The news from Burgundy over the last few weeks had been full of optimism, albeit guarded, with hopes for a return to normalcy after a solid flowering season, healthy fruit set and potential for good yields. That all changed this past Saturday when yet another early season hailstorm raged through both sides of the Côte d’Or creating immense damage from Vosne-Romanée down through Meursault with 70-80% losses in much of Volnay and Pommard and up to100% losses reported in some vineyards. This marks the third year running where hail has contributed to a significant drop in production and we’ve already seen what that’s done to already steep pricing. The good news is that damage done this early on can be limited to low quantities with enough effort in the vineyard and may even be beneficial to quality by keeping yields down. Small consolation but as we’ll see with the release of the 2013’s, the tiny quantity of wine that shows up won;t be exciting and will arrive with price increases. I’m anticipating offering very little in that vintage. 2012 is a different story. Excellent quality across the board but scarce. These are starting to arrive and I’ve been able to spot a few bargains which I’ll pass along as I see them.
There are plenty of reasons to pay closer attention to the Marsannay appellation but in my mind, the most important one is sheer value. There are other similarly priced appellations in the Côte d’Or, Savigny-les-Beaune for instance, but Côte de Nuits those wines are not. Marsannay sits atop the same hard Jurassic limestone as the rest of the Côte, including a significant amount of calcaire à entroques but the reason usually cited for Marsannay’s lack of even premier cru vineyards is the quality of the topsoil; alluvial wash from the river Ouche. The Clos du Roy vineyard, considered to be the finest in the appellation, sits on a steep hillside with very thin, reddish topsoil and a bit of sand over Comblanchien limestone and very little clay. These are the soil conditions which create the finest, most elegant Pinot Noirs and the reason that when vineyards are upgraded to premier cru status in Marsannay, Clos du Roy will almost definitely be the first.
Régis Bouvier is one of the top addresses in Marsannay these days along with the likes of Sylvain Pataille, Bruno Clair and Charles Audoin. The Clos du Roy is his flagship wine from 40 yr old vines and easily one of the top values in red Burgundy these days with savvy Burgundy buyers snapping these up as they hit the market. The winemaking here is traditional with a 20 day maceration in concrete vats and 30% new oak making for a very elegant expression of Pinot Noir. Pure Pinot aromas of fresh cherries, Asian spices and minerals. Ripe red fruit flavors with good but not overpowering acidity and subtle tannins on the finish. A red Burgundy of real class. A pleasure to drink now and a good candidate for 10+ years of bottle age. Just 48 bottles available.