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This historic estate was established in 1834. Claude de Nicolay took over from her mother as winemaker in 1988 and crafts traditionally styled wines from one of the Côte d'Or's great terroirs, the hill of Corton and its surrounding villages. Corton is just north of Beaune and it's easy to spot, as it's a big hill with a forest on top. It's a limestone outcropping that is set apart from the main "cote" of the Cote de Beaune or Côte de Nuits. It is a bit of an anomaly in the Côte d'Or as the Grand Cru are named after the hill, rather than attached to a specific village. Three villages have vineyards that are a part of Corton: Aloxe, Ladoix, and Pernand-Vergelesses. Corton is the only place with red Grand Cru in the Côte de Beaune.
At Chandon de Briailles, the vineyard management has been fully biodynamic since 2005 and organic since 1998. Claude's brother, Francois de Nicolay joined the domaine in 2001.
In the cellar, no enological products are used (except for sulfur in very small quantities), no tartaric acid, no exogenous yeasts, no tannin powder, no enzymes, etc. The Chandon de Briailles wines are quite unique in the fact that there is a negligible amount of new oak for aging and most wines are made with a whole-cluster fermentation. The domaine has cut back on its use of whole cluster fermentation since 2011 and adapts vintage to vintage. The Savigny-les-Beaune village is typically de-stemmed and the premier cru and grand cru will have up to 100% whole cluster in a sunny year (with good phenolic maturity). Fermentations start naturally a few days after harvest in open top cement tanks. Aging is carried out in used barrels (up to eight years-old) and the wine are bottled without fining or filtration. Claude likes to describe her wines as having 'no make-up', referring to the lack of new oak.
John Gilman (View From the Cellar) wrote: “This domaine is quickly becoming one of the very finest to be found anywhere in the Côte D’Or...these are great, classically styled, terroir-driven red and white Burgundies that age brilliantly, and are among the treasures to be found in the Côte de Beaune for those adventurous enough to try a few bottles.”
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You can visit her very nice and informative website here.
As at many family domaines with deep roots in Chateauneuf du Pape, vigneron Alexandre Favier was by his own account “raised in the vineyards”: Alexandre’s grandfather, Noël Sabon, is from one of the best known winemaking families in the region. Alexandre himself began his viticultural studies in Orange at the age of fifteen and passed the exams four years later in 2001. A year later (at age twenty!) he took over winemaking duties at the domaine when his father experienced health problems. This is a traditional house with 40 hectares of red grapes and 5 hectares of white. They have parcels in all of the main soil types of Chateauneuf and they vinify the top parcels separately. Only native yeasts are employed in the cellar, and the reds are mostly de-stemmed.
The Charlet wines are made by the Barbet family, whose cru Beaujolais we also import. The Charlets and Barbets are related through marriage, and the Charlets were the original owners of Domaine des Billards in Saint Amour.
The Barbets purchase fruit from families they have known for generations. The land is farmed sustainably and the wines are made at the winery in Beaujolais. The grapes for the Pouilly-Fuisse “Les Vieux Murs” come from two sites that cover 9ha total. The vines are on average 50 years-old for the Pouilly-Fuisse. The Macon Villages “La Crochette” comes from vines in Vire-Clesse and west of the village of Macon.
Château Coustaut is an ancient estate run by the Ardurats family, direct descendants of a line of wine growers from before the reign of the French King Henri IV (late 16th century). The property is located in the villages of La Brede and Saint-Morillon, both in the heart of Graves, bordering the Pessac-Léognan appellation. The soil, mainly deep gravel, is ideally situated on well-exposed slopes; the vines for the white wines are 30-40 years old on average. Coustaut's combination of great, deep, gravelly terroir, old vines, generations of know-how, ecological treatments and reasonable yields with a careful vinification process and very judicious blending makes this white Graves a constant hit. Delicate and racy at the same time, lively while young, it evolves over the years to a brilliant bouquet without losing any of its complexity. The estate is a part of TERRA VITIS, an organisation that certifies domaines for sustainable agriculture.
Built in the 18th century, the Château de Fleurie dominates a beautiful vineyard situated in the heart of the village itself, with views of Mont Blanc in the east. The current owners- the Boisen and the Barbet families- are direct descendants of the original owner. The property covers 4.5 hectares stretching over the best sites in Fleurie- les Grands Fers, la Madone and le Point du Jour- on the middle slopes facing southeast. The soil is of a very pure granite, ideal for a good drainage, with a pink color called “le gore”. Farming is very traditional and free of pesticides and herbicides. The winemaking process is traditional "Burgundian" method with extended fermentation of 12-15 days, in vats covered by a weighted grill, to extract color and flavor. Under the winery a vaulted cellar holds an impressive store of old, traditional large oak barrels which are still in use. Fleurie is locally known as the "Queen of the Beaujolais" for its elegant style of Gamay.
Situated in Malpère, the most westerly region of the Languedoc, Château Guilhem was built in 1791; then the property of the Marquis de Auberjon, it was bought by the Guilhem family in 1878. Bertrand is the fifth generation of his family to run the estate.
The 35 hectares of vineyards are planted mainly to Bordeaux varieties— Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc— with some Chardonnay. Despite the vineyards' proximity to the Mediterranean, the climate here actually sees quite a bit of influence from the Atlantic; in addition, the soil here is atypical of the rest of the region, with a high proportion of calcareous sandstones. These stones help the soils to retain moisture over the winter so that the vines can flourish in the summer. The grapes are grown organically, with some biodynamic parcels as well, out of respect for both the vines and for the people who work them.
The cellar was built in the late 19th century; old casks and concrete tanks stand next to modern stainless steel vats. Bertrand pulls both from older traditions and modern ideas in order to produce fresh, aromatic wines.
Château Rocher Corbin consists of 10.5 hectares in one block, perfectly situated on the western slope of Mount Calon, the highest point in the area. This vineyard site provides maximum exposure to the sun and perfect natural irrigation. The vines average 45 years old, with 15% of the vines at more than 80 years old; the parcel includes a unique patch of 150-year-old Merlot!
Philippe Durand was among the very first in the area to apply sustainable agriculture, including ground covers, de-budding, short pruning and leaf removal. The grapes are hand-harvested in 10-kilo baskets to avoid damage, then sorted manually before de-stemming to eliminate any small withered berries. Finally, an additional manual sorting of each berry is done after de-stemming to ensure that no stems remain. A touch of pre-cold maceration, micro-aeration, and a part of the malolactic fermentation happens in new oak barrels; total aging is 12-14 months in French oak.
Cote de Brouilly has a special terroir: “blue” granite is laced with volcanic porphyry, or crystallized mineral deposits. This mixture, combined with the elevation (AOC Côte de Brouilly is confined to the upper vineyards; AOC Brouilly is lower, and far larger), largely accounts for Côte de Brouilly’s highly scented and finely—fine is the adjective that comes to mind—concentrated wines.
Winemaking at Chavannes is traditional and simple, with little extraction in the modern sense (Pavillon’s wine could well be labeled the antithesis of modern extracted power). The alcoholic fermentation is done in cement vats, after which the wine goes into foudre for aging.
The link to Thivin: Pavillon de Chavannes was acquired by the Jambon-Chanrion family in 1861. Its history became intertwined with that of Château Thivin when Yvonne Chanrion married Claude Geoffray shortly after the First World War; Claude had inherited Thivin, then a small estate. Yvonne took with her one-third of her family’s highly regarded vineyards as an inheritance, and later she acquired her sister’s third as well. Over the years, Yvonne and Claude added to Thivin’s holdings with other land purchases, but the couple never bore children. Yvonne outlived her husband, and upon her death in 1987 the sisters’ original two-thirds inheritance reverted to Paul Jambon of the Jambon-Chanrion family, along with fifty percent of the land Yvonne and Claude had purchased over the course of their marriage. The remainder of the Thivin holdings went to Claude’s great nephew, also named Claude. Nephew Claude further inherited vineyards from his immediate family, enabling him to maintain Thivin’s volume.
The Art Deco wine label, created in the 1930s, was a product of that marriage. After Yvonne’s death and the restoration of the Chavanne vineyards, this label became joint property, and now it is used by both domaines under their respective names.
The names Sauzet, Carillon and Leflaive have become synonymous with Puligny, but one local clan has remained under the radar. The Chavy family has had roots in Puligny for almost 200 years. In 1976, after years of selling grapes to négociants, they began to bottle wine under their own label, and Domaine Gerard Chavy et Fils soon established itself as one of the finest domaines in the village; however, in 2003, after a family dispute, the estate was dissolved. The brothers Jean-Louis and Alain Chavy, who had jointly run the domaine, went their separate ways, each determined to build his own legacy.
Alain Chavy is the owner of Chavy-Martin and has some pretty incredible holdings. In addition to the prestigious plots Les Folatières, Le Champs Gain, and Les Pucelles, the domaine owns a precious parcel in Le Clavoillon. Les Pucelles and Les Clavoillons sit adjoined on the slope, but Chavy-Martin is one of only two cellars in Burgundy where you can taste them side by side. Domaine Leflaive owns the vast majority of the 5.59 hectare Le Clavoillon, but the Chavy brothers each claim a small portion, preventing it from being a monopole. Alain farms just under half a hectare of 50 year old vines in Les Clavoillons, and from it he produces a wine of great depth and minerality (and limited availability.)
Maranges is located at the southern-most part of the Côte d’Or, producing red wines that Clive Coates describes as “honest, sturdy and rustic in the best sense… (and) with good acidity”. The Chevrot family has been making wine in Maranges since 1830, and Domaine Chevrot was founded in 1936 by the grandparents of the current winemaking brothers, Pablo and Vincent. Their parents started bottling wines under the Domaine Chevrot label in the seventies, and the young Pablo and Vincent have maintained the traditions of their parents with only one exception: they are converting the vineyards to certified organic viticulture. They are using organic compost in the vineyards and a minimum of copper and sulfur treatments as needed to treat oidium and mildew. They are practicing biodynamics as well but are not certified.
The entry-level cuvées are destemmed and some whole clusters are kept on the 1er cru cuvées. Indigenous yeasts are used for fermentation. The average age of the vines is 30 years, but the oldest plots were planted by the current winemakers’ grandfather and are up to 75 years old. After fermentation, the wines are put into barrels for aging. The amount of new oak used depends on the cuvée; Pablo explains that new oak is necessary in Maranges because the region produces very powerful wines like Pommard or Nuits-Saint-Georges. As the goal is to produce wines that reflect their terroir and the vintage, the Chevrot brothers never add enzymes, acidify or chaptalize.