Visiting with François Bertheau for my second time earlier this month was a great reminder to how these wines are definitive examples of Chambolle Musigny, a village that can express purity of Pinot Noir like nowhere else. At under 1,300 cases from only 6 hectares of vines, the understated style of Bertheau perfectly suits what I come to expect from my favorite village in Burgundy. If there's one name that represents Chambolle typicity above any other, it is Bertheau.
Sensitive and thoughtful are the two traits of François that always seem to ring the truest as I've walked away from these two visits. There is no artifice, only ultimate craftsmanship in this cellar that covers only a handful of cuvées from parcels spread throughout Chambolle. Hand labeling for to-go orders (pictured above) is a touch that illustrates François' sensibilities.
Not only is new oak kept to minimum levels (20%) on Grand Crus, but the ChambollePremier Cru bottlings offered today see partial elévage in foudre, a rarity for Pinot Noir in the Côte de Nuits. Chambolle's high proportion of active limestone endows wines here with unrivaled perfume, grace, and a lacy mouthfeel that's only achieved through the most sensitive approach in the cellar. This larger format aging helps preserve these crystalline qualities of Pinot Noir from the Villages and Premier levels.
The Premier Cru designate bottlings has long been a favorite of mine. It's a blend of four excellent 1ers, for no reason other than quantity doesn't allow for single vineyard bottling. Noirots and Baudes both sit below Grand Cru Bonnes Mares, and Gruenchers and Groseilles sit next to one another below Les Fuées, and contain some of the oldest vines of the domaine.
Bonnes Mares is the sole Grand Cru holding of Bertheau. The placement of vines runs right through the middle of this GC that's often regarded as the King of the village due to it's higher proportion of marl and darker soils. However, Bertheau's is consistently the most lifted and ethereal version of the site I've ever tasted, still with a structure you would expect given the designation. Today's offering of 2010 and 2002 are top vintages over the last several decades, and both will offer great drinking well into their 30th birthdays.
Bottlings of Bertheau back to the 80's are still atop my list of the most profound Burgundy's I've ever had. They embody the essence of what makes Pinot Noir from this village so cherished. They continue to stay ethereal, but hold onto a finely woven thread of chalky minerality that support structure for the long haul in cellar.
2x 2015 François Bertheau Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru
$124 per bottle.
5x 2008 François Bertheau Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru
$109 per bottle.
3x 2010 François Bertheau Bonnes Mares
$499 per bottle.
5x 2002 François Bertheau Bonnes Mares
$449 per bottle.
1x 2000 François Bertheau Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Charmes
$169 per bottle.
Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier produces wines that, personally, can be best described as desert island Pinot Noir. We're talking the short list. One cannot overstate just how beloved the red Burgundies from this address really are. There are few producers in the world who summon the interest of collectors and the respect of their neighbors quite like Mugnier. In 2015 the demand is expectedly high, and the quantities painfully small.
The domaine lies in the heart of the village of Chambolle-Musigny, home to the most ethereal wines of Burgundy. Mugnier's gentle approach to winemaking is more synonymous with the village dubbed the Queen of Burgundy than any other producer. In fact, Mugnier only produces one Pinot Noir from outside, the Premier Cru Monopole Clos de la Maréchale in Nuits-Saint-Georges.
The easy way to tell the story is to say Mugnier applies that lifted style of his Chambolle wines to his Maréchale, hailing from a village better known for dark earth and muscular structure. Though this characterization has plenty of validity, it tends to sell short just how profound in its own right this monopole vineyard (one owner) from Nuits-Saints-Georges really is.
Maréchale lies at the southernmost end of N-S-G, coming from the Premeaux commune. For centuries the wines of Premeaux have been described as the most elegant of the larger N-S-G appellation. Within Maréchale there are portions of oolitic limestone and sandy soils that are wildly different from what's found throughout the village. This terroir plays as much a role in the elegance of the wine here as Mugnier's soft touch in the cellar.
* From the 1820's the walled in Clos de la Marechale vineyard appeared on maps, and in 1855 Jules Lavalle's publication classifying vineyards ranked Maréchale as "1ère Cuvée" - Lavalle said at this time the top wines of Premeaux were selling for the same price as Grand Cru Clos Vougeot bottlings.
Clos de la Maréchale always shows a stunning array of red fruits like pomegranate and wild strawberry, a tell-tale mocha note, and always finishes with a sappy, black cherry core. Mugnier de-stems 100%, during fermentation punching down of the cap is very gentle and done relatively infrequently, and new oak usage is minimal. The goal is to never over-extract too much tannin or color. These wines are always on the more pale end of the spectrum, dominated as much by their notes of roses and violets as they are by fruit profile. This is the essence of perfumed Burgundy. When Pinot Noir was christened the heartbreak grape chances are strong it was Mugnier in the glass.
You can listen here to Levi Dalton's great interview with Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier from I'll Drink to That! Wine Podcast.
2015 Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Clos de la Maréchale
$143 per bottle.
2015 Mugnier Chambolle Musigny
$179 per bottle.
2015 Mugnier Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Fuées
$359 per bottle.
2014 Mugnier Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Clos de la Maréchale
$119 per bottle.
2014 Mugnier Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses
$939 per bottle.
2013 Mugnier Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Clos de la Maréchale
$119 per bottle.
2013 Mugnier Chambolle-Musigny
$159 per bottle.
2010 Mugnier Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Fuées
$524 per bottle.
2002 Mugnier Chambolle Musigny
$239 per bottle.
1996 Mugnier Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses
$1,099 per bottle.
If I were to choose one domaine in Burgundy to drink from Chablis through the Côte de Beaune, it would be Joseph Drouhin. The name has become synonymous with value and precision, offering terroir-driven wines built on elegance above all. While the relatively large estate purchases grapes from many top growers, they also have their own "domaine" holdings where all aspects of viticulture are under their control.
Among the echelon of these vineyards, the three featured today are hallmarks of every savvy Burgundy collector. The 2015 vintage means small allocations with big attention. These wines are not listed on the website, and will only be made available to those on our mailing list today.
My first experience tasting Burgundy's most adored Premier Cru, Les Amoureuses, was at a small wine shop in Chassagne-Montrachet in 2012. For some reason it's one of the more vivid memories that's stuck with me from a year living in Beaune. A well known Canadian collector who splits his time between the US and Burgundy called me over to taste the highly anticipated release of Drouhin's 2010. I remember his incredibly strict declaration to me as I swirled: You can have all the money in the world to line your cellar with DRC, Leroy, and Rousseau, but if you pass on Drouhin's domaine holdings you're a fool. Not surprisingly, the wine in the glass was one of the most memorable I had in Burgundy - there's something to be said for the openness and generosity of brand new releases. Pure, unadulterated fruit and maximum impact. The great vintages like 2010 and 2015 do not hold back in making their presence felt.
Drouhin's Les Amoureuses sits directly below Grand Cru Musigny, and is widely regarded as the 1er cru most deserving of elevation, along with Gevrey's Clos Saint Jacques. It's the model of grace, but has grip and structure that's only seen in the best sites. Chambolle's high active limestone content gives a pale hue with still an underlying sense of tension and power. If I was given one 1er Cru for all time, it would be Les Amoureuses.
Drouhin's Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru is labeled as such because it comes from only 1.3 hecatares of vines divided through the 1ers: Noirots, Hauts Doix, Borniques, Plantes, and Combottes. The tiny parcels are vinified together. Among secret gems in all of France I put this pretty high on my list. It always over-delivers, and late releases from the domaine clearly show its transformative capabiliites through decades.
Drouhin's Beaune 1er Cru Monopole Clos des Mouches is a wine that transcends the reputation of its village more so than any other wine in Burgundy. Located at the southern end of Beaune next to Pommard, Clos des Mouches always surprises with the classic Drouhin elegance that marries with the inherent muscle and structure of this dark earth territory. The track record of aging is unmatched in Beaune. Bottles from the 80's are often highlights at dinners filled with Côte de Nuits Grand Crus.
Robert Drouhin was among the first in Burgundy to adopt "culture raisonnée" in the late 1950's, and today the domaine is fully organic and biodynamic in all owned vineyards. Grapes are de-stemmed and fermented with native yeasts. Gentle punchdowns are applied once per day for the first half of fermentation, with pumpovers utilized afterwards. Each Premier Cru featured today is aged in a modest 20% new French oak.
2015 Drouhin Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches (Domaine)
2015 Drouhin Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru (Domaine)
2015 Drouhin Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses (Domaine)
1988 Drouhin Vosne Romanée 1er Cru Les Petits Monts (Domaine)
1989 Drouhin Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches Rouge (Domaine)
1990 Drouhin Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches Rouge (Domaine)
1990 Drouhin Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru (Domaine) *Late release from domaine
1993 Drouhin Bonnes Mares (Domaine)
1999 Drouhin Grands-Echezeaux (Domaine)
1999 Drouhin Griotte-Chambertin (Domaine)
2001 Drouhin Grands Echezeaux (Domaine)
2002 Drouhin Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches Rouge (Domaine)
2002 Drouhin Bonnes Mares (Domaine)
2007 Drouhin Musigny (Domaine)
2008 Drouhin Clos Vougeot (Domaine)
2010 Drouhin Chambertin-Clos de Beze
(50% Domaine fruit, complemented with purchased fruit from an adjacent parcel)
2010 Drouhin Musigny (Domaine)
2012 Drouhin Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru 1.5L (Domaine)