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…

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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:

 

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