Today, more and more wines from the great terroirs of France are being consumed in their infancy. Fueled by the demands of the bottom line, importers and distributors shoehorn wines into the market shortly after bottling while restaurants and retailers, under the pressures of profitability and cash flow, tend to list and sell them almost immediately. Alas, this is as true in France as it is here in the States.
At Rosenthal Wine Merchant, we take pride in moving at a slower and more natural rhythm than the rest of the market. Whereas many companies consider it anathema to carry inventory longer than a single year, we have always happily and purposefully stocked multiple vintages of wines from classic appellations, offering a depth of inventory unparalleled among American importers. Furthermore, we have such long and trusting relationships with so many of our Burgundy growers that we are typically not under pressure to ship wine as soon as it’s bottled. Our growers have always been able to count on us to purchase large and consistent volumes of wine every year, so they extend to us the courtesy of holding back vintages in their own cellars, thereby allowing us to offer more mature and fully realized (not to mention perfectly stored) wines to our clients.
Speaking of long relationships, Neal began working with the de Launay family of Domaine du Meix Foulot in Mercurey back in 1981—making this one of the first Burgundy growers in the Rosenthal portfolio. We haven’t missed a note since the 1979 vintage, and the de Launay family has always provided us with elegant, complete, honest, and satisfying renderings of their unique holdings within Mercurey. Neal began in 1981 with Paul de Launay, who took charge of the domaine in the 1960s and began estate-bottling a more significant portion of the family’s holdings. And, since the mid-1990s, his highly talented daughter, Agnes, has been at the helm, constantly refining her approach to produce the most expressive and nuanced wines she can from her family’s 20 hectares.
Today, the wines of Domaine du Meix Foulot stand as some of the strongest values in our vast selection of Burgundy. And, in keeping with our slower and more respectful purchasing rhythms, we are looking forward to the arrival of Agnes’s superb 2012s later this month. The domaine itself stands at the summit of the village of Mercurey, situated at its highest point and majestically overlooking the entirety of the appellation. The de Launay family holdings encompass a broad range of terroirs within the rolling hills of Mercurey, and their lineup offers a thorough survey of this often-underappreciated area—including perhaps the greatest and most distinctive vineyard in the appellation: the “Clos du Chateau de Montaigu,” a 1.9-hectare northeast-facing premier cru monopole of the domaine.
Domaine du Meix Foulot’s 2012s capture the vivacity, charm, and classicism of that schizophrenic vintage—one whose brutally miserable spring and early summer yielded to a glorious August and September, allowing for perfect maturity and resonant balancing acidity despite the drastic reduction in crop size caused by poor flowering and early-season hail. While Agnes has worked without chemical herbicides and pesticides for a number of years now, she refined her approach to elevage beginning with the 2011 vintage, transitioning to a tonnelier who toasts his barrels longer but far less aggressively, thereby allowing for a more seamless and subtle integration of cask and wine. Her 2012s, then, are perhaps the most filigreed, nuanced, and elegant wines we have ever purchased from the domaine. They are supple and accessible, yet concentrated and dense at the same time, and they offer a degree of value that barely exists in Burgundy anymore. We urge you to buy in to the small amounts of 2012s we’ll be receiving.
2012 Mercurey 1er Cru
Meix Foulot’s “1er Cru” has always been a blend of two minuscule holdings in two quite distinct premier crus, “Les Byots” and “Les Montaigus.” Byots provides a firm spine and a structural anchor, whereas the higher-altitude Montaigus contributes aromatic complexity and mineral lift. The end result is classic Mercurey: full, ringing fruit, hearty color, and a certain allure reliant more on rugged Pinot Noir pleasure than ornate complexity and restraint. Only 75 cases of 750ml bottles are available for the US, along with tiny quantities of half-bottles and magnums.
2012 Mercurey 1er Cru “Les Saumonts”
“Les Saumonts” is consistently the youthful charmer of the Meix Foulot stable, and the 2012 fulfills that role exceptionally well. Compared to the crus below, Saumonts is softer, easier, and more succulent, with fruit pitched more toward the red than the black. The de Launays own 1.1 hectares of this south-facing, clay-dominated vineyard, and the wine they render from their 40-year-old vines is unfailingly seductive and delicious. A mere 25 cases of the 2012 Saumonts are available for the US market.
2012 Mercurey 1er Cru “Les Veleys”
What “Les Veleys” lacks in quick pleasure and early accessibility, it more than makes up for in mineral profundity and mother-rock depth. It is the brooding philosopher to Saumonts’s light-spirited bard, although the 2012 offers a zeal and prettiness not often encountered in this wine at this early stage of life. Garnered from four separate parcels in this steep southeast-facing vineyard planted between 1947 and 1983, Meix Foulot’s Veleys consistently offers phenomenal concentration and the promise of a long life in the cellar. With its earthier mien and more firm tannins the Veleys is the most pure expression of the terroir of Mercurey. 90 cases of the 2012 will be imported into the US, along with a small handful of magnums.
2012 Mercurey 1er Cru “Clos du Chateau de Montaigu”
Always easy to pick out blind, and always a cut above the rest of the lineup, the peerless “Clos du Chateau de Montaigu” is the exception that proves the rule : in its uncanny Cote d’Or-like elegance, it both stands apart from the rest of Mercurey and reveals the heights the appellation is capable of at its apex. Oddly, the site faces northeast, in defiance of the usual prerequisites for greatness in Burgundy—but this less-sun-drenched exposition allows for a longer ripening cycle, and ensures a complexity and lift that sets it apart from its often more foursquare and plump Mercurey brethren. This 2012 is an exceptionally refined, complete version of the wine, multilayered and dazzling. 90 cases are available for the US market, with a portion bottled in magnum.