Youthful but Delicious Nuits-St-Georges

Today’s Story: Domaine Jean Grivot

Domaine Jean Grivot is a relatively small family owned and operated Burgundian estate now under guide of the fifth generation Étienne Grivot, his wife Marielle, and their daughter Mathilde who took over winemaking from her parents in 2017. Étienne took over the domaine from his father Jean Grivot in 1987, and Jean had taken over from his father following his death in 1955. The majority of the domaine’s vineyards are located in Vosne-Romanée, however over time their growth to 15.5 hectares stretches across 22 appellations in additional communes of Vougeot, Chambolle-Musigny, and Nuits-Saint-Georges. The domaine’s holdings include notable Grand Cru vineyards in Clos de Vougeot, Echézeaux, and Richebourg, as well as 8 Premier Crus including Les Beaux Monts and Suchots in Vosne-Romanée. Their vineyards are farmed organically founded in a desire for minimal impact on the environment and removal of chemicals in the vineyards. In Richebourg, Echézeaux, Beau Monts, and Suchots the domaine uses a horse to plough the vineyards in an effort to minimize impact on the soil. Harvest is accomplished by hand and the grapes are 95-100% destemmed before beginning fermentation using only natural yeasts. Unlike other winemakers in Burgundy, Grivot does not like punch downs before fermentation begins but rather pumps over the wines after fermentation is complete and before they spend 15 months in barrels.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Nuits-St-Georges Les Charmois

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

The 2016 Les Charmois is pale ruby in color and moderately transparent. Once this opens up, the nose showcases aromas of black cherry, blackberry, black raspberry, gravel, tobacco, forest floor, underbrush, ground green herbs, and slight oak. On the palate, I get notes of cherry, cranberry, ripe wild raspberry, blue and purple florals, sous bois, tar, black truffle, white pepper, smoke, and a hint of oak. This red Burgundy is medium-bodied with high acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish. 98 cases produced.

Price: $100. This is a great value Nuits-St-Georges which is drinking surprisingly well with some air at its young age. However, this has the structure to where I’d suggest waiting another 3-5 years and it’ll last for at least 10-15 years beyond that. Pair this with lean steaks, roasted game, or grilled pork.

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.

The Queen of Burgundy

Today’s Story: Maison Leroy

Maison Leroy was founded in 1868 by François Leroy who was a winemaker and vineyard owner at Auxey-Duresses as well as Meursault, Pommard, Chambertin, Musigny, Clos Vougeot, and Richebourg. Though François sold his wines through Comptoir des Proprietaires de la Cote-d’Or in Beaune, his desire of enlarging his business led to the foundation of Maison Leroy. When François’ son Joseph joined the business alongside his wife Louise Curteley, the two grew Auxey-Duresses by producing liquors and distilled alcohols alongside the wine and garnered significant critical acclaim during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Henri Leroy, son of Joseph and Louise, joined the Maison in 1919 and further extended the family business by creating a subsidiary to produce eaux-de-vie alcohol near Cognac. One of Henri’s great achievements in Burgundy, however, came through his friendship with Edmond Gaudin de Villaine whose wife and brother-in-law (Jacques Chambon) inherited Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in 1912. Though the domaine went up for sale during the financial crises of the 1920s, Henri convinced Edmond not to sell his ownership and later purchased Jacques’ half in 1942 to cement the de Villaine and Leroy families as equal owners of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC). Henri worked tirelessly at DRC for the following four decades until his death in 1980, having turned the domaine into one of the most famous in the world and a producer of today’s most expensive wines.

Lalou Bize-Leroy, Henri’s daughter, joined Maison Leroy in 1955 and became President-General Director in 1971. Lalou, or Madame Leroy, worked tirelessly to understand the diverse terroir of Burgundy’s vineyards and selects her purchased wine with intense scrutiny and demand for quality. Madame Leroy also accompanied her father Henri at DRC until his death and became Co-Gerante with Aubert de Villaine from 1974 to 1992. While Maison Leroy’s village wines truly drink on par with some of the great 1er Cru equivalents throughout Burgundy and the 1er Crus drink like Grand Crus, Madame Leroy founded Domaine Leroy in 1988 after Takashimaya, an owner of luxury department stores in Japan, purchased 1/3 of the company and funded the purchase of vineyards. Madame Leroy purchased the estates of Charles Noellat at Vosne-Romanée and Philippe-Rémy at Gevrey-Chambertin to get the domaine running and she immediately transitioned to biodynamic farming for all of her vines. While Maison Leroy wines typically start around $70 per bottle and go into the several hundreds of dollars, Domaine Leroy produces wines in the thousands of dollars per bottle up into the tens of thousands of dollars due to their immeasurable quality and rarity.

Though the following is a description of the winemaking practices at Domaine Leroy and not necessarily Maison Leroy, I think it is important to include because of the demonstration it shares of Madame Leroy’s strict winemaking and quality standards. Starting in her vineyards, Madame Leroy follows a strict set of guidelines which includes spreading “Maria Thun”-type compost and manure throughout the vineyards as needed while hand-tilling the soil. At Domaine Leroy, they do not replant vineyards but rather replant individual vines as needed using buds of sister vines in the same vineyards. Leroy practices the Guyot pruning method from mid-January to early April only when the moon is passing the constellations Sagittarius, Aries, Leo, and, if necessary, also Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra keeping with strict biodynamic practices. They also remove a selection of buds to keep yields lower, remove buds from the trunk of the rootstock, and remove excess buds growing between nodes but do not clip the end of vines to keep the last bud in tact. At harvest, Domaine Leroy selects all fruit carefully by hand and carries them to the winery in small baskets before they are double hand-sorted on a stationary table to guarantee selection of the healthiest grapes. Fermentation is accomplished in large wooden barrels without destemming or crushing the fruit to avoid oxidation and preserve natural yeasts on the grape skins. Fermentation is not rushed and the fruit goes through extended periods of maceration before the wine is pressed and sent into the first level of the cellar until malolactic fermentation is complete. Using only gravity, the wine is then poured off the lees into the lower second level of the cellar where wine is stored until it is bottled.

For the source of the information above and more, check out Leroy’s website here.

Today’s Wine: 2010 Côte de Beaune-Villages

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

The 2010 Côte de Beaune-Villages is moderately transparent pale ruby in color with rose variation. I used my Ah-So opener on this bottle, as with almost every Leroy bottle the long corks are soaked and can often display mold on the top due to over-filling. On the nose, this wine showcases aromas of dried cranberry, dried cherry, and dusty wild strawberry but is dominated by worn leather, sous bois, tobacco, mushroom, wet rock, and underbrush. Once in the mouth, the wine displays notes of crushed raspberry, dried strawberry, rose, gamey meat, forest floor, truffle, dried green herbs, smoke, white pepper, and stone minerality. This is medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium (-) tannins, and a long finish filled with tilled soil and red cherry.

Price: $110 (though some stores sell this for $250). Every wine I’ve enjoyed from Maison Leroy is of incredible value and this bottling is no different. The strict selection process of Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy is palpable and every Burgundy lover should try something from Maison Leroy and, if one is supremely fortunate, from Domaine Leroy. Pair this with feathered game, salmon with roasted mushrooms, or mild goat cheeses.

Aged Terroir-Driven Pommard

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). I previously wrote about them in Rustic, Terroir-Driven Burgundy when reviewing the 2009 Pommard 1er Cru Les Fremiers as well as in Outstanding Pommard from a Superb Vintage when reviewing the 2005 Pommard. For more about the domaine, you can check out either of those two prior posts.

Today’s Wine: 1996 Pommard 1er Cru Les Fremiers

100% Pinot Noir; 12.7% ABV

The 1996 Les Fremiers is pale garnet in color and moderately transparent with some fine sediment that snuck through the filter. The nose emits aromas of muddled strawberry, black raspberry, cranberry, slight barnyard, aged saddle leather, forest floor, truffle, white pepper, dried herbs, and tar. On the palate, I get notes of stemmy strawberry, ripe cherry, dusty wild blueberry, tobacco, damp forest floor, dried underbrush, crushed rock, and mineral. This wine is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $220. This is not an inexpensive bottle of wine, though it is difficult to find aged Burgundy from notable producers that are nowadays. This wine still displays great fruit and structure which made it a very enjoyable bottle and I would happily purchase this again. Pair this with herb-roasted chicken, game birds, or filet mignon with black truffle.

A Friend of Henri Jayer Is a Friend of Mine

Today’s Story: Domaine Philippe Charlopin

Domaine Philippe Charlopin was established by Philippe when he purchased his first vines in Gevrey-Chambertin in 1978. The son of a vigneron who rented vines rather than owned his own, Philippe comes from humble beginnings and started his own career as a vigneron-ouvrier in 1977. Throughout his early years, Philippe was a student of the great Henri Jayer and his winemaking philosophy is greatly impacted by Henri, with the two later becoming close friends. Though Philippe expanded with a parcel of Clos St. Denis in 1983 and later throughout various appellations, he only made Pinot Noir until his son Yann joined the domaine in 2004. Yann was passionate for crafting white wines, so they purchased 5 hectares of vines in Chablis, 2 hectares in Pernand-Vergelesses, and a small parcel of Corton-Charlemagne to augment their portfolio with Chardonnay. Today, Domaine Philippe Charlopin encompasses 25 hectares of sustainably farmed vines across 36 different appellations which are divided into 140 parcels.

Today’s Wine: 2011 Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes Morceaux

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

The 2011 Morceaux is pale to medium ruby in color and moderately transparent. I let this breathe in the glass for about 30 minutes, allowing the nose to reveal aromas of black cherry, dried strawberry, blue florals, forest floor, worn leather, asphalt, tar, dried green underbrush, incense, and light oak. Once in the mouth, this wine showcases notes of cherry, cranberry, black raspberry, blood orange, violet, wet gravel, tobacco, rocky soil, iron, green herbs, and sandalwood. This is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (-) tannins, and a medium (+) length finish. Sourced from 60- to 100-year-old vines planted in clay and limestone soil.

Price: $90 (though this is tough to find in the US and looks to originally sell around $65). This is a gorgeous Gevrey-Chambertin from one of the tougher vintages in recent past, and it doesn’t show pyrazines like some of the other 2011 Burgundy I’ve had. Pair this with beef bourguignon, saddle of lamb, or coq au vin.

Quality Volnay Village

Today’s Story: Domaine Comte Armand

Domaine Comte Armand (also known as Domaine des Epeneaux) was established in the late 18th century when Nicolas Marey took ownership of the 5 hectare monopole Clos des Epeneaux. In 1828, the property came into the Comte Armand family and Clos des Epeneaux remained the only source of their fruit until 1994 when the domaine expanded and purchased property in Volnay. Today the domaine consists of roughly 9 hectares and is under supervision of Vicomte Gabriel Armand, a Parisian lawyer. The family, however, has relied on resident-managers throughout the domaine’s history to manage the estate’s affairs and Vicomte Gabriel Armand continues this tradition today. Benjamin Leroux became winemaker at Comte Armand in 1999 at the age of 23 and he completed the transition to biodynamic farming shortly thereafter. Benjamin transitioned to his own projects in 2014, however, handing the reigns to Paul Zinetti. Comte Armand produces Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Aligoté and vinifies their wines 100% de-stemmed, uses 20-30% new oak for aging, and bottles the reds unfined and unfiltered but the whites fined and lightly filtered.

Today’s Wine: 2009 Volnay

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

The 2009 Volnay is medium to deep garnet in color and moderately transparent. I did not decant this wine but let it open up in the glass to reveal aromas of ripe red cherry, pomegranate, dried strawberry, forest floor, leather, rose petal, green herbs, cinnamon, and sandalwood. Once in the mouth, this wine offers notes of cranberry, tart cherry, raspberry, tobacco, black pepper, charred earth, black truffle, mineral, and a hint of vanilla. This is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (-) tannins, and a long finish. Not the best red I’ve had from Volnay, but certainly not the worst as this is very easy drinking and should be pleasing to most palates. Typically about 460 cases produced.

Price: $90. Not a bad price-point for this regional Burgundy, though since it’s nothing to write home about I would suggest exploring 1er Cru options or sampling something else at a slightly lower price to begin exploring Volnay. Pair this with salmon, roasted chicken, or duck.

One of the Most Important Names in Burgundy

Today’s Story: Domaine Faiveley

Domaine Faiveley was founded in 1825 as Maison Joseph Faiveley by Pierre Faiveley, a cobbler by trade who was also passionate about wine. Pierre worked his cobbler and wine merchant businesses side-by-side until the end of the 1840s when he decided to put all of his energy into the wine trade. In 1860, Joseph Faiveley began his wine merchant business with vine parcels he inherited from his uncle and his entrepreneurial spirit led him to export wines to Northern Europe to expand his brand. A plasterer, painter, and glazier by trade, Joseph exported his wines most notably to Belgium and the Netherlands and often exchanged his wines for textiles. In 1873, Joseph expanded his holdings by acquiring Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Porêts-Saint-Georges, Les Lavières, and the monopole of Corton Clos des Cortons Grand Cru.

François Faiveley, a doctor by trade, moved to Nuits-Saint-Georges in 1889 and spent the remainder of his life fighting to save the domaine’s vines from phylloxera, the worst crisis in Burgundy’s history at the end of the 19th century. In 1893 the domaine acquired vines in the Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Saint-Georges climat and in 1911 the famed Clos-de-Vougeot Grand Cru parcel.

In 1919, Georges Faiveley took over the domaine and shortly thereafter faced the economic crisis of the early 1930s that nearly destroyed his holdings. During the crisis, the domaine’s cellars were filled with inventory (even Grand Cru wines whose barrels were worth more than the wines inside them) and Georges decided to start the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, a rebirth of an ancient wine brotherhood from the Middle Ages. With nobody buying the wines, Georges invited this brotherhood to the domaine and they drank wines together and helped provide rebirth to the popularity of Burgundy wines.

As the economic crisis subsided and Burgundian wines grew in popularity, the domaine acquired more vineyards and remained a family endeavor. In 1947, Guy Faiveley followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the domaine. He also became the Grand Master of the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin in 1969 and worked tirelessly to share his wines with the brotherhood and the world. In 1976, François Faiveley joined his family domaine at the age of 25 and continued acquiring vineyards. François produced wines known for their rich and concentrated character as well as long aging ability.

Today, Domaine Faiveley is under the guiding hands of its seventh generation in Erwan and Eve Faiveley. Erwan was always passionate for Burgundy wines and his family’s estate, so he took over from his father in 2005 and quickly set about investing in new facilities to modernize the winery and improve on the already exceptional quality in the wines. In 2014, his sister Eve joined the domaine after working in the cosmetics industry. She is the first daughter in seven generations of the family.

For more including their portfolio of wines, farming and winemaking methods, as well as pictures of the domaine, check out there website here. There are a lot of cool rabbit holes to go down!

Today’s Wine: 1996 Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Aux Chaignots

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

The 1996 Aux Chaignots is medium garnet in color and moderately transparent. I simply let this breathe for a bit in the glass and there was some funk that needed to blow off, though I decided not to decant the wine in case it became oxidized too quickly. On the nose, I get aromas of dried raspberry and strawberry, cherry, rose, tobacco, forest floor, truffle, wet gravel, thyme, underbrush, and a touch of oak. Once in the mouth, this wine showcases notes of cherry, cranberry, black raspberry, sous bois, dried green herbs, earthy mushroom, slate, and peppery spice. This nicely aged Burgundy is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (-) dusty tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $130. Not a bad price for aged red Burgundy from one of the best producers in Nuits-Saint-Georges. This wine has the structure to go a little further, though I would drink up now. Pair this with roasted chicken, roasted pork, feathered game, or mild cheeses.