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La Balaise is a full on sous voile oxidative Chardonnay from the Macon. Gilles and Catherine Vergé are the founders of the natural wine group S.A.I.N.S. which stands for: Sans Aucun Intrant ni Sulfite (ajouté), and insist on never using sulfites in their winemaking.
From Chardonnay grown on an excellent limestone/clay parcel in Aluze, next to Mercurey. Certified organic, hand-harvested, low yields, very long (10 month) wild-yeast fermentation in barrel. The 2017 shows lovely aromas of dried pear, melon, fines herbes, wet stone, and lemon peel—showing Chardonnay's relation to the Melon de Bourgogne of Muscadet! The palate shows very firm acidity underneath lime flower, citrus rind, and ripe white fruits with a touch of oak, almond and mineral flavors. The finish is long and bracing, with white fruits and citrus, very much in the stye of De Moor in Chablis. This is an elegant racy, stylish white Burgundy that is a great value as well. David Lillie
The De Moors suffered terrible loses due to frost and hail in 2016 and 2017 - They have been aided by friends in the south and have made delicious "Vendangeurs Maqué" wines, this one with Grenache Blanc from Julie Brosselin and Eric Pfifferling, Viogniers from Gérald Oustric and Gramenon, Roussanne from Eric Texier and Clairete from Pierre Pradel.
If there's a "grand cru" for the Aligoté grape it is probably in the appellation of Bouzeron. And Domaine A & P de Villaine produces one of best. The low-yielding, aromatic Aligoté d'Or grapes are farmed organically, pressed gently, and fermented in tank and oak casks. A bright and briny Bouzeron from Aubert de Villaine displays the chalky, ground oyster shell nerviness of the Aligoté grape. The 2016 offers aromas of sea breeze, Meyer lemon peel, lemon verbena, and white fruits on the nose. Citrus fruit and saline character mark the racy, brisk palate with a long chalky lifted finish. Enjoy with fresh goat cheeses, or a platter of raw oysters. John McIlwain
We tasted this at Racines and were very impressed with the elegance and structure that Gilles Ballorin coaxes from Aligoté. The wine shows intriguing herbal, almond, white fruit and stone aromas, with a silky, elegant palate that is quite mineral with white fruit and herbal flavors , finishing with firm acidty - a great match with the sepia and pear appetizer from Chef Diego Moya!
One of my favorites wines from the vintage and if anyone is thinking of a great gift for the Burgundy lover, this is a fine selection. The 2016 Fichet Meursault Les Tessons has a gold-green robe. Upon opening there’s a fair amount of reduction with aromas of citrus, ripe apple, and stone, which give way after a couple of hours to ripe orchard fruit, hazelnut, wet stones, and lemon curd. The mid-weight palate offers a firm core of minerality with fine density and pure, vibrant ripe fruit that offers a perfect balance of richness to accompany a deeply stony, palate-staining finish. This is a truly beautiful Tessons that should age effortlessly. I love Fichet’s wines, but this is truly beautiful and emotionally satisfying. I’d lay this down for 5-8 years and enjoy for the next 15-20. A truly fantastic Tessons and shows just how adept Jean-Philippe Fichet is in even hugely difficult vintages. John McIlwain
A new wine from Julien Guillot at the Clos des Vignes du Maynes, the 2016 Macon "Clos Fourneau" is 85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Gris. The wine shows floral, honeyed aromas of pear, white peach and candied citrus. Ripe stone fruits on the palate are wrapped in bright citrusy acids with chalky mineral flavors that continue in the finish with lemon and stone. Try this with melon and prosciutto or a full flavored fish such as halibut or monkfish. This will improve with a long decant or three to five years in the cellar.
Julien Guillot of the Clos des Vignes du Maynes, makes this lovely Mâcon-Villages from certified organic parcels - 50% from Viré-Clessé, the rest from Chardonnay and Montbellet, on Bathonian limestone with clay, rich in silica. The 2016 Mâcon-Villages shows a lovely pale gold color, with aromas of pear, almond, grapefruit and green apple. The palate is refreshing and elegant with refreshing acidity and flavors of pear, stone, almond and creamy lemon. The finish is silky and long with ripe white fruits and wet stone flavors. This is a superb white Burgundy and a far cry from the normal negoce Macon wines. This versatile and delicious Chardonnay will accompany almost anything from the sea as well as white meats, Asian foods and mild cheeses. Julien compares this vintage to 2010, which he opened for us last winter (Jan 2018) The wine was vibrant and delicious with terrific length, showing that cellaring this wine is a great option. David Lillie
"Les Boutonniers" is contiguous with Meursault "Meix Chavaux" on shallow soils of clay, high in iron, over the limestone bedrock, usually giving a somewhat lean and very "mineral" white Burgundy, but still with a bit more fat and fruit expression than the Lafouge "Les Hautés." The 2016 shows very floral aromas with pear, citrus and stone. The palate is crystalline, supple and dense, with nice weight on the palate, with pretty white fruits leading to a long finish with citrus peel, spice and mineral flavors. This is a lovely, very refreshing Burgundy to enjoy with grilled fish, roast chicken and goat cheeses. It's delicious now and will cellar nicely for eight to ten years. DL
From a north-facing parcel fairly high on the slope next to Meursault Les Vireuils. The Lafouge "Les Hautés" is a beautifully dense and well-structured Burgundy in this low-yielding vintage. The wine shows a bright gold color with aromas of spiced pear and apple, melon, honeysuckle, stone, flint and lemon zest. The palate is dense and well structured with ripe white fruits, toasted almond, citrus and flinty mineral flavors - quite ripe but with firm citrusy acids and fabulous length. Serve now with sole meunier, turbot and cod - this will be a beautiful wine with 5 to 8 years of cellaring. David Lillie
The Meursault lieu-dit Les Casses Têtes is located on the hillside above the premier cru Les Gouttes d'Or and next to Le Tesson. The soils are thin and rocky producing wines of great energy and lift.Green-gold robe. White flowers, honeysuckle, lemon blossom, faint creaminess on the nose with aromas of wet stone, citrus peel and pith following. This is bright and cool-toned aromatically, and not just a bit reticent on opening. The palate is nervy and electric on the attack with a salty mineral cast, followed by flavors of orchard fruit, lemon curd, and hints of green tea on a lean, albeit concentrated mid-palate with a pleasing bit of bitterness on the succulent, rising finish. This is mouth-watering and has a coiled tension that hints at greater complexity to accompany the vibrant, juicy character at the moment. I like the energy and suspect this will put on weight and benefit from short to mid-term aging and beyond. On day 2 the wine has picked up weight and gras with more stone fruit flavors and still more mineral spice notes and layered complexity. The aromatics have taken on more dimension as well with richer fruit, a touch of toast, and a hint of sea spray. There is far more here than meets the eye, so I'd decant if enjoying now or age for a few years to allow the elements to knit. Perhaps not cut from the same cloth as the excellent 2014, but fantastic energy and surprising depth the longer it's open. Paired with pan-roasted scallops, braised leeks, and Sea Island grits. Would likely be a splendid pairing with sautéed flounder and brown butter or poulet à la creme. For lovers of well-priced, pure Burgundies, Lafouge is always worth investigating. John McIlwain
The 2016 Hubet Lamy St Aubin Les Frionnes 1er cru is a stellar expression of the vintage. Again there's the kaleidoscopic array of white fruit and citrus aromas giving way to almost briny sea spray notes. The palate displays a galloping drive that has one struggling for synonyms for energy. This has pure white fruit flavors and a geologist's textbook worth of stoniness and with a few years in the cellar this ought to flesh out into a truly lovely wine. John McIlwain
From multiple parcels in limestone clay soils (Les Millerands, En Monatine, Les Herbeux, Les Malpoiriers, per the importer). Biodynamically farmed and fermented with indigenous yeasts. There's a bit of reduction on opening—a splash decant helps it blow off, revealing a perfumed nose with aromas of honeysuckle, lemon blossom, citrus peel, ripe pear, and spice. The palate is bright and racy with notes of lemon curd, green apple, and wet stone. There’s a fine bit of the electricity, vibrancy, and precision of the 2016 vintage present and plenty of charm to this snappy Bourgogne. John McIlwain (Wines arrive 1/11)
Tessons is one of the great "deuxième" crus (as coined by Clive Coates) of Meursault. The biodynamically-farmed vines date from 1975. The 2016 is more effusive than the village Meursault and displays greater florality to the nose than the Bourgogne with aromas of linden blossoms, Meyer lemon peel, and a dusty bit of chalk. The mid-weight palate is layered with concentrated orchard fruits, citrus peel, and a zesty, pungent sense of stoniness giving way to a long, articulate, rising finish. The after-aromas are fresh and spring-like. This is a lovely Tessons and should really shine in 5-7 years and beyond. Pierre Morey has been on a roll the last few years with Anne Morey deftly handling the vagaries of each year; and every vintage Tessons seems like a sure bet. John McIlwain (wine arrives 1/11)
From biodynamically-farmed vines averaging 33 years in age, in 3 parcels across Meursault. Fermented with native yeasts, aged in barrel, 20% new oak. Always a benchmark expression of Meursault, sourced from the lieux-dits Les Forges, Les Pellans, and Les Chaumes (per Becky Wasserman). It balances floral and wet stone aromas with overt minerality and orchard fruit flavors to give a beautiful overview of village character. 2016 delivers this along with aromas of lemon blossom, acacia, and discreet wood on the nose. The palate is racy and lithe, with a salty minerality and rainwater freshness enrobed by ripe stone fruit and citrus flavors on a long, expansive finish. John McIlwain
Les Aigrots is a 1er cru located next to the famed Clos des Mouches on the center of the slope on the Pommard side of the village. The 2016 has a pale gold robe. Orange blossom, white apricot, short crust, a touch of tropical fruit on the nose. The mid-weight palate offers an assortment of stone fruit, green apple, and yellow fruit flavors with a good balance between ripe Chardonnay fruit and a broad, salty minerality. This skews more Corton than Puligny in character with a broadness on the palate, but has nice drive on the finely layered finish. The suppleness calls for richer dishes, standing up quite nicely to Anson Mills polenta (finished with plenty of butter and Parmigiano Reggiano) with porcini ragu and should work quite nicely with monkfish, lobster, or even blanquette de veau. John McIlwain
Beaune 1er Cru "Les Coucherias" is high on the slope on the site of an old quarry and much of the sub-soil is limestone tailings, permitting root penetration and drainage, with a topsoil of mixed clay and limestone "marnes blanches." In biodynamic agriculture since 1979, the vineyard is a south-facing semi-circle—a very warm spot. The 2017 has a pale green gold robe. The nose offers an array of stone fruit and citrus peel aromas with a hint of mineral spice. The mid-weight, punchy palate shows a melange of stone fruit and green apple flavors with a pungent sense of minerality driving the long, concentrated finish. There's plenty going on here with ripe fruit and floral overtones vying with an overt stoniness for attention. Just cracking with a wild mushroom risotto, and a natural match for chicken, roasted cod, or even blanquette de veau. Give a quick decant now or better still in 2-3 years and beyond. John McIlwain
Located toward the bottom of the slope beneath Beaune Grèves and adjacent to Les Cents Vignes, Clos des Mariages is a mix of young and very old vines planted in clay and limestone soils. The lovely 2017 Blanc shows high-toned aromas of lime-flower, melon, pear, wet stone and honeysuckle. The palate is light and silky with pear, apple and citrus flavors with chalky minerals and herbal notes in the refreshing finish. Serve with fish in sauce, scallop crudo, Asian foods and mild cheeses. David Lillie
About a kilometer or two northwest of the Beaune 1er Crus, La Grande Châtelaine is a cooler site with soils comprised of clay over limestone. The 2014 Clos de la Grande Châtelaine has fresh, cool-toned aromatics of white flowers, nectarine, rainwater, almond and pear skin. The medium-bodied palate is a little warmer toned offering flavors of nectarine, white peach, almond, wet stone and crushed herb with a fairly savory finish. The ripeness of the vintage makes this a little more giving than one would typically expect for the cooler high-altitude climat. This is generous and makes for a lovely quaffer, as well as a beautiful partner with shellfish, fish in sauce, white meats and milder cheeses. Lovely wine! John McIlwain
Jean-Claude Rateau makes lovely Biodynamic wines in the Hautes Côtes de Beaune in his east-facing vineyard of clay/limestone and marne soils. Quite racy and bright even in 2017, the wine shows subtle aromas of lemon, almond, stone, spiced pear and apple. Intense, very mineral palate with pear, citrus and stone flavors and terrific length. The antithesis of fat, oaky Chardonnays, this food friendly wine will accompany everything from oysters and grilled seafoods to roast chicken and mild cheeses. Delicious now or cellar for 5 to 8 years. This is a real Chardonnay of terroir and a great value! David Lillie
Permitted in Burgundy, but rarely seen on it's own, Pinot Blanc grown by Jean-Claude Rateau in the Hautes-Côtes-de-Beaune makes this lovely and versatile wine. The aromas are subtle and pleasant, with apple and pear, lemon zest, almond and herbal notes. The palate is silky and pure with white fruits and hints of anise and verbena, light but round and pretty. This is a perfect aperitif wine, and will accompany any fish or chicken dish, Asian foods and mild cheeses.
Domaine de Roally is one of the great estates of the Macon. The original owner/grower was Henri Goyard, who made old-fashioned Chardonnays with a bit of residual sugar, from his superb organically-tended estate on a limestone ridge overlooking the Saone Valley. Gautier Thevenet of Domaine Bongran took over in 2000 and has happily kept up the quality and style of Goyard. The 2016 is a beautiful wine, with a truly stunning citrusy, lime-flower nose that is fast out of the gates upon opening but improves the longer the bottle is open. A fantastic scid backbone gives this wine taught structure but doesn't intrude upon the ecstatic fruit on the palate. Texturally subtle, with rigid structure but also a touch of saponic fullness. Drink now or let it age for upwards of ten years. Andrew FarquharThe 2016 is a fabulous white Burgundy, showing beautiful aromas of ripe pear and apple, lime-flower, lemon zest and honeysuckle, really lovely! There is fabulous density on the palate with pear, citrus, butter and exotic fruit backed by very firm acidity and saline minerals. Gorgeous now, it will age beautifully, perhaps best in 2026?
Jean-Marie Chaland owns two estates in Viré (Macon), Domaine Sainte Barbe and Domaine des Chazelles, both certified organic since 2006. The Sainte Barbe "la Perriere" is made from 35 year-old grapes from a half-hectare parcel near Viré on clay/limestone soils, never treated with herbicides. The grapes are hand-harvested and vinified with wild yeasts, the wine ages for 18 months, half in barrel, have in cuve inox. The 2016 shows pretty aromas of pear, apricot, lime flower and stone. There is nice richness on the palate, which is supple and elegant with chalky white fruits, a bit of nectarine, verbena and a hint of oak, with firm acidity, silky fruit and mineral notes in the long finish. This is a stylish white Burgundy that will accompany any full-flavored fish dish, chicken in sauce and mild cheeses, and it will age nicely for 5 to 8 years.
Also made from 100% Chardonnay with zero dosage, this wine spends a full 27 months on the lees before disgorgement. The result is a broad and powerful wine with tropical fruit, green apple, pineapple stalk, orange peel, and a hint of spearmint and lime blossom on the nose. The palate is rich and lush with mango, mandarin orange, and a hint of spicy green walnut coming forward, balanced by a dense mineral core. In fact, it actually reminds me of some of my favorite Champagnes (but for half the price). Céline and Laurent don’t make much of this wine and we are thrilled to have it in magnum size! An elegant but no-fuss wine that should always have a place on your dinner table or at your New Year's Eve party, it would pair well with creamy poultry dishes, whole-roasted fish, or soft, tangy cheeses. Tim Gagnon
From 40 to 80 year-old massale-selection Chardonnay vines high on the slope in Cruzille on limestone with a great deal of calcium carbonate crystal (aragonite) with thin topsoils of clay and silica, never treated with chemicals, certified biodynamic. Fermentation is in 600 liter barrels with wild yeasts, aged 10 months sur-lie without racking, no SO2 until a small dosage (10 - 20 mg/l) before bottling. The 2016 "Aragonite" is a superb, well structured white Burgundy that will age beautifully. The wine shows elegant aromas of pear, lemon confit, lime-flower, toasted almond and stone, really lovely. The palate is intensely mineral and framed in firm acidity, with white fruits, citrus, spice and stone flavors. The living soils of the Clos give this wine an extra dimension of acidity and saline minerals that will contribute to a long life for this lovely wine, perhaps best 2025-2035, but it's delicious as a young wine as well. Highly recommended. David Lillie