Burgundy is known worldwide for its highly coveted and esteemed Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from prestigious Premier Cru and Grand Cru sites. The wines of Burgundy are thought-provoking and evoke deep emotions. Many passionate lovers of Burgundy often grapple with the wines being too expensive, too rare or too hard to find. All those factors fall to the wayside when you dig deeper. Burgundy is much more, it is a conversation on history, terroir, soils, slopes and complexity.
Burgundy wines are some of the most sensual wines in the world and Terlato Wines has some of the premier and most renowned producers in its CRU Selections portfolio. I had the opportunity to taste the wines of four of these renowned producers during a media tasting in NYC at Le Bernardin.
John Terlato, Vice Chairman of Terlato Wines took great pride in building his Burgundy portfolio. Over the years John has traveled extensively to Burgundy, the CRU Selections Burgundy portfolio is carefully chosen and developed over many years of relationship building and forming friendships. The Terlato portfolio represents some historic Domaines as well as prestigious artisanal family producers.
I had the opportunity to chat with John and meet with four producers: Domaine Ramonet, Domaine Michel Niellon, Château de la Tour, and Domaine Pierre Labet. These producers are not just part of Terlato’s portfolio, but John considers them his friends.
The event was a unique opportunity to meet with the producers and taste some exquisite and rare wines. Many of these wines came directly from the cellars and are produced in small quantities. During the event you had a sense that there was more to the tasting than just drinking exclusive wines, it was a rare opportunity to meet with the families and winemakers and understand the history, the terroir and talent in a true, authentic, and humble sense. I was immediately drawn into the wines with a focus on terroir, the artisanal style, and exceptional talent that was present in the room. Below you will find a brief summary of the producers, and a few of the wines that were memorable and simply magical.
Domaine Michel Niellon
Michel Niellon has an incredible history in winemaking in Burgundy, having crafted more than 50 vintages of extraordinary wines. Michel started working with his father Marcel in 1957. Today Michel Coutoux(son-in-law) and Mathieu Bresson(grandson) are also involved in the winery. With four generations of winemaking, the estate is highly regarded in the Burgundy wine world. Located in Chassagne-Montrachet, the Domaine bottles wines from a dozen appellations from Bourgogne Chardonnay to Premier Cru and Grand Crus, such as Chevalier-Montrachet & Batard Montrachet. The wines are elegant and expressive of their terroir.
Domaine Michel Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet Blanc 2016 – An elegant white wine with notes of lemon, lime, apple and spice. Well balanced with nice length and intensity.
Domaine Michel Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru “Les Champgains” Blanc 2016 – A sensual white wine with notes of citrus, lemon, vanilla and nice acidity. A beautiful medium bodied white wine with nice texture and minerality.
Domaine Michel Niellon Chevalier-Montrachet Blanc 2016 – Notes of apple pie, lemon, peach and vanilla. Nice creamy yet savory mouthfeel. Lush, elegant and exceptional.
Château de la Tour
Château de la Tour is located in the tiny hamlet of Vougeot in Côte de Nuits. The Domain is the largest landowner with 15 acres of the entire Grand Cru. I had the opportunity and pleasure to meet with Edouard Labet, whose father Francois Labet has managed the Domaine since 1984. Francois converted the vineyard to organic farming practices in 1990, which was a rarity within Clos-Vougeot. The wines are made from whole cluster fermentation and aged 18 months in custom barrels from one sole cooper.
The Château produces two iconic wines, Clos-Vougeot and Clos-Vougeot Vieilles Vignes (vines of 100-year-old minimum age). The Chateau also produces a third wine, “Hommage A Jean Morin”, which is only made in exceptional vintages. What makes Château de la Tour uniquely exceptional is that is the only winery in the Clos itself.
Château de la Tour Clos-Vougeot Grand Cru Rouge 2015 – Beautiful ruby tones with notes of blackberry, raspberry, and cinnamon and cloves. Nice concentration of fruit with intense minerality and salinity. Silky smooth tannins.
Château de la Tour Clos-Vougeot Vieilles Vignes Rouge 2015 – Great concentration and depth of fruit. Notes of blackberry, black cherries, currant and spice. Elegant and structured.
Château de la Tour Clos-Vougeot Grand Cru Rouge 2007 – With twelve years in bottle, this wine was a treat. It has evolved in the bottle to display nice acidity, brightness of fruit, and firm yet silky tannins.
Domaine Pierre Labet
The Domaine dates back to the 15th century, located in the heart of Beaune. The headquarters of the estate are in the Bastion Notre Dame, a fortification built-in 1642 on the battlements surrounding the city of Beaune.
The Labet family has a long history in Beaune going back 500 years. With 25 acres of vines, the Domaine has vineyards from Meursault to Gevrey-Chambertin. The majority of the estate being in the Beaune appellation near Chorey-Lès-Beaune and Savigny-Lès Beaune. Here Francois Labet has been running the estate since 1984, which has been organically farmed since 1992. The entire winemaking process takes place at Château de la Tour with the same care and by the same team as Clos-Vougeot wines. The wines are made with whole cluster and aged using custom-made barrels.
Domaine Pierre Labet Meursault “Les Tillets” 2015 – Wonderful floral and fruit aromas. Notes of apple, pear and toasted almonds. Great minerality, bright acidity and structure. Lingering long elegant finish.
Domaine Pierre Labet Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes Rouge 2015 – Rich black fruit with notes of black cherries and currant. Medium body with nice structure and soft tannins.
Ramonet is one of the most iconic and esteemed producer in Burgundy, regarded as one of the top producers for Chardonnay. Many even say that his style and wines have such personality that often times it is referred to as Ramonet even before it is a Chassagne, Bâtard, or Montrachet. This is quite a bold statement and reflects the high regard for the wines and the producer, especially in an area where terroir is considered to more important than the winemaker.
The wines of Ramonet are highly coveted and are heralded as some of the finest white wines in the world. While known for the Chardonnay, the Pinot Noir is also exceptional from this estate. Located in Chassagne-Montrachet, they produce wines from 30 appellations over 40 acres. The opportunity to taste these wines with Jean-Claude Ramonet was entirely an honor. Pierre Ramonet, Jean-Claude’s grandfather created the family legacy through his hard work and dedication. His talent for winemaking resulted in them being one of the first Domaine in Burgundy to export their wines.
Domaine Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet 2016 – Expressive on the palate with notes of honeysuckle, lemon and apple. Bold and intense with wonderful minerality. Sure to develop into a legendary wine.
Domaine Ramonet Grand Cru Bienvenues Bâtard-Montrachet 2001 – With 17 years in bottle, the wine is developing beautifully. Notes of honeysuckle, apricots and brioche. Nice weight, texture and concentration. The wine is dense and complex with a long lingering finish .