Côte de Nuits PART 2

While it all ended well enough, it was not all plain sailing in the Côte de Nuits. The wet winter followed by a mild damp spring did give problems with mildew, especially to growers working organically – as Yves Confuron said, losses of crop at this stage, and again from the heat at the end, means that yields can be quite low – and the concentration in Yves' own wines is all part of this. Like in the Côte de Beaune, trying to decide when to pick to have optimum phenolic ripeness meant having to accept high potential alcohols, but the inclusion of ripe, properly lignified stems has given back an elegance that might having otherwise been missing on some terroirs.

There are great long-lived wines, and there are wines that will be forward and flattering if drunk quite young, but most do have substantial concentration and tannins which, while very ripe and emollient, will help the wines to age.


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Domaine Henri Boillot

A domaine which dates back to 1885, but which began properly in the early years of the 20th century under the current Henri's grandfather (also Henri). His son, Jean, was the one who really developed it. Henri arrived in 1975 and worked his way up, becoming the winemaker. In 2000 he began the building of the new winery at the bottom of Meursault, and he then bought out his brother and sister to keep the domaine as one, renaming it from 'Domaine Jean Boillot' to 'Domaine Henri Boillot' to avoid confusion with his brother Jean-Marc's domaine.

After six years working alongside his father, Guillaume is the 'chef de culture', i.e. heads up the vineyard team, and has been entirely responsible for the vinification of the reds since 2012. Henri continues to make the whites which he likes to be 'straight, taut, precise, pure and elegant'. Guillaume's input has resulted in red wines that have gained in definition and energy, without losing the luxurious velvety richness and fruit depth that they have always had. From 2018 he expanded his use of vinification intégrale in which the reds are vinified in the barrels they will be aged in - the cellar being equipped with 140 barrels with stainless steel doors in the ends, all made of wood they bought for the purpose, which has been dried for three years. Labour-intensive and time-consuming though it is, Guillaume clearly believes it is the way to more precision in the wines, and the difference is noticeable.

The Domaine has roughly equal surfaces of red and white, and of which just under 4ha is the Monopole vineyard of Clos de la Mouchère, a walled enclave within the premier Cru Puligny Perrières. After the 2018 acquisition of small parcels in Latricières and Échezeaux, the Boillots bought the vineyards of Domaine Henri Darnat early in 2019, and so there are several wines that are new to the list this year, including a new monopole Clos in Meursault, the Clos Richemont, part of 1er Cru les Cras.

2019 CLOS VOUGEOT Grand Cru Henri Boillot

2019 CLOS VOUGEOT Grand Cru Henri Boillot

Deep colour and this really is rather fabulous. A depth to the fruit and some quite feral tannins building. Not ever aggressive, but very present. Red and black fruit in a tug-of-war, fresh and pure,Deep colour and this really is rather fabulous. A depth to the fruit and some quite feral tannins building. Not ever aggressive, but very present. Red and black fruit in a tug-of-war, fresh and pure, and there's even more intensity on the finish. Drinking range: 2028 - 2040L&S (Oct 2020)

75cl bottles, wood case of 6

In Bond

2019 ÉCHEZEAUX Grand Cru Domaine Henri Boillot

2019 ÉCHEZEAUX Grand Cru Domaine Henri Boillot

The 2019 Echezeaux Grand Cru opens in the glass with aromas of cherries, black raspberries, sweet oil tones, licorice and orange oil. Medium to full-bodied, deep and layered, its broad, texturalThe 2019 Echezeaux Grand Cru opens in the glass with aromas of cherries, black raspberries, sweet oil tones, licorice and orange oil. Medium to full-bodied, deep and layered, its broad, textural attack segues into an ample, lively mid-palate, concluding with a long, flavorful finish. Sourced from En Orveaux, this is only the third vintage Boillot has produced of this new cuvée. Drinking range: 2025 - 2050 Rating: 94 William Kelley, The Wine Advocate (Jan 2021)

75cl bottles, wood case of 3

In Bond

2019 LE CHAMBERTIN Grand Cru Henri Boillot

2019 LE CHAMBERTIN Grand Cru Henri Boillot

Hugely rich mid purple, very sensual, arguably more harmonious even than the Clos de Bèze. Guillaume thinks that using a slightly lighter chauffe (toasting) of the barrel is in play here. ThisHugely rich mid purple, very sensual, arguably more harmonious even than the Clos de Bèze. Guillaume thinks that using a slightly lighter chauffe (toasting) of the barrel is in play here. This Chambertin is a thing of beauty all the way through, still very youthful and quite oaky, but a Chambertin to be proud of. Tasted: October 2020 **** Rating: 95-98 Jasper Morris - Inside Burgundy  (Oct 2020)

75cl bottles, wood case of 3

In Bond

2019 BONNES MARES Grand Cru Henri Boillot

2019 BONNES MARES Grand Cru Henri Boillot

'Altogether on another register - all in delicacy' says Guillaume, and indeed that's it. So fresh, so delicate in its light touch on the palate - you'd say soft, but it's still direct, pure. Very'Altogether on another register - all in delicacy' says Guillaume, and indeed that's it. So fresh, so delicate in its light touch on the palate - you'd say soft, but it's still direct, pure. Very hard not to swallow as the gourmandise of the blackcurrant and blackberry unfurl in the mouth and gain in interest and sheer deliciousness, propelled by perfect acid balance. Drinking range: 2028 - 2040L&S (Nov 2020)

75cl bottles, wood case of 3

In Bond

2019 CHAMBERTIN CLOS DE BÈZE Grand Cru Domaine Henri Boillot

2019 CHAMBERTIN CLOS DE BÈZE Grand Cru Domaine Henri Boillot

Brooding and dramatic, Boillot's 2019 Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru unwinds in the glass with aromas of rose petals, Indian spices, rich berry fruit, plums and loamy soil. Full-bodied, layeredBrooding and dramatic, Boillot's 2019 Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru unwinds in the glass with aromas of rose petals, Indian spices, rich berry fruit, plums and loamy soil. Full-bodied, layered and enveloping, it's textural and concentrated, with succulent acids, ripe tannins and a long, sapid finish. Drinking range: 2027 - 2057 Rating: 95 William Kelley, The Wine Advocate (Jan 2021)

75cl bottles, wood case of 3

In Bond

Domaine Anne Gros

Anne Gros joined her father François at the family domaine in Vosne Romanée in 1988, having given up her arts studies in favour of viticulture and oenology at Beaune and Dijon, she took charge of the domaine in 1995 and has been joined now by 2 of her children Julie since 2015 and Paul since 2017. The Domaine now has 7 hectares of Pinot and Chardonnay. Anne describes herself as being 'wary of certainties and keen to preserve her freedom'.

In the vineyards Anne practises viticulture influenced by organic and biodynamic principles, and the vineyards are ploughed and fertilised with compost, but although she believes that the long-term health of the vineyards are best preserved by such methods, she likes to maintain the freedom to use conventional treatments when necessary.

In the cellar, the wines are classically made, in cement tanks for the reds, and stainless steel for the whites. They are then aged in barrel for up to fifteen months, with 80% new wood for the grand crus, 50% for the village wines and 30% for the regional wines. Anne is quietly meticulous and almost obsessive about cleanliness in her cellar, which perhaps is reflected in the delicacy and restrained tension in her wines, which have aromatic clarity, limpid precision, sheer joie de vivre, lively balance and persistence.

A smaller crop than in 2018 means allocations will be difficult.

Thibault Liger-Belair Successeurs

The lack of the word 'domaine' in the name signals that this is a négociant wine from Thibault Liger-Belair. Thibault buys the grapes he picks having tended the vines with his own team, so that the wines are domaine wines in all but name.

Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair

The steady progression of this domaine has been fascinating to watch as Thibault gradually refines his approach to each parcel of vines with the help of cellar-master Eric. Viticulture is biodynamic (since 2005), yields low but not ludicrously low, everything is pragmatic, so that he should be doing just what is necessary and no more. He uses 40-50% new wood maximum, with wood chosen and aged by him, and barrels made with almost no toasting.

The wines are bright, pure, focused, aromatic and elegant without lacking anything in the way of stuffing. The range of wines produced from rented vines or from bought grapes, sold under the separate 'Thibault Liger-Belair Successeurs' label, seems to grow with each vintage and the new cellar which Thibault moved to in 2016 is already stacked in the aisles. To each parcel the team brings great experience and there is a coherence across the range, so that the whole enterprise can be regarded as one. The result in 2019 is more impressive than ever, with fantastic wines through the whole depth of the range.

Domaine-Thibault-Liger-Belair

Domaine Georges Mugneret-Gibourg

Sisters Marie-Christine and Marie Andrée have been firmly in control of this exceptional domaine since their mother Jacqueline retired in 2009. With one a pharmacist and the other an oenologist, the domaine was always going to be in safe hands as far as the wine-making was concerned. In 2017 Marie-Christine 's daughter Lucie joined the domaine, and in 2019 the sisters celebrated their 30th vintage - and Marion and Fanny, daughters of Marie-Andrée also joined the team.

These are top-flight Burgundies with that elusive balance of enough concentration allied with delicacy of expression and the capability of ageing well.

At our tasting this year Marie-Andrée said that they were beginning to become resigned to yields never getting over 30hl.ha again if the summers are to remain so hot. As it is they are allowing the fermentations to reach 38C rather than a limit around 36C, so that the wines finish their sugars. Since 2016 they have put a small amount of whole bunches in some of the cuvées, more as a way to have sufficient volume in the vats than because they like the effect.

Domaine-Georges-Mugneret-Gibourg

Domaine des Lambrays

The 'Clos' consists of 8.66 hectares of land enclosed by a wall in which there is the original milestone marking its founding in 1365, confirmed in the records of the Abbaye de Citeaux (those monks knew where to place a vineyard). The Clos owes much of its current fame to the nineteenth and twentieth century proprietors who reconstituted it after the fragmentation of ownership which followed the French revolution. Despite always having been considered a Grand Cru site, the Clos was in fact classified Premier Cru in the original 1936 appellations contrôlées. The Rodier family which owned it from the 1930s fought to regain its Grand cru status, with eventual success only in 1981, when it became the last of the thirty-three Grands Crus of Burgundy, although by then it had passed to the Saier family. Recently under the benign ownership of the Günther Freund and his family, who gave a very free hand to régisseur Thierry Brouin, who had been employed by their predecessor Rolland Pelletier de Chambure, the quality of the wines here has pushed up again. In 2014 it was bought by the LVMH group.

It has been all rather quick change here as Jacques Devauge has taken over here after a short interregnum under Boris Champy. The legacy of Thierry Brouin can still be felt, Jacques describing him as having been 'clairvoyant' in his approach to the domaine, which has set it up well to deal with challenges of warmer vintages. Jacques seems set to take this estate onward - 'every domaine has to challenge itself to do better', he says. 2019 marks the second year being fully organic - if all goes well they will be certified after another two.

Our visit in autumn 2020 was partly to see the huge hole in the ground where the main vinification cellar used to be (prefaced by a little gentle grumbling at our earlier visit to Christophe Perrot-Minot, whose reserve cellar backs onto the site and had experienced some damp). Jacques Devauge is wasting no time in establishing the change of regime here and while respectful of what Thierry Brouin achieved, clearly feels there is much to do. From 2019 the vinifications are by parcel, and the different cuvées are laid out in barrel in the cellar as they come from the hill, which is a fun visual aid to the tasting. The changes have already made for one of the most impressive vintages here for a long time and the future looks very bright.

Domaine Christophe Perrot-Minot

Christophe is now the fourth generation of his family producing wine on the estate after his great grandfather Amédée Merme devoted himself to the management and production of wine over 130 years ago. The estate has gone from strength to strength – always keeping the highest standards. Integrated viticulture has been practiced for many years now which has been adapted especially for the terroir. No herbicide or chemical fertilizer is used, instead, Christophe prefers to 'stand back and listen to this terroir, only intervening when necessary or when the weather requires it, never systematically.' This is one of the star domaines of the whole of Burgundy.

Christophe described 2019 as 'very sunny, with lots of drought - very small quantities and lots of concentration through evaporation'. This has meant concentrated wines with some high alcohols, but he picked early and the highest he has is in the Clos de Bèze which he picked at 13.7%. He remarked that there were lots of dried berries which had to be removed at the sorting.

Domaine-Christophe-Perrot-Minot

Domaine Dugat-Py

Domaine Dugat-Py's wines are far from shy and retiring, but they do require patience to show their best. Old vines, tiny yields, viticulture with minute and constant attention, all lead to a magnificent concentration and purity in the raw material. Without extracting harsh tannins, Loïc (who despite his youthful good-looks, has overseen the wine-making since 2012) gets an astonishing density into the wines, and they take on the high percentage of new oak quite casually. Nevertheless, Loïc has reduced the amount of new wood (The village wines get 50% max., while the Premiers Crus and Grands Crus get up to 75%.) and the more recent vintages have shown great elegance and sophistication as well as the concentrated depth of their old vines.

Exciting news here, in that the domaine has taken over part of what used to be Domaine Newman. Sadly someone else got the Grands Crus, but Loïc is delighted with what they have - all old vines, giving them a barrel of village Beaune, 6 barrels of Clos des Avaux, 2.5 of Beaune Grèves, 9 of Monthélie and 6 in Pommard Vaumuriens (above Rugiens). They increased the size of their picking team to sixty in 2019, in order to get the harvest in more quickly. In these recent hot vintages sugars go up and acids down so quick they need to be picking 2-3 hectares a day. They started amongst the first on the 9th September, picking Charmes and Mazoyères ('lovely maturity at 13% and ph 3.1 - 3.2' Loïc tells us), and finishing with the Corton Charlemagne on the 17th.

Domaine-Bernard-Dugat-Py

Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron

Domaine ‘JJ’ Confuron is named after the father of Sophie Meunier, who now runs the domaine with her husband Alain Meunier. Gradually they are handing it over to their son Louis.

The domaine goes back to the marriage in 1926 of Jean Confuron de Vosne and Anne-Marie Bouchard de Premeaux, starting with the vines that they both inherited. Together, they acquired more and started selling their own bottled wine in the early 1930s. Jean died in 1965. They had two sons, Christian and Jean-Jacques, who worked together until 1980. Jean-Jacques set up his own estate in 1981, but he died in January 1983. From then on it was his wife Andrée Noëllat and his daughter Sophie who took care of the estate. Sophie met Alain Meunier at the Lycée agricole in Beaune and from the 1985 harvest they worked together. In 1988, Andrée received one hectare of vines from her grandfather Charles Noëllat's domaine, which included the important parcels in Romanée St-Vivant, Nuits Boudots and Vosne Beaux Monts.

Since Louis has taken over the winemaking there have been some changes, but as they have no fixed 'recipe' it is hard to be precise - the levels of new wood seem to have dropped slightly, and like a lot of growers Louis has used some whole-bunch fermentation. On the whole they are relatively early pickers, and the wines have a generous depth of fruit.

The domaine is now at around 9.22 hectares, made up of 0.65 vines in IGP Auxois, in the commune of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain (where the Johnny Depp Juliette/Binoche film 'Chocolat' was made), some Aligoté, and:
Bourgogne Rouge 1.5ha
Côte de Nuits-Villages 'au Leurey' 0.14ha
Côte de Nuits-Villages 'La Montagne' white. In the village of Corgoloin, planted in 2007 0.355 ha.
Côte de Nuits-Villages 'La Montagne' red 0.283 ha.
Côte de Nuits-Villages 'Les Vignottes' in the village of Premeaux-Prissey, planted in the 1980s, 1.263 ha.
Nuits Saint-Georges 'Les Fleurières' planted in the 1970s, 1.23 ha.
Chambolle-Musigny planted in the 1960s, 50% from Les Condemennes and 25% each from Pas de Chat and Derrière le Four 1.115 ha
Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Chabœufs one third planted in 1979, the rest in 2012. 0.48 ha.
Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru, from Chatelots and Feusselottes, one third planted in the 1940s, the rest in the 1960s 0.35 ha.
Nuits Saint-Georges 1er Cru Aux Boudots planted in the 1950s 0.3 ha.
Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Beaux Monts planted in 1945 0.3 ha.
Clos-Vougeot Grand Cru planted in 1965 0.5 ha.
Romanée Saint-Vivant Grand Cru planted in 1922 0.5 ha.