Lune d’Or 2012-2020


This Cellar Favourite takes a look at the Bordeaux dry white, Lune d’Or, an increasingly important part of Olivier Bernard’s portfolio. Prior to tasting the Domaine de Chevalier proprietor’s latest releases at en primeur, he opened every vintage since the debut to demonstrate the quality of dry whites from Sauternes and its ageing potential. The project stems from the family’s acquisition of the Haut Caplane estate in 2011 that had been treading water for a number of years. Renamed Clos des Lunes, Bernard has gradually expanded the vineyard to 75 hectares planted with 70% Sémillon and 30% Sauvignon Blanc with numerous parcels of old vines. The harvest is manual and conducted plot-by-plot à la Sauternes, with pickers entering the vineyard in the morning to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. Winemaking broadly follows that of Domaine de Chevalier with slow pressing, débourbage by gravity and ageing on the fine lees during which there is regular lees-stirring. Three cuvées are produced, an entry-level Lune Blanche and Lune d’Argent; Lune d’Or, the top cuvée, is limited to around 20 barrels each year after barrel selection.

This tasting largely gives credence to the idea that these dry whites deserve cellaring like your favourite vintage of Domaine de Chevalier Blanc. Perhaps just the debut 2012 needs a pep up, but otherwise this was an impressive showing. There is still pleasure to be gained from drinking them within their first decade, but Sémillon has a propensity to age like few other white grape varieties, and it will be intriguing to revisit these at 15 to 20 years of age. The 2014 and 2017 are my picks during the first decade that has been occasionally blighted by frost, but I am more excited about what the second decade has in store.

The 2012 Lune d'Or has an intriguing bouquet, not unlike a Loire with some maturity. Touches of wet wool permeating the citrus fruit and hints of beeswax come through with time. The palate is well balanced with white chocolate and walnut on the entry, a little yeasty in style, but with adequate freshness on the finish. 87/Drink 2022-2028. The 2013 Lune d'Or is now fresher and more vibrant than the maiden 2012 with citrus peel, white flowers and petrichor scents. The palate is well balanced with fine acidity, a little spicier than the previous vintage with admirable persistence on the finish. Drinking perfectly now although it will canter along nicely for another decade. 90/Drink 2022-2030. The 2014 Lune d'Or has a fragrant bouquet with menthol-tinged citrus fruit, quite vibrant and effervescent with touches of blood orange emerging with time. The palate is medium-bodied and well-balanced, with a tangy, spicy opening, good weight with well-integrated oak towards the finish. More weight than the 2013, this is showing beautifully. 92/Drink 2022-2032. The 2015 Lune d'Or does not quite deliver the amplitude of the 2014; it is stricter and without quite the same…verve. The palate is well-balanced with good weight, though it does not have the tension or the livewire personality of the previous vintage, slightly waxy towards the finish. Drink this now, before the 2014 or 2013 if you have them all. 89/Drink 2022-2027.

The 2016 Lune d'Or offers cooking apple, citrus peel and touches of granite on the nose, though it is quite strict at the moment. The palate possesses good weight, very saline, fine density with an almost flinty finish. Quite backward for a six-year-old white; I would afford this a couple more years in bottle. I wonder if this has something up its sleeve? 91/Drink 2024-2030. The 2017 Lune d'Or has great intensity on the nose: white peach, orange rind, a slight oily/lanolin scent that emerges with time. The palate is well-balanced with fine acidity, quite saline, good depth with a vibrant, almost Chablis-like finish. This seems to be meliorating with bottle age and really appears to express the Sémillon better than any previous vintage. 92/Drink 2022-2035. The 2018 Lune d'Or has a difficult time following the 2017, less complex and a little withdrawn by comparison. It does unfold in the glass, revealing almond and praline scents. The palate is well-balanced with fine acidity, fresh on the entry but not quite summoning requisite tension on the finish due to the warmth of this particular growing season. 88/Drink 2022-2027. The 2020 Lune d'Or is a wine that somehow did not wow me when tasted from barrel. Now in bottle…well, I am not inclined to change my view by much. The aromatics just feel too contained, especially juxtaposed with other vintages. The palate is well balanced with a tang of spice on the entry and good weight in the mouth, yet I am still looking for more personality, a bit of pizzazz on the finish. Maybe I was hard with my assessment from barrel, yet I still think it needs to look towards the 2014 and 2017 to see what is possible. 89/Drink 2023-2032.

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