Huber Lignier is best known for his iconic Grand Cru, Clos de la Roche, as well as for his extended macerations and long barrel aging. Today, I'm happy to offer a range of Lignier from 2011 through 2016. The concentration and intensity of the 2016 vintage particularly suits the domaine's winemaking protocol and sets up this stable to again reflect the long-distance runner that has enamored collectors for forty years.
Lignier has been imported by Neal Rosenthal (Barthod, Fourrier, Jacques Carillon) since the 1978 vintage, marking one of Neal's earliest and greatest successes. The style of the domaine has always been one that emphasized structure and a distinct terroir-driven soil expression. Located in Morey Saint Denis, Lignier's wines all display that gorgeous rusted earth, black cherry, and hoisin note that the village is often associated.
2016 follows the dark-fruited and robust 2015 vintage. At first, 2016 appeared to be considerably brighter, but as the wines evolved in barrel they gained a darker profile and richness. They still show a more lifted style as compared to 2015, but in the end these are also going to be wines with very long aging potential. They are deeply complex, arguably a bit more site-specific in profile than the 2015's. They are terrific, but surely the Grand Crus will begin to enter their peak drinking window likely at age 15, and perhaps at age 10 for the Premier Crus.
Each cuvée is unique from the next, and modest levels of new oak keep the focus squarely on site. 20-30% new wood for Villages and Premiers, 50% for the Grand Crus. All grapes are destemmed, receive a 5-day cold soak, and then a relatively long fermentation of 15-20 days. The Villages wines are raised in barrel for 18 months, with Premier and Grand Crus receiving a 24-month elévage.
Coming up short on finding back-vintages of Hubert Lignier has always been a thorn in my side. Rarely do collectors part with these aged gems, as the reward with years in bottle is too significant to part with.
It's no secret that over the last decade Jean-Marie Fourrier has catapulted his family's domaine into elite status within Burgundy. Fourrier is the 5th generation to lead this 9-hectare Gevrey Chambertin estate, officially taking over for his father in 1994 after interning with the mythical Henri Jayer.
Today, I'm very happy to offer a deep range from Jean-Marie Fourrier.
The wines of Fourrier are most associated in my mind for their silken texture with ripe and vivid fruit. They also are lauded for their ability to drink great at all stages of development. But, above all, it's a sense of purity and site reflection that have put them atop the wishlist of every traditional Burgundy collector.
Jean-Marie is most noted for his strict reliance on using only old vines for domainebottlings - averaging 60 years according to my visit in November 2012. The maximum new oak employed is 20%, and like Jayer grapes here are overwhelmingly de-stemmed.
Much of the magic to the wines' purity has to be tied into Jean-Marie's practice of using very minimal amounts of sulphur, instead relying on dissolved CO2 to remain in the wine protecting against oxidation. Because of this it's recommended that younger bottles are double decanted to help "blow-off" any slight effervescence that might remain.
Below is a wide range of Fourrier's 2016's, as well as back-vintage gems through 1999. Jean-Marie has recently started a négociant project, but, with the exception of theBourgogne Rouge, 100% of the wines offered below are domaine, having been farmed by the Fourrier family for generations.
Over the last few years I've found myself reaching more and more for new cool climate French wines, and the summer is no exception. The one region that has captured my attention the very most is the Savoie, located just along the Swiss border in view of Mont Blanc. Although history is as steep as the slopes here, it's a younger domaine that's arguably making the most exciting wines. When I'm craving those cool alpine inflections and mineral spring purity in both whites and reds, it's Domaine des Ardoisières I turn to.
Today, I'm happy to offer the two wines from Ardoisières that bring the greatest thrills and the most electric mineral intensity, the Schiste Blanc and Argile Rouge.
Ardoisières works with two sites in the Savoie, Cevins and St. Pierre de Soucy, both farmed biodynamically since its 1998 founding. Although, these same vineyards had been planted back in Roman times, but had become taken over by forests as the region fell into obscurity. A group had cleared these forests in the late 1990's for replanting, and then in 2005 Champagne native, Brice Omont took the lead on winemaking. This small-production estate has become the darling of the Savoie, and has been a champion in making the case for the region's great potential.
Ardoisières' most mineral-driven and age-worthy white, Schiste, is comprised of 40% Jacquere with 30% Roussanne, 20% Pinot Gris, and 10% Mondeuse Blanche. These decomposed granite soils in Cevins give a racy personality with a pulverized rocky core that make it one of my favorite crisp whites in all of France. There's a yellow stone fruit quality that's backed up by a laser-like mineral precision that brings superb freshness. On a steamy Bordeaux night last month I stumbled onto a killer wine bar and it took me about 10 seconds to make this selection from a sea of gems. In all, that first glass may have been the single most satisfying one through my three week tour.
The top red of the domaine, Argile, is comprised of 80% Gamay and 20% Persan coming from the clay-dominant soils of St. Pierre de Soucy. As compared to the Gamay we're all more accustomed to from Beaujolais, this Savoie rendition has a lighter body and more pepper tones with a super pronounced mineral finish. The fruit profile is more in the red raspberry realm vs. those plush grape-ey traits from Beaujolais. And the finish lingers with a brisk mineral flicker that's lip-smacking good!
In Saumur, Antoine Foucault, son of the late Charly Foucault, had seen the reputation and pricing of his father's Clos Rougeard wines soar across the globe like no other domaine in France. Today, little is known of Foucault's own domaine he founded in 1999. The Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc produced from the best limestone slopes in Saumur brings the unrivaled elegance of Clos Rougeard, with a singular potency that will guide this address into cult territory. We laugh when we hear of times past where Clos Rougeard sat on shelves for under $60, and here I expect the same to follow suit.Today, I'm happy to offer the Saumur wines of Antoine Foucault's Domaine du Collier.Visiting with Antoine in 2016 was a dramatic moment, there's no other way to describe the experience. For starters, descending into the cellar was akin to the fantastical space imagined for Indiana Jones' Temple of Doom. The cavern was close to 100% humidity, with walls of bedrock wet to the touch and stalactites at every turn. The shadowed figure of Foucault returning into faint light with a thief of wine from each new barrel further imprinted the mystique.Like his father, Antoine's greatest joy is working among the vines. Witnessing the meteoric rise of popularity of Clos Rougeard throughout his life has left him surprisingly humble, showing no interest in the limelight or travel. He speaks matter of fact, and his sensible philosophy on organic and biodynamic viticulture is ultimately defined by rigorous hands-on work in each parcel.There's a powerful concentration to Antoine's wines that differ from his father's, yet they're still built upon that familiar grace and seamless pleasure found in their texture. (Antoine vinified the 2016 vintage at Clos Rougeard upon his father's untimely passing). The real distinction on the protocol for Collier's wines is their unusually long aging, many times over two years in wood. Once fermentation is concluded the wines are gravity-fed into barrel and remain completely untouched, with zero sulphur additions.There's a large proportion of new wood used at Collier, but never have I tasted at a domaine where this level of oak was so imperceptible and pushed into the background of the wine. The wood absorbs much of the firm structure in these wines, softening the contours and bringing an added layer of refinement. Saumur Blanc is 100% Chenin Blanc primarily sourced from vines aged 25-75 years in the Ripaille site. Saumur Rouge La Ripaille is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from a single vineyard of vines ranging between 30-60 years old.Saumur Blanc Charpentrie comes from 100-yr-old vines in this single vineyard.
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.