Rustic, Terroir-Driven Burgundy

Today’s Story: Domaine de Courcel

Domaine de Courcel was founded roughly 400 years ago in the village of Pommard and is a family winery throughout its history. To this end, today the estate is managed by Anne Bommelaer and Marie de Courcel and its owners include three sisters and one brother who are descendants of the domaine’s founders. Production is somewhat limited at the domaine, with annual production numbers never rising above 30,000 bottles (2,500 cases).

The domaine owns vineyards on 10.5 hectares in Pommard, which is four kilometers from Beaune in the Côte de Beaune. From this land, the domaine produces seven different wines including four 1er Crus that account for roughly 75% of the vineyards. These 1er Crus include Le Grand Clos des Epenots (a monopole of the domaine), Les Rugiens, Les Frémiers (I am reviewing this today), and Les Croix Noires. Domaine de Courcel also produces a Pommard village wine Les Vaumuriens in additional to a Bourgogne Rouge and Bourgogne Blanc. Le Grand Clos des Epenots (about 50% of the domaine’s production) and Les Rugiens come from arguably some of the best vineyards in Pommard.

Throughout their history, the domaine endeavors to produce wines that showcase their individual terroir while being intense with great density. This effort begins in the vineyards where ploughing encourages biological activity and fosters an environment for vines to dig deep to express the terroir. They also prune their vines to optimize ripeness of the fruit and harvest relatively late in the season to maximize sugar intensity in the wines. Onto the winemaking process, grape selection is incredibly thorough and they go through cold maceration followed by low-temperature fermentation in an effort to extract intense aromas. After fermentation is complete, each cuvée goes through carbonic maceration to complete the process. All wine is aged in oak barrels replaced by third each year.

Today’s Wine: 2009 Pommard 1er Cru Les Fremiers

100% Pinot Noir; 13.5% ABV

This bottle came highly recommended by the owner of a local wine store, particularly due to my love of Burgundy and wines that are more terroir-driven. Having tasted this wine now, I would not call it a “people-pleasing” Pinot (though there aren’t many from Burgundy I do) though it hit its mark for my palate.

In appearance the wine is medium ruby while being moderately transparent. This took about 15 minutes to open up in the glass (though I could’ve decanted it to be honest) and the nose showcases aromas of black cherry, cranberry, licorice, cola, cinnamon, sous bois, slight barnyard, truffle, and wet stone. The nose does show some heat as well (alcohol). Once in the mouth, I get notes of ripe cherry, crunchy redcurrant, violet, tobacco, mocha, scorched earth, and spicy white pepper. Today’s Pinot is light- to medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium yet integrated tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $180. Not a cheap bottle of Pinot Noir, but unfortunately almost all of Burgundy has seen massive price jumps over the last several years. This being said, I liked this earthy Pinot relative to some of the more expensive competitors and if you like very rustic wines this could suit you too. Pair this with roast game, grilled red meats, or a cheese and charcuterie plate.

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