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Ric visits Domaine Thibert Pere & Fils

November 16, 2018

As the mainstream wines of Burgundy become more and more exposed with prices set to climb even higher as demand can never be satiated, the smart move would be to source for “the next big thing”. That may jolly well come from way south of Burgundy in the Maconnais region, and a very strong contender from there would be Domaine Thibert Pere et Fils, run by Christophe Thibert and his sister Sandrine. From humble beginnings in 1967, this domaine has now expanded to 39 hectares centered around Saint-Veran, Pouilly and Macon, all grown and farmed entirely by the domaine. The vines are old, the oldest stretching back to the 1920s while the youngest, planted in 1969, are not young in any way. Combining traditional and modern practices, Christophe prefers the freedom to do things as he deems fit instead of being tied down to any dogma. Nestled within the rustic rolling hills of Fuisse next to an old chapel, Domaine Thibert is a modern and sophisticated set-up with clean and beautiful cellars. When we visited on the morning of 30 October 2018 after a very long drive from Vosne-Romanee, Christophe was busy tending to his various 2017s and the freshly-pressed 2018s sitting in long rows of stainless steel tanks. Running up and down and continually making fine adjustments here and there, one can see that Christophe is gripped by an absolute obsession for his passion. Christophe prefers a longer elevage of 20-22 months and uses up to 50% new oak. After tasting the 2017s, we settled down for lunch within the cellars where a line-up of back vintages had been prepared. Here, the wines truly come into their own after having spent time in bottle. They are plump, elegant and richly layered with outstanding fruit, acidity and minerality. If only we could be drinking this sort of wines every day. Well, you could, before prices start moving. Interestingly, his wine bottles are specially shaped with longer-than-usual necks, another of Christophe’s quirks. This is a really excellent domaine.

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2017 Domaine Thibert Pere & Fils Saint-Verain Champ Rond. Great lifted perfumed floral fragrance of light green fruits, citrus and fig that carried very well onto the finely detailed palate, finishing with lovely freshness and fine intensity.

2017 Domaine Thibert Pere & Fils Saint-Verain Bois des Fee. Single vineyard. Highly delicate nose filled with lovely fullness and chalkiness coupled with excellent presence of fresh lime and yellow citrus on the palate. Very clean and precise, displaying great detail with very fine acidity and intensity. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Thibert Pere & Fils Pouilly-Fuisse Les Cras. Single vineyard, from 58 year-old vines. Lovely tingling dense perfumed fragrance. Medium-full. Quite delicate and poised with clean understated intensity and structure, finishing well with excellent mouthfeel.

2017 Domaine Thibert Pere & Fils Pouilly-Fuisse Vigne Blanche. Intense lime on the nose with a tinge of bitter lemon. Zesty with plenty of verve, displaying excellent concentration and acidity.

2017 Domaine Thibert Pere & Fils Pouilly-Fuisse Menetrieres. Full bloom of intensely delicate lime and citrus on the nose. Medium-full. Shows tremendous zest, freshness and precision, very fine in acidity and minerality. Delicious with plenty of finesse. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Thibert Pere & Fils Pouilly-Vinzelles Les Longeays. From 2 ha of vines. Lifted clean bouquet of delicate lime and citrus with a fresh clean floral bloom. Medium-full, imbued with subdued chalkiness and subtle earthy minerals, exuding lovely elegance and balance, finishing well. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Thibert Pere & Fils Pouilly-Loche En Chantone. Single vineyard. Highly lifted bouquet of intense yellow citrus. Full presence of warm ripe fruit, poised with lovely elegance and understated acidity, tinged with traces of sweetness. Very lovely.

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Christophe Thibert

2016 Domaine Thibert Pere & Fils Macon-Verze. Rich chalky creamy nose, highly attractive. Rather full and plump with a fresh clean feel on the palate, displaying good delicacy with sublime understated acidity, finishing gently with good linearity. Very pleasurable.

2016 Domaine Thibert ere & Fils Pouilly-Vinzelles Les Longeays. Plump effusive bouquet of intense white citrus and dense minerals, displaying excellent presence, concentration and transparency with fine acidity, layered with complex minerals. Lovely delicate finish. Excellent.

2015 Domaine Thibert Pere & Fils Saint-Verain Champ Rond. Fabulous deep bouquet of rich creamy minerals that hinted at immense elegance. Medium-full, displaying excellent concentration, depth and intensity of fruit with great definition amidst smoky overtones and oily textures, layered with sublime acidity, finishing well. Superb.

2015 Domaine Thibert Pere & Fils Pouilly-Vinzelles Les Longeays. Very unique bouquet of intense citrus, floral and savoury tones. Medium-full. Full, fresh and elegant, imbued with great acidity with further depth of fruit and a hint of gun smoke, showing some early complexity, finishing with great length and linearity. Excellent.

2015 Domaine Thibert Pere & Fils Saint-Verain Bois des Fee. Superb bouquet. Glorious luminous fruit of wonderful depth, richly layered with ash, immense concentration of citrus and dense chalky minerals that stood out with chiselled presence, complemented by superb acidity and complex minerals. Plump and opulent, finishing with great linearity and persistence. Outstanding.

2015 Domaine Thibert Pere & Fils Pouilly-Loche En Chantone. Dense chalky minerally nose underscored by crisp acidity with great concentration of intense citrus, showing great vigour and early complexity with overtones of ash. Weighty but well-balanced, finishing with great persistence. Excellent.

2015 Domaine Thibert Pere & Fils Pouilly-Fuisse Vigne Blanche. Rounded bouquet, medium-bodied, elegantly poised with gentle white fruits and understated acidity, finishing with glowing intensity. Lovely.

2013 Domaine Thibert Pere & Fils Pouilly-Fuisse Les Cras. Rich chalky bouquet, rounded with open depth with a firm full minerally tone on the palate marked by lifted citrus, not overwhelming, developing explosive complexity with food. Quite excellent.

2008 Domaine Thibert Pere & Fils Pouilly-Fuisse Vigne Blanche. Poured from magnum. Deep enthralling bouquet of complex white fruits and dense minerals that led to a precise delicate palate of chalky minerals on a backdrop of dense oily petroleum textures and sublime acidity, superb in definition, finishing with great length. Outstanding.

Ric visits Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet

November 13, 2018

Meursault is truly home to some of the best stars of Burgundy still under the radar. One of these is Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet, started in 1981 by the man himself when he took over a fledgling winery from his father with small holdings in Meursault Les Gruyaches and Puligny-Montrachet Les Referts 1er. With a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve and a fastidious work attitude, Jean-Philippe literally worked the ground. He has his own compost-making facility, it is all manual work in the vineyards, ploughing is done by horses, farming is organic, he green-harvests, vine stock is capped at 6-7 grapes and all harvesting and sorting are done by hand. The wines are vinified with minimal new oak, at most 30%. He is truly a very busy man, evident by the fact that our appointment had to be re-scheduled to a later time of 6.00 PM on 26 October 2018. No grand crus here, and only one premier cru (the above-mentioned Referts). As in Coche-Dury and Roulot, Jean-Philippe prefers to concentrate in bringing out the best possible expression of each individual lieu-dit. His efforts have clearly paid off. Tasting through the 2017s, a generous and exceptional vintage for Jean-Philippe, one that he feels fits his vision better than the less-than-ideal 2016 where some alcoholic fermentation was incomplete, the wines of Domaine Fichet consistently exude excellent purity of fruit, balance and layering. In particular, the Meursault villages can all share the same table as Coche-Dury and Roulot, while his other whites from Monthelie, Auxey-Duresses, Rully, Chassagne and Puligny are equally superb. Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet is where the smart money should be. Merci beaucoup, Jean-Philippe.

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Jean-Philippe Fichet

2017 Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet Bourgogne Aliqote. Clean grassy elements with gentle morning dew.  Good concentration and firm, largely fruit driven with well-balanced minerals. Lively with good energy.

2017 Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet Bourgogne Blanc. Clean lifted floral tone tinged with morning dew. Good attack and concentration. Rounded with fine acidity and good purity, finishing with a gentle note of white pepper. Very fine.

2017 Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet Bourgogne Blanc VV. Lifted nose of white citrus, very cleanly focused. Medium-bodied. Quite ample, displaying very fine acidity and presence with great delicacy and elegance, finishing with quiet intensity. Very fine.

2017 Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Beaune. Lifted full bouquet of white floral tone. Fullish with a distinct minerally tone, displaying fine acidity and intensity. Good finish.

2017 Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet Monthelie. Full attractive floral fragrance with ripe citrusy flavors. Medium-full. Superb acidity and balance with tremendous vigour, finishing gently. Plenty of promise. Great value.

2017 Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet Auxey-Duresses. Quite effusive. More of grassy elements amidsy delicate tones, displaying clean crisp acidity and white peppery tones with good presence, transparency and structure. Finishing well. Quite excellent.

2017 Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet Rully. Firm white floral tones on a distinct minerally palate, showing good weight and presence with very fine acidity and delicate intensity, tapering to a soft gentle finish. Very fine and attractive.

2017 Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet Chassagne-Montrachet. Lovely balanced bouquet of dense fruit and creamy chalky minerals. Good attack, possessing just the right degree of fullness, weight and balance with an attractive deep minerally streak, rather plump, imbued with excellent power and elegance. Finished with great mouthfeel and persistence. Superb.

2017 Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault. Mildly reductive earthy nose though nicely nuanced with raw nuymeg and fine white pepper, layered with austere minerality and prominent acidity. Very fine.

2017 Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Les Gruyaches. Lifted white peppery tone. Rather full. Very well-integrated with firm acidity, excellent depth and linearity. From 90 year-old vines. Excellent.

2007 Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Les Chevalieres. With the advantage of significant bottle age, this outstanding lieu-dit of Meursault boasts a rich creamy bouquet of distilled white fruits, beautifully delicate, showing excellent definition, exquisite detail and precision with lingering tones of vanilla, culminating in a complex finish of spicy tangy mouthfeel amidst superb acidity. Outstanding.

2017 Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Les Chevalieres. Still in barrel but the same DNA is evident, displaying an expansive white floral tone with excellent depth and concentration of fruit, layered with superb acidity that enhanced its inner precision and detail. Very well-balanced, tapering to a spicy tangy finish. Great potential.

2015 Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Les Tesson. Effusive nose of complex tropical fruits that hinted at a delicate gentle sweetness, superb in acidity and fine intensity, nicely plump and ripe, displaying great verve and wonderful length with a deep vein of fruit. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Les Tesson. Highly promising bouquet of white flowers with traces of grassy elements amidst gentle chalky tones. Good concentration. Open and highly supple, displaying great inner detail and lovely integration, ending in a long clear minerally finish with excellent linearity. Great potential..

2017 Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet Puligny-Montrachet Les Referts 1er. Full bouquet of dense white fruits and citrus with clean crisp focused acidity well-balanced against fine minerality and overtones of white pepper, showing good linearity and expression.

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Ric visits Domaine Roulot

November 12, 2018

Just further down the same road from Domaine Coche-Dury is the other superstar of Meursault, Domaine Roulot, often (and deservedly) mentioned in the same breath as Coche. Founded in 1830 by Guillaume Roulot, its modern history took off with Guy Roulot in the 1960s. Having married Genevieve Coche, which added some prized parcels of vines to the domaine, Guy also began the process of vinifying and bottling each individual lieu-dit separately, which allowed him to understand and bring out the character of each micro-terroir. Following his untimely death in 1982, the winemaking at the domaine was supervised by three caretaker vignerons – Jacques Seysses, Ted Lemon and Franck Grux – before Guy’s son Jean-Marc Roulot was ready to step up to the role in 1989. He has been in charge since and the holdings of the domaine has expanded to 15 hectares. Certified organic since 2015, Jean-Marc likes to bring out the acidity of healthy grapes by crushing first, before pressing. New oak is used sparingly, 20% for village and up to 30% for the crus. It was a pity that Jean-Marc was not available to meet us when we visited the domaine in the late afternoon of 31 October 2018. 20181031_172740.jpgNevertheless, the line-up we tasted revealed very well the superb style of Roulot: wines of compelling acidity and intensity coupled with razor-sharp precision and detail without being imposing. If one is to drink them alongside Coche-Dury, I would say the latter is a little more structured, masculine and plump while Roulot possesses a very special delicate intensity and deftness on the palate. The best is to drink a wine of the same vintage from both these domaines side-by-side over a meal, which was what we did during our trip. Buy what you can though, chances are, they are difficult to come by.

2017 Domaine Roulot Meursault. Very pale. Effusive in white citrus with delicate minerality. Fullish, showing excellent inner detail, with crisp acidity and very fine intensity. Very clean and precise, finishing with a stinging mouthfeel. Refreshing. Very fine.

2017 Domaine Roulot Meursault Vireuils. Lightly luminous. Good lift of white floral tone, dense lemon and citrus. Full-bodied, displaying clean crisp acidity and definition with more intensity than the preceding village Meursault, finishing on a distinct minerally tone with gentle persistence. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Roulot Meursault Meix Chavaux. More depth and layering on the nose where delicate floral tones and white citrus dominate. Excellent in concentration and power, displaying razor-sharp precision and definition with a deeper inner note of grassy elements. Finished with excellent linearity. Superb.

2017 Domaine Roulot Meursault Luchets. Great lift of crystalline and ferrous minerals amidst white floral tones. Superb presence and density on the palate. Rounder and more fleshy, layered with sublime acidity, very subtly nuanced, finishing with lovely gentle persistence. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Roulot Meursault Tesson Clos du Mon Plaisir. Rounded bouquet of lovely floral and minerally tones permeate throughout. Highly integral. Layered with great concentration of fruit that exuded sharp precision and definition with exquisite intensity and depth. Outstanding.

2017 Domaine Roulot Meursault Charmes-Dessous 1er. Even richer on the nose, more dense in fruit and sublime minerality. Superbly layered, rounded with exquisite fullness and intensity. Highly expressive yet subtle in its detailed nuances, culminating in a superb finish of great linearity and glowing persistence with a certain stoniness and white peppery tones, producing superb mouthfeel. Absolutely on song. Outstanding.

2017 Domaine Roulot Meursault Clos des Boucheres 1er. Distinct floral boquet. Rather full. More lean in minerality on the palate, displaying subtle white citrus with sharp definition and crisp cutting acidity. Very clean in feel, tightly coiled with fabulous intensity, showing early complexity with a bit of grassy elements at its finish. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Roulot Meursault Perrieres-Dessous 1er. Full rounded bouquet of creamy minerality with dense floral tones that led to a palate of great concentration and layering, very well-balanced against the exquisite intensity and acidity, imparting a wonderful mouthfeel of delicate intensity amidst subtle grassy elements and green fruits. Outstanding.

2011 Domaine Roulot Meursault Tillets. Tasted blind. Deep layers of lovely fruit on the nose while the palate is superbly layered with a glorious depth of raw nutmeg, savoury tones and sweet white fruits, displaying exquisite intensity and concentration amidst subtle chalky tones, finishing with superb early complexity. Outstanding.

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Sunset over Meursault

Ric visits Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot

November 10, 2018

Just when you thought Chassagne is already saturated with great producers of its famous whites, there comes another to chip away at the pie. Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot may trace its origins to Jean-Baptiste Pillot who started the domaine in 1910 which subsequently passed to his sons Henri and Alphonse. The latter’s share was passed on to Jean and, now, his son Jean-Marc has taken over entirely since 1991. Owning 11 hectares mainly in Chassagne, Jean-Marc makes stunning whites as well as gorgeous reds. His methods are not dissimilar to the purist approach: high density plantings (10,000-12,000 vines per ha), de-budding, green harvesting, horse ploughing, de-stemming (for reds) and minimum new oak (only up to 30%). The wines are left on lees for 12 months before being racked into stainless steel tanks for another 6 months. Jean-Marc believes firmly in the value of hard work and extreme precision. When we visited his cellar in the late afternoon of 30 October 2018, his workers were still busy. We also found laser beams trained at the rows of barrels because Jean-Marc wants every single barrel to be positioned in perfect alignment. He insists it makes a difference to the wines. And I believe it must be so, for the wines we tasted displayed effortless precision and elegance in their expression of terroir. This is an excellent domaine. Prices are still within easy reach though I doubt for long.

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Note the laser pointer (foreground)

2017 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Bourgogne Blanc. Lovely aromas. Clear crystalline tones with a bit of sweetness, delicate in acidity with fine definition, very tightly structured, displaying good power with white floral tones. Very good!

2017 Maison Jean-Marc Pillot Montagny. A negociant wine. Effusive in dense white floral tones, displaying lovely depth and presence with very controlled basal minerality, not overdone. Nicely rounded with a gentle finish.

2017 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Saint-Romain La Perriere 1er. Grassy elements with a generous expanse of clear and yellow citrus. Very fine in acidity with overtones of raw nutmeg, displaying excellent presence and balance, finishing with excellent mouthfeel.

2017 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Puligny-Montrachet. Somewhat reserved on the nose but showing ample bloom of white flowers and white peppery tones on the palate. Gently structured with soft elegant tones. Should turn out to be very fine.

2017 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet. Gentle bouquet of clear citrus. Good concentration of fruit with overtones of nutmeg and white pepper, displaying clean precision with a fine minerally balance, subtly intense with a taut finish. Very good potential.

2017 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet Les Vergers 1er. Gentle notes of icing and grassy elements. Medium-bodied. Fleshy with lovely fragrance and delicacy. Refreshing.

20181030_161636.jpg2017 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeots 1er. Lifted broad expanse of white flowers. Rounded with good precision, very subtly layered with understated minerals. .

2017 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet Les Caillerets 1er. Lovely floral fullness on the nose with a forward fruity balance. Medium-bodied. Open in transparency with good inner definition, subtle in acidity and finish. Exudes feminine elegance. Very fine.

2017 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet Les Vergers 1er Clos Saint Marc. Effusive delicate nose of white floral tones, white fruits and nutmeg. Subtly structured with great concentration and superb detail amidst gentle notes of vanilla and cool icing. Very softly rounded, layered with excellent depth and minerality, finishing with excellent precision. Highly elegant. Superb. A special cuvee produced from a 0.5 ha walled portion of Les Vergers containing vines planted in 1910. Only 6 barrels.

2017 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru. Minerally bouquet of white flowers with undertones of white pepper, beautifully nuanced in rich layering of refined minerals and fruit with excellent depth and balanced acidity, superbly integrated. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeots 1er Rouge. Deep note of wonderfully ripe raspberries, dark cherries and licorice on the nose coupled with unusual characters of preserved plums and olives on the palate though very fine in acidity, depth and layering. Very well proportioned and balanced. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet Clos St Jean 1er Rouge. Dark raspberries and dark plums dominate on the nose with a certain raciness, saturated with ripe glossy black fruits and great acidity that conferred superb suppleness. Big but balanced. May not be everyone’s idea of Burgundy but undeniably attractive.

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Jean-Marc Pillot (L)

Ric visits Domaine Seguin-Manuel

November 10, 2018

Domaine Seguin-Manuel, located in Savigny-les-Beaune, can trace its roots back to 1824. However, its wines only really took off in 2004 after the domaine was acquired by Thibault Marion, who had cut his teeth in the wine business with Chanson. Its domaine holdings of around 8 hectares in Vosne-Romanee, Pommard and Beaune are augmented by a negociant buy-in from several other choice locations throughout the Cote d’Or Grape such that its entire portfolio is actually quite extensive and impressive. Certified for organic viticulture since 2015, Thibault crosses the ‘t’s and dots the ‘i’s: careful vineyard practices, horse ploughing, low yields, avoidance of herbicides and crushing. De-stemming varies widely, particularly in Vosne-Romanee and Pommard where it is only partial. Up to 25% new oak is utilised for its village wines, while new barrels with longer wood drying periods are used for other wines. When we visited him on 25 October 2018, the tasting took place in a conference room with the 2017 barrel samples, most curiously, prepared in small clear plastic bottles complete with proper labeling. The wines generally demonstrate a certain freshness, roundness, clean focus and sophistication, well-extracted but far from being over-zealous. They represent great value.

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Thibault Marion

2017 Domaine Seguin-Manuel Pommard Petits Noizons. Village. Good aromatics. Fresh and lively, showing good concentration. Cleanly focused, slightly crisp. Intense structured finish.

2017 Domaine Seguin-Manuel Beaune Champimonts 1er. Reticent. Ripe raspberries and wild berries dominate on the palate, taut with austere minerality, displaying good verve and gentle intensity. Quite masculine.

2015 Domaine Seguin-Manuel Vosne Romanee Aux Communes. Lovely ruby. Well developed bouquet of dark plums and red cherries, displaying sharp attack upon its entry. Fleshy with fine definition and lively acidity, showing good power and intensity with excellent integration of fine tannins at its finish. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Seguin-Manuel Vosne Romanee Aux Communes. Bright in color. Shy, just a tinge of earth. Soft, fleshy and open on the palate with distinct minerality, good presence and mouthfeel, quite gentle at its finish. Attractive.

2017 Maison Seguin-Manuel Gevrey-Chambertin VV. From 40-year-old vines. Distant rosy aromas. Rather full. Fleshy and rounded with earthy undertones. Slightly stern.

2017 Maison Seguin-Manuel Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes 1er. Attractive red fruits. Open with fine depth, elegance and balance with undertones of ash and ember, finishing with juicy sweet tannins.

2017 Maison Seguin-Manuel Gevrey Chambertin Cazetiers 1er. Good colour, exuding aromas of warm ripe red fruits with a suggestion of hot gravel. Good attack on a palate dominated by ripe red fruits tinged with grassy elements, rounded and fleshy, showing good handling of tannins. Good length. Attractive.

2017 Maison Seguin-Manuel Echezeaux Grand Cru. Good color but shut. Clean feel on the palate with textures of dried mushrooms, displaying fine presence of preserved red fruits and incense with a tinge of woody elements. Seamless and fleshy. Good finish.

2017 Maison Seguin-Manuel Chambertin-Clos des Beze Grand Cru. Only 1 barrel. Good colour. Gentle plummy tones and rose petals on the nose. Fleshy with well-integrated supple acidity that imparted plenty of freshness, very well-layered and textured, producing good mouthfeel. Just slightly short.

2017 Maison Seguin-Manuel Montagny 1er Vigne du Soleil. Sweet bouquet. Medium-full. Softly rounded with good acidity intensity, fleshing out with greater fullness over time, ending with nutmeg and spicy tones. 15% new oak.

2016 Maison Seguin-Manuel Rully VV. Lovely glow of chalky minerals, lifted with excellent freshness. Medium-bodied and open, displaying good presence and transparency but somewhat straightforward and short.

2017 Maison Seguin-Manuel Rully VV. Gentle glow of wild grass and fresh morning dew. Fleshy and medium-bodied, displaying good concentration, focus and layering with understated intensity.

2017 Domaine Seguin-Manuel Savigny-les-Beaune Goudelettes. Soft perfumed fragrance on the nose. Dry with firm minerality, presence and intensity. Very cleany focused, finishing well.

2017 Maison Seguin-Manuel Puligny-Montrachet VV. Lifted rich gleaming tone of creamy white fruits and sweet floral fragrance. Medium-full with a firm minerally tone underscored with white pepper, displaying good focus, fine acidity and intensity. Excellent.

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Ric visits Chateau De La Tour

November 8, 2018

One’s attention is usually focused on the beautiful Chateau du Clos Vougeot (also the HQ of the Confrerie des Chevalier du Tastevin) whenever one drives up to take a closer look at this massive grand cru (in fact, the largest of the Cote d’Or) such that the other lovely castle within the Clos  du Vougeot is often overlooked. Perhaps that is the reason why the latter building is called Chateau De La Tour (literally: the other building). Built in 1890 and subsequently passed into the Labet family, Chateau De La Tour owns the largest share of Clos du Vougeot, some 5.84 hectares which is about 12% of this grand cru. It is also the only domaine that harvests, vinifies and bottles its Clos du Vougeot Grand Cru all on site right within Clos du Vougeot itself. When we arrived on the wet morning of 27 October 2018, we were greeted at the door by the current owner himself, M. Francois Labet, a distinguished-looking gentleman who, in his younger days, would surely have fit the bill perfectly as a swashbuckling chevalier equally at home at the crusade as he would be saving (and charming) damsels in distress. There is also a serious side to Francois Labet in his winemaking, known to be highly fastidious in working the vines: very careful de-pruning, de-budding, and thinning to cap the limit at 6 grapes per stock. Naturally, the work is mostly manual, yields are low, wicker baskets are used to allow juices from the picked grapes to flow out to avoid oxidation, and whole bunches are fermented. Contrary to popular practice, Francois avoids green-harvesting and there is minimal extraction. However, having tasted his wines, I must say such an individualistic approach appears to work very well. His is the best example of Clos du Vougeot Grand Cru that I’ve ever tasted, the vieille vignes cuvee being most outstanding.

Apart from his own wines, Francois also appears to be involved in promoting the wines of a few other domaines. Naturally, these also share Francois’ vision of making wines with minimal intervention. Domaine Dublere, based in Savigny-les-Beaune, is run by Blair Pethel, an American (!) who caught the winemaking bug at the turn of the new millenium and who’d cut his teeth at Jean-Marc Pillot. He keeps the elevage longer than most at 18-22 months, resulting in wines of freshness, sensitivity and character. Domaine Pavelot, working out of 12 ha based exclusively in Savigny-les-Beaune, was started in 1980s by Jean-Marc Pavelot and is now run by his son Hugues. Using only between 15-33% new oak at most, the wines of Pavelot achieve excellent ripeness and structure. Based in Santenay, Domaine Roger Belland is probably a more familiar name, now run by Roger and his daughter Julie, the fifth and sixth generation Bellands, respectively. Producing a range of whites and reds from 23 ha in the Cotes de Beaune, the reds are superbly structured and generous. Thank you very much, Francois, for your time and for introducing us to some of the best-kept secrets of Burgundy.

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2016 Domaine Dublere Savigny-les-Beaune Aux Verglesses 1er. Clear light colour, exuding lifted aromas of honeysuckle and fig with good concentration of delicate lime, yellow citrus and minerals on the palate, showing good precision and freshness. Finishing cleanly.

2016 Domaine Dublere Volnay Les Pitures 1er. Beautiful intoxicating ample bouquet. Fleshy. Very well integrated with slightly dryish textures. Subtly structured. Could do with more character.

2016 Domaine Dublere Morey-Saint-Denis Les Blanchards 1er. Generous plume of smoky characters, dense red fruits and minerals. Medium-bodied. Rounded and fleshy, underscored by deeper understated minerals. Distinctly feminine. Very fine.

2015 Domaine Dublere Chorey-Les-Beaune Les Maladerottes. Sharp lifted ample bouquet of deep complex red fruits and floral tones. Rather full and fleshy, marked by abundant tangerines that produce fine acidity and intensity, finishing well. Very successful.

2014 Domaine Dublere Savigny-Les-Beaune Les Planchots Nord. Beautiful complex bouquet of red fruits and tangerines. More minerally with recessed fruit on the medium-bodied palate. Could do with more substance.

2017 Domaine Pavelot Savigny-Les-Beaune Aux Guettes 1er. Good colour. Lovely nose of ripe red fruits and cherries. Bright and fleshy, producing excellent tone and suppleness with lovely seamless minerals, displaying good detail. Great finesse here. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Pavelot Savigny-les-Beaune Aux Gravains 1er. Good bouquet, though slightly more subdued and darker, suggesting undergrowth and earthy tones amidst red fruits. Very rounded and juicy, displaying great balance with fine depth and acidity, finishing on a soft minerally note amidst gentle intensity. Very fine.

2017 Domaine Pavelot Savigny-les-Beaune La Dominode 1er. Beautiful deep ruby. Lifted full bouquet of red fruits, dark roses and currants, carrying over to the palate with a deeper note of incense. Fleshy, rounded and fullish, showing good acidity. Soft finish. Short.

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2016 Chateau De La Tour Clos Vougeot Grand Cru. Full nose, rather minerally with ash and bright raspberries, violets and dark currants. Plump, cloaked in luxurious satiny tannins and layered with excellent ripe fruit. Highly fleshy and delicious, topped with superb acidity, focus and linearity. Aged in 50% new oak. Excellent.

2016 Chateau De La Tour Clos Vougeot VV Grand Cru. Made from vines older than 80 years, some of which are planted in 1910. Great colour. Distinct palpable difference. More layered in its complex bouquet of ripe dark berries, red fruits, currants, cedar and cinnamon while the palate is impressively ample in with generous swathes of succulent warm ripe fruit at just right level of extraction, superbly balanced and integrated with excellent depth and acidity, tapering to a gentle finish with great linearity. A complete wine. Beautiful. Only 8 barrels.

2016 Domaine Roger Belland Santenay-Commes 1er. Very well-focused effusive bouquet of dense red fruits and camphor tinged with tangerines, carrying good concentration on the palate with a deeper note of twigs and earthy minerals. Seamlessly supple but slightly stern with a tinge of vegetative elements.

2014 Domaine Roger Belland Santenay-Commes 1er. Delicious generous bouquet. Medium-full. Very fleshy within a highly supply pliant tannin structure filled with very finely-detailed minerals, finishing in a gentle lovely glow.

2016 Domaine Roger Belland Santenay-Gravieres 1er. Highly effusive dense detailed bouquet of camphor with fragrant red fruits  and preserved red plums. Beautifully ripe, fleshy and full on an elegant cedary floor, highly opulent, nuanced with lovely acidity and minerality, finshing with great linearity and persistence. Outstanding!

2014 Domaine Roger Belland Santenay-Gravieres 1er. Generous bouquet of complex red fruits that exuded a delicious seductive fragrance. Rather full and fleshy, structured with supple tannins and fine inner detail that oozed with gentle sweetness. Excellent, but the 2016 simply affirms the superiority of that great vintage for reds.

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Ric visits Domaine Morey-Coffinet

November 8, 2018

One of the brightest young stars of Chassagne is Domaine Morey-Coffinet, an estate formed in 1979 through the merger of Marc Morey and Fernand Coffinet. Managed by Marc’s grandson Thibault Morey since 2000, this domaine owns nice small chunks of choice plots of Chassagne totaling about 7 hectares viz. Les Caillerets, La Romanee, Dent de Chien, and Blanchots Dessus, the latter both actually bordering on Montrachet grand cru. There is a negociant arm now that also buys in grapes from Meursault, Pucelles 1er, Batard-Montrachet, Corton and Corton-Charlemagne to augment its range, all for the better as it is clear that Thibault is a really talented young man. Somewhat shy but sufficiently engaging, I found him familiar when we visited the domaine on 31 October 2018. Little wonder…his had been one of the seven domaines featured in the excellent documentary A Year In Burgundy, for which Thibault had also composed some original music for its soundtrack. With such precocious talent, it is hardly surprising that the whites of Domaine Morey-Coffinet display plenty of sparkle, purity and intensity, often structured with fabulous acidity and fruit that will most definitely ensure a long life ahead. As in other domaines, the vines in 2017 compensated for the dismal yield of 2016, as evidenced by the 45 hectolitres produced per hectare compared with 35 hL. Thibault prefers to press his grapes gently and to limit wood exposure to about 11 months in order to preserve freshness. Will it be the next Ramonet? Very likely but, as things stand, the wines of Domaine Morey-Coffinet can already sing about Chassagne in their own voice. Be warned, though…the 2017 whites need plenty of cellaring before they are even ready so don’t waste them.

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Thibault Morey

2017 Domaine Morey-Coffinet Chassagne-Montrachet. Dense bouquet of lifted intense floral notes. Medium-full, laced with crisp razor-sharp acidity, firm minerally tone and good linearity, more minerally at the finish.

2017 Domaine Morey-Coffinet Chassagne-Montrachet Les Caillerets 1er. Effusive bouquet of dense earthy chalky minerals coupled with a bright firm minerally palatal tone. Taut with very fine acidity and tension.

2017 Domaine Morey-Coffinet Chassagne-Montrachet La Romanee 1er. Dense minerally nose. Firm and fleshy on the palate, displaying fine body and presence with sharp acidity, excellent definition and intensity. Very full in concentration.

2017 Maison Morey-Coffinet Puligny-Montrachet Les Combettes 1er. Negociant wine. very fine floral and minerally tone. Softer and more rounded than the preceding Chassagnes, displaying excellent presence and lift on the palate with fine intensity, producing excellent subtle mouthfeel.

2017 Domaine Morey-Coffinet Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles 1er. From relatively young vines of 21 years. Delicate lift on the nose. Full concentration, quite appropriately minerally on the palate as expected from this premier cru site, showing good integration between fruit and minerals with lovely white floral tones, taut with superb acidity and intensity. Excellent.

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2017 Domaine Morey-Coffinet Chassage-Montrachet Dent de Chien 1er. Lovely full nose of icing and vanilla, layered with subtle gravelly and ferrous minerals. Quite open and rounded, showing good integration.

2017 Domaine Morey-Coffinet Chassagne-Montrachet Blanchot Dessus 1er. Only one barrel from a 0.06 ha site. Highly ethereal and poised with lovely deftness and sublime acidity, matches well with white floral tones, very rounded and elegant. Like a mini Montrachet, which is not surprising as this tiny premier cru plot directly abuts the southern end of Montrachet grand cru.

2017 Maison Morey-Coffinet Meursault Perrieres 1er. Lovely delicate lift of deft minerals with dense white floral tones coming from a great concentration of densely-layered white citrus, coiled with tight tension across the palate. Only 3 barrels.

2017 Maison Morey-Coffinet Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Rounded bouquet of dense white floral tones with good inner detail, beautifully accented. Medium-full. Rounded with excellent layering and intensity of fruit with lovely textural transparency. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Morey-Coffinet Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. Less upfront, more layered on the nose, rather brooding in demeanour now with some early complexity of floral tones amidst earthy saline minerals. Quite full and fresh on the palate, showing good presence, layering and lovely transparency, well integrated and supple, tapering to a gentle finish. Excellent.

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2017 Domaine Morey-Coffinet Chassagne-Montrachet Clos Saint Jean 1er. Great lift of dark cherries and rose petals underscored by very subtle minerals. Fleshy and rounded, subtly layered on the delicious full palate. Highly elegant with plenty of detail and power. Very fine.

2017 Maison Morey-Coffinet Corton Grand Cru. Good color. Soft beguiling nose, exuding lovely rosy fragrance and elegance. Gently layered and subtly structured, tinged with raw herbal elements at the finish. A feminine Corton. Very fine.

1993 Domaine Morey-Coffinet Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. Tasted blind. Specially decanted for us, this wine displayed a glorious luminous gold with a beautifully aged bouquet of almonds, hazelnuts, bit of nectarine, apricot and cinnamon, highly aromatic. It opened up well with an aged chalkiness, still rather full but highly integral in its balance of acidity, fruit and minerals, tapering to a gentle finish. Very lovely.

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