Not a few kilmometers away was our next appointment in Auxey-Duresses with the oldest new kids in town: Clos du Moulin aux Moines. This estate was among the first to ever be settled and operating in Bourgogne back in 962 A.D. The Cluny monks knew what was up when they saw a productive river flowing through in order to operate their mills, hence the ‘moulin’ (mills) of the ‘moines’ (monks). They came about two centuries before another group of monks, the Cistercians, to give a little context. As I often tell my wine students, where there were monks, there was incredible wine. Many centuries of quiet cataloging and experimentation made for a true ‘understanding’ of the vines, going back to my use of the term above at Buisson-Charles. Clos du Moulin was no exception, however, after World War II, without the dependence on the mills, this estate went into slumber and near non-existence. Certainly it became irrelevant to most.
Irrelevant, that is, until well into the new millennium when Jordane Andrieu saw its potential in 2008, through the dusty old windows and cloth-draped couches in this untouched domaine. His talent is cultivating possibility yet doing so in a way that reflects (and respects) the spirit of a place. For Clos du Moulin, this meant progressive thinking whilst adhering the oldest tactic in the book: biodynamic agricultural. This ancient philosophy lent itself to the vineyards surrounding the domaine, where rivers, forest, vineyards, and wildlife meet to create a sustained ecosystem, one where nature could be in balance if coaxed along and pushed into its proper alignment of self-management. And so this is the direction of most of his vineyards– a kind of casual parenting of nature to find its own voice, its own way under the conditions of its environment. Every step removed by man is one step closer to terroir.
We were greeted by a young gentleman with amusing eyes and an honest, playful smile. He was charismatic and evidently jazzed by this domaine’s focus for renovation. He discussed the plans for welcoming more visitors and breathing life into the estate. They were the hipsters of Bourgogne, and I could only imagine how local farmers felt about these young, brilliant cats with their biodynamic ways and such. As with all professed intention, however, proof is in the pudding (or barrels, in this case), and this winery is on the rise, demonstrating balance of tradition and forward thinking.
They, too, were affected by the hail, but mostly on their Pommard plot, where near 70% is already resting in peace. In Auxey-Duresses, they are more protected and only saw about 10-20% at this point, God-willing there is no more. They only work off a total of 8.5 ha– 6 to the red, the rest to the white. Like Goisot, they prefer a pump over method vs punch down for their reds, elevating the elegance of fruit vs the tannin from the skins and pips, though they are known to employ a little of both. There is no filtering. No fining. Again, less is more, as our host Paul Perarnau reiterated, and the expression of terroir is in the details left in tact. Elevage, he explained, literally translates not only as aging, but also ‘to raise’–literally and figuratively, as in what one does when rearing children. If one is strict and structured, the child will never learn to express itself. If one is too ‘funky’, as he put it– too laissez faire– the child might resort to drugs and other character-altering impurities. Needless to say, I understood his meaning, and it certainly applies to wine as well. These wines were given a careful distance to find their voice.
There in the cellars, we saw the evidence of poor consecutive harvests. He noted that in good years, the barrels would stack to the top. Now, there was only one layer on the floor.
We then sat down for lunch, and he presented to us a wonderful assortment of lamb, baked vegetables, terrine and brillat savarin (a local–and personal– favorite of cheese). We sipped through several 2012s in bottle and even a few 2013s in tank. Here are a few notes on some of those…
2012 Auxey-Duresses Vielles Vignes Rouge
The most impacted vineyard of the vintage, leaving only 2000 bottles for the vintage. Low yields, firm acid and ripe. Youthful roses and juicy strawberries on the nose. Buzzing with energy on the palate. Very minimal impact of oak. A charming wine.
2012 Pommard Village
Actually more typical in character to Pommard than even the 1er Cru they are famed for, Les Orgelots. About 80% comes from La Vache, a high terraced, mineral site with a fair bit of iron in the soil. This brings the noted Pommard ‘strength’ to the wine. This is precisely what you get from this red– considerable volume and stately, site typical character.
2012 Pommard Les Orgelot 1er Cru
This monopole truly feeds the addiction created in a hard core lover of elegant, pure, focused Pinot Noir from Burgundy. While it is hardly the poster child of a strong, forward Pommard, this wine has curious depth without the excess of muscles. A red that will only get better with time and patience. Kind of like my dad! Kidding… kind of.
The whites have always been my favorite. We were able to get a preview of 2013 Pernand-Vergelesses in tank, coming from a slope which extends off Corton Charlemagne as well as a tiny taste of the Auxey Duresses blanc– one of the more complex whites I have ever tasted from the Beaune and sadly will have no presence in the market again until more can be made with success of harvest.
Unsurprisingly, I was impressed by this young, hopeful estate. They are one to watch, but please… not too closely. I enjoy the impossible values they offer at this point, under the radar as they are at the moment. Okay, one might ask, then why blog? If all 8 (or 9?) of you partake, I am only too happy to pass along good beta. Just buy a bottle if you can get your hands on one, sip it in silence and appreciate a phenomenal find.
God, I hope I have more readers by now! More to come on the Savoie…