We’re often asked how we discover new winemakers. The answer is a combination of recommendations, wine journals, and critical reviews, but the most enjoyable way, or at least the most delicious, is through local wine lists.
The Gamay grape has had a turbulent history in Burgundy. In 1395 Duke Philip the Bold concluded Gamay was “evil and disloyal,” and banished it from the northern half of Burgundy. For the past six centuries it has found refuge in Beaujolais, where it produces mostly simple reds -- fruit-forward and inexpensive.
When we shape our portfolio, we look for wines that “punch above their weight.” These are wines that exceed expectations based on the price tag and the name on the label. For overperforming white Burgundies, many of our favorites come from the towns of St-Aubin and Santenay.
Burgundy is a tough place to find new winemakers. It’s a tiny, well-trodden region, with limited supply and ever increasing demand. It often feels like the best producers have all been discovered.
The 2018 vintage in the Beaujolais was another warm one, producing cuvées of remarkable inky intensity. On Beaujolais 2018s, William Kelley (WA) writes: “pleasure-bent, round and expressive, these are wines that will give a great deal of immediate pleasure.”
When we first met Gautier Desvignes he was 12. We happened across the Desvignes family domaine in 1998, during our year spent living in Burgundy. We’ve been fans of their rugged, affordable, delicious red Burgundies for over two decades. Five years ago the twenty-something Gautier took over operations, and the quality has dramatically improved.
For years we’ve searched for a source in Chambolle-Musigny. The town has both a stellar reputation and miniscule size (population 300), and it hasn’t been easy to find a domaine without existing importing relationships. But this spring we finally stumbled upon the Domaine Boursot, a humble family of winemakers right in the heart of Chambolle.
For years Pouilly-Fuissé was the darling of American wine drinkers. Fun to pronounce, rich and voluptuous in texture, it was among the first high-end French wines to gain wide appeal in the US. Beginning in the 1970s, it was a fixture of French restaurants’ wine lists.
Jean-Louis and Chantal Amiot are a charming couple. Together with Jean-Louis’s brother Didier, they make wine in the tiny town of Morey-St-Denis, in the heart of Burgundy. They’re kind, warm, and welcoming; and they happen to be exceptional winemakers.
Thomas Morey makes some of the most delicate white Burgundies we know. Far from the rich, opulent style of the past decades, Morey’s Chassagnes are refined, subtle, and sophisticated. Burgundy expert Jasper Morris MW calls them “very pure, precise and elegant,” as well as “excellent.”
Sometimes it pays to do business face to face. This April, during a tasting at Domaine des Varoilles with owner Gilbert Hammel, he left the room suddenly, saying “I think I have something you might be interested in.”
New winemakers in Burgundy are hard to come by. It’s a tiny region, and between small harvests, ever increasing demand, and well-established importers, it can seem there’s nothing new to discover.
The wines of the Domaine des Varoilles are at the bold end of the Burgundy spectrum. All of their cuvées come from Gevrey-Chambertin, a village known for its robust, masculine wines. Where much red Burgundy tends towards subtleness and finesse, the Varoilles style is noticeably more intense.
Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet produce the world’s finest dry white wines. In production for nearly two thousand years, the vineyards surrounding these villages produce wines of different characters -- Puligny a bit more buttoned up, Chassagne a bit friendlier.
The town of Maragnes is an underrated source for red Burgundy. Located at the very southern end of the Côte d’Or, it’s often left off regional maps, and its reputation is for rusticity over refinement. But chosen carefully, Maranges can offer excellent value for red Burgundy drinkers. The wines never reach the complexity of Vosne […]