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Frederic Esmonin, Louis Latour, Domaine Leroy, Hubert de Montille, R. Dubois Burgundy,
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MORE RED BURGUNDIES

 

 

 
 
FREDERIC ESMONIN
This property is also known as the Domaine des Estournelles.  They own or farm three Grand Crus in Gevrey-Chambertin as well as some premier cru and village vines.   
 
The wines tend to be exuberantly fruity, showing lots of bright cherry and berry aromas and flavors.  Oak is usually noticeable, too and the wood tends to contribute a certain spice tone to the wines, instead of adding a sweet note (as in some top Burgundies).  This makes the Esmonin wines rather distinctive.  
 
Their recipe calls for a four day cold soak, followed by a warm fermentation.   Typically they use 25% new wood for their wines.    The cellar is rather small and we suspect this accounts for their cycling the wines through their aging in the time before the next harvest.  
 


The wines from this property are typically showy in their youth.  We appreciate the vintage variation one finds in Burgundy, but can say the wines have been seriously charming since we first encountered them in the early 2000s...  Anyway, we've had a fair bit of experience with wines from this small domaine and the wines are well-priced and good quality.
 


The 2014s are showing wonderfully and yes, they're young.  But somewhat drinkable now!!
There's a remarkably good value in basic 2014 Gevrey Chambertin...mild cherry notes and wood is in the background.

A bit more intense is their old vines 2014 Gevrey Chambertin...nicely woodsy and a bit deeper, yet the pricing is still quite attractive.  

This domaine also has a tiny patch of vines in the grand cru site of Mazy-Chambertin...less than half a hectare.  The 2012 is a bright, mildly cherryish Burgundy...there's a nice bit of wood here and the tannins are of a moderate level.  It's drinkable now, but ought to cellar well for another ten years...And the wine arrives at a very attractive price for a Grand Cru Burgundy, too.

Currently available: 
2014 Gevrey-Chambertin $38.99
2014 Gevrey-Chambertin Old Vines $42.99
2012 Mazy Chambertin  SALE 139.99

 

DOMAINE CHEVILLON

The Chevillon family has something like five generations of grape growing history in and around Nuits-Saint-Georges.
The current generation has two brothers running the estate, Denis and Bertrand.  The farm about 13 hectares of vines which are cultivated in the fashion called ‘lutte-raisonné.'  This is sustainable farming in the direction of organic, but if there is no viable alternative to making good wine, they will veer off course to do what it takes to salvage the harvest.

The domaine has holdings in 8 Premier Cru sites within Nuits-Saint-Georges.  They also make a basic red and white, along with Aligoté and some Passetoutgrain.


A good bottle of 2007 Les Cailles, enjoyed in 2016 in Nuits-Saint-Georges...nicely developed and showing mildly woodsy, smoky notes and good fruit.
 
We currently have a 2013 Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru "Les Chaignots."  This is a wine which seems to be drinkable upon release and it's a wine which can be cellared for perhaps a decade, or so, with good results.  We like the red berry fruit notes and find a mildly floral quality here.  The wood is noticeable, but not taking center stage.  Very fine.  
 

Currently in stock:  2013 ROBERT CHEVILLON NUITS-SAINT-GEORGES 1er Cru LES CHAIGNOTS  $119.99

 

 

PHILIPPE CHARLOPIN

We've long been fans of this domaine, having the wines, off-and-on, for more than a decade.  Philippe Charlopin was thrown into winemaking at a young age, as his father died in the late 1970s, leaving 3.5 hectares of vines.  Some of these were owned outright and others were rented.  

Today the domaine comprises about 25 hectares and they even now make a bit of white wine.  This, we understand, is because Philippe's son Yann is interested in making wine from the Chardonnay grape.  As a result, they now own vineyards in Chablis, as well as Pernand-Vergelesses and Corton Charlemagne.

In his youth, Philippe sought the advice of the late winemaking legend, Henri Jayer.  British wine critic Clive Coates tells the story of Charlopin bringing a sample of an early vintage to Jayer who tasted it and criticized the wine for having been fermented with too many stems.  The following year Charlopin brought his latest vintage and Jayer told him the wine was better, but still had been fermented with too many stems.  With the 1990 vintage, Philippe brought a barrel sample and Jayer tasted it, saying "Now you have learned to make wine!"  (At the University of Henri Jayer, students are taught that the stems are unnecessary.)


We have the 2014 Gevrey-Chambertin...this is called "Terres Blanches" and it comes from "younger vines."  In this instance the younger vines are about 30 years of age on average.

The wine sees 25% new oak and we like the dark cherry fruit notes and the mildly woodsy, cedary tones from the barrels.  But the lavish oak treatment may not appeal to everyone.    
 
Despite its youth, this is certainly very drinkable now.  One of the precepts of Jayer's winemaking was that the wines should be drinkable when they are young and drinkable when they are old.  This one is young and it certainly meets Jayer's standard for drinkability!

Currently in stock:  2014 CHARLOPIN GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN  $59.99

 

 

DOMAINE CHARLEUX

The winery of Maurice Charleux is situated in the village of Dezize-lès-Maranges near the center of town.  It's hardly a bustling city and it's a far cry from most of the famous wine villages of Burgundy.  Dezize is south of Santenay, so it's not on the radar of most wine drinkers.

The good news, though, is there's nice wine being made from vineyards in that neighborhood and since they're not the most fancy appellation in Burgundy, prices remain attractive for those of us who actually drink wine (as opposed to those who merely 'collect' wine).

The Charleux estate was founded in the 1890s by Ferdy Charleux.  He had about an acre and a half to start and when he died in 1924 Ferdy had amassed all of 2 hectares (close to 5 acres).  His kid Joey brought the total holdings up to 8 hectares and now his son Maurice runs the show.  The domaine encompasses about 12 hectares and Maurice's son Vinny is on board in the cellar and vineyard.

The father and son team of Mo & Vinny cultivate the vines in an environmentally-friendly fashion.  They're not farming biodynamically, as I understand it, but lutte raisonnée.  

We visited the property and tasted some nice wines.  They seek to capture the character of their "terroir," as most good Burgundy vintners will tell you.  To do so requires an eye towards details in the vineyard, first and the cellar second.  New oak, then, is kept for the most cellarworthy, well-structured wines, as the wood tends to be less apparent with extended bottle aging.  Indigenous yeast fermentations...

We currently have a really surprising 2010 Maranges 1er Cru "Clos Roussots."  This is, as noted, a Premier Cru wine and yet it arrives here at a most attractive price.  The wine has a classic Burgundian fragrance...a bit of cherry, a note of forest-floor, a suggestion of wood, but only a hint...and the 2010 is lovely now, but we expect it will develop additionally for a few more years.

Currently in stock:  2010 DOMAINE CHARLEUX "Maranges 1er Cru"  CLOS ROUSSOTS  $24.99


Vincent Charleux, tasting in the vineyard.


Dans la vigne.


Dans la cave.


Maurice Charleux

 


Son and Father

 

 




DOMAINE CRUCHANDEAU

Julien Cruchandeau is a young fellow whose early dreams included studying cooking and becoming a chef.  He attended high school in Dijon and was studying the hospitality business.  As an intern, he had some jobs working as a waiter in restaurants in France and in London.  It was in England that he really discovered wine and was bit by the bug.

When he came back to Burgundy, he enrolled in a wine school which led to an internship in Gevrey-Chambertin where he impressed people sufficiently to land a job as manager of an estate in the Côte Chalonnaise.  There he did everything from the vineyards to the winemaking, cellar work and even marketing and sales!

He spent four years working with the Bouzeron estate, France Lechenault where he made wines which got good reviews and plaudits from various corners of the Burgundian wine world.

 
So while working at Lechenault, he started a tiny winemaking enterprise with his own name.
 
 
Julien launched the Domaine Cruchandeau project in 2003 while still working for France Lechenault.  A few years later he took on some financial helpers and he's on his way toward building a nice wine business.

 
We liked his wines when we first met Julien in 2013.  The current offerings are better as he's refined his viticulture and winemaking.

We currently have a Savigny-Les-Beaune in stock.  2014 vintage.  Quite a nice and stylish Burgundy, too.  The vineyard is about 34 years of age and comprises close to an acre.  Vines are farmed with care and viewed as sustainable.
Hand harvested grapes and he removes some, but not all, of the stems.  Then there's a lengthy cold soak and the fermentation must be fairly cool since he tells us it takes three to six weeks.  The wine goes into French oak cooperage and maybe 20% of the barrels are new.  

We like the cherryish notes of the Pinot fruit here and the faint hints of forest floor or underbrush.  The oak is noticeable, but not dominant...it's in the back and seems to show a touch of vanilla bean.  The tannin level is mild, so this is drinkable now and should be in good shape for another 5 to ten years.  
We view it, though, as more of a short-term Burgundy.
 

Currently in stock:  2014 CRUCHANDEAU Savigny-Les-Beaune  $34.99

 


 

HUBERT de MONTILLE
demontille.gif (3735 bytes)A lawyer in "real life," the wines of Monsieur de Montille are amongst the most respected in Burgundy.  The domaine comprises some 7.5 hectares, with holdings in Volnay and Pommard. 



 The wines are made with an eye towards elegance and restraint.  You won't find "big" wines here, nor will you find a de Montille Burgundy to be lavishly oaked.  De Montille understands that he's making Volnay, for example, not Chambertin.  His winemaking reflects this understanding and in his desire to showcase the delicacy of the Pinot Noir.

Wines from this property are not going to win most blind-tastings.  They, as stated before, don't have lots of new oak nor the sweetness from chaptalization.  In fact, the wines of de Montille are usually right around 12-12.5% alcohol.   Yet the wines are regarded as a reference point for Volnay if you cellar them until they reach their peak.  These are not the most immediately-gratifying or showy Burgundies.  If you're looking for something flashy, best to look elsewhere since these are vinified with the idea that their customers buy them young and hold onto the wines for a decade or more.  


The 2001 Pommard from Les Pezerolles comes from a small parcel of about one hectare.  As with other De Montille wines, this is a far cry from today's big, hugely-oaked, sweetly fruity, nearly-Syrah-styled wines.  This is refined, elegant and youthful.  Very fine and it has tremendous cellaring potential.

Photos of The De Montille Cellars, Family and Friends
Currently in stock: 
1990 Volnay 1er Cru "Les Champans" Sold Out
2002 Bourgogne Rouge Sold Out
2001 Pommard "Les Pezerolles" Sold Out

 




LEROY
wpeB.jpg (8013 bytes)This is a legendary firm with an energetic woman at the helm.  Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy had been affiliated with the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti for much of her life, that vaunted property having been in the family when she was born.  She had been active in the Domaine, along with running her own negociant firm, Leroy. 

She was removed from her DRC property position in a brouhaha over the marketing of the Domaine's wines, which she was in charge of.  Her own sister was instrumental in booting Lalou Bize-Leroy out of the DRC.
She and her husband Marcel own the Domaine d'Auvernay and this estate and the "domaine" Leroy occupy her time.

She had hired the famous Andre Porcheret as her winemaker (away from the Hospices de Beaune), but he returned when he found the Madame too damned difficult to work with!   To call her eccentric, some contend, is merely the tip of the iceberg. 

Okay.  For years people accorded the Leroy wines a great deal of respect.    The prices were (and still are) incredibly high.  We would always include a bottle or two in our regular Burgundy tastings and the wines fared poorly.   I think it was back in about the late 1980s or early 1990s I finally said "Enough!" and we would not include any more of these frightfully high-priced wines in our tastings. 

I think her ousting from the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti must have been a mighty big wake-up call.   Hell bent to show the DRC she can make greater wines, she purchased a couple of modest properties with great vineyard holdings.  She purchased the Domaine Remy in Gevrey-Chambertin  and Charles Noellat in Vosne-Romanée.   All well and good, but in typical Lalou fashion, she paid astronomical prices for these properties.  To say the least, many Burgundian vintners are not fond of this woman.

The new holdings give her terrific resources.  She's embraced the "culture biologique" and viticulture and winemaking are done according to the phases of the moon.  She believes in ridiculously low yields in the vineyards which she says accounts for the depth and expressiveness of the vineyard.  I've read articles and interviews which indicate she views the notion of "green harvesting" and "bleeding off" free-run juice from the vats (to have a greater ratio of skins to juice) as lunacy.  While many top vintners report yields of 30-40 hectoliters-per-hectare, Lalou seems to prefer a yield of around half that!   Her neighbors, it seems, often regard her as the lunatic.


In Remington Norman's wonderful book, The Great Domaines of Burgundy, he writes:
"Whilst no competent taster could credibly dispute the depth of extract or tannin in these wines, they can, and do, argue about what is underneath...For those accustomed to rate a wine by sheer size, Leroy's score highly;  others, concerned more for the building than for the scaffolding, who expect subtlety and balanced tannins, are less enthusiastic..."

leroy_bourgogne.gif (3998 bytes)We had  found some marvelous Nuits-Saints-Georges wines a near 10 vintages ago.  I recall a number of tasters were surprised at finding the oak in these wines reminiscent of American cooperage!  
 
 


In a blind-tasting of 2000 vintage Chambolle-Musigny wines in the summer of 2003, we found the Leroy wine to be supremely good.  But she makes only 1100 bottles and charges a pretty penny for it.  The wine is simply of the quality one hopes to find in Grand Cru bottles of Burgundy.  The really "grand" bottles are few and far between. 



The Leroy importer has had a myriad of bottles open at recent trade tastings.  I can't say I've tasted anything that's a great example of Burgundy.  They open a number of old vintages which are more impressive for their age than for how they've weathered the test of time.  It's lovely to open a 30 year old bottle of red Burgundy, but for those who are actually "tasting" the wine instead of admiring the label and the insanely high price tag, the wine falls short of "grand."

An older bottle of Bourgogne Rouge demonstrates that the wine merely becomes, well, old.  It doesn't transform into a great bottle of Vosne-Romanee or Gevrey-Chambertin.  It's still "only" Bourgogne Rouge and not especially charming.

The same goes for bottles of white Burgundy...we've been shown "Bourgogne Blanc" with some bottle aging and it's merely "old" wine.  It had not transformed from some youthful, tight young wine into a majestic, regal cousin of Montrachet.  

For a winery which views itself as being amongst the elite, consumers would be better served if, in fact, the wines were of as high a standard of quality as they are of high price.

Currently in stock:  Nothing







LOUIS LATOUR
For many years, we wondered how this large, family-run domaine could do a rather nice job in making stylish white wines and have uninteresting reds.

For years we'd hear about their insistence on stabilizing the wines...between filtering and Pasteurization, I suspect they lose a few 'layers' of their red Burgundies.

I buy a bottle of this-and-that periodically.  We have had some small format bottles of rather pleasant Marsannay.  Fairly-priced and quite drinkable, it's been good for its price.

Their Corton Grancey is an ambassador for the winery and it's usually good, but not quite reaching, in my view, "grand cru" quality.  

The 2013 is a medium bodied wine...some nice forest-floor sorts of notes.  It's young and if you're serving it now, probably it's best to splash it around in a decanter to let it open up a bit.  

Currently in stock:  2013 LOUIS LATOUR "Chateau Corton Grancey"  $129.99

 

 

 

 
 

 



 



 

DOMAINE DROUHIN-LAROZE
The Drouhin Laroze winery was founded by a Laroze family member in the 1800s and today, six generations, they're still going strong.  The property is run by Caroline and Nicholas Drouhin these days.


The domaine comprises 11.5 hectares of vineyards, predominantly in Gevrey Chambertin, but with holdings in Morey-Saint-Denis, Chambolle-Musigny and Clos Vougeot.  The wines are nicely stylish these days and we've been a fan for perhaps the past decade, or so.

We have their 2012 Morey Saint Denis in stock.  It shows mildly cherryish Pinot fragrances and a touch of an earthy, forest floor note.  Quite enjoyable right now but it can also cellar well for another few years.

 

 

 

Currently in stock:  2012 MOREY SAINT DENIS  SALE $47.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

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