Burgundy 2018

With our Burgundy 2018 En Primeur campaign fast approaching, we are pleased to share with you the 2018 vintage report along with a full list of producers who we will be offering throughout coming months. Our Wishlist will be launching soon for you to register interest and allow us to plan your personalised allocations. For now, visit our website to read about the vintage and the producers from this year’s Burgundy offerings.

If you require any further information, please get in contact with us.

Vintage Report

For Armit Wines, mid-October was the time to head off to Burgundy to assess the potential of the 2018 vintage. Having tasted a preview back in April, we were impatient to see the evolution throughout the maturation process. During three intense weeks, we visited many excited growers! All of them were enthusiastic about 2018 and happy to explain the complexity and the challenges of a real “winemaker vintage”.

Twenty eighteen started with an extremely wet winter. With the exception of the month of February, it rained every two days. The soils were waterlogged until mid-April and the risk of mildew was very high. Nevertheless, the rain was to be providential, as the rest of the growing season was almost totally dry, with sporadic showers at the end of May and the occasional summer storm in July.

Then, from end of May, temperatures increased substantially and a hot, dry June helped with flowering. According to Laurent Martelet at Domaine Comtesse de Chérisey, the fecundation was very high. In an average year and without coulure, a vine will lose 50 to 60% of its flowers. Interestingly this did not happen in 2018, so the vines were able to generate a lot of berries and sustain a high yield, particularly for Chardonnay.

Twenty eighteen was the warmest year on record in Burgundy. Across appellations temperatures and hours of sunshine were, on average, higher than normal. Vineyards suffered from drought and hydric stress. Summer hailstorms were particularly destructive in the Cotes de Nuits: Nuits St Georges was hit in mid-June and in mid-July, and a producer like Domaine Millot lost 40% of their harvest as a consequence.

In Chablis, temperatures were 1.5˚C higher in August and 2˚C above average in the Cote de Beaune. The vines managed to adapt well to these extreme conditions, helped by some cooler nights, which helped enormously with preserving freshness in the fruit.

But the real success of this vintage was determined by the timing of harvest and the intervention and savoir fair of the winegrowers. As we have become accustomed in the last few years, the date of picking is increasingly a key success factor for any Domaine. Producers now are looking at preserving acidity, knowing that the alcohol levels and phenolic ripeness will be there due to the warmer climate. However, freshness and tension are determinant aspects in determining the ageing potential and drinkability of their wines.  Viticulture was important, with many growers adapting their techniques in order to preserve the grapes from sunburn and avoid too much concentration.

For white wines, harvest stretched from the 25th of August for Domaine de Montille and Domaine Leflaive (26th), up to the 3rd of September for Sabine Mollard at Domaine Marc Morey as well as Domaine William Fevre in Chablis. For two of our growers, Domaine Comtesse de Cherisey and Domaine Hubert Lamy, harvest came as early as the 23rd of August.  Olivier Lamy even mentioned that he had to harvest in “tries” (like in Sauterne) as the ripeness of his different vineyards was completely un-even. He decided when to pick based on the different rootstocks, massale selection versus clonal selection and of course soils and terroir. The picking window was very short, so in order to avoid over ripeness, producers needed to be fast and efficient. The result is outstanding. We were charmed by the overall quality of this vintage and amazed by the freshness and acidity that growers managed to retain. They have clearly mastered the way to handle warm and solar years. All the producers we visited released wines of balance and grace, tension and minerality. Appellations that were particularly endearing are Meursault, Puligny and Saint Aubin. The wines have the flamboyance of youth: charming, open and captivating. They will not have the precision of 2017 but they have consistency and if the yields were not too limited, as the Chardonnay was able to adapt more than the Pinot Noir, they will age gracefully.

Reds in 2018 are already a subject of discussion and praise, but, again, growers needed to be careful as Pinot Noir’s alcohol levels tend to rise very quickly. The variety suffered more than Chardonnay in term of yields, so demand will be high, and accessibility will be limited. As for the whites, picking day was one of the key factors for success. Harvest spanned from the 31st of August at Domaine Rebourgeon -Muré to the 7th of September for Nicolas Potel. The earlier the growers picked, the better chance they had to keep the level of acidity high, the precision of fruit and the balance between freshness, density and silky tannins. One of the producers we visited, Christophe Roumier, who harvested on the 5th September, found it challenging to determine the date for his harvest, stating that the phenolic maturity versus the alcohol level window was becoming shorter and shorter. His Chambolle Musigny Les Cras 1er Cru reached 14.2% of alcohol, the highest in his career. Christophe was somewhat concerned about alcohol levels, as he found that certain appellations lost at least part of their identity due to rising alcohol, particularly Chambolle. On the other hand, some were more fit to welcome the heat, like Morey-St-Denis or Vosne-Romanée.  

A trend that we picked up on our visits, is the increasing usage of whole bunch fermentation. Winemakers used this to potentially increase the Ph but give a distinctive floral and crunchy red fruit character to the wine. The skin of the Pinot Noir was particularly thick in 2018, so pigeage and extraction techniques were kept to a minimum in order to preserve a certain elegance.

In general, the reds are very alluring, expressive and distinguished. Tannins are silky and integrated, and on the palate precise and fresh, with a real sense of harmony. Appellations like Gevrey-Chambertin, where Romain Taupenot produced one of the best wines of his career, are our highlight for 2018. But Volnay and Pommard cannot be forgotten, particularly at Domaine de Montille where the quality of 2018 is without dispute. In 2018 Pinot Noirs were made for ageing, having enough balance and precision to gracefully last for decades. Interestingly though we think they will be accessible early, particularly at village level.

Prices will remain stable or have a small increase compared to 2017. The top appellations from the high-profile estates will be difficult to secure as usual, but we are very proud to offer several newcomers such as Domaine Trapet-Rochelandet, Domaine Rebourgeon-Muré and Domaine Bart. At each of these Domaines the younger generation has taken over their family property and released superb wines in 2018. They are the future of Burgundy and we advise you take the time to taste and discover their range today.

Nicolas Clerc MS

The Producers

Domaine Bart
Pierre Bart is the sixth generation at Domaine Bart. Since 2009 he has been running the domaine and its 22 ha of vines together with his mother and uncle, keeping a strong focus on Marsannay. His grandmother comes from the same family as Domaine Bruno Clair. Some the vines come from his mother's side of the family, others from his grandfather’s side. The Bonnes Mares and Chambertin Clos de Bèze come mainly from his grandmother. The key focus of the domaine is the balance of fruit, acidity and tannins. There are no big extracted wines here, but rather a respect for the precision and elegance of the fruit.

Domaine Ghislaine Barthod
Ghislaine Barthod’s wines are considered to be in the upper échelons of Chambolle-Musigny with very good reason.  She has been at the helm of her estate since 1986 and is one of the great matriarchs of Burgundy.  Her style is one of refinement and purity and each wine clearly speaks of its terroir.  Ghislaine extracts gently in the cellar and uses a maximum of 30% new oak for the Premiers Crus to ensure the purest fruit expression.  She is married to Louis Boillot, a winemaker of his own domaine.  They share the same cellar but run their estates separately.

Domaine Simon Bize
Domaine Simon Bize is composed of 22 ha with a small parcel in Corton-Charlemagne.  The estate is now managed by Chisa Bize and continues to be a reference point in Savigny-lès-Beaune.  The wines are beautifully elegant, balanced and vibrant but quantities have been severely limited in the last few vintages by a series of short harvests.

Domaine Blain-Gagnard
Domaine Blain-Gagnard, located in the village of Chassagne-Montrachet, was formed in 1980 when Jean-Marc Blain married Claudine Gagnard.  Jean-Marc runs a meticulous cellar with the help of his son Marc-Antonin. 

Domaine Louis Boillot
Louis Boillot moved from his family property in Volnay to Ghislane Barthod’s home in Chambolle when they got married. He learnt his craft with his brother and father at Domaine Lucien Boillot until 2003, when he started out on his own. Louis’s approach is that of the lutte raisonnée or “reasoned struggle”. Following a sorting of the grapes in the vineyard, all bunches are de-stalked, given a quick soak prior to fermentation, before spending 16-18 months in barrel with no more than 30% new oak. Louis’s wines are wonderfully elegant, precise and tense.

Domaine Jean-Marc Boillot
Domaine Jean-Marc Boillot makes exceptionally pure, expressive wines with an energetic mineral backbone.  Grandson of Etienne Sauzet, Jean-Marc established his domaine in 1985, starting with some rented vines in Pommard, adding more red vineyards from his father’s side and then whites from his grandmother a few years later. In recent years, vines have been purchased in the Mâconnais.  Jean-Marc has taken a step back now, leaving the day to day running of the estate to his daughter Lydie though he still joins in at harvest. 

Domaine Bouchard Père et Fils
Domaine Bouchard Père et Fils is the largest vineyard owner in the Côte d’Or.  Their holdings include some of the finest parcels including Chevalier-Montrachet La Cabotte, Montrachet and Bonnes-Mares.  They hold 130 ha of which 12 ha are Grands Crus and 74 ha are Premiers Crus. 

Domaine Philippe Colin
Philippe Colin, in Chassagne-Montrachet, produces outstanding wines over 13 ha.  The domaine was established in 2004, when Philippe split from his brother Bruno and built his own cellar on the outskirts of the village.  He has an impressive selection of vineyards, including some Chevalier-Montrachet, and makes wines which can be enjoyed after a few years but his top cuvées require ageing.  He adopts a philosophy of minimal intervention in the vineyards.  Since 2010, he has been experimenting with large barrels (demi-muids) to provide better wood integration.  The village wines are matured in 20% to 25% new oak and the Premiers Crus have around 35% new oak.  These delightful wines combine power with elegance and offer much pleasure.

Domaine Faiveley
Domaine Faiveley is one of the leading producers in Burgundy with over 120 ha of vines in some of the most sought after vineyards in Burgundy, including 12 ha of Grands Crus.  This was our second visit to the refurbished cellars in Nuits-Saint-Georges.  The new state of the art winemaking facility will provide much more flexibility, including fermentations in smaller batches, and is another step forward in the evolution of the Domaine.  

Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard
Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard, in Chassagne-Montrachet, was formed in 1985 when Richard Fontaine married Laurence Gagnard.  Céline Fontaine started working with her father in 2007 and has taken over the running of the domaine. The wines are extremely elegant, complex and precise. The estate covers 12 ha of vineyard and 22 appellations.

Domaine Henri-Gouges
Born in 1889, Henri Gouges began to acquire vineyards in the 1920s that would form the majority of today's 15 ha. He was a pioneer in bottling his own wine and once he established his brand in Paris, began to market in the United States. He was the leading advocate for not only his own brand, but the wider reputation of Nuits Saint Georges and Burgundy. It was in 1967 when his two sons, Michel and Marcel, succeeded him and added to the holdings of the estate. Each of them handed leadership over to one of their sons to bring the domaine to the next stage. Pierre and Christian began the modernization of the vineyards and the winery, which they have now turned over to Pierre's son Gregory and his cousin, Antoine. While the house style has evolved, the main focus is the better reflection of the terroir in the fruit through organic viticulture. They believe that healthy vines produce quality fruit and thus more expressive terroir driven wines.

Domaine Grivot
Etienne Grivot took over from his father in 1990 making him the fifth generation of the family to produce wine in Vosne-Romanée.  In recent years, Mathilde and Hubert have taken on an increasingly active role. The domaine extends overs 15 ha across 22 appellations with holdings in Vosne-Romanée, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Clos de Vougeot, Échezeaux and Richebourg.  The vines average 40 to 50 years old.  Fertilisers and treatments are kept to a minimum in the vineyards.  In the cellar, the grapes are 100% de-stemmed and fermentations start naturally.  There is one pump-over per day, following fermentation, and the wines are matured in wood for 15 months.

Domaine AF Gros
Domaine AF Gros is owned by Anne-Françoise who inherited vineyards in Savigny, Vosne-Romanée, Chambolle-Musigny, Echézeaux and Richebourg from her parents Jean and Jeanine Gros.  Anne-Françoise’s husband, François Parent, had a separate label, but from the 2018 vintage, both estates are under AF Gros.  Their daughter, Caroline and son, Mathias, have now taken charge of both estates and continue to make extremely classic, elegant wines with great ageing potential. 

Domaine Patrick Javillier
Patrick Javillier started his working life as a courtier and it wasn’t until 1990 that he was able to focus his efforts on his vines. Since then he has increased his holdings to 11 ha, mainly in Meursault.  Individual plots are vinified separately before extended ageing on fine lees. Patrick is also a firm believer in blending grapes from different vineyards to create wines which are more than the sum of their parts, as with Les Clousots and Tête de Murger.

Domaine Lafarge
Domaine Lafarge has about 10 ha in some of the best plots in Volnay.  Frédéric Lafarge joined in 1978 and 2018 is the first vintage he made with his daughter Clothilde. Like his father Michel, who still occasionally puts in an appearance in the cellar, Frédéric is warm and sincere with a deep connection to the land.  They believe passionately that the vineyard is the secret to success.  Biodynamic principles are followed and the wines are allowed to express the individual characters of each terroir.  In the cellar, the wines are gently handled, oak ageing is kept to a minimum and there is virtually no filtration.  It seems hardly anything has changed and yet Frédéric has recently introduced innovations including manual destemming for some cuvées and the reintroduction of a basket press. Tasting in Lafarge’s ancient cellar amongst the cobwebs and the mould covered bottles is a transporting experience.

Domaine Hubert Lamy
Domaine Hubert Lamy in Saint Aubin was established in 1973, the year Olivier was born.  Olivier took over from his father in 1996 and has continued to increase the size of the domaine.  Most of the production is white.  These wines are known for their incredible purity and precision and they are frequently superior to bottles which sell at twice the price from more fashionable villages.  

Domaine Leflaive
With the 4th generation at the helm, Brice de La Morandiere, Anne-Claude's nephew and great grandson of founder Joseph Leflaive,  continues to work with the same family philosophy of respect for the great ''terroirs'', humility towards the forces of nature and rigour in their relentless pursuit of excellence in winemaking. Brice joined in January 2017 with the managing director, Pierre Vincent. Significant work has been undertaken to make the winemaking more precise, including the selection of a new type of corks enabling an increased longevity in the wines. The estate has also expanded with nearly 3 hectares replanted in Puligny, 7 hectares acquired in the Mâconnais and with the creation of a new vineyard planned for 2020 in the Hautes Côtes de Beaune.

Domaines Leflaive
The wines from Domaines Leflaive are produced outside Puligny-Montrachet from vineyards in the Mâconnais which they own, and from fruit sourced from trusted growers in the Côte Chalonnaise and the Côte de Beaune.  The grapes are grown using biodynamic principles and are vinified in the same way as the wines of the domaine.

Benjamin Leroux
A dynamic and extremely talented winemaker, Benjamin Leroux made a name for himself at Domaine du Comte Armand where he was the general manager until 2014.  Based in Beaune, he launched his own label in 2007, so did two jobs at once for some years.  Wines are produced from over 20 vineyards but this remains very much a micro-winery.  Apart from 4 ha owned by the domaine, grapes are purchased from trusted growers, most of whom are either organic or biodynamic.  In 2017, he took on the running of a 2.5 ha in Meursault Blagny.

Domaine Sebastien Magnien
Originally from the Hautes Côtes de Beaune, Sébastien transferred his cellar to Meursault in 2003.  His whites come from the Hautes Côtes, Saint Romain and Meursault and his reds are from Volnay, Pommard and the Hautes Côtes.  A young and dynamic winemaker, he produces pure-fruited wines which have lovely energy and direction and have always impressed.

Domaine Jean-Marc Millot
Located in the village of Nuits-Saint-Georges, Domaine Jean-Marc Millot has an impressive array of vineyards in the Côte de Nuits which includes the 1er Cru of Vosne Romanée Les Suchots and the Grands Crus of Echézeaux, Clos de Vougeout and Grands-Echézeaux.  Jean-Marc has a reputation for making extremely classic and age-worthy wines and catching up with him is always a treat.  He has a witty sense of humour so tastings here are also very entertaining.  With the arrival of his daughter Alix, who has introduced a number of subtle changes in the cellar, a further level of finesse is being reached.  This domaine is going from strength to strength and is definitely one to keep an eye on. 

Domaine de Montille
One of the great estates in Burgundy, Domaine de Montille produces incredibly elegant and understated wines.  Established by Hubert de Montille, who inherited a few Volnay vines in 1951, the estate now comprises 17 ha.  The wines had a reputation for requiring a long time to reach maturity but under Etienne de Montille, with the help of Chef de Cave Brian Sieve, the aromatic complexity of the wines has been brought to the fore. 

Domaine Marc Morey
Domaine Marc Morey is one of the best addresses in Chassagne-Montrachet.  Sabine Mollard, as the fourth generation, continues the work of her predecessors.  Her wines are textbook Chassagne-Montrachet combining tension and freshness with richness and effortless power.  They are generally matured in around 15% to 20% new oak but this alters depending on the vintage and cru.  The wines drink very well early but, with age in the cellar, they take on added depth and complexity.  Sabine’s recent focus has been on vineyard management to ensure that the fruit strikes the perfect balance of ripeness and acidity. 

Domaine Comtesse de Cherisey
Founded in 1998, Domaine Comtesse de Chérisey is a family owned winery in the charming hamlet of Blagny between Puligny and Meursault but higher on the hill.  Nestled beneath the woods, the vineyards have a relatively cool microclimate which gives the wines a racy mineral quality.  The Premier Cru vines surround the historic cellar and are at least 60 years old.  Laurent Martelet follows organic principles and intervenes minimally in the winery.  He never chaptalizes, uses natural yeasts and treats the wines as gently as possible preferring to use gravity rather than pumps.

Domaine Rebourgeon-Mure
Established in 1552, Domaine Rebourgeon-Mure is one of the oldest family-owned estates in Burgundy. Historically based in Pommard, the domaine now stretches over Volnay and Beaune. Rebourgeon-Mure craft wines from 7 ha over 12 different appellations, offering wine lovers an unparalleled chance to explore the subtle nuances of the domaine’s lieux dits. Charming wines of intense purity, balance and elegance are released year after year, reflecting the domaine’s incredible terroirs and meticulous winemaking practices. 

Domaine Roche de Bellene
Nicolas Potel took his first steps as a winemaker at Domaine de la Pousse d’Or where he worked with his father in the cellar.  Following his father he founded Domaine de Bellene with vineyards in Santenay, Saint-Romain, Volnay, Nuits-Saint-Georges and Vosne-Romanée.  Some years later he established a négotiant business called Maison Roche de Bellene sourcing grapes from trusted growers in some of the most prestigious vineyards in Burgundy.  Nicolas is one of the most dynamic winemakers in the region with an energy and passion matched by few others.  He adopts a natural approach to viticulture, in tune with the conditions each year, and buys grapes from organic growers.  With his many contacts up and down the Côte d’Or, he used to produce a staggering selection of wines.  These days he focuses on a smaller number which has enabled him to monitor each cuvée more closely.

Domaine Georges Roumier
Domaine Georges Roumier is one of the greatest estates in Burgundy.  Christophe Roumier crafts extraordinarily refined wines which focus on pure terroir expression. As always, competition for an allocation will be keen.

Domaine Sauzet
Under Gérard Boudot, Domaine Sauzet has become one of the most respected estates in Burgundy.  Based in Puligny-Montrachet, the domaine has followed a biodynamic approach since 2010.  The wines display remarkable energy and precision with wonderful terroir expression.  These days, Gérard runs the estate with his son-in-law, Benoît Riffault. 

Domaine Taupenot-Merme
Tasting wines with Romain Taupenot is always a great pleasure and something to look forward to each year.  Domaine Taupenot-Merme is located in Morey-Saint-Denis and Romain has been in charge since 1998.  His wines are pure and elegant and they focus on transparency rather than power.  Romain follows organic principles and adopts a gentle approach in the cellar which enable his wines to express each terroir with clarity.  Romain is thoughtful and serious, always willing to give an honest appraisal of the vintage and his wines. 

Domaine Trapet-Rochelandet
Stretching over 6.5 hectares of vineyards in Gevrey-Chambertin, in the heart of the Côtes de Nuits in Burgundy, Domaine Trapet-Rochelandet is a family property passed with pride and passion for generations. Today, Laurent is taking over from Francois as head of the Domaine, continuing the family tradition of producing intensely perfumed Pinot Noir. The family is a major advocate of sustainable agriculture and traditional, non-invasive winemaking. The aim is to preserve the magical balance created over centuries for generations to come.

Domaine Aurélien Verdet
Aurélien is an extremely talented winemaker who established his own domaine in 2008. Aurélien focuses on the vineyards and follows organic principles, in the foot-steps of his father who was one of the pioneers of organic viticulture in Burgundy.  His wines are all about freshness and pure crystalline fruit.  In the cellar, he presses as gently as possible, employing indigenous yeasts and limiting the amount of sulphur.

Domaine Agnès and Didier Dauvissat
Making it the most recent of the Dauvissat domaines in Chablis, the one created by Agnès and Didier Dauvissat released its first vintage in 1989. It now stretches over 10 ha, with parcels in Petit Chablis, Chablis village and the premier cru Beauroy. Florent, Didier’s son, is now at the helm of the property, crafting vibrant, zesty and mineral Chablis. Despite being a relatively recent producer, Domaine Agnès and Didier Dauvissat is already making a name for itself with their pure expressions of Chardonnay.

Domaine William Fèvre
William Fèvre has become the benchmark for classic Chablis.  Since William founded his domaine in 1959, some of the most sought-after vineyards have been added to the portfolio which now totals 78 ha including 5 of the 7 Grands Crus.  No other producer can claim such an array of the finest vineyards in Chablis.  The Premiers Crus see 30% to 40% maturation in barrels while the Grands Crus have 40% to 50%, both in old wood.

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