Côte d'Or

2021 has been so dreadful in terms of quantity that many producers are holding back some of their 2020s for release in 2023, along with the small volumes of the 2021s. The 2020s are superb. Perversely the best sites along the Côte, often on steeper slopes, with great exposition to the sun and with thinner and rockier soils, were the most affected by the drought in 2020. The small upside is that many less well-known 'lieu-dits' and village wines are of excellent quality and are not quite so scarce.


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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.

Another very small crop is going to make allocations difficult once again.

2020 BOURGOGNE BLANC Domaine Anne Gros

2020 BOURGOGNE BLANC Domaine Anne Gros

Nicely precise and firm, mineral brightness, there's a real elegance to this in 2020.Nicely precise and firm, mineral brightness, there's a real elegance to this in 2020. Drinking range: 2023 - 2026L&S (Nov 2021)

75cl bottles, case of 6

In Bond

2020 HAUTES CÔTES DE NUITS Blanc Cuvée Marine Domaine Anne Gros

2020 HAUTES CÔTES DE NUITS Blanc Cuvée Marine Domaine Anne Gros

Rich for this cuvée, and there's a softness to it too (in an attractive way), balanced by a saline freshness which gives it a lovely balance - a delight.Rich for this cuvée, and there's a softness to it too (in an attractive way), balanced by a saline freshness which gives it a lovely balance - a delight. Drinking range: 2022 - 2026L&S (Nov 2021)

75cl bottles, case of 6

In Bond

Domaine Berthelemot

Domaine Berthelemot is the creation of Brigitte Berthelemot, who is, by all accounts, something of a tour de force. Brigitte has, in a very short space of time (starting in 2006), knocked together a domaine of 15 hectares, spread over 45 parcels.

The basis of this spread was Domaine Garaudet in Pommard, but then they also took over Domaine Allexant. Charles Allexant was a bouilleur de cru (distiller of marc) who went round the villages plying his trade and who knew the Côte well, and also the vignerons for whom he distilled. In 1957 he bought a first vineyard in Volnay, and others followed, so that he built up a patchwork from Gevrey to the Côte Chalonnaise.

The final piece of the jigsaw was the purchase of Domaine Marey in Pernand.

The whole domaine is worked organically and they are just finishing the conversion so that they will be certified from 2021.

The vinification is overseen by Brigitte with the help of head winemaker Marc Cugney. Brigitte's son Thomas has been working alongside as 'a student' for three years. The reds are picked into small cases in which they are transported to the winery - and vinified in stainless steel after a 4 day cold maceration. Extraction is gentle and mostly by remontage. The wines then go into barrel with a maximum of 20% new wood. The whites are pressed, and after a short débourbage, are put in tank, where they begin their fermentation. Once the fermentation is under way, they are moved to barrel, with a maximum of 25% new wood.

Domaine de la Choupette

The Gutrin brothers' domaine was created when the twins joined forces in 1992 - it's based in the middle of Santenay, with Jean-Christophe in charge of the vines and Philippe in the winery. Perrine Gutrin runs the 'front of house'. They have vineyards in Puligny (three hectares), Chassagne (half a hectare) Maranges (one hectare) and Santenay (seven and a half hectares).

The vineyards are worked traditionally with ploughing rather than chemicals for weed control and to encourage the roots to go deeper. Yields are initially controlled at the pruning and with de-budding, and finally a greeen harvest as necessary. Whites are classically made with élevage in barrel for a year with up to half new wood. The reds are de-stemmed and macerated cold for a week before the three week fermentation at around 28C, then the temperature is allowed to rise to around 33C to stabilise colour and tannins. This gentle vinification is aimed at making fruit-forward wines, which are then aged in barrel for twelve to eighteen months using a mix of new and up to three-year-old barrels.

In 2020 they have made a super selection of bright driven Pulignys and some very satisfying Santenay too. Bold and deeply flavoured Pinot Noir, but with great charm and balance.

Domaine Thomas-Collardot

Jacqueline Collardot and her son Matthieu own and run this exciting 'micro-domaine' in the heart of Puligny-Montrachet. Matthieu completed his studies in 2019 and joined Jacqueline permanently, just in time for the harvest. Now they are working together we look forward to a slightly bigger production - as while she worked alone she was limited to what she could achieve on her own, with excess grapes being sold on.

At only 2.5ha, this is an artisan project, allowing them to give unrivalled time and care to every parcel she has. Jacqueline inherited these vineyards from her father’s Domaine Thomas Pierre in 2010 after he retired and is slowly raising the profile with her incredible care and attention. Although there may not be much quantity - the quality is impeccable. These are classically shaped, bright wines that express their various Puligny terroirs perfectly. She likes a long, slow élevage on the lees, with very little new wood used. Typically the wines spend two winters in the cellar before she then bottles in line with the moon in March.

From 2020 the domaine is now organically certified. This year we learnt about lots of new developments here. They still use their horse to plough the vineyards - but going forward, they are planning on doing this only every two years as they worry the process is a little rough on the soil to be done every season. Huge thought has recently gone into the élevage too. From 2020 onwards they plan to reduce the time in barrel to just 12 months rather than the 18-24 they were doing previously - this coincides with a study they are doing of 5 different coopers to try and ascertain which plots work best with which barrels. The next phase will be to introduce larger barrels of 350l - and to have more new wood in the cellar. It will be fascinating to see how these changes will benefit the wines over the next years.

2020 is a super vintage here, the focus and detail of their work is clear to see and hard to resist - as ever it is simply the small quantities available that is the only downside! Catch these if you can.

Domaine Joseph Colin

Joseph Colin is one of the four children of Marc Colin (the others being Pierre-Yves, Damien and Caroline), who had a large domaine with vines in Saint Aubin, Santenay, Chassagne and Puligny. Pierre-Yves left the family domaine in 2005 and after that Joseph was an important member of the team there. After making a token 1800 or so bottles on his own account in 2016, he started in earnest with 2017, with seven hectares of vines, from which he makes an astonishing nineteen different cuvées.

Most of the vines he has in Saint Aubin are young, but by limiting bunches to six or seven per vine, he manages to control the yields. With plenty of time to learn his craft at Domaine Marc Colin, he has developed into a confident winemaker. He experimented with sulphur levels in the wines at the family domaine, so coming to his current view that the wines should be left the longest time possible without added S02, perhaps adding some at racking, but if he feels there's still enough C02 after racking, he will not even add any at that stage, so as to develop 'wine at its purest', but he is keen to say also that he has no standard recipe - he will adapt to each wine. In 2020 he again used no S02 until just before bottling, but he's clear that if there's some botrytis, for example, he will add it earlier. Generally nothing is either fined or filtered. He is very aware of biodynamics, but says that the tides are more important than just the phase of the moon, and that he places less importance on whether it's a fruit or flower day - for him the important thing is not to manipulate a wine when it's tasting good - you must do it when it's not showing well.

Joseph is a very bright new prospect for lovers of precise, pure white Burgundies with fresh acidity and crystalline definition.

In 2020 Joseph picked from the 15th August and finished by the end of the month. Interestingly he has found two other years when the harvest was this early - in 1552 and 1556! He says that the date of the harvest is critical to the shape of the wine, and that after that the important thing is to do as little a possible.

Domaine Fernand & Laurent Pillot

The origins of the Pillot family in Chassagne can be traced back to the eighteenth century, when they seem to have been coopers more than vignerons. In the nineteenth century they abandoned barrel-making in favour of enlarging the property in Chassagne. Fernand and Laurent, who is the fourth generation, added to it again in 1992, and then in 2001 Laurent's wife Marie-Anne inherited half of her family's property, the Pommard domaine of Pothier-Rieusset, and Laurent and his father bought the other half. The domaine now stands at 14.5 hectares of vines across almost the whole length of the Côte de Beaune from Santenay to Beaune.

The Domaine is worked according to organic principles and is ploughed – no chemical weedkillers are used. They have also been members of the Dephy-ECO-phyto group, which works to reduce the number of treatments using copper sulphate, since 2012.

Laurent has always managed to pack in a lot alongside his running of the vineyard. He has his own plane which he flies to all corners of France, used keep and hunts hawks, and conducts the Chassagne brass band as well as dabbling in Mayoral duties - on top of being a father of three, Anaïs, Adrien and Eugène. They are all mad about the alps and disappear up the mountains at regular intervals.

Laurent's eldest son Adrien has been travelling the world making wine all over the place for the last few years having completed his training in Beaune. Bringing back lessons learnt in Australia, South Africa and California (and from a stint at Lea & Sandeman). During harvest Adrien is now the one in the winery while Laurent takes charge of the picking team. The wines have long been L&S favourites in both red and white - they represent excellent value, and they age very well too, despite being attractive young. The whites are precise and pure, and not lacking for body and generosity, while the reds are velvety and juicy, beautifully balanced even if drunk young on their expressive Pinot fruit. The domaine was rightfully heralded in Decanter Magazine as 'an address that deserves to be better-known'. Great value and real pleasure across their range.

The Pillots 2019 harvest was not that bad in white, they said, down 15%, but the reds are down 30%. In general they are happy with the balance in the wines because it was very hot, but the acidities are still good. We discussed Adrien's wish to do a longer élevage for the whites, but the problem that if you take the wines out of barrel that means keeping them in vats with floating tops, and they are not mad about the practicality of that. For now most are bottled after a year, but the Vide Bourse and Grandes Ruchottes will stay in barrel until the spring. They use little SO2 to begin with, gradually stabilising the levels once the wines are back in tank, and still finishing with low levels. They like ripe grapes: 'there's a kind of fashion to be the first to pick in Burgundy - they want to keep the freshness but all they get is acidity and tannin'. For the reds, they don't do massive extraction - 3 pigeages only in the middle of the fermentation, but they do a lot of pump-overs.

With Adrien in the winery and Laurent orchestrating the picking - 2020 was a swift and early harvest here - all done by the end of August - for the first time in their history. Quantities are down across the board, but Adrien is not too worried - as their losses are minor, particularly in White. Above all they are pleased that the quality is high this year. These are charming, crowd pleasing wines - that will immediately please, for their joyous open-knit fruit - but there is so much matter here that these wines should live well for a good long stretch too.

Domaine Henri Germain

Jean-François Germain was joined in 2018 by his daughter Lucie - who is now helping to run this small (7ha) domaine.

The Chassagne vineyards came through his mother, a Pillot, and Jean-François is married to François Jobard's daughter, so they are quite intertwined with some of our other producers. The Poruzots comes from the rows next to Remi Jobard's. In terms of winemaking the Germains are always happy to let nature take its course, and in the vineyards they follow as natural a system of viticulture as possible (organic, not certified).

These are concentrated, tightly wound wines from one of Burgundy's coldest cellars. Alcoholic fermentations can take months and the malolactics are often late, so they have always gone for long élevage in old barrels, always for two winters, and the Premiers Crus usually for 22 months. Slow to develop, they show wonderful crystalline purity. New wood is used very sparingly, just to replace barrels sold when they get to ten years old.

Jean-François told us that like in 2019 they were well down on an optimal harvest sadly in 2020 - having harvested the reds first and found very little juice - the Whites did come as a happy surprise, as there was actually quite a good amount of juice in the berries. The reds had suffered far more from the drought, producing another 'demi-recolte'. What they have is wonderful though - so another upside to this stellar producer - a fabulous set of wines here in 2020, in both colours.

Domaine Rémi Jobard

Rémi has been making small qualitative changes ever since he took over here. The entire vineyard is cordon-pruned, so yields are naturally limited. There has been no use of fertiliser since 1994, and the vineyard is grassed-over to encourage the vine roots to go deep. The domaine has been certified organic from 2008. He says that the two most important things are the absence of weedkiller (and thus the necessity to plough, which cuts any surface roots and makes the vine go deeper) and not adding any fertiliser which again makes the roots go deeper to find nutrients.

Rémi has two vast presses, to enable him to press very slowly over six hours, and this has resulted in a big jump in finesse. The élevage now lasts nearly fifteen months, so as to allow the wines to develop slowly and to avoid fining. As a result these are wines which take a moment to show, but which reward the patient with complexity and great depth of flavour.

Rémi made a move from traditional barrels to foudres made of a mix of French, Austrian and Slavonian oak, constructed by Austrian cooper Stockinger, and having added a new one (or two) each year, there's barely a normal barrel left. He likes the way the wines develop in these large volumes, in which the 'oaking' effect is minimised.

In 2020, says Rémi, there was a phenomenon of concentration by the lack of water, so that while there are some aromas of a hot vintage, the acidity stayed well. He started picking on the 27th August with a small team, and then the full team got going on the 1st of September. The wines remain citrussy and bright - and very concentrated in every aspect. Alcohols are in the range 13-14%.

We are again very excited about Rémi's two red wines this year, both of which are excellent.

Domaine Jean-Marc Boillot

Jean-Marc Boillot left the family domaine to be winemaker to Olivier Leflaive for five years. Then from his maternal grandfather Étienne Sauzet he inherited much of the vineyard of the old Domaine Sauzet, in some of the best vineyards of Puligny. With this holding and others from his paternal side, he set up his own business, and he has been responsible for over 50 vintages. His daughter Lydie and son-in-law François Alzingre have worked alongside him and effectively run the domaine, and are now being joined by their children.

With the belief that a vine reaches its full potential when 40 years old, the team look after their old vines carefully, and those in La Garenne and Combettes are still those planted by J-M's grandfather Étienne Sauzet. Vines are planted to a minimum of 12000 vines per hectare, and the vineyard worked by ploughing to encourage the plants to have deep roots. They are trimmed quite high at 1.2m to leave lots of leaves for photosynthesis, and also to shade the bunches from direct sun exposure which might burn them.

Great care is taken over the date of harvest, with careful controls of ripeness made over a period of three weeks prior to starting. The grapes are harvested manually, and placed in small cases for transport to the winery, where they are pressed as whole bunches. The juice is allowed to settle out in tank and then transferred to barrel for fermentation with the fine lees. Batonnage once a week during the 11 months of barrel-aging helps the wines to feed and fatten on the lees. They normally use between 25 and 30% new wood. The domaine makes wines that show well young, with sometimes citrussy, sometimes with complex exotic fruit aromas, always with the core of minerality, and they age well too.

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, bringing in a new monopole Clos in Meursault, the Clos Richemont, part of 1er Cru les Cras.

This year the whites have an incredible freshness that usurps the 2019s in terms of energy and drive. Guillaume’s reds – which improve every time we visit – are a triumph in 2020. Bright and pert with tremendous depth too.

Domaine Faiveley

The Faiveley family are the largest vineyard owners in Burgundy, owning around 120ha, spread across the Côtes de Nuits, Beaune and Chalonnaise and encompassing everything from generic Bourgogne up to the grandest of Grand Crus. Their own holdings supply the grapes for 5 out of every 6 bottles made by Faiveley, the balance being bought in from carefully selected contract growers.

Faiveley has been more and more impressive in recent years, and the combination of winemaker Jerome Flous and an entirely new winery are taking them onwards and upwards year after year.

In 2020 they had their earliest ever harvest, starting on the 19th of August. This followed a seven week spell where not a single drop of rain fell and a late frost on the first of April. Because of an unfortunately timed cold damp spell on 23rd of March the flowering of the later Pinot was badly affected. It was therefore their Reds that were really hit this year in terms of volume - tragically they have harvested almost just half the yield they got with the Whites.

Joseph Drouhin

Despite the size of their vineyard holding, not all Drouhin's wines come from their own domaine, but most of the other wines do come from long-term contracts, such as exists with the Marquis de Laguiche wines. In all but name these wines are 'Domaine' wines, and the vineyards are cared for and the wines vinified with exactly the same care.

Domaine Joseph Drouhin

Joseph Drouhin, founded in 1880 and still family owned, are one of the most well-respected names in Burgundy, especially through their flagship wine, the iconic Clos des Mouches.

A huge part of the Drouhin production comes from their own domaine fruit (78 hectares), and much of the rest comes from contracts such as that with the Marquis de Laguiche, who shook hands with the grandfather of the current generation, agreeing to let him manage his vineyards which included an important part of Le Montrachet; this collaboration endures. Today, the fourth generation is at the helm

Small refinements continue to be made here. The presses have been changed - a reversion to basket pressing for the reds, and for whites the presses are open - along with a number of other growers they are following the trend to think that slight oxidation of the juice before fermentation is not a problem and may add complexity as well as avoiding later problems of premature oxidation in bottle.

For the reds there has been the introduction of selective whole-bunch fermentation in the Côte de Nuits wines. The house style remains one that 'emphasises the natural elegance of great Burgundies' as they describe it. The domaine is all cultivated with an organic and biodynamic approach.

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 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.

This is the second vintage with the new (but very old) vines from what used to be Domaine Newman, bought by a French investor and entrusted to Loïc to manage. So Beaune village from the lieu-dit Fougets, as well as Beaune 1er Crus Clos des Avaux and Grèves, Monthélie and Pommard Vaumuriens (above Rugiens) are all in the range again. We also tasted for the first time his Chorey-les-Beaune, from a small parcel of 80-year-old vines which they bought (the first vintage being 2017). They again had a picking team of sixty 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 very early on the 20th August and were finished on the 28th, the earliest harvest ever. Loïc remarked that their very old vines have such deep roots that none of them showed signes of stress from lack of water. "The wines average 13 to 13.5% maximum, with an ideal balance of acidity and ripeness - making for great freshness and purity" was Loïc's take on the vintage "it's a hot vintage with lots of acidity, not the cold acidity of 2016 - we've never had wines with such perfect balance."

Domaine Christian Clerget

A domaine of 6 hectares, with 8 appellations, run by Christian, Isabelle and their daughter Justine Clerget from their house in the northern end of the little village of Vougeot, which is really in the commune of Chambolle. They have been organic (certified) since 2017, Justine having insisted on it when she joined them, but it sounds as though she was pushing at an open door, because Christian is entirely committed to this approach and clearly believes that good wine starts with the vines.

At harvest the grapes are picked into small cases for the short trip to the winery which really is right in the middle of their holdings. They adapt to the vintage conditions, so that they did 2 pigeages in total in 2019, whereas in 2017, they did one a day throughout the fermentation. In 2018 they did some whole bunch fermentation, but reverted to their normal complete destemming in 2019. At the end of the alcoholic fermentation Christian decants into tank, allows the wine to settle for ten days, then puts the wines into barrel where they stay without racking until bottling. They are using about 30% new wood on the villages and 40% on the Chambolle Charmes and the Échézeaux, and the wines say in barrel for a long élevage of 18-20 months.

2020, Justine told us, was in some ways more like 2017 than 2018 or 2019 - lots of sun but not the same heat.

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. Although they have been organic since the 1990's Louis is concerned that the soils are still not in the best of health, so he is trying grassing over - but is concerned that this can mean competition for the vines and lower yields. In general he's trying to improve biodiversity in the vineyards, but says that they are going at it by feel, with small changes to see what works - a very practical hands-on approach. He spends 80% of his time tending the vines, and is working to make the plants more resistant to disease and rot.

In 2020 they picked between the 22nd and 30th of August, the different plots coming in at 12.8-13.8% alc.