Our morning started at Domaine Simon Bize with Chisa Bize. This domaine has always had one of my favorite labels in Burgundy and it would’ve been one of the last I’d ever hoped for a change. Chisa pulled out some bottles to taste and lo and behold a new label! Somehow she managed to improve what was already a timeless classic by maintaining the same basic design but with sleek new paper and a more minimalistic presentation—I love it!
Another change at the domaine is that all the 2016 red wines are 100% whole bunch fermentations. From what we tasted of her 2016s, I think this was a great move!
After lunch we went to one of my favorites, David Croix. He lost about 80% of his crop in 2016 but what made it to bottle is inspiring, seriously focused and delicious. After tasting his 16s, we did a thorough preview of his superb and extremely pleasurable 2017s, with comparisons on all sorts of different barrel coopers—Atelier Centre France, one of the most talked about coopers for their soft touch with new wood, was the runaway favorite.
Always on the move, David is 100% focused on his own project (Domaine des Croix) now after parting from Camille Giroud followed by an 11-month experience with Jean-Marc Roulot. With more time on his hands he has adjusted a few things in the cellar and spends more time than ever in the vineyards—a reallocation of his time he welcomes. His use of lower SO2 doses from the beginning of vinification and no cold soak prior to fermentation has rendered wines more red-fruited, lifted and fine. I loved what he did in the past and I love even more what he’s doing now—no surprise, eh? It’s always a pleasure to visit with someone like David who is so open and humble about their process and what they have learned along the way. Strangely, David seems to remain one of the best kept secrets in the Côte d’Or.
Our final visit was with Olivier Lamy, in Saint-Aubin. His otherworldly range of wines continues to find new heights from vintage to vintage. His 2016s were obnoxiously good out of barrel—a scary good sign for things to come with the almost universal consensus that 2017 may be of the greatest white wine vintages of our time.
There is always some interesting experiment Olivier shares with us when we visit. Last time it was Diam vs. natural corks—a tasting that didn’t help clarify my opinion on the question of which is the better closure. Many producers we work with ask for my opinion and I can’t say because I think this is such a personal decision that they have to make themselves. However, what did seem clear in that tasting is that I am sure drinking the wines side by side over a good portion of the day would be far more conclusive than the snapshot of a short tasting. That said, when I think of Diam corks I can’t help but remember the saying about Bose speakers: “no highs, no lows, it must be Bose.”
Yesterday’s class with Olivier was an experiment between different kinds of SO2 on both red and white. How can a 0.1% difference in the purity of SO2 from 99.9% pure to 100% pure make such a big difference in a wine? By the samples we tasted, the differences were more than subtle and opened another rabbit hole to get lost in.
Olivier’s relentless pursuit to better understand his relationship with wine, the vine and nature is admirable and inspiring. I’ve not met anyone who is more committed as a student, teacher and practitioner of his craft than Olivier. He makes me want to up my game every time I visit with him.
Chablis is next.