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 Taupenot Merme Part II – A Decade+ of Refinements leads to Excellent 2011s

view of morey

 

Beginning with the 1998 vintage, a shift in responsibilities was witnessed Chez Taupenot Merme – with the 7th generation taking over – and a host of viticultural changes were introduced. One by one, as these improvements were implemented vintage by vintage, the resulting wines benefited from even more defined personalities (best described by that elusive term “terroir”), deeper colors, more refined perfumes as well as textures that rendered the wines wonderfully drinkable throughout their life cycles. Guided by a desire for purity in their wines, Romain and his Sister, Virginie have taken the following steps over the past decade:

  • Completed the family’s conversion to organic viticulture
  • Began working with a process known as “chauffage post fermentaire” (which gently extracts “noble” tannins)
  • Elected to work with 100% destemmed fruit (ala Henri Jayer)
  • Started racking their wines into oak for 12-15 months  for resting on their fine lees
  • Reduced the amount of new oak (the maximum percentage being 40% for the Grand Crus)

These improvements, coupled with generations-old attention to detail in the vineyards have resulted in professional marks from international critics which have noticeably increased for this venerable estate. Including their less-than-barrique-sized quantity of Clos des Lambrays, this 30 acre estate (with holdings across Gevrey, Morey and Chambolle) – dating to the 1760s – is truly poised for the future as one of the leading domaines of the Cote. Jeannie Cho Lee MW (Decanter Magazine) has declared Taupenot Merme among her “favorite Burgundy producers” (along with DRC, Leflaive and Rousseau), while Allen Meadows (Burghound.com) has defined the wines as being “built on a base of finesse rather than power”, while being “both transparent and very pinot”. And considering that their selections now often garner top marks from Burghound per particular lieu dits, the time is now for serious Burgundy enthusiasts to get to know “today’s” Taupenot Merme.

 

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

 

http://www.jjbuckley.com/search/c~0~st~taupenot%20merme%202011

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 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<<<<