Domaine Thénard


Despite being virtually unknown in the U.S., Domaine Thenard has been famous in Burgundy for over a century. Baron Paul Thenard founded the estate in 1842 and thirty years later he completed a transaction that would put it on the map. In 1872, the Baron acquried two large parcels in Le Montrachet, totaling 1.86 hectares. Only the Marques de Laguiche, with their single parcel of 2.06 hectares, own more. In comparison, the third largest owner of Montrachet is Bouchard Pere et Fils with 0.89 hectares. In the 20th century, the grand cru vineyards Clos du Roi in Corton and Les Grands Echezeaux in Flagey were added to the portfolio. These vineyard acquisitions made Thenard one of the most important estates in Burgundy, yet the heart of the domaine remained in the humble village of Givry.

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Highly recommended: Eric Asimov’s New York Times article, including tasting notes, on the Côte Chalonnaise.

thenard givry chalonnaise

Image via collinox.

Comtes Lafon

Winery website.

From Burgundy Report:

comte lafonThe relatively understated roads that leave the centre of Meursault are dotted with a mix of small and rather grander buildings. The Domaine des Comtes Lafon is far from one of the largest, but is still reeks of different time; it’s outbuilding previously being kennels for hunting dogs and stables for horses – it almost seems like wine was an add-on.

The origin of the domaine’s name is far from Burgundian, and can be traced back to the Lafons of south-west France. It was actually a family named Boch that in 1894 Jules Joseph Barthélémy Lafon married into, and with his new wife, Marie, came a wine merchants business and small estate in Meursault which is still home to the domaine today.

Jules was eventually to become the Mayor of Meursault, at that time reviving an old tradition; the celebration with a meal of the end of the harvest – this gained a momentum of its own, finally becoming the banquet we know today, named the ‘Paulée de Meursault’.

The next generation of Lafon were not involved with the domaine, and the vines were put out to share-croppers. Indeed it is said that if the grandson of Jules, René Lafon, had not been against it, his father Henri might have sold the whole estate. René took over the estate in 1956 and with the share-croppers help set about improving and replanting the vines, and began estate bottling – for the first time in 1961 they bottled everything.

Dominique Lafon is the current face of the domaine, He took-over from René in 1984, together with his brother Bruno, who has since faded into the background. Dominique was one of the fêted ‘new generation’ of young owner managers; he set about recovering all the domaine’s vines as metayage contracts came to an end, and was one of the more ‘visible’ producers that were shying away from ‘chemical’ treatments in the vines – for instance turning away from herbicides in 1992.

The Domaine’s Vines

The vines from the family Boch were mainly from the village of Volnay, but there was also Monthélie and the nucleus of today’s ‘Meursault domaine’ The Clos de la Barre and further vines in En la Barre. Jules who augmented his vine income with a position as magistrate set about growing the domaine, adding the domaine’s other important Meursault vineyards and of-course its Montrachet.

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alain chavyFrom the David Bowler website:

The names Sauzet, Carillon and Leflaive have become synonymous with Puligny, but one local clan has remained under the radar. The Chavy family has had roots in Puligny for almost 200 years. In 1976, after years of selling grapes to négociants, they began to bottle wine under their own label.

Domaine Gerard Chavy et Fils soon established itself as one of the finest domaines in the village.

However, in 2003, after a family dispute, the estate was dissolved. The brothers Jean-Louis and Alain Chavy, who had jointly run the domaine, went their separate ways, each determined to build his own legacy.

Alain Chavy (above, right) is the owner of Chavy-Martin and has some pretty incredible holdings. In addition to the prestigious plots Les Folatières, Le Champs Gain and Les Pucelles, the domaine owns a precious parcel in Le Clavoillon. Les Pucelles and Les Clavoillons sit adjoined on the slope, but Chavy-Martin is one of only two cellars in Burgundy where you can taste them side by side.

Domaine Leflaive owns the vast majority of the 5.59 hectare Le Clavoillon, but the Chavy brothers each claim a small portion, preventing it from being a monopole. Alain farms 0.49 hectares of 50 year old vines in Les Clavoillons, and from it he produces a wine of great depth and minerality.

Michel Lafarge

Winery website.

Above: Michel Lafarge.

The following profile comes from Bergman’s Bourgogne, a superb resource on the wineries and wines of Burgundy and one of our favorite blogs…

Volnay, to me it is about balance. There is always a lot of balance and harmony in the wines. You have the elegance, the finesse, the distinction, the power, the length and the silky tannins.

Frédéric Lafarge has a firm grip on Volnay. Domaine Michel Lafarge has been in the village since early 20th century and has established itself as one of the top names of Burgundy. The twelve hectares are equally divided between premier crus, village and regionals – one third of each.

Back in 1887, in his book ”Histoire de Volnay”, Abbé Bavard wrote ”This land is rich in aromatic components. In this respect Volnay is, together with la Romanée and le Saint-Georges, is one of the most privileged pieces of land in the world”. Prior to that, in 1855, Dr Lavalle had pointed out that, with the exception for Beaune, Volnay was probably the commune that produced the largest number of great wines.

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Maison Camille Giroud

House website (in progress).

Tasting notes on Burgundy Report (includes recent tastings).

Jockovino profile (highly recommended).

camille giroud

Image via Jockovino.

From the Becky Wasserman website:

The company was founded in 1865 by a fellow whose ancestors had emigrated to Switzerland during the Huguenot persecutions. He returned to France and married a Burgundian lady of property. Camille Giroud took up residence at its present address in the late 1890s.

We first encountered the Giroud family in 1988 and were impressed by the number of older bottles slumbering in the cellars. One of the last of the small negoçiants specializing in “vins de garde”, Bourgogne Rouges that need ten to fifteen years to mature. Wonderful oddities such as a 1959 Poully- Fuissé that had evidently never undergone malolactic fermentation… 1947 Cortons, deep red in colour and still vigorous.

We met Lucien Giroud, successor to the venerable Camille, who underlined the importance of tannins for longevity. When Lucien died, the two Giroud brothers became the managers and decided to break from the past and construct a winery in order to vinify. To purchase grapes as well as continue the family tradition of purchasing finished wines.

The nineties were years of discovery for the Girouds as well as experimentation.

Unfortunately, the company did not have the required capital and in 2002 an American group headed by Joe Wender and Ann Colgin purchased Camille Giroud. The job of winemaker, now régisseur, was given to David Croix who arrived with a stellar recommendation from Benjamin Leroux of the Domaine du Clos des Epeneaux.

What is fascinating about the company is the presence of three generations of Burgundian viticultural history. Lucien, president from 1942 through 1989, believed that Burgundies must be properly aged. He favoured appellations such as the tougher Nuits St. Georges premiers crus. He adored vintages such as 1976 and 1988. Lucien’s wines illustrate his era. The brothers tried all the vinification techniques of the nineties, batonnage of reds as well as whites yet the respect for the Giroud style is still evident.

David Croix is representative of his generation: clarity of terroir rather than a house style, and an intuitive feeling for both appellations and the nature of individual vintages. The press has been very kind to Camille Giroud and their wines have been well noted in two major publications: “Recommended Red Burgundies 2002 and 2003,” Wine Spectator; “30 Recommended Reds 2003,” Decanter Magazine. In addition, David received extremely positive reviews from Allen Meadows (, Bill Nanson (, and elicited the following statement from Clive Coates: “Here the genius is the 26 year old David Croix.”

Becky Wasserman

Bonneau du Martray, Burgundy’s only exclusively Grand Cru domaine

Winery website.

Burgundy Report on Bonneau du Martray.

Jocovino post on Bonneau du Martray (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED).

bonneau du martray

Image via WineHog.

From the Wiki:

Bonneau du Martray is a French wine grower and producer based in Pernand-Vergelesses, in the Côte de Beaune wine-growing region of Burgundy, France. Bonneau du Martray is the only estate in Burgundy to exclusively produce wine from Grand cru vineyards.

The estate is currently owned and managed by Jean-Charles de la Moriniere who inherited it from his father in 1994. Jean-Charles has been working on moving viticultural management and the care of the vineyard toward a biodynamic philosophy and away from the previous use of herbicides to manage weeds and pests. He has also worked to reduce yields significantly in an effort to improve the intensity and quality of the finished wine.

Only two wines are produced from the vineyard holdings of the domaine. A White Burgundy with Chardonnay grapes from the 9.5 hectares the estate owns in Corton-Charlemagne and a Red Burgundy with Pinot Noir grapes from 1.5 hectares owned in the Corton vineyard. Bonneau du Martray is the largest single owner of vines within the Corton-Charlemagne vineyard and owns the largest area of a single Grand cru vineyard of any producer in Burgundy.

Clive Coates describes Bonneau Du Martray’s white Corton-Charlemagne wine as “one of the very greatest in all Burgundy” and Hugh Johnson lists Bonneau du Martray as one of the leading Côte d’Or producers and gives the estate his highest rating of 4 stars indicating “exceptionally fine or great quality, consistent over many vintages”.

“Nicolas Rossignol has a firm grip on Volnay and Pommard”

nicolas rossignol

Image via GazzarVins.

Winery website.

From Bergman’s Bourgogne:

Nicolas Rossignol has a firm grip on Volnay and Pommard, the two villages just south of Beaune. There are few cellars in Burgundy where you can taste seven Volnay premier crus and eight Pommard premier crus. In addition to these there is also a handful of village wines from both villages. Instead of blending the small parcels and just label it Volnay premier cru Nicolas Rossignol prefers to bottle everything separately.

“Friends ask me why I make so many different premier crus,” says Nicolas Rossignol. “By making many different wines you learn more, and you learn quicker. Experiences from one wine can be used for another. I find it interesting to have 30 different wines.”

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More suggested reading by Paul M. Young.