Burgundy:The Big and Small of It

Burgundy:The Big and Small of It

Post by Chuck Hayward | April 1, 2011

Tasting 2009 Whites at Louis Jadot

Our trip to Burgundy has been a spectacular vinous pilgrimage on a number of fronts, but most importantly, we accomplished our mission. Trekking the holy trail that leads south from Dijon through the Cotes-de-Nuits, we spent a couple of days getting up-close-and-personal with winemakers and current releases, as well as assessing what lies ahead. Afterwards, we headed to Beaune and invaded the offices of Louis Jadot where we encountered a positively knee-buckling line-up of wine, including some pretty amazing older vintages.

In addition to getting insight into the wines themselves, these few days also highlighted one of Burgundy’s great polemics. It goes something like this:

The Vineyards Of Romanee-Conti

With the idea that smaller is better, industry pundits and connoisseurs typically hold large wineries and negociants in lesser esteem (sometimes in outright contempt) than small, farmer-winemaker estates. The romantic story of the noble vigneron tilling his vineyard and fighting the large, soul-less city-based firms just to get the mortgage paid speaks to the “little guy” in all of us. But is personal passion inherently superior to corporate pursuits? Critics of big business think so, alleging that large firms lack a unique voice, producing dumbed-down wines aimed at an audience that doesn’t know any better. (more…)

Will the real Burgundy please stand up?

Will the real Burgundy please stand up?

Post by Chuck Hayward | March 29, 2011

Before team JJB descends on Bordeaux for En Primeurs 2010, a few of us are laying-over in Burgundy to have a look at the acclaimed 2009 vintage. Coincidentally, recent articles by Eric Asimov (New York Times) and Charlie Olken (Connoisseurs’ Guide), as well as a seminar at the World of Pinot conference have placed a unique frame around the pinots we’ll be tasting during our stay.

Street signs, Burgundy

Which way, which way?!

At issue? High alcohols, particularly in domestic pinot. Without rehashing the content of these articles (and without taking sides), it is safe to say that the debate remains as active and contentious as ever. Certainly the matter is certainly far from settled.

In another article, and one particularly germane to our trip, The Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin examines the differences between the 2008 and the 2009 Burgundy vintages. While he doesn’t seem to have a dog in the aforementioned fight, his preference is clearly for the 08’s, and he alludes to the debate between the more classical, restrained styles of that year vs the riper, more forward examples produced in 09.

He is not alone in his assessment. Many industry insiders have proposed that the riper 2009’s are not “typical” of Burgundy, ergo not as good as the more subtle and, as Martin calls them, “transparent” 08’s. It’s no great mystery that the cooler climate of many European wine regions results in vintage variation and some years are going to produce riper Burgundies than others. What is fascinating here is that what Mother Nature has given us has somehow become a topic of concern, where the “authenticity” of an entire vintage is put on trial.  (more…)

Burgundy Brigade

Burgundy Brigade

Post by Chuck Hayward | October 11th, 2010

Getting wind of a Burgundy tasting sends most of us in the wine trade into a vinous tizzy. And so it was last week that we jumped across the bay to

Some '06 Burgs, ready to taste

RN74, San Francisco’s shrine to Burgundy and location for a tasting of assorted releases from the Vineyard Brands portfolio. Founded in 1971 by Robert Haas, a former New York City retailer, Vineyard Brands quickly became one of the country’s top importers of quality Burgundy and we looked forward to exploring their collection of estates.

Rather than the new releases we were expecting, we were fortunate that Vineyard Brands had decided to give us another look at reds and whites from 2006. Four years after vintage, it was an ideal time to assess the development of these wines and get a feel for where they are headed. Upon release, Stephen Tanzer observed that the ’06 whites were “rich, powerful wines, often high in alcohol. Their glycerol textures and often exotic tropical fruit character give them great early sex appeal.” At the same time, Bruce Sanderson noted in the Wine Spectator  that “the young Pinots also amazed me, with their immediate charm, seduction and balance.” (more…)

2006 Burgundy Barrel Sample Tasting

by Mike Supple

The following wines were presented by Frederick Wildman & Sons, LTD. Representatives (i.e. the wine maker and/or owner) of each Domaine poured the wines and answered our questions. Overall this was a fantastic showing of the 2006 vintage in Burgundy. While the weather was somewhat challenging (including a hail storm that destroyed much of the crop in the Grand Cru vineyard Chambertin), Burgundy was built on cool-climate vintages, and 2006 is turning out to be a very classic vintage. For more information on how various winemakers feel the weather affected their 2006 wines, view my previous posts: Louis Carillon, Jean-Marc Boillot, Etienne-Sauzet, Thierry & Pascale Matrot / Mongeard-Mugneret, Bernard Morey, Vincent Girardin / Dauvissat, Louis Michel, Laurent Tribut, Thibault Liger-Belair / Bruno Clair, Henri Gouges / Ponsot and Arnoux.

**These wines are all very young and many still in barrel. This means that the majority of the aromas and flavors are primary young fruits, and we only get an impression on what the future holds for any of these wines.**

Domaine Christian Moreau Pere & Fils

2006 Chablis
Very pale lemon-green in the glass. Light flint aromas backed by lemon and honeydew. Flint again on the palate with bigger green pear flavors and a touch of lemon. Hint of green asparagus on the finish. 87-88pts. -Mike Supple

2006 Chablis 1er Cru “Vaillon”
Pale lemon-green with a clear rim. Interesting floral aromas of iris and jasmine over flinty lemon. Chalky on the palate with sweet lmeon and light slate. Fairly bold acid throughout the palate, and a touch of honey on the finish. 88-90pts. -Mike Supple

2006 Chablis Grand Cru “Vaudesir”
Pale lemon-yellow core with a clear rim. Pear and honey aromas with a touch of white truffle. Very structured minerality in the mouth; bold acidity. Light toast and citrus zest with a touch of honeydew. 89-91pts. -Mike Supple

2006 Chablis Grand Cru “Valmur”
Pale lemon-yellow from the core out to the rim. Toasty ripe lemons and pears on the nose with a nice mineral streak. Sweet fruit entry on the palate. Fleshy ripe fruit, yet big enough acid to keep the fruit delicate and restrained. Honey and yellow pear linger on the finish. 90-93pts. -Mike Supple

2006 Chablis Grand Cru “Blanchot”
[This vineyard is named “Blanchot” due to the high limestone content in the soil.]
Pale lemon-green with a clear rim. Very floral in the nose with a bold steely minerality, candied lemons and yellow apple. Very strong minerality in the mouth with flavors that match the aromas and add a little more pear. Medium length finish. 89-91pts. -Mike Supple

2006 Chablis Grand Cru “Les Clos”
Pale lemon-green with a clear rim. Pear and white fig aromas. Huge minerality in the mouth. Very flinty and steely from front to back. Medium acid. Big fig flavors with a touch of citrus. Very young. 91-93pts. -Mike Supple

2006 Chablis Grand Cru “Clos des Hospices”
Pale lemon-yellow with a clear rim. Sweet Meyer lemon and light honeydew aromas over a rigid line of minerality. Toasted lemons on the front of the palate are followed by a rush of big flint. Very nice balance of acidity and fruit. Good length on the finish with a lingering note of honey. 91-94pts. -Mike Supple

Olivier Leflaive

2006 Chablis “Les Deux Rives”
A nice simple AC Chablis with good acid and moderate citrus fruit notes. 86-87pts. -Mike Supple

2006 Chablis 1er Cru “Cote de Lechet”
Toasty with ripe melon and lemon cream Medium acid and good length in the finish. 87-89pts. -Mike Supple

2006 Bourgogne Blanc “Les Setilles”
Flint and pear aromas. Good acid in the mouth. A little overripe fruit, but good minerality. 87-89pts. -Mike Supple

2006 Meursault
Very toasty aromas. Light white jasmine florals followed by flint and sweet citrus. Rich and toasty in the mouth with great acid. Melon and lemon flavors, slate, and a smoky finish. 90-92pts. -Mike Supple

2006 Meursault 1er Cru “Charmes”
Similar to the AC Meursault aromas, adding a touch of sulfur and ripe pear. Softer in the mouth with medium acidity. Lemon zest and a smoky finish. 89-91pts. -Mike Supple

2006 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru “Abbaye de Morgeot”
Light lemon aromas with toast, yellow pear and a hint of smoke. Sweet citrus on the front of the palate with a good amount of flinty minerality underlying the whole palate. A little hollow on the mid-palate. 89-91pts. -Mike Supple

2006 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru “Champ Gain”
Very light aromas. Floral notes, minearls and a light candied lemon. Very nice mouthfeel. Rich lemon and green apple. Laser-like acidity and a strong streak of minerals. Long finish with honeyed citrus. 91-93pts. -Mike Supple

2006 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
Very flinty aromas with green pear and blue slate. Great acid on the front of the palate. Big Meyer lemon flavors with lime, vanilla and slate. The acid is a little high making it a touch austere on the finish. This wine needs a few years. 90-92pts. -Mike Supple

Domaine Armand Rousseau

2006 Gevrey-Chambertin
Pale ruby core with purple tints, and a lighter pink rim. Raspberry aromas with a touch of earth, oak and violets. Good acid on the palate. Fresh strawverry and raspberry fruits. Medium (-) body. Fairly soft, medium tannins. 87-89pts. -Mike Supple

2006 Clos de la Roche Grand Cru
Light ruby and violet core with a violet rim. Aromas of cinnamon, raspberry, light cedar, black truffle and a touch of earth. Somewhat light bodied on the palate. Ripe fruit, good earth and truffle notes up front. Medium acid and tannins. Caramel and black fruits on the finish. Medium (+) length. 91-93pts. -Mike Supple

2006 Chambertin Grand Cru
Medium ruby/violet core with a pink/violet rim. Very perfumed aromas. Candied violets and oak. The fruit is somewhat subdued and first, but raspberry and blueberry come out as the wine opens. Closed, tight and young on the palate. Medium body with impressively ripe and approachable tannins. Caramel and toast with a hint of herbal notes on the lingering red fruit and vanilla toast finish. 92-94pts. -Mike Supple

Domaine Jacques Prieur
(Due to hail damage, Prieur did NOT produce a Grand Cru Chambertin in 2006. All of the remaining fruit was declassified and used in a 1er Cru Gevrey-Chambertin.)

2006 Meursault “Clos de Mazeray” Monopole
Very pale yellow core with a clear rim. Lemon aromas backed by cream, toast, vanilla and fresh oak. Pear flavors on the front of the palate. Medium (+) acid. Nice toast, citrus, and a hint of cream on the finish. 88-90pts. -Mike Supple

2006 Beaune 1er Cru “Champ Pimonts”
Pale lemon-yellow core with a clear rim. Buttery coconut aromas, butterscotch and ripe yellow apple. Very ripe flavors. Great body and balance. Toast, butter, lemon and apples. Great balanced acid and a long finish. 91-94pts. -Mike Supple

2006 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru “Les Combettes”
Pale lemon-yellow core with a clear rim. Toasty butter aromas, lemon, butterscotch and green pear. Oak up front on the palate is a bit intense. Smooth lemon zest on the mid-palate, and fairly high acid on the finish. Good components, but a little disjointed. 88-90pts. -Mike Supple

2006 Volnay 1er Cru “Santenots”
Light ruby core with a pink rim. Brown sugar, cherry and a touch of herbal aromas. Light body; muted flavors. Some dark fruit and earth. 87-89pts. -Mike Supple

2006 Beaune 1er Cru “Champ Pimonts”
Medium ruby core with a pink rim. Light chalk aromas over Bing cherry and straw. Fairly light and lifted aromas. Cinnamon on the palate with wet earth and slate. Very closed and little fruit showing. Rather high tannins and a bitter finish. 85-87pts. -Mike Supple

2006 Corton-Bressandes
Medium ruby color all the way out to the rim. Sweet caramel, raspberry and orange zest are accented by a touch of sweet herbs and cedar. Sweet and delicate on the palate. A lot of tannin, but impressively round and ripe. Long, spicy dark fruit finish. 90-93pts. -Mike Supple

2006 Clos de Vougeot
Medium ruby/purple core with a pink/purple rim. Blueberry, crushed violets, flint and black cherry aromas. Flint and slate dominate the palate. The fruits are somewhat muted and closed right now, but it is balanced very well. This wine needs some years in the bottle. 91-94pts. -Mike Supple

Burgundy/Alsace Day 5 – 08 June 2007

by Mike Supple

The ground is a bit wet this morning from some brief showers early in the AM. Not everywhere is wet, as the micro-climates in Burgundy seem even more intense than those of the San Francisco Bay Area. The storm remnants trickles in small rivers down the clay and sand driveway of Domaine Ponsot, located in Morey-St-Denis.

Domaine Ponsot

The Domaine was established by William Ponsot in 1872 after the end of the Franco-Prussian war. He purchased the house and vineyards, including Clos des Monts Luisants and Clos de la Roche. This history is clearly not lost on Laurent Ponsot who greets us by bursting on to a second-story balcony, long, curly dark hair flowing all around, as he calls out, “Bienvenue!”

He tries to play dumb at first, but we quickly realize his English is flawless, and his wit is quite sharp.

According to Laurent, 2006 was truly a challenging vineyard and the “wine was made more in the vineyards than the cellar”. The key to a great 2006 for Laurent was when the grapes were harvested. In his opinion too many of his neighbors pick just when the grapes are beginning to ripen, but he generally waits another 7-10 days until the fruit achieves phenolic ripeness. For Ponsot, 2006 is like 2004 in terms of balance: pH, alcohol, ripeness. The 2006 vintage was quite a bit smaller than his average though.

Total Production (in bottles):
2002 – 40,000
2004 – 50,000
2005 – 20,000
2006 – 20,000

As we wandered among the barrels he hands us Riedel tasting glasses. I personally am a huge proponent of proper glassware for tasting, and this was the first time all trip we tasted from Riedel – it’s all about the little touches….

This was truly an exceptional tasting experience. I found many similarities in these wines to those of Thibault Liger-Belair. Overall the 2006 vintage for Ponsot is amazingly subtle, balanced and elegant.

2006 Morey-St-Denis Clos des Monts Luisants Vieilles Vignes 1er Cru
100% Aligote.
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Gevrey-Chambertin Cuvee de l’Abeille
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Chambolle-Musigny Cuvee des Cigales
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Chambolle-Musigny les Charmes 1er Cru
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Morey-St-Denis Cuvee des Allouettes 1er Cru
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Griotte-Chambertin Grand Cru
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Chambertin Grand Cru
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Clos St-Denis Vieilles Vignes Grand Cru
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Clos de la Roche Vieilles Vignes Grand Cru
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

Domaine Robert Arnoux

Pascal Lachaux, son-in-law of the late Robert Arnoux, has been in charge of this famous estate since 1990. They have fantastic holdings in some of the best vineyards in Burgundy, including Romanee-St-Vivant, Clos Vougeot and Echezeaux, as well as 1er Crus in Nuits-St-Georges and Vosne-Romanee.

As I previously mentioned, we had the chance to dine with Pascal and his wife Florence a couple of days ago, and I have been looking forward to trying their ’05s ever since. Yes, I said ’05s. There are only so many barrel samples one can try of fierce, enamel-stripping wine just a few months old before moving on to the fierce, enamel-stripping bold and fruity wines that have been in bottle a mere few months.

Although the production level of these wines (like most great Burgundies) is very low, we can take heart in the fact that Pascal exports about 70% of his production. England is their largest market, followed by Asia, and then the US.

The 2005 Arnoux wines are not overly concentrated – Pascal does put an emphasis on the fruit, trying not to over-extract or bring out too much oak. He racked the wines a month before bottling (bottled in February) when the moon is waning. By racking during this part of the lunar cycle, the atmospheric pressure is higher so the lees hug the bottom of the barrels. This way more wine can be racked off without pulling out any sediment.

2005 Chambolle-Musigny Villages
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2005 Vosne Romanee Villages
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2005 Nuits-St-Georges Les Proces 1er Cru
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2005 Vosne Romanee Les Chaumes 1er Cru
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2005 Echezeaux Grand Cru
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2005 Romanee-St-Vivant Grand Cru
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2000 Echezeaux Grand Cru
Very rich aromas of black and white truffles and green herbs over roasted fruits, tobacco, red cherries, cassis and a touch of smoke. There is a hint of violet on the front palate, followed by liquorice and raspberry. Great balance on the palate with a nice purity of fruit. Lusch, full cassis through the mid-palate. Very ripe, supple tannins are well integrated. Very long spicy cherry finish with a bold mineral note. 96 pts. -Mike Supple

Domaine Weinbach

Domaine Arnoux is unfortunately our last stop in Burgundy, but on the bright side we are heading off to Alsace to visit the lovely Faller family of Domaine Weinbach. After all the rich lunches and dinners, we decide to stop at a pizzeria on the way up to Alsace for some pizza and a beer. The moral of this story is, do not let me order the food if you are looking for something a bit lighter. But I still don’t understand what is wrong with having three types of cheese, two meats and giant wedges of potato on pizza!

Not being responsible for the driving, I seize the opportunity and promptly pass out in the back seat of the car, waking only briefly in the middle when the traffic slows down for a sudden (but thankfully brief) thunderstorm.

We approach Alsace in the early evening under gorgeous clear blue skies. And remember, this time of year in Alsace the sun doesn’t set until just before 10:00, so early evening is still mid-day!

After dumping our bags at the hotel and grabbing a quick shower, we head out for the last 15 minutes of the business day to find a couple of souvenirs in the quaint town of Keysersberg, who’s mascot (if you will) is the stork. I’ve made the mistake of returning home empty-handed before…not a pretty sight! 😉

Our evening begins at Domaine Weinbach, where we meet Laurence and Catherine Faller, and Laurence’s boyfriend Mark. A bottle of 2005 Weinbach Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg Cuvee Ste Catherine helps us all get to know one another before we head to the Auberge de l’Ill, the extroardinary Micheline 3-star restaurant in Illhaeusern.

Laurence, Mark, Catherine, Shaun, Mike – On the River Ill (pronounced “eel”)

When we enter the restaurant, we are ceremoniously greeted by everyone who works here (easily 20+ people), including the head chef. Clearly the Fallers are no strangers to the establishment. Before being seated for the meal, we are all ushered outside to have drinks on the bank of the beautiful River Ill. And what better whet our appetites than a fresh bottle of the classic 2005 Weinbach Muscat Reserve?

The inside of the restaurant is a feat of architectural wonder, but when it comes down to it, all that matters is that the atmosphere was great, the service high-class, the chairs comfortable, and the meal one of the best I have ever had in my life.

2004 Weinbach Riesling Cuvee Ste Catherine
2004 Weinbach Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg Cuvee Ste Catherine l’Inedit
2002 Weinbach Pinot Gris Ste Catherine
1998 Weinbach Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Furstentum Selection de Grains Nobles

Dinner (at least mine, there were variations around the table, and wines were paired accordingly):
Chilled soup of tomato, cod and squid ink gnocchi
Lobster over fresh fennel, orange dressing and falafel
Noisettes of deer in a mushroom and wine sauce
Cheese (roquefort, comte, epoisse, munster)
Pre-dessert: macaroon,s raspberry tarts, chocolates, lemon cream pastries
Dessert: Vacherin Glacee – a local delicacy – strawberry and vanilla ice cream, meringue, clotted whipped cream, fresh strawberries
Post-dessert: coffee and chocolates back out by the river

Burgundy Day 4 – 07 June 2007

by Mike Supple

Things are starting to wind down here, as tomorrow is our last day in Burgundy. We left the hotel a little later in the morning (yay, three whole hours of sleep this time!) and spent the day at a slightly more leisurely pace. In the morning we visited Domaine Bruno Clair and had lunch prepared for us by his wife. After lunch we took a couple of hours and drove through some of the more famous Grand Cru regions, and spent a while walking around La Tache, Romanee Conti, La Romanee, Les Richebourgs, Romanee St Vivant, etc.

I’m now putting the day a little out of order, but here are some photos of this unbelievable area:

Mike Supple at La Tache

Monument to the ancestors of Thibault Ligier Belair, looking across La Tache

Gnarly old Pinot Noir vine in Romanee St Vivant

Looking across Romanee Conti and La Romanee – Unbelievably rich soil!

Les Richebourgs – Baby Pinot Noir grapes, smaller than peas

Shaun Bishop at La Romanee

After our little jaunt in god’s country, we headed to Domaine Henri Gouges, toured the vineyards, tasted with Christian and Pierre (Grandsons of Henri Gouges), followed by a home cooked meal at the Domaine.

Domaine Bruno Clair

Philippe Brun, the winemaker for Bruno Clair, began our tasting for us. He is pictured to the right climbing to the top of the barrels to get us our samples. The history of Domaine Bruno Clair is unfortunately fraught with loss of vineyards due to family dissension, as is the case with so many of Burgundy’s domaines. However, Bruno has been working hard to regain the rights to many of his vineyards, and his production will begin increasing, beginning with the 2006 vintage. In 1988, Bruno inherited approximately 15 hectares of land from his father, but about half of this was locked in to 18 year contracts with Jadot. In 2006 those contracts expired, and the amount of premier cru and grand cru wines Bruno can produce pratically doubled. For the first time, Bruno Clair now produces a domaine Bonnes Mares Grand Cru. Approximately 2/3 of his holdings in this vineyard are still tied up, but they will be his again in 2017, at which point his production of Bonnes Mares will triple.

Besides having access to great land, Bruno takes meticulous care in both the vineyard and the winery, where he is assisted by Philippe. Due to his great passion for the vineyard, Bruno spends as much time there as possible, and truly believes great wine starts in the vine. If the grapes that show up at the winery are not of utmost quality, even the most skilled winemaker in the world cannot make anything worthwhile with them. In order to produce great grapes, one must understand the how the geology works in Burgundy. The vineyards of Burgundy all run along rolling hills. The top of the hills are mostly limestone, and the bottom and valleys are heavily clay. The limestone (aside from allowing water to drain) tends to give the wines a more intense mineral character, while adding finesse at the same time. At the bottom of the hills, the soil is a rich heavy clay, which adds depth, intensity and complexity to the wines. Thus, the obvious choice for a perfect wine would be one that combines the finesse of limestone with the depth and intensity of clay: thus the vineyards in the middle of the hillsides that combine these two soil types tend to produce the best wines. Oddly enough, just about all the Grand Cru vineyards are located in this middle hill region. For this reason, Bruno feels that, “Avec les Grand Crus il n’y a pas de mauvaises anées” (with Grand Crus, there are no bad vintages). It comes down to a matter of respecting the geography and working with what you have. Some years can be greater and some can be lesser, but when treated well, the wine should never be bad.

When asked to compare the 2006 vintage to another one, both Philippe and Bruno agreed that while it might have some similarities here and there to other vintages, it really is something all on its own.

2006 Dom Bruno Clair Marsanny Les Vaudenelles
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Dom Bruno Clair Marsanny Les Grasses Tetes
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Bruno Clair Marsanny Le Longerois
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Dom Bruno Clair Chambolle-Musigny Les Veroilles
Some of the younger vines in the Domaine ~15 years old.
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Dom Bruno Clair Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru La Dominode
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Dom Bruno Clair Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru La Petite Chapelle
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Dom Bruno Clair Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos du Fonteny
This is a monopole, planted with 21 year old vines.
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Dom Bruno Clair Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Cazetieres
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Dom Bruno Clair Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St-Jacques
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Dom Bruno Clair Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru
Very old vines: 2/3 planted in 1912, 1/3 planted in 1973
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Dom Bruno Clair Bonnes Mares Grand Cru
The first year for Bruno Clair Bonnes Mares.
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2005 Dom Bruno Clair Marsannay Le Longerois
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2005 Dom Bruno Clair Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru La Dominode
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2005 Dom Bruno Clair Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St-Jacques
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2005 Dom Bruno Clair Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

After the tasting, we had lunch prepared for us by Bruno’s wife, Isabelle. Lunch was quite the scene, as we got into rather intense arguments and discussions over French and American politics. He also went into his cellar and pulled out an ’88 and a ’95 for us to try. 1995 was not a particularly stunning vintage for Burgundy, so we tested the bottle to see how it had evolved. See notes below.

Les vins:
2006 Bruno Clair Marsanny Rose
-a delicious little wine: bright strawberry notes, with a crisp and refreshing finish
2005 Bruno Clair Marsanny Blanc
-Fresh aromas of tropical fruits, bold pineapple and a hint of meon. Good minerality and nickel on the front of th palate Well balanced, smooth and clean
2005 Bruno Clair Morey-St-Denis en la Rue de Vergy
2005 Bruno Clair Corton Charlemagne
1998 Bruno Clair Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Cazetieres
-Great truffle aromas over dark red cherries. Rich, smooth and clear aromas. Lively on the palate with spicy fruit and kirsch liquer flabors. Good acid supported by a supple tannic strength.
1995 Bruno Clair Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru
-Notes of horse sweat giving a very rustic quality to the fruit aromas. Very minerally on the palate with notes of orange zest. Strong tannins make this tough to drink right now. Probably needs another 5 – 10 years to settle, but the fruit made fade first.

Le repas:
Jambon persil – a regional dish of chilled ham and parsley
Roast chicken
Tomato, cucumber, black olive and feta salad
Pasta salad – bow-tie with cantaloupe, mozzarella, and lardon
Couscous with raisins, green peppers and red peppers
Fresh coleslaw of cabbage, carrots and raisins
Raspberry tort

Domaine Henri Gouges

The Gouge family has controlled the current Domaine since 1919. In the 1930’s, Henri Gouges played an active role in delineating the crus in Burgundy for the Institut Nationale d’Appellation d’Origine. Today the estate is run by Henri Gouges’ two grandsons, Christian and Pierre. Christian met up with us first, and took us on a drive to see his vineyards up close; we were joined later by Pierre in the cellar who led us through the wines. This is somewhat of a role reversal, as Christian is usually in the cellar while Pierre works the vines. In this first picture, Christian shows Shaun the vines in the 1er Cru vineyard Les Chenes Carteaux. These vines have all been evenly pruned to keep the lumber of leaves per stem at approximately 7 or 8. The pruning is done by a machine that drives over the rows. Vines of a similar age tend to grow a specific number of leaves based on the length of the rootstock and the height of the stems. Thus, the machine can be set to crop at a specific height, leaving exactly 7-8 leaves per stem.

Close-up of a grape bunch at Les Chenes Carteaux

Pierre and Christian were among the first to plant a specific variety of grass between their rows of vines, and they currently ave about 7 of their 15 hectares planted with grass. There are several reasons behind using the grass. Grapes are more concentrated and intense the more stress their is on the vine. By having grass between the rows, the majority of the rainwater is absorbed and used by the grass, stressing the grape vine and causing it to grow roots deeper into the soil. The grass also protects the soil from erosion during heavy rains. Due to the added stress to the vine caused by the grass, Christian and Pierre have noted that their grapes planted in the grassy rows in general are much smaller. Smaller grapes mean thicker skins, more resistance to disease and rot, and a higher concentration of sugar and acid. In the winery, the thicker skins add to the intensity of color in the wine, as well as the power of the tannins.

Back at the winery we noticed a lot of construction going on. The old winery has been completely ripped out, and an entire new winery being built – hopefully in time for the 2007 vintages. When we asked about comparing other vintages to 2006, we again received what has become a rather common answer: there aren’t really any other vintages is resembles. 2006 is truly its own animal. For the red wines, in the best Domaines there is a great depth and purity of fruit which is complemented by a fantastic elegance and finesse. When it comes to whites, they are simply amazing. Round, rich and ripe yet retaining incredible acid levels allowing the wines to be balanced, focused, crisp and pure. For Christian, 2006 is a vintage of fruit; silky with integrated tannins: “Il a tres belle couleur en 2006, un pinot de plaisir”.

Before getting to the wines, I need to mention that none of the red wines had gone through malolactic fermentation. Christian believes in following the biology of the wine, and therefor does not start this fermentation but rather lets it happen naturally. Some years it is early and quick, others late and long. He actually prefers to have a later malolactic fermentation, because while the wine is going through this process it is laden with carbon dioxide gas. This gas in the wine is a good thing during the heat of summer because it stops the wine from absorbing oxygen and becoming too oxidized. All of that said, malolactic fermentation changes the impression a wine gives on the nose and palate, so it would not be fair to score these wines right now. I will give notes as to the aromas and mouthfeel, but these could definitely change after the malolactic fermentation.

2006 Dom Henri Gouges Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Clos des Porrets St-Georges
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Dom Henri Gouges Nuits-St-Georges Villages
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Dom Henri Gouges Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les Chenes Carteaux
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Dom Henri Gouges Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Clos des Porrets St-Georges
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Henri Gouges Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les Pruliers
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Henri Gouges Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les Vaucrains
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2005 Henri Gouges Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Clos des Porrets St-Georges
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2005 Henri Gouges Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les Chenes Carteaux
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2005 Henri Gouges Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les St-Georges
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

Christian and Pierre have an truly amazing and very extensive cellar full of their wines from 1919 to the present. Before dinner they selected a couple for us to try. The first was a 1972 Les St-Georges (because neither Shaun nor myself had ever tried a Pinot from 1972) and the second was a 1940 Clos des Porrets. This is a particularly interesting vintage, because it happened at the beginning of World War II. This made getting any help in the vineyards particularly difficult. This brought up the interesting topic of the theft of wines during WWII. The Nazis, under Hitler’s orders, went in to cellars throughout France and confiscated wines from the best regions and best vintages. In an effort to keep from losing all these irreplaceable wines, many Frenchmen began erecting false walls in their cellars, blocking off large areas and hiding many wines. This sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. By keeping the walls as warm and moist as possible, mold was encouraged to grow quickly to make the walls appear older. Spiders were also collected and placed on the walls to add to the aged feel and help pull off the farce. The proprietor at the time of Dom Henri Gouges erected such a wall in his cellar, and his wines were protected.

A stack of bottles from 1944 and 1940 – all the older bottles in the cellar have recently been recorked.

Les vins:
2005 Dom Henri Gouges Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru La Perriere
1972 Dom Henri Gouges Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les St-Georges
-Bold truffle and earth nose. Spicy and gamy with black cherry aromas. Slightly oxidized and materized on the nose. In the mouth the wine is sweet, earthy and smoky with light metallics leading to lingering cherry. The tannins are almost gone, but there is still a lively acid on the mid-palate.
1940 Dom Henri Gouges Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Clos des Porrets
-The color is still amazingly bright with garnet hues. Smoky and metallic on the front of the nose, followed by earth, black truffle, mint and anise. Very good acidity, and incredibly supple on the palate. Better and livelier than the 1972.

Le repas:
-Saumon pate avec mayonnaise Dijon (no egg) et le salade
-Filets du veau et du porc avec pommes de terre au gratin
-Tart des fruits

Burgundy Day 3 – 06 June 2007

by Mike Supple

After another full night of 3 or so hours of sleep, we were off to try more wine. This time we headed north to Chablis. Chablis technically falls under the Burgundy appellation, but it is often argued that it really is not Burgundy at all. The climate and soil are rather different, and the Chardonnay produced in Chablis is generally much racier, crisper and more acidic (although not any less balanced). Due to the northern latitude, the climate is cooler and the harvest is generally later in Chablis than the rest of Burgundy by about a week. However, in 2006 the harvest began (depending on the Domaine) about a week earlier than in the Cote de Beaune and Cote de Nuits. This put the Chablis harvest some time in the first couple of weeks in September. 2007 has been an even warmer year, and the harvest is likely to take place by the end of August throughout all of Burgundy and even in to Chablis.

To give a little more geographical location, the town of Chablis is just under a two hour drive north from the center of Burgundy, and approximately two hours south-east of Paris.

Domaine Rene et Vincent Dauvissat

Our first tasting of the day was with Vincent Dauvissat, of the acclaimed Domaine Rene & Vincent Dauvissat. Unfortunately for us, Dauvissat’s production is absolutely minuscule, and very little reaches the United States. He has a very loyal following among France’s most esteemed restaurateurs, hence the availability of his wines for export is sharply limited. He also reserves approximately 25% of each vintage to be sold directly out of his cellar to local fans. That being said, if you can find it, I highly recommend it. His wines, from the Petit Chablis through the Grand Cru all over deliver at every level. (Of course we are only visiting domaines whose wine we absolutely stand behind, so saying that is somewhat of a moot point.)

The Dauvissat domaine consists of approximately 23 acres, which Vincent farms himself. During the spring and summer his cave is usually closed to the public because he is working in the vineyard from 5:00AM until 10:00 PM. We were thus very fortunate to have the opportunity to drag him out of the fields today. He practices rather traditional methods of winemaking, even using many smaller wooden barrels generally used only in Chablis. These barrels hold approximately 20% less wine than the larger barrels used worldwide. The smaller sized barrel increases the ratio of surface area to volume of wine, increasing the amount of oxygen contact with the wine. This method is not used in other parts of Burgundy, as the extra oxygen can cause the wines to over oxidize and have a shorter lifespan, but the power and acidity of Chablis allows for it, creating rounder more balanced wines. Dauvissat uses 20% new oak for his Grand Cru wines ad 15% new oak for his premier crus.

Larger barrels on left, smaller on right – la cave de Dauvissat
In 2006, Dauvissat had a smaller crop than 2005. The harvest took place on September 18, 2006. The crop was very concentrated with good acidity, which should lend itself to a long ageability. 2005 also had more botrytis, which causes difficulties for the yeast during alcoholic fermentation, so 2006 underwent a much faster, smoother fermentation process. The 2006 vintage to him is reminiscent of 1989; early harvest and powerful wines, yet 2006 has better acidity than 1989. The alcohol levels are very similar to 2005 and the acid is slightly higher in 2006.

2006 Dauvissat Petit Chablis
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Dauvissat Chablis
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Dauvissat Chablis 1er Cru Sechet
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Dauvissat Chablis 1er Cru Forest
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Dauvissat Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses
Very rich with riper fruit aromas, yet retains a very steely mineral focus and purity. In the mouth candied pineapple flavors surround light lemon notes. Great, round mouthfeel; delicate and bold at the same time with an amazing, lingering finish. -Mike Supple

2006 Dauvissat Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos
Light green herbs and a hint of asparagus are underscored by a very bold minerality, accented with light floral and lime aromas. This wine is fat and powerful with very focused acidity, keeping it well balanced. A streak of minerals runs under deep fruit flavors of apricot and white peach. -Mike Supple

Following the barrel samples he brought out an amazing treat:
1988 Dauvissat Chablis 1er Cru La Forest (91)
I just want to go on the record and say that the Wine Spectator rating of 74 for this wine is absolutely crazy. Granted, I don’t know what it tasted like in 1990, so it very well could have merited that rating at the time. If you still have any bottles of this wine around, or you can find some, DRINK THEM! The aromas are amazingly rich and smoky with sweet wild honeycomb and dried apricot balanced by lemon curd. In the mouth the wine is still showing amazing acidity. Powerful and ripe with flavors of lemon, smoky white peach and bold minerals. Although the smoke, minerality and cream come over top of the fruit, the balanced and mouth feel are still incredible. The finish is long and lingering, touched by hints of apricot. -Mike Supple

Domaine Louis Michel & Fils

Domaine Louis Michel et Fils is run by Jean-Loup Michel and Annick Gicqueau-Michel, the son and daughter of Louis. This morning, Annick’s young son Guillaume came home to help in the family business, leaving a web-design based job in Paris. We had the chance to meet with the all, and they are all quite excited about having Guillaume around to help. The learning process for the next generation of Domaine Louis Michel is underway.

The focus of the Michel domaine is to let the grapes express the individual terroir in as pure a manner as possible. For this reason, they do not use any oak at all for fermentation or for aging. Rather, all of the fermentation takes place in large temperature controlled stainless steel vats. The land of Domaine Louis Michel & Fils consists of approximately 45 acres, the majority of which are premier crus. The soil in their vineyards is laden with limestone, and not using oak allows the limestone to show forth as pure, focused, racy minerality in all their wines.

Like Dauvissat, Jean-Loup harvested his 2006 vintage before the rest of Burgundy this year, and the alcohol content is similar to 2005; these two vintages are the highest in alcohol in Jean-Loup’s memory.

An interesting side note: a few of the Louis Michel et Fils Village (not 1er or grand cru) wines are bottled in screw cap for the American market. This option was made available to the rest of the world, but not many are interested. I would have thought at least some of the newly emerging markets in Russia and Eastern Europe would be open to the idea, but Annick says that in these countries where they are just beginning to develop a wine culture, they want everything to be strictly traditional: screw caps are right out.

2006 Louis Michel et Fils Petit Chablis
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Louis Michel et Fils Chablis
Two versions of this wine are in separate tanks: a clean, crisp version destined for the screw cap bottle and then the American market, and a wine still on the lees. There are slight differences, but both have the same crisp minerality and focus.
(Tasting notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Louis Michel et Fils Chablis 1er Cru Montmain
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Louis Michel et Fils Chablis 1er Cru Forets
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Louis Michel et Fils Chablis 1er Cru Butteaux
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Louis Michel et Fils Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Louis Michel et Fils Chablis 1er Cru Montee de Tonnerre
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Louis Michel et Fils Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume
Always one of my favorite vineyards in Chablis. Fourchaume is actually split into two sections, and contains a smaller sub-appellation called “Vaulurent”. The Michel Fourchaume vines are within this sub-appellation. This is the only 1er Cru vineyard which actually touches a Grand Cru vineyard (Preuses). The next closest is the Cote de Brechain vineyard, a sub-appellation of the 1er cru Montee de Tonnerre, however Cote de Brechain is separated from the Grand Cru “Blanchot” by a road.
Rich aromas of honeycomb and sweet dried apricot are supported by a bold minerality. In the mouth the wine has an incredibly nice feel; both full and round. The wine is balanced and the acidity and minerality offset the almost swee white peach and lingering apricot finish. -Mike Supple

2006 Louis Michel et Fils Chablis Grand Cru Vaudesir
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Louis Michel et Fils Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Louis Michel et Fils Chablis Grand Cru Grenouilles
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple
2005 Louis Michel et Fils Chablis 1er Cru Montmain (90)
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2005 Louis Michel et Fils Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume (91)
Rich pear, white peach and nectarine surround a high mineral core with notes of wet flint. The wine presents a light herbaceousness on the palate. The wine is very full, and has a nice, balanced acidic structure with citrus flavors and underlying sweeter nectarine and tropical notes leading in to a bright mineral finish. -Mike Supple

2005 Louis Michel et Fils Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos (93)
Sweet and spicy with pure and focused fruit aromas of nectarine and dried apricot accented with light floral notes and dense minerality. Rich and creamy on the palate (and no oak!) this is a very full yet focused wine with a strong minerality and bold acid throughout the palate. Hints of white peach and creamy hazelnut linger on the finish. -Mike Supple

After the tasting, the Michel family took us to the Micheline Rated “Hostellerie des Clos” where we were treated to lunch.

2001 Louis Michel et Fils Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos
2000 Domaine Thierry et Pascal Matrot Blagny 1er Cru La Piece Sous le Bois

-Amuse Bouches: Layered butter pastry, smoked salmon puree on brioche, cheese puffs
-Chilled seafood bisque
-Oeufs en meurette a l’Irancy – poached eggs in a Pinot Noir reduction sauce, topped with mushrooms and lardon
-Roast free-range duckling and glazed vegetables
-Roast free-range duckling leg on a bed of mixed greens

Domaine Laurent Tribut

After lunch we traveled from the clean and modern style of Domaine Louis Michel et Fils to the more rustic farming approach of winemaking at Domaine Laurent Tribut. Laurent entered the wine-making tradition when he married Marie-Clotilde Dauvissat, the daughter of Rene Dauvissat. Laurent is a very friendly and hard working man, whose rough hands clearly show the dedication he has to his vineyards. His approach to vineyard management is very similar to the intense hands-on style of Vincent Dauvissat. Like Dauvissat, the wines in 2006 have approximately the same alcohol content as 2005 (about 0.5% lower in ’06) and the ’06 wines are higher in acidity. I have mentioned this several times, because this is somewhat of a rare and exciting combination in wine: the high alcohol comes from the high sugar in the rich, ripe grapes. Usually acid is lost when the grapes get this ripe, but in 2006 the natural acid levels remained very high, giving better balance to the wines and allowing great aging potential.

Laurent produces only three wines: a Chablis Villages and two Premier Crus. In Laurent’s opinion his two premier cru vineyards esentially are no different: they have very similar soil types, same southern exposure. The major difference is that the Beauroy is approximately 5 years older than the 25 year old Cote de Lechet.

1 down, 4,392,747 bottles to go
2006 Laurent Tribut Chablis
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Laurent Tribut Chablis 1er Cru Cote de Lechet
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Laurent Tribut Chablis 1er Cru Beauroy
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2005 Laurent Tribut Chablis (88)
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2005 Laurent Tribut Chablis 1er Cru Beauroy (90)
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair

Two hours and a brief rain shower later, we were back in the warm sun of Nuits-St-Georges for a visit with Thibault Liger-Belair. Readers take note: Domaine Liger-Belair is the hottest thing in Burgundy right now, and this name will be on the lips of every critic; it is only a matter of when, not if.

Winemaking has been the Liger-Belair legacy, with vineyards passing from generation to generation since 1720. After a brief restructuring period, Thibault took over the vineyards in 2001 (at the age of 26) and harvested his first wines in 2002 under his own name: Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair.

Thibault has the utmost respect for the land and the vines, and for this reason began organically farming his wines in 2002. He decided that was not quite enough, and made the change to biodynamic farming in 2004. Thibault is young and passionate about his wines and brings his energy and ideas to the vineyards and the winery. Rather than work with set ideas in mind on his method of wine production, he constantly adapts to the needs of the individual vineyards and barrels. Rather than use modern equipment to check for sugar levels, ripeness, acidity, etc in his grapes, he instead relies on his palate. It was through a series of trial and error that he decided that just because a wine is statistically perfect, it does not mean that it tastes right. When the grapes taste right in the field, they will taste right in the bottle.

Through his methods of biodynamic farming, Thibault has brought life back to the soil of his vineyards. When he began working with them, the vineyards were tired and the soil was gray. By applying various biodynamic methods, his soils have all revitalized, re oxidized, and are now a vibrant iron red. He also plows a few of his vineyards by horse, rather than tractor (including his vines in Clos de Vougeot and Richebourg). His dramatic new approach to a classic style of winemaking is turning heads, and Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanee Conti recently began using horses in Richebourg as well. There are 9 owners of vines within Richebourg, and Thibault’s holdings are the third largest, behind DRC and Leroy. At an age of 70 years, Thibault’s vines are the oldest in Richebourg. An interesting side note: Thibault’s family sold the vineyard La Tache to DRC in 1936.

Thibault is intent upon making wines that he likes; striving to make each wine truly express its terroir, he never makes thick, extracted, inky black Pinot Noir. In order to express this terroir, he works with each vintage on its own, allowing the good qualities to show through, rather than trying to force it to be something it is not. In 2003 the acid levels after harvest were somewhat low, and many winemakers added tartartic acid to their wines in an effort to stabilize the wines and protect them from bacteria. While this does work in the short run, tartaric acid never truly integrates itself in to the wine, and after 3 to 5 years the acid will begin to destabilize causing an unpleasant metallic character in the wine. Thibault instead worked carefully in the winery and let the wines express themselves in their true manner, and ended up with some monstrously gorgeous and intense Pinot Noir with amazing ability to age.

For Thibault, 2006 “is a light vintage, but not thin; a real basket of fruit in ’06. It is a very long wine with a long finish and very ripe acidity”. 2006 was a little more challenging of a vintage than 2005, and Thibault took many steps to allow his wines to show their true potential and terroir. By keeping his cellar cool while the wines were fermenting, he kept an intensity of fruit and aromas and reduced extraction in his wines. Nor did he use any punch down methods and used very minimal pump-overs. Again, this reduced the amount of extraction and tannin present in the wine. The end result are beautiful elegant, supple wines, in many ways reminiscent of Mongeard-Mugneret.

We caught Thibault on film describing the 2006 vintage, comparing it to others, and explaining why he started making biodynamic wines. Look for those videos here shortly!

2006 Thibault Liger-Belair Hautes Cotes de Nuits Corvee de Villy
Cool and spicy on the nose with hints of orange zest and ripe black cherry. The wine enters the mouth with a smooth, silky feel. Nice balance with a good tannic structure on the mid-palate. The fruits are rich and dark yet not overpowering.
This vineyard is biodynamic as of 2004. -Mike Supple

2006 Thibault Liger-Belair Bourgogne Rouge Grand Chaillots
Dark fruit aromas of blueberry, candied red cherry and a hint of cranberry are accented by a light charcoal minerality. Nice mouthfeel and a good tannic backbone.
Only 5 barrels of this wine were produced in 2006 from a 1/2 hectare piece of land. Aged in 3 year old barrels (the oldest barrels used by Dom Thibault Liger-Belair). -Mike Supple

2006 Thibault Liger-Belair Nuits-St-Georges la Charmott
Light sage and other dried herb aromas are followed by rich black cherry, raspberry and strawberry, surrounded by a light toasty quality. Very well balanced – this is lush and supple on the palate without getting too dense. Fairly high tannins, but well integrated on the palate. Rich cherry is backed by lighter charcoal and hints of earthy minerality. -Mike Supple

2006 Thibault Liger-Belair Vosne-Romanee aux Reas
Light caramel and spicy cassis aromas with hints of melted licorice and blackberry. Supple on the palate. Nice purity of fruit – rich raspberry – and solid tannic structure. Very bold minerality on the finish.
These vines are on the southern part of Vosne-Romanee, across the street from the 1er cru vineyards. The vines are 60 years old. -Mike Supple

2006 Thibault Liger-Belair Aloxe-Corton 1er Cru Toppe au Vert
A little wild and rustic on the nose. Full minerality on the palate with hints of slate and nickel. The mouthfeel is very full, but the finish is a touch short.
One of his negociant bottlings. -Mike Supple

2006 Thibault Liger-Belair Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Grunchers
Very toasty aromas with a bright herbaceousness over rich black cherry. Well balanced on the palate with hints of mocha over the rich fruit and full bold mineral body.
One of his negociant bottlings.-Mike Supple

2006 Thibault Liger-Belair Gevrey Chambertin La Croix de Choix
A new wine this vintage for Liger-Belair.
Great nose – powerful fruit aromas of raspberries surrounded by spicy anise and lighter floral notes. Delicate on the front of the palate, building to a nice full finish. Round on the mid-palate with light herbs, rich fruit, nicely balanced tannins and a bold mineral streak in the finish.
54 year old vines. Production: 17 hectoliters/hectare. No destemming, no sulfur treatments. -Mike Supple

2006 Thibault Liger-Belair Corton les Rognets Grand Cru
Very bright on the nose with floral notes and spicy fresh anise. Candied cherry and licorice dominate the front palate, with darker blackberry fruit coming in on the mid-palate. This is a very balanced, soft and lush wine with a fantastic mouthfeel. Should be approachable at a young age, but have the ability to age well.
One of his negociant bottlings. -Mike Supple

2006 Thibault Liger-Belair Corton Renards Grand Cru
This wine just finished going through malolactic fermentation, and has slightly reduced qualities to it.
Ripe, fresh fruits on the nose with light herbaceous notes. Smooth with powerful fruit flavors, but less intense tannins. The fruit is rich and has a candied quality to it, but not to the extent where the wine becomes cloying.
One of his negociant bottlings. -Mike Supple

2006 Thibault Liger-Belair Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru
Very herbaceous up front, with bold fruit rushing in behind. Ripe raspberry and blackberry are followed by sweet and spicy strawberry notes. Round and full in the mouth, with bolder more powerful tannins. Great depth with sweet dark fruits and a lingering toasty quality. -Mike Supple

2006 Thibault Liger-Belair Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les St-Georges
Rich caramel aromas over ripe, full cherry, raspberry, blackberry and strawberry surrounding light hints of earth and mineral. Supple and rich on the palate. Great mouthfeel with full ripe fruits, yet stays in balance with the tannins. Good structure and minerality with cherry and hints of spicy anise on the finish. -Mike Supple

2006 Thibault Liger-Belair Richebourg Grand Cru
A little tight and shy on the nose: light yet elegant fruit aromas waft over nice violet and lilac floral notes. Good power on the palate: great depth of fruit with a bold minerality. Manages to remain elegant and never gets too bold. Very long, lingering finish.
From 70 year old vines – the oldest in the Richebourg vineyard. -Mike Supple

2005 Thibault Liger-Belair Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru (92-94)
This wine was bottled one month prior to tasting.
Very interesting nose: spicy nutmeg and caramel accented by bold, ripe cherry and blackberry fruits, followed by a lingering vanilla spice. Great balance on the palate. Very rich fruits with a bold yet integrated tannic structure. Silky and smooth on the mid-palate, and an intense, long lingering finish. Outstanding! -Mike Supple

2005 Thibault Liger-Belair Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les St-Georges (91-93)
Cooler aromas with fresh spicy anise ober black cherries, hints of earth and iron, and light notes of cassis. Silky and rich on the front of the palate, and quickly gives way to an underlying deeper power. This wine is naturally 14.8% alcohol, but none of the heat is present on the palate. Outstanding balance of fruit, tannins and minerality. Light orange zest, cherries and cassis lead to a very long finish. -Mike Supple

Dinner with Thibault Liger-Belair at La Cabotte in Nuits-St-Georges

La Cabotte is a fun restaurant with a relaxed atmosphere, owned and operated by a husband (head chef) and wife (hostess etc). Unfortunately, they may be leaving soon to go to New York, but the restaurant will stay open, left in the capable hands of one of their other chefs. I can only hope the food remains as amazing.

Thibault speaks English incredibly well, and has a boisterous, fun and welcoming personality. Long story short: dinner was a blast. At La Cabotte we ran in to Olivier L’Arlot – winemaker of Domaine L’Arlot – and his wife, who were gracious enough to share their dinner wines with us, spreading the fun around.

-1999 Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc
-We had a the 1999 Leflaive 1er Cru Les Pucelles last night, and were disappointed by how oxidized it had already become. However, this little Bourgogne Blanc had a lot of life left in it, and was drinking beautifully.
-2003 Domaine Bertagne Clos Vougeot Les Cras
-Very buttery minerality on the nose. Great balance on the palate with a spicy cream quality.
-2003 Thibault Liger-Belair Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les St-Georges
-This is a huge wine with 15% natural alcohol – that is so well balanced the alcohol does not come through in the least. Intense fruit is accented by light mint and herbal notes with a bold lingering minerality.
-2005 Thibault Liger-Belair Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru
-2001 Domaine Lafarge Volnay Villages

The meal:
-Amuse Bouches: Fried potato balls in a cumin aioli, tempura cone (picture a thin ice cream cone) filled with mashed potato and Comte, gaspazcho
-Tempura frog’s legs over risotto and fresh herbs
-Roast duckling breast with golden potatoes, mushrooms, and a cassis glaze (yes, I chose duck twice in one day – for the record, this one was prepared a little better)
-Fromages: goat cheese from Puligny, Citaux, Epoisse, Comte and 2 Blue cheeses
-Tart tatin with ice cream made from salted cream and caramel

Encore, on a trop manger!