Côte de Nuits Wine
At the time of writing, the Burgundian vinous circus is in London promoting the 2018 vintage as it comes to market. Fortunately, there is less hyperbole than usual this time around, as after several hail, frost and drought-depleted years, 2018 saw a generous harvest in terms of both volume and quality. Reports of ubiquitous excellence need to be taken with a pinch of salt but generally this is good news for Burgundy enthusiasts.
Based in the centre of Gevrey-Chambertin, where they have installed a smart new winery, siblings Sarah and Richard Bastien of Domaine Henri Richard typify a generation of young vignerons who have eschewed chemical treatments and elected to farm organically. Sarah's partner Guillaume Berthier oversees the wine-making here with minimal intervention to produce characterful wines with a strong sense of terroir. Their 'Aux Corvées' bottling from a 2 hectare parcel of vines due east of the village is a terrific expression of Pinot Noir with a concentrated red berry bouquet and complex palate of red and black fruit with some pitchy undertones and fine-grained tannins. It drinks well from release, if decanted, and will cellar well for a decade. Their flagship 'Grand Cru' Charmes-Chambertin, from a precious 0.8 hectare plot, has much the same understated appeal but is denser and more tight-knit with longer ageing potential.
Stéphane Brocard's 'old vine' négociant bottling of Marsannay, from the 'gateway' to the Côte de Nuits, is a relatively forward-drinking Pinot Noir that represents good value for money. With bright cherry aromas, a core of sweet spice and dark fruit, fresh acidity and supple tannins it is approachable from release and will cellar well for 3-5 years.
We have been buying Yves Chéron's Southern Rhône wines for decades but for inter-generational family reasons too arcane for us to fully comprehend we were only offered allocations from his enviable vine-holdings in Burgundy in 2009. His Chambolle-Musigny 'Les Condemennes' is an elegant and perfumed Pinot Noir with a smoothly-textured palate of soft red fruit and a long, persistent finish. Yves' Vosne-Romanée is darker and grippier with a core of black fruit and longer ageing potential. Completing the range is the flagship 'Grand Cru' Clos de Vougeot; a full-bodied, darkly-fruited wine with peppery undertones and a tannic structure that will support at least a decade's bottle age.
Domaine Gavignet-Béthanie was founded in the mid 1960s when Christian Gavignet married Michèle Béthinet and they pooled their respective vine holdings. Today the estate is run by their daughters Christine and Claire who preside over 9 hectares including a 'Premier Cru' parcel on the 'Les Poulettes' climat of Nuits-Saints-Georges located 1 kilometre south of the village. The ensuing wine has bright berry and cherry aromas and a mid-weight palate of hedgerow fruit with spicy undertones and supple tannins. Christine and Claire aver that it is best drunk at between 5 and 15 years of age.