Category Archives: The Burgundy Report

Our Burgundy buyer has more extensive knowledge of the Cote d’or than most natives and he’s willing to share that knowledge through his b-letter.

Maltroye Madness: Jean-Pierre’s Are 2011′s Best White Burgs, 93-95RAS!

The 2011 vintage was tough for some Burgundians. But not for the precise and eccentric Jean-Pierre Courmot and his beautiful plots in Chassagne-Montrachet. Jean-Pierre’s pinot noirs are pure and vivid with energy at every level and his 1er cru whites are the best I’ve tasted in this vintage – the best since 1989. Just stunning, among the great chardonnays of Burgundy. I love the rich and ripe Santenay (93RAS) and the dense La Romanee (95RAS) oughta be Grand Cru. Not easy for everyone get to in to see Jean Pierre. But I was an early member of the cult dealing with JP’s dad and every year I get inside the iron gate. The high-vaulted cellars are a gallery of bold modern art; the “backyard” is a treasure of a vineyard sloping down from the castle. Jean-Pierre’s jetset style makes him the Keith Richards of the Cote de Beaune, so we get along fine and I come home with a great supply. Maybe you can always get what you want, but you better hurry.

Buy 2011 Chateau de la Maltroye Bourgogne Rouge, Cote de Beaune
2011 Maltroye Bourgogne Rouge
Fresh, vivid pinot noir with great balance. Excellent effort by Jean-Pierre.
89+ points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor
Buy 2011 Chateau de la Maltroye Blanc, Chassagne Montrachet
2011 Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet Blanc
Solid village wine that exceeds that of just about every neighbor.
89 points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor
Buy 2011 Chateau de la Maltroye Rouge, Chassagne Montrachet
2011 Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge
Cranberry freshness in the Chassagne. Good terrior expression. Taut, berry fresh, and vivid.
91 points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor
Buy 2011 Chateau de la Maltroye Clos Saint Jean 1er Cru, Chassagne Montrachet
2011 Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet Clos Saint Jean 1er Cru
Very long, vivid, fresh with more drive than Jean-Pierre’s other reds. The clay here comes through adding body and balance….
92 points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor
Buy 2011 Chateau de la Maltroye Santenay La Comme Blanc 1er Cru, Santenay
2011 Maltroye Santenay La Comme Blanc 1er Cru
Remarkable Santenay blanc. Been tasting this wine for 20+ years and this may be the best effort. Dense, rich, ripeness and full. Stunning effort for the vintage.
93 points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor
Buy 2011 Chateau de la Maltroye Chassagne Montrachet 'La Romanee' 1er Cru, Chassagne Montrachet
2011 Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet “La Romanee” 1er Cru
…La Romanee is in the league of Corton Charlemagne and Meursault Pierriere. Great memories of the 1989 made by Jean-Pierre’s father. This is Grand Cru.
95 points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor

Hemingway’s Pouilly Fume: Dagueneau “Les Pentes” Lush, Smoky and 91-92WA!

Sancerre is the birthplace of sauvignon blanc and the Les Pentes vineyard of Serge Dagueneau and his daughters in Pouilly Fume shows the grape at its best, a bright white wine that is both lush with fruit, stone dry and flint smoky. You can see why Robert Mondavi borrowed (stole?) the words “fume blanc” from this Loire Valley village. But Napa just doesn’t have the terroir of Pouilly, and certainly not the dirt the Dagueneaus have, some of the best in Pouilly Fume. Locals call it “terre blanche” or “white earth.” Geologists call it Kimmeridgian marl and I love the stuff. It’s chalk, clay and mud packed with ancient oyster shells, shrimp and a whole fossilized seabed. Which should help you plan the menu to pair with it. For me that was a shining tower of glistening fruits de mer on a delicious Paris night at Le Dome, the 100 year-old brasserie and Hemingway hangout in Montparnasse, where I found Dagueneau high on the wine list. Had to order it — and thank our importer pal Peter Weygandt for bringing it our way. Great match for the fresh oysters, shrimp, langoustine their kin, small and large, and more molluscs and crustaceans than I can name. That terre blanche is also what gives the smoky aroma, but it’s the Dagueneau location and careful late picking that adds an orchard of white, green and yellow fruit. More than grapefruit and kiwi, there is white peach and tons on mineral. Perfect. Sauv blanc doesn’t get much better than this.
2011 Serge et Filles Dagueneau
Pouilly Fume “Les Pentes”

…The lush, ripe pit fruit; luscious citrus; and wafting floral perfume… additional intensity, accompanied by piquant nut oils, oyster liquor, and shrimp shell reduction, making for a deep, saliva-liberating savor….

Burgundy in South Africa? You Know It!

Searching the world for pinot noir like great Burgundy I am usually disappointed. Not with Hamilton Russell in South Africa, though. I know you’re surprised. Ask Parker, Spectator, Enthusiast, and me, we all agree: Hamilton Russell is unbelievably sophisticated and flat-out exceptional. It may be news: the winery is 40 years old. It’s been a dozen years since my last visit and the hits keep coming. Key is the vineyards are as far south as South Africa gets, almost in the ocean, with strong maritime influences, the soils of clay and shale. The pinot has bursting, bright red fruit with the silky elegance of Burgundy; tannins are soft, yet the minerality and acidity give structure and balance. Every Burgundy lover (and anyone curious if South Africa makes world-class wine) has to try this wine. It’ll make a believer out of you, and make you add Hemel-en-Aarde to your list of great pinot appellations… and great buys.

 

2010 Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir

…a ripe bouquet of redcurrant, strawberry and Morello that shows no signs of under-ripeness… The palate is medium-bodied with ripe fleshy redcurrant and cranberry fruit that is underpinned by extremely fine tannins….

Macon Meets Puligny – Stunning Peronne

What an agile, supple wine the Ferret family have created. Their 17th century domaine houses acres of 50 to 70 year old Chardonnay vines. Winemaker Anne Ramonet learned heaps about crafting elegant and precise wines while married to Burgundy superstar, Jean-Claude Ramonet. Yep, that guy. The limestone soils, crusted with fossilized shells, impart wet stones and hints of sea to the nose and that bracing liveliness not found further south in Macon. There is something special about this single vineyard Macon-Peronne. Could be the quality alone, or the unbelievably great value, you decide. What I know for certain is that you’re going to love this wine for all its beauty, grace and exciting taste.

 

2010 Domaine De La Tour Penet
Vieilles Vignes

What an agile, supple wine the Ferret family have created. …limestone soils, crusted with fossilized shells, impart wet stones and hints of sea to the nose… beauty, grace and exciting taste.

2010 Jadot Burgundies Are Here!

Ahhh… Burgundy. No place on the planet is more terroir-focused than the diabolically diverse soils of the Cote d’Or. This diversity is why we “Burghounds” (thanks, Allen) go nuts for the good stuff. No house in the Cote d’Or has the of the house of Louis Jadot and its magically methodical winemaker, Jacques Lardière, who recently retired after 42 years at the helm. He took over as head winemaker in 1970 and Jadot thrived ever since and now owns over 150 hectares of vines and works with hundreds of growers to make sure fruit is pure and wines are precise. Jacques never talks up his wines, his humble manner belying his mastery, instead he allows the label of Jadot and the skill of its growers tell the story, vintage after vintage. A gentleman like Jacques is always missed, but I have many memories of him in my cellar.

2010 Louis Jadot Burgundies

Now in stock and on ESAVE!

Expires Monday, May 13, 2013.

Beaujolais Hat Trick

2011 Makes Three Consecutively Exceptional Vintages!

Our pal Kermit Lynch knows how to pick ‘em, and so Nicole Chanrion it is. Chanrion is in the league with Kermit’s other producers, Lapierre, Guy Breton, Jean-Paul Thévenet, and Jean Foillard. Its been a year now since last visiting Nicole in Beaujolais. This 2011 was a baby then but clear to become a most impressive contender. She told me that 2011 was one of the earliest harvests on record along with 2003 and 2007. Recalling those were exceptional years for beaujolais. 2011 is no exception. The added point of being at highest elevation moderates the temperatures and seasons with a more articulated Cote de Brouilly. You’re gonna want that.


2011 Nicole Chanrion
Cote de Brouilly

…2011 has eclipsed the great 2009. Stellar representation of the Mount de Brouilly and its particulars…. Tight, compact core with loads of concentration and yet rich fruit. Stunning Beaujolais.

Maltroye Madness: 2011 Presale

A particular bright spot among January’s grey skies during our Burgundy visit was our time with Jean-Pierre Cournut at Ch. de la Maltroye. His father had first greeted me there in 1990. The following year’s visit, dad was furious with me. I had bought up a third of the production of his 1989 Chassagne-Montrachet “La Romanee.” Some of you just might remember that wine, so you know why he was upset! Forgiven. I still show up at the door each year. And this year Jean-Pierre’s ease was palpable and the wines were fresh and bright and completely charming. While 2011 was to our palates a red wine vintage, Jean-Pierre made the best whites of the visit. The Santenay 1er La Comme was high level, precise and distinctive, La Romanee immense and brilliant – these whites owing it seems to the new regime of no batonnage or stirring. The reds were brimming with red fruits, minerality and vivacity. An elegant vintage treading on freshness and supple textures, a great combination. This is a compelling argument for buying Burgundy, textbook wines.

 

2011 Maltroye
Bourgogne Rouge

Fresh, vivid pinot noir with great balance. Excellent effort by Jean-Pierre.

 

2011 Maltroye
Chassagne-Montrachet Blanc

Solid village wine that exceeds that of just about every neighbor.

 

 
2011 Maltroye Chassagne-
Montrachet Clos Saint Jean 1er Cru

Very long, vivid, fresh with more drive than Jean-Pierre’s other reds. The clay here comes through adding body and balance…

 

 
2011 Maltroye Chassagne-
Montrachet Rouge

Cranberry freshness in the Chassagne. Good terrior expression. Taut, berry fresh, and vivid.

 

 
2011 Maltroye Santenay
La Comme Blanc 1er Cru

Remarkable Santenay blanc. Been tasting this wine for 20+ years and this may be the best effort. Dense, rich, ripeness and full. Stunning effort for the vintage.

 

 
2011 Maltroye Chassagne-
Montrachet “La Romanee” 1er Cru

One of the great wines of Burgundy, La Romanee is in the league of Corton Charlemagne and Meursault Pierriere. Great memories of the 1989…

 

Droin Rides Again in 2011!

Chablis! Mais oui. I found the most consistent success of the vintage in Chablis, a hour and a half north of Beaune and decidedly colder (a few degrees centigrade adds up!). Beyond Dijon, and almost to Champagne. The clay and old calcareous shells in the Kimmeridgian soils give chardonnay a flinty edge I like. Especially with oysters… and looking at the old fossils in the soil, the oysters were here first. I’ve had 2011s from Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne, Meursault and the surrounding villages, but bottle for bottle Chablis is the spot of the vintage. The people are Jean-Paul and Benoit Droin of a family that has eight 1er cru vineyards, five grand cru sites and has been at it since 1620. 2011 was challenging with some sites, but the Droins have once again out performed their neighbors. Oysters? You can’t get Gillardeau oysters here in the states but rest easy, you can drink these Chablis with the best oysters you can find. I have also assembled a “Gillardeau” sampler so you can experiment and taste the differences between each of the wines.

 

2011 Droin Chablis
Vaillons 1er Cru

The 2011 Chablis Vaillons takes hold of the palate and never lets up. It boasts gorgeous persistence in an understated style that is hugely appealing…. more subdued than 2010, but it is very pretty…

 

2011 Droin Chablis
Montmains 1er Cru

Minerality takes a backseat in the 2011 Chablis Montmains… Citrus, mint and slate are layered into the soft, enveloping finish. Ultimately, the Montmains is about expression of fruit above all else….

 

 
2011 Droin Chablis
Montee de Tonnerre 1er Cru

The 2011 Chablis Montee de Tonnerre is voluptuous, especially for this site. Grapefruit, ash, slate, cured meats and licorice are some of the many notes that take shape… terrific showing…

 

 
2011 Droin Chablis
Valmur Grand Cru

…the 2011 Chablis Valmur is rich, opulent and totally seamless from start to finish. It boasts stunning depth and integrity to match a full-bodied, voluptuous personality for Chablis. …soft, textured finish…

 

 
2011 Droin Chablis
Les Clos Grand Cru

…seduces the palate and intellect with endless layers of salt, crushed rocks, apricots, nectarines and ash. The finish is long, intense and utterly impeccable. This is a hugely promising 2011….

 

 
2011 Droin Chablis
Gillardeau Six-Bottle Sampler

Contains two of the following Droin wines:
2011 Montmains 1er Cru 90-92WA

2011 Vaillons 1er Cru 91-93WA

2011 Montee de Tonnerre 1er Cru 91-93WA

Perrusset: His Macon Farges Does It Again!

We all love this special cuvee from Henri Perrusset. Vibrant, fruit driven, mineral laced and long, a terrific white Burgundy for $20! You bought me out of the 2010 twice and might recall that Henri was kind to us with an additional allocation (pays off to drop by each year). So welcome now the 2011. This wine is from a single plot of old vines in their 50s, an hour south of the Cote d’Or with the same rocky hillsides chock with fossils and marly limestone. All those soils and old vines needed was the brains and commitment of a guy like Henri Perrusset. Put them together and you have pure Macon intensity and excitement.

 

2011 Henri Perrusset Macon Farges
Selection Vieilles Vignes

…Vibrant, fruit driven, mineral laced and long, a terrific white Burgundy… rocky hillsides chock with fossils and marly limestone…. pure Macon intensity and excitement.

Burgundy in South Africa? You Know It’s True!

Searching the world for pinot noir like great Burgundy I am usually disappointed. Not with Hamilton Russell in South Africa, though. I know you’re surprised. Ask Parker, Spectator, Enthusiast, and me, we all agree: Hamilton Russell is unbelievably sophisticated and flat-out exceptional. It may be news: the winery is 40 years old. It’s been a dozen years since my last visit and the hits keep coming. Key is the vineyards are as far south as South Africa gets, almost in the ocean, with strong maritime influences, the soils of clay and shale. The pinot has bursting, bright red fruit with the silky elegance of Burgundy; tannins are soft, yet the minerality and acidity give structure and balance. Every Burgundy lover (and anyone curious if South Africa makes world-class wine) has to try this wine. It’ll make a believer out of you, and make you add Hemel-en-Aarde to your list of great pinot appellations… and great buys.

 

2010 Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir

…a ripe bouquet of redcurrant, strawberry and Morello that shows no signs of under-ripeness… The palate is medium-bodied with ripe fleshy redcurrant and cranberry fruit that is underpinned by extremely fine tannins..

Macon Meets Puligny: Stunning Peronne

What an agile, supple wine the Ferret family have created. Their 17th century domaine houses acres of 50 to 70 year old Chardonnay vines. Winemaker Anne Ramonet learned heaps about crafting elegant and precise wines while married to Burgundy superstar, Jean-Claude Ramonet. Yep, that guy. The limestone soils, crusted with fossilized shells, impart wet stones and hints of sea to the nose and that bracing liveliness not found further south in Macon. There is something special about this single vineyard Macon-Peronne. Could be the quality alone, or the unbelievably great value, you decide. What I know for certain is that you’re going to love this wine for all its beauty, grace and exciting taste.

2010 Domaine De La Tour Penet
Vieilles Vignes

What an agile, supple wine… The limestone soils, crusted with fossilized shells, impart wet stones and hints of sea to the nose… There is something special about this… beauty, grace and exciting taste.

Burgundy in South Africa? You Better Believe It!

Searching the world for pinot noir like great Burgundy I am usually disappointed. Not with Hamilton Russell in South Africa, though. I know you’re surprised. Ask Parker, Spectator, Enthusiast, and me, we all agree: Hamilton Russell is unbelievably sophisticated and flat-out exceptional. It may be news: the winery is 40 years old. It’s been a dozen years since my last visit and the hits keep coming. Key is the vineyards are as far south as South Africa gets, almost in the ocean, with strong maritime influences, the soils of clay and shale. The pinot has bursting, bright red fruit with the silky elegance of Burgundy; tannins are soft, yet the minerality and acidity give structure and balance. Every Burgundy lover (and anyone curious if South Africa makes world-class wine) has to try this wine. It’ll make a believer out of you, and make you add Hemel-en-Aarde to your list of great pinot appellations… and great buys.

 

2010 Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir

…ripe bouquet of redcurrant, strawberry and Morello …palate is medium-bodied with ripe fleshy redcurrant and cranberry fruit that is underpinned by extremely fine tannins… the finish is exuberant, almost feisty!…

The Mighty Wines of Dominique Gallois

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It’s not unusual for producers in Burgundy to have very small plots of vineyard, but this is crazy! Next to the driveway and in front of the house at Domaine Gallois, where the front lawn would usually be, was a teeny tiny vineyard! Not just for show either, these grapes make about ½ barrel of wine which is used in the Gevrey Chambertin village blend.

As we drove up to the house these vines (and everywhere else) were covered with a bright layer of snow and more was falling thick and fast. Dominique Gallois met us at the car and swiftly ushered us down the stone steps leading under the house to the modest cellar.

The domaine is in the heart of the picturesque and eminent village of Gevrey Chambertin. In 1901 Dominique’s great grand father owned several small parcels (or ‘climats’ as they’re called here) all the way down to Volnay and through the generations the size of land holdings fluctuated, once to a diminutive 2.5 hectares. Now over 100 years later, Dominique has 4ha of which one is Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru including Combes aux Moines, Petits Cazetiers and Goulots and he proudly lays claim to 0.3ha of Grand Cru Charmes Chambertin.

With Burgundy producers there are no airs and graces, these are farmers and winemakers whose entire existence has revolved around making wine that the world adores and reveres – but it has never gone to their heads. This is especially true of owner and winemaker Dominique who is friendly and welcoming yet shy and reserved.

Down in the cellar he was soon pulling wines out of the barrels with his handy wine thief. Each one had its individual personality which underscores the uniqueness of every minuscule plot that gives Burgundy its allure and appeal.

As small as the 2011 vintage was due to untimely rain during the summer, Dominique thinks the wines it produced are really rather special. He talks of the “rich, integrated tannins” and calls it a ‘gourmand’ vintage.

We were tasting along appreciating the different nuances of Gevrey Chambertin and then it happened! We’d just spat the impressive minerality and dense fruit of the Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Les Combes aux Moines and were on to the final wine. Something special was going on in that glass. I sniffed the wine a few times, if ever there was a ‘Pinot Noir’ aroma, this was it, on steroids! Earthy like being in woods just after a rainfall, cherried like the lush, rich, plump ones on top of a cheesecake and, on the palate, more of the same – much more – layers and layers of flavor that just kept coming in tidal waves. What was it? Just my ‘wine of the trip’! The Gevrey Chambertin Grand Cru Charmes Chambertin 2011. If it’s this good now and is still such a baby, I can only imagine how it will evolve with a few more years of ageing. One word – incredible.

Four hectares of vineyards may not be much, but in the hands of Dominique Gallois, small certainly is mighty! (or small is mighty alright!)

Great Value: 2010 Francois Carillon Bourgogne Blanc

My May visit to Burgundy took me to some impressive addresses in Puligny-Montrachet. Carillon is certainly one, the family producing wine in Puligny-Monrtrachet since 1632. In 2009, Francois and his brother Jacques decided to split the domaine. Francois Carillon has a masterful touch in the cellar, that is clear. He had been the domaine’s vineyard manager, so the 2010s were most telling of his cellar talents. I have lined up on the Francois side, after all you gotta get it right in the vineyard to get it right in the cellar. Of all Francois’ wines tasted, the most remarkable to me was this little Bourgogne Blanc, so I had to press him. Sure the 1er Cru were impressive, but Francois seemed to be most proud of the Bourgogne, telling me that it is from three parcels within the Puligny-Montrachet appellation with vine ages of 45, 54, and 58! In fact, I preferred it to the village Puligny Montrachet. The richness of old vines is not to be missed. This is a stunning value and I urge you to give it a swirl.

 

2010 Carillon Bourgogne Blanc

Sophisticated nose; old vine pedigree. Rich and unctuous on the palate, although it does not have the terroir based acid drive that, say, a 1er cru would reward… A real crowd-pleaser.