"This domaine's wines are refreshing, certainly, but they're concentrated, elegantly textural and incipiently complex too." – William Kelley, Wine Advocate (Aug 2019)
Eleni and Edouard Vocoret are some of the latest and youngest producers making waves in Chablis—not to be confused with Vocoret & Fils, the larger family domaine run by Edouard’s father, Patrice. With guidance from family and neighbors, including local legend Vincent Dauvissat, this young couple is starting off on the right foot, or better than that. Their wine already shows distinction.
Today, I'm happy to offer the 2018 Eleni & Edouard Vocoret Chablis En Boucheran.
Boucheron is sourced from under one hectare of vines located between Premier Crus Vaillons and La Foret, neighbor to producers such as Vincent Dauvissat, Jean Collet, and Gérard Duplessis, to name a few. 40-year-old vines here planted on white clay and Kimmeridgian, a subsoil made of gray marl, limestone, and marine fossils, distinct to Chablis.
This dainty and delicate Chablis simply checks all of the boxes. It has all of the characteristics you look for: Fruit, saline, and bright acidity, especially with mineral and seashell at the forefront. The élevage in old oak barrels softens everything out in a way that makes the wine taste luminescent, what I would picture moon terroir to taste like. That same energy still glimmered into the following day, still elegant and sure of itself.
Edouard and Eleni met in 2010 while working harvest in New Zealand. In 2012, Edouard’s family gave the newlyweds their own five hectares of vines to tend to as they saw fit. They sold off the fruit for the first several years while tailoring the vineyard, then produced their first vintages in a family member’s garage. Prior, Eleni had worked as Vincent Dauvissat’s assistant winemaker and adopted his natural farming techniques. While, Edouard apprenticed at Domaine Barraud in Pouilly-Fuissé, which is largely why they do élevage in old oak barrels.
When we first tasted the 2018 Vocoret Chablis En Boucheran, I didn’t have any context about who these two vignerons were, how they're just getting their start—and the wine still exceeded my expectations, showing a budding craftsmanship beyond Eleni and Edouard's years.
Much of the success of Burgundy's younger generation comes from a deep understanding and passion about the work of the vignerons that preceded them. Although still a young man, Benjamin Leroux has more experience than any winemaker his age. Leroux's wines are now clearly in very select company with the likes of Lafon, Roulot, and Colin-Morey. With average production less than 200 cases per wine, the only challenge is securing enough for the demand of this star who's now in the cross-hairs of collectors.
Today, I'm happy to offer Leroux's 2018 Bourgogne Blanc & Rouge.
Finding a balance in Burgundy where silky, gossamer texture doesn't come at the expense of tension and salinity is the ultimate high-wire act. And this is where Leroux excels like no other - In tastings among other terrific producers Benjamin's wines jump out for this quality.
They're featherweight on the palate with a deep saturation of fruit, minerals, and finish long and incisive with a haunting salinity that has you reach for another sip immediately. Each cuvée is distinct and carries incredible clarity of place. The sense of luxury in these wines is vivid, but terroir is highlighted above all else.
Leroux's Bourgogne Blanc is a staple for me each vintage, and brings a complexity that only 70-yr-old vines can, with many parcels sourced from Meursault and Puligny! Aged in 10% new oak.
Bourgogne Rouge is sourced from several parcels covering appellations Hautes-Côtes de Nuits, Santenay, Beaune, Ladoix, Savigny-lès-Beaune, and Fixin. Grapes are fully de-stemmed, fermented with native yeasts over 10 days, aged in older French barrique for 12 months, and bottled without fining or filtering.
Leroux began studying at Beaune's wine school at age 13. After working in Bordeaux, Oregon, and New Zealand he became winemaker at the revered Comte Armand estate in Pommard. After 30 years in the industry he has now began to focus nearly exclusively on his own label, still consulting for a bit for Comte Armand.
As Burgundy is the backbone of our selections, you can imagine the #1 question I receive is on recommendations for under-the-radar and younger producers making waves. There are very few names I put in the same category as Thomas Bouley of Volnay. And concerning one of the Côte de Beaune's legendary vineyards, Bouley's example is the first place I turn.
Today, I'm happy to offer the 2016 & 2017 Jean-Marc Bouley Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chênes.
2019's October tasting with Thomas Bouley was followed by dinner with a Côte de Nuits producer where the question was posed about favorite under-radar-producers. When I mentioned where I had just finished tasting, the group around the table concurred, as all have been lucky enough to taste these incredibly concentrated and elegant Pinot Noirs from the Côte de Beaune village most associated with finesse. The famed "Iron Fist in the Velvet Glove" descriptor is reserved for these best Volnay sites and only most capable stewards.
Clos des Chênes comes from just a 0.43-hectare parcel of vines planted in 1951 and 1971 near the vineyard's upper portion. Grapes are mostly de-stemmed, fermentation takes place in concrete, and élevage is in 20% new French oak barrels.
Family succession in Burgundy can lead a domaine in many directions. The stewardship of Domaine Jean-Marc Bouley by Thomas starting in 2012 has proven to be a tremendous success. Thomas joined in 2002 to work alongside his father, and throughout that time, the domaine's popularity steadily grew.
Why does Bouley's work stand out from a region filled with young talent? The top wines walk that high-wire balance between sappy, concentrated fruit and deft incorporation of new wood – it's this marriage that really sounded the fireworks upon initially tasting. Perhaps the biggest change since Thomas took over in 2012 has been the stark fine-ness to the wines. It's impossible to miss. Out of his range, Clos des Chênes really captures this quality the very most.
Few domaines in Burgundy have been shrouded equally in mystery and allure like that of Prieuré Roch. Henry-Frédéric Roch, the late co-director of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and nephew of Lalou Bize-Leroy, established his domaine in 1988. Around this time, Henry saw a wooden box of Bordeaux's Château Prieuré-Lichine and thought the Prieuré had a nice ring to it when paired alongside his name, and thus Domaine Prieuré Roch materialized.
However, the real inception story began with DRC's acquisition of their Romanée-St-Vivant Domaine Marey-Monge parcel that they had been farming for some time. Henri purchased some vineyards from DRC to assist them in their financial endeavor, and from this, his eponymous project was truly born.
Today, I'm happy to offer Domaine Prieuré Roch.
Wines here begin with organic and biodynamic farmed land, 100% whole cluster fermentation, new oak influence, and next-to-zero sulphur additions. They are extremely spicy and elegant, with a beef bouillon note I find to be the house style's real calling card.
While wines from past decades showed a lot of variation of soundness due to the sans soufre approach, in the last many years, in my opinion, these have become a gold standard of the non-sulphur category. Last year's 2013 bottling of Le Cloud was crunchy, high toned, and alive in a way I wish every wine that touched my lips would be. These are as soulful and singular as any wines produced on earth. And it's my pleasure to offer this small parcel directly from the domaine today.
Monopole Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Clos des Corvees is one of the signature wines of the domaine, this monopole vineyard has a large percentage of millerandés grapes that are smaller in size with intense concentration. Since 2002 the domaine has harvested these small berry clusters exclusively. Located at the southern end of Nuits-Saint-Georges in Premeaux, this site shows grace and bright lift that stands apart drastically from what we are accustomed to from the vineyards located just north in the heart of the appellation.
Clos Vougeot, along with Clos de Beze, is the only Grand Cru of the domaine. Vines were planted in 1929, 1949, and 1969, located in a sweet spot further uphill in this large climat, close to the Chateau.
Monopole Clos Goillotte is the prize of the domaine. The former garden of Prince Conti, established in 1763, sits below La Tâche and Clos d'Eugenie
For many years, Germany has been swinging for the fences chasing that home run impact for Pinot Noir to rival Grand Cru Burgundy. In most cases, the results fall well short for me, as the wine's showy full-throttle ripeness and excessive new oak suggest a lack of conviction in the site's potential.
In Germany, the Baden region seems to be the sweet spot for where Pinot Noir ripens sufficiently, and old vines tend to be planted. Here, the greatest surprise comes from two guys working very much against the grain, with a strong focus toward natural winemaking and only hands-on viticulture. If there's one undiscovered Pinot Noir producer that warrants your immediate attention, this would be the duo.
Today, I'm happy to offer the Baden Pinot Noir lineup from Enderle & Moll.
Sven Enderle and Florian Moll began farming 2 hectares of vines in 2007. They had worked in different settings throughout the globe. They came back home to Baden with a clear mission: to work the land in organic and biodynamic viticulture, applying the lightest touch possible in the cellar (they do not use pumps, filters, or fining agents). The two were very lucky to work steep parcels of ancient vines of Pinot Noir, some of the very oldest in Baden. Their exacting approach in both the vines and the cellar has allowed them to use minimal sulphur, highlighting even more fruit's vivid purity within each parcel.
On the one hand, the wines are spicy, ethereal, and composed. On the other, the Buntsandstein, in particular, has a power and intensity that brings a great counterpoint. Aging in older barrels directly from Burgundy's Domaine Dujac ensures these are brought up with the best care possible, given their extreme work on the edge with minimal sulphur.
While the more natural-focused wine crowd has championed these upon their relatively recent release in the US, critics covering a large spectrum of styles have dialed in here, most notably Jancis Robinson placing them firmly in the "cult" category. Whatever label you want to place on Sven and Florian, one thing is obvious; this is the new frontier of German Pinot Noir. Drawing inspiration from Grand Cru Burgundy is one thing, but the ultimate reason these are such achievements is from a strict focus on their own sense of place and unique style.