Gilles and Jean Lafouge. (Thanks to Brooklynguy for the use of his photo.)

Bargains from Burgundy, In Time for the Holidays!

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After a few weeks of Sandy-related delays, our boat from Beaune has finally arrived bringing lovely wines from some of our favorite small estates in Burgundy. Mostly reds from the sensational 2010 vintage, you'll find delicious values for drinking over the next few weeks as well as exceptional wines to cellar, all at very reasonable prices. The lovely Marsannays from Martin Bart are surely some of the greatest bargains in Burgundy - they will sell-out quickly. The beautiful Auxey-Duresses wines of Jean and Gilles Lafouge are superb, old-fashioned wines of terroir that are huge favorites at CSW. Vincent Rapet in Pernand-Vergelesses makes subtle, terroir-expressive wines that are never over-extracted or over-oaked. His Pernand whites are particularly unique and lovely. The 2010 reds from Domaine Gabriel Billard (made by Laurence and Claudie Jobard) showed beatifully at our tasting with them last winter - were proud to have them back at Chambers Street. And the delectable Macon wines of Jean-Jaques Litaud have finally returned to our shelves, offering unbeatable, affordable quality. Yes Virginia, there really are good values in Burgundy!

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Bart 2010 Marsannay Les Echezots

This excellent east-facing vineyard on the upper slope in Marsannay has shallow soils loaded with marine fossils and gives a light-bodied aromatic wine. The vines average about 40 to 50 years-old, a mix of clones, massale selection and pinot fin. In 2010 the fruit is high-toned chalky strawberry and black-cherry, dense without weight and with good length and acidity. We buy this wine every year from the jovial young Martin Bart; it's a nice glass of Burgundy for drinking over the next five to eight years, at a great price.

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  • $22.99

Bart 2010 Marsannay Champs Salomon

From one of the best mid-slope vineyards in Marsannay. In some vintages this wine seems a bit too heavy, and we often buy only the higher elevation Les Echezots and Les Saints-Jaques.  In 2010, however Martin Bart's Champs Solomon is really lovely. We quote the recent review from John Gilman's "View from the Cellar."  "... a very classy wine on both the nose and the palate, delivering a complex bouquet of black cherries, cassis, grilled meat, a touch of bonfire, lovely soil tones and a gentle base of cedary wood. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, pure and complex, with a black fruity personality tied to superb transparency. The finish is long, shows great backend minerality and is modestly tannic, with tangy acids and lovely focus and grip. This is really a high class bottle of red Burgundy and a bargain at it's price."

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  • $27.99

Lafouge 2010 Auxey-Duresses Les Boutonniers (Blanc)

We have not purchased this cuvée from Lafouge for a few years, but at our tasting at the domain in February, it really stood out and was a beautiful example of this excellent vintage in Burgundy.  Very lovely floral and white fruit aromas, slightly honeyed white and citrus fruits on the palate with great balance. Superb acid and mineral character. Long and racy, dry but with subtle, expressive fruit, really lovely for a village wine...

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  • white
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  • $29.99

Lafouge 2010 Meursault Les Meix Chavaux

We buy the Lafouge 'Meix Chavaux" every year, although in warm vintages it can be a bit too ripe for some palates. In 2010, it sings! Here's John Gilman's recent review: "In my experience, the Lafouge parcel of 82 year-old vines in Meix Chavaux produce one of the best "lieu-dit" bottlings in the village... The 2010 has turned out splendidly, jumping from the glass in a deep and superb blend of apple, pear, gentle notes of almond, stony minerality and a topnote of white flowers. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, pure and racy, with beautiful mid-palate depth, ripe acids and a long, nicely reserved and very promising finish. A beautiful wine. Drink 2014-2030.

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  • white
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  • $38.99

Lafouge 2010 Meursault Les Casses Tetes

"Casses-Tetes" is a vineyard high on the slope in Meursault on thin soils giving racy, mineral wines. We've never tasted a bad vintage of this wine, chez Lafouge, and in 2010 it's really outstanding. Subtle aromas of citrus and stony acids, terrific weight and length on the palate with white fruits, lemon and earthy acidity. Intense, lean, elegant and long, this lovely wine is the antithesis of flabby, over-oaked Chardonnay. Highly recommended!

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  • white
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  • $44.99

Lafouge 2010 Auxey-Duresses Rouge

One of our favorite, if somewhat unknown domains of Burgundy, Jean Lafouge and his son Gilles make classic, balanced, beautiful Burgundies at affordable prices. Their village level Auxey-Duresses is always lovely and a great value — here's John Gilman's review of the 2010: "The 2010 Auxey "villages" from Domaine Lafouge will drink very well indeed with only a few years of bottle age and shows off the great purity and transparency of the vintage. The young and classy nose offers up scents of cherries, a touch of quince woodsmoke, gamebirds, incipient notes of sous bois and a gently spicy topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, fullish, pure and nicely structured, with good mid-palate depth, moderate tannins and a long, tangy and soil driven finish. Best 2015 to 2030."

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  • $26.99

Lafouge 2010 Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru Les Duresses

Lovely cherry and blackfruit aromas, hints of earth and citrus, fairly full on the palate, very chalky with good acidity and length. As with the La Chapelle, this is enjoyable now but will benefit from a few years in the cellar and will keep nicely another 10 — 15 years. Highly recommended.

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  • $33.99

Lafouge 2010 Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru La Chapelle

The Lafouge trio of 1er Cru Auxey-Duresses all showed well during our visit on a freezing cold day last February. The La Chapelle had lovely earthy cherry and raspberry aromas, the palate was full but not heavy, round and elegant, balanced by great mineral acids . Red fruit confit lingering in the finish — really a lovely well-balanced wine. Enjoyable now, this will be best with a few years in the cellar and will drink well till 2030...

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  • $34.99

Lafouge 2009 Pommard 1er Cru Les Chanlins

From a recent purchase of a small parcel of old vines. "Chanlins is one of the most inherently elegant terroirs in Pommards, and the style of the vineyard dovetails with the Lafouge style of winemaking" writes John Gilman. The 2008 was excellent and the 2009 is even prettier — a complex melange of red fruit and floral aromas with a beautifully balanced palate of red fruits, citrus, spice and floral notes. There is great intensity and a super finish and although it will be delicious young, it seems built to last... Further notes from John Gilman's "View from the Cellar" — "The 2009 Chanlins, as is so often the case chez Lafouge, is a very elegant young Pommard. The deep and beautifully youthful nose offers up scents of cherries, blood orange, pomegranate, vinesmoke, great minerality, incipient notes of gamebird, mustard seed and a touch of cedar. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and quite reserved in profile, with a rock solid core of fruit, lovely soil inflection, firm tannins and outstanding length and grip on the focused and tangy finish. A superb Pommard that only requires a bit of patience to allow it to unfold fully with bottle age. 2019-2050."

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  • $43.99

Lafouge 2010 Pommard 1er Cru Les Chanlins

This is a terrific Pommard with deep super-elegant aromas of cherry, strawberry and citrus with earthy complexity. The palate is deep and fine with chalky tannins, lovely red fruits and great acidity and length. Jean and Gilles Lafouge are making oustanding traditional Burgundies that are real wines of terroir — their Chanlins is an excellent value in this great vintage. Highly recommended.

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  • $44.99

Rapet 2010 Pernand-Vergelesses Les Belles Filles

The Pernand-Vergelesses vineyard "Les Belles Filles" faces North-east and rarely gives a fat, full-bodied wine. What one gets here are lovely aromas, light body and good acidity — wines that will accompany lighter foods, even fish, and that should be served quite cool. This wine is really pretty in 2010 offering elegant cherry/strawberry aromas that follow through with good intensity and length on the palate. Not big, but stylish and lovely and an excellent value.

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  • $26.99

Rapet 2010 Aloxe-Corton

The Rapet Aloxe-Corton is particularly successful in 2010. The deep, iron-rich soils here can give quite plump and generous wines, but in this excellent vintage there is better balance than in 2009. In 2010, the small berries and lower yields gave a wine in which the ripeness is nicely off-set by good acidity and more earthy, mineral character. This will age beautifully, giving a velvety wine that will do well at the end of a meal....

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  • $36.99

Rapet, Pere et Fils 2011 Pernand-Vergelesses Les Combottes

"The Rapets have been making wine (in Pernand) for more than two centuries and the wines are now very exciting" says Clive Coates. Our yearly tastings with the modest Vincent Rapet are fabulous lessons in un-forced, terroir-expressive winemaking. 2011 gave slightly less acid whites than 2010, this being a bit riper and softer as a young wine but nicely balanced and showing lovely acid/mineral character. Whites in Pernand often have an ethereal, stony, herbal character overlying the pretty white fruits—in 2011 there's a bit more fat making the wine more immediately accessible.  Really lovely white Burgundy at a reasonable price.

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  • $28.99

Rapet, Père et Fils 2011 Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru Sous Frétille

Directly behind the hill of Corton is a smaller hill called Sur Fretille — "Sous Fretille" is on the steep south facing slope of the hill and the soils are very thin over marnes blanche and limestone, giving racy, elegant wines which normally need a few years to soften. In 2011, the acidity is a bit less pronounced and there is good ripeness givng a wine of lovely floral and white fruit aromas, with the usual herbal and mineral flavors of Pernand. This is lovely now and will drink beautifully over the next five to eight years.

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  • white
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  • $36.99

Billard 2010 Bourgogne Cuvèe Milliane Vieilles Vignes

Domaine Gabriel Billard is owned by Laurence Jobard and her sister Mireille. Their four hectares of parcels in and around Beaune and Pommard have a very high percentage of old vines. While not organic, only natural composts are used, with minimal treatments in the vines and regular light tilling ("griffage") and wild-yeast fermentations, of course, with approximately 20% new barrels depending on the cuvée. This excellent Bourgogne Rouge is from old vines adjacent to Pommard. Elegant aromas of tart cherry and black fruits with hints of licorice and dried flowers, the palate is medium bodied with red currant and cherry fruit with good balancing acidity and terrfic length. This is a great value in red Burgundy — while it's drinking well now, it will benefit from decanting or a few years in the cellar.

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  • $23.99

Billard 2010 Beaune 1er Cru Les Epenotes

This wine is delightful in 2010. Beautiful high-toned red fruit aromas lead to a balanced and elegant palate with fabulous intensity and length. Drink it now for it's youthful exuberance or hold five years. Lovely wine!

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  • $39.99

Billard 2010 Pommard 1er Cru Les Charmots

From eighty-plus year-old vines in this great Pommard premier cru vineyard. Showing the strength of this great vintage in Burgundy, the wine shows fabulously complex aromas of red and black fruits. The palate is dense and structured, while remaining light on its' feet and well-balanced. Very long and very elegant, this wine is built to last and represents fabulous value in this great vintage.

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  • $51.99

Magnien, Stephane 2011 Bourgogne Passtoutgrain

Bourgogne Passtoutgrain is taken seriouly at Domaine Stephan Magnien, even if the wine is meant to be a simple, pleasant everyday red. There are two cuvees of Passtoutgrain here, Tradition, which is lighter and ready to drink and Densité, which is more structured and needs a bit of aging. The 2011 Tradition is quite delicious, with lovely strawberry and cherry fruit aromas and a supple, light and nicely balanced palate. Really quite elegant, pretty and refreshing and a great value, too! (The estate has never used herbicdes, and has always worked the soil. Only organic composts are used, and fermentations are without efforts to extract, producing light, old-fashioned Burgundies.)

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  • $15.99

Litaud 2012 Mâcon-Vergisson Les Vieilles Pierres

Jean-Jacques Litaud's estate, the Domaine des Vieilles Pierres, is in the hamlet of Les Nembrets on the south-facing slopes of the hill of Vergisson. His Mâcon-Vergisson is from the hillside vineyards behind the house. Litaud plows and uses minimal treatments in the vines, harvests by hand, generally quite late for maximum ripeness, and fermentations are with wild yeasts.

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  • white
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  • $17.99

Litaud 2010 Saint-Véran Les Pommards

Saint-Véran lies in the Mâcon just south of Pouilly near the border with Beaujolais. Litaud produces this wonderful Chardonnay from the "Les Pommards" vineyard, widely considered one of the finest locations in Saint-Véran. Made from 40 to 50-year old vines, it has a refreshing absence of oak, packed with ripe tropical scents and buttery flavors which complement the mineral and spicy elements. This is an oustanding Macon wine, with the better acidity and balance of the excellent 2010 vintage.

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  • white
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  • $18.99

Litaud 2010 Pouilly-Fuisse La Roche Vieilles Vignes

The affable Jean-Jaques Litaud produces this lovely Pouilly-Fuissé from old vines (some up to 100 years-old) in "La Roche"  one of the finest parcels in the AOC on the southeast facing slope of Vergisson, with limestone/clay soils. Litaud harvests by hand and likes to pick a bit late giving rich wines with complex citrus and exotic fruit aromas. No new oak is used in aging this wine, allowing the mineral character to shine through in the intense, mouth-coating finish. 2010 is a great vintage here with the generous fruit off-set by good acidity.

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  • white
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  • $26.99