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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Henri Boillot – From Domaine to Maison; A Perfectionist in Motion

Domaine Henri Boillot

 

Throughout my career in the Burgundy trade – one that spans nearly 3 decades now – I have often been asked the question, “What is it about Burgundy that captures your attention and keeps you so passionate about its wines?” Above all else – I reply – is the fact that when the next generation takes over in Burgundy, there is this palpable sense of change. And it is this change – as the sons and daughters begin managing their parents’ vineyards – that enthralls me, entices me, excites me and keeps me coming back for more.

 

Nowhere else in France have I experienced such vinous revolutions as I do in Burgundy. It’s as if the small families who continue to inhabit, own, manage and operate their centuries old estates and domaines have seen the results of the practices in such faraway places as Bordeaux and Champagne and have made a collective decision to eschew such nonsense. Or perhaps it’s their Cistercian roots; nobly connecting the Burgundians of today to the gentle philosophy of self-sufficiency. Whatever the cause, the results are undeniable; as each generation takes the reins from their forebears, the incoming progeny more times than not seems determined to overwhelmingly impress.

 

As my career has unfolded, I have enjoyed the experience of witnessing firsthand the passing of the baton. I’ve watched (and tasted) as Christophe Perrot Minot has transformed Domaine Perrot Minot. Likewise, my palate has been thrilled with the work at Taupenot Merme, where Romain and his sister Virginie have tenderly coaxed a new level of exquisiteness from their family’s holdings. Others I’ve witnessed include the changes at Comte Liger Belair, Comte Armand, Domaine Magnien, Dujac and so, so, so many more.

 

But perhaps one of my most memorable experiences with the new generation – based solely on the number of vineyard sites (lieu dits) being successfully managed – is the one I continue to enjoy with each new release at Henri Boillot. Whether the wine being tasted emanates from one of the various family-owned plots (Domaine labeled), or is sourced from one of Boillot’s dozens of managed sites (Maison labeled, or simply labeled as Henri Boillot), each example invariably runs to the very top of the score range. Tasting Boillot’s wines from any given lieu dit is a study in just how spectacular that plot of land’s resulting wines are supposed to be.

 

Just about the time yours truly was entering the wine trade (back in the mid 1980s), Henri Boillot struck out on his own to form a negociant business. He had been the winemaker for the family business in the Cote de Beaune – known at that time as Domaine Jean Boillot – for 10 years, but a desire for more expressive and singular wines was burning within him. A negociant business in Burgundy is unique from those in other parts of France in that it allows one to purchase in a host of different forms: land, vines, grapes, juice, must, finished wine, etc. And because Henri desired a palette on which to showcase his art, this new-formed negociant business proved perfect for building a new portfolio. Henri could pick and choose across myriad vineyard sites – buying as he saw fit – rendering wines that mirrored his visions. The world of Burgundy was his.

 

It didn’t take long before Henri’s grandfather – managing director of the family business, Domaine Jean Boillot – became seriously impressed with Henri’s work. So impressed was grandfather in fact, that Henri was beckoned home and restored as the family winemaker. Soon after the turn of the century, Henri – driven by perfection – offered to purchase each of his sibling’s shares in the family domaine. Once complete, the former Domaine Jean Boillot was renamed, christened Domaine Henri Boillot (with the negociant wines continuing with the name of Henri Boillot). This move to rename the domaine was important to Henri in that it identifies his efforts towards perfection while establishing a new label that is distinctly different from his brother’s estate known as Jean-Marc Boillot.

 

Today, with literally dozens of unique lieu dits available, Domaine / Maison Henri Boillot represents one of the most important, impressive and quality driven properties in the entire Cote. The notoriety from international critics certainly supports this position, as comments such as the following have become routine for the man many Burgundy lovers now call the master:

 

“I have heard Henri Boillot described as an iconoclast but in my opinion this is not entirely accurate. Rather, I would describe him as a vigneron who both preaches, and practices, extreme rigor. He believes that there are no shortcuts and that nothing is free. Work properly and seriously and the results will be there.”

Burghound

 

“Henri Boillot decided a few years ago that he wanted to dedicate himself to the production of fine wines. Since then he has gone from strength to strength, sparing no expense, obsessing over every detail, fashioning magnificent wines….Thanks to the superhuman efforts of Henri Boillot, Domaine Boillot should now be counted among the finest producers in the Cote de Beaune for both reds and whites.”

Robert Parker

 

“As a group these wines showed vibrancy, excellent acidity, genuine vineyard character, and they tasted damn good too! Differences between Meursaults from Charmes and Genevrieres were obvious. It was much the same for the Pulignys and the Grand Crus. In every case, the Boillot wines served as excellent representatives of the fundamental character one has come to expect from these vineyards.”

EWS, Wine Advocate

 

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

 

http://www.jjbuckley.com/search/c~0~st~2010%20Henri%20Boillot

 

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