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 feel comfortable putting in the same category of Thomas Bouley of Volnay. And with respect to one of the legendary vineyards of the Côte de Beaune, Bouley's example is the very first place I turn.
Today, I'm happy to offer the 2017 Thomas Bouley Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chênes for $141 per bottle.
Clos des Chênes comes from just a 0.43 hectare parcel of vines planted in 1951 and 1971 near the upper portion of the vineyard. 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.
The Iron Fist in the Velvet Glove moniker is one which always encapsulates this top tier of Volnay Premier Crus. The village often can be referred to as feminine in style, but just as much as grace is Clos des Chênes's calling card so is that regal sense of grip that makes it the ultimate cellar candidate.
Among the range of Volnay Premier Crus worthy of Grand Cru elevation I would point to Clos des Chênes first. 2017's up-front, approachable personality is a dream condition for Bouley's tête de cuvée known for its structure and concentration.
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 thePrieuré 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.
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 real calling card of the house style.
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 night'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 direct from the domaine today.
Monopole Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Clos des Corvees - 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 a grace and 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.
Vosne Romanée Les Hautes-Maizières is a rare bird, located just North-East of Grand Cru Romanée Saint Vivant, with this particular parcel further up the hill in the prime zone of the climat. Jules Lavalle's seminal 1855-classification has Hautes-Maizières listed as a Deuxiéme Cuvée along with famed 1ers Aux Reignots, Les Chaumes, and Clos des Reas.
Monopole Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Clos des Argillières sits in elite company in Nuits Saint Georges just north of monopoles Clos de la Maréchale and Clos l'Arlot. Also located in this Premeaux southern portion of the village.
Monopole Clos Goillotte is the prize of the domaine. The former garden of Prince Conti established in 1763, it sits below La Tâche and Clos d'Eugenie.
Vosne Romanée Vieilles Vignes is the ultimate secret bottling of the domaine, only produced in the classic and cool 2013 vintage when the choice was made to blend Clos Goillotte and Hautes-Maizières.
Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault, young and aged, today's list features top domaines that deliver pleasure tonight, as well as years of cellar transformation. Newer names on the block like Genot-Boulanger's Puligny 1er Folatières is a prime example of under-the-radar TOP wines of the village - sleek, mineral-driven, and supremely long finish, my favorite bottling of this domaine's brilliant range.
Value hunters can see Joseph Colin and Jean-Marc Roulot's Bourgogne Blancs are in name only, as each sources exclusively from parcels in Puligny and Meursault, respectively.
And, there's no shortage on top Grand Crus here from Ramonet, Leflaive, Roulot, and PYCM.
The great news is we have a first look today at Pierre Yves Colin-Morey's long-anticipated 2016 release of his Puligy, Chassagne, and Meursault cuvées - all now in stock. 2016 also marks the first-ever PYCM Pinot Noir releases from Vosne Romanée and Nuits Saint Georges' 1er Cru Boudots, which borders Vosne Romanée's 1er Cru Aux Malconsorts. The not-so-great news is that the small yields I was warned about when I visited with Pierre Yves in June 2016 is just as bad as we feared. This year's allocation is the smallest to date for me, but quality could not be higher.
To order, please reply with your ideal order and I will do my best to accommodate
* Balanced order requests including the new Pinot Noir releases are very much appreciated.
Visiting with Pierre Yves in July 2016 I got the sense the vintage was finally on course after a strange and difficult start. December through February was reported to be the warmest winter in over a century. March was cooler than normal, and the proceeding months saw damp conditions met with a disastrous frost on the morning of April 27th. As the frost set in, intense morning sunshine rose as a magnifying glass on these fragile, ice-covered buds. The result was literally explosive, as these small buds were wiped out in one morning. This is a large factor to why yields are smaller, and some bottlings (Mugneret-Gibourg Feusselottes) won't be produced at all in 2016.
But, as we've discussed, the summer months dictated the quality of 2016, which is very high and favors expression of minerality over plump ripeness. In the end, we have whites and reds built upon energy and precision - 2010 was mentioned as a comparison by several winemaker friends after barrel-downs of 2016 concluded.
The whites are set more in the citrus camp than in stone fruit territory. They're certainly mineral-driven in style, but as Pierre Yves noted, they're riper than both 2004 and 2007.They show finesse and upfront drinkability seen from the 2011 whites, but are closer in style to 2010 (from the best producers) due to their greater concentration.
The reds match the profile of the 2010 vintage even more so than the whites. There's a brilliant balance between ripeness and acidity. The easy generalization is to see the 2015 and 2016 reds much like we view the 2009 and 2010's. The 2009/2015 duo saw darker fruit, big ripeness, whereas the 2010/2016 pair is all about brightness and more red-fruited intensity with that supported framing acidity, one which I personally prefer!
Additionally, the allocation of Caroline Morey's 2016's are being offered here today only for our mailing list.