2019 Nuits-St Georges, Les Terres Blanches, 1er Cru, Domaine Michèle & Patrice Rion, Burgundy
Jasper Morris MW, insideburgundy.com (December 2020)
Neal Martin, Vinous
About this WINE
Michele & Patrice 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.
Bourgogne Rouge is the term used to apply to red wines from Burgundy that fall under the generic Bourgogne AOC, which can be produced by over 350 individual villages across the region. As with Bourgogne Blanc and Bourgogne Rosé, this is a very general appellation and thus is hard to pinpoint any specific characteristics of the wine as a whole, due to the huge variety of wines produced.
Around 4,600 acres of land across Burgundy are used to produce Bourgogne Rouge, which is around twice as much as is dedicated towards the production of generic whites.
Pinot Noir is the primary grape used in Bourgogne Rouge production, although Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and in Yonne, César grapes are all also permitted to make up the rest of the wine. These wines tend to be focused and acidic, with the fruit less cloying than in some New World wines also made from Pinot Noir, and they develop more floral notes as they age.
Although an entry-level wine, some Bourgogne Rouges can be exquisite depending on the area and producer, and yet at a very affordable price.
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.
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This vineyard is cut into the treeline, high on the hill opposite the Rion cellars. The soil is stony, over oolitic limestone. Although Premier Cru, reds here can be austere; the terroir sings for whites. There’s 10% Pinot Blanc planted along with Chardonnay. There are vibrant aromas of orange citrus, and the palate is beautifully fresh and lean. Drink 2023-2032.
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