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2012 Bourgogne Blanc, Patrice et Michèle Rion
Patrice Rion and his wife Michèle began their own small domaine with just two wines, an outstanding Bourgogne Rouge Bons Batons and the sumptuous Chambolle Musigny les Cras, in 1990 while Patrice continued as winemaker at the Domaine Daniel Rion. They enlarged in 2000 when Patrice left Domaine Daniel Rion. He has built a cuverie and cellar on his own property and also makes a small range of négociant cuvées to supplement their small vineyard holding. He has recently been joined in the business by son Maxime.
Since he left the latter in 2000 he has added Chambolle Musigny les Charmes and Nuits St Georges Clos des Argillières (his share from the family domaine) and in 2005 Nuits St Georges Terres Blanches (white), some more Argillières and the monopole Nuits St Georges Clos St Marc in 2006. Also from 2006 he has entered an agreement to manage the vineyards and purchase the grapes from a small estate in Chambolle which includes some Chambolle Musigny Les Amoureuses and grand cru Bonnes Mares.
To complement this range there are some additional cuvées, notably Chambolle Musigny and Nuits St Georges vieilles vignes, made from purchased grapes.
The wines are made in Patrice’s purpose built small winery in Prémeaux. Patrice was one of the first to train his vines higher than the Burgundy standard, to increase the canopy without shading the grapes, which gives better ripening and colour. He is also frequently an innovator in the cellar and offers some wines (Bourgogne Bon Batons, white wines, half bottles) in stelvin screwcaps. The grapes are sorted on two tables de tri, one before destemming and the other after. The whole berries are conveyed to their stainless steel vats for a cuvaison of about three weeks: 7 days at 11/12°, followed by 2 weeks fermentation and post-fermentation, not exceeding 32°. There are now two barrel cellars so that each vintage can be aged for 18 months without racking. Most wines now receive 50% new wood.
Patrice’s style is for very pure, harmonious wines, skilfully vinified and then matured in oak barrels with a well judged percentage of new oak (usually 50% new) for 18 months, without racking or fining.
Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy Wine Director and author of the award-winning Inside Burgundy comprehensive handbook.
Chardonnay is the "Big Daddy" of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world. It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.
Bourgogne Blanc is the appellation used to refer to generic white wines from Burgundy, a wide term which allows 384 separate villages to produce a white wine with the label ‘Bourgogne.’ As a result of this variety, Bourgogne Blanc is very hard to characterise with a single notable style, however the wines are usually dominated by the presence of Chardonnay, which is just about the only common factor between them. That being said, Chardonnay itself varies based on the environmental factors, so every bottle of Bourgogne Blanc will vary in some way from the next! Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are also permitted for use in Bourgogne Blanc under the regulations of the appellation.
As Bourgogne Blanc is very much an entry-level white wine for most regions in Burgundy, prices are usually very reasonable, and due to the terroir and climate of Burgundy, Bourgogne Blanc wines tend to have a strong acidity to them, combined with a vibrant and often fruity palate when compared with other whites from the New World, say, allowing fantastic matchmaking with many different kinds of food.
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