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Domaine Gabriel Billard is now directed by Claudie Jobard. The 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. The 2015 Cuvee Milliane "Vieilles Vignes" is from vines near Pommard and shows complex aromas of ripe black cherry and strawberry, with violets, orange peel, earth and smoke. There are dense red fruits on the palate, quite sappy, also very earthy and mineral, and quite balanced for a 2015 at 13% alcohol. The finish is long and well-structured - the wine will obviously benefit from 3 to 5 years of aging, but it's quite delicious now in it's intense youth. This is a "serious"Bourgogne rouge at a great price!
The Simon Bize 2015 Savigny Les Bourgeots is higher-toned and more tightly wound than the Bourgogne Perrières. The nose is in a cool register: vine smoke, black cherry skin, wild blackberry cassis, mint, and a hint of brambly wet bark. The palate is tightly wound and nervy, but offers a fine tension between cool ripe fruit and a pungent, sapid mineral character. This needs plenty of air to come together, but the purity of fruit and energy that's implied within the structure is intriguing. Decant now or cellar for 3-5 years to allow the elements to integrate. Should be interesting to follow over the next 7-10 years. Quite enjoyable with pasta and a sausage and mushroom ragu, and should work beautifully with pork in a mustard sauce, or with crispy duck confit and a salad of bitter greens. John McIlwain
Aux Grands Liards is located beneath the Les Lavières premier cru. Its soils are comprised of limestone, ferrous clay, and gravel. Per the Domaine, the vines were planted in 1939, 1950, and 1979. The 2015 Aux Grands Liards is a bit more backwards than Les Bourgeots on opening. With air, the nose expands to reveal pure wild cherry, black currant, pomegranate, and an array of baking spice aromas, with just enough earthy notes to remind you that this is Savigny. The palate—equally circumspect on opening—also gains expressiveness and complexity with air. Lovely flavors of red and black cherry, hedge fruits, and game are counterbalanced by savory mineral and spice notes on a vibrant and velvety finish, with a sneakily racy acidity, and ripe tannins framing the whole affair. You could certainly enjoy this young, but there is fantastic potential here for aging into something special. One heck of a Savigny-Les-Beaune for those with patience! John McIlwain
From .38 HA biodynamically farmed vines averaging over 40 years old, high on the hillside of Corton. Traditionally the most powerful and stern of the stable of red Corton lieu-dits at Chandon de Briailles. 80% whole cluster fermentation. There’s a fair bit of reduction to this initially, but with a long decant this recedes to reveal aromas plummy black fruit, animale funk, black tea, and fresh-turned earth. In the mouth ripe red/black fruit flavors mingle with pungent minerality on the vibrant mid-weight palate. There is good sap and firm, but ripe tannins supporting the fruit on the long, substantial finish. This has real class and should be sensational after 10-15 years in the cellar. John McIlwain
Certified organic and farmed with biodynamic methods, Domaine Chevrot is one of the gems of Maranges. The lieu-dit Sur le Chêne is a south-facing plot on gravelly limestone on the eastern side of the appellation. The fruit from the 50-60 year old vines is hand-harvested, fermentation is 50% whole cluster, and the wine aged for 11 months in 15% new oak. The 2014 has aromas of red fruits, black tea, and orange peel with hints of smoke and spice. The medium weight palate balances red cherry and raspberry flavors with earthy notes and medium-grained tannins on a medium long finish. This offers a nice balance of fruit and Maranges minerality at an affordable price point. Decant now before serving or cellar for 5-9 years. -John McIlwain
Ripest red cherry and wild strawberry on the nose. Silken with ripe red fruits on a medium-weight palate, with a long, bright chalky finish. Simply lovely. Drink and hold. John McIlwain
The Pernand-Vergelesses vineyard "Les Belles Filles" is a northern extension of "Iles des Vergelesses" and "En Carradeux" facing east and usually producing an elegant, very pretty light-bodied Burgundy. In 2015, the hot, dry conditions gave this vineyard (and others in Auxey-Duresses for example) their moment in the sun with wines of balance and firm acidities but showing the ripeness of the vintage. The 2015 "Belle Filles" is quite beautiful, beginning with the usual floral tart cherry and raspberry aromas found in this wine; with aeration, the aromas deepen into earthy black cherry with hints of licorice and graphite. The palate shows ripe black cherry and strawberry fruit with earth and mineral flavors, quite dense and deep but still light on its feet and balanced with firm acidity. Three days later, the wine is really singing with terrific depth and length of black fruits and saline minerals. This is a great vintage for "Belles Filles." Decant well in advance if drinking now, best to cellar five to eight years and drink till 2033. David Lillie
Generous black cherry, boysenberry, notes of cherry pit and anise on nose. Ripe mid-weight palate, ripe black fruits, hints of iodine and iron and other soil beneath supple structure. Succulent acidity and savory mineral notes offset the ripeness and lend energy and drive on a rich, palate-coating finish. This has good punch, even if it's more generous than I associate with very young Rateau. The purity of fruit and earth notes are finely balanced and this is an excellent Burgundy for the mid-term. A fine pairing with braised chicken thighs with mustard, tarragon, and shallots. A great value from the pioneer of biodynamic Burgundy! John McIlwain
From a .41 HA parcel of old vines next to Chaboeufs on the north side of Vaucrains. The soils are brown, "fat clays make it hard to work the earth" according to vigneron Christophe Drag, with large oolithic stones are the top of the slope. Always the sternest and most majestic of Chauvenet's crus, the 2013 is aromatically dense with layered dark-fruit, game, and spice aromas giving way to pungent soil notes. The palate is similarly complex with pure black cherry, plum, and earthy flavors underlain with distinctively savory, verging on pungent mineral component on a muscular, driving, persistent finish. There are substantial acidity and ripe tannins girding this masculine, but not coarse Vaucrains, which will benefit with time in the cellar. Decant now, better still in 7-10 years when this should sing. A beautiful Vaucrains! John McIlwain
From a .41 hectare parcel planted in 1940 and 1984. Les Vaucrains is situated upslope of the premier crus Les St. Georges and Les Cailles in the middle portion of Nuits St. Georges. The soils are a blend of brown clay, limestone, sand, and rock producing vigorous, powerful, and elegant wines of great ageablity. Vigneron Christoph Drag says of the climat, “the fat clays make it hard to work the earth.” Domaine Chauvenet’s 2014 Vaucrains has a darker robe than Les Perrières. The nose is effusive, offering a kaleidoscopic mélange of black fruit aromas, cassis, brown spices, game and iron; over time notes of crushed blackberry, grilled meat, and wet stone emerge. On the palate the wine is medium-bodied and supple, offering flavors of ripe blackberry, Italian plum, iodine, game, and wood smoke on a long, layered, and mouth-watering finish. There is plenty of power and intensity here, without a sense of weight; deft acidity offers a sense of lift and freshness. This is a beautiful and complex Vaucrains and exciting wine in the making, with a sensational interplay of pure, ripe fruit and savory minerality. While one could enjoy this now, it has the structure and balance to age harmoniously for years. John McIlwain
From 90 year-old vines in the village portion of Combe d'Orveau. The 2014 is a classic expression of Chambolle-Musigny with pretty high-toned aromas of red fruit, rose petals, and spice. The mid-weight palate is silken and flavors of ripe red cherry, wild raspberry, and chalk dance on a long, fresh, precise finish. This is lovely and a fine value in Chambolle. John McIlwain
The vines are in the lieu-dit "Queue de Hareng" below an old quarry at the top of the slope in Brochon, next to Fixin 1er Cru "la Perrière," on shallow red/brown soils of mountain silt and limestone pebbles over the limestone bedrock. Organic farming, wild-yeast fermentations with minimal SO2. The 2015 Jane et Sylvain Côte de Nuits-Villages is a superb and unusual Burgundy showing intense aromas of ripe strawberry and cherry with rose leaf, brown spice and herbal notes as well as dusty stone and mineral smells which are typical of this vineyard. With aeration the aromas become more pure and fruit-driven and the palate shows lovely black cherry, strawberry and red currant fruit, quite dense and ripe, with a finish that's extraodiarily long and pure. Decant 4 to 6 hours in advance if drinking now or cellar for 3 to five years and drink till 2027. Highly recommended for those who enjoy some minerals in their Burgundy!
This lovely Gevrey by our organic friends, Jane et Sylvain, is 45 to 60 year-old vines, certified organic, mostly in En Pallud (below 1er Cru les Corbeaux). The 2015 shows very pretty high-toned ripe strawberry and raspberry fruit with violet, soil, graphite and citrus peel. The palate is dense and balanced, with a mineral aspect missing in most modern Burgundies, with supple ripe cherry and strawberry fruit with citrus and herbal notes. The finish is very long with red fruits, spice, citrus and saline minerals. This is a lovely old-fashioned Burgundy that is delicious now and should age nicely, best perhaps 2022 - 2030.
Jane et Sylvain have a superb, tiny parcel of Gevrey 1er Cru "Fonteny," high up in the southwest corner, separated from Grand Cru Ruchottes by a dirt track, certified organic. Beautifully balanced for a 2015 and built to age, the wine shows subtle, complex black fruits with hints of spice, citrus and earth. The palate is supple and well-structured with red and black fruits backed by firm acidity and mineral flavors that continue in the long finish. Certainly enjoyable now with a long decant, best held for five to eight years then enjoy until 2035. Lovely wine. David Lillie
From low-yielding vines located in Comblanchien (probably more famous for its quarries and eponymous limestone than viticulture), planted in the 1960s by Antoine Lienhardt's grandfather. Les Essards is a short distance from another of Antoine's lieux dits, Les Plantes Aux Bois. There is a thin layer of rocky clay topsoil over Comblanchien limestone and the vine rows run from east to west. A bit circumspect upon opening, decanting reveals red plum and ripe cherry aromas with hints of mustard seed and black tea on the nose. The palate is nervy with bright flavors of brambly red fruit, vibrant acidity, and a pungent, verging on saline minerality on a persistent, and detailed finish. Great lift and purity with wonderful interplay between the pure red fruit and distinctly stony elements. Decant if planning to drink now or cellar for 3-7 years to allow the elements to integrate. John McIlwain
A mere 200 meters from Les Essards, Les Plantes Aux Bois has clay top soils overlying the hard limestone mother rock. The nose is generous, perfumed, and dark-fruited with aromas of black raspberry and plum giving way to notes of game and spices. Flavors of blackberry, cassis, and plum dominate on the ripe, mid-weight palate. There is good freshness, with bright acidity providing lift and drive on a long, lingering, cool-toned finish. Lovely with a quick decant, but plenty of material to justify mid-term cellaring. I love the idea of this with a holiday meal. Light on its feet with good freshness to wake the palate, but enough minerality to whet the appetite of the discerning Burgundy aficionado. Delicious! John McIlwain
Les Faconnières, planted in 1948, is located beneath Clos St. Denis. 50% whole cluster. This is always the most stylish of Virgile Lignier's premier crus. More floral and denser on the palate than Les Chenevery, with a good deal of the class of the grand crus. The 2015 is effusively perfumed with heady aromas of black and red hedge fruits, wild cherry, and spice. The palate is distinctly mineral, framing lush flavors of sweetly ripe cherry and blackberry, with notes of game and mustard seed on a tense, vibrant finish. As with others of Lignier-Michelot's 2015s, the effusive ripeness in underlain by good structure and bodes well for long-term cellaring. John McIlwain
Les Faconnières, planted in 1948, is located beneath Clos St. Denis. 50% whole cluster. This is always the most stylish of Virgile Lignier's premier crus. More floral and denser on the palate than Les Chenevery, with a good deal of the class of the grand crus. The 2015 is effusively perfumed with heady aromas of black and red hedge fruits, wild cherry, and spice. The palate is distinctly mineral, framing lush flavors of sweetly ripe cherry and blackberry, with notes of game and mustard seed on a tense, vibrant finish. As with others of Lignier-Michelot's 2015s, the effusive ripeness is underlain by good structure and bodes well for long-term cellaring. John McIlwain
Like the rest of the 2015 Lignier-Michelot lineup, the Clos de la Roche combines beautiful soaring aromatics with beautiful pure fruit, and a savory sense of earthiness. The nose is explosively perfumed with beguiling aromas of ripe black cherry, red plum, violets, exotic spices, and roasted game. Supple palate shows impressive concentration, with dark fruit flavors, and layers of minerality on a long, driving finish. This has a all the elements to age effortlessly and should reward 10-15 years in the cellar and beyond. John McIlwain
This a wonderful expression of Les Sentiers, aromatically expressive and layered. There are bright aromas of black cherry, raspberry, violets, woody herbs, and game on the nose. The mid-weight palate initially shows brambly black fruits, and pungent soil flavors. With time in the glass notes of dark cherry and cherry pit appear along with a savory ferrous minerality and spice notes. The tension between fruit and earthiness is compelling and will gain in complexity with time in the cellar. More expressive on the second day. If enjoying now, decant for several hours or revisit in 7-10 years and enjoy for the decade following. John McIlwain
Situated just above Clos de la Roche, the Magnien's 2014 1er Cru Mont-Luisants shares the grand cru's "inherent lushness" (Clive Coates) in this lovely vintage for Burgundy. The wine shows a deep red-black color with lush aromas of blackberry, plum and ripe strawberry with earth, graphite and citrus. Dense ripe blackberry and black cherry fruit coats the palate with hints of bitter chocolate and soil. Surprisingly round but with nice chalky acidity and a long finish of citrus and pretty berry fruits. Quite delicious now, this lovely wine will offer superb drinking with a little time in the cellar, perhaps best 2020 - 2035. David Lillie
The young and very talented Stéphane Magnien is producing delicious, old fashioned Burgundies from his beautifully tended vineyards in and around Morey-Saint-Denis. The estate has never used herbicides and uses a plowing regimen designed to force the roots deeper into the limestone bedrock. The "village" wine is always one of my favorite recommendations in Burgundy due to its elegance, balance, lovely fruit and great value. The 2015 is particularly beautiful, showing a bit more depth and ripeness than the excellent 2014, with aromas of blackberry and strawberry liqueur, violet, brown spice, orange peel, smoke and earth. The palate is dense, but not over-ripe, with earthy black fruits, bitter chocolate, citrus and spice with a core of firm acidity and mineral flavors. Quite delicious as a young wine, this ripe and elegant Morey-Saint-Denis will be at its best from approximately to 2022 to 2030. Those looking for value in a 2015 red Burgundy should consider buying a case of this lovely wine. David Lillie
From two premier crus, Les Gruenchers and Clos Baulet, mid slope in Morey Saint-Denis, giving a slightly fuller wine than Faconnieres. As with all of Stephane's parcels, there is a high percentage of old vines of "pinot tordu." The wine is more structured due to the deeper clay soils and gets less pigeage. The 2015, tasted in January 2017, was less aromatic than the Faconnières with very deep ripe red and black fruits, with herbal and mineral flavors and terrific length. This will need time in the cellar but should be a superb mature wine. David Lillie
From a parcel of old vines grown in Les Faconnières, one of the best situated climats in Morey-Saint-Denis, located beneath Clos de la Roche and between the Millandes and Charrières premier crus. The 2015 Faconnières was the star of the premier crus tasted at the estate last January, with lovely aromas of black fruits and violets. The palate was dense, elegant, and chalky with black fruits, earth and mineral flavors that continued in the very long finish. 20% new oak. Hold for 5 to 6 years minimum, said Stéphane, best at 7 to 15 years. Fabulous wine! David Lillie
Organic since 2001, Taupenot-Merme, located in Morey St. Denis (with substantial holdings in St. Romain) produces classically styled Burgundies. The 2015 Bourgogne Rouge was fermented in tank and raised in older barrels. The nose is effusive and dark fruited, with aromas of black cherry, cherry stone , and violets, with notes of game and earth. The mid-weight palate similarly displays flavors of bing cherry, damson plum, underbrush and spice with good drive and life on a persistent, bright finish. Enjoy with roasted pork, or braised chicken, and strong cheeses. John McIlwain
From 10 to 50 year-old vines grown on limestone soils (Middle Jurassic!) in the commune of Aluze, Cotes Chalonnaise, certified organic since 1999. This is an approachable Pinot Noir, showing lively raspberry fruit, violets, and hints of mint on the nose. The palate is medium-bodied with bright wild cherry, spice, tart blackberry and pepper over bracing mineral flavors. Delicious now, best served chilled and with some aeration. Amanda Bowman
The 2016 Côtes Chalonnaise "les Claveaux" is a lovely new cuvée from Alain and Isabelle Hasard at Les Champs de l'Abbaye. Made from young vines of Pinot Fin, with 10% Chardonnay, the wine is delicate and delicious and should be served a bit cool. The aromas are vivid and very pretty - tart cherry, raspberry, citrus and violet. The palate is light and refreshing with cherry and berry fruits and hints of citrus and earth. Serve with chicken and white meats and save some for grilled foods this summer...
Certified organic, from a limestone terroir rich in seashells, with iron-rich soil, just below the 1er Cru Clos des Miglands. Very low yields, 80% de-stemmed, wild-yeast fermentation, one-year aging in 40% new fine-grained barrels, bottled by gravity, no fining or filtration. The 2016 Marcoeurs shows subtle aromas of black cherry with plum skin, earth, graphite and hints of violet and citrus. The palate is very mineral and saline with flavors of earth and tart black cherry that are intense and long, finishing with firm acidity. This shows the intensity of the 2016 Burgundies and is delicious now with a long decant, or cellar for five years and enjoy until 2030. David Lillie
From the biodynamically farmed high altitude Les Sous Roches lieu-dit on the northwest slope in Monthélie composed of thin stony clay soils over limestone. 2016 is a great vintage for the Monthelie "Les Sous Roches" from Alain and Isabelle Hasard showing the classic structure and density of this excellent vintage. The wine shows vibrant aromas of fraise des bois and cherry liqueur with earth, mint and citrus. The palate is dense and sapid with bright blackberry and black cherry fruit, spice, earth and firm acidity. Impressive length with sappy balck fruits, mineral flavors and refreshing acidity. Delicious now if a bit intense - perhaps open the night before and re-cork - best to cellar 5 years and drink until 2030+. Serve with mushroom pappardelle, roast veal, grilled meats. David Lillie
This special cuvée is a commemoration of eleven hundred years of winemaking, the vineyards in the Clos des Vignes du Maynes having been planted around AD 900 and wine first produced for the Abbey of Cluny around 910. This "medieval" wine is a field blend of Chardonnay, Gamay and Pinot Noir, including the old varieties Gamay Petit Grain and Pinot Fin. The grapes were transported in carts pulled by Charolais bulls, then pressed by foot, vinified and aged without sulfur and bottled by hand in the spring. ... Back to put a smile on your face, the 2016 Cuvee 910 is lively, wild on the nose, and delivers the bright funky fruit that made it such a favorite here at Chambers Street. From my extended experience consuming bottles of 910, I would recommend letting this one sit for a while. It just arrived (12/1/17) and I think it would benefit from a month or two of RE-harmonizing in the bottle before the drinking begins. Not that you won't enjoy it if you open a bottle tonight (or a mag with your holiday feast), but I feel it will show better with some time. Eben Lillie
Made from Gamay Petit Grains planted in 1953, grown on a limestone parcel high in magnesium, in the Clos des Vignes du Maynes in Cruzille, organic since 900 AD, now certified biodynamic. The energetic Julien Guillot vinifies his reds without sulfur or additives of any kind, producing complex, mineral, elegant wines that transcend their appellation. The 2015s here are extraordinary, showing the elegance, purity and balance typical of the estate with the wonderful ripeness of the vintage. The wine shows gorgeous red and black fruit aromas with cranberry, earth, stone and musk and hints of mint, chocolate and spice. The palate is bright and intense with balckberry, citrus, stone and earthy flavors, that continue on the very long mineral finish. Always one of the greatest Gamays produced anywhere, the 2015 Manganite is a young wine that will benefit from decanting or five to fifteen years in the cellar. Highly recommended! DL