La Chablisienne – Meticulous Quality, Precise Quantity, Exciting Wines

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In the world of Burgundy – doubly so in terms of the whites – rarely do quantity and quality inhabit the same world. Enter the collection known as La Chablisienne; a selection of sublime Chardonnays so well-balanced and consistently well made as to render professional wine critics seemingly ecstatic year after year. Burghound – the most conservative writer I know – routinely refers to these offers as “strikingly long and harmonious”, while The Wine Spectator gushes with terms to include “intense”, “complex” and “terrific”.

Reading such grandiose reviews, one would surely think they were in the presence of one of the most limited production, impossible to acquire and therefore sky-high priced wines of the genre. After all, when mid to upper 90 point reviews start rolling around from Burghound (as in the case of the 2008 Les Preuses from La Chablisienne), we’re usually witnessing wines the likes of Leflaive Batard Montrachet or Niellon Chevalier Montrachet.

But Herve Tucki – Director of marketing for La Chablisienne – has a very different vision for the wine drinker. His firm, dedicated to “revealing the heart and soul of the wines of Chablis”, represents a collection of the finest small growers of the region. Founded in 1923, La Chablisienne has expanded to such a size that today it vinifies and markets nearly 35% of all of the wine bottled in the region. And it is precisely this element of scale that allows such quality from a firm that produces such quantity.

Further, since the 1950s, La Chablisienne now fully controls 100% of the vinification process to include vineyard work, bottling and aging. Whereas once they acted simply as a blender and wholesale merchant to the trade, today La Chablisienne acts more as a boutique wine-maker – albeit one of the largest “boutiques” one is likely to encounter. By incorporating the finest wine-makers with the greatest vineyard sites available in Chablis, La Chablisienne has truly accomplished what few (if any) other firms in Burgundy has been able to: combining high quality with terrific quantity to offer the discerning consumer outstanding prices on highly regarded, world-class wines.

For more information regarding currently available selections, please visit:

http://www.jjbuckley.com/search/c~0~st~chablisienne

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Domaine Coste Caumartin – Artistry in Pommard

Jerome Sordet ~ Place over Thumbprint

 

As our intense week of tasting at the Grand Jours de Bourgogne was nearing its end, Friday’s finale was a positively powerful event filled with some of the most structured Pinot Noirs anywhere on earth. We were to experience Pommard in all her glory as we made our way through hundreds of samples spanning every vineyard known, north to south, and in the heart of the appellation. As we entered the Chateau de Pommard, glasses in hand, our final formal event of the tour held promises of surprises to come.

 

The wines of Pommard, as holds true for the balance of Burgundy, offer the taster varying degrees of flavor as well as aromatic profiles depending upon vineyard location. Pommard’s southern reaches – to include Rugiens, Chaponnieres, Fremiers, and Jarolieres – produce wines that are decidedly structured and firm; wines that are quite vinous in their darker fruit components, and that include those earthier notes and deep minerality. To the north of Pommard, the vineyards – to include Arvelets, Grands Epenots, Charmots, Pezerolles, and Coste-Caumartin’s monopole Clos des Boucherottes – are very nearly polar opposites of their neighbors. These northeasterly sites bring a more fruit driven version of Pommard to the table; the structure, while there, is less prominent. It is the cornucopia of assorted Pinot fruits that play the lead role in these Burgundies planted to chalky brown soils.

 

As we moved through the room, it was interesting attempting to discern vineyard typicity from one winemaker’s table to the next. To be certain, there were many a fantastic vigneron in attendance, yet as one sample of Pommard lead to another, I continually found myself seeking more transparency. It became apparent at one point that some had lost sight of place, preferring instead to make their own personal mark on the wines.

 

Then I discovered the table manned by Coste-Caumartin. A family Domaine since 1793, Coste Caumartin is now under the watchful (some say artful) eye of Jerome Sordet. To state that Sordet is a guardian of all that is Burgundy’s history is not an overstatement. Take for example the very land that he owns.

 

Burgundy’s rich, long history is forever linked to the Church. In the Middle Ages, most of Burgundy was owned by the Church. Parts of Volnay belonged to the order of Malta, while other sections were under the ownership of the Priory of Saint-Etienne. And most all who have even a casual knowledge of Burgundy have heard of the famous Dukes of Burgundy. And along with their holdings in Volnay, the Priory of Saint-Etienne also owned parcels in Pommard. These parcels are the very same plots upon which today are planted the vines owned by Jerome Sordet.

 

As Sordet further explains, his Fremiers once belonged to the Abbey de Maizieres, while the family’s monopole vineyard, Clos des Boucherottes, has been owned by the Sordet’s for over a century. These familial treasures explain Jerome’s firm conviction for time tested, traditional wine-making routines. Never will one experience mechanical harvests Chez Coste Caumartin, every single grape is harvested by hand and then sorted again by hand once in the winery. The wines are pressed by foot – as in the ways of his grandfather, Jerome explains – and only a maximum of 15% new wood is ever employed. These are classically structured wines, built for ageing, that are a joy to taste throughout their development.

 

And I (for one) am so pleased that this family is dedicated to terroir and place, rather than a personal thumbprint on their wines.

Maison / Domaine Jean Rijckaert – From Macon to Jura: A study in passion

Today’s Singular Jura ~ A Study in Perfection

 

Jean Rijckaert’s most important vinous credential came as a result of the formation of Maison Verget with Jean-Marie Guffens in the late 1980s. Guffens had been producing wines under his own label for some years and when the two met in the Maconnais, they realized their shared passions for the wines of that region. Their negociant label was launched, with Rijckaert initially the driving force behind many of the wine-making philosophies and techniques (there remains to this day a Dents de Chien de Jean), and the resulting critical acclaim would bring new attention to the region’s wines.

 

As with all things Guffens, personalities eventually clashed and Rijckaert (a perfectionist and equally opinionated man of the vine) moved on to establish his own Domaine as well as Negociant labels. Taking with him a philosophy of ripe harvesting, organic cultivation and unquestionably fresh wines, the Flemish Rijckaert set about to continue his work in the Maconnais while also exploring the hills of Arbois and Jura. With Chardonnay as his sole variety, Rijckaert now bottles no less than 3 dozen highly individual, single vineyard designated offerings from the hills of Macon to the mountains of Jura.

 

Beginning with his stunning 2002s, and continuing through his most recent vintages, critical acclaim has followed these tremendous values:

 

Pierre Rovani, former Burgundy critic for the Wine Advocate reported:

“Consumers should flock to Jean Rijckaert’s (pronounced “ray-cart”) wines for the incredible combination of quality and value they deliver.”

 

Specifically describing Rijckaert’s Pouilly-Fuisse bottlings over the years, Rovani poetically described them as:

“concentrated, fleshy, and deep, bursting on the palate; big, bold, dense, thickly textured; intense, deep, and layered; muscular, with fabulous balance and an exceptionally long finish.”

 

While current day Burgundy critic for the Wine Advocate, David Schildknecht comments of Rijckaert’s Jura wines in terms to include:

“If you think there are no exciting and modestly-priced wines so-labeled, you are in for a shock!”

 

Other notable critics who ring the bell for Rijckaert’s Jura wines include Jancis Robinson:

“Few producers have done more to build bridges between this ignored region than Jean Rijckaert, who was the business partner of Jean-Marie Guffens-Heynen of Verget throughout the early 1990s. Now Rijckaert has been developing his own business, making top quality white wines, mainly Chardonnay, from some carefully –researched vineyards in the Maconnais and Jura. His wines are superclean and racy and extremely well-priced.”

 

Considering the cost of most highly praised White Burgundy and other highly rated Chardonnays of our time, it’s exciting to find such tremendous value in this category in the 21st century. When was the last time YOU can recall a White Burg or Chardonnay (worth seeking out) that offered so much in the glass while taking so little from the wallet?!

 

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 Denis Mortet – Describing a Master…

Laurence et Arnaud Mortet (courtesy – domaine-denis-mortet.fr)

 

The story of Domaine Denis Mortet is not a long one. It does not begin in some 19th century castle in the ruins of an old family vineyard. And it continues today only because of the will of one very strong widow. And an incredible son…

Clive Coates MW, in his book entitled Cote D’Or, chronicled the Mortet story in a Domaine Profile. That Profile told us all the first tale of Mortet. Clive only produced his “Domaine Profiles” on the very best Domaines for that book. By limiting these reports to the top 60 or so Domaines in all of Burgundy – out of the thousands in existence – Clive set out to establish a “hit list” of the most desirable Domaines of our time. That list still stands as a guide for serious Burgundy connoisseurs in search of the very best.

Domaine Mortet began with 1ha of vines, owned by Denis Mortet’s father, Charles. Charles had no interest in the wine business, so he left the vines to be farmed by others until 1977 when Denis came to work with him at the age of 21. When Denis’ brother joined the team later, in 1982, a company was formed. From the time Denis joined his father until 1982, Denis had worked to increase the family holdings through rental agreements and small purchases. So, by 1982, the family company now had grown to include a total of 8ha, just about 18 acres and by 1984, they were bottling on their own.

Now, while the company may have been young, Denis Mortet had set about to secure contracts on vineyards which were quite old. Of that he was very proud. Denis was an incredible perfectionist – something that would finally, many say, be his undoing. He also went about learning the ways of wine-making from Henri Jayer, of whom Clive wrote, “The history of present-day Burgundy could not be written without him.” Indeed, Mortet knew exactly where he was going!

Domaine Denis Mortet was first exported in 1984 and by 1985, Clive Coates first tasted and reported on them. A star was born! All Denis needed was more land.

His wish came true. Around 1993 or so, a famous land owner, with parcels in some of the most prestigious Crus in Burgundy decided to retire. His name was Guyot and he had watched Denis for a few years, becoming more and more impressed with the care Denis took in the vineyards and the incredible wines coming out of the cellars. He asked Denis if Denis would like to take over the Guyot estate. With one gesture, the Domaine Denis Mortet became what we see today – nearly 30 acres.

Clive Coates described Denis Mortet, saying,

“Denis Mortet is a man of passion as well as perfectionism. Touring round his vineyard parcels shows quite plainly his commitment. You feel he knows every single vine personally. And the wines, full, generous, multi-dimensional, rich and expansive, have a lot more to them than most. This is a splendid domaine. And the wines are getting better and better.”
Clive Coates, MW, Cote D’Or, 1997

further, Remington Norman, in his book on Burgundy, added,

“The quality of the wines is remarkable. From the first skirmish with the Bourgogne Rouge, it is clear that Denis knows the technical skills of wine-making and has its art at his fingertips. The fact that he works his 8ha mostly alone makes the achievement the more extraordinary. These wines are among the best in the commune and would easily earn their place in a cellar of fine red Burgundy.”
Remington Norman, The Great Domaines of Burgundy, 1993

more recently, Bruce Sanderson of the Wine Spectator added,

“Mortet had become one of Burgundy’s stars in the 14 years since he established Domaine Denis Mortet, focusing on single vineyard wines from 28.5 acres of small plots he owned in the Côte d’Or. Dozens of his wines earned rave reviews, including a Clos de Vougeot 1996 that scored 99 points on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale and a Chambertin 1998 that scored 98.”
Bruce Sanderson, reporting in the Wine Spectator

finally, Burghound considered Denis,

“Nothing if not intense and he’s an open book when it comes to his wines as he loves to explain every aspect, and in detail, from bud break to the bottle. While it sometimes seems that Mortet is in search of the proverbial magic bullet to make his wines even better, very real progress is being made here even if it isn’t exactly in a straight line…And speaking of impressed, both vintages here are excellent but the 2005s should be excellent.”
Burghound – Allen Meadows

I suppose not a lot more could be added by this author except to say that the wine world truly lost a master when, last January 2006, Denis tragically passed away. His son, Arnaud, had been working alongside the master for two full vintages to include the brilliant 2005s. Denis’ wife, too, had been in the cellars and it is her strong will and faith that have lifted the Domaine and kept the work of her late husband alive for us all to continue to enjoy.

I trust you’ll find this offer comes to you with much respect for this family and their incredible – though short – and famous history…

For more information regarding currently available selections, please visit:

http://www.jjbuckley.com/search/c~0~st~denis%20mortet<<<<

 

All the best in wine and life!
Christopher

 

Domaine Taupenot Merme ~ Haunting, impossibly elegant

Where Mazoyeres is "haunting" ~ Galloni

Where Mazoyeres is “haunting” ~ Galloni

Having heard that we would be visiting the Cote for the annual Grand Jours de Bourgogne, Romain Taupenot-Merme emailed me mid-week to extend a personal invitation to join him at his home to visit the Domaine and taste his 2010s. Considering the reputation that precedes this venerable estate, I made certain our afternoon calendar that day was cleared.

As one exits the RN74 in the village of Morey-Saint-Denis, passing the starred yet very affordable Hotel Tres Girard (my preferred home away from home on many trips to Burgundy), you’ll ascend the one lane road in the direction of Clos de Tart. This tiny road makes a beeline for the greatest collection of hallowed soil not just in this one-horse town, but the entirety of the Cote D’Or. As you approach the Domaine of Clos de Tart, turning either direction along the intersecting route, you’ll be travelling through all of the Grand Crus of Morey Saint Denis.

At the far end of the route is Bonnes Mares, sharing its Cru with Chambolle to the south. Continuing north one next encounters the aforementioned Clos de Tart, followed immediately by Clos de Lambrays. It is here, at the base of this steep hill that we visited the home and Domaine of Romain. Eyeing the vineyards further north, Romain also boasts a view of the final Grand Crus of Morey – Clos Saint Denis and Clos de la Roche. Appropriately, and in keeping with the beauty of the landscape surrounding him, Romain’s home is as stunning as the wines that emanate from the Crus his home is tucked away beneath.

Romain and his Sister, Virginie are the 7th generation to tend the land and oversee the production of wines Chez Taupenot Merme – a family Domaine since the 1700s. Romain described his winemaking philosophy to me during our visit that day (as we tasted his entire line-up of 2010s) as one geared towards more transparency and silkier tannins. He has moved all of the vineyards to organic viticulture and experiments with biodynamics on certain plots. He explained that while certain aspects of viticulture Biodynamique are critical to soil preservation, those same techniques are found in traditional organic viticulture as well, hence his avoidance to rush towards certification.

One thing that struck me the most about Romain’s wines was their purity. These are wines – much like his cousin’s, Christophe Perrot Minot – which truly allow for the typicity of the lieu dit to shine through. Each wine was unique unto itself; completely different from the others in the line-up. Tasting with Romain – a true gentleman’s gentleman – is a study in just how grand the terroirs of Morey truly are. And considering the reviews and comments bestowed upon these treasures by Galloni and Burghound, I am personally thrilled to see these wines available for our clients.

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

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

Domaine Jean Marc Pavelot ~ Indisputably the Finest!

Jean-Hugues Pavelot, the man Burghound crowns the leader of Savigny!

 

Of the nearly 180 producers who produce and bottle wines from Savigny les Beaune, the estate of Jean-Marc Pavelot has earned the illustrious title of the finest wine maker in the village. After evaluating several consecutive vintages, spanning literally hundreds of samples and finished bottlings, Allen Meadows (author and publisher of Burghound) was quoted in 2004 as saying, “Pavelot is indisputably making the finest wines in the village and in particular, they age extremely well.”

Moreover, the father and son team of Jean-Marc and Hugues Pavelot ensure a future of outstanding wines from their pristine, old-vine vineyard parcels through a practice known as lutte raisonnee. Essentially a practice incorporating the most practical applications as found in both biodynamic as well as traditional vineyard management, lutte raisonnee allows the flexibility to control vineyard abnormalities while avoiding undue applications to one’s soil. Through this practice, the Pavelot’s have consistently fashioned the most sought after, high-scoring, terroir-driven wines of the appellation for decades.

Routinely worthy of accolades reserved for wines costing twice to three times what these “humble” Savigny-les-Beaunes fetch, the wines of Pavelot are “wines worth a serious look each and every vintage… and absolutely worth your attention” – also quotes attributed to the Burghound.

 

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

 

http://www.jjbuckley.com/search/c~0~st~pavelot%202010

 

And:

 

http://www.jjbuckley.com/search/c~0~st~pavelot