Inroads Into Burgundy 2020
BY NEAL MARTIN | MAY 26, 2022
attending Les Grands Jours?” a friend told me back in February, barely able to
disguise his incredulity. “That’s a super-spreader event if ever there was
turned out, he was spot on. It seemed that everyone who attended the biannual
event contracted COVID. Fortunately, despite the often-crowded confined spaces
I found myself in, I escaped unscathed, and those who fell ill soon recovered. It
was a risk worth taking since Les Grands Jours is a perfect opportunity to meet
new producers. As prices spiral to irrational heights, it is important to keep
the radar switched on and discover winemakers on the foothills of their career,
where the next generation is rejuvenating a name. The investment market takes a
myopic view of Burgundy, focused on a small cluster of names, betraying the
reality that year-on-year, more producers are dedicated towards higher quality
wines. Naturally, you must kiss a few frogs before you find princesses, but standards
continue to rise across Burgundy and under-performers are fewer in number than
a decade ago.
not attend every day at Les Grands Jours and omitted Chablis and Mâconnais
because this year I plan to visit those regions separately. I spent a
profitable day tasting numerous wines from the Côte Chalonnais that will form another
report, though abandoned the tasting at Clos de Vougeot because the reorganized
format precluded any chance of conversing with winemakers. But other events
were well-organized and offered a chance to expand my coverage of 2020s and add
a host of new names to the Vinous database. Initially, this report focused only
on under-the-radar producers; however, I added notes from individual visits to
better-known names that were omitted in the December’s
report such as Denis Bachelet and J-F Mugnier. I would not want readers to
assume that Frédéric Mugnier is an up-and-coming producer!
I took this before the hordes arrived at the Vosne-Romanée tasting in Clos de Vougeot.
The Next Big Thing
constantly asked: Who is Burgundy’s next superstar? Who’s the next Roumier,
Rousseau or Coche?
there is no gradual, slow-burn rise in a Burgundy winemaker’s profile.
Insatiable demand and limited supply makes overnight stardom the only trajectory.
Many winemakers desire popularity and widespread appreciation for their wines,
are drawbacks. Overnight, your wines are being traded for multiples on
secondary markets. Some court this price escalation to the extent that it seems
the grower’s primary goal. For others, it is an undesirable but inescapable
consequence. Speaking to Sébastian Caillat, I got the distinct impression that
the sums now paid for his brilliant Chassagne-Montrachets are unsettling.
That’s not why he makes wine. For some younger vignerons, the vertiginous
ascent to stardom can become difficult to deal with. Pressure mounts. Family
members fall out with each other. Things are not as simple as they were before.
Burgundy’s price escalation has clearly piqued the interest of winemakers
outside the region. No surprise that on my first day at the Grands Jours, I
bumped into four familiar faces from Bordeaux.
aware of the contradiction. The reviewer shines a spotlight on a young domaine
and risks fuelling demand that potentially increases prices, either at the
cellar door or the secondary market. But that is our job. We shine that
spotlight simply because these are wines we feel readers will enjoy. Market
forces respond as they will, beyond anyone’s control, the ultimate judge. Take
a read. If the wines sound interesting,
make enquiries, expand your Burgundy shopping list and embrace more names,
potential alternatives. But you know how it is… Just don’t leave it too long.
will find background information accompanying the tasting notes, but I have
picked out half-a-dozen that Burgundy lovers should really know about.
Domaine Boigey Frères
Boigey Frères is a new producer in Vosne-Romanée run by brothers Olivier and
Guillaume Boigey. The winery is located virtually on the village square
opposite Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Gérard Mugneret. They are almost
comically different in appearance; Guillaume is lean and apparently a keen
long-distance runner, his older brother is burly, hands so big that they must
make Hagrid’s look like a baby’s. Not wishing to offend Olivier, but when he
first enters, I mistake him for Guillaume’s father! Interestingly, they both
pursued careers outside of wine, Guillaume spending 20 years in the
pharmaceutical industry in a specialist field of quality-testing vaccines,
whilst his brother was selling shoes. As such, their family’s small parcels of
holdings were leased en fermage until they were both bitten by the
mean and moody, though they are not like that in real life, brothers Olivier
and Guillaume Boigey.
first vintage was in 2019,” Guillaume Boigey tells me. “My brother, Olivier,
started the Domaine, and I joined in September 2019. We have more than 3.15
hectares that come from our mother’s side. Before, these were rented to my
cousin Richard Manière…” At this exact moment, Manière actually pops his head
around the door on other business. (His wines were marketed under the Domaine
Albert Noirot label.)
started by selling grapes to get the cash flow, and the first bottled vintage
was 2019. It was just around 2,400 bottles from three appellations. In 2020, we
increased to 3,000 from the same appellations, and in 2021, there will be 6,000
bottles. We began with Nuits Saint-Georges Aux Boudots and Vosne-Romanée Les
Suchots. We are discussing to see if we can increase [volumes] further by
selling fewer grapes. In the vineyard, we practice lutte raisonée, so
that in 2021 we did just six treatments using only organic products. Everything
is harvested by hand by the same team of family and friends. We leave the
grapes to cool overnight to 6°C and then it enters the winery the following
day. The fruit is 100% de-stemmed at the moment, and we use small plastic
crates to transfer the fruit into the vat so that we can avoid pumps and keep
the grapes whole and undamaged. It also means we can have a seven- to nine-day pre-fermentation
maceration. We press and transfer the wine into barrel by gravity where the
wine matures 12 to 16 months, tasting each month. We like to keep the tannins
fine so we don’t extract too much. The oak is around 40% to 50% new, 20% for
the regional red. The barrels are lightly toasted and come from the Montgillard
cooperage. The 2020 season was a very dry year, so the wine is very
concentrated. We picked from 20 to around 30 August.”
I felt that their 2019 Bourgogne Rouge was hampered by the heat of the growing
season, hence my modest appraisal, the highlight is unquestionably their Vosne-Romanée
Aux Jachées sourced from 30- to 70-year-old vines planted behind Bizot’s. This
will inevitably draw comparisons with Jean-Yves’ cult estate, currently
fetching insane prices on the secondary market. As long as the climat’s third
owner, Gilbert Felettig continues to blend his tiny parcel into his Village
Cru, there is at least now an alternative; notwithstanding that I heard that after
recently tasting Boigey’s wine, Bizot expressed his own approval. It’s a
show-stopper that punches well above its status, shimmering with sorbet-fresh
red fruit with ample depth on the finish. As soon as I tasted this wine, I was
alerted to the true potential of the brothers’ work, and it even outclassed
their Nuits Saint-Georges Les Damodes. Volumes are regrettably miniscule, as
seen first-hand when I examined their barrel cellar below their house (where I
tasted their gestating 2021s), which includes two and a half barrels of Echézeaux.
There is also a plot of Vosne-Romanée Les Suchots and Nuits Saint-Georges Les
Boudots in the pipeline. They are clearly taking things slowly, perhaps even
too cautiously, as they continue to sell a proportion of their fruit to
maintain cash flow. It is not my business, but such is the hunger for new
producers that I doubt they will have much difficulty selling anything they
bottle. Perhaps they should take the plunge sooner? Maybe soon they will not
have any choice.
Domaine Henri & Gilles Buisson
farm around 20-hectares,” Franck Buisson explained, “around 25 cuvées. We have
tended our vines bio-organically since 2018 with a couple of non-sulphur labels
[see 'Absolu'].” There has also been experimentation with barrel sizes, opting
for a 350-liter size since they find it imparts the best tension in their
Chardonnays. I have to say, I was impressed by Buisson’s wines that show the
potential of Saint-Romain, perhaps the upcoming appellation in Côte d’Or at the
moment. Their Corton Le Rognet was spectacular, a brilliant wine that I
strongly recommend hunting down if you can. Together with his brother, Frédéric
Buisson, this is clearly a dynamic producer helmed by two ambitious young men.
Trust that I will return soon to taste their full range.
perhaps another new name for you, this time from Gevrey-Chambertin, Domaine
Marchand-Grillot. Cyrielle Rousseau tipped me off, and I duly popped my head
into their reception straight after my tasting last November. They were tied up
at the time, so I rearranged an appointment in the first week of January, a
trip nixed by Omicron. Finally, I popped my head in again in March where I
tasted with sixth-generation winemaker Etienne Marchand and his sister, Marion.
Their hyphenated name comes from the marriage of the two families in the
Fifties, and they began bottling wine under their own label from the
mid-Eighties. The winery is located on the outskirts of Gevrey village, just
down the road from Domaine Denis Mortet. Marchand studied at the Lycée Viticole
in Macon-Davayé with further experience over in Oregon before his maiden
vintage in Gevrey in 2009. Etienne and Marion made a great, and I must say,
entertaining double act, constantly interjecting or correcting each other, always
with a smile on their faces.
and Marion Marchand at Domaine Marchand-Grillot in Gevrey-Chambertin.
are 9-hectares under vine in Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-Saint-Denis and Chambolle-Musigny,”
Marchand explained. A majority of the cuvées are from Gevrey-Chambertin
including several Village Crus, two Premier Crus and a tiny plot in
Ruchottes-Chambertin. “We farm organically but we are not certified. It is traditional
winemaking with minimal intervention. I want to express the terroir of the
vine. All of our cuvées are de-stemmed, but from time to time, I leave some in
the cuvée. I taste the wines every morning and I decide what to do. I do a
week-long pre-fermentation maceration at around 6°C, then a two-week
vinification with minimal SO2, just a little added after the malo. We use around
30% new oak across the range, 50% for the premier crus, from the Hermitage and
Rousseau cooperages plus a little Stockinger.”
2020s having just been bottled, I tasted a handful of older vintages from 2018
and 2017, plus a 2008 that you will find in a forthcoming separate report. This
is another producer with potential. The wines just need a little refining to
obtain more precision and more mid-palate depth, but they have a clear intent of
raising quality. I will endeavour to taste some of their 2020s in bottle
because my feeling is they could be more indicative of the direction
Marchand-Grillot will be going in.
Domaine Benoît Moreau
have circulated for some time that a division of Domaine Bernard Moreau was on
the cards. So it came to pass that Alex Moreau will continue running the
aforesaid Domaine, whilst his brother Benoît Moreau is branching out on his
own. Moreau told me how he has made 22 vintages at his family’s Domaine since
1999, though sadly the division appears to have ruptured the relationship
between the brothers. I visited his new facility, located in the south of
Chassagne-Montrachet in an industrial park so new that it does not appear on
Google maps (yet). For his maiden vintage, 2020, Moreau did not have access to
the holdings that he will farm henceforth, therefore he called on his friends.
Moreau – raring to go with his new venture.
the juice for my 2020s,” he explained. “When they picked, they called me in the
morning, and I filled the barrels the following night, which I then transferred
from my house to the new winery around one year later. I only raise the wines
in used barrels because I want to taste the soils in the wine. That’s why I
separated the blocks in Morgeot.” It might seem a little pointless
extrapolating how Benoît Moreau’s will perform from 2021 onwards given that
they will be from his own vines, but it seems crystal clear that even with
purchased fruit, Moreau has the knack. These 2020s were infused with energy and
tension that frankly made it a wrench to spit out (O.K. I admit, I did swallow
a couple.) It makes the prospect of his 2021s incredibly exciting. Enquiring
which of the family’s holdings will be under his aegis, he answered: Bourgogne
Chardonnay, Saint Aubin En Remilly, Chassagne-Montrachet Village,
Chassagne-Montrachet Les Charrières, Chassagne-Montrachet Les Chenevottes,
Chassagne-Montrachet Maltroye, two parcels within Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot,
Fairendes and the monopole of La
Cardeuse, Chassagne-Montrachet Les Grandes Ruchottes and two reds
Chassagne-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes and Cardeuse. He will continue to farm biodynamically with
eventual certification and eschews hedging, vinifying the wines ostensibly as
he has done for so long at Bernard Moreau. He also told me that these will be
supplemented by some fermage agreements so that there is some
continuation from the debut vintage, though that depends on what he can find.
Obviously, he already has enviable parcel at his disposal. Watch this space!
met Seiichi Saito several years ago on a visit at Domaine Bize. I had just
fallen in love with La Lune restaurant, a relationship still going strong, and
Chisa Bize introduced me to its owner. Saito sold his share a few years later.
I bumped into Saito again last year at “Le Soleil”, the successful bistro that
operates out of Bize. I told him that I would arrange a visit to his winery in
Chorey-lès-Beaune in my final week, but hey-ho, I had to curtail my trip. I
vowed to return and arranged to see him the following March, during which we
were joined by his young six-year-old daughter who took her father’s wine glass
and gave her learned opinion. Saito has an interesting backstory. His ancestors
are a mix of Japanese and Chinese. He graduated at the wine school in Beaune in
2006, moving permanently to the region two years later, working stages at
J-F Mugnier, Rousseau, Leflaive and Bize before launching the aforementioned La
Lune in 2014. He then managed to acquire 2.1 hectares of vineyard that he farms
biodynamically, augmented by fermage agreements, debuting with the 2017
to pick ripe, but not too ripe,” he told me. “All my cuvées use 100% whole
cluster. I use no SO2 during pressing in order to create more complexity, using
just a little during racking. I use natural yeasts, so the alcoholic
fermentation can take a long time, with few punch downs or pump-over. For the
2020 vintage, I picked from 28 August for the whites and then in early
September for the reds.” I am fascinated by this micro-négociant that has been
making a few waves, especially with disciples of minimal-intervention wines.
Obviously, Saito is a highly-principled winemaker realizing his dream without
compromise. It’s tough starting out when land prices are rocketing and clearly
he doesn’t have deep pockets, not that this has ever stopped anyone from making
top-class wines. At the same time, I feel that flexibility can also be
important and, on some occasions, the whole bunch influence came across too
strongly, some cuvées needed more stuffing and grip. Yet, I adored the
Monthélie from the climat of Le Meix Bataille, which clearly demonstrates what
Saito can do. His will be a fascinating story to continue following.
Seiichi Saito, pictured in his barrel cellar in Chorey-lès-Beaune.
Domaine Anne & Hervé Sigaut
the biggest revelation during my tastings at Les Grands Jours was the quality
of four wines that I tasted from Domaine Sigaut. I have tasted Anne and Hervé
Sigaut’s wines before, but these 2020s seemed to be on a different level to
anything that has come before. Hervé Sigaut took over winemaking duties from
his father Maurice in 1977 and retired in 2008, handing the reins over to his
wife Anne, who participated in her first vintage in 1984. With so much
attention focused on a small number of Chambolle-based producers, it is
pleasing to see more like Sigaut achieve such high standards. I will endeavour
to visit the estate when next in the region.
Having added another tranche of reviews, more producers both known and unknown, I hope it offers a pertinent reminder that Burgundy is a fluid region with new names bubbling under, some worth investigating, others worth keeping an eye on, perhaps one or two to ignore (for now). Of course, it doesn't end here. In coming weeks, I will add further notes from the Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais regions, both exciting in their own ways and both offering consumers that oxymoron - affordable Burgundy.
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