Domaine de la Sorbière, Bourgogne Blanc "Terre de Roche"
Domaine de la Sorbière, Bourgogne Blanc "Terre de Roche"

Domaine de la Sorbière, Bourgogne Blanc "Terre de Roche"

Brouilly, France 2022 (750mL)
Regular price$31.00

Domaine de la Sorbière, Bourgogne Blanc "Terre de Roche"

If you think that Burgundy is out of surprises, think again! We found a beautiful Chardonnay gem hiding in plain sight near the border between the Mâcon and Beaujolais. Given how wonderfully fresh, mineral laden, and bursting with classic White Burgundy aromatics this was, we thought at first we were tasting wine from the doorstep of Puligny-Montrachet—but, oh, were we wrong! Turns out that there are some very good, very off-the-radar parcels of Chardonnay growing among the Crus of Beaujolais, and rising star Jacques Juilliard happens to have one of them. Throw in organic farming, natural but meticulously clean winemaking, and a dash of je nes c’est quoi and presto—a surprisingly great wine has just hit your glass. Sorbière’s Bourgogne Blanc would easily “blind” as a village-level Puligny-Montrachet or Chablis from a ripe vintage, and yes, “hidden gem” of a wine often translates to stupendous value.

Jacques Juilliard (not to be confused with the famous French historian) did not set out to be a winemaker or farmer, but nonetheless he became just that when he and his wife Anne-Marie purchased a small Beaujolais estate, formerly known as Domaine Pivot, from the owner Bernard Pivot (this is the same person as the famous journalist and TV personality). From the very beginning, the plan was to farm the vineyards and make wine in the most natural way possible, but without sacrificing any terroir transparency. It didn’t take long for Jacque’s wines to find acclaim among like-minded peers and in the emerging natural wine bar scenes in Paris and Lyon, but for some reason his wines were generally unseen in the U.S. until very recently.

The small parcels of vines that make up Domaine de la Sorbière are clustered around the Crus of Brouilly and Morgon, and are entirely planted to Gamay. But there is one important exception. Just half a mile from their cellars in Brouilly, Jacques farms a small parcel of Chardonnay vines growing on soils that have a high percentage of limestone. It’s a very rare occurrence this far south, where granite dominates the geology and contributes heavily to the unique qualities of Cru Beaujolais. Limestone is the subterranean heart of the best vineyards in Burgundy, but it generally ends at the southern border of the Mâcon, so this discovery is both surprising and serendipitous. Oh, and it works. 

In order to highlight this special terroir, Jacques does very little to interfere with the naturally perfect marriage of limestone and Chardonnay. The juice is fermented with native yeasts and aged in a combination of amphorae and neutral, 600-liter barrels. No sulfur is added during winemaking and only tiny amounts are used during bottling. As such, a hint of reduction is present when first opened, but with a quick splash decant the full range of aromatics quickly emerges. As they do, a final surprise is waiting, because that little vineyard of Chardonnay actually has small amounts of Chardonnay Muscaté too, a rare hybrid variety known for its amped-up perfume. Serve this Bourgogne Blanc at around 50 degrees in a Burgundy stem and aromas of white peach, green apple, green plum, lemon zest, star jasmine, honeysuckle, and raw almonds all leap from the glass. The medium-weight body has that perfect, Burgundian balance of crunchy, just-ripe fruit and lingering, saline minerality. This lovely, classically built Bourgogne is a revelatory surprise in every sense of the word, especially when you consider its $20 price tag: Buy it by the case!

Domaine de la Sorbière, Bourgogne Blanc "Terre de Roche"

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