Getting around to reliving Dive Bouteille

Note: sommelier studies and papers to write have led me to neglect The Wine Analyst yet again. From now on though, things will be different and posts will actually be published, even on a more or less regular basis!

To start with a bit of hipster news, beards are out, moustaches are the new thing (in all likelihood in solidarity with those struggling to grow a full beard)! Dive Bouteille has developed quite the rapport with the wine hipster community and continues to enjoy increasing international attention, not in the least thanks to Alice Feiring and Pascaline Lepeltier.

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Week 34 – Goisot, La Ronce 2012

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Today’s a first for The Wine Analyst, as I return to a producer who will be familiar to those who keep track of my weekly reviews. The goal of these articles is to present different wines, not too often with a link or common element, but nearly always to show how diverse wine can be. It speaks to the credit of this week’s winemaker that, even taking into consideration the fact that it is a small estate, the range of wines is astonishing and packed with different identities. Guilhem and Jean-Hugues Goisot playea defining role in putting the lesser known appelations of Auxerre on the map. I already introduced their Saint-Bris earlier this year; today I turn the spotlight on what they offer in red.

Moving up in the appelations that may ring a bell with a general public, Côtes d’Auxerre is located on the right bank of the Yonne, whereas Coulanges la Vineuse was on the left bank, more to the south. It is slightly larger, covering about 200ha but when it comes down to red, vineyards are planted on pretty much the same area as ClV. Wines from Côtes d’Auxerre are capable of a more elegant, different kind of complexity as soils here are a mix of marl and Portlandian, which contains less chalk and fossils than the famous Kimmeridgian terroir of Chablis.

Goisot currently owns about 30 hectares across various appelations, and certain parcels get the single vineyard treatment. One of them is today’s La Ronce 2012. From the get-go there is an astonishing difference in colour, brilliant and not as hazy as last week’s Vini Viti Vinci. There is a reductive touch on the nose that only really disappears on day two in favor of cherries, wild flowers and a rather distinct toasty touch. If I had not known what I had in my glass, I would have been tempted to place it in Germany as this is often something that comes back in young Spätburgunder. Floral aromas on the palate nicely complement the fruit and while tannins present can benefit from aging, the wine as a whole comes across incredibly balanced. There is lovely depth in the finish that you would be hard pressed to find in some of the more famous and at the very least more expensive Burgundian appelations!

Other Burgundy wines talked about: 

Week 33 – Vini Viti Vinci, Grôle Tête 2014

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Last week’s Jura region may not be widely known among the general public, today’s region has in all likelihood not popped up on the radar of your average winelover. Not even Jancis Robinson has a tasting note on this region in her database! To be fair, Coulanges la Vineuse is a tiny appellation that has the misfortune of specializing in pinot noir (as you would you expect in Burgundy) but in a region not remotely associated with red wines: Auxerre. ClV is so small that even on their own website the appellation first mentions the vineyards of Auxerre at 1300ha, before hiding the fact that they only cover 135ha of this themselves.

Nicolas Vauthier ran a renowned winebar specializing in natural wines until he decided to pack up his bags to start a new life as négociant Vini Viti Vinci in the north of Burgundy, focusing on little known appelations. He does not own all vineyards himself but sources grapes from those who work organically or biodynamical, taking full control at harvest. He has only really been making wine for a couple of years with patchy results (according to the merchant where I bought the bottle) as he tries to work as natural as possible with little to no sulphur added.

All his wines have cartoon labels, some more appropriate for the general public than others! Grôle Tête 2014 is one of a few wines produced under the ClV appelation, even though some vintages are sold as Vin de France. The immediate impression you get when popping the cork, is Kriek Lambic. If I had not opened the bottle myself, I would have easily confused it for beer! The colour is not what you would expect of pinot noir, non-filtered but light, almost pinkish red. On the palate it is surprisingly structured though, a lovely acidity with a hint of tannins towards the finish. There is a tiny element of greenness at the end but overall this is the perfect example of a vin de soif, the type of bottle that is empty before you even realize it. I have to admit that it is difficult to judge. It is no way pinot noir, not even wine if you judge it purely on the nose, but it is delicious. Is it not that what counts?

Other Burgundy wines talked about: 

Week 29 – Claire Naudin, Orchis Mascula 2009

IMG_2783When the topic of Burgundy pops up in a conversation, focus will more often than not be on the villages of the Côte d’Or and their lieu-dits, premiers crus and grand crus. Nonetheless, excellent value can be found on other appellation levels as well, sometimes even moreso than in overly hyped crus. Don’t forget, grand and premier crus only make up about a tenth of the entire Burgundy wine production and it is really the regional appellation level that is most important to overall output. For instance, the Hautes Côtes surrounding the Côte d’Or are in my opinion not always given the credit that they deserve. Altitude is the most important differentiating factor as the name implies; full ripening, and thus the harvest, generally takes place later than in the Côte d’Or, even though global warming has made this less of an issue in recent years.

During our Burgundian trip in April we had lunch at Claire Naudin’s place. Unfortunately our strict schedule only left us with enough time for a bite to eat and a quick but interesting tasting of some of the wines that she had on offer, so I did not really get a chance at a proper introduction. I tracked down the Belgian importer a while back and was able to procure a couple of her wines from older vintages to enjoy. Claire tries to work as natural as possible focusing on sustainable viticulture, while intervention in the vinification process is kept to a minimum but not refused by default. For instance, she does not add any sulfur to the wine until the bottling stage, allowing a vibrant retention of the color in her red wines while ensuring stability, not unimportant if you want to ship your wine across the world!

Orchis Mascula 2009 is a blend of three different high quality parcels in the Côtes de Beaune. Like I often find with natural wines, aeration is key to lure the wine out of hiding. After some time in the glass a heady floral perfume arises with little red berries, raspberries and rose buds in the background. A medium intense start, but a deep and intense sensation on the palate with tannins present but well integrated, slightly dominated by the juicy acidity that takes over towards the end. It is a subtle, elegant wine that takes a bit of time to show what it is capable of, but the depth and intensity of its flavours, especially in the finish are magnificent!

Other Burgundy wines talked about: 

An overdue reflection on red Burgundy

So, I have kind of used up all possible excuses to postpone writing about Burgundian pinot noir, bar a sudden and inexplicable allergy for the variety. It’s a though one as Burgundy does have some of the greatest, most moving red wines out there which are unfortunately either way too expensive, or hidden in a cesspool of mediocre wines that would have been better off as vinegar (and even then they are sold at prices that would make other regions blush). Continue reading

A reflection on white Burgundy

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been breaking my head about what I can write on Burgundy. All the years that I have been drinking Burgundian wines in a less structured manner, as well as a four-day visit do not exactly entitle me to an informed opinion. At the same time a first visit allowed me to confirm or reject thoughts and assumptions that had been turning in my head for a while. Continue reading