So I did a thing at a late night La Paulée after party...
A lot of us, especially Sommeliers who have decided to focus their studies and career on the wines of Burgundy, talk about the need to put boots on the ground in the region but few of us ever do.
Now I've made plenty of questionable decisions in my life, I did once single handedly try and bring disco back in 2003, and that night I made a decision that turned out to be only slightly less out there. I cornered one of the best winemakers of our generation Pierre Yves Colin, who (in full disclosure I've known PY for a few years now) allowed me to not only drunkenly accost him all full of 60's Taragona Chartreuse and wide-eyed enthusiasm, but is allowing me to come and live and work with him in Burgundy for the 2018 harvest at Domaine Pierre Yves Colin-Morey.
I reached out to Geoff Kruth about the best way to document this and provide the community with a direct line to Burgundy as well as hopefully some inside information on the 2018 harvest and Burgundy in general.
I'm going to try and check in at least 1-2 times a week with updates and to answer questions. There will be a lot to see on my instagram instagram.com/maxcoane, I promise it won't just be ridiculous bottle shots and food pics.
Let me know what questions you guys have for PY and I'll do my best to get them answered.
Since I’ve been making such a big deal about the modernity of PY’s winery, I thought it might be interesting to give you a taste of the other side. To that end I spent the day with “L’Autre Monsr. Paul” as he’s known around here, the scion of one of the greatest American-Burgundy import families, Paul Wasserman.
Paul and Amélie Berthaut
If you find yourself with the opportunity to spend the day crashing wineries with Paul you are quick to discover the duality of both the Burgundy business and Paul himself. At 52 Paul has just moved BACK to Burgundy having spent the last 25 years or so in the US. He knows these vineyards and vignerons like the back of his hand and wears the label “Le fis du Becky” proudly. (For those unaware of who Becky Wasserman is, well…get thee to google, because thats a name you should know…)
Paul having unilaterally decided before meeting up that I spend too much of my time drinking prestige Burgundy and working in sexy appellations drove north to Chênove and Fixin to visit a few of the domaines he imports.
First up the irrepressible big friendly giant of Chênove, Sylvain Pataille.
Unlike the vigneron in the south who had finished Sylvain and his team were still deep in the swing of things in his very old school winery.
Minimal pumps, minimal electric convenience, minimal modernity; just basket presses and lots of hard physical labor with the goal of producing honest wines with a true sense of place.
While the terroir of Marsannay isn’t considered to be among the top in the Côte, Sylvain certain packs a lot of power into his 15ha producing some of the best wines in and around Marsannay. His vineyards are spectacularly beautiful, all organic and while he does mostly practice “en bio-dynamie” he feels paying for the certification is ridiculous.
For me its interesting to note the difference in the vibe of the wineries. Forget for a minute the pictures I’ve shared of Chez PYCM, because our winery is certainly the exception and not the norm around here. While the PYCM/CCM winery was certainly “cleaner” in an industrial sense of the word compared to Sylvain’s I don’t think his wines suffer at all, quite the opposite. To me Sylvain represents the continuation of the way things have always been, get great fruit attempt not to fuck it up.
Next we headed just down the road to Fixin to see Amélie Berthaut of Domaine Berthaut-Gerbet.
I was saying to a friend other day that maybe my obsession with Burgundy has something to do with having never joined a frat, stay with with me on this…
It’s just that the sort of dick measuring and grab ass that seems to surround the Burgundy scene tends to have a bit of a boys club feel to it. There is a lot of machismo both amongst the vigernon and the collectors that seems to inform the way people behave, much like a frat. Having never joined one myself, I famously dropped out of The Berklee School of Music after one particularly gnarly acid binge, it is possible that I look to the Burgundian community for the sort of dude on dude friendships that I may have developed in college. Thankfully Domaine Berthaut-Gerbet is 100% the antidote to this sort of thinking.
Amélie and her father Denis are growing the family domaine, and now with the addition of her fiancé Nicholas Faure, who if you don’t know that name yet get ready to; he’s the new cult rockstar in Burgundy having most recently worked for DRC and Chave, they are producing some of the most exciting wines I tried this trip.
To say that Berthaut-Gerbet is more gender equal is to put it mildly. The entire team save Denis and Nicholas were women, and younger women at that. I don’t think there was anybody over the age of 40 aside from Denis in the winery. These ladies are bad ass! I want to bring my daughter here to see how hard they work because it puts the macho boys of the Côte-d’Or to shame. Truly incredible wines and incredible people.
Lastly we wound up over at Bruno Clair in Marsannay.
It was at this point that I began to understand the theme to the days events. Paul was making a point about the future of Burgundy.
As I watched Bruno's son's running around in the winery, here puling a juice/ferment sample of Bonnes Mares I was hit once again with the generational duality of Burgundy, and while I’m happy to report that the old timers are still in the wineries teaching the younger generation, the hipsters have fully invaded the Côte-d’Or.
I saw a higher ratio of long hair and tattoo’s amongst the upcoming generation of vigneron than on an average Sunday in Delores Park, which should give all you natty wine folks hope for the future, now if we can just do something about the cost…
When looking at the upcoming generation of vigneron in Burgundy, and hope for those who favor natural wines, in what way do you see them differing from many of the producers you've spent time with this trip? By that, I mean it seems everyone you've visited fall pretty heavily into the "natural" camp, i.e. add nothing and take nothing, and "get great fruit and attempt to not fuck it up." With the exception of SO2 additions (which I know is a hot topic for naturalistas), it's certainly very exciting, from your experiences and my own in Burgundy, to see how hands off in the cellar the best vigneron are. Are there examples of newer producers in Burgundy that you see as more distinctly natty (Yann Durieux perhaps), and departing from the style of the older generation?
Likewise, curious at PYCM/CCM what final free sulfur PPM looks like in the finished wines (particularly the whites, but the reds as well). It's surprising how little most producers actually use when you ask.
Thanks for the content - this has been really exciting to follow along!
I don't know if Burgundy is moving in a fully "natty" direction as much as its just an acceptance of ideas that have previously been off limits.
Jean Claude Ramonet at dinner one night was explaining that in Burgundy the wine making traditions and ideas were generally passed down from your Grandfather not your father, the reason being that your father was too busy running the estate to entertain your youthful bullshit while Gramps would take the time to listen to your ideas and explain "hey we tried this 30 years ago, here are my notes from back then, didn't work for us but maybe it can work for you."
Now what I think you're starting to see with the generation of Vignerons PY's age and younger, a men and women who are already predisposed to trying new ideas and are looking to other places for more. Their eldest son Matthis after finishing our harvest in Chassagne went to Hermitage to stage with JL Chave and has expressed a desire to come work in the US as well. I even had one winemaker asking about "a new region he just heard of in California Le Saint Cruz..."
Today when you go around Burgundy you hear Vigneron expressing respect for names like John Raytek, Ted Lemon, and David Ramey, I think this openness to the world of wine is part of what defines the new school and what will continue to keep Burgundy vibrant in years to come.
As to the issue of SO2 and the wines Chez PYCM/CCM there is no real secret there. In terms of how much is being added, by the end of the vilification process there is around 25cl per every 228L barrel. I didn't see bottling though he does add a little again before bottle but in terms of actual analysis PY said over and over how much he doesn't care about numbers and does it all to taste and what feels right. A lot of the signature reduction is just achieved slowly over time.