Perle de Roche Crémant de Bourgogne from Jean-Marie Chaland

If it isn't Champagne, what do you call it?

In France, the term used to denote a sparkling wine other than Champagne is Crémant. The Perle de Roche Brut Nature from Domaine Sainte Barbe is a Crémant de Bourgogne and therefore technically not a Champagne, but you’d be hard pressed to guess otherwise if given a glass to taste blind. An absolute dead ringer for authentic Champagne.

And, just like it's done in Champagne, Domaine Sainte Barbe has the wine go through secondary fermentation in bottle. This is called Méthode Traditionnelle. The legendary monk, Dom Perignon, is erroneously credited for discovering this technique of making still wine into sparkling wine. The transformation of still into sparkling wine was less of a sudden discovery and more like a drawn-out process that evolved over a long time period. At any rate, Domaine Sainte Barbe’s winemaker, Jean-Marie Chaland, uses 100% Chardonnay, a blanc de blancs as it were, from the lieux-dits La Verchère, a parcel of 50 year old vines in Viré, just north of Mâcon. The Chardonnay grapes are grown on clay and limestone soils, lending a pronounced mineral quality to the wine.

Jean-Marie leaves his Perle de Roche en tirage for a good long time; it sits on the lees for 30 months before disgorgement. Perle de Roche is a Brut Nature, which means it has zero dosage and less than 3 grams of sugar per litre. As a comparison, a Brut can have up to 12 grams of sugar per litre. In other words, it is a sparkling wine for Rock Heads – an affectionate term used for wine drinkers who have an affinity for mineral-driven, steely wines. At the store, we call the Perle de Roche, the Poor Man’s Les Mesnil because of that distinctive, crisp, sleek finish.

Perle de Roche is not made in every vintage and production is tiny, less than 300 hundred cases produced. The bottling we have in stock is entirely from the 2014 vintage. A truly artisanal effort. And here is the real kicker - it's only $28.98 per bottle! 

No need to twist my arm, I gladly embrace the tradition of drinking a glass – or two- of bubbly this time of year. Of course, I don’t usually need any encouragement to drink it as I adhere to the Lily Bollinger way of thinking (“I only drink Champagne when I’m happy, and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I am alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when am. Otherwise, I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.” LB)

This holiday season, I’ll be stocking up with bottles of Perle de Roche to take to parties, give out as gifts and have at the ready in case people pop by the house. The price makes it doable. It doesn’t hurt either that the package is elegant, but ultimately it is the quality in the bottle that will impress and so no one will be the wiser that I did not have to overpay for mediocre Champagne. 

Cheers! - Anya Balistreri

Domaine Michel Bouzereau: Burgundy For Grown Ups

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 4:45 PM




Tasting with Jean-Baptiste Bouzereau in January of this year I was overwhelmed by the absolute “deliciousness” of his 2009’s. I have never tasted a vintage of white Burgundy that was just so perfect at such an early age. This doesn’t mean the wines won’t age; I think they’ll be beautiful for several years, but they are just so enjoyable already that you just won’t be able to keep your hands off them. You may have heard this quote before, but the source lay here, as Jean-Baptiste said during our tasting, “If the pleasure is there for the taking, why resist it?”

The Bourgogne Blanc, which has been in stock before, just continues to impress. It’s as close as you can get to good Meursault without paying the price for good Meursault. Speaking of which, the Meursault Les Tessons is simply screamin’ great right now – a beautiful blend of fruit and minerality with that ‘come-hither’ look that is pretty alluring! The Premier Cru offerings are a step up, and while also quite tempting and scrumptious now, will reward after just a little cellar time. – David Netzer

Burghound‘s Allen Meadows’ reviews listed below:

2009 Domaine Michel Bouzereau Bourgogne Blanc

A very fresh and appealingly bright nose of white flower, straw and nut nuances leads to round and fleshy flavors that are quite forward, indeed to the point that this could easily be drunk and enjoyed now. There is a slight touch of warmth on the vibrant finish but overall, this is quite pretty for what it is.

2009 Domaine Michel Bouzereau Meursault Les Tessons

A subtle hint of SO2 and reductive notes presently dominate the nose though hints of ripe pear and flowers can also be discerned. There is good density and richness to the solidly voluminous flavors that possess fine dry extract that buffers the firm acidity and discreet minerality of the racy and dry finish. This is a bit awkward today but the underlying material is such that this should be an extremely good villages in time.

2009 Domaine Michel Bouzereau Meursault Les Charmes

A pure and very Meursault nose of hazelnut, pear and soft floral notes that gives way to rich, intense and utterly delicious flavors that possess an abundance of dry extract that confers a seductive texture upon the mouth coating and impressively complex finish. This lovely effort exudes energy and it should age well over the medium-term.

2009 Domaine Michel Bouzereau Meursault Les Genevrieres

A classic Genevrières nose features spice and slightly exotic fruit aromas that complement the equally spicy, pure, intense and fleshy flavors that deliver superb length on the balanced, mineral-inflected and mouth coating finish. Like the Charmes, there is an abundance of dry extract that should ensure excellent aging potential.


2009 Domaine
Michel Bouzereau Puligny Montrachet Champs Gains

Here the sulfur* is no longer subtle and I would strongly suggest decanting this if you’re going to try one young. There is good richness to the overtly ripe yet detailed flavors that possess plenty of dry extract yet the finish is distinctly hard. I suspect that it’s the sulfur that is causing the hardness as the ’09 vintage is not given to this sort of aggressiveness nor is Champ Gains typically like this either. A bit of patience as the SO2 is absorbed will see things righted.

*TWH Note: Mr. Meadows’ notes first appeared in the February 1, 2011 issue of Burghound. We’ve opened a couple of bottles ourselves recently, and the wine is showing spectacularly! The SO2 has blown off, allowing for the soft mineral, snappy pear-like fruit, and lively finish to shine.

Jean-Baptiste makes Red Burgundy as well. When negociante Jeanne-Marie de Champs last visited us, we were all treated to a taste of this fantastic Volnay, and you should have seen the dogfight over who got to take the remainder home! Elegant aromas of brambly red berries, incense, cola, and earth reveal the precision and purity of this signature Volnay. Easy entry on the palate, it is marked by harmonious balance, great weight and elegance. It is Red Burgundy for grown ups. The finish is lengthy and complex with all nuance fading slowly and evenly. This is delicious juice!Peter Zavialoff

New Domestic Arrivals: Spotlight on Varner

Thursday, September 1, 2011 4:24 PM

95 points. 96 points. These are not Parker scores for First Growth Bordeaux,these are the scores garnered by the dynamic duo Jim and Bob Varner for their impeccable single-block Chardonnays from the Spring Ridge Vineyard, located along the slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Varner Chardonnays are unquestionably among the very best that California has to offer. One sip and you’ll instantly grasp why Varner Chardonnays are so adored. –Anya Balistreri

*Notes from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Aug 2011:

(The) Chardonnays from Jim and Bob Varner are made from three blocks the Varners planted in the early 1980s in the Portola Valley. They are fairly large-scaled wines that at the same time retain considerable minerality and structure in a style that is distinctive of the Santa Cruz Mountains, but that stands apart from the lusher, oakier style of wine many people associate as typical California Chardonnay… Readers should do whatever they can to taste these majestic Chardonnays – Robert Parker.

2009 Amphitheater Block Chardonnay96 POINTS
Emerges from the glass with layers of fruit. It shows gorgeous up-front richness, then finds its center of minerality on the mid-palate. It is a large-scaled, beautifully balanced wine loaded with personality. Smoke, minerals, and citrus linger on the multi-dimensional, saline finish.

2009 Bee Block Chardonnay96 POINTS
The Bee Block is the most overt of these 2009 Chardonnays from Varner. Here the fruit moves toward the tropical end of the spectrum, perhaps owing to a richer layer of topsoil. Nevertheless, this is the closest wine to what readers are likely to identify as California Chardonnay. Once again, theintegration of French oak is nothing short of masterful. The long, textured finish is striking.

2009 Home Block Chardonnay95 POINTS
Home Block is fabulous. It is rather inward and reticent, but the wine’s personality is impossible to miss. Ash, minerals, earthiness are some of the notes that add complexity to the intense fruit. This is another sweeping, totally elegant wine from Varner.

Editor’s note: The boss is usually way to busy to send out emails, and quite frankly, still is. Though here’s a rare glimpse into one of his discoveries earlier this year that’s NOW IN STOCK!!!

This estate was the big “eureka!” moment of my trip to France this past January. I had visited Jean-Marie a year before, and was completely taken with his wines, but I like to see a grower more than once before deciding to take on a portfolio. It’s nice to get a confirmation of two vintages in a row, and boy did I!

The family was selling grapes to the co-op until 1967, at which time Jean-Marie’s father, Jean-Noël, began estate bottling, under the Domaine des Chazellesname, a very good estate in its own right. (A side note – I originally visited them with the idea of importing the Chazelles wines. While there, Jean-Noël said, “my son makes wines under his own label; would you like to taste them too?” Well, sure! And as soon as I had the first Mâcon in my mouth I knew these were the wines I wanted.) Jean-Marie created his own separate estate in 1999, and soon, when his father retires, will take over all of his holdings as well. The family has farmed organically since those early days, and Jean-Marie’s estate became certified organic in 2006 – the first grower in Viré-Clessé to obtain that certification.

Jean-Marie farms eight hectares of Chardonnay vines, consisting of more than 20 separate micro-parcels, and produces roughly 3,000 cases a year. There’s a lot to like here: a high proportion of old vines – 3/4 of his estate is over 50 years old, and his prized Thurissey parcel is over 90. He always uses natural yeasts, and there is no chaptalization, nor acidification. His single vineyard bottlings are bottled unfined and unfiltered. One amusing change from father to son: Jean-Marie is not the horseman his father is, so he must plow with a tractor!

2009 Mâcon “Les Tilles”

This is from a parcel of 40-50 year old vines, located on a plateau of clay/limestone soil in the village of Montbellet. It is aged in stainless steel tanks, on its lees, then bottled. This wonderfully expressive, floral, citrusy Mâcon is super fresh, super mineral, and utterly delicious.

2009 Viré Clessé “Vieilles Vignes”

Viré Clessé is an AOC of the Mâconnais region (similar to Pouilly Fuissé or St. Veran), created just over 10 years ago. It’s a relatively small AOC, producing less than half the quantity of Pouilly Fuissé or St. Veran. This Vieilles Vignes cuvée is produced from three parcels of 50+ year old vines, with gravelly soils. Very fleshy, with great minerality, and in 2009 it shows just a touch of honeysuckle. Jean-Marie says he likes this best at 3-5 years of age, but it sure tastes good right now.

2009 Viré-Clessé “Perrière”

This is a new cuvée for Jean-Marie, made from a parcel that used to go into the Vieilles Vignes, but which he decided has the individuality to stand on its own. Again, great minerality (do you notice a trend?) and a long, stony, lees-y finish. Really classy stuff.

2009 Viré-Clessé “l’Epinet”

All hand harvested, from a vineyard planted in the 1940’s. He makes about 15 barrels – 375 cases or so. There’s no new oak on this, or any of his other wines. The barrels average about 5 years old, as he wants all that brilliant old-vine fruit to take center stage, not the vessel it’s aged in. This is already showing some complexity, with peach and lime, and plenty of spice, perhaps even a touch of licorice. A densely mineral wine. Wow.

2009 Viré-Clessé “Thurissey”

Viré-Clessé “Thurissey” this exceptional little (1/2 hectare) south-facing parcel is on the northern end of the appellation, away from his other parcels. The vines here are up to 95 years old, and he produces only about 200 cases. Again, no new oak; he uses a regimen of barrels between two and five years old. The wine is kept in barrel for a year on its fine lees, then bottled, without fining or filtration.

Thurissey is always a mineral wine, and even in 2009, which is a fruit-driven vintage, this is the wine for rock-heads. It’s less expressive than the l’Epinet right now; more like a coiled spring, just waiting to release its energy, filled with apple, pear, lime, and stone. Jean-Marie says this should age 5-10 years, or if you drink it now, it’s best to decant it.

2008 Crémant de Bourgogne “Perle de Roche”

Yes, there’s a sparkling wine too! Jean-Marie bottles this one under his “Domaine Sainte Barbe” label. Please pardon the confusion. It’s made from a parcel of young vines rich in limestone. It spends between 2-3 years en tirage, with a very low dosage (4 grams/liter) and there’s a small disgorgement every couple of years of about 3,000 bottles. Very fine for a Crémant, with tiny bubbles, a fresh chalky nose and quite a bit of finesse. Only a few cases available.

Sampler Case

I guess the best thing I can say about these wines is that you will look forward to the next sip, the next bottle, the next case! With that in mind, we’ve put together a very special Sampler Case to introduce these superb wines to you. You’ll get 3 bottles of Mâcon, 2 bottles of each of the Viré-Clessés, and 1 bottle of the Crémant. For taking the plunge, you’ll save 25% off the regular prices. We think you’ll be impressed.- David Netzer


Wednesday, May 28, 2008 2:11 PM

A great way to learn about Burgundy and its wines, and (even better) the perfect way to get a discount on two high quality bottles. Sign up now!

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Basic Facts for those of you who are new to the program: Every two months we select two Burgundies, one red and one white. We include write-ups detailing the background of the grower, the vineyard source, and the wine. Finally we knock a significant percentage off the prices of the wines, making the Sampler price $89.98. If you would like us to add you to the Sampler Club and receive the wines regularly, please specify “store pickup” or “ship it” in the comments field, and we will charge your card accordingly. If you would like us to ship faster than the standard ground service, please specify this as well.

2005 Beaune 1er Cru “Aigrots,” Albert Morot

The Domaine Albert Morot has a long, well-documented history dating back to 1820. What had started out as a negociant business in Beaune turned into a long-standing family winery. After 16 years of running the business on her own, Françoise Choppin turned the reigns over to Geoffrey Chopin de Janvy, her nephew, in 2000. Since then, Geoffrey has taken the winery into the spotlight by crafting wines that have garnered attention from critics, collectors and Burgundy lovers alike. The vineyard of Beaune Aigrots is situated between Clos des Mouches and Champs Pimonts. This classy, concentrated chardonnay has lovely notes of buttered toast and green, apple fruit. The palate-feel of the wine is broad and expansive. The flavors linger to reveal rich, ripe fruit uplifted and carried by bright acidity. Not flabby in any way, this wine is open and ready to drink.

2003 Gevrey Chambertin “Vieilles Vignes”, Philippe Naddef

Philippe Naddef goes back decades with The Wine House, all the way to his very first vintage in 1983. This long relationship has given us a unique insight into the evolution of his full-bodied, sturdy wines. Naddef’s reds typically begin their young life tight and firm. With age, they turn graceful and exceedingly aromatic. As a vintage, 2003 red burgundies were either softer, fleshier and approachable in style or assertively tannic. The former vintage characteristic coupled with Naddef’s big pinots produced a 2003 Gevrey Chambertin Vieilles Vignes that is at once drinkable and big-scaled. The wine is produced from grapes that come from 4 different parcels. The average age of the vines is 45 five years old. These cherished old vines produce naturally concentrated, small berries. The wine is aged in 60% new barrel and 40% in one year old barrels with no racking. Notes of cinnamon and beeswax give way to ripe red cherry fruit that finish in silky, round tannins. Naddef’s wines have a flavor all their own. In our fast-food culture where conformity is all too often equated with quality, it is soul-soothing to taste the magical union of winemaker and grape in Naddef’s wines.


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2005 Meursault

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 9:23 PM

2005 Domaine Xavier Monnot Meursault Les Chevalieres $62.49

I don’t often write about white Burgundy in these Sunday emails. Mostly because I like to feature wines under $30, under $20, and under $15. However, sometimes a wine is so blatantly worth it that I bend the rules. People talk about Burgundian Chardonnay as different from the rest of the world’s wines, driven by mineral, but with weight, but with acidity, but with power, but with finesse. They speak of it as the realization of paradox. As with every wine region and their mythologies, this is how great white Burgundy acts, not necessarily what you can expect out of every bottle produced there. If you are searching for this sort of dynamism in this region, wine that gives you clarity and precision foiled by richness and length, or the other way around, welcome Xavier Monnot. He is a controversial figure who speaks his mind, who controls yields by removing flowers not by green harvest, who uses less oak, who does not believe in huge extraction in his red wines, who actually seems to believe in terroir as a reality not a marketing term. If you read these emails, you know this guy is right up my alley.

I first encountered these wines as barrel samples at the domaine in Meursault. They woke me up, palate, mind and perspective. The whites were fresh, nervy and mineral, and the reds were pure and Pinot. As style went, they were different than much of what I tasted on the trip. The thought occurred that they may be more Burgundy than others, but that’s a dangerous statement when you are surrounded by vignerons and tasters who all have very strong opinions. I kept my thoughts to myself, as my curiosity was piqued, but I wasn’t ready declare one way or the other based on a set of barrel samples. I did talk to David about them, and we wondered how this came to be. This domaine of noble ideals, that eschews oak in favor of clarity, extraction in favor of purity of fruit. I got my second glimpse from a travel shocked, just off the boat sample, and I started to feel more confident that I knew what Monnot was doing. I liked it. But it wasn’t until later when I took a bottle of this Meursault Chevalieres home with me, that I really got it. It had rested in bottle for a few months and put on weight. I spent a good portion of the next hour or so, ignoring everything around me while I explored all the layers the wine was proposing. That’s an annoying way to be when people are trying to talk to you, but every once in a while I synergize with a wine like that. And this email wrote itself right then and there.

I’m recommending this wine because I find it inspirational in the context of the many laments and complaints of the internationalization of wine. I’m also recommending it because I found it to be a beautiful expression of Chardonnay. I’m recommending it because as I drank it, I was able to say with confidence: This is white Burgundy. This is Meursault. This is Chevalieres. And I find that extremely exciting. – Ben Jordan

 Tasting Notes

To break this down into flavors and impressions doesn’t do the overall experience justice, but I will devote a sentence to something resembling specific notes. There’s a lovely play between the structure, the mineral, the sweet corn and lees character, the citrus and orchard fruit, and the cream of the mouthfeel. There is a sense of harmony and completeness, and it’s kind of contagious. If I were a communist leader trying to get a foothold in a capitalist country, I would pour this at rallies, and I would send samples to those who could help my cause. I would say, “See how the components all work together for betterment of the whole? This is no idealistic dream! If wine can do it, are we so crazy to think that our people can too? It can work, I say!” If you prize fat and butter, this is something different, but I’ll bet you still like it. It’s one of those wines whose style may be counter to what some people usually prefer (fat and butter mentioned above), but if they drank it, they would find themselves reaching for more. It’s one of those wines to change minds.

If you are a communist leader wondering whether we will ship to your country or if you would like to place an order please email our main contact at 

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A Taste of Burgundy Sampler November – December 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007 4:23 PM

The Taste of Burgundy Sampler $89.98
A great way to learn about Burgundy and its wines, and (even better) the perfect way to get a discount on two high quality bottles. Sign up now!

2005 Meursault “Le Limozin,” Xavier Monnot
Established in 1723, Xavier Monnot has had nine generations of ancestry toil in the family vineyards before him. In 1994, fresh out of oenology school, he took up with his grandfather, René and began to replant all of the lower quality yielding parcels. In addition to this upgrade, he also sought to modernize the winemaking facilities. His efforts have paid off, as the Monnot wines of this generation show off a delicate balance of racy acidity, fleshy fruit, and terroir-driven minerality. The Monnot vineyards stretch from one end of the Côtes du Beaune to the other, yet the domaine has been in the heart of Meursault since its founding. The Limozin vineyard is located just south of the village bordered by the famous premier cru vineyards of: Les Poruzots, Les Charmes, and Les Genevrières. Monnot is known for his careful usage of new oak, which give his wines a mellow mouth feel. It is very drinkable now, but will develop further complexity with short to medium term cellaring.

2005 Gevrey-Chambertin, Dominique Gallois
In 1989, the son of a pastry chef, and a former pastry chef himself, Dominique Gallois tossed his chapeau in the ring with all of the celebrity vignerons of Gevrey-Chambertin, and has being achieving success ever since. Known for deep, dark, Pinot Noir, Gallois’ wines are braced by the earthiness specifically reflecting the terroir of the grapes’ origins. Better known as a winemaker that lets the wine do the talking for him, Gallois has this to say regarding the 2005 vintage, “(A) superb vintage, indeed I would go so far as to say that it was truly a dream vintage. It was essentially perfect from start to finish and while it was dry, the vines got rain exactly when they needed it and the crop was healthy, clean, ripe and with good if not really abundant yields”. Also, “Really, I can’t say enough good things about 2005 and to my mind, it’s a great vintage that we’ll be drinking 30 years from now”. A statement like that from the likes of Gallois is impressive to say the least. We feel this wine is a great representative of vineyard, vintage, and producer. It will definitely benefit the patient ones who lay it down for a long slumber. If you absolutely must serve it in its youth, we recommend the wine be decanted for at least sixty minutes. - Peter Zavialoff

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