Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,
We finished Part 1 tasting the passionate wines of Benjamin Leroux. Our hotel was actually located within a couple of blocks of his winery, so we saw him several more times before the end of the trip….including a game of bocce ball in the depths of his cellars.
DAY 3 Continued…
We had lunch in Beaune town square at the office of Becky Wasserman with her crew. We ate well and drank some wines from the Loire and Alsace (Marcel Deiss Altenberg GC 2012).
Next, we traveled down to Volnay to barrel taste with the gregariously affable Nicolas Rossignol of Domaine Nicolas Rossignol. He is a 5th generation wine-maker in Volnay. Rossignol implements biodynamic practices with his wines and offers a hands off approach to wine making which allows the wines to sing of their terroir or sense of place.
We tried barrel samples of Bourgogne, Pommard, Volnay and Beaune.
The Best of the Bunch
Pommard ‘Les Epenots’ 1er– from 112 year old vines. Round, plush, creamy texture with just a hint of reduction. Darker fruit, very clean and balanced. Chalky, spicy and dense. The wine is 60% whole cluster and he considers this HIS Grand Cru wine. James Score: 93-94 Points
Volnay ‘Santenots’ 1er– Rounder and more opulent than the others. Creamy, yet an underlying rusticity that shows sense of place. Angular with red fruit and herbal tea. Zesty, clean and pure with notes of violets and licorice. Yummy. James Score: 93-94 Points
We then moved on to Nicolas Rossignol’s 2nd cousin, Jean Baptiste Boudier in Pernand-Vergelesses. He is a small producer as evidenced by his tiny cellar under his home. He is a younger vigneron but one could sense that he is an up and comer in the region. 2015 was his 1st vintage with a modest production of 3 hectare.
His best offerings from barrel:
Pernand-Vergelesses Blanc– Chalky, lemon-lime with a creamier mouth feel and a beautiful acidity on the back bone. The lengthy finish shows nuts, melon and green apple citrus. James Score: 90-91 Points
Pernand-Vergelesses ‘Cru Sous Fretille’ 1er Blanc– Round and creamy with good acidity. Hazel, melon and butternut on the finish. Lovely. James Score: 92-93 Points
We finished the evening at the famous Ma Cuisine restaurant in Beaune eating escargot and rabbit with Fontagne-Gagnard ‘La Romanee’ 1er 2010, Comtes Lafon Monthelie 2014, and Dom. Coche-Dury Volnay 2011.
We started the brisk, but beautiful morning at Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux in Vosne Romanee. Charles Lachaux has taken the reigns from his father Pascal. While still quite young, Charles has quickly ascended to the upper echelon of wine makers in the region. He produces organic/biodynamic, low yielding and extremely high quality wines with a large percentage of whole cluster implemented. We tasted from barrel with Charles wines of Bourgogne, Nuits-St-Georges, Chambolle-Musigny, Vosne-Romanee, Clos de Vougeot, Echezeaux, Latricieres-Chambertin, and Romanee-St.-Vivant. Every wine tasted was 91+ points…
Vosne-Romanee ‘Les Suchots’ 1er– Super sexy sweet-candied red fruit. Elegance defined. Cream and spice with medium intensity and a structured finish. James Score: 95-96 Points
Romanee St. Vivant Grand Cru– Meaty and savory, yet elegant with a velvety weightlessness. Amazingly beautiful red fruits with vibrant acidity, hints of olive and bubble gum. OMG wine! James Score: 96-98 Points
Domaine Alain Michelot in Nuits-St.-Georges. It was unfortunate that this winery had to follow the rock star wines of Lachaux. These wines were much more classic styles of Bourgogne with more rusticity and earthiness. Therefore, they showed completely different and not quite as well after the plushness of Lachaux. It did offer me a good example of the ‘old guard’ vs. ‘new guard’ wine makers and trend toward more supple, forward wines.
Nuits-St-Georges Aux Champ Perdrix 1er– Fresh and easy with good acidity and spice. Nice floral red fruit and flowers with apple skins. The finish is long with darker fruit and touches of cream. James Score: 88-89 Points
On to the next appointment….
The next move had us driving to the Beaune and the Chardonnay area of Meursault. Domaine Vincent Latour is located here and has made quite a splash in Meursault since 2006 as he has been making extremely high quality wines on his 8 hectare in a sustainable fashion. Vincent is a jovial man that seems like he’d be just as at home in a honky-tonk bar doing the Texas two step as tending to his vines. The wines were exceptional and the reds were a delightful surprise. We tasted Bourgogne, St. Romain, Puligny Montrachet, Meursault Blanc and Rouge, Chassagne Montrachet, and Pommard.
Chassagne-Montrachet ‘Morgeot’ 1er 2016– Yellow apples, anise, melon, pear, minerals, stones race into the palate into a riper mid palate with good intensity. Hazel, cream and cactus. Yum! James Score: 94-95 Points
Meursault ‘Les Perrieres’ 1er 2016– Darker color with a rich, unctuousness that belies the vivid backbone of acidity. 50% new oak, vanilla cream, cream of corn with excellent balance. Lots of lemon lime citrus zest and minerals on the finish. WOW! James Score: 95-97 Points
After Vincent Latour we made our way to Chassagne-Montrachet and the stellar whites of Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard. Celine Fontaine was our hostess. She was bubbly with excitement talking about the quality of the 2017’s and 2018’s as the quality and crop were extremely high in Chassagne. She started us off with a delightful Passe-tout-grains that may have been the finest I have tasted. Good start! This Domaine owns numerous parcels in Premier and Grand Cru vineyards. We tasted Passe-tout-grains, Chassagne Montrachet, Batard-Montrachet, and Le Montrachet. All wines rated 90+ points.
Best of the Best
Chassagne-Montrachet ‘Clos St. Jean’ 1er 2017– Banana cream, lemon custard, green apples with 1/3rd new French oak. Good intensity with nuts, cream, pear, and melon. James Score: 94 Points
Le Montrachet 2017– Vanilla, cream, butternut, citrus, apples, melon with nice intensity and verbosity. Minerals and a long lengthy finish. Beautiful and Balanced. James Score: 96-98 Points
We finished a very long day traveling to Givry in the Cote Chalonnaise, which is a nice ride through windy roads and forest scenery. We parked in an inauspicious driveway in the middle of what seemed like nowhere. David Smith (our Guide) told us to just wait. He had been trying to find a Chalonnaise producer for awhile and stumbled upon this winery. The winery was Domaine Masse. This domaine is run by Fabrice Masse. Fabrice’s father Raymond managed Hospices de Beaune and his uncle was an enologist, so wine making is in Fabrice’s blood. He farms with a reasoned struggle, as to say that he does not use chemicals in his vineyards unless it is absolutely necessary. He was ecstatic to have us there and opened up way more wine than we imagined! All his wines were extremely clean and balanced.
Givry ‘Severzene’ 1er 2017– easy, dense, gamey with splashes of black fruit and earth. James Score: 89-90
Montagny 1er 2017– Crème Fraiche, easy, zesty with a leesy component. Fresh and fun. James Score: 89 Points
I’ll finish up the tour and the best wines of the trip in the last installment!
James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS