Domaine Pierre Thibert Bourgogne ‘Les Bouffales’ Rouge 2015
A single vineyard Bourgogne is often a thing of wonder, a reflection of the precise terroir of the village it comes from. And this ‘Bouffales’ 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 2015 VINTAGE
We have resisted writing the Elden Selections Burgundy 2015 harvest report until now (April 2017), mainly to let the hub-bub and hyperbole settle down, but more importantly to be sure that the claims we are about to make are justified. We’ve seen too many vintages vaunted as ‘the year of the century’, when really the wines simply showed well young. Burgundy 2015 is a truly extraordinary vintage. The reds are rich, ripe, balanced and powerful. And from all over the region they express chiseled, focused terroir. Despite their youthful seductive charm, these are wines to keep, with serious ripe tannins already melted into explosive fruit.
Comparisons have been drawn with the 2005 vintage, though there is more concentration in the 2015s than in the 2005s. Like a caterpillar changing to a butterfly, great vintages often go to sleep in the bottle. And 2005 is just reawakening from several ‘dumb’ years. It’s been worth the wait. The wines have metamorphosed. 2015 might be similar. And if the comparison is apt, investors in 2015 should appreciate the youthful beauty of this great vintage now, but be prepared to be patient.
That said, 2005 was no ‘year of the century’. But 2015 is also being compared to 1990, which arguably was. And I hear that Michel Lafarge, one of Burgundy’s respected elders, says he remembers drinking 1929s, and he draws parallels. The whites are a bit more uneven, and early reports claimed that the vintage lacks acidity. Certainly, these are wines which are riper and more luxuriant than the exquisite purity of 2014 white Burgundy. But there is no risk that well-made wines will be overly ample or flabby. The best wines will have benefited from the barrel. Comparisons are drawn to 1985, one of the great vintages in white.
The heterogeneity in 2015 white Burgundy is due to the tricky growing season, which was mostly hot and dry, but which cooled significantly in September. Was it better to pick early or late? And did the wine deserve more or less barrel aging? These are questions which will be answered producer-by-producer, bottle-by-bottle over the coming years. But what is clear is that they 2015s are concentrated, fresh and structured.
We believe that to understand a vintage, it is important to look at the weather. Because Burgundy is a single-grape wine, the only thing that changes from year to year in a producer’s vineyard is the weather. So we look for patterns and try to analyze what makes a good year, a bad year…and in this case, an excellent year.
The winter of 2014-2015 was uneventful. It was never really cold, but when it was, it was dry. Mostly it was mild, so we had more rain than snow. We would need the replenished water reserves in the long hot summer ahead.
April was warm and dry, and bud-burst took place early. Mornings in May were sunny, afternoons cloudy, and overall cool and dry. The vines began to flower in the last week of the month, so we knew we were looking at a harvest in early to mid-September.
In early July, the mood started to mount towards hopeful. The weather had been steady, dry and cool. But slowly during the month, temperatures began to rise, and in the last week of July hit 30C. The flowering had been successful, so there was a good crop on the vines.
Day after day of warm dry conditions brought drought considerations into play. But no hail for once! August continued in this way. Hot and dry. A little welcome rain later in the month, but just enough to keep the stress levels down. But no storms or hail. And extremely healthy fruit on the vine. No rot, no mildew, no odium. The mood was optimistic, even euphoric.
Harvest ostensibly started the first Monday of September. And days later the weather broke, and a cool period set in for ideal harvest conditions, stabilizing acidity levels. It stayed this way until September 12th when the first serious rain in two months fell in the southern part of the region. Harvest was disrupted for a few days, but the 19th, it was pretty much all over.
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.