Arriving at the Justerini & Brooks tasting, I saw that Watson had somehow got there before me again. He bounded up like an excited puppy. “Have you spotted Milly Lamartine?” he asked, eyes swivelling, drooling slightly. “Erm, a socialite friend of Meghan Markle?” I speculated.
It turns out he was talking about a wine by Les Héritiers du Comte LAFON, their Mâcon-Milly-Larmartine, Clos du Four, 2016. All macadamia nut, polished woods and pear fruit, it had terrific purity, piercing acidity and great freshness – all for just £21.10 per bottle including taxes. It had clearly been touched by the hand of the great Dominique LAFON – now that’s what I call royalty.
Not all winemakers are old hands. Baptiste and Clémence Dubrulle took over their old family domaine in Rully in 2010; the first vintage that they completed unaided was 2015. Some would say you have to be a bit mad to give up the day job and launch yourself into making wine. Well it is called Domaine de la Folie I suppose.
Their Rully Rouge, Cuvée Marey, 2016 is particularly delightful; gently perfumed, velvet-textured, fresh, pure and highly drinkable. Just one of a number of impressive Rullys this year – still a source of extraordinary value, and well worth exploring. You’d be crazy not to.
The Armit tasting was busy. Worried that the sample bottles might begin to run dry, I headed straight for the organic wines of Domaine Aurélien VERDET. And who did I bump into if it wasn’t Watson, pouring the last few drops of the Vosne-Romanée, Vieilles Vignes, 2016 into his glass. We eyed each other silently before Watson piped up. “You can have the last taste, Holmes, on one condition,” he said with a sly smile. “Only if you can correctly spell ‘Vieilles Vignes’.” The rascal – he knew as well as I that no Englishman could ever achieve this feat.
It’s a term worth recognising though. Aurélien explained that old vines (vieilles vignes) push their roots deep down into the soil, which results in greater minerality and a more precise reflection of the terroir. Watson nodded in agreement as he drained the last drop from his glass. The next time he forgets his front door key, I’ll have him spelling ‘Grands Echezeaux’ before I let him in. He needs to remember who’s the boss around here.
For many, Bourgogne first of all evokes a list of place names; Gevrey-Chambertin, Meursault, Mercurey, Chablis. The names of winemakers can be equally important when sniffing out quality, but tracking them down isn’t as easy as looking at a map – it takes time to learn who’s who.
Benjamin Leroux is one of those names worth knowing. He made a name for himself at the esteemed Domaine Comte Armand in Pommard, and has since built up his own business; partly owned vineyards, partly bought-in fruit. It’s not always obvious which of his wines is domaine and which is négoce, but that doesn’t matter; if it’s got his name on, it’s worth a look. His Gevrey-Chambertin is particularly fine this year; perfumed to begin, but with depths to explore, it has juicy black cherry fruits, assertive but not brusque on the palate, with a long finish. And relatively affordable at £40.99 per bottle including taxes. Sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who.
To discover day 1, Click HERE
To discover day 2, Click HERE
To discover day 4, Click HERE
To discover day 5, click HERE