A Taste Of Burgundy – February 2017

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 11:58 AM

2014 Viré-Clessé Thurissey – Domaine Sainte Barbe

Jean-Marie Chaland founded Domaine Sainte Barbe in 1999. He farms 8 hectares in and around Viré-Clessé organically, achieving certification in 2006. He has old vines, as 75% of his holdings are over 50 years old. Chaland’s vines in the lieu dit Thurissey are over 90! Thurissey is a tiny vineyard, consisting of half a hectare facing due south. Jean-Marie makes a mere 200 cases of his showpiece wine, and no new oak is used. The vineyard has a reputation for producing wines that are rich in minerality, and we imagine the roots of Chaland’s old vines are deep into the clay and limestone subsoil. There’s no doubt that 2014 was an exceptional vintage for white Burgundy, and the 2014 Viré-Clessé Thurissey from Domaine Sainte Barbe is one special wine. Its aromas are of citrus blossoms, snappy apples, and stony minerals. The palate is rich and bright with a hint of a saline/mineral quality, and the wine intensifies at the mid-palate. It’s tightly coiled and ready to spring. Drink this from 2020-2030.


2010 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Aux Petites Noix – Domaine Stéphane Magnien

Stéphane Magnien is now the fourth generation winemaker at this domaine in Morey-Saint-Denis which dates back to 1897. He took the reins from his father, Jean-Paul in 2008, and farms 4.5 hectares in the Côte de Nuits. Though his holdings may appear small, they include some fancy locales. Stéphane’s Aux Petites Noix is actually a blend of his holdings in Premier Crus Les Greunchers and Clos Baulet, two tiny vineyards just east of the village. One doesn’t need to do much research to understand that 2010 was an exceptional vintage for red Burgundy, particularly in the Côte de Nuits. In general terms, the wines are teeming with expression and are structured sufficiently for a long life in the cellar. Magnien’s 2010 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Aux Petites Noix is in a beautiful place at the moment, showing aromas of briary red berry fruit, earthy mineral, and forest floor. It’s medium in body with great balance and expression. It’s open for business and can be enjoyed from today through the 2020’s. – Peter Zavialoff


Q. Does one need to paylarge amounts of money for a tasty bottle of white Burgundy?

 

 
Regular TWH customers already know the answer to that one.
 
A. Nope.
 
As importers, we have the luxury of meeting the producers, making the right deals, and getting the wines into the hands of our customers for less expenditure than the majority of wine merchants nationwide. Take our experience and our many relationships into consideration, and it’s not long before our showroom resembles a treasure chest of wine value. As if that’s not enough, every now and then, we have a sale where an item is marked down even further! That’s what we’re going to do today (and this weekend)with a solid white Burgundy which is now the best white wine deal in the shop. The 2012 Domaine Sainte Barbe Viré-Clessé Vieilles Vignes was another great direct-import value at $24.29 per bottle. Starting now, this weekend only, we’re going to slash that price by 35%.Starting now it’s $15.75 per bottle. Ready, set, go!
 
 
No apologies. All too often we hear about wines from humble, farming appellations being compared to wines that come from fancy, well-known, well-marketed origins; as in “The Meursault of the Mâcon.” No apologies. This wine is not Meursault. If you want Meursault, we have Meursault that we can sell you. No, this is Viré-Clessé.And you know what? It tastes like Viré-Clessé; and that’s a good thing!
 
 
I wrote a little blurb this past spring about Jean-Marie Chaland and his Domaine Sainte Barbe. So did Anya, here.Mentioning the 2012 Viré-Clessé, which comes from vines that are 55 years old, I went on to suggest that it will “hit its happy zone in 2017”, and no doubt, it will be great then, but judging from the bottle we opened this afternoon, I don’t think it’ll be around in 2017! It’s all tank-fermented, so it’s fresh and pure. The aromas are opulent. I got big-time apple-y Chardonnay fruit. I really couldn’t get past this apple characteristic, but I hadn’t yet tasted the wine. I asked Anya and Chris to give me their impressions. Chris and I are on the same page with the apple thing, Anya dug a little deeper. She explained thatit was a bit of a surprise as to how the rich aromatic profile lulled us into thinking it would be super opulent, but it wasn’t. The wine has racy acidity that keeps the fruit in check in fine harmony. The more I sat with the glass, the more nuances I picked out. There arehints of stony minerals as well as a kiss of citrus blossom. Pretty classy stuff for $24.29 per bottle. Wait. Make that $15.75! Ready, set, go!

Peter Zavialoff

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 2010 Crémant de Bourgogne Perle de Roche from Domaine Sainte Barbe is therefore technically not a Champagne but you’d be hard pressed to know that if given a glass to taste blind.

Just like in Champagne, Domaine Sainte Barbe has the wine go through secondary fermentation in the bottle. This is called Méthode Traditionnelle. The darling 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 two parcels: one in Mâcon and the other from the lieux-dit, La Verchère, in Viré-Clessé. The Chardonnay grapes are grown on clay and limestone soils, lending an especially minerally quality to the wine.
 
SainteBarbe
 
 
Jean-Marie takes further care by leaving the wine en tirage for a good long time, and in the case of the 2010 vintage, the wine sat on the lees for 30 months before disgorgement. Chaland’s 2010 Cremant de Bourgogne is rather dry, he uses only 4 grams of sugar per liter, which is low even for Champagne standards. It is a sparkling wine for Rock Heads – the affectionate term used for wine drinkers who have an affinity for mineral-driven, steely wines. At the store, we call Domaine Sainte Barbe’s Crèmant de Bourgogne, the Poor Man’s Les Mesnil because of that distinctive, crisp, sleek finish.

 

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)
 
 
PerleRoche
On Christmas Day, after the wrapping paper and boxes were gathered and put into the refuse bins and we finished a couple cycles of The Christmas Story marathon, I was ready for a celebratory glass of bubbly. The 2010 Crèmant de Bourgogne was right on target with the slightly nutty nose and sleek finish. One sip pushed aside all earthly cares, helping me languish in the moment.

 

For New Year’s Eve, I’ll be arming myself with a couple of bottles of Sainte Barbe’s Crèmant de Bourgogne to take to a house party. 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 over-pay for mediocre Champagne.
 
In anticipation of the new year, I would like to wish all of you a healthy, joyous, and prosperous 2015!
 
 

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