New Burgundy Arrivals: January 2020

Posted on Posted in Articles, Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur, Domaine du Meix Foulot, Domaine Georges Lignier, Rosenthal Wine Merchant News, RWM Contributor

Georges Lignier, Bitouzet-Prieur, and Meix Foulot

To get ahead of the potential effects of the threatened tariffs, we at Rosenthal are front-loading the year with great wine, and we encourage you to take full advantage. Over the next few weeks, we will welcome new releases into our warehouse from three stalwart growers: Georges Lignier in Morey-Saint-Denis, Bitouzet-Prieur in Volnay and Meursault, and Domaine Meix Foulot in Mercurey. Among these arrivals are the benchmark 2015 reds from Georges Lignier, Bitouzet’s finely wrought 2016 whites, and the full lineup of 2015 premier crus (plus the 2017 village-level Mercurey) from Meix Foulot.

Domaine Georges Lignier, Morey-Saint-Denis

This domaine possesses one of the more astonishing collections of vineyards in the Côte de Nuits, but it wasn’t until young Benoit Stehly—Georges’ nephew—took the reins in 2010 that the wines began to articulate fully the greatness of their terroirs. Benoit began the process of eliminating reliance on systemic chemical treatments in the vineyards, bringing life into the soil by working it, and being more conscientious about harvesting. In the cellar, Benoit prefers long, gentle extractions with pumping-over favored over punching-down, thereby retaining the nimble, high-toned purity Pinot Noir can achieve in these hallowed soils. He utilizes between 20% and 35% whole clusters depending on vintage condi tions, and his oak regimen is particularly conservative, with no new wood employed on the village-level wines, and never more than one-third even on the grand crus. The domaine’s wines have put on a bit of welcome weight over the years Benoit has been at the helm, but they remain adamantly ethereal and delicate, flying in the face of the ultra-rich, hyper-concentrated red Burgundies one sometimes encounters in this post-climate-change era.

2018 Bourgogne Passetoutgrain
This remarkably delicious Passetoutgrain blends two-thirds Pinot Noir and one-third Gamay from three parcels just outside Morey-Saint-Denis. The varieties are vinified separately in stainless steel and with a handful of whole clusters as per Benoit’s preference, and are blended post-malolactic-fermentation for a brief, fruit-highlighting élévage—also in steel.

2017 Bourgogne Rouge “Champs de la Vigne”
Georges Lignier’s exemplary Bourgogne Rouge comes from a single plot of 50-year-old vines on the border of Morey-Saint-Denis. Aged entirely in used barrels, “Champs de la Vigne” offers very Morey-like flavors of dark cherry, savory spice, and a rugged but refined minerality—and with excellent depth for its category owing to its old vines and careful élévage.

2015 Morey-Saint-Denis
The domaine sources its village-level Morey-Saint-Denis from four parcels averaging 70 years of age and totaling a hectare and a half. Never one to over-emphasize richness, Benoit always coaxes a spice-driven, racy beauty of a wine from these elderly vines, although the 2015—vinified one-third whole-cluster—offers exceptional concentration without compromising its driving sense of acidity.

2015 Gevrey-Chambertin
Georges Lignier produces a classic, meaty, mineral-driven Gevrey-Chambertin from holdings averaging 50 years of age across three village-level vineyards: Les Murots, Le Fourneau, and En Vosne. This cuvée has gained substantial weight over the past five or so vintages, and this 2015 is nicely structured without sacrificing the ethereal quality which characterizes all the wines from this domaine.

2015 Chambolle-Musigny
The domaine’s outstanding village-level Chambolle-Musigny comes from exceptionally old vines: 80% from a parcel planted in 1932, and 20% from a parcel planted in 1960. With its layered, pretty red fruits, its tinge of licorice, and its whiff of smoky spice, this 2015 is the most impressive version we have yet seen from Benoit.

2015 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru “Clos des Ormes”
This exceptionally well-situated premier cru lies just below Clos de la Roche on the slope in the heart of Morey-Saint-Denis, and the Georges Lignier domaine owns over two of its four total hectares. Aged in 25% new oak, the 2015 offers formidable depth of fruit and a pronounced core of minerality, as well as a level of tension and energy that testifies to Benoit’s increasing command of his estate’s envy-inducing holdings.

2015 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Les Combottes”
Lignier owns a 0.4-hectare parcel of 60-year-old vines in this venerated cru which is fully encircled by grand cru territory. The 2015, aged in one-third new barrels, is dense with material, offering sexy notes of sous-bois and dark spice alongside its silken fruits, and its tightly wound but generous palate promises years of positive development.

2015 Clos-Saint-Denis Grand Cru
With their staggering 1.4-hectare holding, Domaine Georges Lignier is the single largest landowner in this 6.6-hectare grand cru which sits slightly above its nearby neighbors on the slope. From vines aging from 50 to 70 years of age, Benoit renders an ultra-classic Clos-Saint-Denis which shines particularly brightly in the well-endowed 2015 vintage. Full of high-toned spice, savory underbrush, and clean red fruits, it is a wine that will drink early but age effortlessly.

2015 Clos de la Roche Grand Cru
Another jewel in the domaine’s remarkable holdings, Lignier’s 1.1 hectares of Clos de la Roche are spread among four parcels with an average vine age of 55 years. Not surprisingly, this 2015 is more structured and powerful than the Clos-Saint-Denis, yet its formidable tannins are zesty and energetic, giving a real sense of lift to the dark red fruits and animal-tinged spices on blatant display here.

2015 Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru
Georges Lignier’s breathtaking Bonnes-Mares comes from a century-old quarter-hectare parcel on the eastern edge of the vineyard, and it is always the most ravishingly gorgeous wine in their cellar. Aged in one-third new oak, this monumental 2015 offers sappy, vibrant cherry fruit with a spicy, slightly mentholated edge, and its structure is all but absorbed into the wine’s greater impression of velvety succulence.

Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur, Volnay/Meursault

One of the oldest partnerships in our entire family of winegrowers is with this enviably landed domaine, with their staggering collection of holdings throughout Volnay and Meursault. We worked first with the hugely talented classicist Vincent Bitouzet—from the 1978 vintage through the 2009 vintage—and, under his son Francois’ stewardship from 2010 on, the wines have gained even greater precision and complexity. They are now unquestionably among the very finest Burgundies we offer, combining depth, purity, and dynamism in a way few domaines can approach, and rendering the intricacies of their terroirs with laser-like focus, vintage after vintage. Francois converted entirely to organic viticulture soon after taking the reins, and his sensitive hand in the cellar is evident in every cuvée. The whites are unapologetically dense and concentrated, yet with filigree minerality and great drive; they are purposefully bottled with slight reduction, and are built for the long haul. The reds, vinified with between one-quarter and one-third whole clusters depending on the vintage, are layered and profound, authoritatively demonstrating the powerful minerality and aristocratic poise of Volnay and its immediate environs.

2017 Bourgogne Aligoté “Les Grandes Terres”
An exceptionally layered and complex rendering of this variety, Bitouzet’s Aligoté comes from a parcel planted in the early 1950s in the northern sector of Meursault. It receives a proper élévage in used barrels on its lees for an entire year, and it offers striking floral notes, broad seashell-like minerality, and enough length and density to reward a bit of cellaring.

2016 Puligny-Montrachet “Les Levrons”
Bitouzet owns a 0.6-hectare portion of this excellently situated vineyard, located just beneath the venerable premier cru Les Referts on the slope in Puligny’s northern sector. The high average vine age—most of the plot was planted in 1955, with a small portion replanted in 2000—yields a wine of intense concentration and glistening, regal minerality.

2016 Meursault “Climats de Glace”
While Bitouzet typically produces two village-level cuvées of Meursault, this sector was particularly affected by the late-April frost, so he combined his holdings in Les Corbins and Clos du Cromin into this one-off bottling. Comprising roughly 60% Clos du Cromin (from 65-year-old vines) and 40% Les Corbins (from 30-to-40-year-old vines), “Climats de Glace” combines Clos du Cromin’s salty, citrusy linearity with some of the riper and more orchard-fruit-like character of Les Corbins, offering phenomenal concentration and length.

2016 Meursault 1er Cru “Santenots”
This interesting cru straddles the border of Volnay and Meursault, and the Bitouzet-Prieur domaine owns a small 0.2-hectare parcel of 45-year-old vines here. It offers a weightier, more honeyed profile than the two premier crus below, with a marked intensity derived more from mass than from minerality. Despite its richness, however, the wine offers terrific equilibrium as well as a deep sense of inner stoniness.

2016 Meursault 1er Cru “Les Charmes”
Bitouzet owns two roughly equal-sized parcels within this much-vaunted premier cru, one in the upper section and one in the lower, with vines ranging from 30 to 70 years of age. The elegance and raciness of the upper parcel blends beautifully with the weightiness of the lower one, and the finished wine displays dazzling complexity and palate-staining concentration. Furthermore, it ages effortlessly for decades, as many an older bottle dredged up at company gatherings can heartily attest.

2016 Meursault 1er Cru “Les Perrières”
One of the greatest white Burgundies in our portfolio, Bitouzet’s Meursault Perrières comes from a 0.28-hectare parcel of 35-year-old Chardonnay in the Perrières-Dessous section of the vineyard. It is unfailingly the most mineral-driven white wine in the lineup, with a core salinity that is simultaneously potent and graceful. While it is rarely richer than the Charmes and is in fact typically slightly leaner, Perrières is unparalleled in its length and complexity.

2017 Bourgogne Rouge
Bitouzet’s precise, poised Bourgogne Rouge comes from a single vineyard—a lieu-dit called Petit Pres situated immediately below village-level Volnay turf on the slope, where the family owns 1.2 hectares of vines planted between 1963 and 1970. With no new wood, it presents its carefully rendered fruit in a straightforward and appealing fashion, albeit with an attractive underlying spice-tinged minerality.

Domaine Meix Foulot, Mercurey

Agnes and Paul de Launay

One of the first domaines to enter our portfolio, Meix Foulot has been a reliable source of honest, classic, terrific-value red Burgundy for close to four decades—first under the stewardship of Paul de Launay, and, since the mid-1990s, under his daughter Agnès. The family owns 20 hectares of vineyards in the Côte Chalonnaise hamlet of Mercurey, including a monopole comprising the highest-altitude site in the appellation: the Clos du Château de Montaigu, whose elegance and complexity is singular within the zone. Agnès in recent years has brought a new level of precision and refinement to the domaine’s wines, easing back on extraction and tailoring her barrel regimen to suit the particularities of each site, and we are thrilled with the results. In an era of skyrocketing prices in the Côte d’Or, great wines from Mercurey offer a truly affordable alternative; and, when they’re produced from elite sites such as Meix Foulot’s, they can easily go toe-to-toe with their northern brethren.

2017 Mercurey Rouge
Produced from ten small plots scattered throughout the villages-designated portion of the appellation, Meix Foulot’s basic Mercurey Rouge is aged half in two-to-four-year-old barrels and half in cement—a judicious élévage which allows the succulent, pure fruit to take center stage. Although Mercurey’s broodingly savory character appears as an undertone, this cuvée is more about pure Pinot Noir pleasure.

2015 Mercurey Rouge 1er Cru
Agnès produced a stunning range of 2015s, fully harnessing the vintage’s potential for greatness. Aged in a modest 20% new oak, this bottling combines holdings in the premier crus Les Byots and Les Montaigus between 20 and 45 years of age; Byots contributes structure and power, and the higher-altitude Montaigus adds spice and refinement. Open-knit, fine, and notably spice-driven, this 2015 offers phenomenal value.

2015 Mercurey Rouge 1er Cru “Les Saumonts”
This cru takes its name from the salmon-colored soils which distinguish it, and Agnès owns just over a hectare of 45-year-old Pinot Noir here. A preponderance of sand typically contributes to a wine of great finesse and delicacy, and although this 2015 is particularly substantial—not far off from a Gevrey-Chambertin in its swaggering earthiness—it is nonetheless brightly red-fruited and suave in its tannins, with a gorgeous complicating note of Indian spices.

2015 Mercurey Rouge 1er Cru “Les Veleys”
Les Veleys is a steep, stony-soiled southeast-facing site which typically yields wines of firm structure and punchy minerality. Meix Foulot’s 1.5-hectares of 35-to-70-year-old vines here always provide the darkest, most brooding wine in her cellar, and this 2015 is no exception. Black-fruited, unapologetically earthy, and with an undercurrent of smoke, this is drinking nicely for a young Veleys due to its well-buffered tannins, but a bit of cellaring would pay off handsomely.

2015 Mercurey Rouge 1er Cru “Clos du Château de Montaigu”
The 1.9-hectare Clos du Château de Montaigu is fully owned by the de Launay family, and it unfailingly produces the most regal and elegant wine in the cellar. With vines planted between 1955 and 1989, the clos encompasses a variety of soil types, and is characterized by its high-altitude north- and northeast-facing situation—an unorthodox exposure in Burgundy, but one which allows for exceptional finesse in the finished wines. This 2015 is magisterial, with gorgeously pure red fruits on the nose, a classic streak of intense but refined minerality, and supple, energetic tannins.

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