The Steve Jobs of Wine

Today’s Story: Paul Hobbs Winery

Paul Hobbs Winery was founded in 1991 by Paul Hobbs with his initial release of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon from purchased fruit. Paul grew up in upstate New York on a working family farm and orchard, so one could say agriculture was in his blood from an early age. Though Paul helped plant, harvest, and sell crops at nearby farmer’s markets before school each morning, his first foray into wine (if you will) was helping his father achieve his dream of replanting some of the apples, peaches, and nuts in their orchards to wine grapes.

When it came time for Paul to go to college, his father encouraged him to study viticulture and enology but instead Paul followed in his great-grandfather’s footsteps by studying medicine and graduated with a BS in Chemistry from Notre Dame. His father’s persistence paid off, however, and Paul moved to California after graduation and studied viticulture and enology at UC Davis where he received his Master of Science degrees three years later. Fresh off his new degree, Paul was hired by Robert Mondavi for his advanced knowledge of oak aging and he was quickly promoted to the inaugural Opus One winemaking team. Following his experiences at Robert Mondavi and Opus One, Paul joined Simi Winery as their winemaker before beginning consulting roles for Peter Michael, Lewis Cellars, Bodegas Catena, and soon other wineries around the world.

Throughout these experiences with wine, Paul Hobbs crafted a dream of his own to produce vineyard designated wines under his own name. In 1991, Paul spoke with Larry Hyde in Napa and Richard Dinner in Sonoma about purchasing some of their fruit, and the resulting 5 tons of fruit from each vineyard culminated in the first Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc of Paul Hobbs Winery. Paul’s dreams entered their next phase in 1998, however, when he purchased his family’s first estate vineyard and established the Katherine Lindsay Estate (named after his great-grandmother) in Sebastopol, CA. The first vintage of this wine came with the 2003 harvest, and today Paul Hobbs consists of seven estate vineyards in some of the preeminent Californian regions for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Paul Hobbs practices sustainable farming in caring for his vineyards and a minimalist approach in producing his wines. To sustain the integrity of his fruit and each vineyard block, Paul demands a constant flow of communication and knowledge from the vineyards to the cellar. When it comes time for harvest, all Paul Hobbs fruit is hand-harvested using hand sheers to keep the fruit in pristine condition. During the winemaking process, all wine is fermented using only native yeasts that originate in the vineyards and the cellar and the wine is aged in finely grained French oak barrels. With his finished product, Paul bottles the wine unfined and unfiltered in an effort to display the purity of the fruit and the place of each wine with elegance and transparency.

Fun fact: Paul Hobbs is widely known as “the Steve Jobs of wine” thanks to his “ardent exactitude” and immensely high demands for quality.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Katherine Lindsay Estate Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 14.3% ABV

The 2015 Katherine Lindsay Estate Pinot is pale to medium ruby in color and is moderately transparent. This requires about 30-45 minutes to open up, but once it does the nose showcases aromas of cranberry, cherry, dried strawberry, cola, violet, clay, leather, baking spice, and a hint of oak. Once in the mouth, this Pinot offers notes of black cherry, pomegranate, juicy ripe strawberry, black truffle, forest floor, and black pepper. The wine is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, light tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $100. This is certainly an upper-echelon RRV Pinot but it needs some extra time in the cellar to fully come together. If you buy some, open some more reasonable Pinot in the $35 sweet spot I’ve mentioned before while this sits a few more years. Pair this with duck, pork loin, roast chicken, or charcuterie.

Striking [Red] Oil in the Russian River Valley

Today’s Story: Twomey Cellars

Twomey Cellars was founded in 1999 by Ray Duncan and his son David following Ray’s successful founding of Silver Oak Cellars in 1972. Though Ray’s background is in oil entrepreneurship (he founded Duncan Oil in Colorado), he started buying land in the Napa and Alexander Valleys during the 1970s with the goal of planting vineyards and selling fruit to wineries. With Justin Meyer as his co-founder of Silver Oak, however, Ray started producing his own wines and Silver Oak became famous for their Cabernet Sauvignon. After a few decades of running Silver Oak, Ray wanted to explore varieties besides Cabernet Sauvignon and founded Twomey with David in pursuit of producing Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc.

With a goal of producing vineyard-focused wines, Twomey has wineries in Calistoga in the Napa Valley, Healdsburg in the Russian River Valley, Philo in the Anderson Valley, and a soon-to-open winery in Dundee, Oregon in the Willamette Valley. From this vast geography, Twomey produces six single-vineyard and three regional Pinot Noirs, one single-vineyard Merlot, and one single-vineyard and one estate Sauvignon Blanc. In producing these wines, Twomey practices sustainable farming in all of their vineyards with major emphasis on water and energy conservation. This not only helps protect the land for generations of winemakers to come, but improves fruit quality while allowing the wines to showcase their unique place.

Today’s Wine: 2012 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 13.9% ABV

The 2012 Russian River Pinot is pale ruby/cherry in color and moderately transparent. This Pinot needs about 30-45 minutes to open up, but once it does the expressive nose emits aromas of cherry, raspberry, saddle leather, smoke, forest floor, a hint of barnyard, white pepper, dried green herbs, rose, and a pinch of cinnamon. On the palate, the wine showcases notes of dark cherry, dried cranberry, strawberry, tobacco, damp earth, peppery spice, rosemary, slight coffee bean, and a hint of vanilla. This gorgeous and easy-drinking Pinot is medium-bodied with medium acidity, light (almost nonexistent) tannins, and a medium (-) length finish. The finish could be a bit longer to truly impress me, but nonetheless this is a delicious bottle of wine.

Price: $50. This is a solid price-point especially when compared to some of the other RRV Pinots I’ve enjoyed that are twice as expensive but only marginally better. Nonetheless, $35 is always a sweet spot for me for quality Pinot Noir and you can find bottlings in that range up to par with this Twomey. Pair this with salmon, roasted chicken, duck, lamb, or charcuterie.

Youthful Burgundian Elegance

Today’s Story: Joseph Drouhin

Joseph Drouhin is one of the great historic producers in Burgundy, with origins dating back to 1880. Today, it is one of the largest estates consisting of 78 hectares (193 acres) throughout Chablis, Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, and Côte Chalonnaise. I previously wrote about the estate on November 2 in Refined, Aged Burgundy and for more background I’d suggest reading it if you haven’t already.

Today’s Wine: 2012 Beaune Clos des Mouches 1er Cru

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

The 2012 Clos des Mouches is pale ruby/garnet in color and quite transparent. Though I didn’t have proper glassware (as demonstrated in the picture) once the wine opens up the nose showcases aromas of cherry, strawberry, raspberry, forest floor, slight barnyard, red rose, smoke, leather, and oak. On the palate I get notes of black cherry, wild strawberry, earth, pepper, tobacco, coffee, green underbrush, mushroom, and mineral. This wine is light- to medium-bodied with high acidity, refined medium (-) tannins, and a medium length finish. A great bottling from Joseph Drouhin, though certainly not my favorite, and this needs at least another decade in the cellar.

Price: $120. This is a good price point, however I wouldn’t buy this unless you plan on cellaring it for another 5+ years. This seems like it needs time to come together and drop some of its baby fat, though I didn’t have a decanter and a long decant could perhaps do the trick. Pair this with duck, lamb, or a good burger.

A Fixture in Chassagne-Montrachet

Today’s Story: Domaine Bernard Moreau et Fils

The history of Domaine Bernard Moreau began in 1809 when Auguste Moreau built a cellar near the Champs Gain vineyard for ease when farming his Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It wasn’t until the 1930s, however, under Marcel Moreau that the family’s holdings started to grow exponentially. For instance, the domaine today operates on 14 hectares of vineyard land (9 hectares they own, 5 hectares they farm) and about 80% of that land was acquired by Marcel. Bernard Moreau took over the vineyards and cellar during the 1960s (at the age of 14!!) and the name “Domaine Bernard Moreau” came in 1977 under guide of Bernard and Françoise Moreau. With Bernard and Françoise at the helm, the domaine updated their winery, farming methods, and equipment in addition to buying more land to get to that 14 hectare total number. Their sons Alex and Benoît joined the team to help with winemaking and in the cellars, with their first vintage being 1995. From 1999 onward, Alex took over winemaking responsibilities and Benoît specializes in the vineyards.

The winemaking style at Domaine Bernard Moreau is best described as “hands off.” Like most estates producing exceptional wines in Burgundy, Alex and Benoît take a view that terroir should be the forefront of a wine and therefore they must care for the vineyards. While the farming practices at the domaine are characterized as sustainable (not organic or biodynamic), they use organic fertilizers with the soil and do not use pesticides. Also like many great estates, Moreau utilizes rigorous pruning, debudding, and green harvesting in an attempt to lower yields that are more expressive of the terroir. During aging of the wines, Alex uses 10-50% new French oak barrels (depending on wine and vintage) for 12-20 months (also depending on wine and vintage). For the Pinot Noir, Moreau does not rack, filter, or fine the wines at all.

Domaine Bernard Moreau produces a broad range of wines, and I highly suggest trying some of them. From the Bourgogne Blanc and Rouge to their Aligote and up through the multitude of 1er Cru Chassagne-Montrachet to the big-daddy Bâtard-Montrachet, I have not met a wine I didn’t like.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Chassagne-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes Rouge

100% Pinot Noir; 13.5% ABV

This wine is medium ruby in color and moderately transparent. Though young, this is fairly approachable after some time in a decanter or your wine glass. The nose emits aromas of black cherry, plum, black raspberry, tomato sauce, black olive, earth, green underbrush, gravel, and saline minerality. Once in the mouth, the wine showcases notes of tart cherry, underripe strawberry and raspberry, chalky earth, slight barnyard, green herbs, tobacco, and milk chocolate. I was very pleasantly surprised with the quality of this wine (though I suppose I shouldn’t be being familiar with their white wines). This is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (-) tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $55. This is a great value from an outstanding producer in Burgundy. Moreau’s wines seem to have flown mostly under the radar, though I noticed they are starting to pick up in demand and therefore price. Pair this with duck, roasted chicken, or even salmon.

No Rudy Kurniawan Here

Today’s Story: Domaine Ponsot

Domaine Ponsot traces its roots back to 1872 when William Ponsot acquired a home and vineyards that included plots in Clos des Monts-Luisants, Clos de la Roche, Gevrey-Chambertin Les Combottes, and Charmes Chambertin. Though he bottled a small amount of wine at this time, Ponsot used this mainly for personal use or for sale in restaurants the Ponsot family owned. In 1920, William’s nephew and godson Hippolyte Ponsot, a former diplomat, took over the estate due to William not having children. With the help of his brother Henri Ponsot, Hippolyte greatly expanded the estate’s holdings in Clos de la Roche. By 1932, Hippolyte was bottling all of his wines and 1934 marked the first vintage being marketed throughout France, Europe, and even the United States.

A familial estate since its beginning, Domaine Ponsot started to transition to Jean-Marie Ponsot (Hippolyte’s son) when he helped at the estate in 1942. By 1957, Hippolyte stopped working at the estate and Jean-Marie took over completely. Jean-Marie played a very important role in clonal selections within Burgundy during the 1960s and many of the well-known Pinot Noir clones including 113, 114, 115, and 667 come from Ponsot’s vineyard holdings in Clos de la Roche (source). In 1981, Jean-Marie’s son Laurent Ponsot began working at the domaine and he would ultimately take over management of the domaine in 1997 with his sister Rose-Marie. Laurent left work at the domaine in 2017, however Rose-Marie took over sole management and continues the family legacy today.

To learn about the painstakingly deliberate process Domaine Ponsot follows when they grow fruit, harvest fruit, and make wine, check out the “Our Job” tab on their website here. Also, explore the other tabs that do more justice than I probably could in what I try to keep relatively short and easy to read posts.

I will, however, leave you with a very interesting tidbit about Domaine Ponsot. Some of you may be familiar with the name Rudy Kurniawan already, but if not I encourage you to read about him or watch the “Sour Grapes” documentary on Netflix. Rudy was the center of a massive counterfeit wine fraud throughout the 2000s, and he used some of Domaine Ponsot’s “wines” throughout his crime. For instance, Rudy consigned bottles of Ponsot including 1945, 1949, 1959, 1962, 1966, and 1971 Clos St. Denis as well as a bottle of 1929 Clos de la Roche but the domaine did not estate bottle wines until 1934. Even worse, Ponsot didn’t make a Clos St. Denis until 1982. Laurent Ponsot quickly got wind of this and, knowing these wines must be fake, worked with the FBI in an attempt to bring Rudy to swift and brutal justice. (You may also know of Bill Koch’s battle against counterfeit wines….this also centered on Rudy).

Today’s Wine: 2009 Corton Bressandes Grand Cru

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

This wine is medium to deep ruby in color and moderately opaque. I let this open up in the glass, and once it did the nose showcases aromas of raspberry, strawberry, rose, white pepper, chocolate, rocky soil, rosemary, and mint. Once in the mouth, I get notes of cherry, strawberry, forest floor, game, purple florals, and stone minerality. The wine is medium-bodied with high acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $290. Certainly a bottle for a special occasion, as many of Ponsot’s wines are. Pair this with chicken, rabbit, lamb, or a plate of mild cheese and charcuterie.

Deep-Rooted Presence in Nuits-Saint-Georges

Today’s Story: Domaine Henri Gouges

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 occurs 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: 2012 Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les Saint Georges

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

Pale to medium ruby in color and moderately transparent. Though visiting family for the holidays without my Zalto Burgundy glasses, the nose on this is still expressive with notes of black cherry, black and blue fruit, strawberry, forest floor, tobacco, tar, red and purple florals, and pepper. Once in the mouth, I get flavors of black plum, cherry, cranberry, cola, damp soil, licorice, clove, and slight green vegetation (though not a fault). This wine is medium-bodied with high acidity, medium tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $160. Henri Gouges makes some great Burgundy for the price, and I’d suggest giving the wines a shot. While not necessarily easy to find, your local wine store with a good Burgundy selection should have some Henri Gouges. Pair this with lean beef, grilled or roast pork, or game birds.

Profound (Yet Elegant) Burgundy

Today’s Story: Domaine G. Roumier

Domaine Georges Roumier originated in 1924, however most of their production at that time sold to wine merchants. This changed though, in 1945, when Georges Roumier started bottling wine at the domaine. I’m thankful Roumier made this change, as I’m sure many throughout the wine world are, because the reputation of this domaine has soared higher and Roumier sits as one of the upper-echelon producers in Chambolle-Musigny, Morey-Saint-Denis, and Corton-Charlemagne.

Christophe Roumier and his father Jean-Marie became partners in 1981 to manage the domaine, which as it currently stands covers 11.52 hectares in some of Burgundy’s premier appellations. Christophe has been instrumental in the continued rise of Roumier’s wines, immeasurably due to his very strict and dedicated care for the vines and winemaking process. Christophe produces 11 different bottlings ranging from the village level to Grand Cru, each wine made with this same rigor to produce high-quality, luxurious, profound, and always delicious wines.

All of Roumier’s fruit is hand-harvested and sorted, the village wines are typically made with destemmed fruit (the rest of the wines vary), punchdowns occur during fermentation, all yeasts are natural, and minimal new oak is used for aging (Christophe says he never goes above 30%). I’d love to dive deeper into the farming and winemaking practices, but I believe this Decanter article does an incredible job and suggest you read it if you’re interested in learning more.

Today’s Wine: 2014 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Clos de la Bussière

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

This wine is medium ruby in color and is fairly transparent. I recommend decanting the wine due to its youth, and once the wine opens up I get aromas of cherry, cranberry, asphalt, smoke, charred green herbs, red florals, crushed rock, and forest floor. Once in the mouth, this showcases notes of black cherry, cranberry, redcurrant, red licorice, sous bois, tobacco, green underbrush, and black tar. The 2014 Clos de la Bussière is medium-bodied with high acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish. A gorgeous wine now with some air, though I’d cellar this for another 10 years and it’ll last for decades beyond that.

Price: $200. It might be seen as tough calling a bottle of this price great value, but Roumier produces exquisite wines that are relative value to many estates whose prices have exploded the last several years. Roumier consistently makes some of my favorite wines ranging from entry-level to the absurd (their Musigny Grand Cru of this vintage goes for $13,000+ per bottle). Pair this with beef, lamb, or chicken.

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.

Historic Estate on the Upswing?

Today’s Story: Domaine François Lamarche

While the Lamarche family origins place them in Vosne-Romanée as early as 1740, the domaine was founded in 1797. Over time, particularly through the end of the 19th century, the domaine grew in size under Henri Lamarche and his wife Marie Grivelet from Chambolle-Musigny. When their son Henri (born 1903) took over, he soon inherited La Grande Rue when he married Aline Demur in 1933. Then, in 1985, François took over the estate with the death of his father Henri and he and his wife Marie-Blanche currently lead winemaking and sales. Truly a family endeavor throughout its history, the domaine is also run by François’ sister Geneviève Lamarche (accounts), his daughter Nicole (viticulture), and Geneviève’s daughter Nathalie (sales).

Domaine François Lamarche owns some very enviable land within Vosne-Romanée. While the estate makes 14 different wines ranging from village to 1er Cru to Grand Cru, their most historic holding is the monopole La Grande Rue (one of 6 Grand Crus in Vosne-Romanée). La Grande Rue borders La Tâche and Romanée Conti (monopoles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti) as well as La Romanée (a monopole of Comte Liger-Belair). While over time the wine from La Grande Rue has fallen under shadow of its neighbors (La Tâche sells for about $5,000 per bottle and Romanée Conti for $15,000+) Nicole Lamarche has been making viticultural changes in an effort to bring out elegance and terroir that have been missing from their wines.

More care seems to be going into the harvesting and winemaking processes with Nicole leading the charge, particularly with grapes being hand-harvested and sorted in the vineyards. Grapes are taken to the winery in small baskets to avoid premature crushing and oxidation where they are shaken and then hand sorted. Partially and sometimes totally destemmed, the grapes go into open vats made of stainless steel or wood and pressing is accomplished with a bladder press. Wine is bottled after being matured 14-20 months in French oak ranging from 30-50% new.

Fun Fact: The Grand Cru wines of Domaine François Lamarche are La Grande Rue, Clos-de-Vougeot, Grands-Échezeaux, and Échezeaux. Relative to their neighbors, these wines are still very, very reasonably priced and could be worth looking into if the changes being made to the winemaking process prove successful in achieving their goals.

Today’s Wine: 2014 Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits

100% Pinot Noir; 12.5% ABV

I’ve wanted to try a wine from Domaine François Lamarche since they came onto my radar a month or so ago, and I figured it best to start with their entry level Bourgogne.

The wine is clear pale ruby in color. While the nose is very feminine, clean, and soft and took some time to open up, I get aromas of raspberry, strawberry, dried cranberry, rose petal, slight leather, and chalky earth. After this opened up a bit the nose added some characteristics of red meat as well. Once in the mouth, the palate showcases notes of ripe red cherry, strawberry, white pepper, slight baking spice, and chalk. This falls apart on the palate, especially by the mid-palate which is almost non-existent, and I found it quite disappointing after learning of the improvements the domaine is taking. Nonetheless, this is light- to medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, light tannins, and a medium length finish. I remain curious to try the Lamarche higher-end offerings, particularly La Grande Rue.

Price: $35. For Burgundy, this is a good entry level price-point and I think controlling for its shortcomings it does deliver. This being said, I would suggest taking $35 and buying a bottle of Pinot from Oregon or a more established Bourgogne. Pair this with lamb, veal, or duck breast.

Thank God Vineyard Leases End

Today’s Story: Domaine Cecile Tremblay

Domaine Cecile Tremblay has a very interesting history, partly because she did not start making wines until 2003 though her family owned vineyards for several generations. Cecile is the great-granddaughter of Edouard Jayer, uncle of the famed Henri Jayer (go Google some of his wines, and perhaps sell your car to buy a bottle). Cecile’s family inherited vineyards from Edouard, though the two generations before her leased out the land to other producers and did not make their own wine. In 2003, however, with the expiration of a lease on three hectares of vines Cecile started making wine under her own label with a plan for further growth. For instance, the Domaine owns roughly 10 hectares of vineyard land and while more of this becomes free from leasing agreements in 2021, Cecile rented or purchased land along the way in communes such as Gevrey-Chambertin.

When Cecile took over her family’s land for her own use, the vineyards were in no standing to produce high quality wines. The producers leasing the land, for instance, used too much fertilizer for Cecile’s taste and utilized herbicides instead of ploughing. Throughout her time thus far as a winemaker, Cecile transitioned to organic farming and many of her practices include biodynamic farming measures as well. During maintenance of her vineyards, Cecile ploughs the soil mechanically and with horses while using copper sulfate to prevent mildew and other fungi.

Similar to her views on caring for her vines, Cecile is very traditional in her winemaking process. She presses her grapes with an old-fashioned vertical press and her wines see only a moderate amount of new wood during fermentation and aging. All of this effort culminates into wines that are refined and elegant, though built for the long haul.

Today’s Wine: 2011 Chambolle-Musigny Les Cabottes

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

This bottle was gifted to me by a great friend, and after opening it today I sure am happy that I recently purchased another one. Right out of the bottle I can tell this will be a bold Burgundy thanks to its medium to deep ruby (but mostly clear) color. The nose on this thing is sort of a roller coaster (of emotions) as I get aromas of black cherry, boysenberry, eucalyptus, mint, purple florals, ground coffee, tobacco leaf, and moist forest floor. This even took on notes of gravel/crushed rock as it sat in the glass. The palate continues this dark theme with notes of wild blackberry and blueberry, licorice, smoked red meat, crushed granite, mocha, and tobacco. Shockingly (for me) full-bodied, this wine shows high acidity, medium (+) tannins, and what seems like an immeasurably long finish. This is one of those wines that makes me want to smell the glass all day, and eat the glass when that last drop is gone.

Price: $110 (though I got lucky and the going rate online is about $300). I would buy this again in my sleep at $110 and I’d even buy it again at $300. This is an exceptional bottle from an “off vintage” and the complexity I get out of this wine is mind-boggling. This will also age gracefully for another 15+ years! Pair this with filet mignon, rabbit, quail, or duck…and if you can accompany these dishes with black truffle you’re in for a real treat.