Category Archives: France

WOTM: Champagne Collet Brut 1er Cru, Art Déco NV

Our December Wine of the Month, Champagne Collet Brut 1er Cru, Art Déco NV, is an award-winning Champagne from the region’s first co-operative, established in Art Deco France in 1921. A blend of seven Grands Crus and 13 Premiers Crus, this Champagne is not just suited to celebrations throughout the festive period, but also as a gastronomic partner to a number of cuisines and dishes.

In a nutshell

A broad style of Champagne with developed biscuity notes from extended ageing on the lees and a lovely long and salty finish.

The producer

Champagne Collet with its elegant Art Deco packaging is evocative of the Belle Epoque era from when it was established. It is the oldest cooperative in Champagne, dating back to 1921. Since its inception, Collet has been creating Champagnes of character with authenticity, elegance and great finesse. Located in Aÿ, in the heart of the Champagne region, Collet represents some of the finest growers and mainly sources from vineyards which are based on Premier and Grand Cru sites. Each cuvée reflects the diversity of the region’s terroirs and has been masterfully blended to suit gastronomic cuisine

The wine

The Chardonnay, predominantly from the commune of Vertus, contributes freshness and citrus notes. The Premier Cru of Villers-Marmery contributes the mineral dimension of the limestone terroir along with smoky touches. The Pinot Noir imparts a richness and power thanks to historic Crus such as Ay, Hautvillers and Avenay Val d’Or blended with Crus from Rilly la Montagne. The Pinot Meunier from Villedommange completes the blend imparting a roundness and suppleness.

This cuvée was bottle aged for a minimum of four years in the historic limestone cellars which are centuries old.

Best served with

Young pigeon, veal carpaccio or red mullet.

A visit to Languedoc and Gérard Bertrand

Hallgarten & Novum Wines Marketing Coordinator, Charli Truelove, has taken to the road with Sales Manager, Phil Brodie in the Midlands team, and a group of General Managers from Revere pub group to experience Gérard Bertrand’s wines in the South of France.

Gérard Bertrand is one of the most outstanding winemakers in the South of France. He owns 15 estates among the most prestigious crus of Languedoc-Roussillon. Formery the IWC Red Winemaker of the Year and Wine Enthusiast’s European Winery of the Year, he is known locally as the “King” of the Languedoc. Wines bearing Gérard Bertrand‘s signature have a unique style, driven by the fundamental values of excellence, authenticity and innovation.

The Languedoc region, in my opinion, should be considered the next premium wine region of France alongside the likes of Burgundy and Bordeaux. The climate, terroir and winemaking skills have long been over-looked because of the wine trade’s interest in other regions, however only now is this area coming to the forefront of the trade’s mind thanks to producers such as Gérard Bertrand. The quality of Gérard Bertrand’s Estates consist of the finest terroirs of the Languedoc region and the quality of the wines is phenomenal which is reflected in the awards his wines win.

I had the pleasure of staying at Chateau l’Hospitalet. Gerard’s Grand Vin La Clape was voted Red Wine of the Year 2019 at the IWC awards this year. Here we were lucky enough to receive a tour of winery, tasting freshly pressed grape juice – Marsanne, Viognier and Roussanne, at the start of the fermentation process.

Gérard’s philosophy is that to be in harmony with nature is the best way to bring out the typical character of a terroir and to create fine wines. Gérard Bertrand switched to biodynamic farming at the Cigalus Estate in 2002. This type of wine growing strengthens the balance between the vine and its environment. A healthy vineyard, a protected environment and acclaimed wines show just how effective this approach is. Some parcels have been identified as having unique potential, revealing the individual history of the place and age of an exceptional terroir. They are recognized as the Grands Crus of the South of France. Just another example of showing off the amazing winemaking potential of the Languedoc.

During my visit, we stopped at Chateau La Sauvageonne, here the first vines were planted in the 1970s. In 2011 Gerard bought property, the grapes grown here are 70% red 20% rosé 10% white. During the tour of the winery, we were shown how each day the winemakers measure sugar density and temperature and again got to taste freshly pressed grapes direct from the tank, we watched from the top of a tank how the pumping over process works and then ventured out into the vineyards to look at the Mourvèdre vines on the clay soils, which keep the humidity as there is no irrigation here.

With Cab Sav/Merlot blends dominating Bordeaux and Burgundy with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay what can Languedoc claim to be its flag bearer? Rosé perhaps? Recently Gérard Bertrand launched Clos du Temple – a truly unique rosé, alongside other premium rosé: Sauvageonne Rosé, which wins high points scores every vintage… even Jon Bonjovi’s son Jesse Bongiovi is choosing Gérard Bertrand and the Languedoc to produce their wine, Hampton Water.

Languedoc-Rousillon has made leaps forward in recent years in terms of quality and popularity, the region is dynamic and promising with some exciting terroirs and producers. We are so proud to represent this leading French name in the UK, and cannot wait to see where the next few years takes them on their wonderful wine journey.

WOTM: Gouffier, Cuvée Baudron, Bourgogne Rouge 2017

A new addition to our portfolio this autumn from France, the Gouffier, Cuvée Baudron, Bourgogne Rouge 2017 was made in honour of the Baudron family who owned the domain before the Gouffier family, in the first half of the 20th century.

In a nutshell

A delicious Pinot Noir showing all the hallmarks of a good red Burgundy, with a vibrant bouquet full of red berries and delicate notes of spice, silky and intensely flavoured.

The producer

Gouffier owns five and a half hectares of vineyard in the villages of Fontaines and Mercurey in Côte Chalonnaise. Historically it was run by the Gouffier family for generations until Jerome Gouffier handed over the reins to his close friend Frédéric Gueugneau, formerly at La Chablisienne. Since 2011, Frédéric and oenologist Benoît Pagot have brought about a new style of winemaking. They follow an organic philosophy to create wines that are modern and approachable, but with all the style and panache of good Burgundy. They have created a collection of wines of outstanding originality, verve and spirit.

The wine

The hand-harvested grapes were vinified with 25% as whole bunches, which helped to impart structure. The wine was matured in 228 litre French oak barrels, of which 25% were new. The barrels came from forests in the centre of France.

Best served with

Perfect with roast poultry or duck terrine.

WOTM: Gérard Bertrand ‘Hampton Water’ Rosé, Languedoc 2018

We recently introduced this wine from award-winning music icon, Jon Bon Jovi, hi son, Jesse Bongiovi and acclaimed French winemaker, Gérard Bertrand, who joined forces to launch their premium rosé wine label, Hampton Water,’ in the UK.

In a nutshell:

Fresh and well-flavoured with distinctive and intense aromas of red fruit, citrus notes and a touch of delicate spice.

The producer:

‘Hampton Water’ captures the spirit shared between the chic Hamptons in the US and the equally stylish ‘art de vivre’ found in the South of France. This collaboration between Jon and Jesse Bon Jovi and Gérard Bertrand, is all about enjoying life and having a good bottle of wine to share with friends. Made in the Languedoc, it is a reflection of the Southern French terroir and Gérard Bertand’s wine-making expertise, while paying tribute to the glamorous Hamptons lifestyle.

The wine:

Each variety was harvested separately when it had reached optimum ripeness. The winemaking process was managed in order to respect the characteristics of each variety and the terroir it was grown in. The grapes were de-stemmed, cooled down to 8°C and transferred to the press to extract the must. Particular attention was paid to the pressing to ensure that only the first, highest‐quality juice was retained. The juice was then left to settle to obtain the precise aromatic profile specifically aimed for in Hampton Water. Fermentation lasted between 15 and 30 days, depending on the degree of clarification and the temperature. Approximately 20% was aged in oak, adding subtle complexity. Finally, after light fining, the wine was bottled early to preserve its fresh and fruity character.

Best served with:

The perfect apéritif; or enjoy with light salads, sushi or grilled fish.

Women In Wine

In organoleptic experiments to test the wine tasting ability of men and women, female participants consistently come out on top. Their superior palates and tasting precision are well documented in scientific papers and journals, which explains why the female success rate in the Master of Wine qualification is now higher than male.

This is now being reflected in wineries and cellars around the world as female winemakers take the helm in a traditionally male environment. We are proud to represent some of the best female winemakers in the world, and we truly believe that the wines crafted by these talented women – from Japan and South Africa to Italy and France – are some of the very best in the Hallgarten portfolio.

Lucia Minoggio, Castello di Nipozzano, Italy

Lucia’s family has always been linked to wine. Her mother, grandfather and her great grandfather were wine-growers in Piedmont. Lucia herself developed a passion for dance at a young age winning a scholarship at Balletto di Toscana in 2003 in Florence where she danced for 5 years. Meanwhile, she started studying winemaking.  In 2008 Lucia left her ballerina career, to pursue her winemaking dream. Lucia’s first encounter with wine, after her graduation in 2011, was in the heart of Chianti Classico where she worked for two years in many different sectors of production in the cellar and lab. Dealing mainly with red wines, she was introduced to the wine industry under the guidance of leading consultant winemaker, Franco Bernabei. In 2013, she travelled abroad to learn more about wines around the world which helped broaden her skills and knowledge. She started working as winemaker for Frescobaldi at the beginning of 2016.

Valeria Antolin, Piattelli, Argentina

It is hardly a surprise that Valeria Antolin became a winemaker. Her father was a famous sparkling winemaker in Mendoza and she followed in his footsteps, taking a degree in Agronomy from Universidad Nacional de Cuyo before working her way up at Piattelli. She has been with the estate since it was founded in 2002 and is now the principle winemaker at its Mendoza and Cafayate (in the Salta Province) wineries.

Samantha O’Keefe, Lismore Estate Vineyards, South Africa

Samantha O’Keefe’s is an amazing story. Berkeley-educated Samantha O’Keefe left her native California and an executive TV job, in search of a simpler life. She settled into her own sliver of paradise in the form of a 600 acre former dairy farm in Greyton, South Africa. Nothing seems to faze her, she shares her property with a troop of baboons and a leopard. She has made her mark since her inaugural vintage in 2006 with a string of stunning cool-climate wines that have wowed customers and critics the world over.

Estelle Roumage, Château Lestrille Capmartin, France

Estelle Roumage embodies this outstanding family domaine in Entre-deux-Mers, close to St Emilion in Bordeaux. Her wines are delicate and precise, and consistently punch above their appellation. She manages to blend respect for tradition with a modern outlook to vine management and winemaking techniques. On top of this Estelle has a real passion and talent for bringing her wines to our customers to share, to taste, to learn, to engage, in a way that really ignites their taste buds.

 

Sonia Spadaro, Santa Maria La Nave, Italy

Born in Augusta, on the Ionian coast of Sicily, Sonia grew up in the orange groves of Lentini, watching Mount Etna erupt. Sonia discovered the world of wine by chance and decided to start tending to the family vines and work in the cellar on the vinification processes. After graduating in economics, she completely devoted her life to wine and became the owner at Santa Maria La Nave as well as becoming a sommelier. Santa Maria la Nave is a small boutique winey on Mount Etna, specialising in wines from autochthonous varieties.

Stefanie Weegmuller, Weingut Weegmüller, Germany

Stefanie is one of the first women to have worked in Germany’s male-dominated wine industry. She has supremely mastered the technical aspects of winemaking, and – crucially – brings heart and sensuality to her work. She has been making the highest quality Pfalz wines for more than 25 years, assisted by a largely female team at the winery and behind the scenes. Her clean, pure wines have a delicate Pfalz spice and are very generous in fruit and length.

 

Chloe Gabrielsen, Lake Chalice, New Zealand

Raised in Turangi on the shores of the mighty Lake Taupo, Chloe’s early exposure to viticulture began with helping her parents pick out wine from the local store (they were fiends for a big Aussie red). After finishing College in 2001, Chloe moved to Marlborough to pursue a Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology degree through Lincoln University, completing her first harvest at the Saint Clair Family Estate in 2006. Now more than ten vintages later, Chloe is the winemaker at Lake Chalice, producing the very best results for this superb winery… that is, when she’s not being a Mum to Asher, member of multiple sports teams, performing in Kapa Haka (Māori performing arts), being a cross-fit addict or cooking a mean kai (kiwi food)!

 

Ayana Misawa, Grace Winery, Japan

It’s fitting that Ayana makes wine in Japan’s Yamanashi Prefecture from the revered Koshu grape, as her father Shigekazu Misawa is regarded as Japan’s Koshu pioneer. Ayana has studied winemaking on three continents, at the Institute of Enology and Viticulture in Yamanishi, the Faculty of Enology of the University of Bordeaux, and South Africa’s Stellenbosch University. She has also made wine at some very well-known wineries, including Cape Point Vineyards in South Africa, Catena Zapata in Mendoza, Errazuriz in Chile and Mountford in New Zealand. She has now returned to her homeland and works for Grace, one of Japan’s most prestigious wineries.

WOTM: Gérard Bertrand ‘Code Rouge’, Crémant de Limoux NV

We have chosen Gérard Bertrand’s Code Rouge as our February Wine of the Month, from the oldest  sparkling producing region in the world, Limoux. A glass of Code Rouge is the perfect sparkling wine to help celebrate Valentine’s Day, which originates from the Western Christian feast day honouring an early saint named Valentinus, often associated with the colour rouge.

In a nutshell:

An enticing floral aroma with notes of pear and citrus, refreshing and vibrant on the palate.

The producer:

Gérard Bertrand is one of the most outstanding winemakers in the South of France, where he owns numerous estates among the most prestigious crus of Languedoc- Roussillon. Named in 2012 as the IWC Red Winemaker of the Year and Wine Enthusiast’s European Winery of the Year, he is known locally as the “King” of the Languedoc.
Brought up in the Languedoc vineyards, Gérard Bertrand is committed to sharing the characteristics and exceptional diversity of each of the terroirs. Twenty years of know-how ensures that wines bearing Gérard Bertrand’s signature have a unique style driven each day by four fundamental values: excellence, authenticity, conviviality and innovation. We are proud to represent this leading French name in the UK

The wine:

A Crémant, made using the traditional Champagne method. The grapes were
manually harvested and carefully transported in harvesting bins. The juice was  very gently extracted using a pneumatic press, which allowed 30 to 40% of the press juice to be extracted without having to re-press.
The juice was then allowed to settle prior to the alcoholic fermentation, which took place at a controlled temperature of 18°C. Meticulous blending of the various terroirs and grape varieties was then carried out, with bottling throughout January to encourage the secondary bottle fermentation. Aged on its fine lees for a minimum of three years, the Code Rouge was riddled and disgorged according to the Champagne method.
This cuvée has all the traditional features of Gérard Bertrand’s wines: the emblematic red colour of the bottle and the Alpha and Omega symbols, symbolising the endless cycle of nature which inspired its name ‘Brut Eternel

Awards: Silver – IWSC

For further information on the Gérard Bertrand ‘Code Rouge’, Crémant de Limoux NV or any other Gérard Bertrand wines, please contact your account manager. 

Veganuary

If there has been one buzzword in the food and drink world recently, ‘vegan’ is surely it. Veganism has skyrocketed in recent years and with it the demand for vegan wines.

Although wine is made solely from grapes, it would be wrong to assume that  all wines are suitable for vegans. To celebrate Veganuary, the go-vegan month,  we have hand-picked a selection of vegan wines from our portfolio that your customers are sure to love throughout Veganuary and beyond.

 

2015 Sauvignon Blanc ‘Eggo Blanc de Cal’, Zorzal
Mendoza, Argentina

Made by Juan Pablo Michelini, the man with the best beard in Mendoza! Cool climate new world Sauvignon Blanc made in the style of a flinty Pouilly-Fumé with minimal intervention.

Awards: 16.5 Points; Jancis Robinson // 94 Points; Decanter Magazine

 

2017 Smederevka, Tikveš
Tikveš, Macedonia

Smederevka (Smed-er-EV-car) is the most popular white varietal of the Republic of Macedonia. You must try this: while relatively low in alcohol, it is full of flavour with stone fruits, tropical fruits and zest.

2017 ‘Sophia’, Basilisco
Basilicata, Italy

A peachy little number! Luscious organic Fiano from historic Basilicata in Southern Italy, made from vines from a single hectare vineyard on ancient volcanic soils. Wonderful freshness and minerality.

2017 Zibibbo ‘Vitese’, Colomba Bianca
Sicily, Italy

This crisp, fruity Zibibbo shows lifted notes of succulent white peach combined with soft floral aromatics of orange blossom and jasmine. Bright and perfumed with a zesty citrus finish.

Although winemakers may let a wine settle, waiting for the proteins capable of haze formation to clear naturally and leaving it unfiltered, most producers will filter out these impurities through the fining process.

To do this, traditionally, a number of animal products have been used in fining through adding substances like casein (milk), albumin (egg whites), gelatin (meat) and isinglass (fish), which act a bit like a magnet drawing all the smaller particles together so that they can be filtered out. These substances aren’t left in the wine so most
winemakers manage to avoid disclosing this on allergen labelling.

However, for ethical reasons you can understand why vegetarians, and in some cases vegans, might want to steer clear.

2017 Kratoshija, Tikveš
Tikveš, Macedonia

Kratoshija (Krat-oss-SHEE-yah) is a native grape of the Republic of Macedonia and a relative of Primitivo. Sustainably farmed, this is a vibrant red fruit bomb, offering excellent value.

Awards: Top 100; Wine Merchant

2014 ‘Silhouette’, Olifantsberg
Western Cape , South Africa

Naturally fermented in open-top fermenters to encourage a lower alcohol and sulphur content. This handcrafted wine is based on Syrah, with small additions of bush vine Grenache, Carignan and Mourvèdre.

2017 Nero d’Avola ‘Vitese’, Colomba Bianca
Sicily, Italy

A brilliant, deep red organic Nero d’Avola from Sicily with rich, juicy flavours of ripe plum and black cherries interlaced with subtle violet notes.

2016 ‘Le Prieuré’, Château Ksara
Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

A rich and spicy unoaked red made from organically grown grapes at Lebanon’s oldest winery. A blend of Carignan, Cinsault, Syrah and Cab Sauv with supple fruit made for a hearty vegetable stew.

Awards: Silver; IWSC

 

 

For more information on any of the wines above or for our full vegan portfolio, please get in touch with your account manager.

NYE Crackers

It’s show-time for sparkling wines! One night in the year when sparkling wines are the toast of the evening. From premium Prosecco, to traditional Champagne, to exciting English – we’ve got all bases covered to make your 2019 events go off with a bang.

 

Carpenè Malvolti ‘1868’ Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore, Prosecco Brut NV

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Carpenè Malvolti, founded in 1868 by Antonio Carpenè, was the first winery to produce a quality Prosecco. A qualified chemist, in contact with Pasteur and Koch, he was convinced that a wine as good as Champagne could be produced in Italy. He applied his knowledge to the Prosecco grape, which is now known as Glera, the majestic variety of the Conegliano and Valdobbiadene zone.

A floral and fruity bouquet with elegant aromas of ripe pear, crisp apple and citrus, layered with subtle herbaceous notes. Smooth on the palate with crisp, refreshing aromatics and an elegant finish.

 

Champagne Collet Brut 1er Cru, Art Déco NV

Champagne Collet is an iconic Champagne brand and its elegant Art Deco packaging is evocative of the Belle Epoque era from when it was established. It is the oldest cooperative in Champagne, dating back to 1921. Since its inception, Collet has been creating Champagnes of character with authenticity, elegance and great finesse. Located in Aÿ, in the heart of the Champagne region, Collet represents some of the finest growers and mainly sources from vineyards which are based on Premier and Grand Cru sites. Each cuvée reflects the diversity of the region’s terroirs and has been masterfully blended to suit gastronomic cuisine.

A swirl of very fine bubbles is reflected in a creamy style of Champagne with developed biscuity notes from extended ageing on the lees and a lovely long and savoury finish. This wine is full of charm.

 

Wiston Estate, Goring Brut, Sussex NV

Dermot Sugrue is not exactly a new name in the English wine industry but he is certainly a winemaker at the top of his game. Born in Ireland in 1974, he studied Viticulture and Oenology at Plumpton Agricultural College before completing two seasons working at Château l’Eglise-Clinet and Château Leoville-Barton. In 2003, he joined Nyetimber and was appointed winemaker in 2004. From Nyetimber he moved to the beautiful, family-run Wiston Estate in 2006, nestled in the heart of England’s rolling South Downs in West Sussex, to work with the Goring Family who has owned the estate since 1743. The Goring Brut, Goring Blanc de Blancs and Goring Rosé are made exclusively for us by Dermot Sugrue and take their name from the Goring family.

An elegant, complex English sparkling wine combining a youthful purity of fruit with subtle toasty, nutty notes.

The purest juice

So artisanal is the inaptly named Château Grand Pré that we cannot find it! Twenty minutes ago Bev and I left Fleurie’s Place de l’Église on the D68, driving past the Auberge du Cep, heading for the border with Chiroubles. But in spite of Bev jumping out and knocking on various houses, we cannot find it. Eventually she phones our host, Romain Zordan, who laughs and tells us he will pick us up. About thirty seconds later he arrives, we turn the car round and minutes later arrive at an old farmhouse that we have already driven past twice. Duh!

 

Natural wines are the subject of some debate. For some they represent winemaking at its most pure; for some critics the wines are simply undrinkable, some of them, they swear, tasting like cider and smelling of old socks. The choice of not adding sulphur (or to add it only in minute quantities) is what causes a lot of the fuss. Sulphur acts as an oxidant and without it, the critics say, the wine simply turns yellow. Certainly you get a lot of curious flavours in natural wine.

But equally, they can be some of the most exciting wines you will taste, with a purity of fruit that is unrecognisable in more commercial offerings.

There is no question which side Romain is on. He shows us vines which are 80, 90, 100 years old. He prunes by hand. No herbicides are used. He ploughs round the vines throughout the year to limit weed growth, encouraging the vines to dig deep, to reach down to the granite. Yields are low: about 25 hl to 35 hl depending on the vintage. Wild yeasts.

He explains all this with the loud and slightly manic passion of a visionary while the two of us shiver. In twenty years of visiting Burgundy I have never known it so cold, and much as I love the Beaujolais countryside, I am dead glad when he takes us into a renovated cellar where he has laid on a lunch of bread, Munster cheese and saucisson. I normally eschew food during tasting, but I am famished and this just looks so French that I tuck in. As does the Master of Wine.

The Fleurie 2017 has a huge, ripe, sweet fruit nose, with really intense flavours in the mouth. Liquid jelly. They didn’t do carbonic maceration because hail destroyed half the vineyard and they weren’t able to fill the tanks. Half full bunch and half destemmed (although Romain pronounces it “steamed” and for a second I think he’s invented some amazing winemaking technique.) Soft, flowing tannins. A magical bottle of wine.

The Morgan 2017 has a much funkier nose. Lots happening in here, the merest hint of reductiveness on the nose. But in the mouth all traces disappear and you have a rich chocolatey mouthful. Simply gorgeous.

The Cotes de Brouilly 2017 underwent full carbonic maceration and is the chunkier of the three wines, imbued with the flavours of the famous blue granite, which gives it a vibrant violet character. But, unbelievably, it has a “lifted” quality, as if the wine is floating above the ground. I cannot do the quality of this wine justice.

Better still, the vibrant acidity of the wine cuts through the salami and cheese perfectly. We are in picnic heaven.

We then brave the cold again as Romain takes out round the back of his cellar to an old warehouse where he keeps his canary-coloured tanks. And then it is back outside where he opens up an old shipping container in which he keeps a few barrels of white. The sample shows this wine to be good but not in the same class as his reds.

Incongruously, this container is parked on the edge of a house in which Franck Duboeuf and his family live. No-one has done more to promote the wines of this glorious region than Franck’s father, Georges Duboeuf. I know: I used to work for him. And while the differences between Duboeuf’s and Grand Pré’s wines couldn’t be greater, both offer excellence in their own way.

But I have never felt such excitement in Beaujolais as that which feel now, sitting munching my cheese and salami in Romain’s little cellar. These wines are brilliant. They are uncompromisingly brilliant. The purest juice I have tasted on the entire trip.

Shabby Chic

We first came across this producer when we tasted the Domaine Gouffier Aligoté a couple of years ago. It knocked us for six. It was about as far removed from your customary tart and bitter aligoté as was possible.

So how good to finally visit Frédéric (Fred) Gueugneau and Benoît Pagot at their farmhouse on Fontaine’s Grand Rue, southwest of Rully. Set behind a gravel courtyard, their 19th century farmhouse is filled with a beguiling collection of peeling French farmhouse furnishings, quirky wallpaper, crumbling pargetting, and odd-looking objets d’art, its faded glory complemented by modern low-slung couches, a widescreen TV and a monstrous sound system complete with mixer. You’d pay some fancy interior designer a fortune to come up with such shabby chic. The farmhouse acts as a base for the pickers during harvest, and you get the impression that for the joyeux vendangeurs, it must be one long acid house.

With 5.5-hectares spread across eight appellations, the domaine was in need of a fresh start following the passing of Jerome Gouffier in 2012, and, as we set up the tasting in the kitchen, Fred, who worked at La Chablisienne for eight years, explains what they are looking for. “To reinvigorate the vines, to bring organic practice, to have the wines less in barrel, more in tank.”

The Aligoté En Rateaux which excited us has now moved on to the 2017. While not having the knockout punch of its older brother, it has a vivacious flower and citrus feel to it and simply fills the mouth with flavours and piercing acidity.

The Bouzeron Les Corcelles 2017 reminded me of some our Greek wines, with its volcanic feel and saline quality. A huge mouthful.

The Rully Premier Cru Rabource 2017 has an inviting and open nose of elderflower and apricot. An amazing wine.

We finish with the red Mercurey La Charmée 2017 which lives up to its name with real purity of fruit – blackcurrants, this time – and beautifully integrated oak.

The tasting has been one stunner after another.

Fred and Benoit, now in hoodies and trainers, take us outside to the rustic winery and proudly show off a barrel room housed in a stone-domed cellar which served as a bunker for Napoleon’s army.

Once more, as with so many of our new producers, what we have here is a mixture of reverence for what they have inherited along with a determination to make their own mark on Burgundy’s history. This place is in good hands.

The Power of Quiet

You can spot it from half a mile away, rising eerily out of the mist. Château de Chamilly is the painter, photographer and filmmaker’s dream. It looks as if it belongs on top of a ginormous chocolate cake.

It is just off the D109 between Chassey-le-Camp and Aluze and the hamlet of Chamilly is 200 metres away, but, really, you could be on a different plant. The silence is deafening as you stand back and gawp. It is a wonder, but also slightly spooky.

The other-worldliness is broken by an extravagant welcome from a beaming Arnaud Desfontaine, jogging towards us in modish anorak and trainers. His family has been making wine here for twelve generations. Arnaud’s mother lives in an apartment on the ground floor, but the other two floors are still to be renovated. God, it must be lonely in winter.

We listen to the silence, before pony-tailed Arnaud kicks into action, leading us a merry dance through the winery which lies scattered higgledy-piggledy around the château in various stables and barns. “We bought this from our neighbour last year and we will put in tanks here. This we have already converted. Next we will make a reception area over here…”

With his soft and broken English, and looking forever like he should be wielding a Fender Strat in some sybaritic band, he is a compelling host, blending an antiquarian’s love of tradition with a geek’s desire to experiment. “Here, we could be certified organic if we want to, but I choose not to. I prefer not to be put in – what do you call it? – a straitjacket. The rules of this winery? There are none.”

But for sure, less is more – less stems, less lees stirring, less interventions in the winery (natural yeast, no filtration). “All we give the wines we get them here is quiet.”

In the tasting room we start with the whites, the highlight of which is a stunning Montagny les Reculerons 2017. This is a delicious mouthful of flint and fruit. “People sometimes say, “what barrel do you age this in?” But it is aged in tank. What they are tasting is terroir.” He is right: this is so minerally you can taste the rocks.

But good as the whites are, Arnaud’s heart’s quest is to capture the purity of Pinot Noir. He dismisses richly-coloured Pinot. “That was what we had in the 1970s, the 1980s. I am not looking to make a Syrah. This is not the Rhone.”

And when you come to the Mercurey Premier Cru les Puillets you know exactly what he means. This has a piercing pristine pellucid coolness like it was born on the edge of an iceberg. It is packed full of juicy raspberry and cherry fruit. We all nod approvingly. “You see,” says Arnaud. “If you have ripe grapes, you have balance.”

This is a composer at heart, and we leave him dancing through the vats and tanks to his beautiful melodies.

To Morot!

And so to Domaine Albert Morot, on Beaune’s ring road, and a tasting challenge between two of the Beaune Premier Crus heavyweights that Hallgarten ships. It’s Les Bressandes v Les Teurons from vintages 2014 – 2017, Winner Takes All.

2014 vintage…

Domaine Morot, Beaune 1er Cru Les Bressandes


The Bressandes has a lovely soft mushroom feel to it, but with a succulent freshness. This is a Farmers’ Market wine; lovely and soft and clean.  Meanwhile, the Teurons is oxtail soup gamier and bigger, more assertive, with very firm, though not harsh, tannins. This is the masculine to the Bressandes’ feminine.

 

2015 vintage…
The Bressandes nose here is quite closed, but there is a herbal feel to it, with cherry Tunes furtively hanging around in the background. The tannins are languid and seductive. Easy to fall in love with this Mistress. The Teurons has an unusual nose. Where are we here? In the Rhône? This has a touch of the liquorice and anise flavour of the south. This is a real fruit bomb.

Beaune 1er Cru Les Teurons

 

2016 vintage…
But just when you feel everything is going to plan, the 2016 kicks in. Because, while we have a heavenly soft sweet mouthful of Bressandes, with touches of oak, touches of vanilla and touches of crunchy forest fruits, the Teurons decides to go all shy on us. For sure, it is a silky little number, but its parents would be shocked at how it has conceded bragging rights to the usually feminine Bressandes. A real eye-opener, this vintage.

 

2017 vintage…
Intrigued, we move on to the 2017 – a real vintage! The Bressandes cavorts forward and teases us. It has beautiful soft forest fruits lying under the forest floor, a touch of smoke from the covering of soft branches. But – Ta Da! – the Terurons reverts to type, coating itself with a swirling Black Forest Gateaux cape. But, liked any caped magician, it has finesse, a softness. It has learned its lesson. It pays respect to Bresssandes before strutting its funky stuff. Move over, darling!

But hold on – what’s this?

 

They’ve just brought in another wine. Ah, this is the Les Marconnets, another Premier Cru situated on the far right of the commune. An interloper – how exciting. I taste the wine. I pause. I think. Remember when Cameron Diaz walked into the room and Jim Carrey’s jaw hit the floor? Well…

It has got the femininity of the Bressandes, the structure of the Teurons. But it also has something else: a wonderful minerality running through the centre, a saline feel to complement its roundness and structure. Jasper Morris describes it as “probably the best of the northern vineyards” – and recommends Morot as a producer.

Events like this are so good for a buyer. The smack between the eyes. I cannot remember why we have not listed this before. Lack of availability. But that will soon change and we leave the tasting with the thought enticing us: We must list this.