Profound Bourgogne Rouge Offering Exceptional Value

Today’s Story: Domaine Ghislaine Barthod

Domaine Ghislaine Barthod is a highly regarded but relatively small wine estate located in the Chambolle-Musigny appellation of Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits. The domain was initially established by Marcel Noëllat in the late 1920s, though it became a partnership of the Noëllat and Barthod families when Gaston Barthod, an officer in the French Army stationed in Dijon, married Marcel’s daughter. Following his military service, Gaston took over the domain during the 1950s and bottled all of his wines under the Chambolle-Musigny designation. Gaston’s daughter Ghislaine joined the domain during the 1980s, working alongside her father to study the winemaking practices and traditions of the family. She officially took over Domaine Barthod in 1999 with her father’s passing, though was effectively running the domain for the decade or so prior.

Today the domain consists of about six hectares (15 acres) of vineyards situated largely in Chambolle-Musigny but crossing over slightly into the neighboring Gilly-les-Citeaux. Of these holdings, many are in some of the greatest vineyards of Chambolle-Musigny including the highly regarded 1er Cru sites of Les Cras, Les Fuées, and Les Charmes. Domaine Barthod has been practicing organic viticulture since 2002, with their only treatment copper sulfate to help fight mildew. Their vines average 30 years of age, and yields are greatly limited with severe pruning, debudding, and green harvesting if necessary. All harvest activity is accomplished by hand, with sorting done in the vineyards before the fruit is taken to the winery in small baskets.

In the cellar, Ghislaine practices pretty traditional vinification methods for the region. After a three to four day cold soak with partially destemmed fruit, the wines begin fermentation spontaneously and with native yeasts in stainless steel tanks. She practices pump overs and occasional punch downs for color and tannin extraction, while primary fermentation lasts for roughly three weeks. Next, the wines are barreled down into 20-30% new oak barrels and aging lasts for about 20 months. Malolactic fermentation occurs spontaneously in barrel during the spring, and the wines are only racked following malolactic fermentation and prior to assemblage. Bottling is accomplished with no fining or filtration, unless absolutely necessary.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Bourgogne Rouge Les Bons Bâtons

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

The 2016 Bourgogne Rouge Les Bons Bâtons is medium ruby in color, almost even deep garnet. I gave this a slow ox in the bottle for an hour and then another hour in the glass to open up, as it’s rather tight at this stage. The aromas are of medium (+) intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of tart red cherry, blueberry, raspberry pastry, strawberry licorice, violet, black tea, fresh leather, delicate limestone, and mineral. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium (+) intensity and the palate offers up notes of red and black cherry, red plum, raspberry, licorice, violet, pipe tobacco, charred green herbs, finely crushed rock, and a very mild touch of baking spice. This dry red is medium-bodied with high acidity, medium tannins that are firm but not out of balance, medium alcohol, and a long finish. Very good quality and incredibly concentrated for a Bourgogne Rouge. Need to revisit this in probably two to three years.

Price: $55. This wine offers great value, performing as one of the best Bourgogne Rouge bottlings I’ve had around this price-point. The intensity, complexity, and length of the wine are fantastic while the tannin and acid structure bode quite well for aging. I look forward to purchasing a few more bottles to lay down in the cellar.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it.

Green but Delicious Morey-Saint-Denis

Today’s Story: Domaine Dujac

Domaine Dujac is a highly regarded wine estate established in 1968 by Jacques Seysses in the Morey-Saint-Denis appellation of Burgundy. Though Jacques loved wine at an early age thanks to his father, he worked until the age of 25 at his family’s biscuit manufacturing company before moving into wine full-time. In 1966 and 1967, Jacques worked the harvest with Gérard Potel at the Domaine de la Pousse d’Or to learn his winemaking craft, ultimately purchasing the 5 hectare (12 acre) Domaine Graillet in 1968 and renaming it to Domaine Dujac.

Over time, Dujac expanded from 5 hectares to 15.5 hectares (38 acres) and their holdings include some of the greatest vineyard sites throughout Burgundy. The Grand Cru sites of Clos de la Roche and Clos St. Denis came early in the portfolio, with later additions of Charmes-Chambertin and Mazoyères-Chambertin still somewhat early in Dujac’s history. Today Dujac produces seven Grand Cru wines, five 1er Cru wines, and two village wines under the domaine label. They also produce five white wines, three of which are 1er Cru. Beginning in 2001, Dujac started experimenting with organic viticulture and expanded the practices to all holdings in 2008. They also started experimenting with biodynamic practices in 2003 and utilize that philosophy on all holdings today as well.

Jacques, during the domaine’s early decades, was a staunch proponent of whole cluster fermentation thanks to the character stems bring to the wine. Though today they destem some of the fruit, this is still a major philosophical backbone and the fruit sees minimal destemming. Winemaking is rather traditional in practice, with the team using only native yeasts for fermentation with light punchdowns early in the process and pump overs toward the end. Oak usage has changed over time, with Jacques establishing the domaine with religious use of 100% new oak. Nowadays, however, new oak percentages vary by quality level and the team has discretion given vintage conditions. The wines are all bottled unfiltered and rarely fined.

Domaine Dujac today is operated by its second generation, though Jacques is still very much involved. Jacques’ son Jeremy started working at Dujac in 1998, followed by his wife Diana in 2001 and brother Alec in 2003. Jeremy was the leading force behind some of the whole cluster and oak aging changes to winemaking, though the wines of Domaine Dujac remain incredible representations of Pinot Noir and the terroir they come from.

Today’s Wine: 2011 1er Cru Morey Saint-Denis

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

The 2011 1er Cru Morey Saint-Denis is medium ruby in color and quite youthful in appearance. Given some time to blossom in the glass, the wine opens with aromas of medium (+) intensity and a nose of cherry, cranberry, stemmy strawberry, rose, forest floor, truffle, underbrush, olive, eucalyptus, menthol, mint, and crushed stone. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium (+) intensity and the palate showcases notes of bing cherry, black raspberry, strawberry, dried plum, violet, olive, forest floor, eucalyptus, green pepper, and mineral. This dry red is light- to medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, light tannin, medium alcohol, and a long finish. Very good quality and certainly showing the green notes of the vintage and stem inclusion.

Price: $150. I think this is a pretty solid price-point and offers decent value in the realm of red Burgundy. While the 2011 vintage can be overbearingly green in some wines, I think this handles it well and comes across rather memorable. It’s intense, complex, and should be long-lived. If you try to steer clear of greener wines, though, this might not be your thing.

My Favorite Aligoté to Date

Today’s Story: Domaine Roulot

Domaine Roulot is a renowned Burgundy wine estate situated in the village of Meursault in the Côte de Beaune sub-region. Though Roulot’s history dates back to at least 1830 when Guillaume Roulot registered as a vigneron, the modern domaine traces its roots more directly to a 1930 founding and growing success following WWII under Guy Roulot. Guy came into some vineyard property through his marriage to Geneviève Coche, though he quickly set about purchasing additional vineyard parcels of village and 1er Cru classifications. Unique at the time, Guy vinified and bottled his wines by single vineyard, also mastering the lieu-dit practice of bottling a named vineyard without its own “legal” classification within the larger village. Guy made some of the greatest white Burgundy at the time, even later having his 1973 Meursault Charmes place second for the white wines at the Judgment of Paris in 1976. Sadly, Guy passed away suddenly and far too soon in 1982 and left his domaine in a precarious situation since his son Jean-Marc was in Paris studying acting. Though Domaine Roulot had several winemakers come in until Jean-Marc returned home, it wasn’t until 1989 when he fully took the reigns.

Shortly after taking over, Jean-Marc transitioned fully to organic viticulture and he has not used any herbicides since. Further, any treatments used in the vineyards ensure minimal if any impact on the natural microbial life amongst the vines. In the cellar, Jean-Marc crafts wines based on a philosophy that they should be what he likes to drink, not necessarily what the “modern palate” likes to drink. While many of the wines of Meursault can be rich and concentrated, Roulot’s wines are often described as chiseled, linear, precise, restrained, tense, and transparent. He achieves these descriptors through incredibly rigorous harvesting, very gentle pressing of the fruit, indigenous yeast fermentation, barrel aging for 12 months on lees followed by 6 months in stainless steel, and modest use of new oak of between 10% and 30%. Roulot even minimizes stirring the lees (and mainly does it in vintages of higher acidity), which is a practice more common with producers who like adding richness to the wines.

I previously reviewed the 2015 Bourgogne Blanc and 2017 Bourgogne Blanc from Domaine Roulot.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Bourgogne Aligoté

100% Aligoté; 11.5% ABV

The 2015 Bourgogne Aligoté is pale straw yellow in color. The nose is rather delicate and aromas are of medium intensity, offering up classic notes of green apple skins, lemon, white peach, honeysuckle, flint, saline minerality, and a touch of cream. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium intensity, with the palate showcasing notes of green apple, grapefruit, lemon zest, dried white flowers, mild green herbs, chalk, a hint of smoke, and stony mineral. This dry white is light- to medium-bodied with high acidity, medium (-) alcohol, and a medium length finish. A great representation of the variety while incorporating that classic Roulot reductive character.

Price: $70 (I paid $37 a year ago). Pricing on this bottling continues to rise alongside Roulot’s others and Burgundy as a whole, so the value proposition is of course narrowing or evaporated. At the price I paid this is screaming value, for it’s bright, precise, delicious, and a great representation of the variety.

Young but Promising Bourgogne Rouge

Today’s Story: Domaine Méo-Camuzet

Domaine Méo-Camuzet is a very highly regarded domain in the Côte-d’Or of Burgundy, situated in the heart of the prized Vosne-Romanée appellation. The domain was established by Étienne Camuzet, a political figure who represented the Côte-d’Or as mayor of Vosne-Romanée and an MP in Paris. Étienne purchased the Château du Clos de Vougeot in 1920, but due to his political commitments did not live there or farm the vineyards and instead leased it out to tenant farmers. Though he sold the château in late 1944 (it was heavily damaged during the war), 20 hectares of vineyards went up for sale and he retained 3 hectares for himself. Upon Étienne’s death in 1946, the holdings passed to his daughter Maria Noirot and she kept the tenant farming system in place. Having no heirs of her own, with Maria’s death in 1959 the domain passed to her nephew Jean Méo who was in General de Gaulle’s cabinet. Jean Méo took over the domain with help from his parents, but kept to the tenant farming system with the legendary Henri Jayer being one of them. In 1981, the domain was named Domaine Méo-Camuzet, domain bottling and labelling commenced with the 1983 vintage, and Jean Méo proposed passing the reins onto his son Jean-Nicolas in 1984.

Jean-Nicolas took several years to pick up the task, immersing himself in the domain in 1989 following education at the University of Burgundy to study oenology. He also studied at the University of Pennsylvania to build his business acumen. As he was nearing retirement in 1988, Henri Jayer agreed to coach Jean-Nicolas alongside Christian Faurois, a son of another highly regarded tenant farmer. As Jean-Nicolas learned, grew, and experimented with new techniques at the domain, the Méo-Camuzet wines gained great appreciation around the world, particularly in the American markets where Jean-Nicolas used his business savvy to his advantage. By 2008, all tenant farmers had retired and Jean-Nicolas took complete management responsibility over the vineyards. As he struggled to keep up with demand, he and his sisters established the Méo-Camuzet Frère & Soeurs négociant business to expand their portfolio into wider and more accessible bottlings. Today, Jean-Nicolas runs Méo-Camuzet with his wife Nathalie and they have three children who will perhaps one day carry on the family legacy. Christian Faurois remains a right-hand-man as well.

Domaine Méo-Camuzet today consists of 14 hectares of vineyards which include holdings in a range of villages, 1er Crus, and several Grand Crus. Practically all viticulture is organic, though the domain does not seek certification so in their most difficult vineyards or vintages they can react prudently if needed. For instance, some of their sites that are difficult to farm may need small amounts of occasional herbicide or anti-rot treatments. Harvesting is completed entirely by hand, and sorting first occurs at the vineyard level where fruit deemed below quality standards is dropped to the ground. Fruit is sorted again and destemmed at the winery, before fermentation begins in concrete vats with temperature control only ensuring the temperature doesn’t cross over the critical 95 degree Fahrenheit level. The wines mature in new oak barrels, ranging from about 50% new for the lower level wines up to 100% new for the Grand Crus. Come bottling, the wines see no fining or filtration.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Bourgogne Côte-d’Or Cuvée Étienne Camuzet

100% Pinot Noir; 13.5% ABV

The 2018 Bourgogne Côte-d’Or Cuvée Étienne Camuzet is pale to medium ruby in color and transparent. This took a good hour to open up in the glass, eventually showing aromas of medium intensity. The nose showcases notes of ripe red cherry, cranberry, black raspberry, red rose petal, leather, dried herbs, crushed rock minerality, and a hint baking spice. Meanwhile the flavors on the palate are also of medium intensity, displaying notes of black cherry, red plum, crunchy cranberry, brambly black raspberry, anise, tobacco, cola, stony mineral, clove, and a touch of smoke. This dry red is light- to medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium (-) tannins, medium alcohol, and a long finish. Overall pretty complex for its youth and very well-balanced. Purity and freshness of fruit here is gorgeous, as is the minerality.

Price: $65 ($40-50 in Europe). Given where the pricing of Burgundy has headed, I think this is actually pretty decent value. I certainly think this drinks about the regional Bourgogne level, and should only improve with several more years of bottle age.

Bourgogne at Village Quality

Today’s Story: Domaine Bachelet

Domaine Bachelet is a small wine estate located in Gevrey-Chambertin consisting of just over 4 hectares of vineyards. The domaine is run by Denis Bachelet who, since 1983, almost single-handedly works tirelessly to produce elegant and honest wines. Denis was born in Belgium, and though his family is drenched in winemaking tradition his father elected to work in the chemical industry there while his grandparents tended the domaine back in France. Denis studied winemaking in Beaune for three years before ultimately joining his grandparents at the estate, though he only became fully involved in winemaking in 1981 shortly after his grandfather’s death. By 1983 when he took over completely, the domaine consisted of only 1.8 hectares and he quickly sought to expand his holdings to make a better living. In 2008, Denis’ son Nicolas joined the domaine and the Bachelet family slowly grew by purchasing more parcels. Today, Domaine Bachelet produces a range of wines including Bourgogne, Village, 1er Cru, and Grand Cru offerings though these gems remain difficult to find but worthwhile seeking out.

For more, there is a great “interview” with Denis here and a background of the domaine and their portfolio here.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Bourgogne Rouge

100% Pinot Noir; 12.5% ABV

The 2017 Bourgogne Rouge is pale ruby/purple in color but fairly dark and moderately opaque most likely due to its youth. This requires about 1.5 hours to truly open up, and once it does the nose showcases aromas of blackberry, baked cherry, raspberry, violet, saddle leather, freshly tilled soil, steel cut oats, a hint of baking spice, and oak. On the palate, I get notes of blueberry, spiced plum, sour cherry, stemmy strawberry, sweet tobacco, forest floor, charred green herbs, bright mineral, and peppery spice. This is light- to medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium tannins, and a medium (+) length finish. Certainly very tight right now without extended decanting, but this is a very precise wine that needs another 5 years in the bottle.

Price: $65 (cheaper overseas). Certainly not cheap for a Bourgogne Rouge (I saw some stores selling this at almost $80), though you can definitely say its quality puts this near a Village wine. I need to revisit this bottling in a few years and explore the Bachelet portfolio further. Pair this with seared tuna, roasted chicken, or mild goats cheese and charcuterie.

Quite Possibly My Best Value Bourgogne Rouge to Date

Today’s Story: Thibault Liger-Belair Successeurs

Thibault Liger-Belair Successeurs was established alongside Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair in 2001. Though the Liger-Belair family owned the domaine for 250 years, it certainly did not fall to Thibault in a linear path. In 1720, Claude Marey who was the mayor of Nuits-Saint-Georges and a vineyard owner established C. Marey wine house to sell his wines. Next, Claude’s son Claude Philibert Marey (also a mayor of Nuits-Saint-Georges) took over the family business until his death in 1804 when his youngest son Guillaume Felix Marey took over. In 1852, Guillaume Felix partnered with his nephew Comte Liger-Belair (who owned Grand Cru vineyards in Vosne-Romanée) to establish C. Marey et Comte Liger-Belair. The domaine passed through several generations, ultimately until 1892 when Vincent Liger-Belair took over and restructured it with work handled by three sharecroppers. After studying viticulture and oenology for six years, working for a Parisian communications firm, and starting an internet wine sales company, Vincent’s son Thibault transitioned to winemaking and took over the vines to establish his namesake domaine.

Thibault Liger-Belair harvested his first Nuits-Saint-Georges, Nuits-Saint-Georges Charmottes, and Vosne-Romanée Aux Reas in 2002 but quickly set his eyes upon expanding his portfolio. In 2003, Thibault ventured into Richebourg Grand Cru, Clos Vougeot Grand Cru, Vosne-Romanée Premier Cru Petits Monts, and Bourgogne Rouge, followed in 2009 by Beaujolais. While all of the domaine’s vineyards are certified organic by Ecocert, each appellation is cultivated and worked differently based on their unique soils and climates which Thibault takes great care to analyze. Through harvest and in the cellar, Thibault believes that his grapes need to be treated very delicately and with respect to produce the best wines. Regarding barrels, he selects between three coopers and requires a three year drying period before they are made and he almost never uses more than 50% new oak. Thibault’s wines are aged between 14 and 18 months depending on appellation without racking, and are bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Bourgogne Rouge Les Grands Chaillots

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

The 2015 Bourgogne Rouge is moderately opaque pale ruby in color with rose variation near the rim of the glass. On the nose, I get aromas of cranberry, wild raspberry, cherry, rose petal, forest floor, faint barnyard, peppery spice, black tea leaf, rocky minerality, and a hint of oak. Once in the mouth, the wine showcases notes of dried strawberry, red cherry, blackberry, black raspberry, violet, tobacco, loamy soil, green underbrush, dry crushed rock, and pepper. This is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium dusty tannins, and a surprisingly long finish. 1/3 of the fruit comes from one of the domaine’s Nuits-Saint-Georges vineyards (0.8 ha planted in 1986) and 2/3 is purchased from growers in Marsannay, Côtes de Nuits, Beaune, and Ladoix Serrigny.

Price: $35. This is quite possibly the best value Bourgogne Rouge I’ve tried to date. From first smell you can tell this is a well-crafted wine and that first sip is profound. This is drinking well now with some air but certainly has the structure to where I’d hold off on my next bottle for at least 5 years. Pair this with seared duck breast, herb-roasted chicken, or mild goat cheese.