Bret Brothers - Domaine La Soufrandiere

Domaine la Soufrandière is the estate owned and run by the Bret Brothers and covers just over four and a half hectares located within sight of the striking property which sits on the hill overlooking Vinzelles; on a fine day you can see across the Saone Valley to the snow-covered peak of Mont Blanc. Jean-philippe and JeanGuillaume - or Jean-Gui and Jean-Phi, as they like to be known - are a wonderful mix of friendly openness and intense concentration. In 2001 they set up Bret Brothers as a high-end negociant business to buy in wine from trusted sources and give them a larger range to work with. The oak regime here is very subtle, with practically no new oak at all in the cellar; they pick up second-hand barrels from top sources in the Côte de Beaune. All of the domaine wines are certified organic and biodynamic, as is the bought-in Macon Cruzille, the grapes coming from a friend who is a star of the appellation. The Macon Vinzelles Clos du Grand Père comes from a single plot of fifty year-old vines (on average) in the village itself which was owned by their maternal grandfather. The ‘straight’ Pouilly Vinzelles comes from ‘de-classified’ younger vines in the Les Quarts vineyard, which sits on the south-east facing clay-limestone slope next to the house. The junior wine shows more vibrant fruit expression while the senior cuvee, from 40 to 70 year-old vines, is more mineral and complex.

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Clos des Rocs

Ambitious Oliver Giroux took the plunge in the mid-naughties and bought this domaine in Loché, just three miles from the family domaine in Fuissé. With his father still young and an elder brother ahead of him, he saw the logic in starting up on his own. Ever self- critical, Olivier is as obsessed with his work in the vineyards as he is by his work in the cuverie. He has some good plots and some old vines and his technique in the cellars is to be as hands off as possible. The results are great.

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One of our earliest suppliers, we (or rather Roy Richards) began working with Domaine Coche-Bizouard with the 1978 vintage. Burgundy has seen many changes since then but it is testament to the quality and consistency of the wines at this domaine that we are still buying today almost forty years on. Alain is now theoretically retired but enjoys giving tastings and takes particular pleasure in making visitors late for their next appointment. His son Fabien now makes the wines, as well as running his own négociant business, but the style remains steadfastly classic, with perfect balance between the natural weight and opulence of Meursault, and a clearly defined mineral freshness. The Chevalières is always the more stony, mineral and elegant of the lieu-dit Meursaults, whilst the Limozin betrays more of the plush, buttery, yellow fruit one expects from the appellation. Both are excellent this year, whilst remaining true to their terroir.

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Domaine des Lambrays

So far, under the new ownership, little has changed. Longstanding regisseur, Thierry Brouin, is still in charge and is still making lovely wines.

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Domaine Francois Bertheau

François took over from his father about ten years ago and runs this domaine with a quiet confidence. He likes to keep things simple. Bring in good fruit and then let it do the talking in the cuverie. The wines are not manipulated in the slightest, being allowed to evolve at their own pace in barrel, of which between 15 and 20% are new depending upon the volumes of juice and the ensuing mathematics of the situation. In style the wines are quite pale in colour and very pretty with lush aromatic qualities and sweet, fragrant fruit personality. François is in the right village as his wines are very much the essence of Chambolle.

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Domaine Henri & Philippe Jouan

The estate is tiny, only 3 hectares split over 10 parcels for the 5 crus produced. But we are further limited in the quantities we can buy from this tiny 3 hectare estate, as they have a long-standing relationship with Maison Joseph Drouhin, to whom they still sell a few barrels each year. If Philippe can be persuaded to sell everything in bottle, this will mean, in future years that we have a little more to sell.
Both father and now son rely on empirical experience in wine making and élevage and claim that
nothing has changed in these fifty years. The grapes are all de-stemmed, they like a quick malolactic
fermentation (the cellar is heated to have the malos through by Christmas) and they rack off the lees
straight after. Philippe sums up the wines modestly saying they make wine “pour nos clients qui
aiment le fruit”. There seems to be a remarkably consistent style here in the vintages we have
experience of. The 2012s are light in colour, but with lots of ripeness, excellent, rich mouth-feel and
exuberant red-berry characters. Village wines are in 30 % new oak, Clos Sorbé 40% and Clos St Denis
70%. The wines are all bottled, corked and labelled by hand, unfined and unfiltered.

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Domaine Hudelot-Noellat

The upward trajectory of this domaine from what was already a high starting point is so exciting. Under the carefully handling of Charles Van Canneyt, the wines are definitive Côte de Nuits for any true Burgundy lover. They are not deep in colour, they are not over-oaked or over-extracted in any way, they are complex, restrained, respectful of terroir and about subtlety and length rather than mouthfilling length.

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Domaine Leflaive

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Dujac Fils & Pere

Jacques Seysses’ sons, Jeremy and Alec, who run this great domaine along with Jeremy’s wife, oenologist Diana (also of Snowden Vineyards’ fame) now have children of their own. The contracts they have in place for these wines allow them to control the vineyards and harvest the grapes so they can keep yields and quality up to their exacting standards. They don’t possess the dense structure of the domaine versions but do have the tell-tale Dujac aromatic profile. And at these kind of prices they offer great value.

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Pierre’s journey towards the top echelons of Gevrey-Chambertin is complete. Since he took over from his father is 2005 he has steadily turned the domaine into a must have source of fine Burgundy. His father, Gilles, had built up a terrific portfolio of vineyards with a large smattering of old vines but Pierre still had his work cut out to get the domaine to where he wanted it to be. His subsequent efforts in both the vineyards and the cellars, achieved with the quiet determination and intensity that so typifies him, have yielded great results and maximised the overt potential of the domaine.
The wines now sell out en primeur and have a loyal, passionate global following. Journalists such as Tim Atkin can’t praise him highly enough and when tasting the wines it’s easy to see what seduces those who taste. There is a purity and finesse to the wines and a quiet, undertstated power that deceives and delights in equal measure. This vintage
is yet another success story and thankfully there is a little more wine than last year, though not a lot.

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Winelist last updated: 12/5/2020 1:11:39 PM

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