Domaine Bernard Morey is a respected estate based in Chassagne-Montrachet, but one that I had zero experience with. I recently jumped on a unique opportunity and grabbed a 2006 Saint-Aubin, Charmois, 1er Cru from Morey at a great price. One of my retail customers was shipped the wine by mistake and was only charged $10 per bottle. The customer would normally have notified the distributor of the error, but the company in question is notorious for mistreating their Burgundy inventory. The retailer correctly assumed that the company would not realize their mistake and decided to keep the wine. The fact that I bought a bottle at the incorrect cost probably makes me guilty on moral grounds, but I have successfully ignored any remorse. Unlike many 2006s, the wine is not rich and tropical, which is surprising since the vineyard is located on flat terrain. The wine is fresh on the nose and palate, and the flavors are white fruits and flowers. Obviously made by an outstanding winemaker, the wine is well balanced and elegant in the mouth. I would certainly explore more wines from this producer, assuming the price is right.
In a surprise announcement, the BCQC (Bourgogne Classification & Quality Commission) has announced that the lower portion of the Clos de Vougeot will be reclassified as ‘Vougeot village’. Wines produced from vines in this area will no longer be entitled to Grand Cru status. Soil composition was the primary reason behind the change. “The soil in the lower section of the Clos is not of Grand Cru quality,” stated Francois Ane, the head of the classification committee. “It has been clear for many centuries that the area in question is of average quality.” Mr. Ane said that the commission’s decision to designate the area as basic Vougeot is based on the surrounding terroir. “The vineyards on both sides of this area of the Clos have a similar soil type and they are only classified as village. There is no reason why the lower portion of the Clos should be classified any higher. We spent 10 years researching this issue.” Mr. Ane explained that a fault runs through the lower portion of the Clos and it is at this point that terroir changes dramatically. As expected, many of the growers are not happy. “This a catastrophe!” state Jean-Pierre Moine, whose family owns a parcel in the area being reclassified. “The monks built a wall there for a reason, just like they did at Romanee-Conti! Are we going to start questioning the monks!” The change will take affect for the 2012 vintage.
Remoissenet Père et Fils is a negociant in Beaune that has recently undergone a renaissance. The estate had a spotty reputation when it was purchased in 2005 by a group of investors lead by the Milestein brothers of New York and Todd Halpern of Toronto. The group is determined to raise the quality of the estate’s wines and recent vintages have received excellent press. Curious about the wines, I recently purchased a couple older vintages of Remoissenet from Wegmans (an upscale grocery chain in NY and NJ). The wines were imported by The Country Vintner, which is odd since the national importer is The Sorting Table. All the bottles were in excellent shape and appeared to have been bought directly from the estate’s cellars.
A 2003 Beaune, 1er Cru, Marconnets ($24.99) was roasted and unpleasant to drink. 2003 was a difficult year, so I give the estate a pass. A 1999 Savigny-les-Beaune, 1er Cru, Aux Serpentières ($24.99) had a strong nose of clove and was light in color. In the mouth, the flavors were disjointed and bizarre. I never would have guessed that the wine was from 1999, which produced dark, rich wines. The bottle appeared to be in good condition, but I have the feeling the wine was just poorly made. To make a bad wine in 1999 is quite an accomplishment. However, I did open two good bottles. A 1997 Royals Club Bourgogne Blanc ($19.99) made by Remoissenet was surprisingly still fresh and showed no signs of advanced aging (a major problem with the vintages post ’96). A 2003 Remoissenet Givry rouge ($14.99) was pleasantly ripe, showing none of the roasted flavors found in the Beaune. Both wines were excellent for the price. Remoissenet may be producing very good wines today, but clearly their past reputation for spotty winemaking was well earned.
During my recent trip to France I had the pleasure of dining with Claude de Nicolay Drouhin and her husband Frederic Drouhin at their house outside Savigny-les-Beaune. The evening started with a 2001 Corton blanc from Chandon de Briailles (Claude’s family domaine) that was served blind. Corton blancs tend to be tropical in flavor, but this wine was surprisingly mineral and restrained. Frederic, the President of the Executive Board of Joseph Drouhin, grilled some fantastic steaks on their fireplace and they were served with a 1978 Valet Freres Gevrey-Chambertin. The bottle was purchased that afternoon at Maison Pierre Bouree in Gevrey. Valet Freres is an alternative label used by the estate, but the wines are the same as those labeled Pierre Bouree. Considering the age and modest appellation, the wine was surprisingly still alive. The nose hinted at oxidation, but that faded as the wine sat in the glass. In the mouth, the flavors were earthy and tart. Inspired by the older bottle, Frederic disappeared into the cellar and returned with a bottle wrapped in a brown bag. The color was bricking at the rim, but deep red at the core. Although obviously mature, the nose was powerful. The flavors were deep and persistent on the palate. I guessed that wine was a grand cru, possibly a Musigny from a really good vintage like 1959. It turned out to be a 1971 Joseph Drouhin Richebourg. Frederic was shocked that the wine was so good. 1971 was an extremely difficult harvest and produced few legendary wines. I believe that I was still smiling when I woke up the next morning.
The 1999 Chambolle-Musigny, 1er cru, Aux Beaux Bruns is tight on the nose, but open on the palate. The fruit is dark and lush, and the texture silk. Although still very young, the wine is more expressive than most 1999s were just a couple years ago. Aux Beaux Bruns is located low on the slope and is partially classified as village. The quality of this wine is a testament to the vintage and ability of the winemaker. Ghislaine Barthod took over the domaine from her father, Gaston, in 1987 and the labels have shown her name since 1992. I have only tasted a handful of wines from this reputed estate, but I have been thoroughly impressed with each one.
Alain Coche-Bizouard is a small estate (9 ha) based in Meursault that has been in operation since 1940. The wines are made by Fabien Coche, the son of Alain. I picked this bottle up at the domaine during a visit in July of 2007. The estate only owns a tiny piece in the lower portion of Charmes (.3 ha.), but the vines are 70+ years old. Very pretty and delicate on the nose, the wine is well balanced in the mouth. The finish is mineral and intense, presumably because of the old vines. This wine is a good example of the vineyard and well priced. Coche-Bizouard is a solid producer that is worth seeking out.
Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue is the largest owner in the grand cru Musigny, perhaps the greatest vineyard in Burgundy. Vogue owns 7.12 ha. in Musginy (10.86 ha.), including the entire portion named Les Petits Musigny (4.19 ha.). The Vogue Chambolle-Musigny 1er cru is made from young vines in Musigny and the 1997 is outstanding. Revealing little aromatically at first, the wine opened after about an hour and showed some mature aromas. The wine is silky and rich on the palate. This is the first wine I have tasted from this historic domaine and it is an impressive effort from an average vintage. The wine certainly shows some Musigny character and, considering the price of the grand cru cuvee, is a relative bargain.
I usually do not get excited by a wine from one of Burgundy’s negociants, who produce thousands of cases spanning dozens of appellations. Often, I find the wines to lack personality. However, I was recently impressed with a 2002 Beaune 1er cru Chouacheux from Louis Jadot. The wine is a textbook Beaune, soft, lush, and fragrant. While still young and primary, the wine is approachable. Beaune wines are often underrated, but they can be excellent values. This bottle is one of the more enjoyable wines I have tasted from this appellation and it inspires me to checkout future vintages.
I was inspired by a thread on the Robert Parker board to pick-up a 1997 Bourgogne blanc bottled by Remoissenet called “Royals Club.” The thread focused on a magnum of the wine from the 1992 vintage. The gentleman who started the thread purchased the wine at a Wegman’s grocery store in upstate NY. The gentleman said that he was told the wine was actually a declassified Montrachet. It does not make sense that a wine made from grapes in the most famous vineyard would be labeled as a Bourgogne, but I was intrigued enough by the claim to purchase the 1997. The threat of premature oxidation and the mysterious province of the wine had me doubtful about its quality, but, surprisingly, it is very good. Fresh on the nose and palate, the wine seemed to have been perfectly stored. The wine was rich on the palate and had a nice finish. I did not get the impression that the wine is a grand cru in disguise, but it was an excellent Bourgogne, especially considering its age.
Twice in the past the week I drank a 2003 from Jacky Truchot and both were classic examples of this simple, traditional winemaker. 2003 produced many full-bodied, over ripe wines, but the two I tasted from Truchot did not show any of the negative characteristics of the year. Both the Morey-Saint-Denis Vieilles Vignes and the Morey-Saint-Denis 1er cru Clos Sorbes were tight on the nose and restrained on the palate. The rich textures hinted at the warm weather conditions of the year, but neither wine showed any roasted fruits or alcohol. Truchot made his wines using methods he learned in the ’60’s and the wines always seemed unpretentious and effortless. Unfortunately, Truchot retired after the 2005 vintage. He retained a small parcel in Morey, but his wines, and winemaking style, have essentially disappeared.