Ray Walker is the perfect exemple of someone who is living his dream. A couple of years ago, when living in California and working in finance, he got bitten by the wine bug. He then worked at a few local wine growers and soon decided he wanted to make his own wine. He thought about buying petit shiraz grapes in California (not because he was so passionate about this variety, but because nothing else was offered to him), but he realized what he would like to do most was to make pinot noir. And that the best area in the world to do so is Burgundy.
So he made the decision to go and make wine in Burgundy! Even though he didn't speak any French, and he had never ever been to France! He started learning the language through the internet, and went to Burgundy to see if it would be possible to buy grapes and make his own wine. Much to his own suprise he was not only able to buy grapes, but we was even offered Grand Cru grapes! He bought 6 barrels worth of Charmes-Chambertin and 2.5 barrels worth of Le Chambertin grapes, along with 3 barrels worth of Morey-Saint-Denis 1er cru Chaffots. With that he made his first ever wine in 2009, in a rented facility in Saint Aubin.
His first wines are very much hand-made. Not only sorting was done by hand (without a vibrating sorting table) but also destalking! Only for the Morey-Saint-Denis he used a small portion of whole clusters. Wine making can be describes as: as low interventionist as possible. Very little punching down or other means of extraction, but also very little use of sulpher. For the elevage Ray uses only a small portion of new barrels. He doesn't know yet how the wines will be bottled, but it will be done without fining or filtering.
Meanwhile Ray has found his own place in Nuits-Saint-Georges where he now lives with his wife and daughter. There is a nice barrel cellar, and a tiny garage that Ray has equipped with a few wooden fementers (= cuverie). In order to do the wine making even more "a l'ancienne" Ray has bought a 90 year old wine press. See his blog for pictures of this press, and lots of interesting background information.
The wines of the initial vintage of Maison Ilan (tasted from barrel) look great! They are very, very pure, elegant, and very much "en finesse". These are wines without make-up, so there is plenty of room for the terroir and the lovely fruit to shine through. Me likes!
Morey-Saint Denis 1er cru Chaffots Lovely nose, ripe dark fruit. A bit spicy. Very nice, fresh, pure fruit. Lovely!
Charmes-Charmbertin (lieu-dit Aux Charmes) Pure, nice intense fruit. Pure and fresh, full and round. Lovely!
Le Chambertin Richer fruit compared to the Charmes. Round, soft and very pure. Lots of finesse and complexity. Lovely!
How can you make a small fortune in the wine business? By starting with a big fortune... That´s the expression I had to think about when visiting Roelof Ligtmans at Domaine de la Monette.
Dutchman Ligtmans sold his IT company in 2005 (so, before the financial crisis). After a couple of years he and his wife Marlon decided to buy a house in Mercurey. A house that had been known as Domaine de la Monette, but it had not been used as a wine domaine for over 30 years. Some 4 hecatares of vines, directly next door, still belonged to the house but they were rented out on a long-term contract. Shortly after they moved into the house, the Ligtmans couple found out another parcel of vines next to the one belonging to the house came up for sale. They bought it! And soon after that they bought a parcel of Bourgogne rouge vines in Fontaine.
Since they didn´t have any previous experience in wine (other than the most important one, drinking it!) they both entered the wine school in Beaune. And that is how they became vignerons!
Their very first vintage is 2009 (not the worst vintage to start with), and meanwhile they have been able to buy some additional vineyards, which brings the total surface to about 4,5 hectares. Not only did they buy the vineyard, they also needed to completely refurbish the cuverie, get a tractor with all equipment, etc. They are now having sun collectors installed on the roof of the cuverie.
Marlon and Roelof do all the vineyard work themselves. And they decided to work organic from the start, which means even more work! Roelof wants the winemaking to be as natural as possible, but he is also pragmatic. When a cuve didn´t ferment by itself, Roelof added yeast to get the fermentation going (after 30 years there are of course very little wild yeasts left in the cuverie). Roelof tries to interfere as little as possible. Not a lot of punching down or other means of extraction, except for a short cold soaking of the must before fermentation.
It´s of course very early days, but Roelof´s first vintage is very promising. And also his approach, his ideas, his ambition: it all makes me expect great things!
2009 tasted from barrel:
Bourgogne rouge Picked late, 13,6 % alcohol. Malo finished. Ripe fruity nose. Nice rich dark fruit. Full bodied. Good grip and good lenght. Serious wine.
Mercurey From the "lesser" (lower) parts of the "Le Saut Muchiau" vineyard. 12,6 % alcohol (not chaptalized). Malo almost finished. Very nice fruit. A bit earthy. Very fresh, pure fruit. Would like to drink this already!
Mercurey "Le Saut Muchiau" The best (highest) parcels of the vineyard vinified seperately. Fuller, richer fruit. More structure. More (ripe) tannins. Very good!
Jean-Marie Fourrier calls 2008 a very difficult vintage. Because of the cool summer it was hard to get sufficient ripeness. A very severe triage was needed. High acidity levels caused long, slow malolactic fermentations. For a long time Jean-Marie doubted if the wines would become any good. But now that the malos are finished, much to his own surprise, the wines turn out to be really nice!
They are very lively wines, with lovely pure and clean fruit. Maybe not for long cellarring, but they will be very hard to resist in their youth anyway. Not to be missed!
Morey-Saint-Denis "Clos Solon" A bit understated nose. Lovely red fruit, round, supple. Good acidity. Soft, round finish with a spicy, earthy edge. Nice Morey!
Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes Some reduction on the nose (malo finished only three weeks ago). A bit tight, quite some acidity, but nice rich fruit (cherries) as well. Good intensity and lenght. Very promesing.
Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru Cherbaudes Lovely nose, tres pinot. Great fruit, very pure, rich and succulent. Very fresh, intense and long. Lovely!
Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru Champeaux A bit more closed on the nose. More round and full than Cherbaudes. Seductive, sweetish fruit. Good freshness and purity. Great stuff!
Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru Clos-Saint-Jacques Super fruit! Sweetish, ripe, lots of complexity and finesse. Very long, minerally finish. Terrific!
Griottes Chambertin Very attractive, round cherryfruit. Very elegant, feminine style. Very good complexity, harmony and lenght. Delicious!
There was some sort of mix-up with the appointment. Benoit Ente and his spouse cleary didn't count on us coming to taste, because they were busy trying to get the wine press onto a trailer. To no avail, because the shopping cart wheels made the press go everywhere except on the trailer. But with the help of three Dutchmen the press got on the trailer unharmed.
With this problem out of the way, we could join Benoit and Coralie at their kitchen table to taste the '08s. A great range of wines! Another proof that Benoit (like his older brother Arnaud in Meursault) in a relatively short period of time has become one of the true stars of his village. I'm a big fan!
2008 Chassagne-Montrachet A bit closed on the nose, some flowers. Good fruit, sweetish, fresh, a touch of caramel. Long. Very fresh, slightly minerally finish.
2008 Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru Champs Gain Little nose. More tight than the Chassagne. Juicy. Good backbone. Zesty, minerally. Long finish with lots of grip.
2008 Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru Les Referts Starts round, then tight acidity kicks in. Elegant and fresh. Applejuice and pear. Good balance; tight finish.
2008 Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru Hameau de Blagny Round ripe, a bit sweetish fruit. Very fresh and intense. Soft but intense finish. Long, with lots of grip! Already very approachable. Great!
2008 Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru Folatieres, En la Richarde Full, rich, quite concentrated. Not too expressive yet, but with nice rich fruit.
2008 Bourgogne rouge Very pretty red fruit. Ripe, juicy, supple. Pure fruit. Lovely vin de soif.
This domaine used to be called François et Antoine Jobard, but now that Antoine has taken over the lead of the domaine it's just Antoine Jobard. The new name also means a new label, one that is more modern but still very stylish and tasteful. What hasn't changed (luckily!) is the style of the wines. They are refined, pure, mineral wines, not meant for early pleasure but rewarding some aging. They have nice richness of fruit, without being fat. Great stuff!
2008 Bourgogne blanc Floral nose along with some spicy white fruit. Very fresh and pure. Zesty. Good lenght, good body.
2008 Meursault "Tillets" "Lie" on the nose. Fresh and elegant. Tight. Minerally finish.
2008 Meursault "En la Barre" Full nose, richer than Tillets. Round, yet with very nice acidity. Well balanced.
2008 Meursault 1er cru Poruzot Round, full, elegant, quite soft. A lot of grip towards the end though. Goes on and on.
2008 Meursault 1er cru Genevrieres Rich, ripe nose. En bouche: fresh, tight, refined. Much more mineral than Poruzot.
2008 Meursault 1er cru Charmes A bit closed on the nose. Fresh, round. Full but not fat. Lots of finesse.
2007 Bourgogne blanc Very fresh. Nice acidity. Tight, but with good richness. Very gulpable.
2007 Meursault "Tillets" Flowery nose, with peppermint and minerals. Round, fresh and juicy.
2007 Meursault "En la Barre" More full and rich than Tillets. Very round and juicy. Very fresh, long finish.
2007 Meursault 1er cru Poruzot A bit closed on the nose. Rich, round and full, yet at the same time very fresh. Good length.
2007 Meursault 1er cru Genevrieres Full, round, very intense. Very well-balanced. Very long.
1994 Meursault 1er cru Poruzot Not much there on the nose. Very little evolved. Nutty. A little bit oak. Fresh, round, very lively. Good acidity. Still incredibly youthful.
Denis Bachelet was already one of my favourite producers in Burgundy (based on just a few bottles I drank), so for me it was a big pleasure being able to taste here (with Dutch importer Chris Janselijn). When meeting Denis Bachelet, you understand why his wines taste the way they do, the wines really reflect his personality. He is a very modest, thoughtful guy with a subtle, understated sense of humour. His wines are really pure, well-blanced, understated, with lots of depth. And the wines are not even that expensive (unlike the wines of some other "cult domaines" in the village). It's just that are not a lot of bottles available (Bachelet only has about 3,5 hecatares of vineyards, and yields -mainly from old vines- are low) so they can be hard to find. But they are defenitely worth looking out for! His Charmes-Chambertin could well be the best Charmes money can buy.
Like with all great domaines, the keys are: a lot of work in the vineyard, and low yields. Wine making is "low interventionist" (no artificial yeast, no filtration etc.), however Bachelet heats up his cellar in order to speed up the malo. So all wines we tasted from barrel had finished their malos.
2008 Bourgogne rouge 0% new oak. Pure, still a bit tight, nice fruit. Refreshing. Good lenght. Somewhat spicy finish. Very nice Bourgogne!
2008 Côte de Nuits Villages Slightly animal and spicy nose. Great purity. A bit more refined than the Bourgogne. Very fresh. Already very approchable and very tasty.
2008 Gevrey-Chambertin vieilles vignes Full nose, spicy, textbook Gevrey. Lovely fresh fruit. Nice structure and balance. Fine tannins. Some spices and earth on the finish. Nice!
2008 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru Les Corbeaux Lovely nose! Spicy and a bit floral. Ripe yet fresh fruit. Elegance and complexity. Very spicy finish, with tannins that are present but ripe. Lovely!
2008 Charmes-Chambertin 30% new oak. Lovely blackcurrant fruit. Ripe, round, pure and elegant. Slightly spicy. Lots of complexity. Very lovely!
Laurent Ponsot is sometimes being accused of making wines that are inconsistent. This may be the case, but his 2008's are probably the best range of wines I have ever tasted from barrel!
Ponsot is known to harvest late (always one of the latest of the village, if not the whole côte) and his wines indeed have lovely ripe fruit, but at the same time great freshness, balance and purity (Ponsot doesn't use any new oak). And, all wines reflect the individuality of their terroir. If these wines are still this good once they are in bottle, they are not to be missed!
2008 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er cru Monts Luisants blanc (100% aligoté). Malo not finished yet. Dark yellowish colour. A bit "musty" on the nose, nutty, flinty. Very ripe fruit. Minerally. Very intense.
2008 Bourgogne rouge Cuvée Pinson (from Chambolle-Musigny, "wrong" side of the Route National). Rather dark purple. A little bit of reduction, but very lovely fruit! Very charming. Super Bourgone!
2008 Chambolle-Musigny Cuvée des Cigales Ripe, full fruit. Tres pinot. Pure and elegant. Long, intense, with the softest of tannins. Mmmm!
2008 Chambolle-Musigny 1er cru Charmes Rich, pure, succulent fruit. A bit more muscular than the Chambolle village, but the same style. Nice, nice!
2008 Morey-Saint-Denis Cuvée des Alouettes Very spicy and peppery and the nose. Round, full fruit, very fresh and pure with a spicy accent. Good intensity, good structure, good lenght. Very good!
2008 Griotte-Chambertin Very seductive cherry fruit on the nose. Fresh, intense, elegant. Lovely fruit! Sexy!
2008 Chapelle-Chambertin Rather dark colour. Spicy nose. Lovely lip-smacking dark fruit. Pure and fresh. Very good structure. Lots of elegance. Long. Lovely.
2008 Clos Vougeot Not much there on the nose yet. More earthy compared to the previous wines, slightly raw. Nice fruit though! Lots of structure. Very good lenght.
2008 Clos Saint Denis tres vieilles vignes Very charming nose, slightly spicy. Super fruit! Very, very deep and complex. Great balance and lenght. Already quite approachable (gulpable...). Very exciting wine!
2008 Clos de la Roche Animal, spices, black berries. Very pure fruit. Powerful. A bit more tight than the Clos Saint Denis. Very good structure and lenght. Great stuff!
Christophe Perrot-Minot made a name for himself when he took over the lead of the domaine in the beginning of the nineties by crafting very rich, oaky, highly extracted wines. A couple of years ago he changed his ways, and decided to pursue more purety and finesse in his wines. His wines are still very concentrated, but this is mainly achieved by getting very, very low yields from his vineyards (a lot of which are planted with vieilles vignes). In the cuverie Christophe took his foot a bit of the accelarator, and he lowered the use of new oak.
In the 2008 vintage Christophe did a very severe triage: 30% of the already tiny yields was discarded at the sorting table, in order to get only the very best fruit in the cuves.
2008 Bourgogne vieilles vignes (from a vineyard in Morey-Saint-Denis) Purple colour. A bit animal on the nose (reduction). Very pure, intense. Fraicheur. Very spicy, peppery finish. Good lenght. Very good for a Bourgogne tout court.
2008 Morey-Saint-Denis "Rue de Vergy" Tres foncée. Very spicy nose. Refreshing acidity, intense, minerally, very spicy! Stony finish with strict tannins.
2008 Vosne-Romanée (from Chalandain) Slightly animal nose. Deep flavoured. Firm. Lots of acidity, lots of freshness. Spicy, minerally, stony.
2008 Chambolle-Musigny 1er cru Combe d' Orveau Not too expressive on the nose yet. Refined. Very fresh, pure fruit. Very long! Fine tannins, minerals, licorice.
2008 Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er cru Richemone Earthy nose, beefy. Dark fruit. Full, energetic, concentrated fruit. Solid structure. Big (but ripe) tannins.
2008 Chambertin Clos de Beze Spices and ripe fruit on the nose. Ripe, sweetish fruit, concentrated yet fresh. Lots of depth. Finishes spicy, minerally, stony. Long!
2008 Chambertin (Production of only 3 barrels). Very minerally and tight. Massive wine, lots of structure. Really long, persistant finish with severe tannins that mask the fruit. Impressive but very young.
Harry Waugh, the late British wine merchant and writer, was once asked if he had ever mistaken a Burgundy for a Bordeaux. "Not since lunch," he quipped. I can imagine, if the Burgundy happened to be a wine from Claude Dugat. His wines are really dark in colour, and have black fruit rather than red. They are very rich and concentrated, and have a lot of depth. This is achieved by getting tiny yields, mainly from very old vines. The grapes are usually picked quite early in order to retain freshness. Dugat doesn't make wines for early pleasure, they clearly need time in bottle (unfortunately I have yet to taste an aged Dugat...). Claude Dugat is rightfully one of the highest regarded wine makers of Burgundy!
Starting with the 2006 vintage, Dugat is also offering a few negoce wines. These are labeled "La Gibryotte" (a combination of the words Gibriacois (the inhabitants of Gevrey-Chambertin) and Layotte (a historic name for the women who used to do the work in the vineyards). They are bought in as wine (not grapes), and as Dugat's own wines they are only from the village of Gevrey-Chambertin.
The domaine is a real family business. Claude works together with his wife, son and daughter. With the latter, Laetitia, we tasted the following wines:
Tasted from bottle:
2006 La Gibryotte Gevrey-Chambertin Slightly spicy, earthy nose. Pretty fruit. Some minerals on the finish.
2007 La Gibryotte Gevrey-Chambertin Fruity nose. Flatteur. Easy, fruit driven wine.
2007 La Gibryotte Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru Attractive nose, a bit floral. Fragrant on the palate. Not too long, spicy finish.
2007 Gevrey-Chambertin Smoky, animal nose. Lots of matiere. Solid structure, especially for the vintage. Quite tannic. Very deep and concentrated.
2007 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru Lavaux St. Jaques Very dark. Reminds of Bordeaux. Earthy. Black fruit. Good complexity as well. Nice acidity. Very solid.
2007 Charmes-Chambertin Bordeaux-like nose, animal. Nice concentrated rich fruit. Refreshing acidity. Tight. Robust. Tannic, dry finish.
Tasted from barrel:
2008 Gevrey-Chambertin Bit of reduction on the nose. Dark fruit. Tight acidity. A bit hard and angular. Corsé. Long.
2008 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru (from Craipillot and Perrieres) Dark fruit. Fleshy. Fresh fruit. Lots of concentration. Long finish.
2008 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru Lavaux St. Jaques Some reduction. Spicy. Concentrated. Lots of intensity. Very long.
2008 Charmes-Chambertin Dark fruit, floral nose. A lot of concentration and depth. Solid structure. Quite some acidity. Really long.
2008 Griottes-Chambertin Closed on the nose. Very fruity, elegant, lovely cherry-fruit. Fresh, pure and intense. Great!
Emmanuel Rouget got well-known as the nephew of the great Henri Jayer. But I think he is now making a name for himself. Are his wines now as good as his uncle's? I wouldn't know because I never tasted a Henri Jayer wine (if one of my dear readers is going to open a bottle: feel free to invite me over!). All I know is: Rouget's wines are really good. They have good, rich fruit and are pure and intense. The Cros Parantoux is one of the really great wines of Burgundy.
Rouget still follows his uncle's principals of wine making. In short: low yields, total destemming, long cold soaking before fermentation, lots of new oak, no filtration. In 2008 this resulted in a very good range of wines (not all wines had already finished their malo; the passe-tout-grains hadn't even started, Rouget was racking it into tank in order to heat it up). I was very happy to be able to taste them, visiting with Rouget's Dutch importer Chris Janselijn.
2008 Bourgogne rouge Charming nose, nougat, strawberry. Bright red fruit on the palate. Good structure. Nice Bourgogne!
2008 Cotes de Nuits Villages From a parcel in Corgoloin. Ripe, savoury fruit, spicy. A bit more full and round than the Bourgogne. Good lenght.
2008 Nuits-Saint-Georges Some reduction. Good depth of fruit, pure and fresh. Minerally grip. Quite soft and ripe tannins. Nice.
2008 Vosne-Romanée Normally this wine gets 50% new oak, for this vintage Emmanuel gave it 100% because he thinks the wine has enough structure to handle it. The new oak is noticeable, but not dominant on the nose. Full, ripe, concentrated, spicy. Good freshness. Good lenght.
2008 Vosne-Romanée 1er cru Beaumonts Malo almost fini. Spicy nose, lovely fruit. Fresh, pure, rich, lots of complexity. Full and round. Very good!
2008 Echezeaux (Georges Jayer) From one year old barrel. Ripe fruit, fresh and pure. Medium bodied, with good depth and good length. Fine tannins. Nice.
2008 Echezeaux From a new barrel. Not that different from the previous wine. A bit more round on the palate, a bit more tight on the finish. Tannins a bit more present. Just as nice.
2008 Vosne-Romanée 1er cru Cros Parantoux Full colour. Ripe candied fruit on the nose. Lovely refreshing fruit, nice acidity, lots and lots of intensity. Mouth-filling. Very, very long. Very pure and fresh. Superb!
Tasted from bottle (at the request of Stephen Tanzer, who was also tasting here with us):
2007 Vosne-Romanée Very spicy nose. Nice elegant fruit. Light-footed, but with good intensity and good grip towards the finish. I like this.
2007 Echezeaux Quite full colour. Dark fruit on the nose. Full and sweetish on the palate. Very elegant. Light structure. Good balance, good lenght. Very nice.
2007 Vosne-Romanée 1er cru Cros Parantoux Intense, spicy nose with a floral touch. Solid structure, but with lots of elegance, finesse and complexity. Round and full. Great acidic backbone. Really long, spicy finish. Great stuff!