Domaine Pierre Thibert Bourgogne Rouge 2017
A single vineyard Bourgogne is often a thing of wonder, a reflection of the precise terroir of the village it comes from. And this Bourgogne shouts Nuit St. Georges. A superbly positioned parcel. Blackcurrant and pepper, supple in its attack, complete through the mid-palate with a finish on fruit. Great structure, a wine that drinks above its appellation.
DOMAINE PIERRE THIBERT
Pierre Thibert is a ‘garagiste’ winemaker in the truest sense of the word. While some who make wine in cramped quarters claim that their wines come from their garage, most have recourse (often because of their ‘day job’) to sophisticated wine making facilities where they do the hard work in comfort.
Not Pierre Thibert. You walk into his garage and it’s all there. The fermentation vats, the press, the storage tanks, the pumps, the hoses, the barrels. Even the bottling and labeling machinery. Everything takes place in an area big enough for 2 cars and, in a good year, 20 barrels.
Pierre chose wine making out of passion. He was not born into a wine family. At 15 he enrolled at the Lycee Viticole de Beaune, literally Beaune’s Wine High School, where all the winemakers’ kids go. When he got his BEPA diploma in 1984 he set about making wine, working with another winemaker at first.
Five years later, in 1989, he created his own domain in Corgoloin, one of the villages dominated by stone quarries in between the Cote de Beaune and the Cote de Nuits. Some people call it no-man’s-land. For some it is the center of the Cote de Nuits-Villages appellation. For Pierre, it was his foot in the door. In 1995 he purchased an old winemakers house there, which has been the winery since then.
Renting vines in the appellations of 'Bourgogne' and 'Passetoutgrain', while still working outside his own domain for another winemaker, the Domaine Pierre Thibert got off to a modest quiet start. Soon though Pierre was able to bring some Chorey-les Beaune and Aligote vines into his domain. Some purchased, some ‘en fermage' (a sort of 'share-cropping' current in Burgundy), the list of wines grew slowly at first. Finally came the vines in Nuits St. Georges and Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru.
At present, he oversees about 10 acres of vines. Pierre takes pride in his single-vineyard appellations. But everything he touches show the mark of great respect for Nature and attention to detail in the vineyard.
Bourgogne rouge "Les Bouffales"
Côte de Nuits village " La Montagne"
Nuits-St-Georges 1er cru "Rue de Chaux" cuvée vieille vigne
Vinification remains traditional with respect for the soil and plant. Maturation is either in tank or wood, depending on the appellation, with a small proportion of new wood on the more prestigious cuvees.
The Domaine Pierre Thibert has a loyal following in France. Much of the production is sold at the winery, But regular citations in the prestigious French guides and magazines (including the Guide Hachette as well as 'Bourgogne Aujourd'hui' and the 'Revue de Vins de France') has brought a clientele from further afield.
Elden Selections is proud to bring these wines to the US for the first time.
BURGUNDY 2017 VINTAGE
If 2016 tested the faith and resolve of wine makers in Burgundy, 2017 has to be seen as recompense, and as a miracle of sorts. While the rest of wine-growing Europe suffered crippling late-spring frosts in 2017, Burgundy for the most part (for once!) survived.
A mild winter and an accelerated spring left the Burgundy vineyards in a vulnerable position when, in the second half of April, temperatures across France barely rose above freezing for two weeks.
Three hard-frost nights pretty much did in Right Bank Chablis once again. But as the rest of Burgundy survived the first week, the growers found the will to fight back. And on the night of April 27th, a year and a day after the 2016 frost that took 80% of the 2016 harvest, a severe frost was forecast for the length of the Cote d’Or.
It’s now a part of local legend how, on the following morning, we awoke in a thick cloud of smoke. In the early hours, from north to south, the vignerons had mobilized to set alight dampened bales of hay, sending up a cloud cover to filter the first burning rays of dawn. And it worked.
The air was thick, and driving was tricky. A customer at the butcher shop in Meursault jokingly asked for a smoked chicken. And, of course, the authorities were up in arms over the pollution risks. But the crop was saved, and there has been ever since a spirit of cooperation and solidarity not often seen in farming communities.
After the freeze, May brought in an extended period of warm dry weather. No mildew or oidium to speak of, no thunderstorms or hail. Sunny periods, but no lack of rain. And the vines went in to flower at a very-normal first week of June. Pretty much ideal.
July had a couple of heat spikes, and a hailstorm hit the fancy vineyards in Morey St Denis on the 10th. But nothing worse. August was warm; the lead up to the harvest at the end of the month, hot and dry.
The first grapes were picked in the Cote de Beaune in the last few days of August. And most everyone was out picking in the first week of September.
There was (as there often is in Burgundy) serious disagreement in 2017 about when to pick. Do you pick early to preserve the acid-sugar balance and freshness? Or do you hang in there and wait for a little rain to kick-start a stalled photosynthesis, and thereby achieve the holy grail of phenolic maturity?
It’s hard to say who was right. There are very good wines coming from both camps. But there are iffy wines too. And that’s the key to understanding 2017.
Picked early, the best wines, both red and white, are fresh, fruit-driven and floral with long minerality. The iffy wines seem not have adjusted for the solid levels of tartaric acid which left them tart rather than bright, dry and tannic rather than juicy.
Picking late did not seem to have an effect on the balance between alcohol and acidity. But then, there was no ‘over maturity’ in 2017. The extra phenolic maturity seems to mean more density and riper tannins, with no sign of flabbiness.
The whites shine, particularly in hard-done Chablis (where there is better balance even than the marvelous 2014s). In the rest of Burgundy, the whites have the tension of 2014 but the open flattery of 2015.
The reds are juicy and crisp and open, and the regional appellations will be ready to drink soon. More serious appellations will be considered ‘typical’, in the best sense of the word: classic wines from a vintage that Burgundians will love. They are likely to be lost in the hub-bub that the 2018s will bring. But the yields were good in 2017, so you will be able to find them for a while. And you’ll do well to seek them out.
REGIONAL APPELLATION OF BURGUNDY
Generally considered the generic Burgundy wine, appellation Bourgogne, both red and white, can also be thought of as the model of what Burgundy wine should be. It is produced in almost all of the winemaking communes throughout Burgundy, and from the same grape varieties as the more specific appellations. This means that simple Bourgogne has the potential to express terroir and vintage. But because it can be produced by blending wines sourced from across the region, the quality and specificity of this appellation can be questionable. On the other hand, many Bourgogne are produced within a single commune and some even from a single vineyard. So as with all Burgundy wine, you need to know its pedigree and who made it.
The appellation Bourgogne is restricted to wines grown within the defined limits of the appellation:
Yonne 54 communes
Côte d’Or 91 communes
Saône et Loire 154 communes
Pinot Noir is a native Burgundian grape and, with the exception of a bit of César still to be found in the Yonne, is the principle variety in Bourgogne Rouge. Red wines in Burgundy are often described as deeply colored, but this is not necessarily the case. Though the skins of pinot noir are black, the juice is colorless. And so whatever color the wine itself has comes from contact with the skins during the pre-fermentation maceration. So naturally, each vintage will produce a different color wine. In general though, ruby and crimson are the tones most associated with Burgundy. Fruit notes are often strawberry, black fruits and cherry. And then with age we start to notice wilder aromas and flavors, undergrowth, mushrooms, animal.
In many cases the regional appellation Bourgogne Pinot Noir is grown near and sometimes adjacent to more prestigious crus. But the mystery of Burgundy is that wines separated by dozens of meters can be so different one from the other. Appellation Bourgogne vineyards tend to be located along the foot of the vineyard slopes on limestone soils mixed with some clays and marls. The soils are usually heavy but can be stony, rocky even, and quick-draining.
Red – Pinot Noir
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
Bourgogne Rouge tends not to be elaborately made. So its simplicity is valuable in food pairing. Delicate and refined, it can go with delicate dishes that are naturally aromatic, salads and simmered meat stews. But it also makes them ideal for those who prefer red wine to white when pairing with fish dishes. And of course, the classic red wine cheese combinations work perfectly.