2012 Rippon “Rippon Mature Vines” Pinot Noir – Phenomenal Old-Vine Beauty

 

Where The Rippon Magic Happens

 

I first began drinking these phenomenal Pinots with the early 2000s, earning the chance to work directly with the estate a couple years ago with a small release of their 2010s and sensational 2003s. My adoration is well known to friends, family and colleagues alike, with the Wine Advocate on record as well, referring to Nick’s wines as “Pinot Noirs that rekindled memories of those glorious Burgundy 2005’s”. You’ll be as thrilled as I am to hear that Nick’s most well-priced treasure – the 2012 Rippon “Rippon Mature Vines” – has finally landed in the States – ready for your immediate, hedonistic enjoyment!

The site which would eventually become known as Rippon was first planted to 25 various varietals during the 1970s by its founder, Rolfe Mills. Rolfe had spent time in the Douro Valley during the 1940s and the site of schist, rich in foliated mica and quartzite, on his land in Central Otago sparked a great curiosity. Rolfe began experimenting with his soils, isolating a parcel on the western board of Roy’s Bay, Lake Wanaka.

This ancient parcel is Rippon’s north-facing escarpment, and it forms the meeting point of terminal moraines and coarse gravels, all based in schist, where Central Otago’s earliest vines were planted. Rippon’s Mature Vines cuvee is issued from all of the fully developed Pinot vines growing in this expansive parcel. This is where it all began for Rippon, and the fruit of the vine from this parcel bears witness to the perfectionist style Nick (and his father Rolfe before him) is renowned for.

2012 “Rippon Mature Vines”

For those new to these pages, I’d like to take the time to remind folks how vital Nick’s training has been to the continuity of these world class Pinot Noirs. Not only are these the oldest plantings in the region, but they are tended by a man who spent his formative years working the soil and terroirs of Burgundy; he knew how vital his understanding of such things would be. To that end, Nick tenured with de Villaine (Domaine de la Romanée Conti) , and spent time with Jean-Jacques Confuron, Lucien Jacob, Alain Meunier, Nicolas Potel and Domaine de la Vougeraie as well. His are truly the wines of a master craftsman.

 

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2011 Burgundy – A Vintage Certainly Worth Buying – IF You Can Find Them

A prime success in 2011 ~ Clos de la Roche | Cote de Nuits

A prime success in 2011 ~ Clos de la Roche | Cote de Nuits

Let’s cut right to the chase: My conclusion on the 2011 Red Burgundy vintage (born from recent tastings as well as ongoing critical analysis of the region’s top estates) is that this is most certainly a collection of wines worthy of representation in any serious Burgundy aficionado’s cellar. Naturally I’m referring to the top estates when I make this statement, as the weather conditions preceding harvest (practically from the moment of bud-break and continuing unabated throughout August) were anything but ideal – Burgundy continues to witness more August harvests in this century than were ever reported in the previous. So it should be repeated (with exclamation point added) that serious consumers of Burgundy should be highlighting serious producers of Burgundy on that proverbial shopping list when it comes to filling their carts with 2011s.

That point being duly noted, 2011 is most certainly a vintage that yours truly will be buying not only as a professional but also as a consumer. Simply put, the wines showcase purity of place – immediately out of the bottle – while offering succulent fruit which is unencumbered by that “classic vintage” tannic spine. I expect to enjoy these 2011s across the span of the next decade (plus) while I’m patiently awaiting the unwinding of my 2005s (which remain tight as nails) as well as my 2010s (which have now quietly slipped into a slumber that I honestly hadn’t predicted). And based on the comments from the wine-makers I’ve spoken to, they concur that the 2011s will make for pleasurable drinking young as we monitor those more tannic wines that are tucked away in our cellars.

And what of “hot spots” for 2011? Where are the “go-to” appellations in this vintage? In my analysis, I have discovered some truly outstanding wines (very nearly rivaling their 2010 counterparts) from the villages of Pommard and Volnay for the southern reaches of the Cotes de Beaune – again, stressing that I have paid primary attention to the top estates. Prime examples of these successes may be found at Nicolas Rossignol, Pousse D’Or and Henri Boillot. Another “hot spot” for 2011, the hill of Corton turned in notable successes to include the estates of the aforementioned Pousse D’Or (whose Clos du Roi is especially worth seeking out) as well as Etienne de Montille’s biodynamic farmed Domaine de Montille where his version of Clos du Roi is quite unique from Landanger’s yet equally thrilling.

Turning our eyes and palates north, a particular favorite of mine may be found in the tiny village of Morey St Denis, where I have discovered a healthy dose of superb Grand Crus to include a host of outstanding Clos St Denis, Clos de la Roche and Bonnes Mares bottlings. These examples offer what may be the most interesting and delicious variations from these hallowed vineyards since the ‘05s and 2010s – they’re THAT good (in particular Virgile Lignier Michelet’s 2011 Clos de la Roche is a showstopper). And across the line-up I found the 2011s from Romain at Domaine Taupenot Merme consistently excellent to outstanding – very nearly equaling his chart topping 2010s.

From there, I’ve found relatively consistent results throughout the Cote de Nuits to include multiple successes specifically in Gevrey Chambertin. In particular I was struck by the generous style at Domaine Jean Michel Guillon (where these folks are bottling some of the most succulent wines in the Cote) – if you can find any of Guillon’s Premier Cru bottlings (Champonnets, Petite Chapelle, etc.) BUY THEM. Other highlights in Gevrey include Dugat-Py and Geantet-Pansiot – to name a couple of the very best (sure to be on my professional as well as personal short list). From there – as long as enthusiasts perform their due diligence – the Cote de Nuits is plentifully packed with excellent to outstanding (90-95+ point rated) wines.

Just how good IS 2011? Well, in the more positive words posited by Allen Meadows of Burghound, he informed us it would be a shame to overlook this vintage and even stressed that he himself would be layering in certain selections. After all, to cherry pick exclusively 5-star vintages clearly isn’t the point if you’re a Burgundy enthusiast seeking to CONSUME the Cote’s treasures products. It’s those vintages nestled between the “classics” that offer daily drinking alternatives.

So there we have it: 2011 is most certainly a vintage worthy of serious Burgundy consumer’s attention. It would be a travesty to overlook such a vintage – one considered “the most interesting vintage after 2005 and 2010” according to (arguably) the world’s foremost authority on the subject. So if your merchant isn’t yet stocking these wines, ask them why. Better yet, if you’re not seeking these 2011s out, perhaps it’s time to begin filling out that shopping list.

Tick-tock…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Domaine Michel Magnien ~ The Gateway to Burgundy

Fourth & Fifth Generation Perfectionists in Morey St Denis.

 

My first encounter with Frederic – Freddy – Magnien (5th generation winemaker for both the Domaine as well as Negoce side of the family business) was over breakfast back in 2007. It was the morning preceding one of his annual wine-maker tours – this one held in Los Angelas – and he, my wife, and then 1 year old daughter and I were all seated together at the hotel restaurant downstairs. As he fed my daughter the ripest blue berries we’ve ever tasted, I was struck by how humble, kind and tremendously gentle and classy he was. That memory remains with me and is the first image I have every time I visit with him to taste his wines – wines that mirror the man: honest, pure, humble and very, very classy.

 

Spanning numerous lieu dits, there are two distinct labels Chez Magnien – both managed by Freddie. On the Domaine side, identified by the striking black labels, are the vineyards owned by Frederic’s father – those denoted as the Michel Magnien wines. For the Negoce wines – also managed by Freddie (from bud-break to bottling, which is quite unique for a negociant business) – are the white-label-identified Frederic Magnien wines. Towards producing wines that capture the purity of fruit and expressive transparency of terroir that has been the hallmark of the Magnien lines since estate bottling began (in 1994), Michel continues as vineyard manager for the Domaine parcels while Freddie manages 100% of the cellar work for all of the wines – Domaine AND Negoce.

 

Freddie Magnien joined his father in the early 1990s at a time when Michel was still selling most of the family’s harvest to local negociants. Freddie recognized his father’s unmatched vineyard work and slowly convinced him to allow Freddie to estate bottle small portions of selected harvests. The Magniens own plots in the Cote D’Or’s most hallowed Grand Crus – with vines in their Charmes Chambertin approaching 100 years in age – and Freddie was convinced that if he could convert his father from selling to bottling that he could expand the family business.

 

As Freddie’s efforts began to be recognized – first by his father and then very quickly by the international wine writers – Michel offered Freddie a golden opportunity. Not only would Freddie be allowed the position of cellar master for the Domaine wines, but he would likewise begin a negociant business to augment the family’s holdings. Adding to the 100 year old plots in Charmes Chambertin, the perfectly situated parcels of Clos de la Roche and Clos Saint Denis, as well as the perfectly tended old vine 1er Cru vines in Morey and Chambolle, Freddie would add to the line up additional lieu dits in practically every appellation throughout the Cote.

 

But it would remain the Domaine wines – these Michel Magnien wines – that would continue as the jewel in the family crown. As grand as the additional bottlings from the Negoce line would prove to be – and they certainly are; just ask Burghound – these profound Domaine wines somehow seem to receive that extra bit of attention from critics and collectors alike. Simply put, when asked why a Burgundy lover would spend their hard-earned dollar on a Michel Magnien wine (be they new to the game or a seasoned “Pinot-phile”), the answer is that Freddie Magnien is one of the most expressive people you’ll ever meet. And his wines – in particular the Domaine wines that he makes with his father – are the most expressive of their respective terroirs that one is likely to experience.

 

Combining his father’s perfectionism in the vineyard – up before dawn to prune and tend – with Freddie’s meticulous nature in the cellar has resulted in a line-up of wines that earned this duo “Wine Personality of the Year” (from the Wine Advocate) in just their second year as estate bottlers.  Add to that numerous years of mid to upper nineties ratings from wine critics across the globe and you’ll begin to understand why so many consider the Magnien wines “the gateway to Burgundy”.

For more information regarding currently available selections, please visit:

 

http://www.jjbuckley.com/search/c~0~st~michel%20magnien

 

(most items currently on sale up to 50% off, contact a private sales rep for details)

 

Cheers!

Christopher

Domaine Nicolas Rossignol ~ “Absolutely not to be missed” ~ Burghound

Casually leading the way across more than 15 lieu dits!

 

At the ripe old age of 33, standing on stage before hundreds of this country’s most passionate fans of Burgundian wines, Nicolas Rossignol was honored for his work in Volnay when Bruce Sanderson of the Wine Spectator dubbed this unassuming vigneron “Burgundy’s latest vanguard”. The crowd attending that year’s New York Wine Experience – in 2007 – would be treated to several of Rossignol’s stellar Volnays and Pommards that evening, and the rest – as they say – is history. At this year’s Grand Jours de Bourgogne, Nicolas’ booth was as crowded as ever – it would appear that good news has travelled fast.

 

Nicolas – not quite 40 and looking a bit like a young John Belushi – caught the wine bug about as early as one can, at the tender age of 14 alongside his grandfather. In the beginning, however, young Rossignol wasn’t quite sure that the life of a vigneron was for him. Witnessing the hardships his family endured left him skeptical – to say the least. Following his father’s advice, though and spending one year in the vines with his grandfather was all it took. Nicolas Rossignol was hooked.

 

Following those first years with his family, Nicolas formalized his training at the enological schools in Beaune, training at the Domaine Joseph Voillot in Volnay upon graduation. Eager to expand his vinous knowledge as well as resume, Nicolas spent additional time as assistant vigneron at such venerable estates as Louis Latour (Burgundy), Vieux Telegraphe (Chateauneuf du Pape), Boschendal (Stellenbosch) and Chateau Lafite-owned Chateau Cardonne (Bordeaux). Deeply intrigued by progressive winemaking philosophies, he studied courses in Agriculture Biologique – which he strictly employs Chez Rossignol – and is now currently looking towards certification for the Domaine.

 

The wine-making style Nicolas prefers can be best described as “sophisticated” – to borrow a term from Allen Meadows of Burghound, who describes these wines precisely as such. Towards producing wines of classic proportions, offering intense levels of the purist fruit as well as silky tannins and laser-focused transparency, he utilizes whole clusters during fermentation. Nicolas prefers the sweetness this method imparts to the finished wines (ala Jayer), but also stresses that this method must be avoided in vintages where the stems are not ripe – hence avoiding whole cluster fermentations in 2004 and ’07, for example.  The results? Current vintages of Nicolas’ Volnays rank among the highest rated wines of their respective appellations.

 

Finally, it’s certainly worth noting Burghound’s most recent praise of Nicolas Rossignol’s current releases, where Meadows is quoted as referring to these offers as “truly stunning…and among the very best wines that I sampled in the Côte de Beaune.” Allen Meadows, a man not taken to flights of verbal fancy, went on to conclude for his readers, “There are several wines that are absolutely not to be missed.” And as mentioned, considering the crowded booth at this year’s Grand Jours de Bourgogne, the world has taken note.

 

For currently available offers, please visit:

 

http://www.jjbuckley.com/search/c~0~st~nicolas%20rossignol<<<<

 

Domaine Albert Morot – Doing for Beaune as Ghislaine does for Chambolle

Tops in Beaune ~ Just ask the competition

 

While visiting with David Croix (winemaker for both Domaine des Croix as well as the famous Maison Camille Giroud) while in Burgundy for the Grand Jours de Bourgogne, I found it enlightening to discover how greatly he reveres the wines of Geoffroy Choppin de Janvry – current vigneron of the Domaine Albert Morot. Needless to say, when combining that reverence with Burghound’s decade-plus worth of praise, I made a point of visiting de Janvry to sample his outstanding 2010s.

 

As one exits the city of Beaune, heading northwest along the old Route de Bouze towards Bouze-les-Beaune, you’ll encounter the 19th century Chateau de la Creusotte – built in 1890 – which is the modern day headquarters of Domaine Albert Morot. The rather humble façade – more “quaint” than stately – is quite indicative of the man behind the scenes here. For while the wines emanating from Domaine Morot are world class – indeed striking – the winemaker himself is quite reserved.

 

De Janvry’s Domaine Morot was first established in 1820 by Albert Morot, the Great-grandfather of Madame Francoise Choppin – de Janvry’s Aunt. Having been first established as a much larger negociant firm in 1820, Madame Choppin and her brother were in charge of an estate that included not only their Domaine operation but the responsibilities of the negociant trade as well. With her brother’s failing health, Madame Choppin elected to cease the negociant trade in 1984 to focus solely on the Domaine side of the family business. Upon his uncle’s passing, with no children to inherit the Domaine, Geoffroy Choppin de Janvry became the next in line to assume responsibility of his family’s estate.

 

Taking over in 2000, de Janvry’s first decision would be a move towards Agriculture Biodynamique, a move which has resulted in purer, finer and more expressive wines year over year. Another decision made by de Janvry – to rehire many of the vineyard workers that had assisted over the years with both the negoce as well as Domaine portions of the family enterprise –results in expedited harvest times (a move that proves fortuitous in less than perfect vintages). Likewise, deciding to forgo oak barrels for fermentation after the drying effects witnessed during the 2003 elevage has further elevated the quality of de Janvry’s top-notch selections. In keeping with traditions, however, de Janvry respects his Aunt’s love of old vines, vowing to tend with care so as to retain the Domaine’s average vine age of more than 50 years.

 

As evidenced by ever increasing critical acclaim across the selections Chez Morot – where reviews from such notable critics the likes of Burghound have risen to the level of those generally bestowed upon THE most elite growers in the Cote – today’s Domaine Albert Morot is certainly on a qualitative hot streak. Among the dozens of growers as well as sizable, imposing negociant firms, none rates higher for the current vintage (2010) when comparing the Beaune lieu dits of Teurons, Bressandes, Marconnets, Toussaints (and others) than does de Janvry’s Domaine Morot. With reviews reaching these levels, it’s easy to understand the crowded booth de Janvry enjoyed at the Grand Jours de Bourgogne this year – not to mention the praise from his neighbors.

 

For currently available 2010s, please visit:

http://www.jjbuckley.com/search/c~0~st~2010%20albert%20morot<<<<

 

 

Domaine Jerome Chezeaux – Where lutte raisonnee results in Super-Star status

Serious man - Serious wines!

 

Another fine producer who was conspicuously absent at this year’s Grand Jours De Bourgogne; could it be that importers State-side are hoarding the fruits of their favorite producer’s labor away for their own pleasure? The absence of this perennial over-achiever certainly suggests such a possibility.

 

The original estate that would eventually become known as Domaine Jerome Chezeaux was formed in 1930 by Julien Missery through land acquisitions that spanned throughout top lieu dits in and around Nuits-Saint-Georges. The Missery lineage is well-known in the Cote D’Or – even today – as it has been linked to the eponymous Chateau, which is located some 15km west of Dijon, quietly nestled in the French countryside. Whether Julien – the ancestral forefather to today’s Chezeaux family – is related to those members of the Missery line is uncertain, yet it is certain that the Chezeaux’ have been in the Cote for quite some time.

 

Jerome took over the family estate upon his father’s untimely death in the early 1990s. Having studied at his father’s side – as well as having gained knowledge of the more modern school of viticulture via his studies at the “Lycee Viticole de Beaune” – Jerome was fully equipped for the role of vigneron of his family’s Domaine. And while Jerome fully realized the advancements available to him as had been put forward at university, he remained steadfast in his conviction to honor time tested and traditional methods of Burgundian wine-making.

 

Jerome’s approach to viticulture is summed up easily in a single phrase – as is the work of most of today’s greatest Burgundians: “non-interventionist”. Just as his father (Bernard) before him, Jerome believes in a strict adherence to a vineyard process known as lutte raisonnee. Succinctly described, this is the art of “struggling reasonably” or “fighting reasonably” within one’s own vineyard.

 

Towards the goal of reversing years of abuse to the soil as a result of the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides and more, French vignerons have turned to a natural method of tending their vineyards that ensures a return to healthy, vibrant soils and crops. This use of natural ingredients, as well as the implementation of plowing as well as the planting of cover crops and more (such as introducing various biodiversities to one’s vineyard, etc.) is drastically improving the quality of not only France’s vineyards, but the complexities of the wines emanating from these healthier vineyards as well. Only when absolutely necessary do these practitioners of lutte raisonnee employ herbicides, etc. – and only to the very barest degrees necessary.

 

In addition to his natural practices in the vineyard, Jerome adheres to time-honored traditions in the cellar as well: wild yeasts, malolactic in barrel, limited new oak and never are the wines subjected to filtration.  These practices consistently garner critical acclaim, and have resulted in praise from the Wine Advocate to include, “…These are some of the most beautiful, classically built wines I tasted on my trip…” As for the newly released 2010s, critical acclaim is once again quite impressive, with scores ranging from 90-95 for each of their lieu dits. This is indeed a super-star Domaine!

 

For details on currently available offers from this estate, please visit:

 

http://www.jjbuckley.com/search/c~0~st~jerome%20chezeaux<<<<

 

Domaine Virgile Lignier-Michelot – Among the “Must-Haves” for 2010 ~ and beyond

The man behind many of 2010s most memorable wines!

Having heard much recently of the rise in popularity of this estate with multiple international wine critics as well as professional sommeliers, I made a point to elbow my way through the crowd surrounding Virgile’s booth at this year’s Grand Jours De Bourgogne. Tasting his wines revealed not only some of the highlights of the event, but likewise one of the wines of the vintage.

Based in Morey-Saint-Denis on the Rue des Jardins, just around the corner from Domaine Perrot Minot is one of the oldest properties in the village. Originally established at the end of the last century (circa 1900), today’s Domaine Lignier-Michelot – its stone walls modernly adorned with a strikingly red metal Domaine placard – reflects the dedication and determination of one man: Virgile Lignier. As the third generation of vignerons to tend the family’s holdings, he is the first – and only – Lignier insistent upon estate bottling – and so much more.

Virgile’s ancestral line before him witnessed the splitting of the family property throughout the 1900s, with his grandfather (Maurice Lignier) being the first to plant vineyards on their holdings, which spans some 21 acres across Morey, Chambolle and Gevrey. In the 1960s, Virgile’s father continued the vineyard work, taking over for Maurice, being content to sell the family’s production to local negociants. Joining his father in 1992, Virgile would begin instituting many of the improvements witnessed in his wines today – beginning with estate bottling.

By the 2000 vintage, Virgile was the sole director of the Domaine upon his father’s retirement. Advancements Chez Lignier-Michelot included Virgile’s move to a vineyard management philosophy known as lutte raisonnee, which further led him to experiments with biodynamic viticulture. This move to agriculture Biologique now complete – since the 2006 vintage – Lignier-Michelot is in the process of obtaining certification. Further advancements Chez Lignier-Michelot (some as recent as the 2008 vintage) include higher percentages of whole clusters during vinification; a move that no doubt resulted in a collection of the most elegant and transparent 2010s one is likely to experience.

As a leader amongst the finest estates in the village of Morey-Saint-Denis – all of whom seem to be annually meeting together towards further refining their wares – Virgile Lignier is producing wines of undeniable complexity, as well as purity and transparency that are simply stunning. These traits are no doubt thanks in part to the average age of his vines, which often exceed 50 years of age. Burghound has for the last several vintages characterized these as “among the most elegant in the Cote D’Or”; while particular 2010s from this Domaine were described by the Wine Advocate as “striking, impeccable, elegant, racy and absolutely irresistible.”

Indeed it is appropriate to conclude that today’s Lignier-Michelot is on that list of must-haves for those serious about Burgundy’s very best.

For currently available 2010s, please visit:

http://www.jjbuckley.com/search/c~0~st~lignier%20michelot%202010<<<<