October 16th, 2012
Off the beaten path Burgundy!
Denis Carré, Hautes Cotes de Beaune, Burgundy
Denis Carré and his daughter Gaétane
The RN74 is not just a very famous San Francisco restaurant but also the main train route that runs through Burgundy. Burgundy fans who take this now legendary ride are primed with images of grand crus and the top communes of the Côtes de Beaune and Côtes de Nuits but some of the most interesting things are happening off the beaten path far from any locomotives.
The village of Meloisey in the Hautes Cotes de Beaune
When we decided to expand the selection of our Burgundy portfolio in 2011, I went to Paris and did some digging, hoping to find a star that made high quality, reasonably priced wines in a sustainable manner. Given this criteria, I quickly realized that my best bet was to concentrate on producers that were on the outskirts. One place where I was told to look was in Haute Côtes de Beaune.
Denis Carre, viticulteur in Meloisey
An AOC since 1961, the Haute Côtes de Beaune is west of the major villages of the Côtes de Beaune. Many of the vineyards cross the border from the Côtes de Beaune and are at the peak of the Haute Côtes de Beaune ridge. There are not any grand crus or premier crus, or sub AOCs, so naturally the wines are less expensive.
After meeting with the Carrés and tasting the wines it was apparent that they completely fit the bill. A family owned and run business, the wines are made with minimal intervention and great purity. They are also great values.
Meloisey in the west of the Cotes de Beaune ridge, in the heart of the Hautes Cotes area.
A Burgundy native, Denis Carré helped local winegrowers as a child. In 1975, he and his wife, Bernadette, built a winery they could call their own from scratch using a difficult to obtain bank loan. Located in Meloisey, a small village in Hautes Cotes de Beaune, the winery facility and family holdings have expanded over the years. Today, Denis Carré owns 12.5 hectares (31 acres) of vineyard land in the Hautes Côtes de Beaune, Meursault, Pommard and ten other appellations.
After our lunch in Beaune during our Caravan Buyer Trip last May
Denis and Bernadette’s two children, Gaetane and Martial, who were raised on the property, help run the company. Gaetane studied business and now heads operations and the financial end of the domaine. Martial is the winemaker and can be found pruning, plowing the vines and in the cellar.
Domaine Denis Carré practices ‘lutte raisonnée,’ which is essentially the same as sustainable viticulture. All of the fruit is hand harvested, including green harvest, and vinified using natural yeast. The white wines are fermented in stainless steel tanks. The reds undergo a cold soak and are then fermented in concrete vats. The wines are aged in tank and barrel, depending on the cuvée, and filtered.
In the Cellar during Caravan Buyer Trip 2012 last May
Domaine Denis Carré Hautes Côtes de Beaune Blanc, 2010
Composed of Chardonnay from the estate in Meloisey, this wine could be the poster child for the Hautes Côtes de Beaune. Half of it is aged in stainless steel, half in oak barrels. With hints of honey, toast and hazelnuts underscored by a firm minerality, this effort has the pedigree of premier cru from the Côtes de Beaune itself.
Domaine Denis Carré Meursault ‘Les Tillets,’ 2010
Les Tillets is a south and southeast facing climat with limestone and clay soil. After fermentation, Carré ages the Meursault in new oak for 15 – 18 months. Although young, it gives a sneak preview of what is to come in the next five years. All the components are there: lean yet bright apple fruit, a typical Meursault hazelnut-like core, spice and layers of minerality. Decanting an hour before serving is probably a good idea and make sure it is not too cold.
Domaine Denis Carré Pommard ‘Les Noizons,’ 2008
One of several Pommards made by Carré, ‘Les Noizons’ is a south facing climat at the top of a hill. In Burgundy, this is not the most desirable positioning, which is why it is not a premier cru or more expensive, but it still has the potential to make very good wines. Covered by iron infused gravelly topsoil with a clay and limestone base, Les Noizons has a complex combination of minerality. It is aged on skins for 15 – 18 days and fermented in oak barrels for 15 – 18 months, promoting the already powerful quality of Pommard. A signature of Carré’s wines, this is lean and terroir driven with spiced cherry, plum fruit and a long, elegant finish.
Next week Newsletter: Chateau Haut Plantey (Haut Medoc)
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