Rarity From Nuits Saint Georges

Today’s Story: Domaine de l’Arlot

Domaine de l’Arlot is a historic and well-regarded wine estate located in Nuits St. Georges within the Côte de Nuits subregion of Burgundy, France. Though its roots trace back to the 18th century and owner Jean-Charles Vienot, its more recent history begins in 1891 when the domain was purchased and expanded by wine merchant Jules Belin. Domaine de l’Arlot remained in the Belin family until early 1987, and then was purchased by the French investment company of AXA Millésimes. Around the same time, Jean-Pierre de Smet came on board after spending eight years with Jacques Seysses of Domaine Dujac and he is largely credited with the winemaking philosophy at the domain of minimal intervention. Though Jean-Pierre retired in 2007, this philosophy remained largely intact and today de l’Arlot is run by technical director and Burgundy native Géraldine Godot.

Domaine de l’Arlot today consists of 14 hectares (35 acres) of vineyards planted 95% to Pinot Noir and only 5% to Chardonnay. Average vine age is about 50 years, however the property does maintain some vines aged 70+ years. de l’Arlot farms their vineyards adhering to biodynamic viticulture, a transition that started in 2003 following several years of organic viticulture. A couple of the most prized plots are monopoles of the domain, the 1er Cru vineyards of Clos des Forêts Saint Georges and Clos de l’Arlot.

In terms of winemaking style, Géraldine practices a minimal intervention and “less is more” mentality. Fruit is hand-harvested and every motion within the winery and cellar is accomplished by the use of gravity. The wines ferment spontaneously with only native yeasts, seeing minimal pumpovers and punchdowns by foot. For aging, Géraldine uses less new oak than what was previously used over the domain’s history, which in turn provides a more transparent and true-to-variety and terroir expression. New oak percentages and length of aging vary by vintage and bottling, however the end goal never wavers of producing terroir-driven wines.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Clos de l’Arlot

100% Chardonnay; 13.5% ABV

The 2015 Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Clos de l’Arlot is pale golden straw in color. Given some time to blossom in the glass, the wine opens with aromas of medium (+) intensity and the nose showcases notes of lemon, green apple, white florals, flint, wet river stone, mild green herbs, and chalky mineral. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium (+) intensity, with the palate showcasing notes of green apple, lemon pith, white peach, floral blossom, dried green herbs, and wet stone. This dry white is medium- to full-bodied with high acidity, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. Very good right now, but I would love to see if this adds complexities perhaps with a few more years of bottle age.

Price: $120. I think there are better values out there, however I think the pricing here is partly due to the great reputation of the producer as well as how rare white wines are from Nuits Saint Georges. As one of their rarest and top bottlings, I can see why this is priced the way it is.

Aged Nuits-St-Georges Perhaps Just Past Its Prime

Today’s Story: Domaine Henri Gouges

I wrote about Domaine Henri Gouges around Thanksgiving 2019 when I reviewed the 2012 Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les Saint Georges and am excited to be returning to the domaine again today.

Though the Gouges family has deep-rooted history in grape farming going back 400 years, Henri Gouges didn’t form his domaine until 1920. When he no longer liked the idea of selling his fruit to négociants, Henri started producing, bottling, and selling his own wine in an effort to make higher quality wines. By 1933 this transition was fully complete and the domaine existed in similar fashion to its current status. A family endeavor throughout its history, Domaine Henri Gouges passed from Henri to his sons Marcel and Michel, then to Pierre and Christian, and finally to cousins Gregory and Antoine Gouges who manage the domaine today.

Undivided since its founding as a domaine, Henri Gouges today sits at roughly 36 acres of vineyards. Several of their holdings include Nuits St. Georges 1er Crus, though Henri Gouges does produce village wines as well. Though the winery and vineyards have been updated over time (including the use of organic viticulture and transition to a gravity flow winery), the domaine’s goal is to produce wines that truly represent and express the terroir. The harvest is carefully inspected and all fruit is completely destemmed, while vinification begins in lined cement vats for approximately 15 days depending on wine and vintage. Once fermentation is complete, the wine is transferred to small oak barrels (typically 25% new) and each is fined with egg whites before light filtration and into the bottle.

Today’s Wine: 1996 Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Clos des Porrets – St. Georges

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

The 1996 Clos des Porrets – St. Georges is translucent medium ruby in color and actually almost deep garnet. This was great as a pop-and-pour, with the nose filled with aromas of barnyard, mint, menthol, forest floor, truffle, stemmy underbrush, black olive, and mineral followed up by black cherry, black raspberry, and red florals. The palate is nice as well, but starts to fall apart on the mid-palate with notes of stemmy strawberry, black cherry, cola, rose, sous bois, earthy mushroom, granite, and mineral. The nose steals the show with this bottling. This is light- to medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $140 (shared by a good friend who paid $180). I think if the palate was firing on all cylinders, this would be a great value Burgundy. The nose is profound and decidedly the star act, though perhaps this could be a slightly off bottle since the last enjoyed by my friend was said to be exquisite.

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.

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.

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.