Archive for the ‘Burgundy’ Category

Savigny-lès-Beaune, Les Jarrons is 9.35-hectare Premier Cru climat in the wine commune Savigny-lès-Beaune,   situated in Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune.  The vineyard is located in the Beaune sector of Savigny, south of the Rhoin River on the hillside descending from Mont Battois.  Specifically, La Dominode lies  uphill from Les Narbantons, and downhill, north of Les PeuilletsLa Dominode (which is entitled to its own appellation and Premier Cru status) forms a majority 7.89-hectare  piece of Les Jarrons; excluding the La Dominode piece, Les Jarrons comprises only 1.46 hectares. Facing east, northeast from an elevation of 260 meters, the soil is sandy with some fine gravel and a bit of red clay.

The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem acquired 10 oevreés of Les Jarrons in 1665. The name, Les Jarrons, derives from a French word referring to the branches of a tree.

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Savigny-lès-Beaune, Les Haut Jarrons is 9.35-hectare Premier Cru climat in the wine commune Savigny-lès-Beaune,   situated in Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune.  The vineyard is located in the Beaune sector of Savigny, south of the Rhoin River on the hillside descending from Mont Battois.  Specifically, Les Haut Jarrons lies just uphill of the separate Premier Cru climat, Les  Jarrons; in fact, the name “Les Haut Jarrons” means the “high section of Jarrons”. Facing east, northeast from an elevation of 280 meters, the soil of Les Haut Jarrons is deep, brown and sandy, and contains some limestone gravel.

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Savigny-lès-Beaune, Aux Gravains is 6.15-hectare Premier Cru climat in the wine commune Savigny-lès-Beaune,   situated in Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune.  The vineyard is situated between Les Lavières and Aux Serpentières in the Pernand sector of Savigny, north of the Rhoin River on the hillside descending from Bois Noël. Facing south from an elevation of 260-270 meters, the soil is a sandy alluvium with an admixture of gravel and limestone scree.

The vineyard name, “Gravains”, makes reference to the fine gravel in the sandy soil.

Excellent Aux Gravains is made by Domaine Jean-Marc et Hugues Pavelot.

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Savigny-lès-Beaune, Aux Guettes is 14.08-hectare Premier Cru climat in the wine commune Savigny-lès-Beaune,   situated in Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune.  Situated in the Pernand sector of Savigny, north of the Rhoin River on a steep portion of the hillside descending from Bois Noël, Aux Guettes lies just above the village of Savigny, at the northwestern end of the band of Premiers Crus. Facing south from an elevation varying between 270 and 330 meters, the sandy reddish soil is rich in clay with many protruding rocks.

The vineyard name, “Guettes”, refers to a masonry hunting blind (a “guet” in French) that lies on the uphill section of the vineyard, from which hunters can observe game unseen.

Very fine Aux Guettes is made by Domaine Jean-Marc et Hugues Pavelot.

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Savigny-lès-Beaune, La Dominode is 7.89-hectare Premier Cru climat in  Savigny-lès-Beaune.  La Dominode actually comprises a separate climat within the larger Premier Cru climat Les Jaurrons, which is located in the Beaune sector of the appellation, south of the Rhoin River on the hillside descending from Mont Battois. Specifically, La Dominode is situated southwest and uphill from Les Narbantons, and north of Les Peuillets. Facing East from an elevation of approximately 260 meters, the soil is quite sandy with a bit of red clay and limestone scree. Many critics believe that La Dominode manifests the most typicity and excellence in Savigny-lès-Beaune.

There are two plausible etymologies for the name “Dominode“. The first is that the name comes from a previous owner, Domino de Pommard.  The second explanation is that the vineyard once belonged to a grand seigneur (“lord”), the latin term for which was “dominus“.

Some of the finest La Dominode is made by Domaine Jean-Marc et Hugues Pavelot. Louis Jadot also produces a very popular example.

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François Mikulski and his wife, Marie-Pierre

When the Poles were vanquished by the German Army in 1939, Lieutenant Mieczyslaw Mikulski, escaped to England and  joined the Free Polish Forces. Seconded to the British army, 1st British Airborne Division, Lt. Mikulski featured in the disastrous attack on the Arnhem road bridge (“A Bridge Too Far”),  in which he commanded the Parachute Brigade responsible for Allied perimeter security. After the counter-attacking German troops drove the Allies back across the Neder River, Lt. Mikulski’s unit provided rear-guard defensive fire against the massed Germans. When, finally, it came time for his own brigade to cross the river in the last boat, Lt. Mikulski singlehandedly manned the artillery gun to

Lieutenant Mieczyslaw Mikulski

protect his men against German fire. Only at the last moment, after all his men had successfully crossed the river, did the much-decorated Lieutenant plunge into the icy river and swim to safety. His son, winemaker François Mikulski, grew up with the same determination and courage and independence. François’ energies have vaulted him into the top eschelon   of Meursault producers.

 It would be difficult to find a winemaker more thoroughly worldly than François Mikulski.  After the Second War, his Polish father married a French woman working on an American base in England. The couple moved to Brussels, where François was born and raised. As a boy, François spent his summers in his mother’s native Burgundy, where he came under the spell of his uncle, the eminent Meursault winemaker Pierre Boillot.  As a young man, determined to become a winemaker himself, François journeyed to the United States 1983 where he was tutored by Joss Jensen in Oregon. After his studies, François bought an old Studebaker and drove across the US via Route 66 in emulation of Jack Kerouac. François returned to Meursault and worked with Pierre Boillot until 1992.

 The  vineyards  comprising  Domaine Mikulski currently total approximately 8.04 hectares. The Meursault Premiers Crus include .5 hectares of Les Genevrières, situated in Genevrières Dessus,  with  parcels planted  in 1948 and 1993 , and annually yielding an average of 10 barrels;  .80 hectares of Les Charmes,  situated in  Charmes Dessous, with  parcels  planted in 1913, 1930, and1998,  and annually yielding an average of 16 barrels ; .6 hectares of  Les Poruzots, situated in Poruzots Dessus,  with  parcels planted  in 1948 and 1985, and annually yielding an average of 12 barrels;  and a .25hectare parcel of Les Gouttes d’Or , with pieces planted in 1963 and1989, and annually yielding an average of 4 barrels. The Domaine also purchases grapes from the prestigious Perrières Dessous section of  Les Perrières, from which it makes a tiny quantity of very special wine each year.

The Domaine also posseses a miniscule .12-hectare parcel of old vine (over 55 years old) Le Limosin, a villages-level climat situated just below Genevrières Dessous, that many argue is worthy of Premier Cru status. Mikulski produces a mere 50 cases a year of this Meursault.  Holdings of other villages-level Meursault aggregate 1,5 hectaresand include parcels in lieux-dits  Meix Cavaux, Moulin Landin, Les Pelles Dessous, and Chaumes de Narvaux.   Together these vineyards, which were planted between 1955 and 1985,  yield about 650 cases per year. In addition, the Domaine owns .5 hectares within the lieu-dit Les Herbeux, situated near the old Meursault cemetery and adjoining Clos de la Barre, from which is produced about 225 cases of Bourgogne Chardonnay annually. Domaine Mikulski also includes 2 parcels of Aligoté, in lieux-dits Grandes Gouttes and  Les Veloupots both planted in 1929, and yielding about 1000 cases per year.

Domaine Mikulski holds a .9-hectare parcel of Volnay Premier Cru, Santenots-du-Milieu. This parcel, in the early part of the twentieth century, was under common ownership with the parcel currently owned by the Domaine des Comtes Lafon. The grandfathers of François Mikulski and Dominique Lafon each acquired their respective portions of the vineyard at that time. Mikulski annually produces about 400 cases of this superb wine. The Domaine also owns a small .12-hectare plot of unusual red Meursault Premier Cru, Les Caillerets, planted in 1975, bottling about 50 cases a year. Previously, Domaine Mikulski owned a .6-hectare parcel of Pommard but this has now been sold. The Mikulski holdings of Bourgogne Rouge comprise .5 hectares  within the lieu-dit Les Durots, planted in 1929, and presently produce about 260 cases annually.    The Domaine’s Passetoutgrains, a 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay,   is produced from .5 hectares of vines in total, including parcels of lieux-dits Les Durots, Les Veloupots, and Les Grandes Gouttes, all planted in 1929.  The Domiane produces about 220 cases annually of its remarkable old-vine  Passetoutgrains.

 The winemaking of François Mikulski reflects his background and heritage. He is, through his mother and uncle, enough of a Burgundian to understand terroir and to take from tradition those things of enduring value. But he is equally, through his personal development and experiences, receptive to innovation and not inclined to a subservience to needless tradition. He frequently travels abroad to exchange ideas with other eminent winemakers. At the same time, he remains his father’s son and determined to follow his convictions, independently and courageously.  

After meticulous triage in the vineyards, François de-stems his Chardonnay completely and presses it very lightly followed by a complete débourbage (process by which the must is clarified prior to fermentation). After a fermentation that typically lasts about 15 days, the wine is racked into French oak barrels in which they undergo malolactic fermentation and élevage (aging) for a total of about 16-18 months. François uses only 20% new oak with his white wines., believing that excessive wood masks full expression of the terroir characteristics.

The Aligoté is similarly sorted carefully, removing all imperfect grapes, then de-stemmed and fermented in open vats.  The wine then remains in the vats, still on  its lees, for an additional period before being racked into seasoned French oak barrels. The wine is bottled in July to preserve and accentuate the freshness of the fruit

The Gamay grapes are also subjected to severe vineyard triage. The whole clusters, with berries intact, are then placed into a sealed vat for carbonic maceration. In this process, the whole grapes begin to ferment in an anaerobic environment, with carbon dioxide (a natural byproduct of fruit sugar converting chemically into alcohol) permeating the grape skins and stimulating fermentation at an intercellular level within each berry. This process triggers certain enzymatic reactions within the grape that result in lower acidity and tannins, higher glycerol, and the dominance of particular phenolic compounds.  Altogether, carbonic maceration tends to produce brightly-colored, aromatic and fruity wines.

The Pinot Noir at Domaine Mikulski is, after careful selection and complete de-stemming, , fermented in open vats for about 15-17 days, then racked into French oak barrels (35% new for the Meursault Les Caillerets and Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu), in which the wines undergo malolactic fermentation and age for 14-18 months.

 It is axiomatic to the Burgundian commitment to terroir that vineyard management is the most crucial element in making wine expressive of the vineyard and vintage. François Mikulski is a practitioner of lutte raisonnée, a system of vine cultivation that is essentially organic and noninterventionist.  Lutte raisonnée entails holistic and balanced viticultural management with primary focus on the microbial health of the soil and the biodiversity of the vineyard. The governing policy is to support and maintain the natural ecosystem of the vineyard so that the vines can prosper without intervention, thereby naturally resisting pests and disease. The system pursues a reasoned and not absolutist approach, however, and practitioners will intervene organically ( and occasionally even chemically) if certain danger thresholds are passed.  Most importantly,  practitioners  of lutte raisonnée  do not intervene routinely (even with organic treatments) as prevention but only as compelled by unusual conditions. As a practical matter, therefore,  lutte raisonnée  can be distinguished  from biodynamie in that the former implies the application of treatments only as a necessary response whereas biodynamie implements treatments systematically as prevention.  Proponents of lutte raisonnée thus assert that their approach typically results in less intervention and is accordingly more in harmony with nature. “La lutte continue.”  The debate goes on.

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Bel Air: This small 2.65-hectare Premier Cru climat in Gevrey-Chambertin sits like a crown atop (on the uphill, western boundary of) the magnificent Grand Cru Chambertin, Clos de Bèze. Facing east from a steep slope that reaches 300 meters, the soil is essentially a continuation of the limestone soil of Clos de Bèze, although Bel Air enjoys somewhat deeper soil with more marl.

The vineyard was created from barren land in the 1960s and acquired Premier Cru status only in 1987. Some critics believe that especially in warm, ripe vintages, when the altitude is not a disadvantage, Bel Air can produce wine that closely resembles its neighbor, Chambertin, Clos de Bèze.

The vineyard name presumably derives from the fine, panoramic view that can be enjoyed from the site looking down on Gevrey-Chambertin.

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Clos Blanc de Vougeot  is a small 2.29-hectare Premier Cru climat located in the commune of Vougeot.  The vineyard, a monopole of the Domaine de la Vougeraie, is situated in front of the Château du Clos de Vougeot, below the western half of the Clos de Vougeot’s north wall. By tradition, and most likely in fact, Cistercian monks identified the parcel as early as 1110 A.D. as a perfect vineyard site for white wine used in communion. Surrounded as it  is by vineyards producing red wine (not only in Vougeot but also in the whole Côte-de-Nuits), Le Clos Blanc is poetically referred to as a “diamond set in a field of rubies.”

 The triangular-shaped vineyard, whose traditional lieu-dit is La Vigne Blanche, lies at an elevation of 250 meters, with an eastern exposition, and enjoys a limestone-based soil mixed with clay. While the vineyard is planted 95% with Chardonnay, there is also a small amount of traditional Pinot Beurot (4%) and Pinot Blanc (1%) which help make the wine both distinctive and complex.

Owned from 1959 until 2000 by L’Heritier Guyot , where it was quite regrettably an underperformer, the quality of Clos Blanc de Vougeot has been raised by the Vougeraie team to the very highest level. The farming is organic (certified by Ecocert) and rigorous biodynamic practices are closely followed. Winemaker Pierre Vincent presses whole bunches for 2½ hours, followed by a 12 hour debourbage at 15°C. The wine is fermented in barrels and aged for 16 months before bottling.

Only about 500 cases of the wine are made each year.

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Clos de Vougeot: This 50.97-hectare Grand Cru climat, situated in the commune of Vougeot, is the largest Grand Cru in the Cote-de-Nuits and the largest clos (walled vineyard) in the Cote-d’Or. At over 75% of the Vougeot’s vineyards, the Clos de Vougeot dominates its commune as does no other vineyard in Burgundy.

There are several different soil types within the Clos de Vougeot and so the location of the vines is of particular importance. Although the vineyard appears rather flat from the perspective at the highway (RN 74) , there is in fact about 30 meters of vertical drop, with a 3°-4° slope, as the vineyard extends out from the Château toward the RN74. The soil closest to the Château, the preferred part of the vineyard, is well-drained granular, limestone-based soil of Bathonian origin.  The soil becomes increasingly marly in the middle section of the vineyard, with a topsoil depth of 40-50 centimeters, but the abundant  pebbles keep it well-drained. Closer to the road, as the water table rises, the soil becomes increasingly alluvial with a greater proportion of clay and retained moisture.

There are over 80 exploitants of the Clos de Vougeot, including Domaines Meo-Camuzet, Michel Gros, Leroy,  as well as the Domaine de la Vougeraie  and the Domaine de Montille.

The 1.05-hectare parcel belonging  to the Domaine de la Vougeraie  is located at the top and highest portion of the vineyard just to the left of the alley leading to the Château. The .29-hectare parcel belonging the Domaine de Montille is situated by the abandoned tower  just west of the Château de LaTour.

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Vougeot, one of the most emblematic and celebrated names within the Côte d’Or region of Burgundy in eastern France, is a study of contrasts. Vougeot is at once the smallest commune in Burgundy and home to the largest Clos (walled vineyard) in the Côte d’Or, the world-famous Clos de Vougeot.  Vougeot  boasts 50.59 hectares of Grand Cru vines out of a total of only 67.18 hectares. It is a small village of only 200 inhabitants, and yet has occupied a singular and pivotal role in the history of Burgundy and continues to wield an influence far exceeding its modest size.

Vougeot was first settled by reformist monks of Citeaux in the 12th Century, refugees from their Benedictine brethren at Cluny, whom the Cistercians (as they came to be called) accused of betraying the precepts of St. Benedict and falling into profligacy and even debauchery.  The Cistercians sought out a purer and more contemplative (ora et labora) monastic path..  To the everlasting gratitude of aesthetes everywhere – they tended  vineyards and made wine as their earthly vocation. While the Romans had first planted vines and made wine in Gaul, it was the Cistercians who perfected viticulture and winemaking into an art form that, as practiced in Burgundy, continues to enchant epicures throughout the world.

Vougeot is sandwiched in between Chambolle-Musigny on the north and Flagey-Echezeaux to the south. With only 66.02 hectares of vines, Vougeot is quite the smallest commune in the Cote-d’Or, but due largely to the efforts of the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, the Château du Clos de Vougeot is itself emblematic of Burgundy and Vougeot is one of the best known names in the wine world.

The appellation of Vougeot is clearly dominated by the Grand Cru Clos de Vougeot, which, at  50.59 hectares, comprises over 75% of the vineyards, of which there are over 80 different owners.  Within Vougeot, there are also 11.68  hectares of Premier Cru vinyards: Les Cras, Les Petits Vougeots and Clos Blanc de Vougeot.  Finally, there are 4.82 hectares of village-level vineyards.

 Distinguished producers of Vougeot include Domaine de la Vougeraie, Gros Frère et Soeur, Meo-Camuzet, Domaine Leroy and Domaine de Montille.

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