-per-day punching down at most) to promote gentler extraction; an increasing incorporation of whole clusters (which reduce color and emphasize higher aromatic tones); and a markedly reduced sulfur regimen. Like Jean-Marie Fourrier, Regis has also begun to experiment with terracotta jars, whose relatively large volume and low porosity allow for slower evolution during elevage. In today’s warming climate, Burgundy’s average cellar temperatures are higher than in eras past, and vessels such as these—as well as the large conical foudres with which he is also experimenting—counteract the accelerated development these warmer cellars foster. Always on the brink of a good laugh, Regis jokes that his newfound lighter touch is a function of not wanting to work as hard in his advancing age; however, it is clear that he is laboring thoughtfully in order to locate new expressive registers for his great terroirs. Indeed, his wines today rank among the most graceful of our entire Burgundy portfolio, even evoking the beautifully understated wines of his father Jean—Rosenthal Wine Merchant’s very first partner in the Côte de Nuits.
Compared with the devastating 2016 vintage whose twin ignominies of frost and mildew netted Forey a miserly yield of 16 hectoliters per hectare, 2017 felt downright merciful. A relatively even flowering and problem-free growing season—Regis treated only four times—culminated in a harvest whose restrained temperatures allowed him to pick carefully rather than to rush. Regis began picking on September 10th, bringing in a clean and bountiful crop for which very little sorting was required, and his overall yields ended up at 40 hectoliters per hectare. The wines completed their alcoholic and malolactic fermentations relatively quickly and smoothly, and the finished 2017s display a gorgeously silken, fresh character, with fine tannins, vibrant red fruit, and a sense of harmonious digestibility which belies their inherent complexity. Regis’s lighter touch suits the vintage particularly well, allowing its innate energy to emerge without obfuscation, and Forey fans both historic and recent will find much to celebrate in this inspired collection of 2017s.