Hello friends. It’s an undeniable thing—history. The history of something is almost as important as the thing itself. Sometimes you can learn more about a person by knowing where they’re from than anything they are willing to tell you.
And that’s why it’s so important to learn about roots. It’s one thing to devour rillettes de porc at Le Pichet on a monthly basis, but trying charcuterie for the first time at a street cafe in Le Marais has allowed me to better understand why I love the pork rillettes at Le Pichet so much. Both are important parts of life—the original and the influenced.
Here in Washington, we are lucky enough to be about a stone’s throw away from Oregon and the fantastic Pinot Noir coming from its mild climate. However, it’s a miss to love Oregon Pinot Noir, and not give the noble wines of Burgundy a chance. Because Pinot Noir is Burgundy. To love Pinot and never explore the wonders and mysteries of its homeland is practically sacrilege.
Burgundy is a region shrouded in history—and many times confusion. Which is laughable when you think about it—because for the most part, this region is only making wines made from two types of grapes, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The confusion in Burgundy stems from the history, the classification, and lack of communication. It stems from usually high price points of entry. It stems from the oh-too-familiar fear of exploration—the fear of the unknown, which we all have felt from time to time. Luckily, we’ve got a pretty great solution to the problem. His name is William Woodruff.
William owns and runs Chloe Imports, an absolute gem of a wine importing company based in North Seattle. In almost two decades of business, William has grown to represent families in Tuscany, Piedmont, Champagne, the Rhone, and Burgundy. Not only does William serve as a fountain of knowledge about sometimes tricky regions, but because William is direct-importing these wines right into Seattle, the pricing is outstanding.
Today we’ve got four Chloe wines for you, all from Domaine du Prieure. We’ve featured these wines before, in e-mail and through our seminars, but for those of you new to the family, here is the brief introduction: Since 1921, at the entrance of the sleepy village of Savigny les Beaune resides this lovely estate. A family affair, Jean-Michel, Yvonne, and their son, Stephen carefully guide nature from parcel-to-cellar and capture her essence in bottles. Domaine du Prieure wines express each individual parcel and are approachable young, yet age beautifully.
NV Domaine du Prieure Cremant de Bourgogne
Originally offered July 15, 2015. Excerpt from original offer: Ingredient #1 for a kir royale (of course it is also outstanding on its own if you don’t want to adulterate it with cassis). This is 70% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, and 5% Aligote, grown on soils of brown marl, white marl and shattered limestone. It is based on the 2006, 2007, and 2008 vintages, so we’re talking about bubbly with some serious age (again, something you’d never know from the bottle; again, the benefit of a knowledgeable importer on the ground). The nose combines white peach fruit, smoky toasted brioche, roasted hazelnut, and chalky mineral. So appetizing. In the mouth, this has a fine mousse and a wonderful palate-staining character. Like the best Cremants from Burgundy, this drinks like baby Champagne, at a fraction of the cost.
NV Domaine du Prieure Creme de Cassis de Dijon
Originally offered July 15, 2015. Excerpt from original offer: And ingredient #2 for a kir royale. This is far afield from the usual wines we offer, so I’ll let the folks at Prieure explain the process: Made from macerated, real blackcurrants (a woody shrub grown for its piquant berries) rather than flavorings and, the addition of the name Dijon means that the currants (“cassis”) used were grown only in the commune of Dijon. These currants are picked quickly at their peak ripeness and are immediately immersed in alcohol where they macerate for 3 months. Sugar is then added to balance out the tart flavor of the currants – it also makes the liqueur syrupy. Production is completely natural from start to finish; no fruit juice additives, colorings or flavorings of any kind are permitted. More than 13 pounds of fruit are used to produce each bottle.
You don’t really want me to write a tasting note, do you? I mean, as you can imagine, it smells and tastes mostly like… wait for it… blackcurrants. Crème de cassis is often used as a descriptor for Cabernet Sauvignon aromas, so if you like the smell of Cab, you’ll probably like the smell of this. In addition to fruit, there is a pungent, earthy, woodsy note that is appealing as well. A little sip of this after dinner, either on its own, or with a nice cheese (Delice de Bourgogne if you want to keep it all in the Burg family), can be heavenly.
2014 Domaine du Prieure Savigny les Beaune Blanc
*On a quick personal note, white Burgundy was a game changer for me. I know this isn’t a wildly original story—I’ve heard many people say the same—but in my phase of “I don’t like Chardonnay,” White Burgundy came knocking and with one sip taught me never to discount an entire varietal again. I am so glad I learned my lesson; it allowed me to open my mind to so many other incarnations of Chardonnay. If this at all sounds familiar—no judgement from Team Full Pull—I highly encourage giving this wine a try.*
If you’re not familiar with the make up of Burgundy, consider this map your first orientation to Cote de Beaune. This region is known for both outstanding whites (the Chardonnays of Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet, and Meursault especially) and beautiful reds (the Pinot Noirs of Volnay and Pommard). In particular, this wine comes from Savigny les Beaune, a little village that has buildings still standing from the 14th century and has never had a population over 1,500 people. The whites from this village are extra special—only 5-10% of the wines coming out of Savigny are white.
This 100% Chardonnay comes from two high elevation vineyards, Vermot and Connardis, planted in the early 1900s. The soil there is a mix of brown marl, white marl and shattered limestone. The grapes are handpicked and go through a critical selection process. According to the winery: Our Savigny is a blend of two methods of vinification: – one part of our Chardonnay juice is fermented in a temperature-controlled stainless-steel vat, ensuring a good expression of the varietal aromas; – another part of this juice is barrelled directly so that alcoholic fermentation takes place in barrels. Once alcoholic fermentation is complete the fermentation lees are stirred back into suspension weekly to give the wine more richness on the palate. This blend allows us to obtain a wine with an excellent aromatic expression and good persistence in the mouth.
This wine definitely fits the description with excellent aromatic expression and good persistence in the mouth. The nose is full of salty minerality—like the tropical sea that existed in Burgundy about 200 million years ago—with lemon, apple, pear, and peach. The palate leads with citrus-infused acidity but gives way to a rich mid-palate—from the light oak during vinification— before finishing long and acidic again. At 13% alcohol, this wine would pair perfectly with all sorts of seafood and pasta dishes—and I might even pair this with a sausage grilled in your own backyard this summer.
2014 Domaine du Prieure Savigny les Beaune Moutier-Amet
Moutier-Amet is a lovely sloped climat (vineyard) just behind the Prieure estate. It lies directly across the street from 1er Cru Le Narbanton. The site was named for the monk who lived at the Prieurè Monastary in the 6th century, and there are records of this site growing grapes as early as 1100 AD—which is a pretty darn long amount of time to be growing grapes.
One of the most exciting things about this wine is the label. Moutier-Amet is extremely rare to see. The reason: only three families own the vineyard (rare with Burgundy’s crazy inheritance laws), and the other two sell the fruit to Bouchard (one of Burgundy’s oldest and most prestigious wine houses, which should tell you something about these vines). The grapes are again handpicked, entirely destemmed, then cold soaked for 3 days. The majority (90%) is this time done in neutral wood; the remainder in new oak, again for ten months. Listed alc is 13%.
The nose immediately pulls you in with all of the aromas that come from deep within the forest. It’s woodsy, with cherries, smoky wood fire, and a little bit of green, leafy, herbaceous zest. This wine is light yet textured on the palate, velvety across the tongue with spiced minerality. It’s pretty, with subtle fruit, and focuses mostly on the mineral-earth qualities that make Burgundy so special. In my mind, when people talk about Pinot Noir being a perfect pairing for all types of birds, they are talking about this wine. Roast chicken, cornish game hens, or peking duck from your favorite Chinese restaurant would all be divine.
First come first served up to 24 bottles total, mix and match as you please, and the wines should arrive in the next week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.