Domaine Jean Michel Guillon – Among the most succulent wines in the Cote!

Serious Winemaker, Succulent Wines

Serious Winemaker, Succulent Wines

 

Succulent… Now there’s a word that you might not associate too often with the wines of Gevrey Chambertin. In fact, most tastings involving a large collection of Gevreys would render the participant’s palate rather exhausted from the sheer levels of tannins and the structure these wines are famous for. But one taste of Jean-Michel’s 1er Crus – in particular recently experienced 2011s from the lieux dits of Petite Chapelle and Champonnets – left me so refreshed and with a desire to actually CONSUME a glass of each of those wines that “succulent” (as in ‘juicy, fleshy and thoroughly enjoyable’) just seemed like the most appropriate single-word descriptor I could muster.

 

Jean-Michel set out to conquer this land of Gevrey Chambertin after his first visit to these hallowed vineyards prior to establishing his estate in 1980. A passionate, driven and competitive aeronautics professional, Jean-Michel befriended a local grower by the name of Rene Gallard after purchasing an initial bare plot in Gevrey nearly 35 years ago. Driven by a desire to establish a new legacy, Jean-Michel dedicated himself to emulating those who came before him – the Rousseau, Dugat-Py and Denis Bachelet estates representing his inspiration.

 

From the beginning Jean-Michel obsessed with quality. Having relocated to Burgundy from Paris – retiring from aeronautics and bringing his family in tow – Jean-Michel would settle for nothing less than world class and world renowned wines. His passion and dedication would soon garner him not only the respect and admiration of the national press in France – where he was honored by professional French wine magazines with numerous accolades and stars – but likewise he would be named the president of the Gevrey-Chambertin winemakers syndicate.

 

Jean-Michel’s wines would quickly attract attention worldwide. Consistently among the most impressive of their genre, Jean-Michel’s 1er Crus as well as Grand Crus (to include his Mazis Chambertin and numerous Gevrey 1er Crus bottlings) would begin garnering top marks with the 2002 releases when Allen Meadows (of Burghound) confirmed, “Jean-Michel Guillon is indisputably a man on a mission to make world class wines.” From that singular moment, Jean Michel’s star would begin its epic rise (those 2002s dubbed “Outstanding” by Burghound) and within less than a decade Guillon joined the ranks of the village’s most esteemed.

 

Today, the estate of Jean-Michel Guillon is routinely mentioned as among the top less than a half dozen producers in the town of Gevrey Chambertin. And though this estate is only in its first generation (Jean-Michel’s son has officially joined him as of 2004, yet the reins have yet to pass), one thing is certain: this is an estate where the legacy will most certainly live on. With the foundation that has been established by the passionate and formidable Jean-Michel, the estate he has positioned for the future is undoubtedly worthy of the village known for producing the “King of Wines & the Wine of Kings”.

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…

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

Pousse D’Or 2011 – Wines that “Transcend the Vintage” Burghound

pousse-dor

“As the scores and commentaries confirm, I found the Pousse d’Or 2011s to transcend the general quality of the vintage.”

–  Allen Meadows, Burghound Issue 50 – April 15 2013

 

Beginning with Landanger’s inaugural vintage – 1999 – after he elected to pass over both 1997 as well as 1998 (two vintages where he lacked 100% control of the entire elevage) this passionate perfectionist has set a course to re-establish Pousse D’Or as the benchmark for quality not only in the Cote de Beaune, but throughout Burgundy. Landanger became owner of this venerable estate after the tragic passing of Gerard Potel in 1997. Millions in investments by Landanger – from vineyard to equipment and into the cellars – began to result in qualitative successes almost immediately as the wine world took note.

 

Established in the 19th century (when it was originally known as La Bousse d’Or), this ancient estate was once comprised of multiple land plots throughout the Cote D’Or. Among its many holdings were the vineyards of Romanee Conti and Clos de Tart – to name a few of its more illustrious parcels. Over the decades these parcels were divided and sold until the 1960s when the final remaining parcels came up for sale one final time.

 

The man who would eventually come to purchase Bousse D’Or, Jean-Nicolas Ferte’ – known affectionately as THE bon viveur – had been searching for a suitable estate to purchase as a wedding gift for his niece and her new husband (the gifted wine-maker: Gerard Potel). Potel and the niece – having been “adopted” by Ferte’ – had meetings with their uncle in Beaune and the three had settled on Burgundy as their choice for a new winery as well as home for the young couple.

 

When Bousse D’Or came up for sale in the early 1960s, Ferte’ received word from Ramonet – via a rare phone call vs Ferte’s preferred method of communication: handwritten letters (another moment in history). After multiple rounds of negotiations, the sale was finalized; Ferte’ and company took control of Bousse D’Or in 1964. The partnership formed to purchase the new estate was comprised of Louis Seysses (Jacques Seysses’ father) and the aforementioned Ferte’, so Potel was in fabulous company. French law dictated the name change to Pousse D’Or, and Gerard Potel was placed in charge of wine-making. He and Seysses worked together for a few years until Seysses departed in 1978 to devote himself full time to working at Dujac.

 

In 1985, Potel finally purchased Pousse D’Or from his partners. Throughout the many years of partnership changes and financial upheavals, Potel never wavered – making reference point wines from his glorious Pousse D’Or year in, year out. Upon his death, the wine world held its collective breath in hopes of the arrival of the person who would carry the torch in place of Potel.

 

Landanger has proved to be that man. As the vintages have been bottled, Landanger has amassed consistently glowing reviews from the world’s most respected critics. Be the vintage sublime or sub-standard, Landanger’s efforts from vineyard through vinification result in vintage transcending wines which speak of place over process. His methods are second to none and the results have garnered praise while thrilling buyers the world over.

 

His 2011s unquestionably deserve a place in your cellar!

 

For a list of currently available 2011s, please visit:

 

http://www.jjbuckley.com/search/c~0~st~pousse%20d%27or%202011

2008 Brunelli – The Savvy Buyer’s Vintage

montalcino vineyards

 

This looks to be a great opportunity for savvy buyers to secure carefully selected premium Brunelli for some of the very best prices of any vintages currently available. Why? Consider the words of Antonio Galloni when he informed us

“I am also very optimistic about 2008. Consumers and the trade will focus on 2006 and 2007, which sets up the very real possibility 2008 will be completely overlooked. Based on what I tasted from barrel, it shouldn’t be. The 2008s are beautifully delineated, mid-weight wines that impress for their finesse and exceptional overall balance. My instincts tell me that a number of 2008s are going to turn out better than expected.”  — Antonio Galloni

And it’s precisely this tendency that’s allowing for such a fantastic pre-arrival opportunity as we’re witnessing today.

Here are my notes on a couple of favorites – year in and year out – and in particular from vintage 2008. Now that these selections are being offered at better retailers, consumers are advised to take note. At the prices currently being offered, these top wines will be sold out (at these prices) quite soon.

2008 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova
Casanova di Neri
A Sangiovese Grosso Dry Red Table wine
Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy
94 points
Review by James Suckling

This is very floral with blackberries on the nose. It’s full-bodied, with velvety tannins and a ripe fruit, caramel and berry aftertaste. Delicious for the vintage. One of the wines of the vintage. Better in 2015. — James Suckling

Giacomo Neri’s singular expression of Brunello – based exclusively on the Sangiovese Grosso clone – is one of the most celebrated of the genre. The 2001 was selected as Wine Spectator’s #1 wine of the year in 2006; the 2006 release was crowned a 100 point masterpiece by James Suckling while the 2007 version continues to garner high praise from Antonio Galloni and other professional critics worldwide.

This current release – the 2008 – was selected as the number two highest scoring Brunello of recently reviewed selections by the Wine Spectator and James Suckling has already claimed it to be “one of the wines of the vintage”.

Of all the 94 point (or higher) rated Tenuta Nuova selections, JJ Buckley has THE very best price currently available for ANY of them – they’re offering the 2008 for $64.51. Of all the other releases rating 94 or higher (WS), the average price currently offered is $100 (with the range being $70 to $145).

 

2008 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli
Altesino
A Sangiovese Grosso Dry Red Table wine from
Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy
95 points
Review by Wine Spectator Insider – Hot Wines Designation

“Intense balsamic and mint notes make this red distinctive, along with currant, raspberry and floral touches. Silky, ripe and impressive, this shows elegance and a vibrant structure. Offers terrific length and resonance on the finish. Best from 2016 through 2032.” From Italy. — B.S. “Hot Wines” designation. “Wine Spectator Insider”

There’s no questioning Altesino’s positioning among the elite estates in Montalcino. Claudio Basla has deftly directed this venerable estate since taking the helm in the 1970s when the Palazzo Altesi was first purchased. Along with his assistant director Guido Orzalesi, Basla produces several wines at Altesino – including the Montosoli; only in the best years – and international acclaim has followed their efforts for decades.

The single vineyard cru of Montosoli is a north and northwest facing, small (~ 10 acre) vineyard that – due to its exposure (facing away from the sun) – is harvested later than Basla’s other vineyards. This later harvest, combined with the vineyard’s subsoil of mostly limestone coupled with small amounts of clay contributes to the unique characteristics consistently experienced in the wines born from the Montosoli site. This unique minerality is also the reason the Montosoli parcel is fermented apart from other parcels. Much the same as Grand Cru Burgundy or single vineyard Barolo, Montosoli is truly a pedigreed wine.

Including all offers currently posted in America, JJ Buckley has the best price available on-line for ANY vintage of Montosoli – they’re currently offering it for $68.51.

For more information on JJ Buckley’s offers, visit them on-line and ask to be part of their Private Client Offers (where these prices are part of the program):

http://www.jjbuckley.com/

Nicolas Potel’s Collection Bellenum – Spanning the Decades to Bring Burg Lovers the Best

potel-nicolas

 

Nicolas Potel’s winemaking career was launched at the Domaine de la Pousse d’Or in Volnay.  From that illustrious beginning he went on to establish his own negoce operation in 1996, complementing that by establishing Maison Potel-Aviron in 2000. Moreover, Nicolas built up his own estate in 2005 – Domaine de Bellene – which he based in Beaune. The core of Domaine de Bellene is centered on 15 hectares of organic vines throughout the Cote de Beaune.

 

Further expanding his reach and scope, after departing from the parent company SAS Nicolas Potel in 2008, Nicolas launched a new negociant business called “Maison Roche de Bellene”. This unique venture offers exclusively the finest wines, in limited cuvees towards the goal of being a singular “Haute Couture” negociant in Burgundy. Mainly focusing on wines from the Cote de Nuits, Potel has the widest selection of Grand Crus from Burgundy complemented by numerous Premier Cru offerings as well.

 

Finally, Nicolas Potel launched a range of VERY rare older vintage bottlings, under the name “Collection Bellenum”. These wines, dating back to 1959 are the result of a very strict selection of old vintages released from the wine cellars of some of the most famous producers of Burgundy. The name of the project – Bellenum – was chosen as to celebrate the city of Beaune and the name it bore during the Roman period (Belena – the origin of which comes from the ancient Gallic god of sun and beauty).

 

For a complete list of currently available products, please visit:

 

http://www.jjbuckley.com/search/c~0~st~Collection%20Bellenum

 

And for a complete list of Potel’s currently available products, please visit:

 

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

 

 

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

Maison Lucien le Moine – Bygone Methods yielding Perfection in Chardonnay

Lucien le Moine

 

The history of Burgundy includes the Citeaux of the Cistercian Monks – a beautiful, fine old Abbey south of Dijon – where wine was fermented on its fine lees in frigid cellars through summer months. The ancient fermentation practices recognized by the Monks of the Cistercian Order during the Middle Ages as well as the practice of selecting specific plots – or Crus – for the production of fine wines were the corner stone for today’s greatest wines of the Cote D’Or. Allowing wines to naturally ferment in barrel on their fine sediment – known as lees – produces beneficial levels of Carbon Dioxide (a natural preservative). This ancient practice allows modern proponents to avoid the overuse of Sulfur Dioxide in the winemaking practice.

 

Meet Mounir Saouma, a Lebanese monk who – along with his wife Rotem Brakir – established what has become the most talked about, Beaune-based micro-negociant in the Burgundy trade today. Mounir’s passion for great Burgundy was born from his work alongside Cistercian Monks not only in Burgundy at the Citeaux, but further blossomed during his time with the Monks while in Israel – where he met Rotem. Through the assistance of the Cistercians, the couple visited Citeaux many times together, and from there a mutual passion for the Cote’s great terroirs and the Cistercian’s vinification practices was ignited.

 

After leaving the order in 1999, Mounir established his micro-negoce with Rotem, naming it Lucien le Moine. Following the practices of old, their first guideline is to work exclusively with 1er and Grand Cru vineyard plots within the Cote D’Or – precisely as the Cistercians deemed appropriate. Taking this practice one step further, each vintage brings a new selection however as Mounir realizes that what makes Genevrieres perfect in 2004 might omit it from selection in 2007. And therein we find the magic that has made this micro-negoce the jewel of the Cote: a selection process to rival the greatest in the region.

 

Each harvest, Mounir visits his friends in Burgundy just after the harvest – when the first pressing has been completed. Once the selections have been made, the juice – jus-wine as it’s known – is placed in the Lucien le Moine barrels for aging. The le Moine barrels add yet another dimension, being from the Jupilles, which provide some of the most consistently tight-grained oak of any French forest. Toasted to the le Moine specifications, each barrel in the cellars is ordered precisely for Mounir, and Jupilles makes up 100% of the barrel selection Chez le Moine.

 

Once barreled, the juice rests on 100% of its fine lees without racking throughout its entire fermentation process. The wine is encouraged to feed upon these fine lees – through the ancient process of “battonages”, or stirring of the lees – which protects, balances and promotes complexity in the fermenting wine. During this process, the barrels are resting in the le Moine cellars, which are closed, cold, humid and very deep. And thanks to this, the malolactic fermentation process is able to last for many months – another aspect of the winemaking process that leads to exquisitely layered and profoundly flavored wines from Lucien le Moine.

 

Finally, when each barrel announces its readiness for bottling, the le Moine team bottles with respect for the ancient ways: never are their wines fined or filtered. This method allows for the naturally occurring Carbon Dioxide to be present in the finished wines, a natural element that ensures the ability for each of the Lucien le Moine wines to age gracefully for decades. And thanks to this element, Mounir recommends decantation for each of the wines when consuming them young. Each and every element of terroir – from the most sublime nuances of minerality to the brilliance of the Cote’s acidity – combine with the almost indescribable layers of extreme flavor alive in the very grapes themselves, and come together to build a taste sensation that one is not likely soon to ever forget. Tasting these wines is truly vinous perfection!

 

Just how good are they?

 

In the words of Antonio Galloni, when describing the 2010 le Moine White Burgundies, he would say:

 

“Dazzling pretty much sums it up…. This dazzling, drop-dead gorgeous wine is a pure pleasure to taste. Frankly, it is impossible to spit.”

 

And Steven Tanzer – after scoring the top wines here 99 points for 2010, succinctly summarized:

 

“The 2010s here should be extraordinary.”

 

For a complete list of currently available selections, please check out:

 

http://www.jjbuckley.com/search/c~0~st~lucien%20le%20moine%202010

Domaine de la Pousse D’Or – Landanger’s Vision Honors Potel’s Legacy

Pousse D'or

 

Since first showcasing the Landanger wines from Domaine de la Pousse D’Or at my retail shops when the 2002s were released, I have shared this story with hundreds of Burgundy fans. And now that the 2011s are being offered “en premier”, it’s my pleasure to dust off the old pages from deep within this blog for another round…

To tell this story, we go back to 1855, when the original estate, known then as La Bousse d’Or (the golden Earth) was in its first glory days.  At that time, this estate owned a vast amount of land by Burgundy standards.  In its holdings were the entire vineyards of Romanee-Conti and Clos de Tart, two of the most illustrious Grand Crus in the world.  Through the decades, the estate was sold and divided until the 1960s.

That’s when the estate came up for sale once again.  And that time, a man by the name of Jean-Nicolas Ferte’ comes into the picture.  Ferte’ was a man who loved to live.  A man passionate about everything in life that was exquisite, especially great food and outstanding wine.  A man they called a bon viveur.  He had a niece, Florence, who intended to marry.  The man of her intentions?  Gerard Potel.  Ferte’ “adopted” the young couple and set them up in their new abode.

Now you long-timers in this Burgundy business – and my clients who’ve read this tale before – know who Potel is.  He is known the world over as one of the single greatest wine-makers in all of Burgundy.  But before Potel became the Potel, he met Ferte’ and the niece, Florence, in Beaune.  When the three of them came together, Potel was already a wine-maker, but not in Burgundy.  But Ferte’ would drink only Burgundy, so he set out to find an estate to buy so as to complete this picture.  He told all of his richest friends in the Cote D’Or to be on the watch for something suitable.

The man that would contact Ferte’ about the news of the perfect estate would be Mr. Ramonet.  Ramonet sent a letter that the sale was to begin at a certain date but Ferte’, it seems, was on vacation.  The letter never reached Ferte’.  As the date came closer, Mr. Ramonet actually phoned to Ferte’ to announce the news.  This was a moment in history – Ramonet hated using the phone!

The sale was completed by 1964, with about half of the former estate being sold to Ferte’ and his partners.  The name was changed to Pousse D’Or, in accordance with French laws, and Potel was placed in charge of wine-making.  For years, there were partners to deal with.  Ferte’ had formed his partnership with his good friend Louis Seysses, the father of Jacques Seysses, the latter being another of the more famous names of Burgundy, as the wine-maker of Dujac.

Seysses and Potel – WOW that’s a dynamic duo – worked together for a few years at the new Pousse D’Or until 1978 or so when Seysses went full time at Dujac.  But is wasn’t until 1985 after many years of trying to find the “right” group of buyers that Potel finally bought out the shares from that original partnership from the 1960s.  And all through this time, Potel continued to make the greatest wines of the southern part of Burgundy, the Cote de Beaune, at this glorious Domaine de la Pousse D’Or.

Tragically, Gerard Potel died in 1997 and the entire wine world lost one of its greatest stars and most gentle souls.  “His legacy absolutely must be carried on”, was the cry, and one man stepped in to carry the torch.  That man is Patrick Landanger!  He purchased the estate in 1997, invested hundreds of thousands, and hired a new team of professionals from vineyard to cellars.

Landanger is such a perfectionist, such a control freak, that he made the decision to only release the wines that he had complete control over.  That meant he passed over the entire 1997 and 1998 vintages.  His first complete vintage, the 1999s, set not only a new standard for Cote de Beaune wines, but a new standard for Pousse D’Or as well.

And when I tell you – as a long time collector of Burgundy dating back more than 2 decades – that you should very strongly consider these wines for your collection, I do so as a fellow enthusiast; as a man who knows how great a “great” Burgundy can be.  And how rare they are to find….

For a complete list of currently available selections, please visit:

http://www.jjbuckley.com/search/c~0~st~pousse%20or