Opening the first seminar of this year’s New York Wine Experience, senior editor Bruce Sanderson turned to a real-estate aphorism: “Location, location, location.” The refrain applies particularly well to Burgundian winemaking: “The entire hierarchy of quality in the region is based on the location of vineyards,” he said.
A taste of four grand cru Burgundies awaited the room—two Chardonnays and two Pinot Noirs. Sanderson noted that only 1% of all Burgundy wine is classified as grand cru, the region’s highest quality designation. “In addition to the vineyard and its attributes, the human input is important,” he noted, introducing presenters Albéric Bichot of Albert Bichot, Grégory Viennois of Domaine Laroche and Dimitri Bazas of Champy.
Albéric Bichot, sixth-generation owner of Albert Bichot, presented the Chablis Moutonne Domaine Long-Depaquit 2017 (93 points, $185). The 6-acre Moutonne vineyard, with Chablis’ signature Kimmeridgian soils studded with seaweed and oyster shell, is “a very singular plot,” he said—amphitheater-shaped, “like a solar receptor.” Though 2017 was challenging here, the Chardonnay emerged with fine balance and classic salty, flinty qualities. He noted flavors of cypress, jasmine and fresh, dry fruit. “This is the micro-terroir of La Moutonne,” Bichot noted. “Purity, tension, elegance.”
Next, Grégory Viennois, technical director of Domaine Laroche, presented the estate’s Chablis Les Blanchots 2014 (93, $110). The domaine maintains a 9th-century cellar and employs biodynamic practices.
The name Les Blanchots comes from the word for “white” and refers to the vineyard’s marl soil, a blend of clay and limestone. Eastern exposure limits sunshine to morning hours, begetting wines of elegance and concentration. Viennois called 2014 one of the decade’s best vintages, and he noted the wine’s purity, with flavors of white flowers and salt. Sanderson commented that it was more delicate and floral than the Moutonne.
The hill of Corton—the only grand cru for red wine in the Côte de Beaune—is the site of Champy’s Corton Rognet 2016 (94, $190).
“It is a magic hill,” Dimitri Bazas, Champy’s winemaker, said of Corton. Bazas and his team are currently converting the estate’s vineyards to certified organic farming.
Champy has three-quarters of an acre in the Rognet climat. The Pinot Noir matured in barrel for one year and yielded just 150 cases. In the glass, he observed flavors of cherry, blueberry, leather and wood.
Last was a visit to the Côte de Nuits via Albert Bichot’s Charmes-Chambertin 2015 (94, $280). Albéric Bichot explained that Charmes-Chambertin is a 30-acre grand cru within Gevrey-Chambertin, offering well-draining calcareous soil with silt and gravel on gentle slopes. 2015 was an excellent vintage, and Bichot employed a long, 26-day maceration in wood vats to extract tannins, color and aroma. He noted that the wine has freshness, with flavors of red fruit, black fruit and violet, high density and good length. He neatly summed up the effect: “You drink a glass,” he said, and “you want another glass.”