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There are wineries which have been driven by craft, tradition, and just deliciousness for years, decades, and in some instances centuries. These wineries are the pinnacles of fine wine. This is our list of the producers we feel are worthy of collecting, worthy of drinking, and worthy of a bit more reading. Our cellar book is here for you to learn, drool, and of course shop. Cheers.
One of the original grower champagne houses. Rodolphe, the current proprietor, continues the legacy of making some of the greatest blanc de blancs champagne created in the area. Central to the Domaine is the outstanding Chétillons vineyard in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. The Péters estate has become synonymous with this vineyard, or perhaps it’s the other way around. In youth, the wines here are piercing with finesse. After a few years of maturity, they blossom out, showing layers of minerality and subtle spice.
It's easy to forget that Domaine Dujac was founded by the now-iconic Jacques Seysses in the late 1960s. It feels like a benchmark that has always been there. The number of winemakers in the region and around the world who model their philosophy on Dujac is impressive. The quality here speaks for itself. Dujac sits at the top of the hierarchy of producers in Burgundy. The Domaine is most commonly associated with the grand crus of Clos de la Roche and Clos Saint-Denis but their plethora of premiers cru and village wines are all worth collecting and drinking as often as humanly possible.
Dominique Lafon took over this already storied family Domaine in 1985 and has realized the potential of an extraordinary portfolio of vineyards. The white wines here truly number among the greatest in Burgundy, while the reds are fantastic values, comparatively, and still somehow flying under the radar. The vineyards, centered around Meursault (Comtes Lafon is the only property to own vineyards in all premiers crus of the village) are cultivated along with biodynamic principles since 1989. The wines here have taken a turn for a leaner, more elegant style lately, and the results are magnificent.
Volnay is an enigmatic place. It is nestled between villages that make mostly white wines — or robust, hefty reds. But here, perhaps the most elegant and subtle wines in all of Burgundy are made. That reputation owes a lot to the d’Angerville estate, a fixture of the highest quality Volnay for over two centuries. Guillaume d’Angerville, the current proprietor, took over the estate in 2003, after his father Jacques’ death. He continues the philosophy of low intervention, letting the vineyards express themselves without getting in the way. The result is an exceptional lineup that ranges from the delicious Bourgognes to the singular premiers crus, with Fremiets typically being polished and joyful... Champans, curvier and denser... Taillepieds, structured — and for the lover of a classic, nervous Burgundy. The top of the hierarchy is Clos des Ducs, a mythical vineyard and a wine that deserves a few years of cellaring to really blossom out. Few wines in Burgundy can match its beautiful perfume once matured. And forget what you know about Volnays being light, soft wines for easy drinking – almost none have a track record of being age-worthy like the Clos des Ducs.
The wines of Domaine Georges Roumier are among the absolute best in the world. Not just the best Burgundy, but the best wine. Period. From Bourgogne Rouge to the estate’s grand cru vineyards throughout the hills of Morey-Saint-Denis and Chambolle-Musigny, Roumier is known for a style of purity and finesse. ‘Finesse’ is a word that gets thrown around a lot when talking about Burgundy, but it means the wine is silky in texture rather than rustic, gliding across your palate with subtlety and ease. Roumier is the north star of elegant and age-worthy light red wine for all winemakers throughout the world. Anyone questioning that is no more than an annoying contrarian.
A decade ago, Cornas was still somewhat of an insider’s wine. These wines had a reputation for being burly and rustic in comparison with their northern cousins from Côte-Rôtie and Hermitage, but they provided an excellent opportunity to drink pure and hauntingly beautiful Syrah. Auguste Clape (who passed away in 2018, succeeded by son Pierre-Marie and grandson Olivier) was the standard-bearer of traditional winemaking in the appellation. As the pendulum has swung from polish and make-up back to old-school wines, they have gained more of a blue-chip status, but the wines are still frequently good value in comparison, and a must have in any syrah-lover’s cellar.
The Chave family is nothing short of royalty in the world of wine. The current Jean-Louis is the 16th generation in father-son succession who have tended vines in St. Joseph and the fabled hill of Hermitage, possibly the birthplace and arguably the pinnacle of the Syrah grape. While several producers now separate out their various plots in Hermitage (perhaps a nod to the more marketing-savvy neighbors in Côte-Rôtie), Chave is all about the art of blending together these components into a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. The results is a wine that captures the soul of the Hermitage, structured and full, with hauntingly wild and floral aromas. In a handful of vintages, there is another label, Cuvée Cathelin. It’s not intended to be a prestige-cuvée, but rather a way for Jean-Louis to express a specific nature of a vintage that may not work in the Hermitage. Worthy of special mention is the wines from St. Joseph, not to be looked down upon as secondary. Remember that this is the ancestral home of the family, and Jean-Louis has been dedicating all his resources to re-establishing the terraced vineyards here. We will wish we had held on to more of these wines soon.
In many industries there are family legacies who are considered the untouchables despite a world obsessed with new discoveries. In those industries, there are also some grandchildren who have inherited fortune only to destroy it upon their control. The Drouhin family are the primary family of Burgundy, who are one of the only large producers who still makes great wines today. Their range stretches from everyday bottles under $20, to some of the more collectible and rare bottling from all of France. With such a large amount of wines made, there are inevitably the gems of the winery. We believe that Drouhin makes some of the best wines from the village and grand cru vineyards in Chambolle-Musigny. They also make consistent white and reds from the southern region of Beaune. Their style is clean, fruit driven, and never overly oaky. It’s an elegant wine that has survived the realities of Succession.
Domaine Tempier is found in Bandol, a region in the south of France. The owner, Lulu, passed away recently and is remembered as a legend of Provence much like Sinatra is to New Jersey. It’s said that her lifestyle influenced some of the great restaurants here like Chez Panisse. It's smart, timeless, and incredibly elegant. These days it’s the rosé we drink most. It’s the archetype of the dry, French style and you’ll see Bandol on the label. They make a small amount of white wine or Bandol blanc in a style that is similar to the Rhone valley– they are rich and oily. Their singly vineyard reds have come to be collected and are worthy of aging well over thirty years. The main grape being the big and earthy grape mourvèdre.
Cerbaiona, one of the greatest estates in Tuscany, is tiny but mighty: The wines are a top-tier example of traditional Brunello and very small production makes them highly sought after. Diego Molinari, a retired pilot, purchased the estate in the late ‘70s to pursue his dream of winemaking and it’s easy to see why he was attracted to the region — the fruit strikes a perfect balance between the warm ripeness common in the south AND the structure associated with the north. The straightforward process at Cerbaiona uses the traditional techniques of the region. Nothing is taken away and nothing is added. Wine critic Antonio Galloni once said, “If forced to drink only one wine from Montalcino, I might very well choose Diego Molinari’s sumptuous Brunello.”
Gaja was originally founded in the 17th century and is now run by Gaia Gaja, the fifth generation of the family. Gaia’s father, Angelo, is credited with transforming the estate and bringing the region of Barbaresco into the modern age. He’s clearly proud of this, hence naming his daughter Gaja twice. The pride is justified. Starting in the 60s, Angelo was on a crusade to show the world that Italian wine was serious wine. The winery is based in the hills of Barbaresco neighboring Barolo. They also make a small amount of Barolo called ‘Sperss’ This isn’t a vineyard but a romantic name denoting nostalgia. It’s true we have nostalgia for the Gaja style of the 80s. It’s some of Italy’s greatest wine ever.