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If you want to get a sense of whether a winegrower is really worth your time, the wines to try should not be those from the grandest appellations or that command the highest prices. Instead, start from the bottom of the range and work your way up. Why do it this way, you ask? Firstly, you will save yourself some potential heartache (and money) if the bottle of 1er Cru or Grand Cru turns out to be a dud. But more importantly, any grower worth their salt knows that it is these less expensive wines that will be their calling card in the world.
The four Burgundy vignerons on offer here today truly take this idea to heart. Furthermore, if one were asked to compile a shortlist of the top producers of white wine working around the world today, any one of them would be an easy addition. And there is no doubt that at the 1er Cru and Grand Cru levels, they make soaring wines, the sort that reduce fools like me to jelly. But the wines at the Bourgogne level are just as lovely, if not quite as individualized as their big siblings. This is a chance to drink wines from the greats, at a bargain price.
Dominique Lafon: The Lafon name is synonymous with the village of Meursault. The family has been growing wine there since the 1870s and were one of the pioneers of estate-bottled wines in the first half of the twentieth century. Dominique has been at the helm of the family estate since 1987. He converted to biodynamic farming in 1998 and today is making arguably the best wines the domaine has ever made.
Jean-Philippe Fichet: Fichet is a real favorite among the Chambers Street staff. He is well-known in Burgundy for keeping the cleanest cellar in the region and is near-obsessive about quality management, He even goes as far as to keep a journal where he documents every bottle he opens, noting in detail the condition of both the wine and the cork. Over time this allows him to make educated decisions about the corks he uses to protect his wines, which are brimming with tension and intensity.
Henri Germain: A few years back, Levi Dalton hosted Meursault legend Jean-Marc Roulot on his excellent podcast "I'll Drink to That," and he asked Jean-Marc to name some producers whose wines he loved. Jean-Marc mentioned many names but was particularly effusive about Domaine Henri Germain and how much respect he has for the wines and the work they do. It's true. The farming is stellar, organic for many years, and the wines are soulful and precise.
Pierre Morey: In some ways, Domaine Pierre Morey looms largest here. Though Pierre is retired today, he built his reputation not only at his own domaine but as the régisseur of Domaine Leflaive, where he was instrumental in establishing that estate as a biodynamic beacon in the Côte D'Or. The farming at Morey's own domaine is equally oustanding. Today his daughter Anne is firmly in charge and the wines she makes are as crystalline and beautiful as any I know.
From vines between 20 and 50 years old in two village-level parcels in Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet, 12 months in older barrels. On opening, this shows aromas of pretty apple and pear flesh, fresh lemon juice, and delicate notes of baking spice that open towards riper apple and mineral character over an hour or two. The palate shows nice density with notes of ripe green apple and pear, well balanced by a structuring, mineral core of bright acidity. The finish is long and bright, with lingering notes of lemon juice and limestone minerality. An exceptional, classic white Burgundy to drink now or over the next 5 years. Ben Fletcher
Year after year, this wine over-delivers by a magnitude and 2018 is no exception. The fruit comes from two plots just east of Meursault proper, with vines ranging from between thirty and seventy five years old. It's perfectly delightful right from opening, with a nose full of lemon pith, green Cerignola olive and sesame. The wood is exceptionally well-integrated and the plate shows more citrus, orange blossom and beautiful salinity. We were struck by just how much this evolved in the glass, taking on weight and intensity and exposing a mineral component that reminded us of the sidewalk after a rainstorm. This is age-worthy Bourgogne that will reward your patience. Sam Ehrlich
Germain's Aligoté is emblematic of the whole range at the estate. There is a sea-air edge to the nose. In the mouth, the wine is laser-precise, with notes of lemon, lime, lilies and a bit of tarragon at the back end. It's intensely mineral and yet somehow feels delicate. This would make a lovely aperitif, with oysters, gougéres or charcuterie. We drank it with falafel and it was just right. Sam Ehrlich
Rising in popularity, among wine lovers and winemakers alike, are the wines of Henry Germain, and the Bourgogne Blanc is the perfect introduction to their precise and classic style. Like all of the Germain wines, it is made in a low-intervention style with indigenous yeast, no additives other than SO2, no bâtonnage, racking, fining, or filtering, and judicious use of new oak. The Bourgogne bottling is a blend from two sites: Au Jardin and Les Belles Cotes, just below Meursault Chevalieres, and the fermentation and aging occur in neutral barrels.
From two parcels just outside the Meursault appellation borders, the wines here are on average fifty years old. Year after year, this always consistently lovely and age-worthy.
The 2018 Pierre Morey Bourgogne Blanc, sourced from three parcels in Meursault, is a show-stopper of a wine. Upon opening, it shows lemon, a touch of creme brulee crust in the nose and an overall sense of richness that one would expect in a solar vintage such as this one. However, this is all held firmly in check by plenty of acidity and a sense of salty minerality that comes to dominate the wine. It is spilling over with chalk and cool stoniness, adding tension and focus as it sits in the glass. Everything else kind of fades away, leaving only you and the earth. This is magnificent for the level and will satisfy Burgundy cravings tonight or in five years if you are inclined to put a few bottles in the cellar. Sam Ehrlich