This is a long article about a tasting I experienced on June 27 in the city. I began writing it soon after the tasting. I make no apologies for the length or the substance – Burgundy is one of the great luxuries of life. There is really no cheap way around it but there is every reason to spend money on it. I have written this article unbiased by price – thought I do point out wines that are great value. I have reviewed no other critics comments on these wines and I do not even know whether they are rated by any critic.
I have tried to price the wines as reasonably as possible. The ‘front-line’ price has already been discounted but should you wish to mix and match a 12 bottle case I have further discounted the price by 10% - in some cased you are getting a net 20-25% discount. It is impossible to make the wines available to everyone but I want to make them available to more than most.
I do enjoy a glass of wine every night for its health benefits. The other glasses are for my witty comebacks, my flawless dance moves an d my snappy blogging! I can happily say that I am on what must be my fourth glass of wine. It’s called a tasting, and it’s very classy! And since I am tasting Burgundy it takes a serious amount of concentration, which seems a lot less effort after the fourth glass.
Perhaps that is why I find drinking Burgundian wines so enjoyable. As I grew older my metabolism seemed to shift toward lighter, more complex, less bosomy wines. A friend recently discussed the similarities between drinking pinot noirs and chardonnays from the great Burgundian villages, and inspecting rare Persian carpets. It wasn’t a parallel that I immediately understood but in listening to him talk about the intricacies of the weave, the colors, the textures of the different silks, the complexities of the patterns, I began to see a balance between these two rather dichotomous objects. When he started discoursing about the prices, I saw immediate parallels.
Burgundy is not cheap. Rarely in life are great thigs cheap. The White House is cheap, but it will return to greatness. And yet on a sliding scale there are some fabulously affordable Burgundian wines, and if there was ever a reason you should invite a business colleague over for dinner, it’s so you can write off a great bottle of Burgundy as a business expense, as you and your ‘colleagues’ polish it off.
Last week I was invited to a small office tasting of some new Burgundies. It was a very casual affair – maybe 50 bottles. A table of charcuteries and fromages from local delicatessens, nothing over-the-top. I did however spend quite a few hours visiting and revisiting. But only so that I could write this piece with an expert eye, and an expert tongue! Here’s what I drank – all the wines are available and because I want to make this experience available to as many as possible, there are no minimums. All I ask is that in the event that you wish to buy single bottles, allow me a few days to collate orders so that we can meet minimum shipping requirements. All the wines have been priced at the case discount price but should you feel, like I do, that these are wines for which the golf bag can be moved to create space, then I will add a further 10% discount on 12 bottles, mixed or not.
Some pre-amble on vintages, since more so in Burgundy than most other worldly places, the weather patterns in any particular year are very important. According to Allen Meadows, one of the pre-eminent historians and critics on Burgundian wines, “the 2015 vintage in the Cotes de Nuits is the best vintage since 2005. In the Cote de Beaune 2015 is the best since 1999”. That pretty much says it all – try finding any 2005 or 1999 Burgundy now!
Domaine Manciat – 9 hectares of chardonnay concentrated around the village of Charny in the southern Maconnais. All limestone soils, old rootstock, sustainable farming.
St. Véran 2015 (wh) From two plots of vines which are both mid-slope plantings on sandy limestone soils; the fruit from the two parcels is kept separate. Hand harvested, pressed in whole cluster and naturally fermented in used oak barrels. After aging on their respective lees the two wines are blended in tank before bottling.
Very elegant, balanced and smooth. Fresh, with a little more body than a simple Macon. Great Value.
Patrick Piuze – one of the great names in Chablis. His encyclopedic knowledge of the Chablisienne Terroir has enabled him to create great relationships with the top producers in Chablis. Whilst 90% of Chablis is machine-harvested, Piuze only hand harvests
Chablis ‘Terroirs Coteaux de Fontenay 2016. (wh) From a steep west-facing vineyard behind the Grand Cru hill on the right bank of the Serein. The valley runs north to south and cold winds come from the north. Fermented and aged 50% in used barrels and 50% in stainless.
Great weight, fresh with bright vivacity. Perfect summer quaff.
Chablis ‘Terroir Vallée Sebillon” 2016 (wh) On the left bank of the Serein from the commune of Beines. Fermented and aged 75% in used barrel, 25% in tank.
Very fresh, limestone and minerality, crisp, clean, like fairy dust. Intoxicating.
Baron Thenard – Very traditional vignerons with acreage in Givry and Cote d’Or; 1er Cru in Chassagne, Grand Cru in Corton and 2nd largest owner of Le Montrachet vineyard with 4 acres.
Givry 1er Cru Clos St. Pierre Monopole 2013 (red) Vineyard faces east with very red soil, rich in iron. After fermentation in large open top wooden fermenters, wine is aged in 50% wooden foudres and 50% used oak barrel.
Silky smooth, dense ripe fruit with hints of seriously aged balsamic. Brooding wine with loads of complexity.
Vincent Latour – 6.5 hectares in the heart of Meursault. Some of the oldest chardonnay vines in the area – dating back to 1925. Classic wines with great floral aromatics but vibrantly juicy pit fruit on the palate.
Bourgogne Blanc 2013 (wht) What a treat to find an affordable, great chardonnay. From vines planted in 1951 and 1973, aged 10 months in 50% barrels and 50% demi-muids.
So young and fresh. Lime juice, butterscotch and grape skin. Fabulous round mouthfeel. Terrific price.
Meursault “Cuvée St. Jean” 2014 (wht) From two parcels – Les Vireuils planted in 1998 and Les Crotats planted in 1925!. Fermented and aged in demi-muids on the lees (no stirring) for 12 months.
Incredible richness combined with a lightness of being! Heavenly, sexy, polished. Bright end notes. Could I leave a few bottles alone for another 10 years? Probably not.
Chavy-Martin – located in Puligny Montrachet with just over 20 acres. Restrained greatness classic styled Puligny. Organic farming.
Bourgogne Blanc 2015 (wht) From two parcels, one near Meursault and the other near Puligny Montrachet. Aged for 12 months in barrel and 7 months in tank before bottling.
Terrific value. Young clean white stone fruit, winter melon, bright – brilliant balance. All the best days of summer in a bottle.
Puligny Montrachet 2015 (wht) 30 year old vines. One word – delicious.
Puligny Montrachet ‘Les Charmes” 2015 (wht) Lieu-dit vineyard bordering Meursault 1er Cru Les Charmes.
Two words – more delicious.
Thomas Morey – youngest son of Burgundian nobility Bernard Morey. 10th generation winemaker. New oak usage now less than 20%; only spontaneous fermentation with indigenous years. Organic farming. Alre4ady probably better than his father.
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot 2013 (wht) From two parcels Les Brussonnes and Les Fariendes. A heady cocktail of lemon, lime, orange, smack of vanilla -just pure essence. Fabulous.
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Macherelles 2014. (wht) Low lying vineyard just north of the village of Chassagne-Montrachet where the soils are chalky and begin to take on more iron.
Chalky, dusty, floral and loaded with white fruits. Unctuous and nutty. Not for your mother-in-law. Keep this close, drink alone.
Chandon de Briailles - terrific discovery. Ultra-traditional style, neutral barrel regime only; significant whole cluster fermentation. Wines are light in color and have great energy and complexity due to biodynamic practices.
Perand-Vergelesses Blanc 1cru Ile de Vergelesses 2015 (wht) ETA late July (still qualifies for case discount) Clay and limestone soils. 20 year old vines. Incredibly fragrant, floral, like a chocolate factory making only white chocolate. This is Vergelesses at its most sublime. No wonder it’s a female winemaker.
Perand-Vergelesses Rouge 1cru Ile de Vergelesses 2015 (red) ETA late July (still qualifies for case discount) Average age of 40 year vines. Almost zin like but with a much prettier floral and fruit note. Chewy – a perfect match for an elegant BBQ. Plenty of dark fruit but lightened with a soft touch. Wow.
Corton Les Maréchaudes Grand Cru 2015 (red) ETA late July (still qualifies for case discount) Shallow limestone terroir facing due east. Planted in 1974 and 1979. Only three owners have rights to Maréchaudes.
Dark chocolate covered raisins of the highest quality. My life would be complete every time I drank this wine. Black fruit, bramble, cocoa. Like a Pain Chocolate with a shot of expresso. Life is good.
Domaine Berthaut-Gerbet – mostly in Fixin with a few lots in Gevrey-Chambertin and Vosne-Romanée. Winemaker now Amélie Berthaut. A new voice in Fixin that is the antithesis of rustic. Pretty, elegent and fruity with precision.
Fixin Les Clos 2015 (red) Between 60-90 year old vines. Aged 20 months in oak barrels. Deep, ripe, fleshy fruit. Brooding and gamey with silky length. Love Fixin -such great value over a Vosne-Romanée.
Vosne-Romanée 2015 (red) Primary fermentation in cement tank then moved to barrels for malolactic fermentation and aging. Probably the best value VR I have found lately. The wine echos. It’s young and forward but not brash – everything is in place. Perfect glass of Pinot.
Arnoux-Lachaux – 20+ acres in Vosen-Romanée and Nuits St. Georges. Very classic style, precise wines. Exemplifies each terroir perfectly. Almost always 100% whole cluster fermentation
Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Poisets 2014 (red) Soil is marly-limestone, average age of vines is 60 years. Loaded with black currant, blackberry, loganberry. Hugely elegant – black cherry all around the finish.
Vosne-Romanée 2014 (red) A blend of several VR vineyards. Average age 50 years. All separately fermented, final blend 8 months prior to bottling. Spectacular wine. Want in my cellar. Highest score given to a wine during the tasting.
Echezeaux 2014 (red) What the hell. Less than an acre in the middle of Echézeaux. One word – fabulous.
If you are interested in any of the wines give me a call or reply by e-mail. I will collate as orders come in and advise an ETA by the end of the week. Thanks for reading – all the best