Côte d'Or

2018 was a very high-yielding vintage across most of the Côte d'Or whites. The large harvest did not disappoint in quality either - we were delighted to find white wines with lots of up front weight and volume, finishing on pithy, almost tannic phenolics which will keep them fresh and evolve into more flavour with time. The vintage doesn’t quite have the intensity and longevity of a 2014, but although for the most part they will be ready to drink quite early, we think they may last longer in the cellar than many are giving them credit for at the moment.

Last year's signing Joseph Colin has made some brilliant wines, and we are also very happy to be introducing Domaine de la Choupette, based in Santenay, where the Gutrin brothers are making excellent Puligny as well as Santenay. We are also enormously looking forward to seeing Rémi Jobard's concentrated and intense Meursaults at a slightly more advanced stage of their evolution at our January tasting.


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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.

There is a bit more wine here than in some recent vintages - a chance to get on the list of one of the most sought-after Domaines of Burgundy.

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.

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 since then 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 2018 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. Genarally nothing is either fined or filtered.

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

In 2018 Joseph picked over more than three weeks, starting on the 26th August and not finishing the last plots until the 20th of September.

Domaine Hubert Lamy

A domaine with 18.5 hectares of vines - 80% are Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir. The vines are spread over Saint-Aubin, Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet and Santenay. Olivier Lamy's wine-making style and preference is to emphasise the fresh and the mineral side of his wines, with limited new wood and that is with the wines in 600 litre demi-muids rather that the classic Burgundy (225 litre) fût. Certainly Olivier's whites do have an arrow-like purity and intensity, and seem to age completely straight and true.

In 2018, he told us, there was for once no frost or hail. It was very dry in the summer, but had been very wet in winter when it seemed to rain every day. In the winter they had 50% more water than usual, but in summer it was 50% less. There was also 30% more sunshine than normal, and it was the sun rather than the heat which for him really defines the vintage - the sunniest for 30 years.

They started picking on the 22nd of August - earlier than in 2003, but did not finish until the 12th September - some of the reds, despite being at 14 degrees potential alcohol, were green inside - that had not achieved phenolic ripeness and they just had to wait. In the reds he used more stems to keep freshness, and in the whites he pressed harder, saying that you can be more aggressive with the skins when there is ripeness like this - you need the phenols from the skins to balance the ripeness.

His final kicker of a comment was that although yields were pretty good in 2018, 2019 is a very small harvest - so buy while you can.

Domaine-Hubert-Lamy

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 are 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 a sophisticated microlight which he flies to all corners of France, he keeps 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) - he now helps Laurent with all aspects of the wine-making and viticulture at the domaine. 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.

Domaine Henri Germain

Jean-François Germain was joined over the course of 2018 by his daughter Lucie - who is now helping to run this small (6.5ha) 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. His Poruzots comes from rows next to those of Rémi Jobard, as they would have been in the same family originally. 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.

These are concentrated, tightly wound wines from one of Burgundy's coldest cellars. Slow to develop, they show wonderful crystalline purity. New wood is used sparingly.

Jean-François told us that the yields in 2018 had been generous - 60hl/ha across the domaine (and 57hl/ha in the Premiers Crus). He described the whites as fresh and taut, but the concentration as unexceptional - but that they are nicely straight and pure with 'une belle dynamie', and it will be possible to drink them quite young. Prices to be released end of January.

Domaine Rémi Jobard

Rémi has been 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.

2018 has produced another great set of wines here, althought we always seem to arrive when they are being fined, so they are hard to taste - we look forward to seeing them again at our London tasting. But there's terrific concentration in a vintage which in general had large yields. Rémi picked the domaine fruit between the 30th of August and the 9th of September.

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, and with this holding and others from his paternal side, he set up his own business. He makes wines that show well young, with complex exotic fruit aromas with the core of minerality, but they age well too. His daughter Lydie and son are now taking a more active role in the domaine.
Domaine-Jean-Marc-Boillot

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. In 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 2018s certainly are rather astonishing.

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 last year's acquisition of small parcels in Latricières and Échezeaux, the Boillots bought the vineyards of Domaine Henri Darnat early in 2019, and will have almost all the wines from the 2019 vintage.

Henri Boillot

Henri Boillot complements his domaine wines with a small range of négociant wines of superb quality in very limited quantities. A few of the wines are offered here - an opportunity to buy some of Burgundy's rarest appellations from a top source.
Henri-Boillot

Domaine Faiveley

As we tasted with winemaker Jerome Flous he was keen to point out that this is a far more serious vintage than it may first appear. Yes there was a hot summer, but that is not the only story - these wines have great intensity too and are full of promise for the medium to long-term - despite the apparent up-front richness.

2018 is his 12th vintage at the helm of Faiveley and there is a reassuring confidence about him - these certainly all look very accomplished wines in the vintage. It has not been straightforward in 2018 - tricky climatic challenges aside. A stop-start fermentation in the cellar lead to some difficult, wild elements in the young juice. The lees were potentially quite ‘dangerous’ he says. So he racked all the 1er and Grand Cru wines very early to preserve clean and fresh fruit. He intends to give all the reds two winters in the cellar as they need a long élévage to ‘finish off’. He’ll start the bottling in March 2020.

Tasting them we were struck by quite how measured and tightly-wrapped they seem for now. Smart and sophisticated on the whole with good restrained power and intensity, impressive drive for 2018.

As is so often the way here each wine really has a sense of place and knows its spot on the pecking order. There are some real delights for drinkers.

Domaine-Faiveley

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

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, still driven by the same passions that inspired the founder - and it remains one of the most well-respected names in Burgundy, staying true to their motto of 'natual elegance'. The domaine is all cultivated with an organic and biodynamic approach.

Véronique Drouhin took us through the 2018 vintage and how she and her brothers managed it - always with the help of star chief winemaker Jérôme Faure Brac. A mild rainy winter after the hot dry summer of 2017. A cool spring, a bit of frost, and then in mid April fast growth in warm weather "the vines exploded into growth". It was warm and dry until July - warmer and dryer than usual "good news for Philippe" (Véronique's brother, in charge of the vineyards) - no mildew, no botrytis - they are all organic, so this was especially good as these are hard to treat. Harvest was early, starting on the 29th August, and finishing mostly by the 7th-9th, except for Chablis and Maconnais.

As Véronique put it "sugars were not low", so they had to decide whether to wait for phenolic maturity or not. They decided to wait. "But you cannot pick 80 hectares in one day, so decisions had to be made".

The whites were picked in perfect conditions. Careful management of the lees and almost no batonnage except to help the fermentations along. "I did not think that the wines would keep so much freshness - I think Jérôme did a great job", Véronique summed-up.

In the reds they used a lot of whole clusters - even in wines like the Beaune premiers crus, which is not something they normally do. Between 25% and 65% depending on the cuvée. They were easy to vinify - colour came easily, but they did not want to extract too much or make them too big "they have very good ageing potential, but they have charm too.. you have to respect the vintage, but..." The wines range from 12.5 to 14.3% Alc. (reds and whites), and all the Grands Crus are over 13.5%.

Domaine-Joseph-Drouhin

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 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. 2018 marks the first year being fully organic - if all goes well they will be certified after three.

Domaine Bernard 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%.)

'Nous on est tres content' said a relaxed and smiling Loïc Dugat as he began to tell us about the 2018 vintage. There were frosts until March - the winter had been cold and rainy so there were good reserves of water, then suddenly in April they had 28C - from freezing at night straight to that. Flowering happened from the 23rd May. It was very hot in August - 34-35C - but there was no blocage de maturité because of the water reserves in the ground. He started to harvest on the 29th August (Charmes, Vosne, Pommard), but it was still 29C in the afternoons, so they hurried, employing a team of fifty to get it all picked in a week. They finished with the Corton Charlemagne on the 7th September. Loïc has just one word for it: 'exceptional'.

Oh, and before you ask, the domaine's Chambertin, of which there were only 200l in 2018, which a couple of critics have made their wine of the vintage, is no longer released en primeur.

Domaine-Bernard-Dugat-Py

Domaine Thomas-Collardot

Jacqueline Collardot and her son Matthieu own and run this exciting 'micro-domaine' in the heart of Puligny-Montrachet. Matthieu completes his studies this year and will join Jacqueline permanently, just in time for the harvest. Once they are doing it together we look forward to a slightly bigger production - as for now Jacqueline is limited to what she can achieve all on her own. At only 2.5ha, this is an almost artisan project, allowing Jacqueline to give unrivalled time and care to every parcel she has – all the work is either done by horse or by hand. 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. The results are stunning and this is a very exciting 'new signing' for the 2018 vintage. 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 élévage 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.
Bottle-label-Domaine-thomas-Collardot