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.
The value hunt in Chablis is still very strong, but turning to smaller appellations just outside the region has lead to a treasure trove of gems. And, the value continues to be the greatest attribute of these small family-run domaines that tirelessly work to harvest the most pristine fruit yielded from fastidious vineyard work. A 2012 visit with the Montanet family put these crisp and complex Chardonnays on my radar.
Today, I'm happy to offer the 2017 Domaine de la Cadette Bourgogne Vezelay La Châtelaine for $32 per bottle.
Of the eleven wines produced at Cadette, La Châtelaine has always been tops for me, standing out for its racy, crushed oyster shell notes with a forward fruit profile. While nearby Chablis is primarily based on Kimmeridgian limestone, in Vezelay there's a shift to a range of blue, gray, and red clay here, with some parcels on just pure limestone. It's this amalgamation of soil that lends a complexity to Châtelaine, giving so much texture underneath the citrus and green apple primary fruit.
Working in retail in New York City we discovered a forgotten bottle of Châtelaine with nearly 8 years of age on it. It floored us all, as it maintained so much freshness and salinity, but with developed faint nutty tones and hints of golden orchard fruit.
Starting in 1990, Jean and Catherine Montanet vinified their first vintage under the tutelage of Bernard Raveneau, who later introduced the couple to importer Kermit Lynch. It wasn't until 1997 until the Vezelay appellation was officially recognized by the INAO, and two years later the couple began to farm in organics. Among the deep list of esteemed domaines imported by Kermit Lynch, Cadette has always been a secret source for terrific white Burgundy value.
Finding Gevrey Chambertin that strictly relies on old vines is rare. Fourrier and Bachelet are famous for this. Vielles Vignes (old vine) bottlings can have different age criteria based on producer, and for this we must be surgical in selection. When it comes to Burguet's 1910-planted vines in Gevrey Chambertin we're talking about the real McCoy.
"A more deeply pitched array offers up notes of dark currant, plum, earth and a hint of the sauvage. As is usually the case there is a bit more size, weight and richness and much more minerality present on the medium weight flavors that exhibit good power on the slightly more complex finish that is presently somewhat youthfully austere. This is worth checking out."
Today, I'm happy to offer the 2016 Burguet Gevrey Chambertin Mes Favorites Vieilles Vignes for $84 per bottle, and down to $79.75 on 4-Packs.
It was Denis Bachelet's importer, Becky Wasserman, who introduced me to the Mes Favorites cuvée from brothers, Eric and Jean-Luc Burguet. Visiting the village's top restaurant Rôtisserie du Chambertin last year, again this house bottling proved to check all the boxes for my kind of secret cellar treat.
Taking cues from icons Fourrier and Bachelet, these 100-yr-old vines produce tiny, millerandage clusters that benefit from 100% de-stemming and gentle extraction. The counter-punch between these concentrated dark wines and the silky, underlying mineral threads is why the purest wines of Gevrey garner so much attention. In the minuscule, but monumental 2016 vintage, Burguet flaunts Gevrey's most black-fruited and dark earth persona.
Alain Burguet is famous for starting this domaine from the ground up in 1974, a true rarity in Gevrey Chambertin where inheritance and marriage are the keys to owning 100-yr-old vines. In the late 90's Alain's two sons began to take over and implement some changes with an eye toward showing an even more polished, transparent, and forest floor personality of this grand village known for muscularity. Terroir focus through low new oak, low sulphur, native yeast ferments, and minimal extraction have all been keys in this domaine's rise.
Burguet thrills me in capturing the grandeur of the village that's home to nine Grand Crus with its black plum, game, and scorched earth notes. While Gevrey's top bottlings fetch record amounts, it's diamonds in the rough like Mes Favorites that discerning Burgundy fanatics turn to for the greatest secret values.
"Plum, chocolate and spice all run through Burguet's 2016 Gevrey-Chambertin Mes Favorites Vieilles Vignes. With a huge core of fruit and notable depth, the Favorites comes across as quite dark and concentrated."
- Stephen Tanzer of Vinous (January 2018)
Boisson-Vadot is largely a Chardonnay domaine, but today we focus on the more limited Pinot Noirs from father and son, Bernard and Pierre. Much like their Chardonnays, the reds are built upon precision and purity of fruit without artifice.Each of the three reds are crystal clear windows into respective terroir, and for this they offer excitement from first sip to last - the ultimate prize.
Pierre and his father Bernard do not regularly host visitors, attend trade tastings, or travel to various markets. In fact, coaxing just a little bit of information out of Bernard on afternoons in Meursault was so difficult that I learned quickly to quiet down and just enjoy what was poured. But, without question, new oak influence is kept well below 30%. Fruit is de-stemmed and sees extremely modest levels of extraction.
The Monthelie has many of the qualities of its downslope neighbor in Volnay. This is the softest, most accessible, and charming of the trio. The fruit spectrum tends to be a little darker here and has supple tannins that make it, perhaps, the ideal introduction to the domaine's style.
The Auxey Duresses Premier Cru, much like their white, showcases a chalky sense of minerality and wild floral elements thanks to these high elevation vines planted on porous soils. Of the four, this is the most agile, graceful, and feminine.
The Pommard, like at Lafarge, is a wildly different expression of the village that's more commonly known for dark earth and burly tannins. The whole picture is one that completely changes pre-conceived notions of this sturdy village, and here the top red of the house has a length of finish that belies its humble villages level designation.
The Hautes-Côtes de Beaune, is a brand new cuvée from Pierre. It's a welcomed bottling that personifies the house style of high-toned cherry fruit and brings a value (and much greater availability) that makes it easy to go deep on.
The most rare wine in the lineup is the elusive Rosé of Pinot Noir. Released quite a bit later than a typical rosé, this has the structure and chalky minerality that has demanded some time in bottle to soften. While rosé of Pinot Noir can be difficult to pull off in a compelling way, often seeming to lack the best virtues of the noble grape, Pierre's hits the nail on the head. Today's offering is the only in the U.S.
You might imagine that, for me, the most decisive moments in buying Burgundy fall at the very high end. Of course, who wants to be promoting $400+ bottles that don't quite reach the highs their tariffs suggest. But, truth be told, it's the humble Bourgogne level wines I fret about the most. I've raised my voice many times in support of the convenient truth that value absolutely exists at every twist and turn in Burgundy. You just have to look hard enough.Today, I'm happy to offer the 2016 Bourgogne Rouge from rockstar Charles Van Canneyt for $28 per bottle.Van Canneyt is best known for his day job producing the revered wines at his family's estate in Vosne-Romanée, Domaine Hudelot-Noellat. A few years ago, Charles wanted to have some freedom to express Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in a slightly different vein, and he founded his own label. However, within the context of Burgundy, the wines of Charles Van Canneyt are extremely tied to the Hudelot-Noellat style. Purity first.
Looking at the under-$30 category in Burgundy can be a bit of a minefield. It's just so critical that the names in question apply the same meticulous process for these wines as they do for their top cuvées. And that's precisely why the Bourgogne Rouge from Charles is such a winner. Tasting alongside his Charmes-Chambertin and Chambertin-Clos de Beze, this Bourgogne Rouge carries the same translucency and rigorous definition as these Grand Crus.
Regal structure aside, there's also an immediacy and forward fruit component that makes these also super primal in their deliciousness. Since the 2013 vintage this has become a house Burgundy for me. I recently opened a bottle of the 2013 that was hiding in a dark corner of the cellar and its expression had only grown more vibrant as the three years had passed since first taste. Gorgeous bright cherry fruit still front-and-center, finely-woven threads of minerality shimmering as if dancing on the palate, and a hint of forest floor residing under it all, reminding there is only one Burgundy.
At $28 per bottle, from one of the most gifted minds in Burgundy, this is a great chance to line the walls of your cellar for a song.