The 2016 vintage was awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their November 2018 edition tasting of Best Buy Red Burgundy (see blue link below).
This magnificent property, which dates back to the 9th century, is also known as Château Philippe le Hardi, as it was once owned by the first Duc of Burgundy. Philippe le Hardi is famous as the person who banned the cultivation of Gamay in the Côte d'Or, saying in his edict of 1395 that only Pinot Noir could be used in the production of red wines from the already fabled slopes. Despite its long history, the property had fallen on hard times until it was taken over by the French bank Crédit Agricole in recent years. They have invested heavily, bringing in a new team to support the general manager, Gérard Fagnoni, and putting the emphasis on quality. The property has 98 hectares of vineyard, 72 of which are in Mercurey. These are remarkably well made and good value wines from the Côte d'Or and Côte Chalonnaise.
The fruit for the Mercurey Rouge comes from Chateau de Santenay's 72 hectares of vines planted across the Mercurey appellation. The soils are rich in clay, but the limestone is still very present as well as some areas of marl. These characteristics give the red wines of Mercurey finesse and structure.
Upon arrival at the winery, the grapes were cold soaked for seven days at 8°C to extract colour and flavour from the skins. Temperature-controlled fermentation lasted 12 to 14 days with daily pumping over, finishing with a rack and return, or 'délestage', to impart the grainy tannins that give the wines a lovely structure and length. The wine was then aged in oak barrels for 13 months, of which 20% were new.
100% Pinot Noir.
This wine is dark ruby in colour, it is bright and lifted with excellent concentration. the nose is elegant with aromas of ripe red fruit including cherries, and a touch of oak. The palate is full with great structure and an attractive chewy and grainy character. The finish is long and fresh.
ABV = 13.0%.
** See also Chateau de Santenay's excellent Premier Cru Mercurey - the 2014 vintage was rated as a DWWA 2017 Best in Category Wine **
Catherine & Dominique Derain are biodynamic producers in Burgundy with vines in a number of different Burgundian appellations. Dominique Derain started his career making wine barrels but decided, instead, to study wine making in Beaune where he met Catherine, his wife. In 1988 he and Catherine purchased 5.5 hectares of vineyards in Saint Aubin just south of Beaune and began tending the vines biodynamically and making their wines in a very non-interventionist way.
The Derains always adopt a minimalist approach. They farm biodynamically, hand harvest, do not chaptalize or acidify and use the barest amount of sulphur in their winemaking approach. All the fruit is hand-picked and they destem 90% of their red grapes before fermentation, which occurs in wooden vats. After fermentation the wine is aged in old oak casks for 12-18 months. The couple never use SO2 during the winemaking process, adding only a small amount at bottling for stabilization.
Their thrilling Mercurey from old biodynamically-tended vines (100 years old) reaches an altogether different level. It is a blend of 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Beurrot (related to the Pinot Gris).
There is a silky nature to this Mercurey giving it a supple mouthfeel and a detailed range of raspberry and cherry fruit with a touch of pomegranate. It has lovely spice notes and touch of lavender on the nose. Striking elegance, complexity and length.
ABV = 12.0%.
This Burgundian domaine has been a family estate for nearly 200 years. Erwan Faiveley, 7th generation, took the reins in 2006 from his father when he was only 25. They have earned their reputation as one of Burgundy’s finest and most trusted, with an unparalleled selection from the Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune and Côte Chalonnaise totalling over 120 hectares.
2017 is an early vintage. Harvests started on August 29th, the grape clusters were dense and compact thanks to excellent flowering in late May. Favourable climate conditions gave charm and generosity to the wines. 2017 is a classic style of vintage that can also be enjoyed in its youth.
The grapes are harvested and sorted by hand. The proportion of de-stemmed grapes and whole clusters varies depending on the vintage. The wines are pumped over twice daily in order to extract colour, tannins and aromas from the skin of the grapes. After a 15 to 19 day vatting period, the alcoholic fermentation is complete. The free-run wine is run off using a gravity system whilst the marc is pressed slowly and gently in order to extract an exceptionally pure press wine. The wines are aged for 12 months in French oak barrels (10% of which are new oak) which have been selected for their fine grain and moderate toast. The wines are left to age in our cellars at consistent, natural hygrometry and temperature.
100% Pinot Noir.
Deep ruby red in colour with notes of fresh red fruits and spice on the nose. This wine is a pleasure to drink thanks to its smooth, fruity attack and delicate, silky tannins. This well-balanced and intensely aromatic wine will win over wine experts and amateurs alike.
Serve with rib of beef marinaded in thyme, a platter of cold cuts, soft cheeses such as reblochon.
ABV = 13.0%.
Domaine Maillard was founded in 1952 by Daniel Maillard, whose family have been viticulturists in Burgundy since 1766. Domaine Maillard now covers 19 hectares. His two sons, Alain and Pascal ensure the future of the estate and continue to respect the culture of the vineyard.
This Aloxe-Corton is drawn from vines averaging 40 years in age. Grapes are picked by hand to ensure that only the best grapes are used. Fermentation lasts some 12 to 15 days with 1-2 punch-downs per day. It is aged for 18 months in 228-litre French oak barrels (Burgundian pièces), of which some 25% are new. It is then bottled after only a light filtration to preserve the full integrity of the wine.
100% Pinot Noir.
An opulent and ripe, red wine with flavours of strawberry fruit. Wonderfully expressive and powerful in the mouth it finishes with soft silky tannins and an animal richness so typical of Pinot Noir.
Only 4,000 bottles made each year!
ABV = 13.0%.
Pierre Naigeon is a leading and renowned producer in the Côtes de Nuits. The Naigeon family has been established in Gevrey-Chambertin for over 150 years. They acquired some vines and started to produce wine in 1890. The estate remained reasonably small until 2003 when Pierre purchased more land increasing their holdings to 11.5 hectares. Pierre Naigeon believes passionately in sustainable farming, without the use of herbicides. He believes in non-interventionist winemaking and aims to produce wines full of fragrance, revealing the natural terroir. The average age of his vines is remarkably high, mostly over 50 years, which endows the wines with an extraordinary quality, maturity and concentration.
The 2015 warm summer saw early flowering, with rapid development. Ripening was slowed due to hot July temperatures, but rain at the end of the month eased drought pressures. A cooler August allowed ripening to advance. Fine weather during the harvest resulted in superb quality fruit with excellent phenolic ripeness. Vineyard Marsannay is the northernmost appellation in the Côtes de Nuits, neighbouring Fixin. It is the only appellation to have AOC status for the production of red, white and rosé wine. The vineyard has an eastern orientation and is situated at 255 to 390 metres above sea level. The vielles vignes/or old vines are 45 years old and have developed deep root systems, nourished by complex layers of soil. The soils are diverse, predominantly clay and limestone, with white pockets of limestone and red, iron-rich soils. Pierre believes in respecting the terroir; he ensures the yields are kept low and follows organic and biodynamic principles, taking into consideration the cycles of the moon and the sun.
Vinified in a gravity-fed winery, this cuvée was made with the minimal amount of intervention. The perfectly ripe and healthy grapes were hand-harvested, with every bunch being delicately picked into small bins. The grapes underwent a meticulous manual sorting, before the whole bunches were gently pulled into the fermenters without the use of a pump. Fermentation started naturally with a cold soak, using indigenous yeasts from the vineyard. During fermentation, several pigeages (cap submersions) took place. Skin contact maceration followed, lasting for a couple of days, before the wine was racked by gravity into barrels. Matured for 12 months in French oak barrels in the 17th-Century cellar, the wine was not fined or filtered prior to bottling, to preserve its natural qualities.
Pinot Noir 100%.
A fresh and well flavoured red Burgundy showing plump and fleshy raspberry fruit combined with notes of sloes through to a fine, long finish. Accessible, and showing plump and fleshy red fruits with notes of violets.
ABV = 13.5%.
Founded in 1880 by the then 22-year-old Joseph Drouhin, this famous Burgundy negociant is still family-owned. Of the current (fourth) generation, Veronique Drouhin is the winemaker, Laurent is the brand ambassador in the USA, Philippe is in charge of the vineyards, whilst Frederic “conducts the orchestra”. Maison Joseph Drouhin owns extensive parcels throughout the region and in Chablis extending to 73 hectares, including the world-renowned Clos des Mouches, one of the earliest purchases made by Joseph. From Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche through to Meursault and to Corton Charlemagne in the Côte de Beaune, Echezaux to Clos de Vougeot in the Côte de Nuits, the domaines produce a wide spectrum from Laforêt Bourgogne Blanc and Rouge to Grands Crus in Musigny and Chambertin.
Drouhin’s foremost concern is to express the exact character of each terroir. Since 1993 they have worked their vineyards to organic and biodynamic principles, “bringing natural answers to natural problems”. Vine stocks are grown in their own nursery to preserve their genetic heritage and control quality, and vineyards are ploughed by horse with treatments based on herb infusions and the use of natural predators instead of synthetic products. Planting is dense and yields deliberately kept low.
Vinification is traditional using indigenous yeasts and as little technical interference as possible, varied according to the needs of each terroir. Ageing takes account of the origin of each wine: stainless steel vats to enhance fruit and freshness in Chablis and Mâconnais, oak barrels to develop complexity and finesse in Côte d’Or. New oak barrels are made from oak trees individually selected by Drouhin which are then weathered for three years so that all coarse tannins can be eliminated. Their use, and the time the wine spends in them, are determined by the appellation and the vintage.
The progress of every wine is meticulously monitored and recorded at every stage; Drouhin were one of the first houses in Burgundy to apply bar codes to the barrels to ensure total traceability and every cork is stamped with Joseph Drouhin, the appellation and the vintage, in order to guarantee the authenticity of the wine.
Pinot Noir 100%.
For more detail on this wine, see the blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from Drouhin themselves.
Gevrey-Chambertin is a wine with a beautiful, bright ruby colour. Intensely fruity on the nose, the aromas are reminiscent of black cherry, wild blackberry and liquorice. The woody character is subtle and marries delicately with the other aromas. As the wine evolves, there are more complex notes, such as mild spice, nutmeg and leather. Later still, mushroom and damp earth nuances make their appearance. Although present on the palate, tannin is never astringent but blends itself harmoniously with the natural freshness and gras (velvety texture) of the wine. The same aromas encountered earlier on the nose are found again in the aftertaste.
ABV = 13.0%.