Mid-November ushers in a group of noteworthy new arrivals from the Cote d’Or from the 2013 and 2014 vintages. We are incredibly fortunate to work with vignerons who understand the importance of time. So much wine today is rushed into the marketplace for the sole purpose of a quicker return on the investment of its producers. The quicker the wine goes out the door the quicker the producer can be paid. The pressure to sell wine quickly means that wine is consumed at a much younger age. These pressures have transformed the landscape of Burgundy. When Neal Rosenthal first started sniffing around the Cote d’Or, the norm was to let the wine spend at least two winters in the cellar. Red and white wines were aged for a minimum of 18 months, if not two years, before being put into bottle. On top of that, most cellars had several vintages of wine for sale. Today it is common to hear vignerons claim they are bottling their wines earlier to “preserve the freshness” of the vintage. It is now more common to see wine bottled right before or immediately after the harvest. The result of this practice is wines which lean toward the varietal character of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and shy away from the more mineral elements that define these great appellations.
2013 and 2014 are both vintages that have enormous appeal, geared toward the fan of classically styled Burgundy. Their higher acidity and structure make them vintages that have benefited from longer elevage and time in the bottle. While able to deliver pleasure today, these are both vintages that will continue to develop and reward those with the patience to resist pulling corks. All of the wines outlined below should arrive in our NY warehouse around the 15th of November. Many of these wines are limited, so please communicate your interest speedily.
The full range of whites and simple reds from 2014 and the first round of Village and Premier Cru ‘13s are due to arrive on this next shipment from Lignier. George’s nephew Benoit Stehly (in charge since 2008) adores the 2014 vintage, viewing it as one of great balance and expression. He is also very pleased with his ‘13s, which were difficult to taste early on but have developed to show a surprising amount of material and complexity. Those of you familiar with his wines know that these are not wines of explosive fruit and deep color. Stehly has an incredibly soft touch and puts great trust in his impressive collection of well-situated parcels and very old vines.
2014 Bourgogne Aligote: This is classic Aligote: taut, mineral, fresh on the palate with a bit of creamy richness gained from the old vines. 50 cases available for the USA.
2014 Marsannay Blanc: From a .2-ha parcel, the total production of the Marsannay Blanc is about 900 bottles. The 2014 is a knockout, mineral and focused with more tense, slightly sweet fruit. Only 20 cases available for the USA.
2014 Morey-St.-Denis Blanc: This rare Morey Blanc comes from two small parcels of relatively young vines in “Les Seuvrées” and “Clos Salon.” Compared with the Marsannay Blanc, it shows greater mineral depth and explosive fruit resulting from this better climat. While not especially round or forward, the 2014 has a rich texture and persistent length on the palate. Wines like this make you wish there were more white wine in the Cote de Nuits. Only 50 cases available for the USA.
2014 Bourgogne Passetoutgrain: 2/3 Gamay and 1/3 Pinot Noir from parcels in Morey-St.-Denis. Raised in stainless steel, the ‘14 is incredibly fresh and vibrant. It is not as serious as the Passetoutgrain we get from Bitouzet and Hubert Lignier. This is a satisfying wine you can enjoy immediately. 300 cases available for the USA.
2014 Bourgogne Rouge “Champs de la Vigne”: The ’14 comes from a small parcel that borders Morey-St.-Denis and exhibits very pure cherry, a bright minerality, and some firm tannins. A very graceful yet serious Bourgogne Rouge. 50 cases available for the USA.
2014 Marsannay Rouge: The virtue of this wine from a parcel in the north of the appellation is that it doesn’t try to do too much. There is pure and racy fresh cherry with hints of earth and iron, grounded with gentle tannins. Those who enjoyed the ‘13 will find the ‘14 to be a bit more serious and complete in the glass. Only 20 cases available for the USA.
2013 Chambolle-Musigny: The standout Village offering from G. Lignier from a .71-ha parcel located within “les Drazey and “les Bussieres”, just below the Premier Cru “Les Sentiers.” The 2013 is classic Chambolle, crystal clear with pure cherry and supported more by its minerality than moderate tannins. 75 cases available for the USA.
2013 Morey-St.-Denis: Made from five separate parcels all in the northern section of Morey-St.-Denis, the ‘13 is more high-toned than the 2012, yet shows a bit more fruit and warmth than the Chambolle Village. 40 cases available for the USA.
2013 Gevrey-Chambertin: This wine is sourced from three parcels representing different sectors of Gevrey-Chambertin: “Les Murots”, “Le Fourneau”, and “En Deree”. It carries a bit more weight than Lignier’s Morey and Chambolle with a slightly darker, more herbaceous bouquet of spices and firmer tannic structure. Perhaps the most firm of his three village offerings, this wine will benefit from a good decanting. Those looking for a Gevrey that is a bit more open may want to take advantage of the last few cases of 2012 that are remaining in the warehouse. 70 cases available for the USA.
2013 Morey-St.-Denis Premier Cru “Clos des Ormes”: This wine is the most significant holding of the estate (they own 2 of the 4 hectares in Clos des Ormes!), and it is always the flagship of the domain. What the 2013 lacks in body it makes up for in breed: the fresh cherry and powerfully mineral fruit reminds the palate of Chambolle-Musigny, while the warm and savory tannins bring the impression back to Morey-St.-Denis. His significant holding in this rare Premier Cru brings an economy of scale which renders it one of our best Cote de Nuits values in our portfolio.
Mid-month we are expecting the first 2013s from Nuits-St.-George to arrive from Jean Chauvenent as well as his annual shipment of 2014 Bourgogne Rouge. Christophe Drag (the son-in-law of Jean Chauvenet) is not one to walk away from a fight, making wines with a great deal of power and structure. Chauvenet makes wines almost exclusively within the confines of Nuits-St.-George (the sole exception being a .31-ha parcel in Vosne-Romanee.) The wines leaving this cellar wear their home jersey with pride. Broad shouldered, dark in color, firmly structured, these wines exemplify the character that defines this great appellation.
Christophe Drag described the 2013 vintage as one of the past generation. His harvest began on the 5th of October, roughly three weeks later than the current trend. The ‘13s are much more linear wines, with greater acidity and clarity. They still display the power and structure typical of the domaine, yet the vintage character brings to the front a youthful elegance and clarity of fruit that can be a buried in bigger vintages.
Bourgogne Rouge “Noyer du Pendu” 2014: We habitually purchase half of the 200 cases of this wine made each year from a 40-year-old .5-ha parcel within Nuits-St.-George. This offering transcends this typically lackluster appellation, and is more Nuits-St.-George than a basic Bourgogne. Powerful but tame, with brambly black cherry fruit, tense mineral focus, and of course some serious tannins. 100 cases available for the USA.
Nuits-St.-Georges 2013: With 7 of Chauveney’s 9.5 ha located in Nuits-St.-Georges Village vineyards, this wine benefits immensely from Drag’s ability to select only his best parcels. All four parcels are located in the northern part of the appellation: “Allots”, “Saint-Jacques”, “St. Juliens”, “Petite Charmotte”. The 2013 is dense and structured and could easily hang with Premier Cru offerings form other producers. 150 cases available for the USA.
Nuits-St.-Georges Premier Cru “Les Damodes” 2013: This is Chauveney’s most elegant Premier Cru, from a small parcel tracing the border of Vosne-Romanee. Aromas of pure cherry and spice jump out of the glass. This is a wine with more mineral backbone and a finer, more relenting tannic structure. A wine with a great future, it is also the easiest to drink it its youth. Only 25 cases available for the USA.
Nuits-St.-Georges Premier Cru “Les Perrieres” 2013: “Les Perrieres” is made from a .23-ha parcel and is the opposite side of the spectrum when compared to “Les Damodes”. “Perrieres” is dense and structured and smells of black fruit and iron, with a deep mineral backbone and classic tannic structure. It is one of the standouts of the ‘13 vintage from this cellar. Only 15 cases available for the USA.
So much white Burgundy made today tastes less like Burgundy and more like Chardonnay. Too many folks lean toward the more fruity and affable varietal character of Chardonnay and leave the more stern, mineral character to hide in the background. Thankfully this trend has not surfaced at Domaine Bitouzet Prieur. There is no other Burgundy producer in the RWM portfolio who continues to follow the old traditions of making white Burgundy more than Bitouzet. Their methods can mean that these wines can be a little difficult when young, hiding some of their potential behind a strict mineral blanket. In a perfect world, these are wines for the cellar. In the real world, these are wines which at least need a good decanting before being brought to the table.
Headlining the new arrivals from Domain Bitzouet Prieur are the complete range of ‘13 whites. This classic vintage has produced some of the finest range of white wines that you will see from this small domaine. Please note that the quantities we receive here are small – those of you interested in claiming some bottles of “Perrieres” and “Charmes” should communicate your desires quickly.
We are also shipping a few reds in addition to the ‘13 whites, including our 15-case allocation of Caillerets and the impressive ‘14 Bourgogne Rouge.
Puligny-Montrachet “Les Levrons” 2013: The ‘13 is a standout, made from a .6-ha parcel in the northern part of the village just below “Les Referts”. Its bright and floral nose progresses toward chamomile and saffron; its elegant and lacy texture is incredibly composed and long. Only 50 cases available for the USA.
Meursault “Corbins” 2013: “Corbins” is located in the northern sector of Mersault where Bitouzet owns 1.5 ha of vines. Never an explosively fruity wine, the ‘13 vintage has a freshness that lends the “Corbins” a greater mineral depth and length on the palate. 75 cases available for the USA + a limited amount of half-bottles.
Meursault Premier Cru “Charmes” 2013: As there are a total .55 ha in this phenomenal vineyard, we are fortunate to receive our two-barrel allocation. Together with the “Perrieres” this wine sits at the top echelon of RWM white Burgundy. The racy ‘13 vintage keeps the “Charmes” firm and focused, with intense mineral and gun-flint on the nose. Very floral and racy fruit, with a fine silky texture. Only 50 cases and 36 mags available for the USA.
Meursault Premier Cru “Perrieres” 2013: There is perhaps no white Burgundy in our portfolio which can stand the test of time better than Bitouzet’s Mersault “Perrieres”. We have been fortunate to drink many older bottles around the table with Neal, and are consistently floored with what we find. Those of you obsessed with the “premox problem” should not be concerned here. The ‘13 is straight as an arrow, focused and firm, with a tonic quality to the finish. This wine is dense and long on the palate and asks for the time to truly express its potential. We beg you to lay this one down. Only 35 cases and 18 mags for the USA.
Bourgogne Rouge 2014: The 2014 is made from two parcels: one in Volnay and one in Mersault. It is bursting with fresh cherry fruit, elegant mineral structure and some firm tannins. 277 cases available for the USA.
Beaune Premier Cru “Cent Vignes” 2013: This wine from a 1.2-ha parcel is always a charmer and is their only red from outside Volnay. It’s light on its feet and not especially tannic, with silky pure cherry fruit. You can typically count on this wine showing well out of the gates. 50 cases available for the USA.
Volnay Premier Cru “Caillerets” 2013: There is never much “Caillerets” to go around, coming from a mere .15-ha parcel. The 2013 carries a nice amount of weight for its vintage with a warm, almost medicinal fruit character. The “Caillerets” is supported well by a mineral backbone, is not aggressively tannic and is fairly open – still, a bit of patience should bring greater rewards. Only 15 cases available for the USA.