Sylvain Pataille is famous for three things. Producing some of the most texturally seamless and balanced wines in the Côte de Nuits, serving as oenologist to over 15 other domaines, and having really, really awesome hair. Visiting at the domaine on my birthday in July ended up being a masterclass in terroir, as we tasted over 20 different wines from Marsannay.
Today, I'm happy to offer my favorite red from Sylvain Pataille, the 2017 Marsannay Clos du Roy for $65 per bottle.
Marsannay and Pataille are a match made in heaven. Both have seemingly flown under-the-radar for far too long. Search through any savvy Burgundy collector's cellar and next to the Rousseau and Dujac you're sure to find a host of Pataille Marsannay.
Located in the very north of the Côte de Nuits above Gevrey Chambertin, the village has a complicated history. Planted with Gamay during the time of classifications, by law no vineyards could receive status higher than villages. But, today there is no debate, Clos du Roy would undoubtedly be a Premier Cru.
The "Kings Vineyard" is comprised of a mix of light red clay and sand on top of Comblanchien limestone, with vines planted as far back as 1952. Pataille is a big proponent of whole cluster fermentation, and we see 100% here.
* Addtionally, I've listed a Chardonnay from Pataille's La Charme Aux Prêtres vineyard in Marsannay. I've never found a white vineyard in the Côte de Nuits that rivals the same fascination and delicious factor from what Pataille has bottled here. This very porous vineyard produces both Aligote and Chardonnay with extremely pronounced reductive traits (flinty, matchstick, smokey) in its wines. Côte de Nuits whites are known for their weightier texture and more broad shouldered personality. While this is true even here, the reductive element adds a fresh, saline streak I find absolutely captivating. While not inexpensive, this unique cuvée is among my favorites in all of Burgundy. Do not miss!
I buy Pataille's Clos du Roy vintage after vintage because it's a steal within the hierarchy of Burgundy's elite bottlings. It always finds that elusive mix between power and elegance. There's never any shyness from Clos du Roy, but the silken tannins Pataille endows here without relying on overt new oak influence is remarkable.
While Sylvain's wines are fabulous from top to bottom, the Clos du Roy is the bottling that demands the greatest admiration. At $65 per bottle, this is the Côte de Nuits' best and most serious value play year after year.
In the hills above Dijon you can find the roots to one of Burgundy's greatest inception stories. While it's is a fresh departure from a domaine's normal evolution in Burgundy, the wines in bottle are the most thrilling element from Marc Soyard. In only three vintages they have gone from obscure to seeing a cult following.
Today, I'm happy to offer Marc Soyard's 2017 Domaine de la Cras Rouge and 2016 "Cras" Blanc.
Domaine de la Cras goes against the grain of what Burgundian law has dictated for centuries. Five years ago the city of Dijon purchased a vineyard just outside their limits. The city essentially held a casting call to find a winemaker for the property. The criteria was that they must be young, have no family vineyard holdings, be prepared for organic farming, and open the domaine for educational tours. The rent for the land would be paid each year to the city in bottles, 2,000 exactly.
Marc Soyard, originally from the nearby Jura, was chosen. Soyard does not come from a family of vignerons, but he had worked previously for the esteemed and tiny Domaine Bizot in Vosne-Romanée. Bizot is known for their rigorous vineyard work, minuscule sulphur regimen, and their use of whole grape clusters for fermentation.
Soyard works a slope, En Bessy, just outside Dijon. His Pinot Noir pulled me in immediately for its super crunchy and unadulterated bright red berry fruit. 100% whole cluster ferment gives a lifted and spicy, floral character that just floored me. Even before tasting, those aromas are so intoxicating they grab ahold of you straightaway.
The Chardonnay's supple mouthfeel melds with an exotic stone fruit profile and is backed up by a crazy, zippy mineral drive. In short, these wines are unlike anything produced in the region today. and speak to this unique slice of Dijon.
The "Cras" bottlings are the domaine's top wines and come from the oldest vines on the steepest portion of En Bessy. Biodynamic and organic approach to all viticulture here, with only small amounts of sulphur additions, primarily at bottling. Older barrel elévage for the Coteaux de Dijon Chardonnay, and 50% new wood for the two "Cras" cuvées.
Two things initially jumped out when visiting Saumur in the Loire River Valley. The idyllic, undulating hills perfectly matched my notion of pastoral France, but I hadn't the first clue on where to spot the grand terroir. Since the middle ages, the hill of Brézé was esteemed as any white wine terroir in France, but the secret was in the bedrock of this unassuming, gentle slope.
Here, the famed tuffeau limestone is the backbone of France's single most celebrated Chenin Blanc, Clos Rougeard's Brézé bottling, which surpasses $400 per bottle. But, the Brézé producer who offers the ultimate intersection between this site's brilliance and value is, undoubtedly, Romain Guiberteau. After mentoring under the Foucault family of Clos Rougeard, Guiberteau's eponymous domaine today captures Chenin Blanc at its most crystalline and pure.
Today, I'm happy to offer Guiberteau's top white and reds from the famous hill of Brézé.
For more than 100 years the Guiberteau's have farmed Saumur's hill of Brézé. But, it was when Romain left Clos Rougeard and implemented critical changes in the vineyard that quality began to soar. Unlike the Chenin Blanc coming from neighboring appellations where rounded, more overt orchard fruit dominates, in Saumur the alkaline limestone soils bring the same sense of cut and lacy minerality that shares much more in common with Chablis and Champagne.
Guiberteau's Brézé bottling comes from a 1.2 hectare parcel of vines planted in 1933 and 1952. This parcel's limestone soil also contains sand and clay, bringing a textural weight that balances the razor sharp focus from Brézé's tuffeau bedrock. Simply put, this is world class Chenin Blanc to rival top white Burgs.
Arboises is a 1 hectare, south-facing portion on Brézé of 1957-planted Cabernet Franc. Sand and silt sits over the limestone bedrock here. All grapes are de-stemmed. Aging takes place in 80% new French oak. This is a wickedly precise and mineral-driven style of Cabernet Franc that elicits Burgundy before Bourgueil.
Les Motelles is another 1 hectare parcel of Cabernet Franc vines, planted in 1955 on sand and gravel above clay. As you'd imagine, versus Arboises, there is more breadth and density on the palate here, but the absence of weight is a perfect example of Guiberteau's deft touch. Aged in 2-3 year-old French barrels.
Saumur Rouge comes from a 2 hectare parcel of 1955 & 1957-planted Cabernet Franc over silt and sand over a softer limestone. 100% de-stemmed and aged in steel. The quintessential example of how sophistication Cabernet Franc is capable of does not need to be tied to price.
Les Moulins comes from a 1.9 hectare portion of Chenin Blanc vines ranging from 7 to 80-yrs-old planted on sand over a limestone-clay mix. Aged in stainless steel. Nervy, supremely fresh, dominated by citrus tones that slowly open to reveal more typical orchard fruit and faint lanolin.
Clos des Guichaux comes from a 1.3 hectare parcel of Chenin Blanc planted on silt and sand over limestone. Vines were planted in 2003. Aged 9 months in neutral oak. As compared to Les Moulins, the enclosed Guichaux has an intensity and long finish that belies the younger age of these vines.
The long-used selling point for the wines of Brézé have been that they're the first place in the Loire Valley for white Burgundy collectors to turn. But, at the highest order from Guiberteau (and Clos Rougeard), these are whites that simply exist among the most royal in all of France.
"A softly spoken-perfectionist, Rémi Jobard produces beautifully pure and vibrant expressions of Meursault that merit considerable interest...The result is a precise, almost minimalist style that produces Meursault of unusual transparency: classy wines that evolve slowly in bottle. 2017 is an excellent vintage at this address."- William Kelley of The Wine Advocate (01/19)
Remi Jobard is on a roll. And the most exciting part may be that very few have really taken adequate notice. William Kelley, a true Burgundian authority in more ways than one as I see it, really nails why Remi Jobard stands out from the pack in Meursault.
Today, I'm very happy to offer four wines of Remi Jobard's 2017's that capture Meursault at its best. And, I've created special vertical 4-pack pricing on the domaine's most head-spinning value play.
Judging an entire domaine on their Bourgogne level wines is more than just fair, it's a requirement. After all, why should we pony up top dollar for Premier and Grand Crus from a domaine who can't wow us with their entry level offerings? And, in Meursault Rémi Jobard does precisely that. Sort of.
De-classifications in Burgundy might sound confusing, but in actuality they are pretty straight forward and exactly the wines I love to pounce on the most. Rémi Jobard produces three Bourgogne Blancs. I know, that's a bit odd, isn't it? I work with just one. The Cuvée Vielles Vignes (old vines) is sourced entirely from vines planted in the village of Meursault, all over 40 years of age. This is case in point for why declassifying Meursault into "Bourgogne Blanc" can be a lot of fun, very delicious, and our little secret.
Rémi Jobard has always been a personal favorite within Meursault. His protocol for fermentation is one that breaks with tradition, all with his eye's set on crystal clear reflection of terroir. This is the domaine I've turned to continually for the style of white Burgundy that hits the bulls-eye for me, especially in the face of rocketing pricing for Roulot and Arnaud Ente.
Jobard's wines are always noted for their emphasis on revealing place through an ultra-pale hue, citrus-inflection, and mouth-watering salinity that drives through the finish of each cuvée. With air in the glass they reveal ginger notes, hazelnut, and a crunchy minerality that's simply hypnotic.
The secret to these unique traits from Jobard are surely tied to his divergent protocol in the cellar. Half of Jobard's wines are aged in large foudres from Stockinger, the famed Austrian cooper celebrated for precision and deft use of oak. While the other half of production is aged in standard, smaller Burgundy barrels, of which no more than 20% new wood is used.
After one year in wood the wines are transferred to stainless steel for 6 months prior to bottling, a method employed to firm up the tension and preserve those crisp, mineral-drenched notes that this best class of Meursault vignerons have become rightfully admired for.
As I mentioned repeatedly, 2017 is the most exciting white Burgundy vintage since 2014. My vigneron friends in Burgundy remarked right after the wines settled in barrel on just how fantastic the balance was for all their 2017 whites. 2014 may have shown a touch more extract and breadth, but the 2017's may very well be the stronger vintage when all is said and done. Upon release, each four wines is already giving immediate pleasure.
Bourgogne Blanc Vieilles Vignes is sourced entirely from vines over 40-years-old, covering 6 parcels within the village of Meursault.
Meursault Les Chevalières is sourced from a 0.44 hectare parcel of 80+ year-old vines in this high altitude, and single most under-the-radar lieu dit of village. Always a site that imparts bursting salinity with a depth and finish that's anything but a villages-designate wine.
1er Cru Les Poruzots-Dessus comes from a 0.51 hectare parcel of 60+ yr-old vines in the upper "Dessus" portion of Poruzots. This Premier Cru is known for its power, but this upper parcel has much more limestone (as opposed to clay), and in turn, this showcases a much more fine-grained and graceful personality of this famous vineyard.
1er Cru Les Genevrières is Jobard's top wine, and part of the famous trio of Meursault's Premier Cru sites. A vineyard known for its elegance and regal structure that make it ideal for both the dining table and a dark corner of your cellar to slowly transform. From a 0.62 hectare parcel of 40+ year old vines.
“As I have commented in the past, Roy just doesn’t seem to miss as she’s a perfectionist.”
– Allen Meadows, BurghoundAs any lover of Burgundy knows, one of the most satisfying aspects of collecting is finding special vineyards that fly under-the-radar due to humble villages designations, yet hang tight with Grand Cru terroir. Clos Prieur of Gevrey Chambertin is one of those secret sites, and Alexandrine Roy of Domaine Marc Roy now defines the heights this lieu-dit (named vineyard) is capable of achieving.
Today, I'm happy to offer the 2016 Marc Roy Gevrey Chambertin Clos Prieur for $89 per bottle.
Clos Prieur is a very small vineyard located directly east and adjacent to Grand Cru Mazis-Chambertin. Situated on limestone bedrock with high portions of iron and clay, vines organically farmed here by Alexandrine are 60+ yrs old. Stylistically, Roy is known for very concentrated and ripe fruit coming from an unusual collection of nearly all old vines. Purity is front and center with all grapes being de-stemmed, and extraction kept modest. Aging here is 50% new French oak to soften Gevrey's inherently formidable tannins, though in bottle, Clos Prieur is all about silky fuit and exotic spices.
Alexandrine's Clos Prieur is undoubtedly fruit-forward in style, with black cherry and plum fruit melding with game and forest floor notes that will ensure drinkers are very much in the old world. The real skill, as I see it, is Clos Prieur's finish, always wrapping up dry and full of lingering mouth-watering mineral notes. If there was one lieu-dit and one producer to embody the secrets to be found tucked adjacent to Grand Crus, Roy's Clos Prieur would be atop my list.
Alexandrine also produces a very rare cuvée comprised exclusively of millerandage grapes clusters - those that are very tiny and result in high skin:juice ratio. This micro-production wine is fermented in small stainless steel vats and is punched down exclusively by foot. Aging takes place in 70% new French oak.
And, finally, her rare Côte de Nuits Chardonnay from Marsannay's Les Champs Perdrix lieu-dit is a wonderful place to turn to see what the more limited Chardonnay plantings in this Pinot Noir-dominant zone of Burgundy can reveal. More tropical and broad on the palate with a serious dollop of salty inflection make this a great departure from what you may be accustomed to from Côte de Beaune villages like Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, and Chassagne-Montrachet.