News From Burgundy
Dominique Lafon and Olivier Merlin have jointly bought the 2.5 hectare Château de Quarts in Chaintré (appellation Pouilly-Fuissé) from the Walet family. Merlin had been buying most of the crop for his mercharnts business for some years. The wine, from the 2012 vintage, will now be sold under the Château de Quarts label. Merlin will henceforth be responsible for the vineyard as well as the wine. Thr château itself is vast. Merlin and Lafon are now seeking a tenant who will transform it into an hotel.
Hospices de Beaune
It was only to be expected that, in view of what is generally agreed to be a very fine, if short, vintage, that prices should rise. And so they did. The grand total, at 5.9 million euros, exceeded all previous records, beating both 2009, a fine vintage, and 2000, a rather poor one, but both rather larger in volume; so 2012 has significantly depassed all previous vintages in terms of value by cask. The volume sold was 518 barrels, a fall on 2011 (765) of 32 percent, and roughly parallel to the sort of deficit we are being told at the wine-makers' doors. Red wines have risen in price faster than whites, and the more prestigious grands crus by more than humble village Côte de Beaunes, as you might expect with the growing interest in Burgundy from the far east. One can only anticipate, with dismay, this pattern being reflected in price levels elsewhere, and for the 2011s, which are being discussed as I write, as well as the 2012s in a year's time.
One nouveauté: the third of the Hospices' cuvées from the Côte de Nuits: Echézeaux, Jean-Luc Bissey. Six casks of the 2012 vintage were sold. The surface area measures 43 ares. It lies in the Echézeaux du Dessus, and was donated to the Hospices by one of three Bissey brothers when the family holding in the climat was divided on the father's retirement.
The 7 hectare Château Corton-André/Maison Reine Pedauque, which belongs to the Groupe Ballande, owners inter alia of Château Prieuré-Lichine in Margaux, has acquired the 4 hectare domaine of Michel Pont of the Château de Savigny. There are vines in Meursault, Volnay, Pommard, Monthelie, Auxey-Duresses and Savigny-Lès-Beaune. The vines have been leased to Corton-André since 2009. Corton-André lost its lease to what are now the vines of the Château d'Audhuy in 2003.
Neither Corton-André nor the former Domaine du Château de Savigny have made wine to conjure the imagination in the past. Let us trust that this will now change for the better.
The Clos des Grandes Vignes is unique in Burgundy in being the only premier cru on the 'wrong' i.e. east side of the main Beaune-Dijon road, the N74. It has been a monopoly for as long as history relates. The vineyard measures 2.21 ha and lies opposite the Clos Saint-Marc in Prémeaux. At the side of it is a further 1.62 ha of village Nuits-Saint-Georges vineyard, called simply Les Grandes Vignes. Formerly the property of the Domaine Thomas-Moillard, then acquired by Etienne de Montille and promptly sold off to the Château de Puligny-Montrachet, which de Montille now owns, it has now been sold on again. The buyer is the Domaine du Vicomte Liger-Belair.
This brings the Liger-Belair domaine up to 10.5 hectares. The vineyard of Clos des Grandes Vignes, part of which needs replanting and part of which (50 ares) is now Chardonnay, is farmed bio-dynamically.
A wealthy Chinese business man, M. Louis Ng, has acquired the 1.7 hectare domaine of the Château de Gevrey-Chambertin, and has entrusted the vines to Domaine Armand Rousseau. The 10 ares of Charmes-Chambertin and the 30 ares of Lavaux-Saint-Jacques will be added to the existing Rousseau cuvées. A 'Clos du Château' will be made from the remaining 1.3 hectares of village wine.
The Domaine de la Vougeraie has been further enlarged; by 27 ares of Corton-Charlemagne, three hectares of Nuits-Saint-Georges, Clos de Thorey (monopole) – which the estate had recently been farming – and just over a hectare of village Savigny-Lès-Beaune blanc. This brings the surface of the property to 37 hectares.
It has now been officially confirmed that the Domaine de Montille has acquired the Domaine de Puligny-Montrachet, Etienne de Montille having run it for the last ten years. Rumours had been circulating for a month or so. Part of the delay, it has now become clear, is that the estate's holdings in Le Montrachet (one ouvrée) and Bâtard-Montrachet (two ouvrées) have been separately sold to Francois Pinault, proprietor of Château Latour and what used to be Vosne-Romanée's Domaine Engel, now the Domaine Eugenie.
The Domaine Maume has been acquired by a consortium of Canadian businessmen who have appointed Pascal Marchand, late of the Domaine de Vougeraie, as wine-maker. The 4.33 ha domaine owns land in the grands crus of Mazis and Charmes as well as various premiers crus in Gevrey-Chambertin, where it is based.
The Beaune negociant Seguin-Manuel has taken over the two hectare domaine of Jean Michelot, based in Pommard.
As from January 1st. 2012 the Domaine Bruno Clair has taken back part (22 ares) of the Bonnes Mares which belonged to his late father and was farmed by the Domaine Fougreay de Beauclair. The remainder (92 ares) will revert to him on 1st. January 2016.. This gives the Clair estate 63 ares now. They will have 1.55 ha as from 2016.
La Compagnie des Vins d'Autrefois, run by Jean-Pierre Nié, has bought the business of Vincent Girardin. Certain of Girardin's own vines have been sold, but the leases, notably a large presence in Puligny-Montrachet, thanks to Henri Clerc, have been retained. The company will continue an existence independent of La Compagnie des Vins d'Autrefois. Girardin, aged 51, has had back problems since a quad accident a couple of years ago. He will continue as consultant.