There was this Burgundy wine coming from outside of the known world of the Burgundy Appellations : Guy Bussière makes wine in Bonnencontre (few of you ever heard this name in Burgundy), some 40 kilometers east of Beaune. But when the winemaker is good, who needs a prestigious appellation ?
__ Domaine du Val de Saone Pinot Noir 2008. Nice light Pinot Noir, tasty wine which goes down so well. Guy Bussière says that he put some SO2 on the grapes in the vat and from then no more. He works from only 2 hectares of vineyards, his father's vineyards. Grapes picked in wooden boxes. Vinified in wooden open vats, stomped with the feet. When alc. fermentation is over, he puts the wine into casks for about a year (until the next harvest). The Domaine du Val de Saone is a very small estate but is fully certified organic. A bottle costs about 7,5 € at the estate. He sells almost nothing locally but half of his wines are sold in Paris and he even exports to Japan (François Dumas -(03)3412-3118).
We tasted (this was at the Caves Augé Burgundy tasting):
__ Philippe Pacalet Gevrey Chambertin 2008. No notes, sorry. It's so easy at Augé, you arrive on the sidewalk in front of the wine shop, you grab a glass and go taste and chat with the winemakers and forget to take the most basic notes...
__ Philippe Pacalet Pommard 2008. Very nice, classy mouth. Balance. Gets itself drunk very easily. Made from several plots, a 1er Cru déclassé, a Chanlins with too-young vines, some Vaumuriens, La Saucille and les Trois Follots. Stayed 15 to 18 months in casks. I ask a few questions to Philippe Pacalet cellar chief, Johan who is in charge since Nicolas Luquet left a year or two ago.
__ Philippe Pacalet (from under the table) Chambolle Musigny 2008. I wish Monica could be there to enjoy this wine with us... But she was in Brazil for a few days visiting her family. Great wine, no way... If I had to choose three words, they would be balance, harmony and pleasure to drink.
This was at the tasting organized in Paris by the Natural Wines Association (AVN).
He says that the grapes are of exceptional quality in 2010 in his area and the harvest took place in ideal conditions.
__ Chateau Meylet 1999. Not on the market yet (will be early 2011). The wine had an additional élevage time of 20/22 months in bottles. Extraordinary mouth here, lots of complex notes opening up along your many sips of the wine. Beautiful, although not exactly in my price range : 50 € tax included in the cavistes probably, he says.
This Pinot Noir Cuvée Excellence vintage 2003 can surprise us even in our faraway 2010, who said these wines had no future ? This wine was absolutely delicious and far from its peak. Christian Binner brought this bottle to the AVN tasting because people think that natural wines don't stand the years, especially on those years like 2003 where because of the heat wave the acidity was supposed to be lacking. He remembers that the grapes were over-ripe, they picked only once but it was indeed very ripe, the grapes were almost dessicated (passerillées) under the heat. But because they farm biodynamic, the vines are alive and tuneed more on the under-soil and the terroir than on the extreme weather outside. Anyway the vines didn't suffer of hydric stress during that exceptionally-hot year. This wine is sold out but its price was 35 €. Christian Binner says that the élevage of this wine was quite long because at one stage, 2 or 3 years ago, it was closed and Christian decided to wait before its release, and suddenly it opened itself on a very Burgundian style of Pinot Noir, very classy. Note that this wine had zero SO2 and was bottled with a manual gravity bottle filler...
This wine was tasted at the AVN tasting in Paris.
Michel Murciano, who was born in Casablanca, Morocco, founded this winery in 2001 in the south of Jerusalem in the Judean hills.
__ Hevron Heights Winery Ice wine. An ice wine from Israel ! Semillon, Sauvignon and a bit of Muscat. In cask since 2007. Bottled soon but no name yet. Nose is not outwardly aromatic but there's intensity and complexity. Made with a machine that someone at the winery invented, they froze artificially the juice and must, right after pressing. Using a machine initially supposed to make ice dust from water (for fishing ships), they got a liquid with very sugary extracts. Beautiful wine, well balanced (even though I lack experience in ice wines). 10 % new casks. There's to my feel no more than a light vanilla hint from this oak. 130/140 gr residual sugar.
__ Hevron Heights Winery Judean Heights Merlot 2005. 12 months in casks. The label indicate also the jewish calendar year : 2005 - 5765. Nose cooked fruits. Mouth : same, sugary feel. Nice feel when you swallow this wine, rather elegant. Not very long mouth. 13 ° (all the wines are labelled as 13 ° in alcohol).
__ Hevron Heights Winery Judean Heights Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - 5765. 12 months in casks. balanced, elegant wine.
__ Hevron Heights Winery Judean Heights Cabernet Shiraz 2005. Not bad, a bit hot with the alcohol maybe.
__ Hevron Heights Winery Pardess Merlot 2005. Cooked red fruits. The nose on the empty glass yields quite complex and intense aromas on the range of crystallized fruits. 18 months in casks.
__ Hevron Heights Winery Isaac's Ram Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - 5764. Judean Vineyards. Very beautiful nose, not very outward but with elegance and charm. In the mouth, beautifully ample. Quite a strong wine also (still 13 ° on the label) but with a nice freshness. 18 months in casks.
__ Hevron Heights Winery Jerusalem Heights Cabernet-Merlot 2005. 20 months in casks. Rhone-bottle shape. That's a very nice wine ! Complexity, aromas on the cooked-fruits side plus dry aromatic herbs ones, eucalyptus. Very nice mouth and swallowing feel.
__ Hevron Heights Winery Mount Hevron Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2003-5763. Bordeaux-shaped bottle. Red fruits, freshness. Laurel leaves, pepper. Very intense mouth, more than 13 ° I would say here. 2nd mouth is easier. Very well integrated tannins, good acidity.
__ Hevron Heights Winery Mount Hevron Syrah 2004. The one I liked so much a few months ago. Very beautiful, again... Everything is so smooth and nothing comes to disturb the picture, this is harmony... Empty glass : so refined...
__ Hevron Heights Winery Makhpelah 2005 (the bottle on the picture above). Cabernet, Merlot and 10 % of Syrah. What a nose...24 months in casks. The mouth is onctuous with fruit and a nice length. Here again, surprising freshness.
__ Hevron Heights Winery Asasportas Brother's Selection, Special Reserve 2002-5762. Nose : I don't have the words... The mouth is very surprising, with an unusually bright freshness. Very classy wine.
There were special prices for this tasting, the first cuvées being at about 13 €, the Cabernet-Merlot and the Isaac's Ram were at 17 €, the Mount Hevron Syrah was at 20 € and the Makhpelah was at 30 €.
Phone in Paris for orders : 06 60 78 16 57
Jean bought a batch of bottles in an auction like he does regularly, and he brought one of them for us all to taste. He says there's always a risk as it's hard to figure how the wine was stored, sometimes the bottles are not full as after the years and with leaking corks, the wine has partly evaporated, but it doesn't mean always that the wine is ruined and he often takes the risk to buy, especially that in these conditions, the price doesn't get to high. The bottle he brought that day was a Chateau d'Arsac, Arsac-Medoc 1925. There was some wine missing in this case, but from his experience that was not a 100 % fail, and the bottle was part of a 6-bottle batch and he had already checked two, both of them with missing wine, one being bad and the second quite good. He opened the bottled very carefully and in spite of his care the cork broke in two but he managed to take out the second half safely. The nose was fine for me, I knew immediately that the wine was good, I mean that it had somehow survived the leak. Soft-spices notes, some milky notes (lacté), very nice in spite of being obviously from another sphere. Turbid wine, with a nuance of red which had lost its saturation. Aromas od Moka, chocolate, leather, old cellar and bottom of old wooden ship. The latter doesn't look good but I don't consider that a negative way and what needs to be said is that this wine still had things to tell after so many years....
Here is an example of wines and spirits going to be sold at an auction. And here is a page with links to several scheduled wine auctions in Paris or vicinity (there are a few auction houses specialized in wine sales).
This is a very concentrated wine with a texture close to the one of a muted wine. Particularly striking acidity which stands out for this type of wine. Didn't like that wine very much to be frank.
I met Pierre and Julie on November 18th at Caves Augé, Julie had arrived from New York the same day and didn't seem too disturbed by the jetlag, maybe it was the beautiful Nouveau wines of Noella or L'Anglore which were poured from the casks...
We can't tell you more about the location except that it'll be in the 10th arrondissement in Paris and that the venue is gorgeous. Julie Farias, the young woman on the right, is likely to be the chef of this new place, she comes from New York and her resume seems quite impressive already. Among other places, she worked at Ici, the Brooklyn restaurant opened by Laurent Saillard, where she discovered the natural wines.
Watch the video interview (in English) of Julie Farias shot by Bruno Verjus a couple of days later. Listen to what she says about the first natural wine that changed for ever her vision of wines....It was a wine from Domaine Peyra (now closed down), the Auvergne estate co-managed by Jean Maupertuis...
__Roblet Monnot Volnay Saint François 2008. I liked the wine all the while feeling that this wine was in its infancy and that you have to come back in one or two years to see what's he is capable of. But definitely a good wine. 33,15 € at the shop.
__ Roblet Monnot Pommard 1er Cru Arvelets 2008. What a nose ! The mouth is superb, what else could I say ? Really a great wine. Made from a 33-are plot bought in 1999, vines planted in 1953 & 1957. The wine costs 52 € at the Caves Augé wine shop.
__ Jean-Marie Berrux le Petit Têtu 2009, a Chardonnay. Here is a liquid english candy (bonbon anglais) on the nose, like we say in France. In the mouth, something close to honey with cooked-apples notes. Back to the nose, I feel pear compote aromas. Beautiful. All these aromas aren't of course caused by selected lab yeasts, as Jean-Marie Berrux uses only indigenous yeats. No SO2 at all during the vinification, except before bottling, makes like 18 mg total SO2. Just to compare, the "conventional" wines in the region have a total SO2 of about 120/130 mg...The alcoholic fermentation took place along 6 months with temp regulation of the vat, regular topping up without exchange with oxygen. This Chard 2009 is sold out and there will be 7500 bottles of the 2010.
The vineyards is farmed with biodynamy. This Chardonnay vineyard making 1,5 hectare is the only one owned by the estate, all the other wines are made from négoce contracted grapes (80 % of it organic). The total surface from which JM Berrux makes wines is 5,5 hectare.