Our Summer Saga continues with some white Burgundies that I’m rather astonishingly able to offer. If you know these houses and how the wine biz works in this province, you’ll know that it’s highly improbable that I got my hands on these in the first place. These are micro-produced, cult labels that inspire mania amongst Burgundy-heads for various reasons – be it an established legend or a rising star on the vanguard of Burgundy production (or both), collectors around the world mud-wrestle each other to get their hands on these proto-unicorns. We begin with the elephant in the room:
Maison Leroy. Yes, I got some, which logically means that there must also be a Santa Claus. Leroy hasn’t shipped to Vancouver in 5 years and we don’t know when we’ll see it next: the Madame herself chooses which cities will be awarded tiny allocations of her small production each year. You may remember Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy as the wizened, ethereal She-Druid from Netflix’s A Year In Burgundy, where she was presented as the ancient, let-us-see-what-wines-we-can-make-with-songs counterpoint to Christophe Perrot-Minot’s clinical, lab-based approach, but I feel that the documentary undersold her killer instincts for quality and business acumen – she is the largest shareholder of DRC (Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, which she co-manages with Aubert de Villaine, more on him below) and Leroy is second only to DRC in quality and price. This is literally some of the most famous Chardonnay on earth.
Maison Leroy Meursault 2001, 3 bottles available, $1,039.98
Maison Leroy Montagny 2015, 12 bottles available, $229.98
Maison Leroy Bourgogne Blanc 2016, 6 bottles available, $161.98
Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey. The Spielberg of White Burgundy. Pierre-Yves and his wife Caroline (whose own label, also made with Pierre-Yves, is similarly burning up the charts) are the scions of two prominent Burgundy lineages, but when they joined forces just over a decade ago their modern approach to cellar management rocketed them to the top of wine lists around the world. PYCM is not afraid of barrels, but his avoidance of batonnage keeps the textures bright, like lightning in a bottle. He is Stalin in the vineyards and Col. Klink in the cellar, using higher pressure pressing and eschewing fining and filtration. These wines are as hard to get and keep as Leroy, but the prices are a tad kinder. I have:
PYCM Pernand-Vergelesses “Les Belles Filles” 2017, 12 bottles available, $79.98
PYCM Bourgogne Blanc 2017, 12 bottles available, $49.98
Domaine de Villaine. Can a white grape be a black sheep? It’s probably best to ask Aligoté, the floral, silky “Third Grape” of Burgundy that accounts for less than 10% of all white wine production there. Like an orphan in a Dickens novel, Aligoté lives in the cracks, planted only in the lesser areas where Queen Chardonnay deigns not to dwell….except… The appellation where it does get love and respect is Bouzeron, the AOC where Aligoté is not only allowed but required. Aubert de Villaine, the other half of DRC, lives in Bouzeron and grows Aligoté Doré there (rather than the ubiquitous workhorse Aligoté Vert), and it was he who pushed for the creation of the Bouzeron AOC 20 years ago. His Bouzeron is a fleshy, fat, ageable White Beast showing white flowers, stone fruits and a mineral, almost saline finish. Delicious now but Aubert recommends a further 10 years nap.
Domaine de Villaine Bouzeron 2017, 6 bottles available, $77.98
Bouard-Bonnefoy. I know I’ve dropped a lot of Awesome-Bombs already, but I’m truthfully most excited about offering these 6 1er Cru Chassagnes because 1) I know this is a winery that we’ll be talking a LOT about over the next decade, and 2) this as close as we can come to isolating the elusive Terroir Molecule. The house is the marriage of Chassagne-Montrachet scion Carine Bonnefoy and her husband Fabrice Bouard, a former bodyguard of French officials. They press grapes with a hand crank, they cork and label by hand on a table in the back, the grapes are farmed without pesticides or herbicides and fermented with indigenous yeasts. The only way you can tell what century you’re in is by the cellar’s electric light, this is wine from the age of dragons.
And this offering is 6 Chardonnays from the same village, same vintage and same producer, all vinified the same way. The only variable is vineyard location, and the differences are profound. If you ever doubted the importance of place in fine wine, you need to experience these wines next to each other to see how soil composition, altitude and climate – even in incremental shifts – can affect so thoroughly what happens in your glass. I have 6 Premier Crus:
Bouard-Bonnefoy Chassagne-Montachet 1er Cru ‘en Remilly’ 2017, 8 bottles available, $133.98 Uphill with moderate slope, facing south, 280-290 meters altitude with shallow stony clay soil and limestone bedrock. Lots of pear, fresh zest and spice.
Bouard-Bonnefoy Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru ‘La Maltroie’ 2017, 5 bottles available, $133.98 Located in the heart of the village, ‘Maltroie’ offers a perfect snapshot of Chassagne’s savory, delicate character: candied lemons, roasted almonds, herbs.
Bouard-Bonnefoy Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru 'Chevenottes' 2017, 10 bottles available, $133.98 A smooth, fruity Burgundian Chardonnay. The vineyard ‘Chenevottes’ has deeper, more fertile soils, which results in a wine with a more honeyed concentration and silky texture.
Bouard-Bonnefoy Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru 'Macherelles' 2017, 8 bottles available, $133.98 A refined Chassagne, one that combines a lacy delicacy with layered, concentrated flavors. ‘Macherelles’ is a wonderful example of Chassagne white Burgundy, poetic and profound.
Bouard-Bonnefoy Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru ‘Les Vergers’ 2017, 11 bottles available, $133.98 Located near Saint-Aubin and vines are planted on a very stony hillside with an easterly exposure. Aromas of exotic fruits, vanilla and toasted nuts
Bouard-Bonnefoy Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru 'Morgeot Les Petit Clos' 2017, 6 bottles available, $133.98 ‘Petit Clos’ is a small, walled plot within the larger ‘Morgeot’ vineyard, and one of its finer terroirs. An unusual vein of blue clay here gives fruit from 60-year-old Chardonnay vines a plush, savory texture.
The Saga continues next week, until then, Happy Drinking!!