Côte de Nuits Wine
Although 2017 yielded the smallest grape harvest in France since 1945 due to a 'perfect storm' of frost, hail and drought the heartland of Burgundy proved to be the exception with its most voluminous récolte since 2009. Moreover, the quality of the fruit picked was generally very good. After the frost depleted 2016 vintage this was welcome news for wine makers and buyers.
Domaine Henri Richard is a small, organic (since 2005), family operation based in the middle of Gevrey-Chambertin, run by Henri's grandchildren Sarah and Richard Bastien and Sarah's partner Guillaume Berthier. Their principal vineholding is a 2 hectare plot in the 'Aux Corvées' climat due east of the town centre. The ensuing wine is unashamedly 'Old School' combining an earthy goût de terroir with brighter red fruit characteristics over a framework of tannins that will sweeten and soften with bottle age. The estate's flagship wine is the Charmes-Chambertin, from a precious 0.8 hectare 'Grand Cru' parcel to the south. It, too, is bien classique with complex red fruit, game and leather notes and enough grip to cellar well for at least a decade.
Stéphane Brocard's négociant bottling of Marsannay has been a welcome addition to this list and has proved popular with customers, colleagues and journalists alike. With a persistent palate of bramble and black fruit, tarry touches and deftly-integrated oak it is already drinking well, if decanted, and in the context of contemporary costings, is a relative bargain. We have maximized our allocation in the hope of eking stocks out for as long as
Domaine Gavignet-Béthinet et Filles is a family-run estate based in Nuits-Saint-Georges in the heart of the Côtes de Nuits. Presided over by sisters Claire and Christine (the filles in question) whose vine-holdings total 9 hectares, this is a terrific source of unembellished, fruit-accentuated wines of great charm and character. Their Nuits-Saint-George blanc, is made from a parcel of Chardonnay grown directly due north of the village on marl soil. It has delicate wild flower scents and an elegant white stone fruit palate underscored by a racy minerality. The more prolific red, from the 'Les Poulettes' escarpment, is packed with ripe hedgerow fruit and offset by a fresh acidity, supple tannins and cracked black pepper notes.
Yves Chéron is first and foremost a Rhône wine maker, based in Vacqueyras, but also owns some venerable viticultural real estate in the Côtes de Nuits that was snapped up by his astute grandfather Paul Misset after the Wall Street Crash. His Chambolle-Musigny 'Les Condemennes' is an elegant, perfumed Pinot Noir with a core of soft red fruit over a background of fine-grained tannins. His village level 'Vosne-Romanée exhibits power and finesse in equal measure with lots of sleek dark fruit with pitchy undertones and 10-15 years aging potential. Lastly, Yves' Clos de Vougeot is denser, richer and more complex. With an impressive 2 hectares (out of 50 in the appellation) it is a relatively prolific 'Grand Cru' wine and makes a magnificent partner to classic dishes such as boeuf bourguignon.