ferme ruchotte and Ãpoisses that pervades Caves Madeleine, one of legion ... Most of all, you can taste it in the wines
Words and illustration by Dan Keeling
There’s never been a better time for Burgundy. Noble Rot meets some of its rising stars 42 Noble Rot
ou can feel it in the summer sun on the high slopes of the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits, where vines which once struggled to ripen produce grapes plump with sugar. You can smell it in the heady perfume of poulet de la ferme ruchotte and Époisses that pervades Caves Madeleine, one of legion Beaune haunts where you’ll find local vignerons crammed shoulder to shoulder with pilgrims from New York, Hong Kong and London most weekday nights. Most of all, you can taste it in the wines. With the zeitgeist having shifted from the oaky concentration of the ‘90s to purity and finesse, Burgundy is alive with a renewed sense of purpose. At the vanguard a new generation are producing the wines of their lives, and not just from the famous Crus of the Côte d’Or. With vines in Grand Cru Échezeaux changing hands for upwards of 850,000 Euros an ouvrée – 20 times more than in 1998 – shrewd vignerons are improving the wines of Burgundy’s lesser-appreciated terroirs. Away from their bases in Vosne-Romanée and Gevrey-Chambertin, A-list domaines Jean-Yves Bizot and Bernard Dugat-Py now have land in humble Chenôve and the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits respectively, while Beaune’s David Croix, Fixin’s Amélie Berthaut and a handful of emigrant micro-négoce such as Chanterêves and Le Grappin are redefining what the outliers can achieve. Back among the prime vines, Dujac’s Diana, Jeremy and Alec Seysses, Georges Nöellat’s Maxime Cheurlin and Sébastian Cathiard have seamlessly taken the helm of their family domaines. As well as continuing to produce mesmeric Premier and Grand Crus, their entry-level cuvées prove how much pleasure is to be found in ‘simple’ Bourgogne. Indeed, with premature oxidation seemingly under control, and rising temperatures making anaemic vintages a thing of the past, apart from the frost and hail damage that blighted some appellations in recent years, Burgundy’s biggest concerns come from outside speculation. With many heiresses and heirs unable to pay inheritance taxes, or buy out siblings due to immense land prices, is the Côte d’Or destined to become part of a handful of global corporations’ investment portfolios (see François Pinault’s recent acquisition of Clos de Tart) rather than remain a historic community of paysans? As depressing as that may sound, we can all rest assured that, for now, Burgundy is in the midst of a golden era. Here, Noble Rot celebrates some of its brightest rising stars; long may they shine.
44 Noble Rot
Alex Moreau, Chassagne-Montrachet
Photography by Juan Trujillo Andrades
Domaine Bernard Moreau et Fils Alex and Benôit Moreau’s reputation for exceptional Chardonnay continues to gather apace. Tasting through the range at the domaine (situated opposite 1er Cru ‘La Maltroie’) is a fascinating insight into Chassagne-Montrachet’s different terroirs, each wine expressing very specific characteristics; not something that every vigneron in Burgundy always achieves. Splitting their focus between vineyards (Benôit) and winery (Alex), the domaine uses natural yeasts, long alcoholic fermentation, doesn’t stir lees and, on the evidence of the outstanding results of recent vintages, the sky now seems the limit for this historic domaine. “The average quality of wine in Burgundy has never been higher, and not just in the very famous appellations,” says Alex, a man Noble Rot can vouch for having the blind-tasting skills of a bloodhound. “This is very good because Burgundy faces huge demand, and drinkers can find wines to match the amount of money they want to spend.” Noble Rot 45
Photograph by Jon Wyand
The grand-niece of sainted VosneRomanée vigneron Henri Jayer, few wine-maker’s stars are on as steep an ascent as Cécile Tremblay. Producing a mesmeric range of organic and biodynamic Pinot Noirs which combine sensuality with classical structure, unlike her famous relative’s inclination for completely de-stemming grapes, Tremblay often uses whole clusters in her fermentations. With just four hectares of vines across 11 appellations to meet fervent demand, Tremblay’s wines have become increasingly hard to find, but there’s good news on the horizon; in four years’ time she will take back 1.8ha of Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru ‘Beaux Monts’ that is rented out, to add to her current 0.14ha. A stylish, silken-textured wine which epitomises the village’s exoticism, like the rest of her portfolio, it is a future classic in the making. 46 Noble Rot
Noble Rot 47
Photograph by Jon Wyand 48 Noble Rot
A chance meeting between French motor-home mogul François Feuillet and David’s father led to the then 19-year-old being installed as wine-maker for both families’ vines, a relationship that continues to this day. Together, David and François have added parcels in Vosne-Romanée, Echezeaux, Laticières-Chambertin, Chambertin and seven hectares of vines from the now-defunct Domaine Jacky Truchot over the years, splitting the production between the Duband and Feuillet labels. These are beautifully refined Pinot Noirs with complex perfumes as a result of a stylistic change to whole bunch fermentation in 2008 (“Once I had tasted old bottles from Dujac and DRC made with whole clusters I knew I wanted to make similarly aromatic wines.”). With Duband’s Hautes-Côtes de Nuits winery surrounded by much activity (you can see land recently bought by Dugat-Py being developed from his tasting room window), he’s very optimistic about the future. “Climate change means that we now get good maturity here. In 2017 it was beautiful – sometimes the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits had more sugar before Nuits–Saint–Georges or Chambolle–Musigny.”
Photograph by Rick Pushinsky
David Duband (left)
Jérôme Galeyrand Jérôme Galeyrand makes restrained old-style Burgundies with a richness that belies some of their humble origins. The domaine’s 2015s represent fabulous value for money, from a lovely GevreyChambertin ‘Les Croisettes’ to a supple and satisfying Côte de Nuits Villages ‘Les Retraits’, made from 90-year-old vines in the southern end of the appellation abutting Freddie Mugnier’s iconic NuitsSaint-Georges 1er Cru monopole, ‘Clos de la Maréchale’. Originally from the Loire Valley, Jérôme previously worked as a cheese wholesaler before becoming enraptured with wine-making; from there he spent time with Domaine Alain Burguet in GevreyChambertin and studying at Beaune wine school before starting out on his own in 2002. Burg lovers after delicious wines on limited budgets need look no further.
Noble Rot 49
Photography by Juan Trujillo Andrades
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru ‘La Maltroie’, opposite Domaine Bernard Moreau
50 Noble Rot
Noble Rot 51
Both photos by Jon Wyand
Sylvain Pataille No one has done more to improve the reputation of Marsannay – the small, modest village on the outskirts of Dijon – than Sylvain Pataille. A trained oenologist who continues to consult for a number of elite domaines, Pataille now has over 15 hectares of vines within the appellation’s boundaries since starting out with a single hectare in 1999. Aiming for balanced yields of 35hl/ha from his organic and biodynamic vines, Sylvain makes accessible, satisfying Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Aligoté using indigenous yeast and minimal added sulphur. His Marsannay village represents one of the region’s very best-value wines (recently retailing at The Wine Society for just £16), while his layered, cerebral top cuvée ‘Ancestrale’ is a buy on sight selection from vines planted between 1930 and 1945.
Domaine Naudin-Ferrand Anyone who doubts more modest Burgundian appellations’ ability to foster world-class wines should seek out Claire Naudin’s Hautes-Côtes de Beaune ‘Orchis’. Another fan of whole cluster fermentation “for more aromas”, many lesser producers would trade an internal organ for any of their Grand Crus to perform so well. Adhering to low-intervention winemaking, Claire is sceptical about certified organics and biodynamics (“No one in Vosne–Romanée has their windows in July open due to so much organically approved sulphur being sprayed on the vineyards”), and from two different ranges it’s the no-added sulphur wines we especially adore at Rotter HQ. Look out for the brilliant ‘Le Clou’ from 60-year-old Aligoté vines and Hautes-Côtes de Nuits ‘Myosotis Arvensis’; its sensuous perfume of rose and coriander beats any man-made fragrance.
52 Noble Rot
Noble Rot 53
54 Noble Rot
Photograph by Benoit Guenot
Tipped as Puligny-Montrachet’s ‘domaine to watch’ in 1988’s The White Wines of Burgundy by Burgundy expert Jasper Morris, hell-raising vigneron Hubert Chavy never delivered on his early promise. Having passed away in 2015, today his son, Romaric Chavy, is in charge of the domaine and has wasted no time staking a claim as one of Burgundy’s next winemaking stars. Ending selling off grapes to the large negociants, and investing in a spacious new winery, Romaric is making great improvements to Chavy-Chouet’s sizeable portfolio year after year. For a statement of intent, check out the domaine’s energetic and nervy Puligny-Montrachet ‘Les Enseignères’, beautifully textured Meursault 1er ‘Les Charmes’, and Bourgogne Blanc ‘Les Femollottes’; a wine making a reputation for being one of the Côte de Beaune’s consistently great values. Noble Rot 55
At the vanguard a new generation are producing the wines of their lives, and not just from the famous Crus of the Côte d’Or
Monthélie Douhairet Porcheret Situated overlooking hillside vineyards in the Côte de Beaune village of the same name, after 300-year-old Domaine Monthelie Douhairet employed esteemed ex-Domaine Leroy and Hospices de Beaune wine-maker André Porcheret in 1989, as a mark of appreciation his surname joined theirs. Now run by André’s granddaughter Cataldina, and her husband Vincent, the 6.5ha estate is a fabulous source of finely proportioned, old-school Volnay, Pommard, Meursault and Monthélie, both typically approachable in youth as well as maturity. Noble Rot favourites from a recent tasting include a delicious and accessible 2015 Volnay 1er Cru ‘En Champans’ and a time-defying 1993 Monthélie 1er Cru ‘Le Meix Bataille’.
56 Noble Rot
(Left) Nicolas Faure (Below) David Croix
Nicolas Faure Compared to his tiny holdings, Nicolas Faure is building a big reputation. Hailing from Bordeaux, Nicholas, 30, enrolled at Beaune wine-making school in 2004, followed by stints working with Agnès Paquet, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Prieuré-Roch, Jean-Louis Chave and Fromm in New Zealand; quite some CV… “I don’t know what my future holds,” says Nicolas, who works full time with his fiancée Amélie Berthaut at her highly rated Fixin domaine, Berthaut-Gerbet. “I’ve only got one hectare, but it’s still hard to work my vines after my day job as I don’t have anyone helping me. This is the maximum vineyards I can manage on my own.” As well as producing an excellent NuitsSaint-Georges from the small parcel of vines he started out with in 2011, Faure makes an AloxeCorton and a Coteaux Bourguignons (100 percent Gamay), all of which are whole bunch fermented to make wines that are – once again – “aromatically more complex”.
Domaine des Croix
David Croix is on a mission to prove what the unfashionable Premier Crus surrounding Beaune are capable of. “The négociant houses have historically owned a lot of vineyards here, and make cuvées by blending several premier crus together,” David explains. “Although they make good wines, this hasn’t helped to promote the diversity of Beaune terroirs; especially alongside the Hospices de Beaune, where the cuvées display the name of the donator of the vines and not the vineyards. Saying that, when the vineyards are owned by small independent domaines from surrounding villages, the Beaune wines are almost an afterthought. Following the Volnays and the Meursaults they say, “Oh, and we also have a wine from Beaune.” Citing Beaune ‘Grèves’ as “the most complete terroir” and Beaune ‘Pertuisots’ a personal favourite, David fashions fresh, expressive reds that are improving the appellations’ reputations. Noble Rot 57