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I will readily admit to an abiding love for Burgundy. The appellations roll off the tongue: Chambolle-Musigny, Vosne-Romanée, Volnay, Pommard… I’ll also confess to having great affection for less name-brand Burgundies. While not exactly household names, the less famous villages of the Côte d’Or furnish some immensely satisfying and affordable knife-and-fork wines. The interplay between fruit and earth and the cool-toned, sweet but savory character of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay enhance food rather than dominate it. Lively acid and energetic minerality invigorate the palate. As new releases from 2016 arrive, we are delighted by the vintage’s florality, vigor, and structured character. Below are recent arrivals to our Burgundy section from two exciting organic domains.
At the southernmost end of the Côte d'Or is the relatively new (1989) appellation of Maranges, composed of the villages Cheilly, Dezize, and Sampigny. Formerly considered a source of structured blending wine for punching up Côtes-du-Beaune Villages wines, Maranges now produces some affordable Burgundy of great character. Located in the town of Sampigny-lès-Maranges, Isabelle and Jean-Yves Vantey’s Domaine des Rouges Queues produces lovely wines which start with old vines and great farming. The Vanteys have worked the vines without chemicals since 1998 and made the transition to biodynamics from 2008. The vines date from 1960 and 1973 in the premier cru La Fussière and average 60 years old in the village Maranges. Their cellar work is non-interventionist; the fermentation is spontaneous in stainless and open-top wooden fermenters. The aging is in neutral oak and sulfur is used sparingly. The wines display succulent fruit, great freshness, and have detailed minerality. These are sturdy, honest, satisfying wines which should age nicely.
Also located in Maranges, Domaine Chevrot was founded in 1936 and is run by third generation winemakers Pablo and Vincent Chevrot. Farming is in organic conversion with biodynamic methods and limited use of copper and sulfur in the vines. Winemaking is traditional: with some cuvées destemmed and others fermented with some whole clusters. Use of new oak is restrained and the wines are bottled without fining or filtration with a minimum of SO2. The resulting wines are elegant and terroir expressive with none of the rusticity tradtionally associated with Maranges. The pure fruit, soaring aromatics and consistently bright acidity make for compelling drinking and grace the table with aplomb.
High-toned, floral and fresh with bright red fruit notes and zesty acidity. A wine of energy and lift rather than mass, this racy Bourgogne shows the buoyant nature of the difficult, but excellent 2016 vintage. Pablo Chevrot and his family make beautiful and fairly-priced Burgundy in every vintage, and are a great domaine for value. Enjoy with roasted chicken, fricasséed mushrooms, tempura, or milder cheeses. John McIlwain
Organically farmed, from 50+ year-old vines on silty clays over limestone on the Maranges end of the village. A lovely and floral expression of Santenay, Chevrot's 2016 Clos Rousseau is beautifully expressive with notes of red fruits, earth, and dried rose petals. Less of the mineral funk than one typically associates with Santenay. The palate is supple and harmonious. There is enough structure to reward midterm aging, if you can resist drinking it now on the very pretty fruit. -John McIlwain
Located on the lower slopes of the Mont de Sène, abutting Santenay with a sunny south-southwest exposure. The 40+ year-old vines produce small bunches of grape. Plusher and more effusive aromatically than the Les Fussières, with aromas of black cherry, plum skin, and mineral smoke. The mid-weight palate offers a fine tension between ripe black fruits, ripe tannins, and pungent soil notes on a long, fairly suave finish. This has fine energy and should reward mid-term cellaring. Rouges-Queues makes beautiful, expressive Burgundies that deserve a place in one's cellar. John McIlwain
At the southernmost end of the Côte d'Or is the newish (1989) appellation of Maranges, composed of the villages Cheilly, Dezize, and Sampigny. Formerly added to Côte de Beaune-Villages to add structure, Maranges produces affordable reds of character with fairly firm tannins, bright acidity, and good staying power. La Fussière is the largest of the premier crus with plenty of Jurassic limestone making up its soils. Biodynamically farmed. Medium-dark ruby robe. Pretty floral aromatics, with red fruits and a hint of spice. There's a good density of cherry-raspberry fruit balanced by detailed tannins and buoyed by lively acidity on a long finish. There is charm and class here!