All Roads Lead to Burgundy
John Coyle spend eight days with Patrick Burke in France. Read his thoughts here on Burgundy!
The journey began with a strike at the car rental place that bookended beautifully with a taxi strike the last day heading home to the airport….Viva la France.
When I think of great wines that I love, all roads lead to Burgundy. I was looking forward to meeting Pascal Arnoux, our new Savigny/Chorey producer, and tasting through his wines. Pascal is the real deal, hands of stone and five generations of wine DNA informing every little detail. He explained with great passion how they hand harvest all the grapes, the importance of vineyards that are sustainably farmed and the use of natural yeast. His obsession with precise temperature control, so that the wines keep their finesse, and his bottling by the lunar cycle is what makes these wines stand tall against his neighbors.
NOTES ON THE VINTAGE:
Patrick and I were wowed with how the 2014’s were so classic with great persistence and balance, a fantastic follow up to the tricky 2013’s. The 2015’s showed incredible power and finesse, Pascal was all smiles.
Pascal’s primary wines are from Chorey Les Beaune, Savigny and Beaune. The soils in Chorey are much deeper and rockier where as in Savigny and Beaune the soils are much more finer limestone, yielding wines with more finesse and elegance. In Chorey Les Beane, Beaumont is considered the best vineyard of note as is sits furthest west on an alluvial fan. All the wines on average see about 20% new oak.
Two Irish Guy walk into a Bar…. in Beaune. It was Bissoh Sushi which had amazing food and a world class wine list. Great way to end a very long day of travelling and marathon tasting. Hats off to Pat, the man can ferret out great food even through dense fog.
The following day starts early with the always interesting and professorial Sylvain Langoureau. One can’t help but feel like a student in his presence as he stand in front of his maps and waxes historically about the great vineyard sites in Saint Aubin, Chassagne, Puligny and Meursault, where he holds some small parcels. His vineyards are treated like a meticulous garden where everything is done by hand. The wines all showed brilliant balance of fruit and great stony minerality. My favorite has always been his St Aubin 1er Cru Em Remilly, which is an extension of the Le Montrachet slope. It’s the same altitude and mother rock as Le Montrachet but it gets a bit more sun because of its SW exposure.
Sylvain threw us a curve ball and let us taste his St Aubin 1er Cru Sentier du Clou which is a tiny, single parcel that just crushed us with intensity, lemon, citrus and crunchy saline minerality, a vinous spiritual experience that we are hoping to share with our great customers. He makes such miniscule amounts and the wine has never been in the NY market. Pat and I raised a glass to changing that.
The next stop for us was to visit the soon to be well-known Armand Heitz from Heitz–Lochardet. Armand has a few things on his side to back up this very bold statement. His family has held some of the most prestigious vineyards in Burgundy for 300 years, including Pommard 1er Cru Monopole Clos Les Poutures, and Rugiens that sits above it, Chassagne La Maltroye, Chevalier-Montrachet, Meursault Perrieres and Meursault Les Gruyaches, which is a continuation of Les Charrmes. He graduated oenology school in 2011. He’s been making wines with the guidance of Ludovic Pierrot who worked with Anne Leflaive, one of the pioneers of Bio-Dynamics in Burgundy, for eight years. I can only imagine how happy Ludovic was to bring his experience and wisdom to Heitz, particularly to a vineyard like Chevalier where he worked Leflaives’ neighboring rows.
As Armand expressed to Patrick and me, he’s young and therefore not in a hurry. He’s a very patient man and has a real vision to make the best wines possible. His commitment to Bio-Dynamics and whole cluster fermentation with minimal oak (usually 25%) is his methodology to show the transparency of these unique sites. His Bougogne Blanc from 40-year-old vines and a tiny 0.3 hectare parcel in Meursaut is mind blowing and I would put this wine against any top producers in Meursault. This wine was an incredible find, the market will just have to be patient to get a taste of this liquid gold.
After a legendary long day of tasting there was only one place to have dinner. Ma Cuisine is legendary for its insanely deep vintage wine list with bargains to be found everywhere. The more livers at the table the better to endure the gauntlet. We were very happy to have our good friend Dider Delagrange and Pascal Arnoux join us where we started with a bit of Carillon Puligny to jumpstart the palate. It wasn’t long before we were all laughing hard and had to taste Rayas Ch Du Pape against 2000 Clos de Pape. There were many bottles after and multiple cuvées of Champagne at Le Bout de Monde.
Next day off to the Rhone, more to come…