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Electric Slide to Jura: François Rousset-Martin
I’ve had an insatiable craving for Jura Chardonnay ever since drinking Stéphane Tissot's Les Bruyères Chardonnay. Granted, that was several years ago, and Tissot is a rare fish in the Jura's sea of white wines, many of them being too reductive, and the reds often too brett-heavy. But searching for other gems, François Rousset-Martin is a recent discovery that jolted my love for the Jura back to life.
The Château-Chalon appellation is best known for its sherry-like vin jaune wines, made from the Savagnin grape and aged under a veil of flor. But François is more interested in the ouillé (or topped-up) style and exploring micro-terroir (similar to what Stéphane Tissot has done in Arbois). He farms almost two-dozen small parcels (all of which are a hectare or less) in Château-Chalon and Côtes du Jura. Like the rest of the Jura, the soils are abundant in clay, marl, and limestone. Château-Chalon doesn't appear on any bottle labels, as these do not follow the custom vin jaune style.
François grew up in Burgundy, and his family has owned and farmed a parcel of vines in the Jura for generations. His interest in the science and terroir of wine stems from his father (He was a microbiologist for the Hospices de Beaune), and it was his great grandfather who taught him about the family's mystical winemaking lore. Rousset-Martin earned an enology degree and apprenticed in Rhône and Languedoc before starting his domaine in 2007. He vinifies each wine by climat (or parcel) with little to no sulfur and bottled unfined and unfiltered.
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Photo Credit: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant
"N" Marks the Spot: 2021 Lapierre Morgon
I will always beat the drum for Lapierre's Morgon, but when the non-sulfured cuvée is available in California, I'm on cloud nine. No producer in Beaujolais surpasses this Gamay's bright strawberry fruit and granitic mineral core without any restraints.
In some years, the fruit is deemed ideal to exclude sulfur additions during each phase from harvest through fermentation, aging, and bottling—such wines are marked with an "N" meaning they are non-sulfured. Proposing no sulfur is risky for others, but Lapierre has mastered it over the years. This estate's Morgon is the model of soundness with an ultra-delicate framework.
After taking over the family domaine in 1973, Marcel's encounter with Jules Chauvet in 1981 launched the shift toward natural viticulture and winemaking in Beaujolais. Along with Jean Foillard, Guy Breton, and Jean-Paul Thévenet, the Gang of Four's practices spread quickly and made clear that the natural route yielded wines of authenticity and joie de vivre (joy of life). Since 2010, Marcel's children, Matthieu and Camille, have carried on the same natural approach that placed their father in the hearts of winemakers and enthusiasts across the globe.
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First-Class Chablis: 2021 Famille Savary
Savary's old-vine bottling captures everything I love about Chablis: Crushed oyster shell, cool-fruited citrus, green apple, etc. This old-vine cuvée from Chablis's famed Kimmeridgian slopes is a great value wine to go deep on.
Much of Chablis is harvested too early, with many vignerons resting their laurels on the iconic appellation printed on the label. Savary is a prime example of what the region can do at its very best, pushing ripeness in this frigid climate to the maximum while preserving tension. For the Vielles Vignes cuvéee, fermentation occurs in 20% neutral wood and 80% stainless steel. It then ages in neutral demi-muid barrels.
Olivier Savary follows a long history of vignerons, but due to challenging vintages, his parents chose not to continue the family domaine. Olivier had to start over when he finished enology school in Dijon. Since 1984, he and his wife, Francine, slowly built what was once lost. A serendipitous introduction to importer Kermit Lynch by François Raveneau brought these wines to the States.
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Côte de Beaune Sleeper: Pierre Guillemot
There are fewer and fewer places to turn for great-value red Burgundy, though they exist if you know where to look. One such place is Savigny-lès-Beaune, situated between Corton and Beaune. Here, Pinot Noir is often pegged as only light-bodied and perfumed, but longtime producers like Pierre Guillemot quickly prove otherwise.
Wines from this domaine not only have intensity but incredible aging capabilities. Even the entry-level Bourgogne Rouge will hold for decades, as wine critic William Kelley attested in his latest review. This bottling comes from a parcel spanning the Bourgogne, Savigny, and Chorey appellations. The 1er Cru Aux Serpentières, from the northeast side of Savigny’s slope, is Guillemot’s most age-worthy cuvée (If you can resist drinking it upon release). For those visiting Burgundy, the domaine is generously known for pouring 30-to-50-year-old bottles to prove this point.
The Guillemots have farmed vines in Savigny for eight generations, and today, Pierre’s sons, Vincent and Philippe, continue to produce top-tier wines that transcend the appellation. There’s little more to be said, except this is red Burgundy that consistently delivers. We’ve stocked up on the 2020 vintage and, at this pricing, highly suggest that you do the same. Pierre Guillemot is a quintessential producer to know from the Kermit Lynch portfolio!
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Chinon Legacy: Bernard Baudry
The most significant domaine I visited in the Loire this spring was Bernard Baudry in Chinon. When Max decided to open a wine shop, in 2015, it was producers like Baudry that exemplified the soul of KWM’s selection: “Great people doing the hard work and expressing terroir as thoughtfully as possible,” Max explained to me. “And on top of that, the wines are pure, delicious, and have masterful structure and finesse.”
Coming from a long line of winegrowers, Bernard Baudry left his family’s domaine to set out on his own. In 1975, he started by purchasing Les Grézeaux and slowly expanded to what’s now 30 hectares spread across Chinon. They are deeply interested in “making wines according to the soil,” as Bernard’s son, Matthieu, put it. He joined his father in 2001 and now oversees the winemaking. Over nearly five decades, the Baudry’s have closely studied their landscape through vinification parcellaire, or parcel by parcel, with each cuvée capturing its soil and terroir.
Le Grezeaux, the vineyard where everything began, sits closest to the Vienne river, on gravel soils with rocks and clay, while the entry-level cuvée, Le Domaine is at the very top of the plateau, where there is a mix of sand and clay over limestone. Le Grezeaux’s gravel soils yield supple body and concentration with silky tannins, while the Le Domaine has chalky minerality and freshness due to the limestone.
Clos Guillot is unto itself, in the middle of the slope, where Chinon’s limestone is most prominent. “Limestone is what I call the white gold,” Matthieu declared. Well, in this case, the limestone is actually yellow. Clos Guillot combines rich red fruit and striking minerality, power and elegance, making it the most ageable of the three rouge cuvées here today. We rarely compare Chinon to Burgundy, but Clos Guillot's uniquely similar soil type has transparency and finesse in line with the Côte d'Or.
In my earlier offer for Domaine de la Chevalerie, I mentioned Bourgueil and Chinon are more alike than different. Matthieu admitted to this, explaining that his wines can be more reminiscent of certain Bourgueil producers than Chinon neighbors who farm with pesticides. Still, the latter is considered the Loire’s top appellation for Cabernet Franc. Importer Kermit Lynch has much to do with Chinon’s star power, according to Rajat Parr and Jordan Mackay's The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste (2018). It was the 1989 vintage that Kermit Lynch first began importing Baudry to the U.S. market.
If there is any Chinon producer to add to your cellar, we would argue that it is Baudry. Our operations director, Marc, blinded us on a bottle of 2012 Le Domaine. Its peppery notes gave away that it was Cabernet Franc, but I was astounded to find it was Chinon. Looking back, these wines have the grandeur of Bordeaux but elegance and freshness undoubtedly tied to the Loire. In a decade, this entry-level wine had preserved its youthfulness with incredible grace. The fact that these wines are so reasonably priced rank them among the best-valued Cabernet Francs in the world.
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