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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

Domaine Rene Leclerc – Pas de Chêne Pour Moi s’il Vous Plaît

Traditionalists through and through!

Traditionalists through and through!

Generational changes in Burgundy – when responsibilities for the care and management for the family Domaine are passed from pere to fils – often mark a time of exploration, experimentation and growth. As the new generation spreads its wings, intent upon honoring the past while developing their own ineffaceable style, the newly appointed vignerons frequently test the waters with all sorts of trickery. But in the case of Domaine Rene Leclerc, no such “nonsense” is to be witnessed. So rooted in tradition is the “young” Leclerc – Francois, to be specific – that his father’s teachings have actually been antiquated (whereas Rene’s philosophy called for the limited use of one-year old barrels, that recipe has been replaced by a strict avoidance of anything but older wood).

Prior to 1976 there was one Domaine Leclerc, run by the brothers Leclerc: Philippe and Rene. The former – a man who professes to balance modernism with traditionalism, while leaning heavily on a high percentage of new wood – found himself constantly at odds with the latter – a truculent man deeply rooted in what many consider an antiquated style of winemaking. When the two men split their domaine in 1976, a divergent style would emerge from their identical holdings within Gevrey that to this day is as different as night and day. On the one hand there is the Philippe style, with the wines often marked by their 18 to 24 months in oak. While on the other side one witnesses the Rene versions of the exact same lieu dits where (as of 2005) absolutely no new wood at all is used for the wines.

And yet when one sets out to compare and contrast the wines (once bottled), the Leclerc 1er Crus – be they from Champeaux or Combe Aux Moines – while qualitatively similar, consistently split the room. As for professional critics (Burghound comes to mind), vintage reviews tend to run consistent (the 2009s received nearly identical points). However, once the wines are poured for Burgundy lovers, that’s when the tale of style vs terroir makes itself heard. It’s a fascinating experiment. But where does this individuality come from? Who is to be thanked for the style – the magic? – at Rene Leclerc?

Rene Leclerc – father to Francois and brother of Philippe – has long believed in relatively cool fermentations (contrary to many of his contemporaries), minimal handling of his wines and the barest use of new wood (about 20%). And while his wines were certainly drinkable through the 1970s and 80s, they lacked that certain “punch”. Joining the team in 2002, Francois (Rene’s son) – having trained in Oregon – would bring to his father’s domaine nothing particularly radical in terms of vinification routines or viticultural practices, and yet the improvements were immediately obvious. And yet, other than reverting to 100% used oak, it seemed that Francois had done nothing to change his family’s ways. In fact, visitors to the domaine would swear that Rene – not Francois – is running the show, even today.

So what it is; why are these wines (particularly in successful vintages such as 2009), so transparent and laden with fruit? Why, when one compares the brothers Leclerc’s Champeaux bottlings, is one marked by its wood (Philippe’s), and the other so stacked with high toned fruit and minerality (Rene’s)? And why, when one compares the wines across the range is this stylistic diversity so consistent?  The age of the vines is the same, the sites are the same; so: what is it? In a word, the difference is: oak. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, the MAJOR difference between the two Leclerc philosophies (and there are plenty) is oak.

If you’re one who seeks uniqueness, freshness, individuality, and above all else terroir in your wines (and let’s face it, if you’re drinking Burgundy, these are precisely the traits you seek – above all else) then the 2009s from Rene Leclerc will fit very nicely into your collection. From their Village Gevrey to any number of their 1er Crus from Gevrey, each is an individual expression of that particular lieu dit. And with the son’s insightful decision to eliminate the use of new wood (ca 2005), each wine’s expression of terroir is further elevated by beautiful and succulent fruit that is completely unmasked by even the slightest interference by oak.

Add to that sale prices that represent the lowest currently available prices for each of these selections (with some being the lowest prices ever seen for these lieu dits from ANY vintage) and you have one of the more compelling offers to come out of Burgundy in several years.

For a complete listing of currently available 2009s from Rene Leclerc, please visit:

http://www.jjbuckley.com/search/c~0~st~rene%20leclerc%202009

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

Giuseppe Quintarelli ~ A Master’s Vision called Alzero

The Maestro!

 

Until his death at the age of 84 (January 15 of 2012), after suffering from Parkinson’s for many years, Giuseppe Quintarelli was the living, reigning master of the Veneto. In his memory, it is rightfully remembered that he remains the single most important as well as gifted man of the vine that the region ever produced. His wines, from the incomparable Valpolicella, to the greatest Amarone one will ever experience are legends without equal or rival. Even the great Romano dal Forno, who studied under Giuseppe, could not disagree as to the undeniable importance of the singular offers that once emanated from the cellars of Quintarelli.

Among the most unique offers to be introduced to the world of wine was Giuseppe – “Beppe” – Quintarelli’s Cabernet Franc and Cabernet concoction known as Alzero. Produced similarly as his Amarone wines – in a style known as appassimento – Beppe offered the adventurous-minded a barrique-aged wine to rival the finest wines of Bordeaux and beyond. By drying the grapes similarly as one would prior to vinifying an Amarone, Quintarelli combined the old and new world concepts of vinification, which resulted in one of the most intensely flavorful and complex wines ever bottled.

Further towards his goal of defining perfection in the Veneto, Beppe was a staunch proponent of miniscule yields – a practice not overlooked for his Cabernet plantings. Debuting his offering of the Alzero in 1982, Beppe would establish his own parameters for what would eventually be called the “Cheval Blanc of Italy” through his own vision of blending, aging and barrel time. While the predominant variety for his Alzero began as Cabernet Franc, in certain vintages – customary for Beppe – higher percentages of Cabernet could be incorporated. And as per usual for the maestro, the amount of aging time, as well the release date for any given vintage was strictly a decision left to one man – Giuseppe.

We are proud to have for our clients the most recent release of this most stunning offering from the family of Quintarelli. Best described similarly as Galloni did when summarizing the essence of the great 1990 version of Alzero: “imagine Cheval Blanc (1) picked at even higher sugars than it was in a great vintage like 1990 or 1982, (2) given more aging before release, and (3) bottled with no fining or filtration…”, we feel confident that the few bottles you secure today will be some of the most treasured in your collection.

 

For more information regarding currently available selections, please visit:

 

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

 

Currently on sale ($298), contact a private sales rep for details…