For the past few years, the wines of Domaine Bart have been some of our greatest Burgundy values and the 2016 vintage is no different. It was quite a challenging year for the domaine, where frost reduced yields so much that they were forced to combine parcels just to have a sufficient amount to vinify. But the fruit that matured was good quality with relatively thick skins and a fairly high percentage of “shot berries” — both attributes that make for good concentration and extraction of the Pinot Noir variety.
Pierre Bart is the sixth generation at Domaine Bart. Since 2009 he’s been running the 54 acre domaine along with his uncle, Martin. His grandmother comes from the same family as Domaine Bruno Clair, explaining why there are holdings in the Grand Crus of Bonnes-Mares and Chambertin-Clos de Bèze, as well as Santenay. Indeed, a good portion of the estate’s holdings come from the split of the renowned Domaine Claire-Daü between Domaine Bart and Domaine Bruno Clair (even another portion was sold off to Louis Jadot). Prior to the split, Domaine Claire-Daü was one of the most heralded and respected producers in the region, nearly single-handedly bringing the appellation of Marsannay its current status.
Pierre and Martin’s wines are balanced and classic Burgundy, understated with grace and elegance. It begins in the vineyard with sustainable and organic farming practices on every parcel. Each parcel is worked by hand according to its specific microclimate. The use of new oak is judicious and depends on the parcel. According to Pierre, “We make very fruity wines in classic style. The main words at our domaine are fruit and balance, balance between fruit, acidity and tannins. So we don’t produce big extracted wines. We try to respect the fruit.”
These are not merely “fruity” wines. The “goût de terroir” of Côte de Nuits is unmistakable in each and every bottle. Yet, for the most part these are wines for drinking, not stuffing into the corners of a cellar. Pair a few bottles with your best friends and a rich poultry stew.
All prices based on purchase of 6-pack (mix-and-match)
$36 “Les Echezots” (Marsannay)
The Les Echezots vineyard gets more cool winds from the Hautes-Côtes. Subsequently the grapes ripen later there and it is always the last parcel to be harvested. A wine of concentration and richness.
~$44 “Champs Salomon” (Marsannay)
One of Domaine Bart’s best Marsannay vineyards is located in a prime spot on the mid-slope, producing wines which combine power, elegance, minerality, and longevity.
The fruit is mostly from Le Clos with a small amount from the neighboring parcel of Champs Pennebaut. A sauvage nose of redcurrant and earth precede a supple yet precise concentration.
~$67 “Les Hervelets” (Fixin, Premier Cru)
The fruit is from both Les Arvelets and Les Hervelets. These are the top parcels in Fixin. Dark fruits, hints of earth and spice, and a bit of heft from the more pronounced tannic structure allow this expression longer term aging potential.
$252 Bonnes Mares (Grand Cru)
Domaine Bart’s Bonnes Mares parcels are next to those of Comte de Vogüe. While it is a powerful, long-lived wine, there is an attractive mouthfeel that should permit it to drink well in the shorter term.
$252 Chambertin Clos du Bèze (Grand Cru)
The fruit is from a one acre parcel with vines that were originally planted in 1904. Harmonious, expressive and intense, only a tiny amount is produced.
L’Hêtre (Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux 2017)
Special Price: $173/6-pack (~$29/bottle)
It has been almost exactly one year since we brought in the very first vintage (2016) of L’Hêtre. Given the quality, the price, and the fact that we weren’t able to get much, the wines sold out rather quickly. We are pleased to offer the recently released 2017 vintage at the exact same prices as last time. Everyday Bordeaux doesn’t get much better than this.
Indeed, one of the simplest ways to find these types of value wines is to mine the lower-priced bottlings from producers that have a solid reputation for making some of the world’s greatest wines. Jacques Thienpont‘s tiny Pomerol estate of Le Pin produces one of the most sought after wines today. It is in such high demand that even current vintages can fetch upwards of $5,000 per bottle. While Jacques Thienpont’s newly acquired Castillon property is no Le Pin, you can expect that he is just as dedicated to elaborating the best possible wine the terroir is capable of producing.
The 25 acre estate is situated at about 300 feet in elevation at the end of the Saint Philippe d’Aiguilhe plateau that runs eastwards from Saint-Émilion and is the highest point in the region. Given his affection for trees – Jacques’ other wineries are Le Pin (pine) and L’If (yew) – the Château Goubau was renamed L’Hêtre (beech tree) and immediately converted to organic cultivation. Jacques’ nephew, Maxime Thienpont, was tapped to manage the estate. The vineyards enjoy good southeasterly exposure and a continuous gentle breeze. The soil types are mixed, with the parcels on the plateau being limestone, while the slopes are a mixture of clay, limestone, and chalk.
L’Hêtre 2017 is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. Vinification is done in oak and concrete vats with temperature control and the wine is aged for around 15 months in oak barrels (50% new, 50% one-year). The wine comes from the parcels situated on the limestone plateau of the domain, from 40-year-old vines which are farmed organically and certified by Ecocert. The result is a wine that is fresh and ripe, expressing lovely blackcurrant fruit and smoky spice. A sip is both rich and firm. It’s a downright steal at half of one percent the cost of Le Pin.
The Second Wine of L’Hêtre
La Raison d’Hêtre (Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux 2017)
Special Price: $119/6-pack (~$20/bottle)
La Raison d’Hêtre is 100% Merlot produced from vines around 20 years of age on the lower slopes of the plateau. Vinification takes place in temperature controlled concrete vats and the wine is aged for about 15 months in oak barrels (50% one-year, 50% two-year). Raison d’Hêtre is lighter in body, as you would expect of a second wine. The fruit leans a little more red and bright, suggesting this wine might be a perfect partner to pizza and general merrymaking — its raison d’être, if you will.
Situated in the heart of the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the vineyard Clos Saint Patrice has an unhindered view of the famous Château of the popes which has dominated the village and its vineyards for almost 800 years. But the great view is not the only thing that makes the vineyard special. As far back as 1838, Clos Saint Patrice was identified as one of the best Châteauneuf-du-Pape vineyards in the directory L’annuaire de Vaucluse.
Modest winemakers Guy Jullian and his son Jérôme purchased the Clos in 2009 and thus became the first owners of a monopole in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In 2014, Samuel Montgermont, winemaker and General Manager at Les Grandes Serres, joined the team. The 2015 vintage was the first produced and it immediately became one of the finest wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
A little over four acres in size, the Clos is located on the appellation’s Villafranchian terrace and enjoys a southerly exposure. The parcel is planted with very old Grenache and Mourvèdre propagated from ancient vines. The soil is made up of rounded silica pebbles above clay and sand colluvial deposits.
It is this marriage of great old vines and unique terroir that gives the wine of Clos Saint Patrice the balance and elegance to stand out as one of Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s best. Indeed, one of the most respected French wine publications, Le Guide des Vins Bettane & Desseauve may have said it best: “This minuscule parcel which very nearly disappeared has risen from its ashes thanks to the efforts of a dynamic team which, from the very first vintage, managed to equal the most elegant wines of the appellation…This is a highly recommendable estate which is unfortunately likely to produce small volumes in comparison to the demand.”
But of course the wine doesn’t make itself. The team tends the vines by hand and according to the principles of organic agriculture. No chemical products are ever applied. In order to obtain an optimum balance they will allow the fruit to hang until phenologically mature. Harvest begins at the end of September for the Grenache and finishes mid-October with the Mourvèdre. In the cellar, maceration and fermentation are done exclusively in concrete tanks. Aging takes place over 14 months in concrete vats and a further 12 months in the bottle.
While benefiting from a generally consistent climate, recent vintages in Châteauneuf-du-Pape have been quite different. 2015 was generous in all regards: color, structure, ripeness, and even quantity. In 2017, frost, then rain, and then heat, made for a harvest that was early and small, resulting in marked concentration. But it is 2016 that is being heralded as one of the finest vintages in the past few decades, with some winemakers even comparing it to the epic 1990 vintage. Warm conditions throughout 2016, along with reduced yields, has resulted in wines of superb concentration.
Special prices based on purchase of 6-pack (mix-and-match).
$144 Domaine Saint Patrice “Clos Saint Patrice” (Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016)
$315 en Magnum
Samuel Montgermont likes to inform people that the Clos Saint Patrice vineyard is the exact same size as Romanée-Conti. The comparison to great red Burgundy doesn’t end there. A blend of Grenache and Mourvèdre, Clos Saint Patrice has all the finesse and balance you expect from a world-class wine. Notes of dried flowers and fennel-heavy herbes de Provence rise above a rich cherry fruit essence. A sip fills the mouth with luscious, sappy red fruits to move on to a silky mid-palate and everlasting mineral finish. With tension and elegance to spare, Clos Saint Patrice will likely reward a drinker over the next couple of decades, or longer.
~$53 Domaine Saint Patrice “Vieilles Vignes” (Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016)
The unique character of Domaine Saint Patrice’s “Vieilles Vignes” Châteauneuf-du-Pape comes from the diversity of its terroirs. The wine is a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah from multiple plots: La Bertaude, Bois-Lauzon, Cabrières d’Orange, Cabrières de Châteauneuf-du Pape, Bois-Dauphin, Le Pied Long, Les Bousquets, Les Terres Blanches, Les Marines, and Les Galimardes. In the cellar, maceration and fermentation are done in concrete tanks. Aging takes place over 14 months in concrete vats, large oak foudre, half-muids, and barrique with a further 12 months after bottling. On the nose are luscious red and black fruits with a hint of kirsch beneath warm terracotta and mint. A sip is simultaneously ripe and pulsing with wiry energy. Drink now or over the course of the next decade, especially with lamb and rosemary.
~$16 Domaine Saint Patrice “Vieilles Vignes” (Côtes-du-Rhône 2016)
A wine to stock up on, Domaine Saint Patrice “Vieilles Vignes” Côtes-du-Rhône is boisterously fruity in aromatics and flavor with some clean earth and a hint of herbs. A sip is downright poundable, juicy, with a finish that extends far beyond its reasonable price. It has all the elements one looks for in the type. The attractive price is just the cherry on top. It is a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah from three plots: Les Champauvins, Le Coudoulet, and Boisfeuillet. In the cellar, maceration and fermentation are done in concrete tanks. Aging takes place over 14 months in concrete vats and large oak foudre with a further 12 months after bottling.
A lawyer by training, meticulous winemaker Anne Parent is the matriarch of Pommard. Passionate not only about her wines but about the role of female vignerons in Burgundy, she founded the Women’s Winemaker Association in Burgundy and was its first president. Along with her sister, Catherine, she took over the Parent estate in 1998, becoming the 12th generation of winemakers in the family.
Parent is one of the great names in Pommard. The 25+ acre domaine boasts some of the finest parcels in the appellation, as well as holdings in Corton, Beaune, Ladoix, and Monthélie. Recent vintages have seen the domaine firing on all cylinders as they have moved towards an organic (certified 2013) and biodynamic approach to viticulture. Anne believes that these techniques help the soil regain its energy, and subsequently produce the most balanced fruit possible. Her aim is to make, “wines with character and personality, but also subtle, complex and sensual,” while maintaining the health of the environment and the people that work the vines.
In the vineyards, the harvest is done by hand. Attention to the quality of fruit is exacting with the grapes being sorted three times. Fermentation takes place with indigenous yeasts and the wine is moved by gravity in the Parent’s 200 year old cellar. These are traditional Burgundy wines.
The Parent family also has a unique connection to America. In 1787, just a few years before Thomas Jefferson served as the first U.S. Secretary of State, he made a grand tour of France. The tour included a five-day visit to the Côte d’Or, where he met Etienne Parent. Etienne would become a friend and adviser, as well as keep Jefferson stocked with the wines from Pommard and Meursault that he fell in love with during his visit.
Special prices based on purchase of 6-pack (mix-and-match).
~$35 “Selection Pomone” (Bourgogne Rouge 2016)
Anne calls the 2016 vintage a classic with wines that are elegant, precise, and energetic. “Selection Pomone” is from vines that average 30 years old in and around Pommard, including two barrels of Ladoix Premier Cru for the 2016 vintage. The wine is matured in 10% new French oak (demi-muids). One sniff and you know this is not your standard Bourgogne. Floral and cherry notes are entwined in damp earth and while it is not exactly Pommard-level concentration there is a fine structure that makes this one a hidden gem and one of the great value red Burgundies of the vintage.
$117 “Les Chanlins” (Pommard Premier Cru, 2015)
From 15+ year old vines in the “Les Chanlins” Premier Cru parcel, in the southwestern section of Pommard bordering Volnay. The wine was vinified with 40% whole-cluster fruit and matured in 30% new French oak barrels. Anne Parent calls 2015, “a very yum-yum vintage!” And when it comes to this particular wine we couldn’t agree more. Lovely scents of violet, ripe cherry, and earth form the bouquet while supple, concentrated, berry fruit fills the mouth.
$144 “Les Epenots” (Pommard Premier Cru, 2015)
From parcels in Grand Epenots with 25+ year old vines and Petit Epenots with 50+ year old vines. The Premier Cru vineyard has the distinction of being one of the two best in Pommard along with “Les Rugiens.” Closer to the village of Beaune, “Les Epenots” is known to provide a silky, earlier drinking wine yet with all the strength associated with Pommard. Maturation takes place in 30-40% new French oak barrels. The result is a wine with both power and finesse, full of vibrant fruit and deep earth — a classic red Burgundy that will give for years and years.
Fitou, a wild and remote subzone on the Languedoc-Roussillon border, is the very first granted appellation in that region. It consists of two small enclaves within Corbières: Fitou Maritime, a clay-limestone band around the saltwater lagoons on the coast, and Fitou Montagneux, a patch of mountainous schist fifteen miles inland. It’s in the former terrain, in the village of Leucate, on the north shore of L’étang de Leucate, where Mireille and Pierre Mann have been steadily building their estate, Mas des Caprices, into one of the top producers in the region.
This is a rugged land kissed by both the mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. High yields are impossible to achieve here. Indeed, many of the wines from this region are produced with similar (or even smaller) yields to the most sought after wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy.
The couple, both children of Alsace winemakers, ran a restaurant near the city of Colmar for 10 years. While they loved providing their patrons fresh local products, they felt the need for greater challenges. So they decided to rebuild their lives closer to the earth. In 2003 they moved to southern France and began reinventing themselves as winemakers.
Their passion was evident from the start. The duo eventually settled on the Mediterranean coast and quickly made a name for themselves by producing tasty, genuine wines. Certified organic in 2009, their guiding philosophy is meticulous work in the vineyard while respecting nature with the goal of producing wines that are both expressions of their unique environment and utterly delectable. Forget pudding, the proof of the wine is in the drinking.
Special prices based on purchase of 6-pack (mix-and-match).
~$27 “ZE” (Fitou 2015) Dry Red
A blend of 40% Carignan, 35% Grenache, and 25% Mourvèdre from the windswept Leucate cliff. Fruit, both ripe and fresh, provides the foundation for this crowd-pleasing red. Maturation takes place for nine months, mainly in concrete vats, with around 20% aging in old barrels. Exceptionally floral on the nose, a sip seduces the palate with velvety tannins and silky berry salad. Pop a bottle for pizza, shawarma, or game night with friends.
~$33 “Retour aux Sources” (Fitou 2015) Dry Red
45% Carignan, 25% Mourvèdre, 20% Grenache, and 10% Syrah from the Fitou maritime hillsides where pink schist and limestone mix. Maturation takes place for nine months, with roughly 70% of the wine in concrete vats and the rest in old barrels. Bold ripe fruit, excellent structure, and heady aromas of ripe fruit and herbs make a wine ideal for hearty vegetable dishes like ratatouille and olive tapenade.
~$33 “Anthocyane” (Fitou 2015) Dry Red
The tête de cuvée from Mas des Caprices is composed of 47% Mourvèdre, 36% Carignan, and 17% Grenache from the estate’s most noteworthy parcels on the limestone plateau of the Leucate peninsula. The wine is matured for close to 16 months in both barrel and demi-muid. It is a broad-shouldered, concentrated wine that still shows finesse. Lovely aromas of bursting ripe black fruit and delicate spice will pair exceptionally well with slow-braised meats and creamy starches.
~$26 “g grenat” (Rivesaltes Grenat 2015) 500ml Sweet Red
The Rivesaltes designation is for the “Vin Doux Naturel” wines that are fortified during fermentation to leave natural residual sugar. Grenat defines a particular Rivesaltes that is both a vintage wine and must be produced with at least 75% Grenache Noir. “g grenat” is actually 100% Grenache Noir that is fresh and full of jellied fruit with a hint of cocao. It has just enough tannin and acidity to avoid being syrupy yet maintaining a softness and ease. It makes a fine dessert on its own or paired with dried fruit, salted nuts, and fresh cheeses.