Valiant Effort in a Tough Vintage for Burgundy

Today’s Story: Domaine Jean Grivot

I wrote about Domaine Jean Grivot back in March when I reviewed the 2016 Nuits-St-Georges Les Charmois, though I figured it could be fun checking in on another bottling as one of my Thanksgiving wines.

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 children Mathilde and Hubert. 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 villages 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 even 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: 2011 Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Aux Boudots

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

The 2011 Aux Boudots is translucent pale to medium ruby in color. I let this slow ox for about 30-45 minutes before further air time in the glass, helping the wine express aromas of black cherry, dried cranberry, dried tobacco leaf, dry tilled earth, underbrush, gravel, and green pepper. Once in the mouth, this showcases notes of black raspberry, black cherry, spiced plum, tobacco, leather, forest floor, rocky mineral, pepper, and dried green herbs. This is a delightful wine from a difficult vintage, and it is medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium (-) dusty tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $200 (can find it closer to $160 in some locations). While no doubt a wonderful bottle of wine, I struggle to call this great “value” because while Burgundy prices have gone through the roof lately there are still some great options around this price from stronger vintages. If you can find it closer to $160, then by all means give it a try.

Pure Beauty and Elegance in Puligny-Montrachet

Today’s Story: Domaine Leflaive

It’s hard to believe more than a year has passed since I reviewed Domaine Leflaive’s 1995 Bienvenues Bâtard-Montrachet, so revisiting this great estate is long overdue.

Domaine Leflaive is a very highly regarded winery located in Puligny-Montrachet, Côte de Beaune, Burgundy. While origins of the estate come as early as 1717 with Claude Leflaive, the winery as it is today seems to begin with Joseph Leflaive (1870-1953). Initially working as a naval engineer who helped develop the first French submarine, Joseph cared for his family’s vines in Puligny-Montrachet following his marriage. Thanks to phylloxera, many of the vines needed dramatic replanting and many of the produce at the time sold to wine merchants. Thus, in the 1920s, Joseph replanted the parcels of his estate and started selling wines under his own label.

When Joseph died in 1953, Domaine Leflaive came under the control of his four children (Jo, Vincent, Anne, and Jeanne) and the family desired to maintain the winery at the peak of excellence. Jo, an insurance underwriter by trade, took over the administrative and financial management of Domaine Leflaive while Vincent, an engineer who studied management and business, covered the vineyard, wines, and commercial side of the business. Over time, Domaine Leflaive produced some of the greatest white Burgundy wines and continues to be a family endeavor. In 1990, Vincent’s daughter Anne Claude became joint manager with Jo’s son Olivier and the two learned from Vincent until his death in 1993 and Anne Claude was named manager.

Much changed at the estate since the 1990s, though it is still run by the family. Today’s steward is Brice de La Morandiere, Anne Claude’s nephew and great-grandson of Joseph Leflaive. Brice’s largest contributions so far include the updating of historic buildings on the estate and enhancements to the winemaking process that include new corks to allow for prolonged aging of the Domaine’s wines.

To wrap up, I will leave you with a brief conversation on the farming and winemaking practices of Domaine Leflaive. Leflaive practices biodynamic farming in an effort to understand and appreciate all natural phenomena that ultimately strengthen the immunity of their vines. They tend to their soil with the use of products made from vegetable, animal, and mineral matter at certain points during the annual cycle, while working the land by tilling and scraping. Further, Leflaive practices organic cultivation of the vines. You can read more in-depth on their practices here.

Today’s Wine: 2007 Puligny-Montrachet

100% Chardonnay; 13% ABV

The 2007 Puligny-Montrachet is transparent and an absolutely gorgeous deep gold in color. Given some time to blossom in the glass, this stunner reveals aromas of golden pear, yellow apple, white peach, honeysuckle, toffee, flint rock, white pepper, hazelnut, brioche, butter, and vanilla cream. The complexity continues onto the palate with notes of crisp golden apple, ripe pear, lemon zest, white florals, almond, crème brûlée, honey, dill, chalk, and toasted oak. This is medium-bodied with racy medium (+) acidity and a well-rounded mouthfeel into a long, long finish.

Price: $200. This is one of those wines with a price tag that makes your eyes pop, however it reminds you of the greatness white Burgundy can be and that Leflaive produces. This could undoubtedly be a 1er Cru from a number of other producers, and is certainly worth the hit to your wallet.

Great Value From a Rising Star in Gevrey-Chambertin

Today’s Story: Domaine Duroché

Domaine Duroché is a family owned and operated wine estate located in the Gevrey-Chambertin village in Burgundy. The Duroché family owns roughly 8.25 hectares of vineyards in Gevrey-Chambertin, producing wines that begin with both Bourgogne Rouge and Blanc before climbing through several village and 1er Cru bottlings to their Grand Cru sites of Charmes, Griottes, Latricieres, and Clos de Beze. Though the family has been bottling their wines since 1933, the quality of the domaine catapulted to new heights under the current leadership of fifth generation Pierre Duroché. Though Pierre is a relatively young winemaker in Gevrey, he refrains from being too heavy handed and seeks to create wines of elegance and finesse as compared to some of his neighbors favoring a bigger, bolder, and oakier style. Pierre and his family farm the vineyards using as few chemicals as possible (relying only on some sulfur or copper for treatments), and all fruit is hand-harvested and sorted before fermentation using only native yeasts. New oak usage varies by level of wine but always remains as minimal as possible, and the wines are bottled without fining or filtration. Beginning with the 2017 vintage, Pierre and his wife Marianne purchase fruit from her family to supply their new Vosne-Romanée Village and Echezeaux Grand Cru bottlings.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Gevrey-Chambertin Le Clos

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

The 2016 Gevrey-Chambertin Le Clos is pale to medium ruby in color and slightly translucent. I let this slow ox in the bottle for a while before letting it open up in the glass, blossoming into a nose of black cherry, dried strawberry, boysenberry, charred earth, eucalyptus, crushed rock, stony mineral, and light oak. Still fairly tight on the palate, this took some time to open up and showcase notes of cherry, stemmy strawberry, raspberry, red and blue florals, leather, rocky earth, and mineral. The wine is light- to medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (-) tannins, and a long finish. Gorgeous Gevrey minerality with this one, but it does need probably at least 5 years of cellaring to come into its own.

Price: $65. I think this is a very good value red Burgundy, though I don’t necessarily think it will remain this fairly priced for long. Pierre Duroché is certainly a rising star in Gevrey-Chambertin and I would highly recommend picking some of this up if you come across it.

Gamay With a Mind Blowing Value Proposition

Today’s Story: Marchand-Tawse

Marchand-Tawse is a Burgundian négociant created through a collaboration between Pascal Marchand and Moray Tawse. Both Pascal and Moray are French Canadians, making their success in Burgundy somewhat unusual.

Pascal Marchand comes from a background in wine (after working a few years as a merchant sailor on freighters in the Great Lakes), having taken over Clos des Epeneaux in Pommard in 1985 at the age of 22. Pascal was one of the early adopters of organic and biodynamic viticulture in Burgundy, bringing heightened quality to Clos des Epeneaux and world renown to its name. Jean-Charles Boisset later approached Pascal to run his family’s Domaine de la Vougeraie in 1999, and he remained there until 2006 when desiring more freedom in his ventures. Pascal took over at Domaine Jean Fery, all the while setting the stage for his own label that would eventually become Marchand-Tawse.

Moray Tawse, on the other hand, has a background in finance and co-founded First National in Canada which focuses on real estate lending. He has had a long-standing love of wine, however, which led him to establish Tawse Winery which is one of Canada’s leading wineries. Thanks to his love of Burgundy, Moray approached Pascal in 2010 and the two established their partnership.

Marchand-Tawse sources fruit from a great number of vineyards, most of which are either organically or biodynamically farmed. The négociant produces a wide range of wines, spanning appellation and village bottlings up to some of the greatest Grand Crus. Pascal’s winemaking style is rather traditional, seeking to have the fruit and terroir express themselves in a most honest and transparent form. Many of the wines, like the one I’m reviewing today, are left 100% whole cluster and not destemmed before fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Aging for my wine today, amongst others in the portfolio, occurs in French oak barrels 0% new and there is no fining or filtration before bottling.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Coteaux Bourguignons

100% Gamay; 12.5% ABV

The 2016 Coteaux Bourguignons is mostly opaque pale to medium purple in color with ruby hues. Once this opens up, the nose showcases aromas of red cherry, raspberry, baked strawberry, violet, lightly charred soil, finely crushed rock, and stemmy underbrush. On the palate, I get notes of brambleberry, plum, ripe raspberry, pomegranate, dried forest floor, clay, green herbs, and light smoke. This is light- to medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish. I could see this developing further over the coming few years, but it’s hard to resist right now. 362 cases produced.

Price: $24. This is an outstanding value wine in my opinion, as it drinks with such depth and terroir expression rarely found in bottles of this price range. The quality of fruit is also spectacular. Pair with seared duck breast, coq au vin, or grilled salmon.

Refreshing and Well-Made Bourgogne Aligoté

Today’s Story: Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet

I previously wrote about Jean-Claude Ramonet when I reviewed the 2015 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos Saint-Jean in Exploring a Red From a Legendary Producer of White Burgundy. Domaine Ramonet was established in Chassagne-Montrachet in the late 1920s by Pierre Ramonet, and quickly became one of the preeminent producers of white Burgundy. Though the domaine has had its ups and downs over time largely due to premature oxidation in the 1990s, Jean-Claude Ramonet has returned the wines to fresh heights and remains a force to be reckoned with in the world of white Burgundy.

In the vineyards, Ramonet likes to work with older vines and keep his yields low. Most of the wines are produced from vines 12 to 50 years old, though they typically like to use vines 18 years or older. The domaine’s vinification practices are traditional in nature, with the whites starting in tanks before transfer to French oak barrels and the reds in cement vats for maceration and fermentation. New oak usage varies by wine and vintage, with the whites typically seeing 10-15% for village wines, 30-40% for 1er Crus, and 50%+ for the Grand Crus. Reds typically see 10-20% new oak for village wines and 30-40% for 1er Crus. None of the white wines are bottled fined or filtered.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Bourgogne Aligoté

100% Aligoté; 12.5% ABV

The 2015 Bourgogne Aligoté is transparent medium yellow in color with deep straw variation. On the nose, the wine showcases aromas of golden apple, white peach, white florals, cotton candy, dried vanilla, mild herbs, and mineral. Once on the palate, this displays notes of lemon citrus, yellow apple skins, snap pea, white wildflower, wax, and dill. The wine is light- to medium-bodied with high acidity and a plush, luxurious mouthfeel into a lingering but refreshing finish.

Price: $50. This is a very well-made, high quality Aligoté that I think justifies the price-point. Pair with oysters, roasted chicken, or cheese.

Exploring a Red From a Legendary Producer of White Burgundy

Today’s Story: Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet

Domaine Ramonet was established in Chassagne-Montrachet in the late 1920s by Pierre Ramonet, and quickly became one of the preeminent producers of white Burgundy. The 1934 Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru Ruchottes, for instance, was the first estate-bottled white Burgundy imported in the US and catapulted the domaine to international fame and admiration. Ramonet remained one of the most highly-sought producers throughout the 20th century, until issues with premature oxidation damaged their status like many other producers in the mid to late 1990s. The domaine ultimately passed to Pierre’s son André until he passed away in 2011, and then to Pierre’s grandchildren Noël and Jean-Claude who worked in the vineyards since 1984. Since 2013, Domaine Ramonet labels bear Jean-Claude Ramonet alone following Noël’s semi-retirement and his wines, particularly the whites, remain a force to be reckoned with.

In the vineyards, Ramonet likes to work with older vines and keep his yields low. Most of the wines are produced from vines 12 to 50 years old, though they typically like to use vines 18 years or older. The domaine’s vinification practices are traditional in nature, with the whites starting in tanks before transfer to French oak barrels and the reds in cement vats for maceration and fermentation. New oak usage varies by wine and vintage, with the whites typically seeing 10-15% for village wines, 30-40% for 1er Crus, and 50%+ for the Grand Crus. Reds typically see 10-20% new oak for village wines and 30-40% for 1er Crus. None of the white wines are bottled fined or filtered.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos Saint-Jean

100% Pinot Noir; 13.5% ABV

The 2015 Clos Saint-Jean is pale to medium ruby in color and moderately transparent. Once this opens up in the glass, the nose showcases aromas of black cherry, black raspberry, lavender, raw leather, slight barnyard, black tea, cinnamon, rosemary, and mineral. There is some slight heat as well. On the palate, I get notes of red plum, cranberry, black cherry, tobacco, forest floor, charred herbs, underbrush, chalky minerality, and blood. This is light- to medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (-) tannins, and a medium (+) length finish. Not as balanced as the 2014 vintage I had in November, 2019.

Price: $100. This is not a bad price, but I can’t go as far as saying this is a good value because there are many outstanding Red Burgundy options at or less than $100. That being said, I’d be curious to try this again in a few years. Pair with seared duck breast, herb-crusted lamb, or mushroom stroganoff.

Beautifully Refreshing Bourgogne Blanc

Today’s Story: Domaine Pierre Boisson

Domaine Pierre Boisson is one of three family domaines who all work together and make their wines in the same cellar located in Meursault. Pierre, alongside his father Bernard (Domaine Boisson-Vadot) and sister Anne (Domaine Anne Boisson) watches over the family domaine which encompasses 8.5 hectares primarily situated in Meursault but with smaller holdings in Auxey-Duresses, Monthelie, Pommard, and Beaune. The family doesn’t use any chemical fertilizer or pesticides in their vineyards and, at time for harvest, everything is accomplished manually. Pierre, like Bernard and Anne, practices traditional Burgundian winemaking methods and accomplishes fermentation using only native yeasts. Though the wines will see some new oak (typically never more than 25-30% for the high-end and lower for village bottlings), there is no set percentage and it varies vintage to vintage and wine to wine with the goal of never masking a wine’s true character. All wines are bottled unfiltered at the domaine.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Bourgogne Blanc

100% Chardonnay; 13% ABV

The 2017 Bourgogne Blanc is a beautiful pale gold in color with hues of straw and water white. On the nose, this emits aromas of lemon zest, white peach, pear, tangerine, white florals, hazelnut, saline minerality, and light oak. Once on the palate, this displays notes of lemon and lime zest, green apple skins, golden pear, tropical citrus, honeysuckle, saline mineral, and dried vanilla bean. The wine is medium-bodied with vibrant high acidity into a crisp and refreshing finish.

Price: $40 (much cheaper in Europe). I thought this was an outstanding value for White Burg and this bottle was perfect for the hot weather I enjoyed with it yesterday. Pair this with roasted chicken, Dover sole, or crab.

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.

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.