Films

Words, photos and film. I hope the films offer a different perspective, more spontaneous than the written word and with more scope than photos. While photos capture a moment in time, the films can convey the thoughts, hopes, concerns of the people making wine in Burgundy, often seized on the spur of the moment. Other films will provide insights along the path from vine to bottle; some will explore the vineyards..others may simply give a glimpse into a way of life. Over time, as the film and briefing archives grow, I hope to convey something of the spirit of the Burgundy.

Domaine Rossignol-Trapet, Gevrey-Chambertin, Aux Etelois

Nicolas Rossignol explains that this 0.4 hectare village parcel is kept separate from the village blend as it’s particularly well situated with grand cru neighbours of Charmes-Chambertin and Griottes-Chambertin. The soil is quite light with less clay than is usual in other parts of Gevrey-Chambertin. It’s easy to plough. Nicolas Rossignol comments that the wine always shows minerality and punches above its weight – not quite a premier cru, but a very good village wine.

Domaine Rossignol-Trapet, Latricières Chambertin

Nicolas Rossignol explains this grand cru lies on the southern side of the village. In the film it’s possible to appreciate the fact it is in a valley – Combe Grisard. Gravels came down this valley – the gravels found across the road in Mazoyères, but it also funnels cold air from the Hautes Côtes to the vineyards below and Latricières lies in its path. The colder air was quite noticeable when filming. So it’s a much cooler situation than neighbouring Chambertin. The fruit ripens later and Nicolas and David Rossignol finish their harvest here. The soil is very like Chambertin with a good mix of stones and clay, quite deep, and very easy to cultivate. In contrast with Chambertin, Nicolas considers Latricières to be the most ‘airy’ wine they make. “Always very open and easy to taste, even when young. A delicate wine with very nice length.”

Domaine Rossignol-Trapet, Chambertin

The domaine has 1.6 hectares of this illustrious grand cru which includes some of the oldest planting dating back to the 1930. They have a proper cross section of the terroir as their rows go from the trees at the road at the bottom. What makes it so special? Nicolas Rossignol remarks that the mix of clay, little stones and chalk in the soil is particularly good, but shrugs“we don’t know. It’s like magic.” He adds, ‘it has a very nice situation, well protected by the trees above and with no valley bringing cold air from the Hautes Côtes as in Latricières.” For Nicolas Chambertin is a wine of power. It’s a wine of the ‘earth’ not the ‘air’. The power is not obvious, but comes on the very long finish.

Domaine Michel Gros, Fontaine Saint Martin, Hautes Côtes de Nuits

The vineyard, a monopoly of 7 hectares, is situated in Arcenant about 5km from Nuits-Saint-Georges at 350-400m. It’s Michel Gros’s ‘baby’ where he has planted 3 hectares of Chardonnay and 4 hectares of Pinot Noir. It’s a East facing parcel like the Côte de Nuits. Because of the altitude is is harvest about a week later than Vosne-Romanée. Michel describes the subsoil as similar to the top of the hill of Corton (Oxfordian period).

Michel describes Fontaine Saint-Martin red as wild, a bit like the landscape. Deep and strong. The white is comparable with Aloxe-Corton and Pernand-Vergelesses.

Domaine Michel Gros, Hautes Côtes de Nuits, Fontaine Saint Martin, 2005
I have been cellaring this wine since it was bottled… so a hefty time for Hautes-Côtes, but Michel Gros has always maintained this terroir needs time. 2005 of course also needs time. I have a case and have tried several bottles and only now has it come into its own. The bouquet has hints of dark chocolate, hazelnut and scrunched autumn leaves. So inviting. The palate has at last come round. It has blue berry fruit, silky tannins and it is very fresh with a slightly minty note. It is quite light and while the finish is not very long, this wine is most attractive and energetic and perfect for drinking now.

Domaine Michel Gros, Chambolle-Musigny, Les Argilières

This village parcel derives its name from argile or clay. It was from the quarry just below that the argile was taken to build the village of Chambolle explains Michel. the adjacent vineyard to the south is Musigny, on similar soil, but the aspect of this grand cru is East facing as the hill curves. Argilières represents 2/3 of the blend of Michel’s Chambolle. He also has some parcels down by the route national which joins the blend as grapes. Michel describes his Chambolle as more powerful and dense than a classic Chambolle and considers that the soil in Argilières gives it this character.

Domaine Michel Gros, Vosne-Romanée, Les Brûlées

Michel’s parcel is 66 ares of this premier cru. Michel remarks that the name may come from the taste of the wine which has always a slight burnt taste which comes from the soil. The soil is very dry and rocky – the grass can easily catch fire here and directly on the hill side above and this may also account for the name. The hard subsoil is just 30cm beneath, the marble-like stone of Comblanchein.

Les Brûlées east facing and lies in the combe (small valley) which brings the cold air down from the Hautes-Côtes. It’s a colder micro climate. This may account for the fact that while Les Brûlée is a premier cru, its neighbour on the south side – Richebourg – is grand cru, but Richeboug is sheltered from the cold draught and so the microclimate is warmer. The soil however, says Michel, is quite similar.

Michel describes the style of Les Brûlées. “It is a serious wine with good acidity, as it never has very high maturity. It has consistent tannins and the structure to age. For Michel in an average vintage it needs 15 years and it can age for 30 in a good one.”

Domaine Michel Gros, Vosne-Romanée, Clos de Reas

This monopole, the only premier cru monopole in Vosne-Romanée, belongs to Domaine Michel Gros. It’s an impressive 2 hectares, while as Michel points out the average parcel in Burgundy is just 0.3 hectare. It’s the oldest parcel as it has been in the Gros family for one and a half centuries. Much of the present planting dates back sixty years when Michel (just) recalls his father planting it. Some vines are renewed every ten years.

Clos de Reas is not flat, but is on a small mound. It’s marl from Oligocene which allows very good drainage. The top soil has a lot of clay and little stones…in the ice age this soil came down from the hills. It has a special microclimate – protected from the cold East and North winds by the village houses and the tall vineyard wall. It also benefits from a protected place in front of the hill – away from the valleys which drain cold air from the Hautes Côtes on either side.

Michel always harvests here last as it always ripens three of four days before the other vineyards. Michel describes it as a typical Vosne. “It’s a very silky wine. The tannins are never hard. It’s always approachable. As the maturity is always high the acidity is never hight. The nose is always open so it’s possible to drink it young, but it will age 10 or more years in an average vintage and more than twenty years in a good vintage.

Tying down the cane in Corton Bressandes at Domaine Chandon de Briailles after the Spring pruning (see preceding film)

Pruning at Domaine Chandon de Briailles.

Pruning for two coursons (sprus) and one baguette (cane). Have a courson on each side of the vine stump ensures that the vine does not die on one side, but remains heathy and disease resistant. March is the best time to prune, not only is is warmer and easier for the person pruning, the sap is rising in the vine and there is less chance that bacteria can enter the cut. But of course if you have a lot of vineyards it’s not always possible to start in March.

One person working a 35 hour week can expect to prune 3.5 hectares – a tâche – traditional piecework.

Ploughing using a Percheron horse at Domaine Chandon de Briailles.

I was very fortunate to get this footage of Lavières being ploughed in this traditional manner, despite the noisy wind in the film. It’s the spring work which is the hardest to do.

Claude de Nicolay explains why they have chosen to plough this vineyard using a horse drawn plough. The principal reasons are less compaction – as the weight is spread over 4 points – and the close proximity to the task. “If there is a problem the horse will stop and the tractor will not,” remarks Claude.

Claude feels it is gentler and more precise work and of course closer to nature, more in tune with the “ambience of biodynamics, of animal and vegetal.”

It takes a year and a half to train a horse to work with the various ploughs. There are three main jobs and ploughs. Buttage – earthing up around the base of the vine to protect it from frost in the winter and to plough the weeds in, bringing fresh soil to the top. Debuttage, which is the reverse – unearthing in the spring and then griffage. Griffage is a light tilling under the vines not to disturb anything below, but just to give a ‘clean’ soil under the vine. They might also do a light till weaving between the vines within each row.

You need one horse to work 4 to 5 hectares, given they work a 6 hour day. Tough work on a slope and where there are rocks and often weeds that are well established after the winter. The latter is why the spring plough is the hardest.

The horse in the film is a 14 year old Percheron – a draft horse weighing about 900 kilos which came from Liger-Belair. A steady horse, this breed is a reliable if slow and will do the job thoroughly Claude also uses two Comtois horses which are lighter and clearly race along a bit and maybe the work is not as good.

For much more about the pros and cons of the different forms of ploughing there is an in depth article under the Briefings section of the website, for which I consulted many growers. To access this directly, click here.

Savigny Lès Beaune, 1er cru, Les Lavières
Claude de Nicolay of Domaine Chandon de Briailles describes how her great aunt bought this 2.4 hectare vineyard soon after the war. It was replanted by her father in 1095. It’s a large parcel perfect for biodynamic farming, but the direction of the vines along the slope makes it perilous for ploughing by tractor. Middle slope, facing full south with quite a light soil, full of ‘laves’ of limestone. Below the clay there are many rocks giving the wine is characteristic elegance and minerality. Similar in soil and style of wine to neighbouring Serpentières.

Corton Chaumes (Domaine Chandon de Briailles, Corton Blanc)
This grand cru is traditionally planted in Pinot Noir, but Claude de Nicolay’s mother planted it in Chardonnay in the Seventies. Her aim was to make fresh Corton Blanc, not too heavy, so the 2 barrels were always blended with the 4 barrels of Bressandes. The stony soil here brings the elegance and freshness to the blend. (In the accompanying film Claude explains Bressandes and its richer clay soil). Claude considers that if it were made alone it would produce a wine quite close to Corton-Charlemagne in style.

Corton Bressandes (Corton Blanc)

Claude de Nicolay describes this grand cru vineyard as having richer and deeper clay than Chaumes and makes fatter, stronger Chardonnay. Domaine Chandon de Briailles are the only domaine to have white in Bressandes. It was a mistake – a fortuitous one. When her mother came to plant, the nursery had run out of Pinot Noir so she planted Chardonnay. The success persuaded them to plant another parcel in Bressandes which is nearer the mother rock and is a bit more mineral. The Chardonnay from the deeper clay is more exotic.

The blend for Corton-Blanc is made immediately as the fruit is pressed together. Claude describes the style “pineapple and pear when it is young and develops more floral character as it ages – honeysuckle and honey. It’s a more open style than the narrower, citrus and mineral palate of Corton-Charlemagne.

Domaine Chanson, Corton Vergennes
This vineyard forms a small mound, a sort of hillock, which is much more pronounced than the film would suggest. It has rocky soil and a strong north wind. It’s a very good place to mature Chardonnay slowly which is why Domaine Chanson replanted this vineyard in 2004 in white. Jean-Pierre Confuron explains that Chardonnay likes the poor soil which gives the wine its mineral profile. “It brings elegance, finesse and texture with saltiness at the end.”

Domaine Chanson, Beaune 1er Cru, Clos des Feves
Jean Pierre Confuron describes this terroir which was classified by Dr Jules Lavalle as a Tête de Cuvée in 1855. It is a monopole of 4.12 hectares situated mid slope with the usual Côte de Beaune mix of clay and limestone, rockier at the top with more clay at the bottom. Jean-Pierre describes the wine as deep coloured and flavoured more comparable with Côte de Nuits wines than with Côte de Beaune wines and considers that if Beaune were to have a grand cru, this would be a prime candidate.

Nuits-Saint-Georges, 1er Cru, Les Saint George, “A wine with a big personality, but a wine that you need to ‘go to’, rather one that ‘comes to you’,” says Thibault Liger-Belair of  Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair in Nuits-Saint-Georges.

In this film Thibault speaks about the soil in Les Saint Georges. The soil and the wine have changed since his first vintage in 2002. The organic and biodynamic work in the vineyard has made the soil more powdery, lighter and more aerated. This is not just the effect of ploughing which affects the top soil, but the earthworms and the effect of temperature change at a lower level. In particular he has noticed the calcite which is surfacing throughout the vineyard and this he considers may account for more ‘verticality’ (depth), freshness and minerality in the wine.

We tasted a vertical from 2002 and the impression of minerality, freshness and energy did appear to increase over the vintages. The winemaking has also changed, but these three elements are more likely to be a result in the changes in the vineyard.

Thibault likes to draw an analogy between the texture of the soil and of the wine. Les Saint George has quite sandy, powdery type of clay giving a tannic grip with elegance while Chambolle’s soil would be softer and the texture and tannins in Chambolle reflect this.

Thibault considers Les Saint Georges to a wine of good bones and good body. It’s on the ‘earth’ side, but moving in recent years more to the ‘light’ side – showing more floral and fruity elements in recent years and freshness…and fewer earthy and spice characters. As he remarks Les Saint Georges is among the least tannic wines of the southern side of NSG which has a reputation for burly tannin. It is more sophisticated and delicate with more integrated tannins than Les Porrets Saint-Georges for example.

Grand Cru?
For the past 10 years Thibault and fellow owners of Les Saint Georges have worked to persuade the INAO to elevate it from premier to grand cru. No applications for grand cru were put forward in 1936 when the growths were classified. Three that might have been considered would be Les Saint Georges, Les Cailles and Les Vaucrains, but Thibault believes the growers were dissuaded by the negociants on whom they relied to buy their grapes and, as he point out, this was a time of economic hardship. The INAO may be concerned about opening such the ‘Pandora’s box’ However there are precedents for change of status – Clos de Lambray (in Morey-Satin Denis) was elevated from premier to Grand Cru in 1981 and La Grande Rue (in Vosne Romanée in 1992) so it may happen in time. And in the meantime Thibault quite rightly remarks that Les Saint George is already world renowned and if people know one red in Burgundy it is likely to be Nuits-Saint-Georges, so the appellation has not been too badly affected by the lack of grand cru.

Benoit Riffault, Domaine Etienne Sauzet, talks terroir in Puligny-Montrachet, Les Folatières, En La Richarde.

“This is a special place in Les Folatières. It lies in the Southern corner at the same altitude as the top of part of Chevalier-Montrachet – just 50m away.” Benoit says it has “approximately the same type of soil.” (He hesitates the say the same! It has just a small quantity of clay. It is very light soil and white, particularly at the top. Benoit describes the wine. “The same ‘idea’ as Chevalier. It is an elegant wine. It ends with a dry finish. It is a chalky wine.”

Benoit Riffault, Domaine Etienne Sauzet, talks terroir in Puligny-Montrachet, Hameau de Blagny.

This is an old vineyard above Champ Gain on the Meursault side. “It is a warm area with good ripeness and concentration,” helped by the old vines and small crop they yield.

It was interesting moving from the windier and cooler Champ Gain. It was really quite hot standing in this vineyard.

Benoit describes the minerality in the wine as “Big minerality, but hot minerality.”

Benoit Riffault, Domaine Etienne Sauzet, talks terroir in Puligny-Montrachet, Les Champ Gain.

This climat lies beside Truffières on the slope. The Sauzet parcel is therefore the far ‘Meursault side’ of this large climat. It is effectively 1m above the ground level of Truffières, as the ground steps up here.

“The soil is the same, but it is windier (you can hear it buffeting the camera in the video) and colder than Truffières. It’s red soil with limestone here.” Benoit points out that their corner is very different to the Saint-Aubin side where Champ Gain is next to Murgers des Dents de Chien which is colder and has more limestone. “We have the freshness of the area of Champ Gain, but with more density and body than the Saint-Aubin side.”

Benoit Riffault, Domaine Etienne Sauzet, talks terroir in Puligny-Montrachet, Les Truffières

Benoit describes this as a more ‘savage’ or wild place. It is up slope in the trees. It’s a warm place with a microclimate created by the walls and the trees. “The soil is a bit redder than Champ-Canet, but has the same quantity of limestone. It makes an elegant and charming wine with different aromas. When I taste it, I imagine the trees and the flowers here…”

It was very peaceful here…the birds were singing. It feels very sheltered, unlike Champ-Gain. Moving up a 1m step to Champ Gain there is the sensation of moving to a much windier and cooler place. While Hameau de Blagny (above) was considerably hotter.

Benoit Riffault, Domaine Etienne Sauzet, talks terroir in Puligny-Montrachet, Les Referts.

Referts which lies under Combettes has richer and more compact soil with more clay. It is deeper too – 1.20m or so at the top (under Referts) to 1.5m at the bottom. Benoit describes the wine as “compact with good acidity. The clay keeps the freshness and energy. Good terroir for ageing.” He points out that it has good water reserves in hot vintages and suffers no hydric stress.

Benoit Riffault, Domaine Etienne Sauzet, on the premier cru cross roads between Puligny and Meursault. Here he focuses on Puligny-Montrachet, Combettes.

“Combettes has deeper soil than Champ-Canet – 80cm – and is one of the best balanced between clay and limestone. We think it is a very special terroir. It has power and body and yet elegance.” He points out that before the AOC classification in 1936 it was considered a Tete de Cuvée together with Le Cailleret.

Benoit Riffault, Domaine Etienne Sauzet talks terroir in Puligny-Montrachet, Champ-Canet.

Domaine Etienne Sauzet have a 1 hectare block of old vines in Champ-Canet. Benoit describes it as light clay with lots of limestone. The wine style is a combination of the “warm area and the minerality of the limestone…the density of the old vineyard and the hot minerality of the soil.” The 2015 was a hot vintage but “we kept the energy.”

François Carillon describes his largest vineyard, Champ-Gain, which lies towards the top of the côte in Puligny-Montrachet. The soils are stony, smaller stones where were were standing part way up the vineyard and some larger flatter stones below. There is plenty of clay here too. When we filmed on a rainy day in late May, the soil was claggy.

It lies at 300m up the 450m slope and here the temperature dips at night, retaining the acidity in the grapes. It makes a refined wine with a hint of white flowers and a bright line of acidity. The 2013 is fresh, floral and elegant. Even in the pouring rain the birds were singing. There are wild flowers and a sense of seclusion. François loves this vineyard where he feels in touch with the nature around him. It is a special place. “It’s perfect,” he says.

Domaine François Carillon

On the terroir trail in Meursault with Dominique Lafon in Meursault. Part Three Poruzots

The ground here is rich clay, which is wetter and bakes hard in hot weather. Dominique describes the style of wine as rich and powerful with just a touch of elegance on the finish.

On the terroir trail in Meursault with Dominique Lafon in Meursault. Part Two Perrières and  Genevrières.

The soil in Perrières is very white. Dominique shows the composition of the soil which is illustrated by an exposed section at the top of the two vineyards, which are separated by a small track.

Genevrières is another high vineyard which ripens early. The soil is light with lots of stones and it feels sandy when it’s ploughed.

On the terroir trail in Meursault with Dominique Lafon. Part One Bouchères.

Dominique points out that Bouchères is the highest premier cru vineyard in Meursault. It’s a light soil and the grapes ripen early. “In my vision soil with less clay and more limestone will not stand being made with over-ripe grapes. You have to pick early…12.5% is the maximum. Any more and the wine is heavy as it does not have the clay which gives the energy.”

Erwan Faiveley:

“In a nutshell, for the reds, a spectacular vintage.” Erwan describes the weather as “perfect. When it was too dry then the miracle happened and it rained a little. It made big reds, succulent, quite firm, but with nice acidity and great depth.

He was not initially as optimistic about the whites. “I thought they might be too flabby, but not at all. If you like 2005 and 2009 whites, you will like them.”

Domaine Faiveley have an extensive portfolio with plenty of wines to start off if you are a beginner in Burgundy. As Erwan comments “It’s a great vintage to begin in Burgundy – for a top vintage like 2015, you can focus on entry level. The value you get is spectacular.”

Interviews at the Justerini & Brooks Burgundy tastings in London January 2017)

Nathalie Tollot of Domaine Tollot-Beaut in Chorey-Lès-Beaune comments that the plant adapted to the heat as there were no high peaks in 2015 as in 2003 so there are no ‘over cooked’ aromas and there is a kind of freshness in the reds from this hot vintage.

They harvested early from the 3rd September and Nathalie points out “our generation have to adapt every year to big changes. Our parents would have harvested at the end of September, early October, but we have harvested three times in August.”

Caroline Lestime at Jean-Noel Gagnard in Chassagne-Montrachet may not be happy with the small quantity of Pinot Noir, but is very happy with the quality of wine in both colours.

The whites have “rich, aromatic fruit, but are not heavy. they have freshness. Maybe the richness of 2010 and the freshness and luminosity of 2013.” The reds are concentrated, “velvet reds.”

(Interviews at the Justerini & Brooks Burgundy tastings in London January 2017)

Thomas Bouley (Domaine Jean-Marc & Thomas Bouley) who has vineyards in Volnay and Pommard recalls the ‘beautiful light” throughout the growing season and just enough rain. He started harvesting on the 5th September to retain the acidity. Even Volnay Caillerets, a warm vineyard on rocks planted with young vines, did not suffer from the drought and the wine is fresh and balanced. Over in Pommard Thomas chose to use 75% whole bunch on his Pommard Fremiers, a big rich wine from deeper clay soils that benefited from the stems to boost freshness. While in Rugiens he used none. The 2015s are very concentrated. He made an average of just 24hl/ha at the domaine.

At Domaine Jean Tardy et Fils, in Vosne-Romanee, Guillaume picked from the 5th September to retain freshness. He has changed his approach since making the 2005 vintage, in which he picked later and extracted more. “I did not want to ‘build’ the wines like 2005, but to make something rounder and more approachable,” he says.

At Domaine Rossignol-Trapet in Gevrey-Chambertin Nicolas Rossignol used no pigeage in 2015 in order to minimise extraction and to promote the elegance of this warm vintage and he used 1/3 to 2/3 whole bunch to support the freshness. He comments on the “silky tannins and roundness – a style between 2005 and 2009.”(Interviews at the Stannary Street Wine Co and The Howard Ripley Burgundy tastings in London January 2017)

Thibault Liger-Belair and Etienne Julien comment on the 2015 vintage in Nuits-Saint Georges

“A great vintage,” enthuses Thibault, “The season was amazing. We had some sun and some rain… which gave a very good circulation of the sap inside the plant, so we have ripe phenolic maturity. I am surprised by the energy. We couldn’t taste this at the harvest, but we see it now.

Etienne considers “the most important thing was to take care of the phenolic maturity. The alcoholic maturity came first, after, with the rain, the phenolic maturity. A fantastic vintage – ripe and fresh in Nuits-Saint George.”

Thibault also has vineyards in Moulin A Vent in the Beaujolais. Here the temperature increased to 37 degrees for 2 days in the week proceeding harvest which increased the alcohol by 2 percent resulting in wines from 14 up to a heady 16 degrees. Thibault remarks that in a ripe vintage the Beaujolais is a little more like Côte Rotie and Gamay becomes more like Syrah, while in a cooler vintage it’s more Pinot-ish.

(Interview at the Stannary Street Wine Co Burgundy tasting in London January 2017)

Charles Taylor MW, Montrachet Fine Wines, comments the 2015 is “One of the best red vintages I’ve ever seen.”

“It has the freshness of 2005 and the richness of 2009,” while the whites are ‘“rich and lush, but may not make old bones.” Although he concedes that when the top growers get it right and pick early in a ripe vintage – such as 2005 and 2009, the wines can age impressively and are the best whites in his cellar. However many wines will be good for 2 to 3 years and then fade.

The tannins in the 2015 are as good as those of the 2005, but “softer and rounder” without the effect of the higher acidity of 2005s and the wines should not close up for years like the 2005s.

Charles comments on the rising price of land in Burgundy. “It is becoming harder to maintain the integrity of the estates,” but there is still good value to be had in Burgundy, particularly if you look to the Chalonnais. Charles has found two new estates and remarks that the Chalonnais can be a bit lean, but this ripe vintage suits the Chalonnais well, as the wines retain freshness.”

Giles Burke-Gaffrey, head of buying at Justerini & Brooks comments on the 2015 vintage.

The reds are “so approachable, charming and powerful, but not like the hot vintages of 2003 and 2009…they have intensity and finesse that make them ‘great’.” He remarks on a higher acidity in 2015 than in other hot vintages, giving the reds ‘great freshness’ maybe because everything including the acidity was concentrated in the grape and perhaps given the end of the season cooled off and was not relentlessly hot. “Bourgogne upwards (for reds) you can buy what you want. It’s that good.”

Giles does not want to dismiss the whites, but finds “the white are good if they were picked early…but the best of the vintage is really found in the top premier cru upwards in Puligny, Chassagne and Meursault.”

Two Meursault vignerons speak about the 2015s – Charles Ballot (Domaine Balllot-Millot) and Antoine Jobard (Domaine François Jobard). Antoine remarks the vintage has good maturity,” but adds, “Today the challenge is to keep the freshness and not to make wines that are to heavy.” He has shortened the domaine’s traditionally long maturation to 12 months in barrel and 3 to 4 in tank to preserve the freshness.

Charles Ballot comments it is “elegant and fresh…a ripe style, but big, big minerality in Genèvrieres, Perrières, Narvaux & Tillets etc. If we don’t have the acidity, we get freshness with the minerality.”

They agree that it should be a good vintage to age. Charles comments that the juice was brown. “When there is good oxidation of the juice, there is no problem with oxidation later. The problems of prem-ox more likely in vintages with high acidity.” Antoine adds there are fewer problems when there is high maturation “history shows us the ’80, ’83, ’86 are better than ’04 or ’96.”

Interview at the Stannary Wine Co Burgundy tasting January 2017

Armand Heitz of Domaine Heitz-Lochardet which is based in Chassagne, but also makes Meursault, and Philippe Pernot of Pernot-Belicard in Puligny speak about the 2015 white Burgundy.

Armand points out the the date of harvest was crucial. In this warm summer the date of picking can radically affect the balance in the wine. He started on the 27th August with Chevalier-Montrachet and finished in a week. The malic acidity was quite low, but the tartaric was high. Good acidity is necessary to balance the richness in the wines, although he comment that some of the best terroir, even when picked late, retained a good balance.

Interview at the Stannary Wine Co. Burgundy tasting in London January 2017)

Jean-Baptiste Bachelet (Jean-Claude Bachelet et Fils) speaks about the 2015 vintage in Saint Aubin. He comments that Saint Aubin, situated at the southern end of the Côte, has some cooler vineyards which made fresh wines in this warm vintage. Those climats which are always warmer, En Remilly and Charmois had to be picked early. The 2015s have a concentration of sugar and density, unlike the straight 2015, but with sufficient acidity to balance. Jean-Baptiste feels they need time to mature and show their finesse. 

(Interview at the Berry Bros. & Rudd Burgundy tasting in London January 2017)

David Roberts MW of  Goedhuis Fine Wine Merchant loves the white 2015s which he describes as ‘broader and richer’ than the ‘precise and linear’ 2014s, but not lacking in acidity. He advises waiting for them to mature. “Reds..just a gorgeous vintage across the board. Whatever level you have delicious wine.” Despite the warmth of the vintage appellation definition is sharp. Wetter and cooler places have done particularly well…for example wetter parts of Clos Vougeot and Echezeaux and colder vineyards in Gevrey such as Lavaux Saint Jacques. 

(Interview at the Goedhuis & Co Fine Wine Burgundy tasting in London January 2017)

Paul Zinetti speks about the two parcels in Auxey Duresses with which Domaine Comte Armand makes their premier cru. As Paul points out, Auxey is not very famous, but makes some lovely red and white wine. 2015 was a good year for Pommard, but as Paul describes it was necessary to be careful with extraction. “My philosophy is to make great Clos des Epeneaux, but also fine Clos des Epeneaux.” This he does by using infusion…

(Interview at the Goedhuis & Co Fine Wine Burgundy tasting in London January 2017)

“2015 is one of the better vintages we have made,” remarks Alex Seysses. Alec recalls that it was very clean, but yields were low due to lack of rain. “The tannins are very nice.” They came out easily so at Dujac they limited the number of punch downs and used pump overs instead to have “firmness, but no hardness.” Alec considers the 2015 “resembles the 2005 and 2009, but is very different beast.”

(Interview at the Flint/Stannary Wine Co tasting in London January 2017)

Jasper Morris MW of Berry Brothers & Rudd speaks about the 2015 vintage. The reds have “the concentration of the 2005s and the juiciness of the 2010s.”

On the recent sale of Domaine Bonneau du Martray in January 2017, the latest a high profile domaine to succumb to a substantial offer from outside Burgundy, Jasper strikes a positive note “at least this is happening through an abundance of success.”

For more from Jasper Morris, Inside Burgundy is Jasper’s award winning book on the region which he has made his home. 

“No doubt about the reds, amazing from the beginning…but I questioned myself about the whites for the first six months,” remarks Ben Leroux. “Low, but quite good acidity, but they are 1 degree higher in alcohol than the 2014 (whites), so the wine is built differently. In September 2016, I really began to believe in the (white) vintage.”

The whites should age well too. “Not just about acidity, but phenolic ripeness and the 2015s whites have this.” Ben points out that cooler places, such as Saint-Romain, “worked perfectly” in 2015. It’s not just the grand cru that were great in 2015, but Bourgogne and smaller appellations are lovely too.

Ben used more whole bunch on the reds, but thinks that the vintage character dominates any particular techniques used. He describes the reds as “elegant, powerful with great generosity.”

Filmed at the Goedhuis Burgundy tasting in London January 2017

Paul Zinetti speaks about Domaine du Comte Armand, Pommard, Clos des Epeneaux.

Clos des Epeneaux is a 5.3 hectare walled monopole in Pommard, one of the largest monopoles on the Côte d’or. The terroir divides into four quarters each of which are vinified and aged separately. The vine age, rootstock, top soil and mother rock is differs in each section, for example the young vines are in the higher south section where the soil has more limestone. In the lower sections there is more clay. The young vines were bottled separately until 2011.

The style of the wine has changed from the bigger wines of the 80s and 90s which had no lack of structure and tannin. Ben Leroux brought his lighter touch and Paul, who joined the domaine in 2010, and made his first solo vintage in 2014, continues this pursuit of a more elegant style.

In the 2015 Vintage Report (current report) includes a vertical of Clos des Epeneaux from 2004 to 2014.

Dominique Lafon gets upset with people who think that a cloud of spray is pollution. If you visit Burgundy in late May and early June you will see the growers spraying preventively against vine diseases eg powdery mildew. Copper and sulphur (so called Bordeaux mix) are organic products and Dominique has found it most efficient to use the large machine in this film to do this. This monster comes with a hefty price tag and makes a large cloud of product, but requires less product overall. Dominique wants to get across that while it may look bad, it’s more environmentally friendly.

Terroir Trail in Chassagne Montrachet with Caroline Lestimé, Part Five.

This is the fifth in a series of walks around the premier cru vineyards of Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard with owner and vigneron Caroline Lestimé to consider the individual terroir and the styles of wine they produce.

We finish, appropriately, in Caillerets, among the finest premier cru in Chassagne-Montrachet – mid slope and south east facing. There are plenty of small stones here, the caille, after which the climat is named. The soil is not deep, but is rich in ‘sediment’  remarks Caroline, which she believes might give Cailleret its complexity and capacity to age.

This is a structured wine for which you should wait five years at the very least and it will continue to evolve over 10 years and more. 

Terroir Trail in Chassagne Montrachet with Caroline Lestimé, Part Four.

This is the forth in a series of walks around the premier cru vineyards of  Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard with the owner and vigneron Caroline Lestimé to consider the individual terroir and the styles of wine they produce.

We are now in the premier cru of Les Petits Clos on the South side of the village.  In common with Boudriotte this climat lies within the wider premier cru appellation of Morgeots. In this film we start at the foot of Petits Clos  adjacent to the Chassagne Santenay road, where the soil is deeper and redder, and we walk up to the top where the soil becomes so thin it cannot support the vines.

From here it is clear to appreciate how varied the terroir is within the 54 hectares of Morgeots. Caroline describes the style of Petits Clos as a typical Moregots – strong aromatic Chardonnay, a masculine style. The white clay and limestone however provide acidity and energy to balance the richness.

Caroline gets out her lady-like pick axe to show how the soil in the bank above Les Petits Clos is still evolving – a light, friable, stony, limestone soil which will – in a very long time – consolidate.

Terroir Trail in Chassagne Montrachet with Caroline Lestimé, Part Three.  

This is the third in a series of walks around the premier cru vineyards of  Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard with the owner and vigneron Caroline Lestimé  to consider the individual terroir and the styles of wine they produce. We are now in the premier cru of La  Boudriotte on the South side of the village, where the soil is deep and muddy. The clay holds the water which is prevented from draining past the small track. Caroline describes the style as  floral elegant and with white fruits, citrus and grapefruit.

Terroir Trail in Chassagne Montrachet with Caroline Lestimé, Part Two.  

This is the second in a series of walks around the premier cru vineyards of  Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard with the owner and vigneron Caroline Lestimé  to consider the individual terroir and the styles of wine they produce. We are now in the premier cru of Les Chenevottes at the foot of the slope on the northern side of the village where the terroir is ‘fresher’ and the soil peppered with small stones containing iron.

Caroline describes the style as less extravagant than Les Chaumées, less fruity and more mineral. It makes a good aperitif and a good introduction to the greater premier cru.

Terroir Trail in Chassagne Montrachet with Caroline Lestimé, Part One.  

This is the first in a series of walks around the premier cru vineyards of  Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard with the owner and vigneron Caroline Lestimé  to consider the individual terroir and the styles of wine they produce. We start with the premier cru of Les Chaumées on the northern side of the village neighbouring Saint-Aubin, on a slope near the quarry. This has a thin red top soil over limestone. Caroline describes the style as accessible, scented and extrovert.

Burgundian vingerons share their impression of the 2014 white vintage in Burgundy: Caroline Lestime of Jean-Noel Gagnard, Charles Ballot of Ballot-Millot, Vincent Boyer of Domaine Boyer-Martenot, Marc-Antonin Blain & Bastien Gauteron of Olivier Leflaive.

Patrick Javillier considers the 2014 – style and capacity to age. He shares his thoughts on how white Burgundy matures and that it doesn’t always conform to expectations citing the example of the 1994 and 1995 vintages.

Charles Taylor shares his experience of the market for Burgundy since he established his company 30 years ago. He recalls when Burgundy in the Eighties and Nineties was more expensive than Bordeaux and how the situation was reversed with excessive pricing in Bordeaux. Today there are signs at the top end of similar high pricing as widespread international demand for Burgundy results in a squeeze. Fortunately there are plenty of passionate growers and global quality has increased. Charles seeks out wines going under the radar. (Montrachet Fine Wine sells to private customers).

Ben Leroux and his successor at Domaine Comte Armand Paul Zinetti. “2014 is the best vintage for me in white,” remarks Ben. Paul points out the importance of selection in Pommard. Link to the 2014 Vintage Report.

Hew Blair, Chairman of Justerini & Brooks emphasises the importance of distributing Burgundy as widely as possible. He makes the point that customers can relate to more easily to Burgundy than to Bordeaux as they can meet the growers at the en-primeur tastings, while with Bordeaux they are kept apart by the negociant system. He considers Burgundy’s prices remain reasonable with the exception of a few cult growers whose prices have become “frothy.”

Pinot Moments: “Echezeaux is always good therapy, while Clos Vougeot gives you energy,” remarks Etienne Grivot.

Jasper Morris MW of Berry Bros. & Rudd describes the market for Burgundy over the past 15 to 30 years. He finds the Japanese market remarkably sophisticated with enthusiasts displaying an in-depth knowledge, while the more recent Asian markets are on a steep learning curve, keen to learn quickly and with great appreciation for the wines. “It’s not a case of them stealing the gems.”

Jasper is quick to point out that Burgundy growers, with the exception of a few, are not interested in the limelight. Their interest in price is limited to an acceptable return to run their domaines. High prices are restricted to very few wines, generally when traded on the secondary market. He gives a few tips on buying Burgundy on a budget and recalls the bounding passion and exuberance which first drew him to Burgundy.

The 2014 whites are exactly what Jasper loves, white fruit rather than yellow; they are fresh, balanced and consistent. The reds are lovely, without the concentration to cellar for a long time, but a big cut above recent “nice drinking” years of 2007, 2008 and 2011.

Much more from Jasper Morris in his award winning tome Inside Burgundy.

Thomas Bouley (Domaine Jean-Marc Bouley) and Olivier Lamy (Domaine Humber Lamy) describe the 2014 Burgundy – the season and the style of the wines. Olivier speaks about Chardonnay from Saint-Aubin and Puligny-Montrachet and Thomas of Pinot Noir in Pommard and Volnay. They describe the vintage as “ripe but fresh” showing the ripeness typical of an early harvest, but freshness and energy thanks to a cool August.

Etienne Grivot of Domaine Jean Grivot in Vosne Romanée speaks about the 2014 vintage and his decision to delay picking to achieve a suavity of tannin.

Charles Lachaux of Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux in Vosne-Romanée explains how prices for Burgundy have been inflated by retailers, restaurants and by customers selling on their allocation. This has affected land and grapes prices pushing them beyond the reach of the domaines, while attracting a new type of wealthy investor.

Jason Haynes love of Burgundy lies at the heart of Flint Wines and his desire to nurture lesser known domaines and bring them to the UK market. He continues to look for talented young producers and explains how it can be a bit nerve racking starting from scratch in the market, “but I find it difficult to walk away from someone with potential.” His latest discovery is Domaine Launay-Horiot in Pommard. Flint’s wines are available to the public through their retail presence Stannary St. Wine Co.

For more about the 2014 vintage, the style, quality and where to look for the best wines, go to my vintage report.

“A golden era for Burgundy.”

Chris Davey Chairman of OW Loeb describes the shift in the market from Bordeaux to Burgundy as Bordeaux squanders its advantage, losing favour with high prices. Burgundy, for the most part, is honestly priced. The Burgundians have raised their game offering great quality and consistency. Simple things such as meticulous sorting mean even the most challenging vintage can produce lovely wine. For more about the 2014 vintage, the style, quality and where to look for the best wines, go to my vintage report.

Jacques Devauges at Domaine Clos de Tart on what makes a grand cru – grand.

David Roberts MW Buying Director at Goedhuis & Co explains the changes in the market for Burgundy over the past fifteen years as confidence in the quality and consistency of Burgundy has increased and new customers have been drawn to Burgundy by its food friendly style. On pricing David argues that prices have edged up slowly without the peaks and toughs of the Bordeaux market, although he voices concern over the high prices in Vosne-Romanée. He recommends some good value Burgundy and describes the style of the 2014 vintage for red and whites.

Laurent Fournier defines three personalities for Marsannay which express the distinctly different terroir.

Laurent Fournier explains why, when he succeeded his father, he changed the domaine approach – becoming a vigneron and no longer selling the harvest.

Laurent Fournier on the changing image of Marsannay over the past 15 years.

Laurent Fournier (Domaine Jean Fournier) recounts the tale of Marsannay’s slow ascent to village status.