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Question: How can we offer a Premier Cru Red Burgundy from a small but excellent estate with 10 years of age for just $79? The answer: We are pretty shocked ourselves! My best guess is that it has something to do with Pommard, which isn’t high on the pecking order of top red Burgundy villages. Why? Mostly because the best producers still make wine like their ancestors, which means wines that need to sleep for a good chunk of time in the cellar before they blossom. Drink them young and you’ll likely get walloped by hard tannins and wonder where the fruit went.
This isn’t always “user-friendly” Burgundy, especially for those who don’t have big cellars under their homes. But, when Pommard does awake from its angry, teenage years it opens up into a profound experience of wine that balances power with grace, richness with elegance. And that’s what we’ve got here: delicious, decade-old red Burgundy from a sleeper vintage, blossoming before our eyes. There’s no time like the present to re-discover the soulful, old-school charm of perfectly aged Pommard!
Chantal Lescure and her husband Xavier Marchard purchased a few prized parcels of vines in the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits in 1975 and the Domaine Chantal Lescure was born. Given the current price of land in these hallowed sites, this would be nearly impossible today, but back then Burgundy was still in a bit of a funk. The estate now farms 18 hectares and has a small négociant business as well, but for some reason they never gained much traction here in the U.S., probably because they never found the right national importer to properly promote them. Whatever the explanation, it’s another reason why we’re able to secure such a remarkable price on beautiful bottles of aged Burgundy.
In 1996, Chantal’s sons took the helm and almost immediately hired François Chaveriat to oversee the farming and winemaking. François’ first decision was to stop using pesticides or herbicides and to begin converting the entire estate to fully organic production. They were officially certified in 2009. His approach in the cellar is gentle and hands off, aiming for that perfect balance of elegance and old-school rusticity. A slow fermentation with native yeasts occurs in tanks after which the wine is racked into a combination of 228 and 500 liter barrels, about a third of which are new. After 18 months of aging everything is bottled without fining or filtration and with minimal amounts of added SO2.
François’ subtle and unadorned style of winemaking allows each of the estate’s special plots to show off the transparency of their terroir. For the “Les Bertins,” they use only the old vines of their 1 hectare parcel, blending the younger vines into a separate cuvée. These vines, on a thin layer of clay over shattered limestone, produce an aromatic and slightly more ephemeral style of Pommard, one that doesn’t need decades to come around. Combine that with a softer vintage like 2013 and you have a wine that is just entering its peak drinking window. Decant for about 30 minutes and the textbook aromatics of spiced cherries and wild blackberries, lavender, rose, and game quickly emerge. The palate is richly textured with sweet tannins, red and black fruits, saline minerals, and subtle hints of licorice and spice. Serve cool at 55 to 60 degrees in a Burgundy bowl next to your favorite version of steak frites and transport yourself to a perfectly quaint Parisian bistro any day of the week.
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